Rome: Culture and combat
History classes come to life in the Eternal City. Its cathedrals, museums and Michelangelo masterpieces are a culture vulture’s dream – but for kids, it’s all about the Colosseum. The scene of wanton battles and bloodshed in its empirical heyday, this ancient arena captivates with stories of gladiators; so what could be better than learning how to be one? Black Tomato (020 7426 9888; blacktomato.com) can package a half-day gladiator experience with flights, transfers, five nights’ accommodation and exclusive behind-the-scenes access from £3,500 for a family of four in August.
Experience life as a gladiator (Shutterstock)
Iceland and Sicily: Natural attractions
A visit to Iceland’s great outdoors can be the world’s most fun geography lesson. Explore its volcanoes, glaciers and geysirs on a six-night self-drive from Iceland Beyond (00354 666 4444; icelandbeyond.com) from £5,999 for a family of four in August – it includes B&B accommodation, car hire and access to the Blue Lagoon, but flights are excluded. Otherwise if guaranteed sunshine is a deal-breaker, a seven-night Volcanoes of Sicily guided tour takes in Vulcano, Stromboli and Mount Etna (Europe’s biggest volcano) from £1,199 per adult and £1,179 per child, including B&B, transfers and activities, with Families Worldwide (01962 302062, familiesworldwide.co.uk).
Dorset: Bedtime story
This year marks the 75th anniversary of The Famous Five, the phenomenally successful children’s stories that pitched Julian, Dick, Ann, George and Timmy the dog against smugglers and intrigue. Many of the books’ settings were inspired by Dorset’s Purbeck peninsula, where author Enid Blyton would spend summer holidays. Follow in her (and the characters’) footsteps to find castles, steam trains, cliffs and islands from the comfort of Knaveswell Farm, a ‘glampsite’ with stylish, safari-style tents. A week in August costs from £1,199 (sleeps six; coolcamping.com). Lashings of ginger beer not included.
Get a hands on geography lesson in Iceland (Iceland and Beyond)
Greece: Sail away
Summer is the season for sailing, and the Aegean Sea is perfect for learning the ropes. The sailing academy at Sani Resort, near Thessaloniki, has a 10-hour intensive course for kids costing €270 per child. A seven-night holiday departing 26 August costs from £5,679 for a family of three, including flights, transfers and full-board from Sovreign (01293 765 003, sovereign.com). For something more grown-up, treat yourself to a ‘Stay & Sail’ package on the Essex/Suffolk border, where a day’s messing about on the river (with skipper) plus two nights’ B&B costs £310pp with Viking Mariners (01394 421 209; vikingmariners.co.uk).
Tenerife: Reach for the stars
Cast your eyes skyward this August and you may be in for a celestial surprise as the Perseid meteor shower makes its annual appearance. Boost your chances on Tenerife’s Mount Teide (a recognised Dark Sky Reserve) with the Ritz-Carlton Abama’s new astronomy safari. A five-night stay for a family of three costs from £2,293, including flights and B&B accommodation, plus £640 for the safari, via Tots Too (0207 284 3344; totstoo.com). Catch the same spectacle for less in Dartmoor National Park, with free stargazing experiences (clearbrookwildchild.co.uk) and B&B from £110 per night (moorlandgardenhotel.co.uk).
Dartmoor is ideal for stargazing (Clearbrook Wildchild)
Sardinia: Let’s dance
For little girls in love with tutus, barres and ballet pumps, a stint at Forte Village’s Dance Academy is a dream come true. Ballet, ballroom and salsa are all available, with options for adults and children ranging from individual lessons (from £105pp) to one-day (£79pp) and five-day courses (£360pp). The Sardinian resort’s facilities encompass sports, spas and the Forte Fortissimo disco – perfect for showing off all those new moves. Departing 29 July, seven nights half-board costs from £8,333 for a family of four, including flights and transfers with Sardatur Holidays (0208 973 2299; sardatur-holidays.co.uk).
Mauritius: Beautiful game
Celebrity sports clinics are all the rage at posh hotels this summer. Among the big names is former England striker Teddy Sheringham, whose two-week Football Academy at Four Seasons Mauritius will help soccer-mad kids improve their game. The five-day experience packaged with flights, transfers and half-board accommodation costs from £6,355 for a family of three, departing 19 August, with Turquoise Holidays (01494 678400, turquoiseholidays.co.uk). Similarly, Turkey’s Regnum Carya Resort has five-day Real Madrid Foundation clinics from €400pp. Seven nights all-inclusive for a family of four costs from £7,348, including flights and transfers departing August 1 with Thomas Cook (0844 412 5970; thomascook.com).
Recreate Dirty Dancing at Forte Village (Sardatur Holidays )
West Sussex: Stretch it out
Sometimes a summer escape need involve nothing more than relaxing. Do so in style – and learn to take better care of yourself – on a two-night yoga retreat at Ockenden Manor, West Sussex. Yoga classes are combined with Nordic walking and full use of the spa facilities (plus breakfast and dinner) from £427.50pp with Spa Breaks (0800 043 6600; spabreaks.com). Alternatively, book ahead for the very first yoga weekend (22 to 24 September) at The Lodges at New House Farm, which opened in June 2017 in the East Sussex countryside; from £395pp including meals (07500 969129; thelodgesnhf.com).