Let’s face it: who wouldn’t want a clean sandy beach to themselves in August? Or a comfortable cottage in the woods near a lake where they can canoe, kayak and hike in relative solitude?

For years Scandinavia has mostly been known for being expensive – which is a shame because in many ways it’s the ideal place for holidays with kids.

Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden are clean, safe, child-friendly countries with quality self-catering accommodation and an abundance of outdoor activities. And with schools going back earlier than ours, Scandinavia in late August is entering low-season prices. 

ScanTours managing director Ian Woolgar said: “Scandinavia isn’t as cheap as Spanish beach resorts, but it is good value and the quality is higher.”

Parents needing to pack everything but the kitchen sink can hop on the ferry from Newcastle or Harwich, and drive straight off towards beautiful unspoiled beaches, inland villages and tranquil lakes on well-maintained roads. Taking the ferry means clients can also avoid Scandinavian prices on booze, which, in reality, is the main culprit for its expensive reputation. Those preferring to fly will find Scandinavian and British airlines constantly increasing their networks and plenty of car-hire options at the other end.

English is spoken in even the most remote villages so families can enjoy the wilderness without feeling isolated.

Travel Weekly has put together a taster of what Scandinavia offers families looking for a holiday that won’t break the bank. All prices are for one week in August.

Finland: wilderness activity week

Cycling in FinlandWhy? This is a fun, action-packed holiday designed for families. Outdoor activities are organised each day, including hiking and cycling in the Koli National Park and canoeing. There’s also one day free for families to do what they want. All activities are supervised. Accommodation is in basic but comfortable self-catering cottages for three nights and in a farmhouse for another three nights.

Would suit: families who want to learn new sports and make new friends, or families holidaying together.

Sample product: Adventure Company offers six nights’ bed and breakfast for £799 for adults and £599 for children under 11, including return flights from London with Finnair, transfers, three lunches and five dinners plus activities. Departures are available on August 4 for families with teenagers and August 19 for all children over five.

See also: ScanTours offers seven nights’ accommodation in a lakeside cabin for £410 per person for a family of four, with a £60 reduction for each child. The price includes flights, car hire and a travel pack. Most cottages have a private sauna and many have their own boat.

Norway: fjord cruise

Why? It is an opportunity to experience the dramatic scenery of Norway’s remote islands and fjords, from the comfort and safety of a ship. Costa Cruises offers a seven-night cruise to and from Copenhagen on board the Costa Magica. The ship has kids’ clubs, entertainment and supervision day and night, a children’s pool and special menus. Parents can even take excursions from the ship and leave youngsters in the care of the staff on board. Three and four-berth cabins are available, or families can opt for interconnecting rooms.

Would suit: families wanting to see the fjords without the hassle of a self-drive holiday, and parents with young kids wanting a relaxing break.

Sample product: Costa Cruises offers seven nights on board Costa Magica from £1,045 per adult and £860 per child sharing a cabin with their parents, including return flights. Departures are available for August 6 or 20.

See also: Voss, situated between Sognefjord and Hardangerfjord. Crystal Lakes and Mountains features the three-diamond Park Hotel from £609 for adults, including flights and three-course evening meals, for departures in August. The first child goes free. 

Sweden: cottage on the Stockholm archipelago

Holiday cottageWhy? Self-catering accommodation is cheaper than a hotel, clients get more space and they won’t be locked into hotel meal times. Most properties in this area are privately owned second homes – so they’re of a good standard and range from simple cottages to five-bedroom villas with pools.

The islands are only a short transfer from Stockholm, which makes a great family day out. Favourite attractions include the Aquaria Water Museum and the Junibacken house where Pippi Longstockings and other famous characters from children’s books hang out.

Would suit: families with children of all ages who want a town-and-country style holiday.

Sample product: ScanTours offers seven nights in a self-catering cottage suitable for families from £365 per person in August, with a £50 reduction for each child under 12. The price includes return flights to Stockholm, accommodation and seven days’ car hire.

See also: Enjoy Sweden has a seven-night flydrive in west Sweden, including two nights in a hotel in Gothenburg and five nights’ self-catering in the Tanumstrand resort. A week in August starts at £699 for adults and £599 for kids under 11, including return flights to Gothenburg and car hire.

Denmark: a holiday park in west Jutland

Why? Most holiday parks in Denmark have excellent facilities, usually including children’s playgrounds, indoor swimming pools, tennis courts and on-site restaurants. The area has sandy beaches and Legoland is nearby. West Jutland is a short drive from Billund Airport, or you can take your car on the ferry from Harwich to Esjberg.

Would suit: families with pre-school children who like to spend time at the beach.

Sample product: Hoseasons Holiday Parks and Lodges in Europe offers seven nights in a two-bedroom apartment for a family of four at the Søndervig holiday park near Rongkobing, which has an indoor swimming complex. Prices start at £660 for a week in August, excluding transport.

See also: DFDS Seaways offers seven nights in a spacious detached cottage sleeping four or five in the Lojt holiday park on the east coast of Southern Jutland, a one-hour drive from the port of Esbjerg, for £1,263, including return overnight sea crossing from Harwich to Esbjerg with an inside cabin.