Unlike U.S. and Caribbean resorts where mammoth water parks are commonplace, many properties in Europe feature more understated pools and beachside adventures. For families seeking a vacation that combines staggering beauty, plus many options to unwind in the water on scorching hot days, here are some awesome European hotel swimming pools kids of all ages will enjoy.
1. Gstaad Palace – Gstaad, Switzerland
If your family’s idea of paradise is splashing about surrounded by jaw-dropping views of the Swiss Alps, Gstaad Palace makes a great choice. Set on a mountain overlooking the city, the property features a heated indoor pool, two outdoor pools (including one Olympic-sized pool perfect for laps) and a hot tub. There are two levels of diving platforms cannonballers will love. Built in 1913, the family-owned hotel offers swimming lessons and a well-appointed spa with steam baths and saunas; if your kids are age 14 and up, they’ll love the elegant pampering!
Bonus: Once your gang is waterlogged, the onsite children’s program for ages 3 and up features a mini-Grand Prix, bouncy castle, tennis and more.
2. Penha Longa Resort – Lisbon, Portugal
Nestled within a 545-acre protected natural park, the Penha Longa Resort offers lots of water-based adventures for the whole family. This Ritz-Carlton property features indoor and outdoor family and children’s pools, and offers swimming lessons for babies 6 months and up. During the summer, your water nymphs will love the interactive ‘Mermaid Experience,’ designed to engage little ones to connect with the ocean and the local environment. Parents can enroll children in in the kids’ club so they can enjoy the adults-only infinity pool, the spa and wellness center, or the 27-hole golf course.
3. Hotel Marinca and Spa – Olmeto, France
With three exquisite lagoon pools—including an infant paddling pool and a vanishing-edge basin overhanging the sea—plus an indoor one for cooler days, the five-star Hotel Marinca and Spa caters to guests of all ages. The property’s pristine private beach has beach beds for lounging, and is a snorkeling paradise.
Bonus: A water taxi can take you to water sports including jet skiing, and there’s lots of surrounding shaded woodland for when you need to get out of the sun.
4. Paradise Park Fun LifeStyle Hotel – Tenerife, Spain
At the all-inclusive Paradise Park, located near the original marine village of Los Cristianos, your gang will want to frolic outdoors day and night in one of the four sun-kissed pools, including the Atlantic circular pool. Plan for a poolside nap in a comfy hammock. There’s a play area for kids wanting a break from the water where they can do gymnastics, dance or dart games. The Atlantida Leisure Park outdoor spa features hydro-massage beds and a pool bar for mom and dad, who will also enjoy the adults-only pool terrace on the eighth floor, where a gentle lazy river is carved into the rocks.
5. Borgo Egnazia – Puglia, Italy
Located along a quiet coast of Southern Italy, Borgo Egnazia offers up plenty of active water fun within 50 stunning acres. Borgo means “village” in Italian, and this one has a family pool and two huge outdoor pools, plus an indoor pool in the fitness center. There are two beach clubs that offer non-stop water sports including tubing, kayaking, fishing, waterskiing and windsurfing. The resort’s OurSpace children’s club is open to kids age 3 to 12.
Bonus: The pools also host individual and group exercise classes, so you can work off all the pasta you’ve been devouring!
6. Forte Village Resort – Le Dune – Sardinia, Italy
It’s hard to beat Forte Village Resort – Le Dune on the south coast of Sardinia if you have a sports-minded brood. As if nine freshwater and seawater pools aren’t enough of a draw, the resort also has a water park with seven water chutes—two for tubes and five open-air ones—plus water games for tots in a shallow pool area and a pirate boat with water cannons. The property offers swimming lessons, too. When your kids get tired of the water, they can try go karting, cricket, gardening, pottery, bowling, climbing, fencing or tennis.
7. Sun Gardens – Dubrovnik, Croatia
Facing the sea from its hillside perch outside Dubrovnnik, Sun Gardens features the Sunset Pool with its own dedicated kids’ area and water features; the family-friendly Lemonia Pool, where you can enjoy freshly-made smoothies and ice cream; an adults-only Marina Pool; and a lovely natural pebble beach offering untouched Mediterranean beauty just steps from the resort. The Discoverers and Marco Polo kids’ clubs cater to kids ages 9 months to 11 years with water polo and other summer sports, while the teen Crew program offers 18 hours of waterfront and land-based activities such as SUP, sailing, and ziplining.
8. Sani Beach Resort – Kassandra Peninsula, Greece
Overlooking Mount Olympus on an ecological reserve, the luxurious Sani Beach Resort has several heated outdoor pools for its five hotel properties, plus two exclusive beaches—Ammos and Sani Hill—with dedicated children’s areas supervised by lifeguards. The British-run Peppa Pig Creche accepts children ages 4 months to 4 years and offers swimming lessons, while the Melissa Mini-Club caters to kids 4 to 11 with beach games in shallow water. Teens can play beach volleyball or attend a sailing academy. There’s even a junior and teen spa for kiddos who love being pampered.
9. Kinderhotel Oberjoch – Bad Hindelang, German Alps
There’s so much to do at the all-inclusive Kinderhotel Oberjoch that your kids will likely beg to stay another week—there’s everything from an indoor go-kart track, a family bowling alley, onsite cinema and indoor skating rink. But the water playground is especially cool with its panoramic bathing, indoor, outdoor and giant whirlpools; 128-meter-long tube slide; and an indoor farm animal-themed kids’ adventure pool.
Bonus: Everywhere you look, you’ll feel like you’re in The Sound of Music.
10. Cavallino Bianco Family & Spa Grand Hotel – Ortisei, Italy
Set in a small town surrounded by the beautiful Dolomites of Gardena, Cavallino Bianco believes in the therapeutic benefits of water. Its beach club features a large Family Lagoon with soft flooring and a studded mosaic ceiling overhead, a baby pool decorated with Disney characters, and indoor pools where lessons for kids ages 4 months to 4 years take place. In the outdoor pool, enjoy the heated water while feasting your eyes on the show-stopping views of the Dolomites. Your adrenaline junkies will love the triple slide, while parents will enjoy relaxing in the Blue Grotto with its hydro massaging jets.
Bonus: The hotel provides free swim diapers for babies.
Montreal-based Wendy Helfenbaum is a journalist, content strategist and TV producer who writes for dozens of digital and print magazines, as well as many brands. Wendy loves cruising, adventure travel and venturing off the beaten path with her husband and teenage son, and she can pack a carry-on bag like nobody’s business. Follow her @WendyHelfenbaum.