A family farm stay is a holiday on a real, working farm. Cue the tractors, fresh milk in the morning, and oh-so beautiful scenery.
While this is the quintessential image of the countryside experience, farm stays come in all shapes and sizes, too.
There are farms offering little more than a basic field with space to pitch a tent, for a real back-to-nature adventure. And there are farms that have developed a huge range of gold-standard facilities for their guests — play areas, games rooms, swimming pools and plenty of opportunities for kids to get hands-on with the animals.
Keen to spend a little time on a UK or European farm stay, but not sure what you’re looking for? Grab your wellies and let’s explore...
Where do we begin?
Family farm stays are a holiday like no other. As guests on a working farm, the whole brood can get up close to nature — and the business of raising livestock. Little ones might get a chance to feed the animals, collect eggs, ride the tractor and even (depending on the time of year) witness the magic of lambing season.
But there’s plenty to do away from the farm, as well. Deep in the countryside, outdoor activities — like walking trails, horse riding and cycling — are easy to come by. But find a farm stay with plenty of on-site entertainment, and you might not want to leave your rural retreat!
Because they usually offer just a handful of accommodation options, farm stay holidays are often quiet and relaxed. This kind of break is a chance to slow down and escape the busy day-to-day — and for little ones to learn and explore.
Let’s not beat around the bush here: a farm stay involves staying on a real-life, working farm. So, chances are, a few of the accommodation features will test even the most laid back of families. Expect the farm to be noisy (and sometimes stinky!), with lots of mud.
The vast majority of farm stays are — understandably — based out in the sticks, so a car is essential. And, even then, the attractions of nearby towns and cities are harder to access.
Also, depending on the farm and its facilities, you might find that older kids and teens aren’t so enthusiastic about the animals. For them, they might miss the hustle and bustle of town or city life and (let’s face it) a strong WiFi connection.
Families who spend most of their time in the city will get the biggest kick out of a farm stay — the fresh air, the bleating lambs and the snuffly pigs will keep little ones happy for days. Having said that, any family with young children and a love for nature would enjoy time on the farm.
The short answer? Not in a barn with the animals (sorry kids). Accommodation varies from farm to farm, but these are the most likely options:
This is the cheapest and most basic form of family farm stay accommodation. Some farms provide a field and very little else in the way of facilities.
Up the luxe with a glamping stay in a yurt, teepee or wooden cabin. Accommodation is still relatively basic (compared to a hotel or B&B), but you’ll get a comfortable bed and all the excitement of being out in nature.
Some farms give families the option to stay in the farmhouse itself, and enjoy a hearty breakfast made with wonderful home-grown produce. A word of warning though: en-suite rooms for large families can turn out quite expensive indeed.
A self-catering farm stay cottage is more expensive than camping or glamping. But you get your own little countryside home from home, with kitchen facilities and maybe even a cosy log burner, too.
The location, facilities and accommodation you choose all have an impact on how much a family farm stay costs. You can find B&B and self-catering accommodation for around £400 per week, depending on the level of luxury you want. While camping can cost as little as £10 a night.
Family farm stays are available all year round in both the UK and Europe. However, as fair weather is a pretty crucial part of your trip — it’s hard to truly appreciate your surroundings or explore in heavy rain — you’ll have more fun if you avoid the depths of winter.
Late spring to early autumn is ideal (although lambing season, from January to April is a special time to visit, too).
Plenty of UK farms have opened up to staycationers; choose from a range of rural, coastal and national park locations across England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. You’ll also find a growing number of farm stays (sometimes called agriturismos) across Europe.
Farm stay in the UK? Wellies are a must. Remember: these are working farms, so you may have to contend with muddy walkways. Otherwise, pack for changeable weather, outdoor adventures and camping gear if you need it.
Some farm owners welcome kids getting involved on the farm — that might mean feeding the animals, petting them and collecting eggs. They might even learn how to milk a cow (with professional supervision, of course).
Some farms also boast play areas, games rooms, tennis courts and swimming pools. Chances are, your little one won’t want to come home!
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