Fantasising about this year’s summer holiday? Whether it’s Europe or beyond, your time away as a family is one of the best times of the year, when you get to forget about work and school and simply have fun together. Here are the 20 best family holiday destinations that deserve a place on your family’s 2018 wish list.
1/20 Gstaad, Switzerland
For families looking for clean mountain air and wholesome outdoor living, Gstaad in the Swiss Alps is a great idea. Take the panoramic train from Geneva through the hills to this peaceful town that is loved by celebrities for its stunning scenery, outdoor pursuits and fantastic restaurants. Kids will love whizzing down the hills on the Alpine coaster, reaching speeds of up to 40 kilometres an hour as they take on hair-raising bends. Hike or take a chairlift to the sparkling Glacier 3000 and enjoy a meal at a tiny restaurant on top of a mountain, or take a dip in one of the natural pools within the range. Yodelling lessons, indulgent spa treatments, horse-drawn carriage rides are all within reach during a stay in Gstaad.
Where to stay: Alpenland hotel is a quaint wooden chalet-style hotel straight out of the pages of Heidi. A backdrop of snow-capped mountains and surroundings of green meadows and glistening lakes helps to create a peaceful environment for your family break. Alpenland offers a hearty Swiss breakfast including fresh local milks and cheeses and home-baked bread, as well as a dinner menu featuring farm-fresh produce from just over the hill. There is also a very friendly hotel dog, and family pets are welcome with guests. Rooms start at £110 per night.
2/20 Murcia, Spain
This south-eastern Spanish city is the seventh largest in Spain and is made up of a plethora of landscapes: badlands, pine groves, lush orchards and urban zones. Kids will love visiting the huge Terra Natura water park, picnicking in the El Valle Regional Park and visiting the science and water museum with its own planetarium. Parents will love taking in the views of the rolling hills and taking kids on a boat trip to spot dolphins in the wild.
Where to stay: La Manga Club (shown above) is an exclusive resort with a focus on family sport and leisure. Covering an area three times the size of Monaco and bordered by national parks and white-sand beaches (with 300 days of sunshine a year), La Manga Club’s five-star hotel or apartments are the perfect base for a family holiday. There is a Junior club for kids from babies to age 13 offering cookery classes, pirate parties, games and seasonal activities. Guests can enjoy 15 different bars and restaurants as well as a luxury 2,000m² Wellness Centre, three 18-hole golf courses, kids’ sports academies and a 28-court tennis centre. Rooms start at £100 per night.
3/20 Tuscany, Italy
Although famed for its quiet hills and romantic seclusion, Tuscany is emerging as a family-friendly destination with much to offer little ones. From the ancient caves and underground grottos to medieval castles, cheese-making factories and family museums, a fun and educational trip is guaranteed in the heart of the Italian countryside. Adrenaline lovers can pick up the pace with visits to treetop trails, the prehistoric park, Cavallino Matto amusement park and Acqua Village water park or simply indulge in Italian specialities and take a gelato tour or pizza-making class.
Where to stay: Tuscany Now & More offers family-friendly villas with features that will ensure parents get a relaxing break while the kids make the most of their time away. Colli Fiorentini villa is a quaint stone farmhouse with spectacular views of Tuscany’s rolling hills, vineyards and olive groves. Families can enjoy making a splash in their private swimming pool, soaking up the sunshine in the manicured garden or cooking up a storm on the hand-built barbecue and wood oven for al fresco dining. As the sun sets, parents can enjoy a glass of Prosecco while taking a dip in the bubbles of the outdoor jacuzzi with panoramic views. Weekly stays start at £1200
If you’ve done Tenerife and Lanzarote and are looking for a Greek island with a little more adventure, Crete may be the perfect place for your 2018 holiday. With a rich history and strong culture the island is a great place for families to enjoy learning through visits to Venetian fortresses, rugged mountains, kid-friendly museums and paradise beaches. Take the kids sea-kayaking and snorkeling, scuba diving (for teens) and paddleboarding, or simply enjoy making sandcastles from the fine white Cretian sand. Mountain biking in the hills is popular, as is hiking in Samaria Gorge, the longest gorge in Europe. There is also a dinosaur park, a huge modern aquarium and the very popular Acqua Plus water park. Parents can enjoy strolls along the harbour in Chania town, visit the ancient Minoan palace of Knossos and explore Dikteon caves.
Where to stay: Domes of Elounda offer a luxurious base for exploring the island. With three resorts to choose from you can be sure to find the ideal fit for whatever your family is after. The resorts offer extensive dining options from five-star room service to beach-side cuisine and feature accommodation from family suites to villas or sea-view hotel rooms. Children can play on immaculate Blue Flag beaches or head to the Ark kids’ club where they can enjoy their own private waterpark, sports academies or even a Six Senses Spa day for little ones.
Rooms start at £200 per night.
City lovers will find a hub of excitement and novelty in the Thai capital of Bangkok. A bustling city of vibrant culture and fast-paced living, there is much to see and do for families visiting with kids. Take a tuk-tuk tour and take in the glistening temples and pagodas around the city or hop on a taxi boat and enjoy the view from the water. Museums such as the Art in Paradise 3D museum will give kids a fun and fascinating introduction into cultural aspects of the city, while places like DreamWorld amusement park will have them begging to come back! Bangkok is also known for its incredible shopping- from high-end fashion designers to local Thai night markets, cheap electronics and international food there is everything you could want from a shopping destination. It is best to visit November-June as this is dry season.
Where to stay: Perfect for a special weekend break, The Siam is an ‘urban sanctuary’ set on the winding Chao Phraya River within three acres of lush tropical gardens. In the hustle and bustle of the city it is a tranquil retreat with an infinity pool and private butler in each suite or villa. Breakfast and high-speed Wifi is included with each stay as well as a speedboat transfer from a local pier to the hotel’s riverfront access. A cosy cafe, bistro and exclusive restaurant are the five-star dining options at the Siam. Suites start at £400 per night.
6/20 The Cotswolds
As quintessentially English as regions get, The Cotswolds offers country walks, cream teas and chocolate-box cottages for families to enjoy. Outdoorsy families can head to the Cotswolds Water Park which offers a plethora of watersports and land-based action activities to please adults and kids alike. Visitors can try an aerial adventure, learn wilderness skills or go paintballing, or get wet and try their hand at wakeboarding or water-skiing. The Cotswold Farm Park is home to 50 rare breed animals that kids love to see, and visitors can camp on the land too. The Cotswold Wildlife park with its rhinos and giraffes and the National Arboretum, home to over 15,000 species of tree and plant on 600 acres, are both well worth a visit with little ones.
Where to stay: The Fish hotel offers Scandi-inspired luxurious living combined with English nature. Stay in a Hilly Hut, Hideaway Hut or Treehouse with private hot tubs, or enjoy relaxing in a suite. There is a dedicated games room at The Fish as well as a programme of activities from archery to treasure hunts and chocolate-making to murder mysteries. Guests can indulge in sumptuous afternoon teas or barbecue feasts on the wooden deck after a busy day outdoors. Small suites from £170 per night.
7/20 The Maldives
Once thought of as a destination just for honeymooning couples, the Maldives is making its mark as a luxury family travel destination. Activities include snorkeling, paddle-boarding, diving, snoozing in hammocks, island-hopping boat trips… and jumping off your deck into crystal-clear water! Visitors to the Maldives often stay on an island resort and take trips to inhabited local islands, meeting the residents and getting to know the authentic culture of this unique country. Families can access their resorts via speedboat or seaplane, adding to the adventure of the holiday. The best time to visit the Maldives in December to April.
Where to stay: Cheval Blanc Randheli offers the ultimate in family-friendly luxury on the Noonu atoll. Le Carrousel kids’ club hosts a range of cultural, fun and sporting activities alongside a private pool, children’s yoga and island treasure hunts. Teens can kick back at Le Paddock and enjoy gaming at the multimedia station, shooting a game of pool or trying excursions such as subaquatic hikes or stargazing. Families can enjoy evening parties and themed days such as ‘Culinary experiences’ and ‘Maldivian day’. Choose from beach suites or overwater villas and enjoy the eight dining establishments across the resort. For prices enquire online.
The Spanish destination is great for families who don’t want to choose between a city and a beach break. Wander down Las Ramblas and check out the local crafts and produce or clothes shops before heading to the beach to watch the sun set. Fans of art and architecture can take in the stunning Gaudi designs and gothic architecture as well as art museums featuring works of Picasso and El Greco. Kids and adults will love the easygoing vibe of the city, with tasty delights such as spectacular ice-cream, authentic tapas and thick hot chocolate with churros.
Where to stay: Barcelo Raval is a four-star cosmopolitan hotel near to the city’s famous cathedral with a bright and contemporary aesthetic. As well as its great location the Raval offers complimentary iPhone docking stations, high-speed Wifi, a swimming pool, rooftop dining and panoramic view of Barcelona. Rooms start at £65 per night.
9/20 New South Wales
For those looking to travel long-haul and explore the other side of the world, New South Wales offers incredible opportunities for families looking for nature and wildlife adventures. Visitors can explore the Murray River on a houseboat, camp in the bush in the national parks, learn to surf in Jamberoo or see the breathtaking whale migration. Animal lovers can visit Elvis, a giant saltwater crocodile at the Australia Reptile Park or get up close and personal with a shark and ray encounter. The koala hospital is well worth a visit, as is the stunning World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains for a cable car ride or trip on the scenic railway.
Where to stay: Hunter Valley resort offers luxurious accommodation among lush vineyards, with plenty to do nearby. On site families can enjoy chocolate making workshops, segway tours, pizza making, wine theatre, horse riding, and every kid’s favourite: grape stomping! Cosy cottages and hotel rooms with access to day tours including hot air ballooning and helicopter tours make this the ideal base for families wanting to explore New South Wales. Rooms start at £70 per night.
City breaks with kids are one of the predicted 2018 travel trends, as families work to fit in an action-packed itinerary into smaller chunks of time and enjoy a few days of splashing out. Although known as a classic destination for romantic breaks, Paris has much to offer families travelling with children and teens. Take in educational attractions such as the Louvre art gallery and the Musée en Herbe, an art museum specifically for children. La Cité de las Enfants also offers a hands-on science and technology experience as well as an original submarine exhibit, and the Palais de la découvert hosts a Planetarium and an Electrostatic room that children will love.
Where to stay: The Family Suite at Le Pavillon de la Reine is a sumptuous base from which to explore Paris. Featuring the fashionable French touches that you would expect from a five-star Parisian hotel, the suite has two bedrooms and three bathrooms and can sleep up to five people. The hotel has a pretty terrace for morning coffee and an honesty bar so guests can help themselves to refreshments at their convenience. Rooms start at £250 per night.
One of our favourite undiscovered family destinations, Montenegro is worth visiting before the rest of the world realises what a great place for a family holiday it is. Visit the World Heritage Site of Kotor and get lost in a maze of cobbled streets taking in street theatre and musicians, visit the marina and children’s park or even set foot in the cat museum! A boat trip on the Bay of Kotor is also well worth doing, as is a trip to Lovcen national park with its famous Black Mountain and plentiful hiking trails. In Autumn the parks blend into a golden rainbow of colour as the leaves turn hues of burnished orange and in Winter there are several ski resorts, so no matter what the time of year there is always a reason to visit!
Where to stay: The Regent Porto Montenegro offers five-star luxury for post-hiking recovery. Choose a huge suite with sea or mountain views and enjoy separate bedroom and living areas, luxury L’Occitane amenities and an attentive concierge. A rooftop bar and infinity pool with views of the marina or the atmospheric indoor pool are the perfect place to unwind on your family break. Family suites start at £380 per night.
12/20 The Algarve, Portugal
Increasingly popular as a summer family destination, the Algarve in Portugal offers more than sun, sea and sand. The Fiesa Sand Sculpture festival runs from May until October and uses over 35,000 tons of sand, making it a spectacular sight for kids. Aside from beach days families can enjoy picnics in the countryside, visits to the Life Sciences centre, go-karting at Hot Wheels Raceway, horse-riding, volleyball, water parks and more. May and June as well as September and October are great months to visit thanks to the warm (not scorching) weather, so it’s an ideal destination too for families not tied down by the school holidays.
Where to stay: Teenagers will love the Magnolia Hotel, styled with a ‘Miami boutique hotel’ aesthetic. Pastel colours, inflatable flamingos, retro sun loungers and a laid-back atmosphere make the perfect setting for an Instagram-worthy break. Rooms feature crisps Egyptian linen, complimentary Wifi and amenities, air conditioning and a private balcony. Rooms start at £70 per night.
13/20 Halkidiki, Greece
Made up of three peninsulas, Halkidiki in northeastern Greece is a stunning example of the natural beauty that the country has to offer. Take the kids to visit the Petralona caves to see the ancient stalactites and stalagmites or visit Sithonia with its picturesque pine-fringed beaches. The monastery at Agios Oros is well worth a boat trip and families can take in the views of majestic Mount Athos. Local food and drink includes giant olives, spiced potatoes, chestnuts and green beans. Halkidiki has some of the best luxury family hotels in the world and is ideal for a relaxing summer holiday.
Where to stay: Danai Beach Resort and Villas is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World, and deservedly so. A private fine-sand beach and emerald green Mediterranean gardens provide the perfect surroundings for a family holiday. Services offered at Danai include a private butler, limousine transfers, helicopter rides and 24-hour in-room dining service. The suites and villas feature marble balconies, Bose Wifi music systems and fresh flowers. With three excellent restaurants for gourmet dining guests can enjoy Greek nights, grill specialities or open-air terrace dinners.
Another Greek island where families can find endless adventure and entertainment, Corfu is both rich in culture and natural beauty. Visit the Old Town, take boat trips to crystal-clear waters and rocky coves or simply lounge on the beach. For adrenaline lovers why not visit Hydropolis water park with its toboggan runs and kamikaze slides, or take a sunset horse ride along the beach. The Old and New fortresses are fascinating and worth a visit for a fun family history trip along with more of the island’s castles.
Where to stay: MarBella Corfu has long been one of the island’s most prestigious hotels, with local staff and an authentic Greek heritage. Wander down to the private beach for snacks and drinks on the deck or take a taxi boat from the cove to Corfu’s capital. Children can make a splash in the hotel’s own mini water park or head to the kids’ club for fun with new friends. Rooms include views over the Aegean sea; why not book a private jacuzzi on your balcony and watch the sunset in style! Rooms start at £110.
15/20 Cape Town
A great adventure destination for those who love wildlife, a trip to Cape Town might be the ideal long-haul destination with teens. Climb up Table Mountain for incredible views, visit huge stretches of golden beaches and even cage dive with sharks! Going further afield a safari in the Kruger National Park is a once-in-a-lifetime experience to spot the Big Five and see rare and exotic animals in their natural environment. Perfect for an 18th birthday or special anniversary trip with the family.
Where to stay: Ellerman is a classic Cape Edwardian mansion in the exclusive suburb of Bantry Bay. Just a five minute walk away are the stunning beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay, and an ocean-facing pool surrounded by palm trees completes the relaxing surroundings. Luxury rooms start from £900 per night.
A glittering city full of life and energy, Dubai is positively set up for family travel. As well as being one of the safest places to visit with children it has abundant child-friendly attractions that the kids and adults alike will enjoy. Climb to the top of the world’s highest building and admire the views from the Burj Khalifa, make a splash at Wild Wadi, Aquaventure or Atlantis water parks or head to Ferrari World for everything car-related. Kids will love Dubai’s own Legoland or taking more of a cultural trip out into the desert for a jeep or camel safari.
Where to stay: Atlantis The Palm is located at the top of the The Palm’s Jumeirah and is home to over 1,500 guest rooms, featuring world-class design. Kids will love the Kids’ Club with a weekly programme of activities, from Little Chef cookery and decorating sessions to movie nights on the lawn. Guests with children can look forward to an in-room welcome bag filled with goodies, baby accessories, bedtime treats, storybooks and healthy snacks.
17/20 Tulum, Mexico
An up-and-coming small resort on the coast of Mexico, Tulum and recently become popular with A-list celebs thanks to its laid-back hipster vibe. Dive into history with a visit to ancient Mayan sites, many of which are now home to families of wild iguana. The Yucatan peninsula also hides many cenotes where the Mayans used to communicate with the gods- check out the aquamarine water and even take a dip! A day trip away from Tulum is the Coba Archeological Site, set among the jungle with two lagoons nearby- a fascinating chance for kids to explore the Mayan heritage of the area. Swim with turtles of Akumal beach, eat at the fantastic restaurants such as Casa Banana and spot the celebs!
Where to stay: Habitas is a private beachfront Eco resort with complimentary Wifi throughout. Rooms have garden or sea views and private balconies and the hotel is just 3km from Tulum Archeological Site. Contemporary nature-inspired decor and a great restaurant along with the convenient location makes Hotel Coral Tulum a fine choice for families. Rooms start at £200 per night.
A firm family favourite, Lanzarote is increasingly becoming known as a luxury holiday destination. Watersports are a popular island activity, with everything from jet skiing and banana boats to snorkelling trips and paddleboarding. The Rancho Texas theme park is a great day out for kids, as is the Pirate Museum in Teguise. You can even ride in a submarine during a trip to Puerto Calero! If that’s not enough adventure for you why not try go-karting at San Bartolomé or the water park at Playa Blanca. In the evenings kick back and relax with an open air cinema screening in Puerto de Carmen.
Where to stay: The Princess Yaiza is a five-star resort that caters exceptionally well for families looking for R&R. The Kikoland children’s club ensures that kids will have a holiday to remember, getting involved in sports, mini discos, water sports and arts and crafts in a 10,000 square metre facility. With eight restaurants to choose from, you’ll be sure to find something to make the whole family happy! Rooms start at £180 per night.
With no flights or passports to worry about and the friendliest of locals, Cardiff is a fuss-free destination for those wanting a staycation.Take the kids to explore science at Techniquest, hop on a boat for a trip around Cardiff Bay or tuck into chips at Harry Ramsdens on the seafront. Museums such as the St Fagans Museum of Welsh Life and Cardiff Castle provide fun and educational attractions for all the family. The shopping is great too and with a huge selection of restaurants in the city centre you are sure to have an easy break with kids.
Where to stay: The Celtic Manor resort is the pride of Cardiff. With politicians and Hollywood celebrities staying there on a regular basis, the Celtic Manor knows how to do luxury. A golf course and spa is on site as well as a huge children’s playground, a kids’ club and woodland sports courses. Rooms start at £100 per night.
With natural beauty that rivals any Maldivian beach, Cornwall is a haven of beautiful scenery, outdoor adventure and wholesome living that is sure to make a memorable family break. Why not enrol the kids in surf school and take advantage of the fantastic beaches, or cross the causeway to see St Michael’s Mount and search for the giant’s stone heart at low tide? The Lizard Lighthouse centre offers kids a chance to explore a real working lighthouse as well as tracking ships and sounding a foghorn. The Eden project and sub-tropical gardens at Trebah provide more outdoor learning adventures while tiny tea-rooms offer freshly baked Cornish pasties and cream teas with local clotted cream.
Where to stay: The Watergate Bay Hotel is set on a brilliant surfing beach on the northern coast of Cornwall and offers dining with panoramic views, and indoor pool and bright and spacious guestrooms. The Watergate Bay is also host to ‘The Extreme Club’, offering surfing lessons and kiting tuition to give its guests the full Cornwall experience! Rooms start at £120 per night.