1. The best family holiday destinations
Taking the family on a well-deserved holiday in 2018, but not sure where to go? We’ve pulled together a list of the best family-friendly resorts in our top destinations to help you decide. In these spots, you’ll find activities for all ages, plus swathes of soft sand and shallow, paddle-friendly waters. There are close-to-home European resorts in Majorca and Spain, and exciting, far-flung destinations like Florida and Mexico to choose from, too.
And, when it comes to hotels, our TUI FAMILY LIFE collection is your best bet. These hotels are designed to bring the whole family together, and offer something for everyone – from toddlers and teens to parents and grandparents. There are dedicated Sports & Activity Entertainers on hand to keep everyone busy with games and activities, and restaurants that cater to every taste bud, too. Plus, the top quality evening entertainment includes shows for tots, kids, teens and adults. See – everyone’s covered. Browse our family holiday deals to get booking.
Lapland’s a winner for families during the winter. Rather than hanging around the UK hoping for a white Christmas, why not fly to this Finnish spot where snow’s pretty much guaranteed? Little ones can see Santa, get involved with activities run by the elves, and even hop on a sleigh pulled by a reindeer. There’s plenty for grown-ups to enjoy too, though. Skiing, snowmobiling, and hiking are all on the cards, plus in certain resorts you might be able to spot the Northern Lights.
There’s a selection of resorts to choose from. Rovaniemi has plenty of shops and restaurants, as well as a lively nightlife scene. If you’re after snow-focused activities, Kuusamo , Yllas , and Levi are your best bet. And Luosto and Hetta are super quiet – the Northern Lights can be seen here at certain times of the year. The Snow Elf Hotel & Apartments in Yllas features an indoor pool, and little ones’ favourite Captain T regularly comes to visit.
This Balearic island has been a hit with holidaymakers for over 50 years. It ticks off everything you’d want from a family holiday, with short flights and transfers, great family hotels and attractions, amazing beaches, and culture-packed old towns. You can take your pick from quiet, laid back resorts like Cala Bona, or Alcúdia, which has one of Majorca’s longest beaches and a historic old town nearby. Or, make a beeline for Palma Nova, which lines up a trio of beaches, its own tropical-themed minigolf course, and the Aqualand waterpark.
Protur Aparthotel Bonaire in Cala Bona has its own lazy river-style pool and a children’s splash park with chutes, slides and a giant pirate ship. There’s also a brand new Kids’ Club by TUI Family Life, which offers daytime activities five days a week for all ages, plus mini-discos in the evenings. Over in Palma Nova, the beachside Globales Santa Lucia lines up a sea-view pool with a separate section for little ones. Plus, it’s in a prime spot for accessing all of the resort’s top attractions.
When we say Bulgaria, family holiday probably doesn’t spring to mind. But, Bulgaria’s an up-and-coming tourist hotspot, full of child-friendly hotels and activities to keep the whole family entertained. In fact, 8.8 million holidaymakers visited the eastern European gem last year alone. Budget-friendly Sunny Beach is the most popular family holiday resort, with spotless Blue Flag beaches, a lively promenade, and plenty of watersports on offer. It’s easy to take day trips to the UNESCO-listed Nessebar where you can explore temples, chunky fortress walls, and an Ottoman-style Medieval Basilica, too.
Our TUI FAMILY LIFE Nevis Resort in Sunny Beach features a kids’ splash zone, a beachfront location and big family-sized suites for up to six people. The evening entertainment also lines up family-centric activities like quizzes, and West End musical-style shows.
Millions of UK tourists choose the Costas in Spain for their annual holiday, and Costa Dorada is one of the best spots to take your clan. This resort boasts kid-friendly hotels, huge stretches of white sand, a lively promenade, and plenty of activities for all ages. If you fancy planning in some day-trips, Barcelona is just under two hours away, and you can reach the Aquopolis waterpark and the PortAventura theme park, home to Europe’s tallest rollercoaster, in just over 30 minutes by car. Our TUI FAMILY LIFE Avenida Suites is right in the centre of Salou, putting you in close proximity to all the attractions, plus it’s a 10-minute stroll from the Llevant Beach. The suites here are smart, modern and spacious, and there’s access to a huge pool, too. Or, if you want to be right in the heart of the action, pick the Hotel H10 Salou Princess as your base, which is close to both the beach and PortAventura theme park.
Over in Costa De La Luz, on Spain’s southern coast, you can enjoy a quieter family escape. The newly-refurbished TUI FAMILY LIFE Islantilla is right next to a 20-mile-long stretch of sand. Plus, the hotel lines up a packed activity programme, a lagoon-like pool, and has four restaurants to choose from. The Portuguese border is less than half-an-hour’s drive away from the resort, too. In fact, you can even take the family for a day out in the Algarve, which is littered with beautiful beaches, and tick off two countries in one trip.
Cyprus combines big beach resorts and waterparks with Ancient Greek ports and traditional harbour towns – so you can experience both authentic island life and high-octane activities. When it comes to resorts, the Larnaca region is a family favourite. Here you’ll find sandy beaches, waterparks and traditional restaurants. Or, you can stay in Paphos to experience traditional Cyprus, with temples, colourful mosaics and a Neolithic history to learn about.
The wallet-friendly Electra Village hotel in Lanarca comes with a huge pool, great entertainment, and a waterpark complete with loads of slides, a lazy river, and a splash area for little ones. While over in Protaras, the newly-refurbished TUI FAMILY LIFE Nausicaa Beach boasts two outdoor pools with views overlooking Fig Tree Bay, lush gardens and a sandy beach in close proximity.
2. BEST FAMILY HOLIDAY DESTINATIONS
For resort-free beach bliss, go west toward Lagos and beyond, watching it get wilder and prettier by the kilometre. The deserted strands are either surfing paradise or tranquil bays, with cycling and hiking trails all along this littoral loveliness too. Portugal’s laidback rural life reveals another way of being – although quintas also offer swimming pools and mod cons. And unlike Spain, Portugal does dinner at sane times and sane prices.
One for the more adventurous family but, in a country where the only constant is change, it’s likely that kids, with their sponge-like brains and boundless energy, will cope better as the country flips between modernity and tradition than their parents. Older children will be blown away by the Great Wall, the Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Centre, mud baths at Yangshuo Caves or even try their hand at Kung Fu school.
The Croatian islands are all about going with the flow. Literally, on a sea kayaking or adventure holiday, or metaphorically, as you and your children zone into island time, and have the freedom to roam and explore. Especially on the car free ones. The mainland has lots of adventure opportunities too. White water rafting on the Una River, for example, beats any theme park trip you have ever had.
Cuba welcomes children with open arms. There are plenty of outdoor activities to excite both young and older. And of course the tropical beaches are just idyllic, as are the inland rivers and waterfalls, such as the natural pools at Las Terrazas. But Cuba’s real attraction is its culture. Children can join dance classes, enjoy the cool coco taxis, or just sit back and absorb Cuban life (and omnipresent music) at night time in the plazas.
One of England’s most eclectic counties in terms of landscape, with beaches, wild horses, rivers and a staunch ethos of local food. Devon feels like you stepped into an Enid Blyton book really, with a plethora of family friendly self-catering options too, such as beautiful eco-lodges, farmstays, charmingly chintzy cottages and barn conversions. World capital for cream, when you visit with your kids, you do feel a little bit like the cats that got a lot of it.
The Finns are extremely welcoming to children and, provided you keep them warm and well fed they should be happy to hang out with huskies and reindeers, go snowshoeing or cross country skiing and toboggan down fells until you are too exhausted to haul them back up again. But when you are, you can all hit the sauna. Finnish Lapland is a cultural cornucopia too, with Sami traditional lifestyles a growing aspect of family holidays.
3. THE 30 BEST PLACES TO GO WITH KIDS
As the weather gets cooler, for many families thoughts turn to booking the next big summer trip. To help you find a destination that’s fun for the grown ups as well as suitable for little ones we’ve put our expert travel heads together to collate a list of the top 30 places to go with kids. No matter whether you want a relaxing break or something a little more adventurous, there’s somewhere for everyone in this list.
1. KERALA, INDIA
Kerala offers the Indian experience at a more manageable pace for families with babies or small children. Start in quaint Fort Cochin, a small, chilled-out quarter of Kochi with good hotels and restaurants. The peaceful backwaters can easily be reached on a day trip from here, but if you want to overnight along serene waterways on a houseboat made of wood and palm leaves, start out from Alappuzha (Alleppey) or Kumbakonam. Kids will also love the state’s national parks, with elephant spotting in Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, and for teenagers, there’s bamboo rafting.
2. MARIBOR, SLOVENIA
Slovenia is a small but brilliant country – especially for family travel. Rent a car and head north from the capital to Maribor, a compact city that’s just a stone’s throw from active entertainment appropriate for all ages. There’s canoeing on the river Drava in summer and skiing in the nearby resort of Pohorje in winter. In spring, try the resort’s single-track toboggan that hurtles down the ski slopes at up to 30mph.
3. THE WEST MIDLANDS, ENGLAND
England‘s Midlands are perhaps not the obvious destination for a family holiday in the UK, but the region has tons of great places to go with kids. See big game in the West MidlandsSafari Park, or visit the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley to go back in time to the 1930s and taste the best chips – fried in beef dripping – you’ll ever have. Then there’s Birmingham, which has an excellent Sea Life Centre, and Derby, a pleasant gateway to the Peak District and the Severn Valley Steam Railway, which runs between Kidderminster and Bridgnorth.
4. PUGLIA, ITALY
Puglia, in the heel of Italy’s boot, is a great choice for a family holiday in the sun. With no end of pristine beaches, the Salento peninsula is a highlight; the seaside town of Otranto with its hulking castle makes an appealing family-friendly base. The countryside has its charms too, not least the fairytale trulli – kids will love spotting these pint-sized limestone dwellings with conical roofs, which are dotted throughout the region. Head to UNESCO-protected Alberobello for a town full of trulli – you can even spend a night in one for added fun.
5. RESERVA MONTEVERDE, COSTA RICA
Costa Rica is a world leader in eco- and adventure-tourism, with the Monteverde area a prime example. About half of the protected area is conserved as the Bosque Eternal de los Niños (“Children’s Eternal Rainforest”), a huge stretch of lush cloudforest, rainforest and montane evergreen forest threaded with trails and full of wildlife-spotting opportunities. As you’d expect, there are plenty of outdoor activities: hiking, camping, zip lines, canopy tours and horse riding. Nearby Monteverde Cloudforest Biological Reserve offers yet more pristine forests and adventure activities, while Reserva Santa Elena even has pushchair-friendly trails.
4. Top 20 family summer holidays in Europe
Want sea, sandcastles, adventure, a city break, camping, just a pool? Wepick holidays across Europe to keep everyone, from tiny tots to sulky teens, in a sunny mood
Van hire €1,302
Best for ages 10+
Type of trip Adventure
Road trips always make great adventures, especially with the novelty of sleeping in a campervan and the excitement of plotting a route on the map. The coast of Portugal, from Porto down to Lisbon, makes an ideal route, packed with beaches, surf breaks, culture, delicious cheap food and opportunities for spontaneity. The Caravan and Motorhome Club’s guidebook, Touring Spain and Portugal, is helpful for campsites, but it’s worth grabbing the chance to wild camp: just swing towards the sea whenever a turn-off looks promising.
• indiecampers.com. Price is for a week’s hire of a Fiat motorhome with two double beds, picking up Porto and dropping off Lisbon, in summer
Artist’s abodes, Lanzarote
Villa for 4 £1,005
Best for ages 2-6
Type of trip Culture
Haria is an enchanting village of palm trees and colourful faded facades, so it’s no wonder Lanzarote’s most famous artist, César Manrique, lived out his days here in a home and studio, now open to the public. Snooping through his 1960s furniture, tropical plants and artworks is fun even for tots, as are his other properties-turned-museums – the Volcano House, with underground rooms within a lava field, the Cactus Garden, and the Jameos del Agua – vast caves containing a bar, pools, nightclub, concert hall and cafe.
• booking.com. Price is for a week at the end of July in a two-bedroom bungalow at Villas Finca la Crucite, which share a pool, in Haria
Casa rural, Spain
House for 4 €1,050
Best for ages 0-7
Type of trip Village life
The beaches and coast of Andalucía are 50 minutes’ drive away, endless mountain trails lie on the doorstep, Málaga’s galleries and restaurants are within easy reach for a day trip, and the local village has fabulous markets and an olive oil co-operative. But if you can drag the kids away from the pools, mini golf, playground, trampoline, playing field, pizza cafe and trikes at Baby Friendly Boltholes’ cluster of 12 casas rurales in Cantueso, we’ll be impressed.
• babyfriendlyboltholes.co.uk. Price is for a week for four in August in a simple two-bedroom house
Coastal cabin, Denmark
House for 10 €1,229
Best for ages All
Type of trip Beach
We’re used to imitating the Danes’ style and cuisine now, so maybe it’s time to holiday like them, too. The West Jutland coast is awash with city folks’ stylish summerhouses: low-lying, clapboard-clad and tucked between sand dunes. The village of Blåvand, on a white sand spit near Esbjerg, home to red deer and many artists, is a good base for exploring the coast, Skjern Edge river delta and Ringkobing Fjord, and (for those brave enough) dips in the North Sea. Houses here start at under €600 for a week in August, but house ID 30589683, which sleeps 10, has a whirlpool and sauna and is 50 metres from the beach. Legoland is an hour away, Esbjerg 30mins.
•danishholidayhomes.com. Price is for a week in August in house ID 30589683. Ryanair flights to Billund from Stansted cost around £100 return on August weekends
Thrills and spills, French Pyrenees
Self-catering From €395pp
Best for ages 8+
Type of trip Activity
River rafting, river boarding, river walking, kayaking, canyoning and waterfall-rappelling provide the kicks on a summer multi-activity package near Bagnères-de-Luchon with Adventure Creators, based in the Ariège region. Non-riverine action can include via ferrata, caving, horse riding, trottinette – a cross between mountain biking and downhill scootering – and tracking wild brown bears. Hosts, including founder Penny, have excellent knowledge of local flora and fauna, walks and things to do when not amping up the adrenalin.
• adventurecreators.com. Price is starting rate for a week in August, including six activities. Trips run June-October. Fly to Toulouse with Ryanair, easyJet, Flybe or Jet2
5. The World’s Top 20 Best Family Holiday Destinations!
Planning your next family vacation and don’t know where to start? Or just looking for some family travel inspiration? Then this massive list of the world’s best family holiday destinations is for you!
To say the world is full of top family holiday destinations is not a lie – many many countries can be great family holiday destinations. But which are the best and worthy of your precious holiday time?
Below, we have a list of the top 20 family holiday destinations in the world as chosen by myself and other family travel bloggers. Coincidently, I have been to every country on this list except Costa Rica and I have to concur – they are great family holiday destinations.
Are any of these best family vacation destinations on your bucket list?
Best family holiday destinations in the world!
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.
The subway is efficient making it very easy to get around. English is the common language and it’s on signs everywhere to make things even easier.
Singapore is often treated as a quick stopover destination on the way to somewhere else – don’t make this mistake! It is one of the top family vacation destinations in its own right.
Hot Tip: Eat, eat, eat! Try out each of the local cuisines and enjoy some of the great hawker centres.
Voted by me (Sharon Gourlay). Read more about Singapore in our massive guide to visiting Singapore with kids.
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.
- Public maps on the street and subway may not face north, but rather the direction you are facing when looking at the map. A “north” indicator is usually in one corner of the map.
- Shoes off in Japanese homes, right? Well, expect the same in some public buildings and in all taxis and trains. If kiddo wants to stand on a seat, slip off the footwear.
Southeast Asia is a vast and diverse place. If you’re new to the East, or simply want to visit somewhere that’s easy to navigate and reflects some of the region’s best qualities, then head to Malaysia. English is widely spoken, and the country’s mix of cultures — Malay, Chinese and Indian, to name a few — makes it a great place to learn…and to eat!
Looking for parks, museums and city life? Kuala Lumpur has you covered. Keen for beautiful beaches? Langkawi and other islands await. Interested in history? The colonial origins of Penang and Malacca are fascinating. Craving adventure? Malaysia’s rainforests have orangutans, tropical birds and countless other rare animals.
Moreover, if you believe in the importance of tolerance and multiculturalism, then consider Malaysia’s mix of ethnicities, religions and cultures an astounding opportunity to observe coexistence.
- Bring a jacket: Yes, Malaysia is tropical, but buildings and shopping centers are often frigid.
- Malaysia is a majority Muslim country, but quite tolerant of other beliefs. So yes, you can wear that bikini on the beach, but maybe not into the restaurant. Booze and bacon are available, too, but they’re often tucked into far corners of large supermarkets.
Voted by Jason Jenkins, An Epic Education