The World’s Top 12 Places for Family Travel
Published on: September 5th, 2017
Last modified: October 16th, 2023
Every family trip is an opportunity to make lifelong memories with your loved ones, from the stunning landscapes of Iceland to the tropical beaches of Thailand. Whether you’re travelling with young children, teenagers or as a multi-generation family, certain destinations offer just the right combination of fun, adventure, relaxation and luxury.
With so many spectacular places to visit, it’s not always easy to choose the best place for a family vacation. Every family has their own needs and preferences, and it’s important to find a destination with something for everyone. If you want a relaxing vacation, you might prefer a location that has a luxury hotel with children’s activities; if you’re looking for adventure, access to the great outdoors may be the priority.
No matter what kind of holiday you’re dreaming of, we can help you design a bespoke experience to match your interests. With that in mind, we’ve asked our expert travel designers to select their favourite spots around the world for family trips. Here are their top picks, plus some helpful advice on planning the perfect vacation for your family.
How to Decide Where to Take Your Family on Vacation
When planning a family trip, there’s a lot to consider – and the first big decision is where to go. It’s important to do your research; you might be surprised at the vast variety of family-friendly destinations around the world. We suggest planning as far in advance as possible, and speaking to an experienced expert who can help design your ideal itinerary.
One significant factor in planning is the time of year, as different destinations have specific seasonal events and climates. You might want to avoid extreme heat or cold if you’re travelling with small children, or plan for the shoulder season to avoid the crowds. And if you’re hoping to see a certain event like the Great Migration, timing is everything.
In the following sections we’ll share the best destinations for different types of families, from those with young kids to multi-generational groups. Here are the world’s best places for family travel, including some expert insight into the highlights of each.
Top Places to Travel With Young Children
Travelling with young kids involves additional considerations, from weather and crowds to age restrictions for activities. That said, plenty of destinations are perfectly suited to families with small children – and some of them might seem unexpected. If you have kids under the age of eight, here are three of the best places to travel.
1. South Africa – Best for Family-Friendly Safaris
There’s nothing quite like going on safari with your family, and watching little ones’ eyes light up as they spot incredible animals in the wild. South Africa is an ideal destination for this, with kid-friendly camps, private houses and safaris for all ages. Malaria-free areas like Madikwe and Tswalu can also make it easier to prepare for a family vacation to South Africa.
Many of the best family safari lodges in Africa offer activities specifically designed for kids and swimming pools to keep them entertained. One of our favourites in South Africa is Madikwe Safari Lodge, which has family suites with special kids’ rooms and an Eco House where they can learn about conservation.
2. Costa Rica – Best for Nature Activities
Costa Rica has something for everyone, from lush rainforests and lava fields to sandy shores and twinkling waters. Family vacations in Costa Rica can easily be customised to your kids’ interests, and there are plenty of fantastic things to do with young children. The tranquil town of Dominical and the Manuel Antonio National Park are ideal for kid-friendly nature activities.
Costa Rica is an especially good choice if you’re travelling with children of varying ages. Older kids can go ziplining or whitewater rafting, while the little ones can enjoy nature walks or play on the beach. There’s a wide array of family-friendly lodges in Costa Rica, including the spectacular Nayara Tented Camp.
3. Croatia – Best for National Parks & Water Activities
The Mediterranean country of Croatia is quickly gaining a reputation for its turquoise waters and picture-perfect towns – but it’s also a wonderful place to travel with young children. Don’t miss the awe-inspiring Plitvice Lakes and the waterfalls of Krka National Park, which is an easy day trip from the main cities.
Both Dubrovnik and Split are overflowing with history and immersive excursions to keep younger family members entertained. In the coastal city of Zadar, kids will be mesmerised by the sounds of the Sea Organ and the glowing panels of the Sun Salutation. Stay at Maslina Resort for family-friendly luxury and incredible views.
Top Places to Travel With Older Children & Teenagers
If you’re travelling with teenagers or older children, we suggest choosing a destination with plenty to do. Teenagers can often participate in the same activities as adults, but it’s still important to consider what they’ll enjoy most. Here are some destinations that promise all kinds of adventures and excitement for the older kids in your family.
4. Kenya – Best for Thrilling Safaris
Kenya is a classic safari destination, full of wonderful wildlife, fascinating culture and natural beauty. Older kids will be captivated by game drives and walking safaris, as well as other outdoor activities like hikes and horse riding. If it’s the right time of year, you can even witness the spectacle of the Great Migration in Kenya.
Our travel designers recommend combining more than one safari destination so that you and your family can experience everything Kenya has to offer. For example, you can pair a trip to Angama Mara in the famous Maasai Mara with a stay at Lewa House in the private Lewa Wildlife Conservancy – both of which have a wide variety of activities for older kids.
5. Galápagos Islands – Best for Wildlife & Water Activities
If you’re looking for adventure, the Galápagos Islands won’t disappoint. This remote archipelago is world-renowned for its one-of-a-kind wildlife, from giant tortoises to adorable penguins. Children of all ages will love discovering the volcanic landscapes, exploring the islands in sea kayaks or on stand-up paddleboards and snorkelling beneath the surface.
When planning a family trip to the Galápagos, you’ll need to decide if you want to explore them by land or by sea. If you have younger kids, staying somewhere like Galápagos Safari Camp offers flexibility and tailor made itineraries. But for teenagers, cruising around the islands on a ship like the magnificent La Pinta can be incredibly exciting – think swimming with sharks and watching sea lions play.
6. Japan – Best for Stunning Scenery & Cuisine
A family vacation in Japan is the kind of experience your kids will never forget, whether they’re into anime, karaoke, samurai or sushi. Beyond these obvious claims to fame, Japan offers an infinite number of things to do with older kids, from visiting museums and cultural sites to learning traditional crafts and sampling the most authentic and cutting-edge cuisine.
The best time to visit Japan depends on your family’s interests. Go in March or April to see some of the country’s top destinations blanketed in beautiful cherry blossoms, or in November or December for vibrant displays of autumn leaves. Winter brings world-class winter activities and the snow crab harvest, while summer is peak festival season.
7. Iceland – Best for Outdoor Adventures & Rugged Beauty
It’s no secret that Iceland is one of the world’s most jaw-dropping destinations when it comes to natural wonders. Older kids and teenagers will be just as awestruck as the rest of the family as you encounter glaciers, geysers, volcanoes and geothermal pools. The activities here are endless, from hiking and snowmobiling to whale watching and meeting Icelandic ponies.
If you’re planning a family trip to Iceland, you’ll need to decide when to go. The best time to visit Iceland for hiking and outdoor adventures is summer (June – August), but winter (December – February) is optimal for snow activities and seeing the northern lights. If you’d rather avoid the crowds, the shoulder seasons in spring and autumn are lovely. We highly recommend the cosy Torfhús Retreat.
8. Egypt – Best for Ancient History & Spectacular Snorkelling
Egypt might just be one of the most educational destinations on earth. Older children and teenagers who are studying ancient Egypt in school can take their understanding to a whole new level by seeing sites like the Great Pyramids and Luxor in person. Family-friendly activities with expert Egyptologists are also good for all ages.
Beyond its legendary historical sites, Egypt is a world-class destination for snorkelling. Older children can dive into the Red Sea to discover the intriguing world beneath the waves – and parents can either join them or relax on the beach. Although summer (June – August) sn’t necessarily the best time to visit Egypt if you’re heading to the cities or the Sahara, it’s an excellent time to enjoy the coast.
Top Places to Travel With Multi-Generational Families
Travelling with multiple generations at once – for example, kids, parents and grandparents – can be a truly special experience. But it also requires careful planning to ensure that everyone will be happy. We often suggest beautiful locations that offer something for every family member, as well as bucket-list destinations where you can make lasting memories together.
9. Thailand – Best for Beaches & Culture
Thailand should be on every traveller’s list. This Southeast Asian country is bursting with unbelievable landscapes, ornate temples and endless activities for every age group. Here your family can go hiking or rock climbing; sample delicious cuisine and learn about Thai culture; or simply relax at one of the many lavish hotels scattered across the islands.
A family-centred culture and wonderful weather add to the appeal of family vacations in Thailand. If you’re travelling with both kids and older family members, opt for a luxurious resort like Rosewood Phuket – which has an Explorers Club for kids – or Anantara Golden Triangle near Chiang Rai. Both offer enough options to make everyone happy.
10. Greece – Best for History & Idyllic Islands
Greece is a land of legendary history and incredible beauty that kids and adults alike can appreciate. We suggest spending some time in the capital of Athens to soak in its many ancient sites and stories, then heading to the Greek islands for charming towns and gorgeous beaches – not to mention mouthwatering cuisine.
Each island has its own distinctive appeal, but for family trips we especially love Crete. It offers a little bit of everything, from eclectic architecture and archaeological wonders to white sand beaches and hidden coves. Stay in one of Domes Zeen Chania’s spacious bungalows or pavilions, designed specifically for families.
11. Australia – Best for Tropical Forests & Coral Reefs
Australia is well known for its welcoming spirit and sense of adventure, making it a fantastic choice for multi-generational families. Cities like Sydney and Melbourne are certainly worth a visit, but there’s plenty more to discover here. Head to Lizard Island for a remote escape and privileged access to the Great Barrier Reef, or the Whitsundays for a luxurious yacht trip.
The tropical rainforest surrounding Silky Oaks provides the perfect setting for a family trip to Australia, with wildlife tours, canoe trips, morning yoga and a heavenly spa. We love the elegant Daintree Pavilion, with space for up to 5 guests and its own infinity pool. Keep in mind that Silky Oaks only accepts children aged 10 and up.
12. Colombia – Best for Exclusive Family Retreats
The vibrant country of Colombia has plenty to offer, from buzzing cities and colonial towns to beautiful beaches and verdant coffee plantations. It’s also a great destination for an exclusive family trip. Book a private house for your entire family in Cartagena or Barichara, and enjoy an itinerary customised to your needs and interests.
In the mystical Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta you’ll find Casa Oropéndola, a luxury lodge with extraordinary views. If you prefer the sea to the mountains, Kasamar is an equally exquisite choice. Here you can relax – or play with the kids – in two different swimming pools, and enjoy delicious food prepared to your family’s tastes by your own private chef.
Where to stay
KasamarKasamar is a private villa on the outskirts of Tayrona National Park – a great option for families, groups of friends or people who are after an exclusive getaway. The house has four en-suite bedrooms with air conditioning and ample space for relaxing and eating. The upper levels of the house have open sides so you can enjoy the sea breeze as you recline in the hammocks or on the wicker chairs with a good book. The views out over the ocean and jungle really are something very special. There are two swimming pools, which is great as the ocean, although stunning, can be a little too rough for swimming. Guests staying here will enjoy the services of a personal chef so you can enjoy delicious meals at times that suit you. The nearby river can be explored by canoe and Tayrona National Park is a short drive away.
Lewa HouseLocated deep within the bio-diverse Lewa Conservancy, the hilltop Lewa House is perfectly placed to experience some of the best safaris in Kenya. The main house is the focal area of the lodge, where you’ll dine family style with your hosts Calum and Sophie on the long wooden table in the evenings and share stories of the day’s adventures. During the heat of the day take a dip in the large swimming pool overlooking a waterhole. Strung out along the hillside around the central lodge are seven separate cottages all with great views from the private verandas. Home to some of the best game viewing in East Africa, the Lewa Conservancy is a great choice for those looking for a comprehensive “Big Five” safari experience. Travel out from the house by foot, car, camel and vintage bi-plane to make the most of this richly rewarding area.
Deplar FarmIn a remote valley in the middle of the Troll Peninsula, Deplar Farm is perhaps the most unique place to stay in Iceland. Once a working sheep farm, this sprawling property with its grass roof may look traditionally Icelandic on first glimpse, but its luxurious transformation into an opulent lodge soon becomes apparent. There are 13 en suite rooms that accommodate up to 28 guests, including cosy family options. The rest of the farm is home to a fabulous indoor-outdoor salt water pool and bar, a sauna, gym, dining area, spa, lounge area and more. How you experience this incredible landscape depends on the time of year you visit. During the winter, opt for the heli-ski package to fly up onto the surrounding peaks then slalom down virgin runs to the ocean accompanied by expert guides. You can also go cat skiing, hot spring hopping, snowmobiling, whale watching and even surfing (for the brave). End the day back at the lodge, under the glow of the Northern Lights with a little luck. Long summer days bring fabulous fly fishing on exclusive beats and the chance to join a local captain at sea, returning to Deplar to eat your catch. Hiking guides can lead you on trails along endless valleys and dramatic cliffs dotted with waterfalls or perhaps kayak down dramatic rivers and out at sea. Other activities include horse riding, mountain biking and day trips out to nearby islands.
Maslina ResortMaslina Resort, a seafront property, has struck the perfect chord between eclectic design and celebration of its routes. The decor creates a sense of Japan in some elements with wooden baths and bamboo-like poles decorating the external wall. These combine with natural materials from the area and a Mediterranean simplicity with French art styles.
Rosewood PhuketNestled along an idyllic 600m stretch of beach on the beautiful Emerald Bay is the Rosewood Phuket. The hotel features 71 pavilions and villas hidden among the tropical vegetation just moments from the beach. Floor-to-ceiling windows flood rooms with natural light, and a soft neutral colour schemes gives a contemporary, fresh feel. All villas and pavilions come with private pools and outdoor space in which to relax. Eating at the Rosewood is a real treat. Dine by the ocean on fresher-than-fresh seafood at Ta Khai, enjoy Italian cuisine at Red Sauce and delicious food cooked on the characoal grill at The Shack. End every day with a cocktail while watching the sun set from Mai bar which overlooks the sparkling waters of Emerald Bay. The beach and the Andaman Sea are on your doorstep but there is plenty to keep you busy at the Rosewood. Unwind with a treatment at the Asaya Spa, enjoy a workout in the fitness centre and take a dip in the sprawling pool which is divided by wooden walkways and sunbathing decks.
Galapagos Safari CampA truly unique way to enjoy the wonderful nature of the Galápagos islands. Set in 55-hectare grounds in a remote corner of Santa Cruz island, the GSC camp has just nine large and very well appointed safari style tents. Each is appointed with private bathroom with a hot water shower. The tents are spaced well and have a large double bed and private balcony from which to enjoy the views. The new family suite has three bedrooms suite (master and two twins), and its location next to the main lodge makes it an ideal option for families who favour more private and cohesive lodging. All the tents surround the main and very elegant contemporary lodge complete with restored antiques and furnishings installed by its well-travelled owners. There is a large main communal area where meals are served and a lounge to relax in. The hotel also boasts an infinity pool from which to admire the landscape. A variety of activities to explore the island and surrounds are possible from the camp. The camp is also renowned for its sustainable and positive impact efforts, including projects aimed at reforestation and protection of endemic flora.