Need inspiration for planning a trip with the family? Get the most out of your getaway by picking one of these best family vacation destinations everyone will love
Choosing a vacation destination that will cater to different generations while juggling with budget constraints can be a tricky feat. Whether your children are fresh out of diapers or in the peak of puberty, you’ll love one of these best family vacation destinations tailored to match everybody’s desires.
Need some encouragement? Check out our 25 essential tips for traveling with kids.
For the family that never wants to grow up – Rovaniemi, Finland
Imagine dashing over endless white hills, past pine branches heavy with snow, only a couple miles shy of the Arctic Circle. Perhaps aboard a snowmobile or a husky-drawn sledge – that’s what your family should expect in Rovaniemi. With record lows of -31°F, this capital city of Finnish Lapland embraces winter, with cozy fur-filled restaurants like Nili serving dishes as rugged as the northern landscape. Sautéed reindeer and fresh lingonberries or a bear stew will warm you to the core before heading back out into the winter wonderland.
But what about the jolly bearded man dressed all in red that the kids (and childish grown-ups) love? This is considered his homeland after all. At the Santa Claus Village, you may find him sorting mail at the Santa Claus Main Post Office (officially operated by Finland’s national postal service and receiving over half a million letters a year) or tending to his reindeer in the stables. Kids can learn all the tricks of Santa’s helpers, from gingerbread baking to toy making, at the Elf workshop. Even the biggest of kids would admit that Santa Claus truly exists.
You can’t venture this far north without trying to catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) that paint multi-colored folds across the night sky. Visible 150 nights a year, you’ll have a pretty good chance of spotting them in and around the city between mid-August and April.Find a flight to Rovaniemi
For the animal lovers’ African safari – Kirindy Reserve, Madagascar
Family favorite, Madagascar (the film) is more than a cartoon – it’s also a glimpse into the fascinating lives of fauna on the African island of the same name. Although one can’t expect to run into talking hippos and giraffes, you will, however, interact with white-suited Verraux’s Sifaka lemurs, showing off the characteristic sideways hops.
Plan a family safari trip through Kirindy Forest Reserve, a dry deciduous forest protected through sustainable logging. You’ll be walking through the habitat to seven species of lemurs, as well as the fossa (a cat-like mammal resembling the mongoose), and the teeny-tiny dwarf Brookesia chameleon. The park can be visited by foot accompanied by a guide, by day and by night to observe the world’s smallest known primate, the giant jumping rat.
Proportionately impressive are the giant baobab trees, soaring up to 100-feet tall (the height of a 10-story building). The best place to see these giants is the Avenue of the Baobabs in Morondava, 37-miles north-east. Local legends consider the baobab to be sacred – they’re said to be one of the first trees planted by the gods, who clumsily planted them upside down, so the tops resemble roots growing in the sky.Find a flight to Morondava
For the happy campers – Perros-Guirec, France
The north-western tip of France known as Brittany is a territory set apart from the rest of the country, rich in Celtic heritage from Britons who fled across the Channel from Great Britain in the Dark Ages. So if French isn’t your forte, here you can wrestle your tongue around local Breton language, often written on street signs and storefronts.
From Perros-Guirec to Ploumanac’h, the coast carries its nickname as the Pink Granite coast well, lined with pastel, lunar boulders. Hike the GR34 (long-distance footpath), passing the time along the seven kilometres seeing which member of the family can guess the shapes of each rock, sometimes taking the form of a hat, a rabbit, or even a witch. Let the Ploumanac’h lighthouse, a tower of red granite, guide you to the red-stained shores.
Families fond of camping come to the region for huge campsites complete with waterparks and nightclubs. Holiday residence Pierre & Vacances l’Archipel will be your home away from home, but better, since it has a pool, direct access to the beach, and a view of the Sept-îles archipelago and nature reserve. In a matter of steps, you’re at Trestaou Beach, wondering whether you’ll be doing stand-up paddle or catamaran sailing today.Find a flight to Brest
For the eco-friendly family – Aloag, Ecuador
Your kids have their heads in the clouds, but you want them to stay grounded? That’s the paradox local Ecuadorians have mastered. Quito is the world’s most high-altitude capital city and the country possesses the largest and densest rainforest in the world, the Amazon.
Start your Ecuadorian ascension getting to know the soil and those who tend to it at Hacienda La Alegria, a family horse ranch specialized in eco-tourism in Aloag along the “avenue of volcanoes”. The mountainous area is characterized by some of the tallest peaks in the country. Here, kids of all ages can get their hands dirty tending to the farm animals and the vegetable garden.
Meet the Chagras (Ecuadorian cowboys), artists of local equestrian technique for generations. They’ll guide you by horseback towards the green, dewy mountain of Corazon to the Bombolí Cloud Forest, a reserve sowed and cared for by Oswaldo and Mariana for over 30 years.
As you step into their personal Eden, the thick mist that surrounds the forest in a deep fog seems to dissipate, revealing some of the country’s most fragile biodiversity. An array of wild orchids hides shyly under large shrubbery that protects them. Visit the orchid hospital to learn more about the conservation efforts involved in sustaining the local ecosystem.Find a flight to nearby Quito
For a history lesson under the sun – Paphos, Cyprus
An island off the coast of Turkey, warm Mediterranean winds, clean beaches, and historic ruin sites sprinkled far and wide – the menu of activities in Cyprus is nothing close to boring. Cyprus is not only known as the birthplace of Aphrodite but is also very proud of its cheese, Halloumi, and dessert wine, Commandaria. Taverns serving this local cheese and what is said to be the world’s oldest named wine abound in Old Town Paphos.
Squeeze in a history lesson while getting an eyeful of the landscape all around Paphos, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Perhaps start at the Paphos Archaeological Park admiring ruins of Roman villas or head just outside of town to the Tomb of the Kings. The 4th-century ruins of what was once a large necropolis are full of tombs cut into the rock, often featuring frescoes and architecture similar to aristocratic Cypriot homes.
If your family is dying to dip their toes in turquoise waters on a beach remote enough for relaxing but with amenities to keep everyone busy, Coral Bay in Peyia is the one. The beach is a scenic 23-minutes’ drive from Paphos. It’s one of 57 Blue Flag beaches of the island, recognized for its safety and water quality.Find a flight to Paphos
For wellness while having fun – Sovata, Romania
Sheltered by forestland, a gingerbread cut-out cabin looks out across Bear Lake, dotted with visitors floating in the heliothermic (gaining heat from the sun), salty waters. Supervised swimming areas, aquatic activities, and thermal spa facilities make for a winning family holiday recipe. World-famous spa treatments and mud baths are what attract most visitors, so don’t be shy and slather on as much of the natural Romanian goodness all over your body – you won’t be the only one!
More surprises lie below ground. 400 feet deep, discover the smooth and slick salt mine, Salina Praid, famed for its healing microclimate. Follow the marble walls and shining floors across endless underground corridors and galleries. Some lead to installations like a playground, a 3D cinema, an acrobatic adventure park, or an exhibit of 18th-century mining equipment, but the sight to behold is the mine’s chapel. Services are sometimes held in this chapel, echoing within the giant alcove decorated humbly with wooden benches and giant wooden crosses.Find a flight to nearby Târgu Mureș
For those who go-with-the-flow – Sine-Saloum, Senegal
The Saloum Delta, just north of the border between the Gambia and Senegal, is where the Saloum River’s veins throw themselves across the land towards the North Atlantic Ocean. The quantity of slow-flowing salt water is accompanied by a rich biodiversity that is unique to this part of the country, and protected by UNESCO.
Start the family’s Senegalese introduction in Djiffer, a fishing village situated on the extreme tip of Sangomar, at the entrance of the delta. Locals huddle around the colorful fishing boats coming in with today’s catch of shells and fish. A stroll through the streets gives way for discovering humble homes under the shade of small baobabs and coconut trees swaying to the rhythm of the pirogues.
Lodge in Toubacouta, where you can choose from fine hotels like the Keur Saloum or Domaine Les Paletuviers. By the banks of the river, you’ll have no trouble finding excursions aboard pirogues to explore the many nearby mangroves. Float to the rhythm of the delta, to Île des Oiseaux an uninhabited island and seasonal nesting ground to endemic birds. The sun starts to set, and the birds put on their nightly show, filling the orange sky as they return to their nests.Find a flight to nearby Dakar
For the family on wheels – Ghent, Belgium
Pack a bottle, diapers, and baby’s four wheel drive: the family is going on vacation. While the French-speaking and Dutch-speaking clans in Belgium are busy disputing Brussels, head to the full-fledged Flemish city of Ghent. You’ll be enchanted by its car-free city center, the largest in Belgium, ideal for visiting either on foot or by bike.
Although not stroller friendly, the Gravensteen Castle is a must-see. Just park the stroller at the entrance, and let the friendly knight direct you towards the castle stairs. The challenge is well worth the satisfaction on the kids’ faces as they sit on the king’s throne. To see the rest of the city without fussing over stroller traffic, sit your booty on a bootje (boat) and admire the architecture while floating along the canal.
Find a flight to nearby Brussels
For the fearless adventurers – Snowdonia National Park, Wales
No destination is an obstacle for the intrepid family. traveling with kids of any age is a walk in the park for them, they pick their destination with one motto in mind: go big or go home, literally.
Climbing Mount Snowdon is a task would-be hikers can manage, but it still requires endurance and patience. Taking the gradual Llanberis Path means 5 or so hours of family solidarity which are rewarded by breathtaking views of the Lyn Padarn lake, a meet-and-greet with grazing sheep, and the compass structure at the summit. If you’re lucky to hike on a rare sunny Welsh day, you could catch a glimpse of Ireland and even the Isle of Man.
An alternative route can be done by train, but that’s too easy for your family! Need a second adrenaline rush? The old mine slates of Blaenau Ffestiniog seem to have been converted just for you into a giant underground trampoline. Everyone will be coming home with souvenirs saying “I survived Wales and all I got was this stupid t-shirt”.
And while some might only require a quilt of stars for sleeping, after an adventurous day others can appreciate the simple comfort of a warm shower and comfy bed at the Royal Victoria Hotel Snowdonia, only a stroll away from the lake.Find a flight to nearby Cardiff
For the Culture Vulture family – Toronto, Canada
Does your family spend nights in front of game shows shouting all the answers at the TV? Then chances are when you travel together, your travel to-do list is chock-full of historical and cultural sights to see.
Although recommended as a great solo traveler’s destination, a city that is sure not to disappoint family members of any age is Toronto, Canada. Impossible to miss, and certainly on the top of your list, go to the CN Tower and take in the view from the LookOut level at 1135 feet. From there, you might have spotted your next visit: the Royal Ontario Museum and its very architectural Michael Lee-Chin Crystal.
After feeding your mind in the Natural History and the World Culture galleries, it’s time to hit the streets and feed on good Ontarian soul food. Toronto is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, making it a gastronomical melting-pot. And when your family has finished pigging out on Canadian specialty Poutine (gravy-covered cheese fries), one of the great things to do in Toronto with kids is laugh the calories away at an improvisation class hosted by the Bad Dog Theatre Company.Find a flight to Toronto
For the easy-going, island-loving explorers – Gozo, Malta
What kind of vacation do you organize for teenagers with a low boredom threshold? Our remedy for teen-itis: a Gozo getaway. A quick flight to Malta, followed by a 25 minute ferry ride, and you’ve arrived on the gorgeous Gozo island.
On this small, rustic island all roads lead to Victoria, also known as Rabat, the fortified citadel that overlooks the city. Recently renovated, it hosts a multitude of small silver shops and other local treasures. Keep the kids busy with horseback riding in the outskirts of Qala, shallow-diving over the Karwela shipwreck looming 128feet beneath, or sinus-cleansing as you breathe the salted air by the saltpans in Marsalforn. And if all else fails, go climbing around the areas featured in series like Game of Thrones, or lounging on the beach where “Brangelina” filmed their movie By the Sea.
So many activities will have the whole family smiling at the Azure Window, a natural arch formed in the limestone, making for a wonderful family portrait to hang on the fridge.Find a flight to Malta
For the family trip of a lifetime before the college drop-off – Florida Keys, FL, USA
The kids are all grown up, and chances are their next vacations will look more like hangovers in Cancun than museum hopping in Vienna. That’s why this last trip before they go off to college will be the trip to always remember.
An hour from Miami, Key Largo, the diving capital of the world, greets you with open arms much like its underwater Christ statue. Along the way, take breaks on golden sandy beaches for a quick swim, or to taste local specialities like crocodile (tastes like chicken). For bigger thrills, go for a dip with dolphins or ride a glass-bottomed boat to get up close and personal with sea creatures. Locals will likely start a friendly chat with you and offer their opinion on where to find the best Key Lime Pie in Key West.
Before leaving the Keys, link hands together and hug the anchored buoy situated at what is (approximately) the southernmost point in the United States.Find a flight to nearby Miami
For the family looking to relax and reconnect – Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Cell phones off, school work put away, and briefcase burned and buried; your family is ready (and in need) of some serious reconnecting. Get your spirit searching on as a family bonding activity in Ubud, Bali. Although tourists flock to Ubud for their own version of Eat, Pray, Love, you can easily tuck into a humble yoga center or explore authentic Bali by strolling peacefully along the rice fields. Find your center in the village temple and then wash your worries away at the Tegenungan Waterfall.
And when you are back from nirvana, let the kids have a bit of well-deserved monkey business at the Ubud Monkey Forest where they’ll be able to goof around with about 300 crab-eating macaques.Find a flight to Bali
For the family with insatiable mouths to feed – Valencia, Spain
“Are we there yet?” isn’t the family’s go-to phrase as much as “what’s for lunch?” is. Tummies will be rumbling as you shimmy through the deliciously scented streets of Valencia, Spain. Those who come for the Tomatina fight in Bunol stay for the paella (saffron rice dish). For a digestive activity, the city offers free walking tours which are a great way to keep everyone occupied and informed for free. Chomping down on snacks at the Mercado Central will leave you with a few extra bucks to splurge on a nice seafood meal by the beach.
And if your family’s definition of fun is setting things on fire, then plan to come to Las Fallas in March. Each neighborhood builds giant paper-mache sculptures and burns them in a dramatic all-night street party. And if you need even more warming up, indulge on churros and hot chocolate for a handful of euros.Find a flight to Valencia