Written by Richard Way,
Last Modified: 12th February 2021

Did you know there are 16 personality types? Just as you found (or hope to find) a lover that matches your own personality, it’s important to find a property that suits you both too. We’re all different, and Europe is a big place, so you are bound to find somewhere that compliments you both.

Best for the family guy/gal

Every Spanish costa has a choice of kid-friendly resorts, but the Costa Blanca, including Orihuela Costa, with its safe Blue Flag beaches and excellent local amenities, is a particular favourite with families. From karting to mini-golf, and water parks to shopping in La Zenia Boulevard, there’s plenty to fill those days when you’re not on the beach. Otherwise, Spain’s Canary and Balearic islands are popular too, with Lanzarote and Tenerife in the former and Mallorca in the latter taking centre stage.

Making a splash with your family!

Disneyland Paris will top most families’ bucket-list of must-do French tourist attractions, but as a somewhere you’d be happy going back to time and time again with kids, the Dordogne is hard to beat. Highlights include fairy-tale castles to visit, freshwater swimming and kayaking, grottos, amusement and prehistoric-themed parks and friendly villages. Other destinations that mix up leisure attractions with lots of outdoorsy adventure include the city and coast around La Rochelle, including the Île de Ré, and of course France’s Mediterranean coastline. This includes the heart of the Côte d’Azur, home to Europe’s largest marine life theme park, Fréjus zoo. Water parks and other adventure parks complement the world-famous resorts.

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Most resorts along Portugal’s Algarve tick every box for a fun family holiday. Complementing its excellent amenities, pristine sandy beaches and golf courses are water parks, marine activities and all types of sports. Kids’ clubs are typical in most of the tourist resorts too. The central Algarve, home to Vilamoura, Quinta do Lago and Val do Lobo, is upmarket, while convivial and more affordable options further west include Albufeira and Carvoeiro, where you’ll find one of Europe’s ten best beaches (Michelin Guide), Praia da Marinha.

Home to the world’s best pizza, pasta and ice-cream means kids will be happy almost anywhere in Italy. Most – but not all – family fun is on the coast, unless your young ones are into art and architecture! Italy’s second-largest island, Sardinia, is a long-time favourite, with excellent beaches offering all types of activities, and the landmark Forte Village resort. While in larger Sicily you can combine time on the beach with outdoor adventures in the Alcantara Gorge or jeep tours around Mount Etna. Back on the mainland, southern Puglia and Calabria boast some of Italy’s finest beaches and cost fishing towns.

Meanwhile, Grecophiles just need to pick a suitable Greek Island – they are all have stunning beaches and friendly tavernas, but you may wish to avoid those with swanky bars and edgy nightlife. Rhodes is geared up for easy fly-and-flop family breaks, Zakynthos, Naxos and Corfu are ideal for teens, while less commercial options for more intimate family time could be Syros or Paxos. And Crete has something for everyone!

Best for the culture vulture

Milan art gallery (Adriano Castelli / Shutterstock.com)

For the culture vulture in your family, the European mainland isn’t short of a pleasure or two. Does that mean bypassing the pleasures of the Spanish costas on our way to somewhere more serious? Not a bit! In the Costa Brava’s Bay of Roses, the dramatic coastline inspired the surreal artist Salvador Dalí. His whacky museum is in his home town of Figueras, and he spent most of his life at his converted fisherman’s house near the picturesque town of Cadaqués. Or the Costa del Sol, where as well as the golf and beach you have the Picasso museum in Malaga, and the Andalusia-Moorish wonders of Cordoba, Seville and Granada’s Alhambra.

Everyone was once a “barbarian” to the Greeks – they coined the phrase from the sheep-like sound that foreigners make! Today’s cultural hub is still Athens, and house-hunters should investigate the Athenian Riviera, just a 45-minute tram ride from the Acropolis at Glyfada. Alternatively, the Argosaronic islands – such as Hydra and Aegena – offer the joys of Greek island life with a more high-brow ambience just an hour’s ferry from Piraeus.

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For culture in Italy, don’t feel you have to limit yourself to Tuscany, Milan or Venice. As the stepping stone from Europe to Africa, Sicily has art and culture stretching back 5,000 years (and affordable homes too). The “Umbrian school” of art included Raphael and della Francesca, and every church you enter in Umbria seems to have a medieval fresco masterpiece.

When it comes to France, where do you start? From the Impressionists in Normandy to the Post Impressionists of Provence, every corner of France has been placed lovingly onto canvas. From Balzac to Zola the experience of France has been lovingly explored in prose too. Frankly, French culture-lovers can buy anywhere!

Best for the sporty type

Life’s a beach, with a tennis court. But is it for you?

Spain’s Costa del Sol is a year-round playground for active types, with beach resorts like Benalmádena crammed with sports and leisure attractions, including water sports, marinas, aqua parks, aquariums, adventure playgrounds and of course limitless world-class golf. There’s even skiing not too far away in the Sierra Nevada! In the north, the Costa Brava is an equally outdoorsy destination, with its exciting coastline, green interior, and proximity to the Pyrenees, offering all kinds of mountain-based activities.

Wherever you are in France, you’re never far from exciting natural landscape and water. The country is a land of lakes and rivers, with more than 50 Regional Natural Parks. Unmissable ones include the Millevaches regional park in Limousin, France’s ‘Lake District’ and home to Lake Vassivière, one of the country’s largest artificial lakes. Or try the Verdon regional park in Provence, with its famous gorge and fantastic lakes of Sainte-Croix and Castillon. Not forgetting the beach resorts of the Atlantic and Mediterranean, and the French Alps, where ski resorts like Chamonix also offer lots of year-round mountain-based fun.

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Italy’s Lakes in the Lombardy region, which include Lake Como, Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore, are an ideal base for lovers of the great outdoors. Coupled with this is quick access to world-class ski slopes, notably in the Dolomites, which are fun to visit any time of year. Elsewhere, the Italian island of Sardinia offers up bucket loads of activities, from water sports to rural pursuits.

Besides golf, resorts along Portugal’s Algarve offer just about every leisure activity available to man, but those chasing more nature-inspired adventure should head to the west coast. Horse-riding along a wild sweeping beach, trekking a coastal path or surfing an Atlantic wave are popular pastimes anywhere from the Costa Azul and Setúbal peninsula, to the Silver Coast north of Lisbon, up as far as Porto. Meanwhile, hikers and flora enthusiasts won’t be disappointed by the island of Madeira.

Idyllic beaches take centre stage in the Greek Islands, but the larger ones have more to offer. Away from its coast and water sports opportunities, Crete’s pretty White Mountains and wild undulating interior, are suitable for a range of outdoor activities, from canyoning to mountain-biking. It’s a similar story in the Peloponnese back on the mainland, where lush mountains awash with white water rivers, meet the pristine waters of its beautiful coastline.

Best for the country lover

France is perfect for country lovers. “But can you get The Archers in the Dordogne?”

Drive 15 minutes inland off any Spanish costa and you’ll soon be surrounded by pretty countryside, often mountainous, dotted with old farming villages, untouched by mass tourism full of traditional charm. The Orba and Jálon valleys in the northern Costa Blanca are ideal spots for enjoying rural Spain, or head into the foothills of the Alpujarras or Axarquía province, both in Andalusia and famous for their white villages. In the Balearics, Menorca is a little gem for anyone chasing a slow, tranquil Spanish lifestyle.

France’s pretty rural villages and pastoral way of life are one its biggest attractions. Favourite spots for tapping into this include the green undulating countryside of lower Normandy and Brittany, the lush châteaux-studded Loire, Aquitaine and the south-west of France, and the lavender carpeted landscape of inland Provence. Lesser trodden and with a wild untouched edge is the Lot, known for its rugged terrain, earthy gastronomy and dramatic clifftop villages.

Tuscany and Umbria, with their picturesque hilltop villages, rolling vineyards and olive groves, have been the go-to regions for Italophiles for decades. These days Puglia in the south is an equally popular – and generally cheaper – option for anyone in search of a rustic spin on la dolce vita. There, the Itria Valley, famed for its conical stone ‘trullo’ homes, is especially popular. Abruzzo could be another option.

In Portugal, the expansive plains and rural tranquility of the Alentejo, the country’s least populated and largest region, is a complete contrast to Lisbon and the touristy Algarve. Cattle farming, ranches and wine production are staples there. Further north, unspoilt inland villages on the Silver Coast, in particular around Óbidos and Coimbra, will strike a chord with those who prefer a quiet, rustic lifestyle.

In Greece, most of the larger islands have a choice of sleepy villages, complete with a taverna and roaming goats, away from the tourist resorts on the coast. Try Crete, Kafalonia, Corfu, Paros, Naxos and Andros for starters. On the mainland, you won’t struggle to find your own secluded corner of paradise in the Peloponnese and Halkidiki peninsulas.

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About The Author

Richard Way

Richard Way has been an influential and independent voice on all aspects of buying overseas property for over 15 years. He was editor of A Place In The Sun magazine, has edited books on buying in Spain, is a regular on the panel at Your Overseas Home, has appeared on the BBC and helped the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on expat matters. Richard is a property owner on the Costa Brava, Spain, and in Puglia.

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