Activity center vacations guide

Staying at an activity center isn’t just amazing fun – it’s convenient, it allows for deeper cultural immersion and best of all, it’s suitable for practically anyone.
Watch your kids canyoning in Slovenia; sip frosty cold cocktails in an amazing bar carved from ice in Finland, or get your kicks white water rafting in Croatia. The joy of activity center vacations is that whatever you’re into, whenever you want to go, there is something out there to suit you. And the activities themselves can be shaped to suit you, with flexible itineraries that take into account families, groups of friends or solo travelers alike. So whether you’re looking for some quality family time, wanting to develop new interests and friendships, or you’re just hoping for a reinvigorating escape from the daily grind, this type of vacation will be right up your street.
Find out more in our Activity centers guide.

What does this trip entail?

An activity center vacation sees you based in one accommodation for the duration of your trip, with a range of experiences available either onsite or in the surrounding area. Usually these experiences will be of a physical nature, take place outdoors, and can be adapted to suit different abilities and weather conditions.

Benefits of an activity center vacation

Beyond challenging yourself with new activities, or practicing your skills in a new place, there are many other tempting reasons to take a vacation at an activity center. You’ll often be staying in unique, secluded accommodations, with hosts that know the local area and community very well. Consequently, this kind of trip can be more immersive than one that is self organised, and help support a range of other locally run tourism businesses.
Some accommodations, such as wilderness lodges in Finland, will have activities right on the doorstep, while others may involve a daily transfer. But there is rarely a need to hire your own vehicle. Everything tends to be included, from transport to guiding, equipment and qualified instruction. You simply pack up, turn up and get stuck in. Some trips involve preparing communal meals with other guests, while others may position you close to towns where you can frequent the local restaurants.
The single center format is useful for keeping itineraries loose. If you want a day off to laze by the pool or explore the nearby village then you can do so, and turns in the weather can also be easily accommodated.

Who is this type of vacation suitable for?

Activity center vacations can be especially appealing to families. You only need to unpack once, and there will often be other families staying at the same time, which can lead to lasting friendships being formed. These centers let children try new experiences in a safe, welcoming environment, with activities that can be tailored to different ages. Another advantage is that most can be reached with just a short flight, or an overland journey. But in fact these trips are perfect for virtually anyone, from solo travelers to groups of friends, sporty retirees to former backpackers looking to recapture the magic with their kids.

Hosts can arrange activities with their guests beforehand to ensure that they are appropriate for different ages, abilities and levels of fitness. Most of these activities will be entirely suitable for beginners – you’ll just need to be in decent shape and obviously, for water-based activities, a reasonable swimmer.

What about multi center trips?

Multi center vacations, which usually involve two or more destinations, are great for families and couples, as they can satisfy adrenaline seekers along with beach fans and culture vultures. They let you see more of a country or region within a short space of time, with different kinds of activities, landscapes and cuisine to be experienced. Often transfers will be arranged too, keeping things as stress-free as possible.

Multi center trips are ideal for those that prefer not to stay in one place for too long. Given that most single center activity vacations last for only a week or less though, there’s little chance of you getting bored.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Activity centers or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

Best time to go on an activity center vacation

Because these types of accommodation are scattered all over Europe and further afield, the best time of year to take an activity center vacation will depend entirely on your schedule, and of course the type of thing you’d like to do while you’re away.
Winter vacations might have options that range from the exciting, such as snowmobiling or cross-country skiing, to the relaxing including traditional Finnish saunas, or yoga classes looking out over the mountains. Or perhaps you’re looking to keep the kids entertained in the summer, and would prefer they do something outdoorsy in the fresh air. In which case they might be taking sailing and windsurfing lessons in the Med, or hiking to waterfalls in the Montenegrin mountains. We think this type of vacation is especially good for avoiding the crowds in peak season.
Where to go in spring: Wales is a fab destination during the spring. Through March, April and May the Welsh hillsides and forest paths are blanketed in pretty bluebells, and the cliffs echo to the calls of nesting birds. Austria and Finland can be promising for snowy fun as late as April. Where to go in summer: If you’re confined to traveling during school summer vacations, then in July and August destinations such as France and Wales can offer good value (we think the happy memories involved are a superb return on investment). Activity centers are also great for escaping the crowds during the summer. In Croatia for instance, Dubrovnik and the islands can be very busy in June, but head inland and it’s a different story altogether. You can also find a blissfully isolated activity center in Montenegro during summer. Where to go in autumn: Croatia, Slovenia and Turkey are idyllic in September, October and November. You can expect beautiful scenery, warm seas and far smaller crowds around destinations that are packed in summer. Wales is excellent for surfers and kayakers in the autumn as well, with atmospheric hiking another possibility. Where to go in winter: Finnish Lapland is a snowy landscape like something out of a fairytale in December, January and February, and an enthralling destination for the adventurous traveler. The Austrian mountains are similarly splendid under a thick blanket of the white stuff, which provides ideal conditions for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or just huddling up in front of a log fire.
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Roberto Nickson] [Wales kayaking: Ben Plimely] [Huskies trek: Outdoors Finland] [ Montenegrin mountains: Thomas]