Center Parcs Alternatives: 14 Places Like Center Parcs That Won’t Break the Bank

In this article we look at 14 places like Center Parcs in the UK.

Center Parcs has been around in the UK since 1987 and there’s no doubt it’s a big favourite amongst people seeking action-packed, fun-filled UK family holidays. The all-year-round, sub-tropical pool areas have been a huge hit in particular. But this all-singing, all-dancing family holiday can come at a cost, especially if you’re tied to going during the school holidays.

If Center Parcs is out of your budget, the great news is that there are so many cheaper alternatives to Center Parcs offering a similar experience that won’t break the bank.

We’ve done a lot of research over the last few years on good Center Parcs alternatives because we just can’t justify the cost of a Center Parcs holiday during the school holidays. These recommendations of the best places like Centre Parcs all have so much to offer families and, like Center Parcs, are open year-round – with all but one of them having indoor pools.

These places like Center Parks are located in some of the most beautiful parts of the United Kingdom, making them the perfect place to base yourself to explore the local area. The really great thing about them, however, is that they’re CHEAPER THAN CENTER PARCS!

To give you an example of the potential savings you’ll make by choosing an alternative to Centre Parcs, we’ve taken the price of a 2 bedroom woodland lodge at Centre Parcs Woburn for one week from 31st July 2020 for 2 adults and 2 kids (5 years +). The cost of this without any extras is £2028. **All price date was checked on 10th January 2020. Note, these costs will fluctuate the closer you get to the holiday date**.

For each Centre Parcs alternative accommodation suggestion below, we have listed the comparative price as a guide. Some activities will be an additional cost.

If you’re looking for accommodation over the festive season, you might be interested in also checking out the following posts:

16 Top Ideas for Family Christmas Breaks in the UK

100+ Santa’s Grottos and Santa Experiences in the UK 2020

The Best Christmas Markets in the UK 2020

Best Center Parcs alternatives

We’ve been travelling with the kids since they were very small and if there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that kids just want to have fun! They don’t care whether there’s the latest flatscreen in every bedroom (whilst they’re still little at least!), or whether the curtains match the carpet. This detail is over their heads. They want to get outdoors and be active and swim and learn new things.

If you’re looking for places like Center Parcs without the price tag, these are the best Centre Parcs alternatives.

1. Bluestone Wales

In our opinion, the Bluestone resort in Wales is a great alternative to CenterParcs. It’s located in Pembrokeshire in Wales in a truly beautiful part of the country.  Set within a huge 500-acre park, the whole site is more spread out than Center Parcs. You would benefit from having some form of transport like bikes, although there is an on-site ‘train’ to ferry you between your lodge and the Blue Lagoon or the Village.

There are a variety of lodges to choose from that sleep between 2 and 14 people. Bluestone has one of the largest lodges we’ve come across in our searches if you’re thinking of visiting with a group. There are over 100 indoor and outdoor activities at Bluestone to keep the whole family entertained and they compare pretty well to the Center Parcs activities.

The main difference is the price. Bluestone activities are a bit cheaper than the Centre Parcs activities. One thing to note is that Bluestone is great for young children based on the type of activities on offer.

The Bluestone swimming pool is really great for little ones and offers flumes and rapids rides. It’s maybe not quite on a par with the Centre Parcs swimming pools, but it’s not far off.

Bluestone deals

You can occasionally find Bluestone deals by searching for voucher codes on Wowcher and Groupon , for example. There are also sometimes last minute Bluestone deals and special offers on their own website.

Comparative holiday cost

Prices start from £1448 (on Bluestone website)

One of the UK's places like Center Parcs - Blue Lagoon Waterpark Bluestone

Blue Lagoon Waterpark Bluestone

Thinking about camping or maybe you’re interested in campervans? Make sure to check out our top 15 recommendations for family-friendly Suffolk campsites or our guide to buying a VW Campervan and our camping essentials checklist.

2. Landal GreenParks

Landal is another great Center Parcs equivalent and they aim to provide holidays like Center Parcs on a smaller scale. It started in the Netherlands and made its way over to the UK in 2017 with its winning Center Parcs formula of lodges in forests and green areas. There are now 6 locations across the UK, with Landal Darwin Forest being its flagship park.

The parks are much smaller than Center Parcs and they don’t offer as many activities. This means that you don’t feel the need to stay on-site the entire time (unless you want to). The lodges are nicely spaced and being a small site, you can easily walk to the pool and other facilities. You can also park your car outside your lodge which is a big benefit over Center Parcs where you park in a distant car park and don’t leave the site for the entire stay.

Landal Sandybrook

Landal Sandybrook

We spent a long weekend in the Peak District at Landal Sandybrooks in June 2019 and although the park looked full, there was hardly anyone using the facilities. This is because they were all out hiking and enjoying the beautiful countryside of the Peak District. Getting out and about is encouraged by Landal and they offer discounts to local attractions.

The activities at Landal Sandybrooks include mini-golf, zorbing, archery, fencing, snorkelling and woodland walks. There’s also a playground on-site and a large grassed area with football goals which is actually all our boys need!

They offer 1,2,3 and 4 bedroom lodges with or without a spa. There’s no on-site restaurant, but the town of Ashbourne is very close by and there are a number of lovely, cosy country pubs nearby. Sandybrook is only 15 minutes from the famous Dovedale Stepping Stones which is a really easy walk with kids. It’s also right next door to the Tissington Trail which is a 13-mile traffic-free trail for cyclists and walkers. The setup is much the same at Landal Darwin Forest, but they have more on-site facilities.

We also spent a long weekend at the Landal Kenwick Woods park. It’s set in a forest on the grounds of Kenwick Park hotel in Lincolnshire, on the fringes of an area of outstanding natural beauty. The range of lodges is much the same. Depending on where your lodge is located, you may have a long walk to the pool and spa area, but you can drive your car from your lodge to the leisure complex car park. The pool area is available to cabin guests between 11 am and 7 pm. Kids are not allowed to use the spa facilities or hot tubs in the pool area. Luckily we had our own hot tub for the kids to use.

Landal deals

You can check the Landal site for last-minute deals. Sometimes booking through Booking.com with additional cashback through TopCashback may work out cheaper.

Comparative holiday cost

Prices start from £1189 (on Landal website)

Climbing Thorpe Cloud in the Peak District

Climbing Thorpe Cloud in the Peak District

3. Ribby Hall Village

Set in 100 acres of Lancashire countryside between Blackpool and Preston, Ribby Hall Village offers a 5-star holiday village experience. There are loads of indoor and outdoor activities available for families and there’s a Wild Discovery centre on-site with animal encounters but we can’t vouch for how ethical this is. You can check what kind of activities they offer here.

There are lots of dining options available and accommodation ranges from cottages to pine lodges and even a farmhouse sleeping up to 12 people.

Comparative holiday cost

Prices start from £1312 (on their own website)


Center Parcs Alternatives: 14 Places Like Center Parcs That Won't Break the Bank 1

4. Sandyballs Holiday Village

Surrounded by the beautiful New Forest National Park, Sandyballs is a low key CentreParcs. It has indoor and outdoor pools and a variety of activities, although not as many as Centre Parcs. They have archery, fishing, horse riding and there’s a children’s playground on site. During the summer months, they have outdoor movie nights.

Accommodation is a mix of caravans and lodges, some with spas. There’s always lots going on during peak season for families. They’ve also got a lovely on-site restaurant.

Sometimes booking on Booking.com with additional cashback from TopCashback can work out cheaper.

Comparative holiday cost

Prices start from £1452 (on Hoseasons)

Sandyballs indoor pool area, a Center Parcs alternative

Sandyballs indoor pool area

5. Forest Holidays

We hadn’t come across Forest Holidays before but they offer a more natural holiday alternative to Center Parcs. There are 9 sites around the UK based in forests and Forest Holidays works in partnership with the forestry commission. Accommodation is sympathetic to the local surroundings with a mix of lodges and log cabins. Some look like treehouses which are sure to be a huge hit with the kids.

The sites don’t have pools, but the beauty of these resorts is that there are so many opportunities to get the kids out into nature and we still think they’re a great alternative, especially if you like to get away from crowds. Activities on offer in all of them are roughly the same and mostly revolve around outdoor adventures. They offer forest ranger adventures and nocturnal adventures (for 10 yrs+) and playgrounds for kids.

Blackwood Forest – located in a forest in Hampshire, about 40 km from Southampton.

Comparative holiday cost

Prices start from £1960

Ardgartan – on the shores of Loch Long, about 40 km north of Glasgow.

Comparative holiday cost

Prices start from £1555

Forest Holidays deals

Check Forest Holidays Last-minute availability on their website. Also look at Tesco Clubcard deals. You can currently turn £5 of vouchers into £15 to spend on Forest Holidays.

Forest Holidays Blackwood Forest treehouse

Forest Holidays Blackwood Forest treehouse

Best UK Holiday Park Resorts

There’s no doubt that the park resort type of holiday is very popular in the UK. Known formerly as holiday camps (images of the Hi-de-Hi yellow coats spring to mind), holiday park resorts have been around in one form or another since the beginning of the 20th century. They were very popular in the 50s and 60s until the arrival of cheap package holidays when they suffered a huge decline in popularity.

If you haven’t considered this type of holiday before due to the impression of outdated caravans and facilities, think again. Many of the Park dean resorts and Haven resorts have undergone huge upgrades and offer new facilities and lodges that rival Centre Parcs. Not a fan of the traditional holiday park entertainment? Just use the accommodation as a base and head out to explore the local area. If you choose the right park with updated facilities, these extras will be a bonus that the kids will love.

Location is everything when choosing the right place for you. If you like a good beach holiday, there are plenty of waterside holiday parks to choose from. Wherever you’re planning to visit in the UK, from a Centre Parcs Scotland alternative down to the south coast of England, there will be a holiday park nearby. We’ve rounded up the best holiday park resorts to save you a whole lot of searching.

6. Parkdean Nodes Point

Parkdean resorts are at the cheaper end of the UK holiday park scale, but they do have some gems in amongst their 71 sites in the UK. Based on countless good reviews, we’ve highlighted the best Parkdean holidays for families.

Nodes Point is located on the Isle of Wight with direct access to the beautiful soft sandy beach of St Helens. It offers traditional holiday caravans with some lodges and also some luxury safari tents for the summer months with their own kitchen and toilet. There’s an on-site restaurant, kids’ club, indoor pool with water slide and toddler pool and a multi-weather sports facility.

Comparative holiday cost

Prices start from £759 for a basic chalet but you probably want to look at a luxury caravan for a comparable at £1399 (on Hoseasons)

7. Parkdean White Cross Bay

White Cross Bay – located in the beautiful Lake District on the eastern shores of Lake Windermere. They offer a mixture of lodges and caravans, some with hot tubs and some newer than others. There’s an on-site restaurant and an indoor pool with sauna and jacuzzi, an adventure playground for the kids and boating activities. This is such a great location to base yourself for exploring the Lake District.

Somerford lodge at White Cross Bay

Somerford lodge at White Cross Bay

Comparative holiday cost

Prices start from £879 for a basic caravan but you probably want to look at a lodge for a comparable at £1189 (on Hoseasons)

8. Parkdean Warmwell

Warmwell is located in a woodland park near Weymouth in Dorset. It’s a 25-minute drive to the nearest beach, but the big appeal of this one is their all-weather ski slope! They also have an indoor rollerskating rink, archery and ten pin bowling. The indoor pool has a wave machine and flumes. It is a lodge only park with an on-site restaurant.

Comparative holiday cost

Prices start from £1149 for a basic lodge (on Hoseasons)

Parkdean offers

Check out the Parkdean offers on their website. Before booking, it’s also worth checking out Wowcher and Groupon to see if they’re running any offers. You could also consider taking part in the annual Sun holidays scheme where you collect vouchers in the paper and use them to book holidays starting from £9.50. Parkdean

9. Haven Primrose Valley

Haven Holidays are very similar to Parkdean holidays, offering 40 parks across the UK. They’re geared towards families and many of them are pet-friendly.

Primrose Valley is located in Yorkshire on a beautiful stretch of beach along the coast from the Flamborough Headland Heritage coast near Scarborough. There are loads of on-site food and drink options, 2 indoor pools with waterslides and splash park, an outdoor heated pool, go-karting, high ropes and boating lake. It offers a range of caravans to suit every budget. Great for families with kids under 5 and pet-friendly.

Comparative holiday cost

Prices start from £885 for a basic caravan but you probably want to look at a newer model for a comparable at £1104 (on Hoseasons)

10. Haven Hafan y Mor

Hafan y Mor is located in North Wales on a beautiful beach close to Snowdonia National Park. It’s one of the largest of the Haven sites, with so many activities on offer. There’s an indoor sports zone, indoor pool with wave machine, slides and flumes. The list goes on with mini-golf, high ropes, pedal karts, den building, 4×4 mini-adventures, entertainment venues and a mini-market. The Dragon Lakes Adventure Village is a big draw  Lots of great dining options available and great for families with kids under 5. Pet-friendly.

Hafan y Mor indoor pool

Hafan y Mor indoor pool | Phot Credit: Haven

Comparative holiday cost

Prices start from £875 for a basic apartment (on Hoseasons)

11. Haven Lydstep Beach

Lydstep Beach is  located in North Wales very close to the lovely coastal town of Tenby. Set on a beautiful bay in south Wales with incredible sea views, it’s one of the smaller, more intimate Haven parks.  The main emphasis is on the watersports in the bay but there are plenty of other activities at Lydstep Beach including a climbing wall and aqua gliders in the pool for young kids. Nature Rockz offers a range of outdoor activities such as pirate treasure hunts, den building and nature trails. Some activities are at an extra cost. There’s an on-site restaurant with mini-market.

Comparative holiday cost

Prices start from £1204 for a deluxe caravan (on Hoseasons)

12. Haven Thornwick Bay

Thornwick Bay – located in Yorkshire just south of the famous UK holiday town of Scarborough. The park is situated on the beautiful and dramatic Flamborough Headland Heritage coast. Accommodation is a range of caravans to suit all budgets but the big draw here is that it’s the newest of the Haven parks. They have a lot more activities on offer, such as an indoor activity barn with archery, table tennis and football coaching. The indoor pool has slides and kayaking. There’s also a great family entertainment area and an on-site restaurant and mini-market. Pet-friendly.

Thornwick Bay

Thornwick Bay

Comparative holiday cost

Prices start from £772 for a standard caravan (on Hoseasons)

Haven offers

You can find Haven last-minute deals on the Haven website.

13. Butlins

Butlins is as close as you’ll get to Centre Parcs in terms of the variety of activities on offer, but it’s a completely different setup. They’re not set in lovely green forests. The sites are the original seaside sites from decades ago, just with some updated accommodation and facilities.

We stayed at the Minehead Butlins and opted for a 2-bedroom Lakeview Chalet with a balcony overlooking the lake. The accommodation was brand new and spotless with great soundproofing so we didn’t hear our neighbours (and they didn’t hear us at 5.30 am when the boys used to wake up).

Dining on the balcony at Butlins Minehead

Dining on the balcony at Butlins Minehead

The kids were very young when we visited so we didn’t see much of the evening entertainment. We took them to the dedicated toddler fairground ride area which they loved and our eldest was able to go on the go-karts (minimum height 1 m with an adult). They also loved the pool area, although we found it a little dated and it did get quite busy, although nothing like Center Parcs.

Their American diner was a great alternative on the nights we didn’t want to cook, but there are other meal plans you can arrange.

Butlins Minehead Go Karting

Butlins Minehead Go Karting

Butlins Minehead is perfectly located for exploring the beautiful scenery of Exmoor National Park or sightseeing in North Devon with kids. We used it as a base, dipping in and out of the facilities in between sightseeing and it served our needs perfectly.

Butlins deals

There are various Butlins deals available and also last-minute Butlins breaks, although if you are booking last-minute, they’re usually sold out over the bank holidays, Christmas and New Year.

You can currently turn £5 of vouchers into £15 to spend on Butlins bookings.

Comparative holiday cost

Prices start from £1552 for a West Lake Chalet

14. Center Parcs Europe

We’re including Center Parcs Europe in here because it is not actually related to Center Parks UK. It’s now owned by a French company Pierre & Vacances and has had nothing to do with Center Parcs UK since 2001.

Centre Parcs Europe is Centre Parcs as we know it, with all the bells and whistles, but at a fraction of the cost, especially during the school holidays. It’s amazing to think that a stay at Centre Parcs France or Centre Parcs Belgium can work out cheaper than a stay at one of the UK Centre Parcs, even with the cost of travel included, but it does.

We have stayed at Center Parcs Eperheide in Belgium and Center Parcs Lac d’Aillette in France and would highly recommend both of them, although the basic accommodation at Eperheide was quite dated and not on a par with the newer Center Parcs Elveden Forest or Woburn. The new Center Parcs Villages Nature in France is very popular because it’s close to Paris and Eurodisney and is one of the newer sites with fantastic accommodation.

For even greater savings, check out the sites in the destination language. For example, Center Parcs France is the site in French. Centre Parcs France is their site in English. The offers on the French site seem to be better than the English site. If you’re in Google, you should get an option to translate the page which makes browsing easier. Booking this way will mean you will pay in Euro, so make sure you have a credit card which offers good foreign transaction rates.

Asides from the cost-saving, one of the great benefits of choosing a French, German, Dutch or Belgian Center Parcs is that you get to experience another country. There are quite a few locations around Europe, so you could have a look at what’s in the local area and base your decision on that. You could use Center Parcs as a base from which to explore the region and come back and enjoy all the activities you’d expect from a UK Center Parcs.

Driving school in Eperheide Centre Parcs

Driving school in Eperheide Centre Parcs

Center Parcs Europe deals

You can check for last minute deals on the Center Parcs Europe website. Check for deals on the ferry companies websites too. You can sometimes book through them and save on your channel crossing or on your holiday.

Check Stena Line

Check DFDS

Check P&O

Comparative holiday cost

Prices start from €1384 (£1178) at the Lac d’Ailette and €1256 (£1069) at Eperheide

Booking with Hoseasons

The majority of the alternative accommodations listed can be booked through Hoseasons. When we booked, we got an extra 5% off through Mumsnet. You need to sign up to Mumsnet to get the code.

Tips for getting the best Center Parcs deals

If after all this you still want to book a Center Parcs UK stay, here are some helpful Center Parcs UK money saving tips to try to help you get the best Center Parc deals.

Tesco Clubcard vouchers

The newest member of the Center Parcs group is Center Parcs Longford Forest in Ireland. They are allowing you to use your Tesco vouchers to pay for accommodation (not activities). You can exchange a maximum of €40 of vouchers for a maximum of €160 off your booking.

Last minute deals

Although there are no official Center Parcs discounts as such, they do have a webpage with Centre Parcs last minute deals.  You generally won’t find last-minute availability for peak periods such as bank holiday weekends or Christmas and New Year.

Book Center Parcs in advance

If you know well ahead of time when you want to go, then your best bet is to book as early as possible. You can book your Center Parks stay up to 18 months in advance. If anything, they will most likely be sold out over peak periods if you leave it too late.

Buy a visitor pass for Center Parcs

If you know someone staying there, you can buy a Center Parcs Day Pass which will give you access to all the activities. It’s valid from 10 am – midnight, so you can fit a lot in.

Take your own bikes

One thing that really surprised us was the cost of bike hire. With the complexes being so large, particularly at Centre Parcs Whinfell which is the largest of the five Centre Parcs locations. We found biking everywhere was the only way to get around, other than hiring expensive golf carts, especially if your lodge is one of the furthest from the swimming pool.

The cost of Centre Parcs bike hire can really add up though, so try to bring your own if you can. Hiring bikes for a family of 4 for 3 days cost £116.

Go with a large group

The larger your group, the cheaper your stay will be if you’re sharing a lodge.

Make the most of school inset days or different school holidays

Check to see whether your school holidays are out of sync with the rest of the country. We’ve had a couple of half-term holidays that were out of sync and we’ve been able to get much cheaper holidays, not just to Center Parcs

Stay mid-week

If you live nearby one, you could even stay during the week during term time and commute to school or work.

Visit Aqua Sana – the Centre Parcs Spa

As a last resort, you could buy a Center Parcs day spa package and treat yourself without the kids!

These are just a handful of the best Center Parcs alternatives. If nothing takes your fancy, make sure to read this post on the best glamping sites in the UK if you prefer a glamping experience.

14 Places Like Center Parcs that won't break the bank

14 Cheaper alternatives to Center Parcs

14 Cheaper Alternatives to Center Parcs

14 Cheaper Alternatives to Center Parcs that won't break the bank

Entrance to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo
Children's Afternoon Tea at The Langham
Halloween scene
View of Tower Bridge from Coppa Club London
The Coppa Club Igloos at Tower Bridge
Rows of Lavender plants at the Hitchin Lavender Farm
Pumpkin patch at the Pop Up Farm
12 replies
    • Jacs
      Jacs says:

      They’ve been around a while, but are now better equipped to compete with Center Parcs and are great alternatives if you’re looking for this type of holiday with a family.

      Reply
  1. Yukti Agrawal
    Yukti Agrawal says:

    It would be great to see some cheaper alternatives in Center Parcs without breaking the banks. It would great to enjoy at Wild Discovery centre .

    Reply

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  1. […] travelling with kids?! We came across Landal Sandybrook near Ashbourne which sounded like a cheaper version of Center Parcs.  We couldn’t have been more pleased with the […]

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