All dads are different: huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’ appeal to many, but others are much happier being pummelled or scrubbed in a treatment room, or learning to cook à la Gordon Ramsay. And for every frazzled dad in need of a little ‘me’ time, there’s another whose priority is to spend more quality time with the kids, whether it’s watching footie or whittling wood. We’ve sifted through the competition to bring you some of the most enticing fathers’ break ideas in the UK and continental Europe, including some great suggestions for single-parent holidays.
Perfect for a DIY family break pretty much anywhere you choose, these hand-picked self-catering properties across the country include the Old Reading Room at Thimbleby, Yorkshire. Sleeping 5–7, it’s handy for the spa-town of Harrogate with its famous Turkish baths, now restored to their Victorian Art Deco splendour, where dads can enjoy gentlemen-only sessions and men’s treatments.
This ‘National Park Resort’ with its chic timber lodges and activities for all ages is a great place to bring Dad, whether to see the classic cars that are sometimes on show at nearby Picton Castle, treat him to a relaxing session in the spa, or challenge him on the high-ropes course. Read about an Easter family break at Bluestone.
These family activity holidays are brilliant for getting some bonding time with your kids. Hugely sociable, they're popular with single parents and very well suited to solo dads looking for somewhere to take the kids. See our review of a PGL Family Multi-Activity Holiday in Shropshire.
Family falconry activities, bird-of-prey photography sessions and cookery courses for all ages (some focused on game or Indian dishes) are among the treats that might lure Dad to this delightful country house deep in the Yorkshire Dales. The spa offers a variety of specialist men’s treatments.
Center Parcs, Various Locations
Center Parcs' five forest-set holiday villages are good spots for family breaks combining together time with a little space for oneself – for dads, that latter might be fishing, taking a men’s treatment at the Aqua Sana Spa, undertaking a sports/fitness session, or spending time with a partner (childcare is provided at the kids’ clubs and crèche). See our feature on a Dads' Break at Center Parcs Elveden.
Now back in the hands of its original owners, this Takethefamily favourite is a great place to bring dads for a well-earned rest any time of year but especially for Father's Day. Book him in for a spa treatment while the kids are more than ably looked after at the Sunday lie-in service, then get together again for a sumptuous family lunch.
Those on a family holiday on the south coast might think of packing Dad off to a Chef’s Table Experience workshop offering the chance to get hands-on learning techniques to cook over fire in the venue's outdoor cookery area, including fire-pit cookery and BBQ mastery.
Gentlemen's Tonic, London
No father-and-son trip to the British capital is complete without a Father & Son Haircut & Finish at this luxury barber and grooming salon in Mayfair, with a complimentary Bloody Mary served to Dad while the little one watches cartoons. Other treatments include wet shaves, facials, full body scrubs, and a wide range of massages. Other branches include ones in Atlantic The Palm hotel in Dubai, the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, Mexico City and New Delhi.
The most exciting way of seeing some of Londons's most iconic sights are these speedboats on the Thames, accompanied by the James Bond theme music and other funky tunes. Other outings for lovers of the Bond movies include London Taxi Tours of film locations. Extend the theme by staying at Duke’s Hotel, where Ian Fleming often wrote and in the bar of which he coined the ‘shaken not stirred’ phrase; family packages are regularly available.
See also our features Separate Family Holidays in the UK, including a dad-and-son camping and bushcraft trip, and Best Places to Learn Survival Skills with Kids.
Visit Carlsberg, Copenhagen, Denmark
In the Danish capital’s Vesterbro neighbourhood lies the heritage site where JC Jacobsen brewed the very first Carlsberg beer. Family-friendly tours include beer tastings, an exhibition and horse-carriage rides, and there are regular events in the bar including jazz, discos and match screenings.
Camp Nou Stadium, Barcelona, Spain
Always a good bet for a family city break, with wonderful food, decent beaches, fabulous shopping and PortAventura theme park nearby, Barcelona is a particular thrill for footie-lovers, who can make a pilgrimage to the legendary Camp Nou stadium. The latter offers tours as well as a museum. You might even to get tickets to an FC Barcelona match.
Automobile Road-Trip, Germany
What better father-and-son road-trip than a tour of some of Germany's top car-related sights? Begin in Stuttgart, home to the Mercedes-Benz Museum, Porsche Museum, and Meilenwerk (an exhibition hall with classic cars from the 1920–70s), then follow the Bertha Benz Memorial Route to the Hockenheim-Ring race track, which offers ‘insider tours’, a museum, and – for dads – the chance to do a few laps of the famous circuit. Then it’s on to Ladenburg and the Automuseum Dr Carl Benz and the House of the Benz Family, to Sinsheim for the Auto & Technik Museum, and to Neckarsulm for an Audi R8 factory tour. In Stuttgart, the funky Arcotel Camino welcomes families and and includes two-bedroom apartments with kitchenettes.
For pampering-loving dads, there can be few better destinations than this super-family-friendly hotel with its holistic spa offering facials, scrubs and hand and feet treatments designed especially for men, plus several couples' treatments to enjoy with Mum (the kids’ clubs will meanwhile occupy youngsters 4 months–18). But it’s not all about relaxing: guest can dive, play golf, kite-surf, rock-climb, mountain-bike, pony-trek and parasail, as well as visiting vineyards and monasteries, sailing around secluded bays, and taking a jeep safari deep into the verdant Troodos mountains. The Almyra’s sister hotel, the Anassa, also offers tailored men’s treatments, childcare including a Teen Centre, and access to some of the island’s best luxury watersports facilities in the Akamas Marine Reserve, plus jeep safaris, rock-climbing, mountain-biking and hill-trekking. See our feature by a new dad on a family holiday at the Almyra.
This vast southern Spanish resort is a paradise for sports-mad dads in particular, who can play golf on three 18-hole championship courses, as well as tennis, cricket, football, rugby and much more besides. Meanwhile, sports-mad kids (from as young as three for some activities) can be at the golf, tennis, cricket or dance academies, or at the football camp with its FA/UEFA coaches. There’s even an après-golf retreat trio of treatments on offer at the well-reputed spa.
Check our our hand-picked recommendations for family activity holidays.