We are trying to pick a destination for a vacation in June and I need a little help. Those of us who are old enough to have an opinion have settled on these four spots to chose from: Marrakech, Pula, Thessaloniki or Copenhagen. What are positives/negatives you found in your past travels? We will be traveling with our kids 12, 10 and 5.
I've only been to 1 of the 4 places you listed, which is Marrakesh and I absolutely adore Morocco. I rave about it to everyone who is willing to listen!
A few questions, what are you looking to do on this particular vacation? Are you going to be in a group? Do you want to do things, be on tour groups, or just relax?
In my past travels I've always been set on a couple of things I want to do or see in the area that makes it very positive experience. The weather is also a big factor, I'm not a fan of cold places unless it's for something incredible. The negatives are not being able to plan for everything, many things are unforseeable, and sometimes you do just have to go with the flow.
Marrakesh is a wonderful city, it's very popular, but also crowded. I spent most of my time studying in Rabat, much smaller, the medina was less daunting to traverse through and I felt more comfortable. Marrakesh's medina is massive, you do need a guide, and it took me two days to figure out how to get back and forth to my Riad hotel in the Medina! However, at night, the square comes alive with food vendors and that is the place to be to eat everything your heart desires! Be aware though that there are other vendors that try to put every animal on Earth on you and it's not fun. Just give them a firm "La!" which is "No" in Arabic and they generally go away. I also got to experience a private Hamman session at some local spa (sorry I can't give better details, actually had a Morrocan friend help me figure it out) and it was a hilarious but awesome experience (lots of telling me how dirty I was, which I was, and just lots of comical moments).
Shopping is big in Marrakesh, but I tried not to spend money on the big brands when you have access to that in the States. I'd suggest taking a week to see at least two cities in Morocco. Those being Chefchaouen (my fave!) and Marrakesh.
Keep in mind that Morocco gets a ton of sun, and I hid away in my riad most of the time in Marrakesh because it was 100F or more during the day. It didn't cool down till about dinner time, that's when I ventured outside. Considering Morocco is an Islamic country, modesty (cover the shoulders and knees) means lots of sweating through a lot of clothes too!
Thanks for the amazing information! Fortunately we are in Tampa, so we can handle the heat, but I don't think that this will be the most family friendly place based on your info. This was a great help :)
The only one of those places I can weigh in on is Pula. We didn't actually spend a lot of time in the city, just came there to see the Roman arena and to the marina to do a daysail up the coast. But the very quiet and rural area around Pula is beautiful and stunning Rovinj is a great day trip from there as well. The kids would love "Glavani Park", an adventure park built by acquaintenances of ours on their farmland near Glavani and Barban, a short drive from Pula, and they're the perfect age. It's a fun, laid back place, and they have accommodations near the park as well. They have a big operation now, with connections for other activities like ATV's, bikes, horseback rides, etc. Pula and the rest of Istria is an easy drive from Venice, which is usually best best place for air connections and rental cars to get to the peninsula.
Kranzie10, Copenhagen is a wonderful city and the bicycle capital of the world with lots to see and do. Admittedly, it is best to discover all by bicycle which doesn't make it an ideal destination for your 5 year old kid. Bicycle lanes are crowded and locals ride fast. You could potentially walk or take public transportation, but that would be only half the fun and time consuming. Keep the city on your list and do it when the youngest is 10? As with most northern destinations, Copenhagen does not come cheap. Best to get an airbnb and do the occasional cooking.
Thanks @Liketraveling! Copenhagen is high on the list but the accomidations are soooo expensive. We were supposed to go there last April, but had to cancel for health reasons :(
I love that place. Nigel Simpson, his wife Sue, and their Croatian partner Navenko are great folks. If you contact the park for info and/or accommodations, you'll probably be talking to Nigel, Sue or Darko (the manager), tell 'em Ed from Alabama sent you. At one time they had a great connection for a reasonably priced day sail out of Pula as well if you're interested in that.
I have done three out of four. Pula is the only one I can't give advice on. The key is going to be kids, and what they might like.
1)Marrakesh. Awesome. Good tourist infrastructure and plenty of stuff to really wow kids. A "glamping" trip on camels out in the desert and the souks should be thrilling for them all. However, as has been mentioned, watch out for the heat. In my opinion this would be the most culturally adventurous of your choices.
2) Copenhagen. If your kids love history, it is a really cool place. However, it is expensive and is crowded. Have you considered doing a road trip out of Copenhagen? You can take an overnight ferry (ie mini-cruise ship) to Bornholm. You can bike to your heart's content out in the Danish countryside there. You can also rent a car, and go to Legoland in Billund. Again, see the countryside with plenty for kids to do.
3) Thessaloniki is probably your least expensive option. Greece is really inexpensive. Good tourist infrastructure, plenty of Greek and Roman ruins for the kids to wander about in, and it has the best beach opportunities of the three regions I know of. You should also be able to do day, or overnight, ferries to some of the islands, but I have never taken a ferry out of Thessaloniki, so I can't say for sure.
Whatever you choose, I am sure you will have a great trip!