Six favourite campsites in Europe

Sian the Girl Outdoors' Six favourite campsites in Europe 

  • Tarnfoot, Lake District

    This little-known campsite is one of my absolute favourites, so let's keep it a secret, ok? The Lake District has arguably one of the most glorious landscapes in Britain, which can make it a pretty busy place in summer. Not so at Tarn Foot campsite. This unspoilt meadow is tucked away in the quietest corner of Cumbria. Green hills soar above the camping field and right next door is the beautiful lake of Loughrigg Tarn, perfect for wild swimming, tadpole hunting or just a spot of sunbathing on the shore. If you fancy iconic views and an ice-cream, the famed waters of Coniston and Windermere and the pretty streets of Kendal are all short drives away. You might struggle to leave the peace of Tarnfoot, though. This is the place to come for proper, old-school camping – there are no campervans or real facilities, just a rainbow of tents nestled in a heavenly valley.
  • Bryher Campsite, Isles of Scilly, Cornwall

    Enjoy camping on one of the idyllic Isles of Scilly, a magical string of sub-tropical islands off the Cornish coast. The family-run campsite on tiny Bryher (population, 84) looks out over the clear blue waters of the Atlantic, and pitching up here and exploring the local white sand beaches and secret coves will make you feel very far from the madding crowds. Bryher is only 1.5 miles long and 500 metres wide, so kids can roam completely free and let their imaginations turn the island into a fairy land or pirate lair. Spend your days messing about on the water or hopping around the archipelago – there are five islands in total, and each is totally unique. Then buy your dinner from Bryher’s only shop, or from one of the popup vegetable honesty stalls and watch the sun set from the porch of your tent.
  • Three Cliffs Bay, Gower, Wales

    This must be one of the most stunning views from a tent in Britain. The Three Cliffs campsite looks out over the triple limestone peaks of this famous Welsh bay, and its big grassy fields are always full of scores of happy children for yours to make friends with. The Gower peninsula is ideal for exploring over a weekend, stuffed with fairytale woods, sleepy villages and epic sweeping beaches lined by miles of coastal paths. And if your idea of first-time camping still includes some creature comforts, this is the site to pick – there are washing up facilities, free hot showers, a great shop and even posh bell tents to rent if you feel like glamping. The beach below is the perfect place to play in the sand and paddle in the shallows with sprogs, but be careful of swimming out too far, as riptides have been reported.
  • Camping Sisargas, Spain

    Let the kids run truly free at Sisargas, on Spain's beautiful Costa Da Morte. There's tons of space for everyone at this sun-dappled, relaxed site hidden away in a eucalyptus grove, including a pool to splash about in and miles of paved cycle routes to pedal along. Meanwhile, you can take your pick of the hammocks strung up in the trees for a little nap. Want to go exploring? On the campsite’s doorsteps are lush forests of pines, little villages of stone houses and five secluded sandy beaches. This may be the Spanish Costa, but it’s definitely not as you know it. And after all that exploring you can head to the nearby seaside town of Malpica for amazing seafood or cook up a feast on the on-site BBQs. Sisargas seems to have found the perfect recipe for peace and relaxation.
  • Mille Etoiles, France

    A thousand stars by name, millions to count in the sky by nature - this peaceful woodland campsite is the ultimate in escapism. Perched above a gorge, you can rent canoes and go for a paddle along the river when it's hot, or play hide and seek in the cool woods. If you fancy trying glamping, or don’t have room to pack the tent, then there are yurts on-site to rent. Each comes with its own quirky theme, Edwardian safari, anyone? The owners have small children and have made the site totally child friendly - there's even a pirate ship for them to commandeer. If you could conjure up a campsite from a Famous Five novel, it would probably look a lot like Mille Etoiles. Don’t forget to see how many stars you can count in the sky once night falls.
  • Kokopelli, Italy

    Get in touch with your holiday spirit at Kokopelli. This paradisiacal campsite is perfect for active families. It’s tucked away in the foothills of the Majella national park, a verdant mountain range criss-crossed with 500km of walking trails. The owners of this charming site are fonts of knowledge on where to go trekking and climbing, or even skiing in colder weather. Weary hikers can then relax at this simple, tents-only eco haven – it may only be a two hour drive from Rome, but it feels like a million miles from anywhere. There are no designated spots in this garden of Eden - campers can just pitch where they like among the olive groves and wild flowers, and the big communal barn is packed with cooking utensils, books and games. You can even pick your own herbs and veggies from the garden to make dinner with. Perfect for introducing little ones to la dolce vita.