Top 10 Family Holidays Worldwide
For parents, family travel is all about the three Ps: proximity, price and particulars. You want a place that’s easy to get to, on a budget, with something for everyone.
Then, once you’ve found Nirvana (Buddhist heaven, not the band) the kids get older. They declare your perfect paradise to be “boring”. So, what next?
During the transition from toddlers to tweens, my own kids, Taj and Grace replaced Fiji with Los Angeles as their happiest holiday. (Although, frankly, I think they’d be happy going anywhere that has wi-fi…) But every family is different. Some yearn for the country; for others, it’s the buzz of a big city. Whatever your passion, there are ground rules: always aim for the dry season; try to book direct flights; and make sure the destination is age-appropriate.
If there is one place that stands out to me as the best holiday destinations for families, it has to be Singapore. This small country is absolutely jam packed full of amazing family attractions, great food and is just such an easy place to visit while still having the benefit of experiencing different cultures. We love the mixture of Malay, Chinese and Indian cultures.
From Universal Studios on the very family friendly Sentosa Island to the futuristic Gardens by the Bay to eating the local fare at a hawker centre, there are many things to do to keep the kids entertained at this best family vacation destination.
No matter the age or size of your family, few travel destinations compare to Japan. It’s safe, clean, and rich with unique activities. In addition to Kyoto’s 17 UNESCO sites, the area has hiking, rafting and lessons in traditional crafts.
Then there’s Tokyo, where past and future melt together like nowhere else. Kid-friendly museums and public events are all over town, many of them cheap (or free) for children. Japan’s transportation system is unmatched, and trains link cities to the country’s wealth of natural beauty: pristine beaches, snow-capped peaks, and lush, verdant valleys.
We’ve been in and out of Japan since 2002 and still find new places to explore. The country’s distance and prices once made it prohibitive for some, but the yen’s slow descent makes now a great time to to visit.
Thailand is my pick for one of the best countries to visit with children. What stands out most is the friendly nature of the Thai people, especially in the North and especially in regards to children.
Aside from that, we discovered from being there for over 6 months that the diversity is top notch. You can enjoy snorkeling in the ocean, fire shows on the beach in the evening, trekking in the rolling hills of the north, visiting temples, chatting with Buddhist monks, volunteering to work with elephants, reveling in the celebratory nature of the people through festivities like Yi peng and Songkran and enjoy one amazingly delicious meal after another. It truly is a country of a thousand smiles!
Although we are Australian visiting places here in our home country is a lifetime odyssey! So many people think that Australia is a small country that can be seen within a couple of weeks, but our country is HUGE!
From our beaches, red center, art, culture, flora and unique fauna there is something for everyone!
I’m not reinventing the wheel when I recommend New Zealand as one of the best family travel destinations. This is a country that has already been discovered, and beloved, for ages now. You will not find a more beautiful – and in fact, magical – country. There is something for everybody.
For the cultured, check out all six stories of the national museum, Te Papa, in Wellington. It’s free.
For the adrenaline junkies, visit the Agroventures Adventure Park in Rotorua, where all in one place you can compete for a world record in the Schweeb (the world’s first human powered monorail racetrack), try bungee jumping or experience freefall.
For the movie lovers, visit The Lord of the Rings filming locations, from Mordor to Hobbiton.
For the animal lovers, there’s whale and dolphin watching, snorkeling and seals at the phenomenal beach in Kaikoura.
For the foodies, try Christchurch’s Burmese restaurant The Bodhi Tree.
For the outdoorsy, nothing can match renting a campervan while staying in comfortable, safe, and kid-friendly camping sites all over the country. Be sure to purchase the New Zealand camping guide ebook to get reviews about every camp site you’ll see along the way.
Austria has a royal past, a progressive present, and some of the most stunning outdoor landscapes in the world. You can witness the opulence of the Hapsburg Royal Family who ruled the world for centuries and made Austria one of the best countries in the world for palace visits.
The country abounds with other kid-friendly options. Playgrounds are often creative, artistic spaces and you can discover exciting children’s museums, for example at Schönbrunn Palace or inside the modern Museumsquartier in downtown Vienna.
Croatia, the land of 1000 islands, with its laid back capital of Zagreb and UNESCO-listed Dubrovnik – it’s cliche but it’s true – there is something for everyone. Especially kids.
Having lived in Croatia for more than three years now, I can tell you it has to be one of the safest parts of Europe and the most relaxed about travelling with kids. Here you enjoy kid-friendly activities like swimming under waterfalls, wild horse jeep safaris, making sand castles and spending the day in fun museums like THE Optical Illusions Museum in Zadar and Zagreb. And, of course, there are 100’s of safe beaches to choose from.
When one thinks of France, they might immediately think of Paris, but this country has more to offer than the City of Lights.
Paris is delightful for families with the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, and Notre Dame, but why not leave the city and explore the chateaus and caves of the Dordogne or the beautiful beaches of the Côte d’Azur? Don’t forget the lavender fields and Roman ruins of Provence, or the history lessons to be found along the coast of Normandy.
Wherever families find themselves in France, they are sure to encounter warm hospitality, amazing history and fabulous cuisine. The most difficult decision families must make is knowing which region of the country to explore first as they are all special in their own way. We’ve visited 15 countries in Europe with our children, and France is their favorite country that they ask to return to each and every trip.
Hot Tip: For first timers visiting France, head to Paris and then choose a separate region of the country to explore. Paris is expensive and not representative of the rest of the country. Staying in the city alone is to miss out on the magic that exists outside its walls.
After spending the first five years of my kids’ lives in Germany, and then moving back to the U.S. I have confirmed my thoughts that Germany is the ideal family travel destination.
The German way of life, and focus on leisure activity, mean that the infrastructure is in place to make everything easy for visitors. Especially those with kids.
Take food, for example. My kids loved that there were sweets available everywhere. I appreciated that it was easy to find organic and healthy options at restaurants. My favorite places, though, were the Elterncafes (parent cafe). I would stop at one for a coffee and a snack, and my kids would play in an attached play area. Speaking of play areas, many large playgrounds are attached to biergartens and biergartens are attached to small playgrounds.
Throughout the country there are options for everyone in the family. Germany has one of the largest zoo per capita ratios in the world. There are kid-friendly museums filled with anything from interactive science activities to luxury cars. Imagination comes to life at the castles that dot the whole country. And for people who love fairy tales, there’s even a route to follow some of the world’s most popular stories – the Brothers Grimm Fairy tales.
Iceland, land of fire and ice, is one of our favorite vacation destinations for families. The unique landscape of erupting volcanoes, waterfalls, geysers, glaciers and black sand beaches make this an unforgettable place to visit.
There is no shortage of activities that include glacier walks, horseback riding, hikes along waterfalls, rafting along canyons, ATV rides along lava fields and wildlife watching. One of our most memorable experiences was seeing thousands of puffins in the wild.
After all those activities, soak in one of the natural hot springs or the popular Blue Lagoon. It’s also a very interesting culture of Vikings, trolls and dwarves.
Hot Tip: Be sure to eat a Skyr (Icelandic cultured dairy product) and their popular hot dog made from Icelandic lamb.
Stunning Italy is the perfect family vacation destination for your little bambinos. No matter where you travel in Italy, this scenic country provides the ideal mix of gourmet kid-friendly food, world-class art treasures, iconic landmarks and old world charm.
Exploring the ancient city of Rome is a child’s delight. Tour the wondrous Colosseum, meander through the bustling piazzas and enroll your kids in gladiator school.
When in Florence, watch your children gawk at Michelangelo’s masterpiece David, take a pizza-making class and climb Piazza Michelangelo for spectacular views!
While you and your honey stroll hand-in-hand in Venice, your children will delight in this floating city where getting lost among the canals is half the fun! Try a mask-making class and watch the expert glassblowers at work!
Whether you choose to climb the iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa, pretend to call Romeo while on Juliet’s balcony in Verona, swim in the waters of the Amalfi coast, or imagine life as it was in Pompeii before the “big-one” – Italy will fill your children’s imaginations and satisfy your adult cravings for art, gourmet treats and gorgeous scenery.
Hot Tip: To keep cool during the steamy Italian summer and to keep smiles on your kids’ faces (and yours too), take a gelato break everyday! Be sure to search out properly made artisan gelato bursting with flavor.
Spain might have a king, but the kids are the ones who truly rule this country. Little ones are an intrinsic part of everyday life. And life seems to revolve around family.
Kids are welcome just about anywhere – museums, restaurants, cafes, shops – and playgrounds crop up around nearly every corner. There’s no such thing as “kid-friendly”. Virtually nothing is off limits. Don’t be surprised to see small children dining at three Michelin star restaurants or running around royalty-worthy wedding ceremonies.
Apart from being a super family friendly holiday destination, Spain is rich in culture and buzzes with energy. From the beaches of Costa del Sol to the Pyrenees, there’s plenty to explore. Relax on paradisiac beaches in the Balearic islands, marvel at the Moorish influence in Andalucia, relish on fresh seafood in Galicia, discover Gaudi’s Barcelona or explore the capital Madrid and its nearby treasures, like Toledo, Avila and Segovia. You really can’t go wrong.
Hot Tip: Spain has a thriving late night culture. Restaurants typically open their doors at 9 p.m. If you’re not up for dinner so late, plan ahead to make sure your family won’t go to bed hungry!
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