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Horse riding at Skogafoss Waterfall, Iceland

8 best family vacation ideas

Horse riding at Skogafoss Waterfall, Iceland

Every family is different, but even within those families there are often different likes and dislikes to balance when planning a trip. Perhaps your teenager is thoroughly invested in Japan’s pop culture, while their younger sibling prefers food, art, or wildlife. You might have a toddler to contend with while also wanting to explore Iceland’s geothermal features. Or, maybe you see travel as an opportunity to educate your children, whether that’s through learning about ancient Greek history or meeting people from different walks of life.

To help you on your first step of choosing where to go with your family, we’ve curated a list of our best family vacation destinations. They span a wide range of experiences so no one feels left out, and we’ve highlighted when each destination might fit best into your busy schedules.

Iceland for families

Goats, glaciers & geysers

Inside Langjökull
Inside Langjökull

Whether you’re heading deep inside a lava cave, riding Icelandic horses along a black-sand beach, or spotting whales and puffins from the deck of a boat, the sheer number of things to do in Iceland for families means there’s never a dull moment. Together, you could watch a geyser erupt water high into the air, stand small against Europe’s most powerful waterfall, and gaze up as the northern lights shimmer in the night sky.

The active nature of these experiences means you’re likely to get more from your Iceland family adventure if you have older children or teenagers. But, even younger visitors will enjoy exploring Reykjavík’s interactive museums, swimming in the geothermal pools scattered across the country, and meeting the residents of Háafell Goat Farm.

Will appeal to: active families who love one-of-a-kind outdoor experiences.

Which school break to travel in: When you visit Iceland depends on the experiences you want to have. Visit during the festive holidays or spring break if you want a chance to see the northern lights and focus your time in and around Reykjavík. Or, enjoy a summer road trip to explore further afield, making the most of the country’s volcanic landscapes and wildlife-watching opportunities.

Explore Iceland | Iceland travel guide

Thailand for families

Tuk-tuks, elephants & beach days

Elephant Experience at Khao Sok National Park
Elephant experience in Khao Sok National Park, Thailand

With opportunities for adventure and relaxation in equal measure, Thailand is a family-friendly destination for children of all ages. However, it’ll likely be more rewarding for children who are sure on their feet and can cope with a few action-packed days. You can spend the first part of your vacation seeing Bangkok from the back of a tuk-tuk and cooking up a feast with a local family in Chiang Mai, before unwinding along the country’s palm-fringed beaches in Koh Samui. Or, skip Chiang Mai and tie in a beach stay with elephant experiences in Khao Sok National Park instead.

Thailand is best for children open to trying new foods, but many hotels also offer international cuisine if they’d prefer home comforts instead. There are plenty of family-friendly stays to suit different tastes, from coastal resorts with interconnecting rooms and kids’ clubs to rainforest camps and rural homestays for more intrepid families. Or, if you’re looking for a luxury family trip, we can book you into an oceanfront villa with a private pool.

Will appeal to: active families who also want time to relax on the beach. 

Which school break to travel in: Thailand is a year-round destination thanks to its microclimates, but we recommend visiting during spring break or early in the summer when the weather will be mostly dry and sunny, particularly along the beaches of Koh Samui.

Explore Thailand | Thailand travel guide

Italy for families

Pizza & pool villas

Making dumplings on a cooking course, Italy
Making dumplings on a cooking course, Italy

Familiar foods like pizza and pasta, a wide range of hotels, and plenty of hands-on experiences make Italy an excellent choice for family trips, whether you’re visiting with toddlers or teens.

We can arrange a lesson in gladiatorial combat in Rome, a hunt for truffles with trained dogs in Tuscany, and a class on making traditional Carnival masks with a master artisan in Venice. Across the country, we can also introduce you to chefs who can provide cooking classes carefully shaped to what your children will enjoy, including hand-rolling pasta or making pizza from scratch.

The country’s robust infrastructure means you’ll have your choice of hotels on your Italy family adventure, whether you’re looking for a family suite, adjoining rooms, or a Tuscan villa with a pool. And, because Italy is a year-round destination, it can fit neatly into the school schedule.

Will appeal to: families of all sorts.

Which school break to travel in: Italy is warm and sunny in June, and the crowds are thinner than you’ll find later in the summer. If you’re not spending time by the beach or the pool, consider visiting for spring break, when the weather is comfortable and the sights are much less busy.

Explore Italy | Italy travel guide

Australia for families

Snorkeling, surfing & crocodile spotting

Family on an Australian beach
Family on an Australian beach

From boat trips along rainforest rivers to plane rides over ochre-streaked outlands and bush walks with curious cassowaries, Australia has ample things to see and do for adventurous families. Older children in particular might relish an action-packed trip to New South Wales, where together, you can surf Bondi Beach’s gentle swell, hike the Blue Mountains’ cobalt-misted expanse, or dare to climb the peak of Sydney’s Harbour Bridge.

Elsewhere, this land of great distances also boasts great diversity of wildlife. If your family loves animals, you can encounter some of Australia’s one-of-a-kind species in the wild. You might cruise the floodplains of Kakadu National Park while spotting crocodiles from a distance. Or, in the Daintree Rainforest, explore among tangled ferns and trailing vines with Aboriginal guides who’ll point out vivid birds while also sharing traditional food gathering techniques. And, toddlers can try myriad tropical flavors at the Daintree Ice Cream Company.

For a more deluxe family experience, we can arrange a catamaran journey around the Great Barrier Reef, where you can unwind and snorkel among rainbowed fish, turtles, and anemones.

Will appeal to: nature-loving families with an adrenaline streak.

Which school break to travel in: Australia’s vast size and varying climates mean there’s always somewhere you can visit during any school break. We particularly recommend taking a trip during the last few weeks of summer vacation, for comfortable temperatures and mostly dry, sunny days.

Explore Australia | Australia Travel Guide

Greece for families

Gods, monsters & ocean views

Monastery in Meteora, Greece
Monastery in Meteora, Greece

The enduring popularity of Greek mythology — boosted by the perennial success of the modern-day Percy Jackson stories — makes Greece an excellent option for children who are fans of the books or TV show. Active families can take advantage of the country’s rugged landscape, boundless sunshine, and many beaches to go hiking, swimming, and kayaking. Add in the photogenic hotels and Greece is one our top options for families with older children.

We can arrange private tours of the Parthenon and Temple of Poseidon, with guides who can engage your young enthusiasts. For an active family trip, you can kayak over a sunken city, snorkel over a shipwreck, or take an e-bike up Meteora’s steep slopes to watch the sunset. And, of course, we can arrange private cruises around the islands to take you to the coves where few others venture.

Will appeal to: active families and those with fans of Percy Jackson.

Which school break to travel in: Greece is very hot in July and August, so we suggest visiting as early as possible in the summer vacation.

Explore Greece | Greece travel guide

Japan for families

Anime, manga & bullet trains

Manga drawing class, Japan
Manga drawing class, Japan

From games and comics to TV shows and movies, much of children’s popular culture today comes straight from Japan. Additionally, the efficient network of bullet trains (and the seamless way that Japan handles luggage) makes it easy to get around the country. It also has a wealth of restaurants and hotels for you to choose from, making Japan an excellent destination for a family trip.

You can explore the neon-lit streets of Tokyo and take a private drawing class to try your hand at manga. A ninja expert can show you how to throw shuriken, or you could take a samurai class to learn how to wield a katana. Musically inclined families can get an introduction to the art of taiko drumming. Or we can arrange for you to visit the Ghibli Park, themed around the studio’s beloved animation classics like Kiki’s Delivery Service and Spirited Away.

Will appeal to: families with children interested in pop culture.

Which school break to travel in: Japan is busiest in the spring and late autumn, so we suggest visiting as early as possible during summer vacation instead — late May or early June, if you can. Another good option for families who like the cold is winter vacation, when you can head north to see the Japanese macaques in their steaming hot springs.

Explore Japan | Japan travel guide

Ireland for families

Castles, carriages & countryside

Ponies in Connemara, Ireland
Ponies in Connemara, Ireland

Ireland’s emerald landscapes, stately homes, and centuries-old traditions are ideal fodder for the imaginations of children and parents alike. In just over a week, you can enjoy the island’s best-loved cities and countryside on a scenic road trip from Dublin to Galway. Along the way, you might trace your family roots with a genealogist, take a horse and cart ride into quiet woodlands, sleep within the walls of a castle, and enter very own Gaelic games.

A trip to Ireland can suit children of all ages. Toddlers can run and play in wide-open grasslands, teens can kayak, ride horses, and cycle against mountain backdrops, and adults can indulge in a little luxury at the manor house you call home for a few days. What’s more, our expert private guides can adapt experiences to entertain multi-generational groups and there are plenty of hotels — heritage and contemporary — with space for families big and small.

Will appeal to: families who love the great outdoors or want to retrace ancestral footsteps.

Which school break to travel in: If you want warm, sunny days, visit Ireland during summer break, though be mindful that it’s the busiest time of year. If you don’t mind cooler days with a chance of rain, we suggest spring break instead, when the flowers are in full bloom.

Explore Ireland | Ireland travel guide

Costa Rica for families

Wildlife, rainforests & active pursuits

Brown-throated sloth and baby
Brown-throated sloth and baby, Costa Rica

Nature-rich yet well established for visitors, Costa Rica feels wild yet accessible, making it an ideal choice for families. By day, you might zip-line over towering trees, walk on suspended bridges through the misty cloudforest, or raft down exhilarating river rapids. Meanwhile, night-time walks through the rainforest led by expert naturalists reveal a world of nocturnal animals, from frogs to coatis.

Beyond the high-adrenaline activities on offer, your family might also enjoy a chance to walk to cascading waterfalls, bask on a sunny beach, or swim in warm pools fed by natural hot springs.

In terms of where to stay, Costa Rica is replete with lofty lodges set amid the rainforest, wooden cabins found in lush gardens, or modern hotels overlooking the sea. Whichever style suits you, they’ll help you feel entirely immersed in nature. Many of the hotels and lodges also have their own nature trails, so you can ramble through tropical gardens and look out for wildlife, from green hummingbirds to throaty tree frogs or even oft-elusive sloths, without straying far.

Will appeal to: energetic families who love being in nature and have a sense of adventure.

Which school break to travel in: Costa Rica is driest from December to April, so if you want to travel during Christmas, Easter, or spring breaks, it’s best to plan ahead. To visit at a quieter time, we recommend a summer break in June and July. While rain is more possible, it’s unlikely to fall all day, every day. Instead, expect a pattern of dry mornings and intermittent rainfall in the afternoon, intermixed with entirely dry days.

Explore Costa Rica | Costa Rica travel guide