Although we’re now in Singapore I’m green with envy that Europe is starting to unlock their restrictions and that people will soon be able to resume short-haul travel. I feel we have been on lockdown for the longest time. I predict that going camping will be a very popular family holiday option this summer.
I was so anti-camping for years, we even sold our tickets to v-festival the day before we were meant to go one year, as I couldn’t face the shared toilet facilities. However, some friends finally persuaded us to go glamping and it was there that I fell in love with canvas tents. We were walking to dinner one evening as the sun was setting and I spotted my first bell tent and that was it I was smitten!
A few years before we moved to Asia we actually bought our very own beautiful 5m canvas bell tent complete with inside compartments. We drove all the way from Surrey to Holland to collect it, but that’s a whole other story. But we did spend a good few summers camping our way through the UK, France, Italy, Austria and Germany.
The European campsites have much better wash facilities compared to the UK which put me at ease. So I thought I’d share our tried and tested favourite campsites throughout Europe and hopefully inspire you to unplug and reconnect with nature as it’s truly magical.
1. La Parenthèse, Camping Les Ormes, France
Now this was the first campsite I ever camped on as an adult. Our friends had already booked and promised us a glamping experience. We booked into one of their pre-pitched safari tents and only had to bring the basics. The cool swimming pool sits overlooking the lake with a funky converted army vehicle serving up frites and drinks.
At the top of the campsite is a gorgeous restaurant nestled into a converted barn, one of my favourite memories being that they serve rose on tap and have a gorgeous mezzanine which doubles as a movie theatre for the kids. The surrounding villages are typically French with quaint markets perfect for picking up dinner.
2. Cosy Camp, France
We’ve stayed here a few times and used it to break up our journey down to Italy. Since moving to Singapore we’ve met some new friends here who went to school with Sophie, one of the owners. It’s such a small world. The campsite is a kid’s dream. Every nook and cranny has amazing art, from chandeliers hanging in the trees, to tight ropes, an adventure playground with zip lines and even a stage for them to put on performances. We especially loved walking down to the river for a dip. Their ‘facilities’ were top notch with an on-site restaurant which is fully booked most evenings.
3. Grubhof Camping, Lofer, Austria
This is always one of my husband’s favourite sites. We have a lot of fond memories here, mainly as we had a pitch with nobody else around as we were the only campers in tents, everyone else was in caravans. This site wins my award for best ‘facilities’ on a campsite ever. Situated near Salzburg in Austria there is lots to do in Lofer itself from the open air swimming pool, going up the mountain in the cable car, hiking, bike riding to swimming in the river (although its ruddy freezing).
4. Sunnyfield, Kent, UK
We’ve spent a few lovely bank holidays here. Luckily the thunderstorms were at night and didn’t ruin our days on this idyllic campsite tucked on top of a hill in a sunny field. The pitches are huge with loads of space between neighbours. They have showers made from converted horse trailers and eco compost toilets. The owners also run a pizza oven at weekends just down the hill in the farm yard. Close enough to Canterbury and Whitstable for good days out and a short drive to one of my favourite pubs, the Five Bells in Brabourne.
5. Camping Belsito, Tuscany
Now this is probably the busiest campsite we’ve ever stayed on but our pitch was to the top of the campsite tucked away in the shade of some big olive trees. The views from the pool here over the Tuscan countryside are stunning. It’s a busy site, especially in the middle of summer, and the showers and washing machines were in demand but the location makes up for that. It’s only a short walk from the endearing little village of Monticatini Alto which has the most amazing restaurants in the village square but it’s also well placed for day trips to Florence and Pisa.
6. Molly Dishwasher, Frant, UK
I love this place so much, I almost didn’t share it, as I don’t want it to get so busy I can’t get a booking. We’ve been multiple times in early September, to make the most of the last drop of summer, with my husband’s school friends and all the kids. It’s become quite the tradition. The lovely Mops and Izzy who run the farm have done an amazing job decking out two shepherds huts with the finest linens and accessories. The huts are named after their father’s favourite birds, if you’re wondering what a Molly Dishwasher is. Expect a complete get away but with all the mod cons, including a hot shower and fluffy towels, all just a stone’s throw away from London.
7. Glamping Canonici di San Marco, Nr Venice, Italy
We found this glamping site by chance when we were looking for somewhere to break up a journey from Tuscany up to Austria. This place was perfect as it’s also only a short 30min train ride into the centre of Venice, which also happens to be one of our favourite cities. I would think that even those who don’t like to camp would like glamping here. With aircon, ensuite bathrooms, sumptuous candle lit dinner hampers and a huge spread for breakfast you’ll be totally spoilt.
8. Bonus Sites, Glamping on Elba Island, Italy
During our last big hurrah around Europe, before we moved to Singapore, we were meant to stay on Elba island but we couldn’t get a pitch for love nor money, as they were fully booked. Both sites we considered are too gorgeous not to share with you. Firstly, Tenuta Della Ripalte with stunning glamping tents and, secondly, Rosselba La Palme with equally cute, fully furnished canvas tents.
Now you’ve read my recommendations of amazing campsites in Europe, do you have you a great campsite to share? Thank you for leaving a comment with your favourites.