It’s very easy to disregard camping as an uncomfortable and stressful option when looking at accommodation for staying abroad, but maybe we are a bit too quick to judge. Here we have 3 wonderful contributors sharing their experiences of their favourite camping sites across Europe.
Vilanova Parc, (Vilanova i la Geltrù, Spain) by Angharad May
Granted, for some, the very notion of sleeping in a tent on holiday is nothing short of unthinkable, however, camping can be ineffably rewarding given the chance. With hotel prices often surpassing the limit of student loans and grubby hostels enough to turn one’s stomach, it pays to consider camping. I spent three blissful months living in a tent whilst working in a campsite on the Costa Daurada, Catalonia. Vilanova Parc is blessed with the glorious Catalonian weather, making camping more enjoyable, especially during the summer months where there is no short supply of sunshine, vitamin D and spirits run high.
Vilanova i la Geltrù is just a half-hour drive from Barcelona and is the perfect base location to explore the idyllic surrounding area. There are two buses from the campsite: one goes to Barcelona via Sitges and back; the other goes to Vilanova i la Geltrù, where you can even hop off right on to the magnificent beach.
It is also possible to explore further afield via train from Vilanova i la Geltrù railway station, for example to Montserrat, Tarragona, Vilafranca del Penedès and Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, which were some of my memorable highlights.
If you’d rather stay closer to your tent, Vilanova Parc has everything you would need to keep you happy all day and night. There are two outdoor pools, one indoor pool, a plethora of sun-loungers, a helpful reception staff able to provide any information you might need, toilets and shower blocks which are kept constantly clean, a supermarket, a general shop, two bars, a restaurant, a take-away, tennis courts,football pitches, a gym, a spa, evening entertainment, kids clubs, bicycle hire, laundry facilities, barbecue spots and more. If you have never been camping before, Vilanova Parc would be an amazing first, and I would not be surprised if you returned time and time again!
The Île de Ré, France by Katherine Waldock
The île De Ré is an idyllic island off the west coast of France. The island is tiny; it is only 30 km in length, and 5km in width. Every town is a quick bike ride away from each other, with cycle paths weaving everywhere across it. For every car, there seems to be ten bikes. Hotels are available on the island in the towns, but whenever I go, I stay in a campsite. Sunêlia Interlude, for example, is a 5 star campsite next to La Bois Plage. It includes caravan spaces and cabins for the less adventurously inclined, as well as tent spaces.
Being on the island feels like a break from the rest of the world, as you cycle past run-down houses and beautiful French towns. Markets take place across the island every Saturday, and independent artists showcase their work, along with the typical stalls of fresh fruit and tourist ‘tat’ shops. French teenagers gather in groups around fires on the beach at night, and the lack of light pollution makes for beautiful sunsets every night. The bigger towns like Saint Martin and La Flotte are bustling and exciting during the day, but equally, you would be missing out if you didn’t pay them a visit in the night. Saint Martin’s cobbled streets are
full of amazing spots to eat classically French cuisine, and La Flotte has a night-time market with fairy lights adorning the street.
The beaches are perfect for learning surfers, and depending on the season, the waves are ideal surf conditions. If you are particularly interested in fitness, the island has ‘outdoor gym’ spots – wooden devices that CrossFit or training groups can spend hours on. Beach-hut style five-star restaurants are hidden among the traditional style houses in the villages such as La Couarde. The Île De Ré is the kind of place that you visit once and you become hooked on its beautiful beaches and bustling towns, away from over-complicated cities on the mainland. Camping on this island can be as laid back or as busy as you’d like it, and without the huge nightclubs the island has a much more friendly vibe to it, perfect for avid campers.
Lake Garda, Italy by Rebecca Astill
As a lover of any form of natural water – probably due to living about as far away from any in England as I can get in Leicester – I was over the moon when my parents decided that our family holiday would be in Lake Garda, Italy. We settled in a quaint camping village called ‘Piantelle’ about a mile along from the small town of Moniga del Garda. When we arrived, we discovered that we could not be closer to the lake – which we could see from our camp and was a 2 minute walk away.
The stunning Dolomite mountains are mirrored in the crystal-clear Lake Garda, surrounded by numerous towns going by the name of *blank*-del-Garda. Moniga is a hilly town on the south-west shore of the Lake, famous for its ‘Città del Chiaretto’ rosé wine. I can promise you, it doesn’t get much better than sitting in one of Moniga’s bars, with an incredible view of the lake, with a glass of local wine in one hand and a slice of pizza in the other. I know this all sounds a bit boujee rather than budget, but with Italy’s cheap prices, you won’t mind. The fastest and cheapest way to get around and explore the lake and surrounding towns is by the ferry, which you can get from Moniga. Prices range from €3 – €30 depending on where you go and whether you buy a return or not. My highlights were Desenzano-del-Garda and Sirmione. Desenzano is a bustling town rich with culture – from the pastel Venetian style houses to the castle with a view of the lake.
With its proximity to the motorway and Milan, it is lively, especially at night, making it perfect for students. I also fell in love with Sirmione – a stunning town on the tip of a peninsula on the southern end of Lake Garda. Its thermal springs and Roman ruins attract tourists including Theresa May each year! Its beauty is better seen in person so I would recommend a visit. The campsite is also a train journey away from Venice, Verona and Milan, making it a perfect base in a mesmerising setting.