The world’s best family-friendly holiday destinations
Évora and the Algarve, Portugal
Family vacation planning in Portugal couldn’t be easier. The untouched corner of Évora in southern Portugal features Octant Évora, a resort that offers hot air balloon rides and a dedicated kids area. Further south in the Algarve the Muthu Oura Praia Hotel is in walking distance of the beach and Albufeira’s Old Town. Kids will particularly love Lagoa’s Sand City Sculpture Park with its sandy recreations of soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, the Queen and more.
Windhoek and around, Namibia
Looking for a two- to three-week-long vacation? Weave across Namibia on this new self-drive trip. Starting from the capital, Windhoek, you’ll hit the dunes of the Namib Desert before reaching the bucket-list worthy Skeleton Coast dotted with seals and shipwrecks. Continue with a self-drive safari through Etosha National Park where you might spot an African elephant or giraffe before rounding off with a stay at Okonjima Private Reserve, giving all the family a chance to learn more about AfriCat Foundation’s conservation programs.
Kissimmee, Orlando, USA
USA is a firm family favorite with an unending choice of places to visit. Orlando’s Kissimmee is a glorious place to base yourself whether you want to venture out or stay put. Combine home comfort with luxury amenities at Encore Resort at Reunion with game rooms and on-site kids activities (tennis, basketball, football) or opt for private beachfront bungalows at Margaritaville Resort Orlando where you’re minutes from Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort – need we say more?
Channel Islands, UK
Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands, offers budget-friendly fun with self-catering options like Les Ormes Resort, Greve de Lecq Beach and its very own national park. Plus, you’re all set for those unpredictable rainy days at Jump Jersey, the island’s newest and biggest indoor activity center. Neighboring Guernsey is home to the iconic Castle Cornet where kids can dress up and discover the castle’s history, or pack up a picnic and head off on a short boat ride to car-free Herm and Sark, the smaller Channel Islands.
For a greener getaway head to Finca de Arrieta, an eco-village in northeastern Lanzarote. Embrace the off-grid life across their 17 yurts, cabins and lodges which sleep between three to eight guests. Chill out by the solar-powered pool, take in the spectacular sea and mountain views and have a go at tending the vegetable garden, or bundle up the whole family and head down to the beach with hotel-provided sustainable wooden belly boards.
Porto Montenegro, Montenegro
Underrated Montenegro is a great fit for families and this summer proves this more than ever. Between 25 July-2 September the Real Madrid Foundation Clinic gives budding soccer players aged six-17 the chance to hone their soccer skills in a complimentary training kit with a certificate upon completion. Stay at nearby Regent Porto Montenegro and lounge by the pool overlooking the swish marina before bedding down in plush rooms with nautical-inspired interiors. Adults can taste the winemaking region for themselves with organized visits to Plantaže Winery and the Castel Savina Winery.
Mont Blanc and the Dolomites, Italy
The hills are alive in Italy this year. Mont Blanc and the Dolomites serve as a playground for families seeking hikable mountains, picnic-friendly pastures and adrenalin-inducing activities. Base yourself at a family-run hotel in Courmayeur Mont Blanc and head out on a hike or go white water rafting. The mountain magic continues at scenic Ciasa Salares whose rooms overlook the breathtaking Dolomites; embrace the outdoors on a horse ride or let the kids run wild at a Movimënt park with climbing frames, ziplines and trampolines to let loose on.
Eyeing up an August escape? Visit Grenada between 3-10 August for a taste of the Caribbean’s vibrant energy at Grenada Spicemas – first held in 1877 to celebrate its renowned spice production – where you can dance to soca music at lively street parties and expect an incredible closing carnival. Check into Spice Island Beach Resort, nestled against a backdrop of lush green hills, where little ones receive a free goodie-box and enjoy a complimentary activity center (ages three-12). This gives you time for yoga on the beachfront pavilion or a visit to the secret herb and spice garden.
Treat the kids to a labyrinth of activities in Cancun this year. The Moon Palace The Grand offers a bowling alley, three-story playroom, bumper cars and laser maze set along a secluded white sand beach with access to lush gardens. There’s more action to be had at Royalton Riviera Cancun, An Autograph Collection All-Inclusive Resort & Casino with its Clubhouse Kids Club and Teens Hangout Lounge (pictured) and families can partake in art and craft classes, live entertainment and Caribbean cooking lessons. All of this is set against a perfect backdrop within easy reach of ancient Mayan ruins.
La Romana, Dominican Republic
Lap up island bliss in the Dominican Republic this summer with a stay at Casa de Campo Resort & Villas. Popular with celebrities, there’s a kids club, outdoor movie screenings and numerous restaurants to choose from. Wholesome family fun includes kayaking along the Chavón River, hiring a beach pedalo or taking a boat trip out to deserted Isla Catalina. Plus you can get your arts and crafts on with a visit to a replica 16th-century Mediterranean village where you can try your hand at pottery lessons.
Peppered with entertaining resorts for all ages, Barbados makes for a family getaway in paradise. There’s plenty of tropical island fun to be had at Turtle Beach by Elegant Hotels; this all-inclusive resort features spacious suites, a kids club, a children’s pool and jungle gym along with white-sand beaches (anyone for cricket?), fine-dining and authentic excursions. Kids become honorary Bajans with the chance to learn the local lingo and cook Bajan foods and in return for their hard work they’ll receive a pin, certificate and unofficial Bajan ‘passport’.
The Maldives isn’t just for honeymooners. Spread across Dhigurah island, Siyam World’s all-inclusive offers come with a difference. Choose from an array of restaurants, bars, health, fitness and water sport activities; drop the younger years at a Zumbini class (the kids club is for ages three-11); and try out an aqua aerobics class. In need of more inspo? There’s also a full-size FIFA pitch, surf shack and skate shack for all to try out.
Reykjavik and around, Iceland
Iceland doesn’t exactly scream ‘summer’ but let the south quietly convince you. This action-packed itinerary kick-starts with quad-biking through the mountains around Reykjavík, going whale-watching and taking in the thundering Gullfoss Falls before continuing onto Langjökull glacier. From here you’ll go snowmobiling through stunning scenery and round it off on the black-sand beaches along the south coast. This adrenalin-fueled trip is ideal for teenagers and big kids; book at the likes of Torfhús Retreat to recharge those well-used batteries.
Step into a fairy tale at Efteling theme park with family-favorite story characters setting the atmosphere. To celebrate its 70th anniversary, guests are cordially invited to the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party where activities and surprises abound. Its attractions, roller coasters and performances suit all ages and families can even stay in enchanting themed accommodation like the Cinderella, Snow White or Hans Christian Andersen suites. Go all-out with high thrills on the Baron 1898 which reaches a top speed of over 55 miles per hour (90km/h) – if you dare, that is…
It’s an exciting time to visit this Mediterranean archipelago. Kids can follow the Jurassic World: Dominion film trail map or augmented reality map (beware of those T-rexes) cycle up to Dingli Cliffs, Malta’s highest point at 820 feet (250m) above sea level, or take in Mnajdra, the oldest free-standing temples in the world. Those looking to push themselves can also try abseiling, freefalling or ziplining all before bedding down for the night at the likes of Solana Hotel and Spa for a well-deserved sleep.
Croatia is a big-hitter for those seeking ancient towns, local wineries and natural landscapes and Maslina Resort makes all of that possible with an excellent concierge service. Soak up the summer heat from your villa (which includes private pools – one is an infinity pool) or take advantage of the sommelier service. The kids club offers energetic activities like mini-Olympic games, treasure hunts, dance sessions and mini-yoga. Rest up in your elegant bedroom or recount the day in your open-plan living space.
Scottish Highlands, Scotland, UK
Take a family road trip through the Scottish Highlands this summer. Highland Coast Hotels arranges family- and dog-friendly trips along the popular North Coast 500 which sees you stay in stunning hotels with equally gorgeous (not to mention rugged) surroundings. All ages will adore exploring Scotland’s wilderness on storytelling walks and be wowed by folklore. Activity-wise, kids can create their own ‘houses’ using bushcraft, give archery a go or join a photography workshop.
Master canyoning, rafting or rock-climbing in Slovenia this year. Children will love swimming in the crystal-clear waters of Lake Bohinj or channeling their inner cowboy on horseback rides through alpine pastures. Triglav National Park abounds with the chance to run wild, get closer to nature and offers shared mountain huts, private chalets and campsites.
Cheshire, England, UK
Lap up the fresh air in northwest England this summer at Haulfryn’s Delamere Lake Sailing & Holiday Park. Water babies will love sailing, paddleboarding, open-water swimming and canoeing and each lodge comes with a hot tub overlooking the 120-acre Delamere Lake. If you can peel yourself away, nearby attractions include Chester Zoo and the Roman walls. Also in the area is Combermere Abbey with dog-friendly self-catering and B&B accommodation set on a 12th century estate. Venture out on a woodland walk with a picnic before cozying up with a board game by night.
Bring the family together with an action-packed stay in Bermuda. With nature reserve trails, azure waters and ghostly shipwrecks to uncover, there’s no chance of boredom here. Kids can tackle the climbing towers at Rosewood Resort’s Kinezumi Water Park or muck out in ‘slime time’ at Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, all while adults recline on pale-pink sandy beaches, head out on windsurfing lessons or join in with the action themselves.
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
There’s multiple reasons to consider a summer trip to Abu Dhabi this year. Stay at the classy Warner Bros. Hotel whose rooms include framed prints of your favorite films, from Batman to Blade Runner. Kids can ring up for room service for delivery by none other than Bugs Bunny himself! Head out and fulfil your need for speed at Ferrari World theme park, home to the world’s fastest roller coaster, while older years can go fat-biking or sandboarding down some of the world’s tallest desert dunes. Meanwhile, those looking for culture (or simply to stay on two feet) will love wandering around the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
Colombo and beyond, Sri Lanka
Remove yourself from the big resorts and support local communities with a summer vacation-friendly break to Sri Lanka. From boutique lodges to camping inside wildlife parks, there are highlights to suit all ages, whether that be leopard spotting, train rides, beaches or historic sites. Your trip is made even smoother with private vehicles to chauffeur you around. These tailor-made trips range from a week to 17 days and give you a taste of what this teardrop-shaped island has to offer.