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Want to try private group travel? These companies offer European family holidays to remember

Dine on a private island with Holmen Lofoten hotel.
Dine on a private island with Holmen Lofoten hotel. Copyright Ed Schofield / Black Tomato
Copyright Ed Schofield / Black Tomato
By Angela Symons
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From Budapest’s Christmas market to Norway’s midnight sun, these private group trips make for holidays to remember.

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Imagine dining with your grandparents under Norway’s midnight sun or exploring the legendary city of Troy with your nephews and nieces.

Multi-generational travel has been on the rise since families wanted to reconnect after COVID lockdowns. Now, itineraries are popping up to meet the demand.

Handpicked travel company Black Tomato saw private group bookings rise by 35 per cent in 2022 compared with 2019. It has responded by launching more than 30 bespoke travel experiences for friends and family to embark on together.

Unveiled on 12 October, its ‘See You in the Moment’ (SYITM) group tours have been carefully curated to strengthen relationships and create lasting bonds through the power of travel. The trips are crafted around unifying experiences - The Meal, The Event, The Challenge, The Journey, The Celebration - each of which is flexible and customisable, a far cry from the usual rigidity of group travel.

Ready to share a meaningful and memorable trip with your loved ones? Here are some of the best group travel experiences in Europe.

Dine under the midnight sun in the Lofotens, Norway

Picture yourself on a secluded beach on an uninhabited island in the Lofotens - the Norwegian archipelago that inspired the landscapes in the Disney movie ‘Frozen’.

In this magical setting, a team of world-class chefs will serve up a beach barbecue for you and your loved ones to enjoy.

This gourmet private retreat is one of Black Tomato’s new ‘See You in the Moment’ experiences.

Black Tomato's co-founder Tom Marchant talks about the idea behind 'See You In The Moment'.

The multi-day adventure can be tailored to include hiking, kayaking, surfing, RIB boat rides and cold-water plunges - satisfying thrill-seekers and foodies alike.

Other European trips on the luxury travel company’s new line-up include a Celtic New Year celebration in the Scottish Highlands - complete with whisky tastings and Highland Games - and candle-lit dining inside Iceland’s Thrihnukagigur volcano with a volcanologist as your private guide. 

Experiences around the globe span rafting through Peru’s Sacred Valley and seeing a different side of Thailand's bucket-list Songkran festival.

Sip wine with your loved ones in France’s Loire Valley

Wine tasting tours might ooze romance, but they’re not the sole preserve of loved up couples.

Sip sustainably on a rail adventure in France’s Loire Valley with No Fly Travel Club.

Ideal for a long weekend with friends, their three-night itinerary includes a home-cooked wine-tasting dinner with sunset views, along with visits to local small-batch producers and a private wine-tasting experience by foot or e-bike.

You’ll stay at La Grande Maison, an eco-conscious chateau just south of the medieval town of Saumur. The trip includes return trains, transfers, luxury accommodation, breakfast, two home-cooked dinners, a private tasting day with lunch and more.

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Without the liquid limits of flying, you’ll even be able to take a few bottles home with you.

Take a Christmas crawl through central Europe

Does your family go all-out for Christmas? Take things to the next level with a train-hopping trip through central Europe’s festive markets.

Board the Eurostar in London to Munich, Germany via Cologne. From there, you can jump on the Kalman Imre sleeper train to Budapest, Hungary, where you can embrace the holiday spirit at one of Europe’s best Christmas markets.

Budapest is home to one of Europe's best Christmas markets.
Budapest is home to one of Europe's best Christmas markets.Canva

En route home, continue the festive fun with stops in Prague in the Czech Republic, Krakow in Poland, Berlin in Germany and Brussels in Belgium. To catch all the twinkling trees, gluhwein and gingerbread, travel between 2-23 December.

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If the thought of planning all that makes you dizzy, flight-free travel company Byway has you covered with its 12-day Central European Christmas Markets itinerary, including transport, accommodation and support along the way.

Experience living history in Turkey

Turkey has it all: rich history, breathtaking scenery, buzzing bazaars and lip smacking food. Experience it all on G Adventures’ Best of Turkey trip, an eight-day adventure starting and ending in Istanbul.

Experience the best of Turkey on a private group tour.
Experience the best of Turkey on a private group tour.G Adventures Inc.

Delve into recent history at the WWI battlefield of Gallipoli before leaping into Greek myths in the ancient cities of Troy and Ephesus. Relax in the mineral-rich thermal waters of Pamukkale’s white cliff springs before heading back to Istanbul to explore its bazaars, mosques and tea houses.

With comfortable accommodation, a mix of private and public transport, and some light walking, this trip is suited to all ages.

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Cycle Portugal's Atlantic coast

Portugal's stunning Atlantic coast is lined with pine forests, fishing villages and bird-filled lagoons. Explore it with the breeze in your hair on a cycling trip from Porto to Lisbon.

Worried you're not up to the task? Responsible Travel's eight-day trip covers daily distances of around 45km on tarmac roads and flat terrain - ideal for a leisurely social cycle.

Take a leisurely bike tour of Portugal's Atlantic coast.
Take a leisurely bike tour of Portugal's Atlantic coast.Exodus Travels via Responsible Travel

On this adventure, groups of eight or more can ride past the sand dunes of Sao Jacinto Natural Reserve and spend a night in Obidos, famed for its medieval castle - stopping for Portuguese pastries along the way.

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