Anybody who’s travelled with children knows that holidays can be both the best and the worst of times. There’s magic in showing your children the sea for the first time; seeing the look on their faces when they try a new food and discover that the hotel serves all-you-can-eat ice cream. But a family holiday often involves military levels of planning. We’re here to help with our family travel special. We have holiday suggestions for all ages, from babies to teenagers, where the adults are guaranteed to have as much fun as the children.
Where possible throughout this special, prices are for families. The per-person price specified in others is what adults pay, although lower rates would apply for babies, toddlers and teenagers. Contact operators for detailed information.
Children can share your airline seat until they’re 24 months old
The camp is split on taking babies on holiday — between parents who consider this to be the best age to travel as far and as intrepidly as possible (free plane seats! Stick baby in the papoose!) and those who consider it merely sleep-deprived parenting in the sun. Children can share your airline seat until they’re 24 months old and for only 10 per cent of the adult fare. Then again, is this really how you want to travel all the way to Australia, for example, just because it’s great value, when an under-two will never remember the escapade anyway? My baby daughter was so big for her age (we say “tall” in the family) that holding her for an entire flight after she turned 15 months was so uncomfortable we’d buy a seat for her anyway. So, it’s not always as straightforward as it seems.
As new parents, the most important thing is that you have a good time. Put yourself first on this trip, because you have 16 years of rollercoasters and water slides ahead of you.
1. Winter sun in Rhodes
The great thing about babies (apart from the dimples) is that you can travel at any time of year. Which means you can make the most of the “shoulder season”, when kids are in school, parents are at work, fares are low and the weather is still wonderful. This can certainly be said of Rhodes, where even in December you can enjoy sunny days and temperatures tipping 20C (though not every day) and which starts hotting up again by Easter. Amada Colossos is a sophisticated all-inclusive resort on Kallithea beach with a UK-standard baby club (from four months), and plenty of dedicated adult-only zones. For when you are with baby, there’s a splash zone and shallow pools, and even baby food at the restaurant.
Details Seven nights’ all-inclusive from £892pp, including flights and transfers (thomascook.com)
2. Stylish Sagres
Depending on how much you travel, or how many kids you have, you’ll learn soon enough that “family-friendly” hotels tend to have a strong whiff of bleach to them, with a lot of easy-wipe surfaces and plastic cutlery. Martinhal — in Sagres, on the windy western Algarve — does not conform to this stereotype and is as stylish a resort as you’d hope to find in Lisbon or Rio, with innovative beachfront architecture, designer furniture, and hip restaurants in which you actually want to linger. To keep packing to a minimum new parents can order equipment free of charge, from potties and baby baths to sterilisers. There’s also the option to upsize to a villa for more space. If you need any more proof of Martinhal’s gentility, Ben Fogle and family holiday there.
Details B&B doubles with a cot from £126 (martinhal.com). Fly to Faro
Drive to Cancale, in Brittany, from the UK
3. Seafood in Brittany
We celebrated my daughter’s first birthday in Cancale with oysters and champagne. Sounds decadent, but it was actually a practical decision because we could drive from the UK in our own car — no luggage restrictions or tutting aeroplane passengers — and Brittany has so many lovely holiday homes to rent. Villas are a great option with babies because you can wake at 1am (and 3am and 5am) without fear of disturbing anyone, you have a kitchen of your own and you have a villa’s twin superpowers: privacy and space. Brittany also happens to have amazing, affordable seafood and the chic towns St Malo and Rennes, so we could have grown-up fun too.
Details Seven nights’ self-catering for up to six people from £329 (jamesvillas.co.uk); Eurotunnel tickets from £82 one way (eurotunnel.com)
4. New Forest luxury
I am a big fan of Luxury Family Hotels, a small group of British country house hotels created for parents who love a bit of Bridgerton, Hunter wellies and afternoon tea, and don’t want to give that up just because they’ve reproduced. The hotels aren’t too expensive (four-star, not five) and offer clever Sunday night deals to those with non-school-age kids (eg buy dinner, get the room free). New Park Manor is its Hampshire outpost, with a Baby’s First Stay package that includes a spa treatment alongside childcare.
Details Two nights’ B&B from £430, including spa treatment, dinner each evening, childcare and spa gift set (luxuryfamilyhotels.co.uk)
Hit the road in New Zealand
5. On the road in New Zealand
For those who buy into the argument that you should fly as far as you possibly can while your kids travel (almost) free of charge, and that you should choose somewhere that’ll become impossible — because of school holidays or finances — once they’re older, this is definitely the one. New Zealand, with its wine tasting in Marlborough, spectacular hiking in Abel Tasman National Park and camper-van road-trip opportunities is hard to beat. It’s safe, with excellent free healthcare for UK nationals, and is preposterously baby and buggy-friendly. The best time of year to visit is December-March, and if you’re on maternity/paternity leave, you can travel for a decent stint — something you could never manage once they’re in school.
Details Fifteen nights’ room-only, including one hotel night, 14 nights’ motorhome rental, flights and ferry crossing from North to South Island from £2,655pp (flightcentre.co.uk)
6. Evian spas for all
Of the many things you must sacrifice as new parents, one of them is time together in the hot tub (I know, first-world problems). That’s because spas are kid-free zones, so you’ll have to take turns sitting alone in the sauna while the other tends to the nappies. Not so at Evian Resort — spiritual home of the spa — where you can either “take the waters” together, thanks to its Baby Club (which welcomes children from four months and for up to eight hours a day), or as part of the mother and baby programme. Here, you and newborn learn baby massage, take aqua-baby classes and try baby communication techniques — and this trip can easily be squeezed into a weekend.
Details Room-only doubles from £156 (evianresort.com). Fly to Geneva
7. South Africa road trip
If the road trip/long-haul combo appeals, South Africa is especially well suited as there is little time difference (zero jet lag) and direct flights are overnight. The Garden Route is such an iconic drive that car hire companies have approved car seats on hand (though you’ll probably travel with your own). Start with beachfront brunches in Cape Town, moving on to Stellenbosch’s wineries, before cruising through wildflowers and woodland to see the seals at Plettenberg.
Details Fourteen nights’ B&B, including car rental, some meals and safari drives from £1,240pp (trailfinders.com). Fly to Cape Town
8. Belgium by train
One unexpected pleasure of travelling with a baby is how much time they spend asleep (just not always at the right time). This makes galleries, museums and long lunches yours for the taking until your child is about six months. Belgium is brilliant in this respect as you can easily drive, fly or take the train and its arty, elegant cities burst with grown-up goodies. Fashionable Antwerp is super for shopping, cultured Brussels bristles with art, canal-squiggled Bruges is the Venice of the north and you can’t move in Ghent for castles and medieval majesty. Think modern when it comes to your hotel, though, as you don’t want a draughty historic bolt hole on the noisy main square when it’s your bedtime.
Details Two nights’ room-only in Brussels from £175pp, including Eurostar journey (eurostar.com)
Time for watermelon
In many respects, even though you’ve garnered all that hard-won experience from the past 24 months, travelling with a toddler can be tougher than at any other time in a child’s life. They’re mobile, they’re eating (and rejecting) solids and they’re potty training. That said, it can also be the most magical time because . . . they can talk! I relished holidays with my daughter so much more when she could tell me which flavour “ow-zeem” (ice cream) she liked, or what she thought of the castle’s beautiful “sky-ling” (ceiling). With preschoolers you still have the freedom to travel year-round, making it more affordable, and, hopefully, you can ditch the bulky buggy. Long-haul travel isn’t a clever idea with toddlers, though you do have a window to see culturally enriching destinations before they realise Nintendo exists. Last tip: it’s too early for theme parks. Wait until they’re tall enough for the rides and can remember the magic of Mickey.
Cycling at Center Parcs
9. Embrace Center Parcs
Boo! Hiss! Yes, Center Parcs may be the holiday park everybody loves to hate, but it does represent family holiday perfection, with the ideal ratio of child-friendly waterslides to wood-fired pizzas. The root cause of its unpopularity (and that’s not genuine aversion — it runs at almost 100 per cent occupancy all year) is price. But you can surmount that if your kids aren’t yet of school age. For example, a four-night midweek stay at Whinfell Forest, Cumbria, in a two-bedroom lodge starts at £379 in February, yet during February half-term, this soars to £979. The parks are UK-wide, they’re car-free (once on site), and you can self-cater — safe, wholesome, inexpensive fun. And in winter, there’s nowhere better to be than the Subtropical Swimming Paradise, heated to 29.5C.
Details Four nights’ self-catering in a two-bedroom lodge from £349 (centerparcs.co.uk)
A private pool at Ikos Andalusia
10. Upscale all-inclusive in Spain
If somebody is off to an Ikos resort, you’ll soon hear about it, with the name declared loudly at the nursery gates — it’s the hotel equivalent of shopping in Waitrose or driving a Range Rover. There are five Ikos all-inclusives across Europe, the newest here in Marbella, with two more due to open this year. Ikos was the first group to introduce the idea of “infinite” all-inc, which means free usage of Mini Cooper cars, proper champagne, and even the chance to eat at local restaurants, so that you can explore at no extra cost. As for interiors, you’d never guess these are all-inclusive properties, thanks to beach-chic furnishings, commissioned contemporary art and smart infinity pools fit for the pages of Architectural Digest. Better yet, you can dodge the school-holiday price wars.
Details Five nights’ all-inclusive from £805pp, including flights (kenwoodtravel.co.uk)
11. Sightseeing near Bodrum
The toddler period was when I sneaked in some highbrow sightseeing (for me) before my daughter was old enough to refuse. That said, I aimed for expansive outdoor spectacles where she could run around (eg ancient Lindos in Rhodes and the Majorelle Garden in Marrakesh), and she was always rewarded with pool time afterwards. Bodrum in Turkey works well for this type of trip, with tons of family-friendly hotels, late-season sunshine, and the sites of two of the Seven Wonders of the World — the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, two hours’ drive away, and the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, minutes from Bodrum port.
Details Seven nights’ from £9,645 for a family of four, including flights (elegantresorts.co.uk)
12. Off-peak seaside Cape Cod
Despite being a professional traveller, overnight flights with a toddler petrified me, so when we wanted to visit the States, I chose a destination with daytime returns (routes are usually overnight from the US). Cape Cod is also somewhere that held a mystique for me — the clam-bakes, the Kennedy connection, the clapboard beach houses — but it’s prohibitively expensive in July and August. Not so in September, when daytime highs can still hit 28C, and we could hire bikes with kiddie seats to cruise the wooden boardwalks in peace. Seal watching was a delight, while the ferry tickets to day-trippable Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard were plentiful (not the case in summer).
Details Room-only doubles with cot from £82 (seacrestbeachhotel.com). Fly to Boston
Herengracht Canal in Amsterdam
13. Flat, friendly Amsterdam
That most famous of VIP baby-vehicles — the Bugaboo — was invented in the Netherlands, so there’s no more toddler-friendly city on the planet than Amsterdam. It’s flat, it’s friendly and under-fives are welcomed into Amsterdam’s coolest cafés (no, not those ones). Museums, too, are clued up to kids, with hands-on exhibits at many of the top tickets and green spaces everywhere for cartwheels afterwards. The Eurostar now goes direct to Amsterdam from London, so train is an option as well as flying (at 16-plus hours, the ferry crossing from Newcastle isn’t doable for a short break).
Details Two nights’ room-only from £182pp, including flights (lastminute.com)
14. Camping on the Provence coast
You might consider Provence to be the ultimate grown-up getaway, with rosé wine tastings, antiques markets and slip-hazard flagstone farmhouse floors. But French families love Provence, they simply stick to the coast — and they choose the reasonably priced areas around Marseilles and Montpellier rather than Cannes, St Tropez and Nice. Wind-swept Hyères is minutes from the low-cost airport Toulon-Hyères, and its seafood shacks, clear waters, kids’ activity clubs and pristine campsites signify all that is magnifique about France (plus it’s hot until October). Day trips to family-friendly Aix-en-Provence (with its electric minibuses) and Marseilles (with its newly opened Grotte Cosquer caves) are a cinch. Compare your campsites at campingfrance.com.
Details Seven nights’ self-catering in a two-bed cabin with direct beach access from £339. Fly to Toulon, Avignon, Nice, Montpellier or Marseilles
Spot turtles in Barbados
15. Beach life in Barbados
For a fortunate few, a winter trip to the Caribbean is a tradition — like skiing in Courchevel, or Christmas in the country — but some islands are more suited to toddler travel than others. Barbados wins first prize in this category, with frequent direct flights, an abundance of package-priced resorts and all-frills five-stars, and sandy beaches that are double as a soft-play pen. The west coast beaches are calmest, with turtles swimming so close to the shore you needn’t even book a snorkel trip (but do buy an all-in-one swim mask). Be sure to avoid the two potential weeks for February half-term, as well as Easter school breaks, or else you’ll be paying top dollar.
Details Seven nights’ self-catering in a beach studio with cot from £947pp, including flights (tui.co.uk)
Fun on the farm
16. Fresh air on the farm
Farm stays are a relatively new phenomenon and there has been an explosion of the market for parents of under-fives who love the idea of all that fresh air and organic produce. Feather Down nails this sector, with glamping accommodation (and obligatory wood-burning stove), private showers and outdoor pizza ovens. All Feather Down properties are on picturesque farms, most of which are less than four hours’ drive from London. If John Lewis sold holidays, they’d look like this.
Details Four nights’ self-catering for six from £410 (featherdown.co.uk). Not available from November to March
Crazy golf at Valle dell’Erica on Sardinia
Let the fun begin! It’s at this age that your children most enjoy your company, and you theirs. While you’re in this sweet spot, indulge them and put your travel desires on the back burner; now is the time for waterslides, theme parks and wall-to-wall buffets. The downside to this age is the inflated cost of travel during school holidays. Some tips on this: travel towards the end of the summer break, when kids in many countries return to school and accommodation prices drop; use inset days either side of a weekend to create time for a short-haul break.
17. Capital adventure in London
You see “educational weekend”; they see “city adventure”. That’s what’s so brilliant about London — you’re tripping over curriculum-enhancing sites at every turn and the kids are learning stuff without realising it. The Victorians in Year 5? Take them to the V&A (free; vam.ac.uk) or the Foundling Museum in a former children’s hospital (£9.50; foundlingmuseum.org.uk). Studying the ancient Egyptians in Year 3? Get thee to the British Museum, with its coffins and mummified cats (free; britishmuseum.org). Even a ride on the Thames Clipper river bus is a lesson in architecture and sustainable building methods, as you pass the Gherkin, Shard, Walkie-Talkie and skyscape of Canary Wharf, not to mention the Tower of London.
Details Family rooms at Town Hall Hotel near the Young V&A, which will open in the summer, in Bethnal Green from £278 (townhallhotel.com)
18. Cabins on France’s Atlantic coast
This is the first summer holiday we took once my daughter had started school. We were flabbergasted by the cost of travel, so we plumped for France at the end of August (when the French return to school) and chose somewhere with low-cost airports nearby (Bordeaux, La Rochelle and Biarritz). We also went camping for the first time, knowing how good French sites are — we had pretty timber cabins in the pine forests behind Seignosse beach, as well as a huge pool with waterslides, trampoline park, mini golf and a surf school. We paid £370pp for a week, including flights.
Details One night’s self-catering in a cabin sleeping four from £39 (campinglesoyats.fr). Fly to the above airports or drive (11 hours from Calais)
19. Sardinian sophistication
We all know that Italian resorts are great for kids, but when the furry mascot sings every breakfast time or an ageing football star performs keepy-uppys at dinner, it can be excessive for the grown-ups. The Valle dell’Erica resort on Sardinia’s exquisite northeast coast keeps everybody happy, though, with clear waters reminiscent of the Indian Ocean, a spa you’d expect of southeast Asia and restaurants that only Italy can produce — at lunchtime its Li Zini beach bar serves sea urchin risotto. It also has a kids’ cinema, golf lessons, five-a-side pitches, swimming courses and for older kids a Robinson Crusoe overnight experience that involves canoeing and camping on the beach. Its three kids’ clubs are staffed until 11pm too.
Details Seven nights’ half-board for a family of four from £6,699, including flights and private transfers (citalia.com)
Disney World Florida
20. Disney in Florida
Take your kids to Disney when they’re 5 and they may be too short (or scared) for the rides; take them at 13 and they may find it too childish (this is when Universal comes into its own). But 6 to 12 is the dream age range for Disney — when the thrill of seeing Cinderella and Captain Hook wandering the streets proves unforgettable and the memory of a late fireworks show is forged for life. If you’re keen to fill two weeks with Disney, I recommend days at its waterparks, including Blizzard Beach. Or fill one week with Disney (there are four theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios) and spend the other relaxing at a beach town such as New Smyrna, St Petersburg or Bradenton.
Details Seven nights’ room only at Disney World Florida for a family of four from £5,298, including flights, a week’s family pass to all the parks, waterpark entry and £167 park credit (disneyholidays.co.uk)
Galle in Sri Lanka
21. Wildlife and beaches in Sri Lanka
In my eight-year-old’s words, this was our “best holiday ever”, thanks in part to the incredible food, but mostly to the wildlife. Sri Lanka is ideal for kids too restless for a safari because animal sightings come so easily. There are elephants on parade at Udawalawe National Park; you can release baby turtles into the ocean at Koggala’s sanctuary; blue whales swim in Weligama Bay; and monkeys jump from tree to tree wherever you go. And all these places are less than two hours’ drive from Galle, a gorgeous city with a Dutch-era fort in the south of the country, where you should base yourself at a satellite beach hotel. You’ll need a fortnight, between December and April to avoid the monsoon.
Details Eight nights’ B&B for a family of four from £8,699, including flights, car hire and guide (kuoni.co.uk)
22. Winter sun in Abu Dhabi
Travelling for family winter sun can be financially ruinous as everybody jets off to the Caribbean or Canaries at the same time. We chose Abu Dhabi instead, as it’s warm year-round but not overdeveloped like Dubai and there are umpteen (competitively priced) flights a day with Etihad. Temperatures at new year hit 28C; we spent days on white-sand beaches on Saadiyat Island and cooler evenings seeing everything from the Louvre Abu Dhabi gallery and Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque to the Warner Bros theme park and Yas Mall, which is home to Kidzania — a mini city play zone.
Details Seven nights’ B&B from £6,920 for a family of four, including flights (elegantresorts.co.uk)
23. Santa in Lapland
We missed the chance to experience Lapland after my five-year-old was told by a schoolfriend that Santa doesn’t exist. Since then, we’ve had to bypass every postbox and grotto, our hearts broken for ever. But parent pals have filled me in, saying that the best area is Levi in Finnish Lapland, the home of Father Christmas, where there is an excellent chance of snow and northern lights too. You don’t need more than three nights in Lapland, I’m told, so a long weekend in November or December is more cost-effective than waiting until the school holidays. Go packaged — not independent — as the operator will organise all the cute extras, including elf-driven transfers, husky-sledding, reindeer rides and making biscuits with Mrs Claus.
Details Seven nights’ half-board from £539pp, including flights (inghams.co.uk)
Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen
24. Cool Copenhagen
For parents less ready to relinquish cool cafés and design hotels, I give you Copenhagen. To keep people with kids living in the Danish capital, the city has been made hugely family-friendly — with safe cycling and waterfront playgrounds — yet has modern architecture and cult-brand shopping for grown-ups too. Copenhagen’s greatest lure is Tivoli, a retro amusement park in the city centre with old-fashioned rides (including vintage bumper cars and swing carousels) and such commitment to aesthetics that you’ll be Instagramming all day. The park opens for four set seasons — Christmas, summer, Easter and Halloween — and the decorations, costumes and music have to be experienced to be believed.
Details Four nights’ room only from £166pp, including flights (loveholidays.com)
Take in the sights of New York
My child has not yet entered teenhood, but I have a teenage nephew and niece with whom I often travel. Thanks to them I know that teens want more than selfie spots and 15-second TikTok travel guides. Yes, they want to share their travel experiences digitally, but they find many influencers just as ridiculous as I do (take a look at the Instagram account Influencers in the Wild if you want a laugh), and they are curious, open-minded and altruistic people. Teens have also been cooped up inside for much of the past three years, often missing out on travel rites of passage. In some cases this has left them anxious about travel, whether that be down to health or concerns about finances or the environment. In other cases kids are desperate to get out and explore, and they’re just thrilled to have two weeks off from the rolling bad news. Perhaps your teen is vegan, or anti-air-travel, or they’re at exam-revision age — all factors that can have a huge bearing on how you travel. Be patient. Listen to them. Trust them. If you do, these last trips with your children will be ones to treasure.
Visit Thanda reserve in South Africa
25. Safari in South Africa
I once asked a tracker about the best age to take children on safari. Without hesitation he answered: “Never before their 12th birthday.” He’d seen so many younger children either frightened — or worse, bored — by the proximity of animals, not to mention exhausted by the early starts and game drives. Honestly, safari is just too expensive to be wasted on young children. So when you’re ready, take your teens to South Africa, which is malaria-free and has a time difference with the UK of only one hour from the end of March through October. Splash out on a smaller, private reserve where sightings are almost guaranteed and the gratification instant. Thanda in KwaZulu-Natal, three hours’ drive north of Durban, is superb, with family-focused staff, rare black rhino and accommodation options ranging from tented camps to big-group villas.
Details Four nights’ B&B in a five-star hotel near Durban and three nights’ all-inclusive on safari at Thanda from £2,975pp, including flights and car hire (kuoni.co.uk)
26. Salsa in Cuba
You can’t take a bad photo of Havana, and since most teens are glued to their smartphones, this is a good way to encourage creative usage. While Cuba may be poorly geared up for under-12s (average food, weak infrastructure, fairly basic hotels), it is captivating for teens, giving them their first taste of true adventure and immersive travel. Cool one-offs include going to a baseball game or a salsa club, rolling a cigar in a factory or visiting the Museum of the Revolution, with its mannequins of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. Splash out on a taxi ride in a 1950s Cadillac along the Malecon seawall — your teens will be rewatching their video of it for years to come.
Details Fourteen nights’ B&B for four, with time in Havana and on the beach, from £5,800 (or £6,800 with a private chauffeur; stubbornmuletravel.com). Fly to Havana
27. Cultural Japan
Japan’s unique pastimes seem to grab every teen’s imagination at some point. Perhaps they’re fascinated by the anime, gaming or kawaii culture, or maybe the cosplay, adoration of pets or sushi — one of the most-watched TikTok creators in Japan simply carves fruit. Tokyo delivers on wow factor from the minute you land, with neon, noise and arcades on every corner; stay in Shibuya or Shinjuku districts to be in the heart of it and minimise travel (you can retreat to Yoyogi Park for a breather). And include a trip to Kyoto — it’s only two and a half hours from Tokyo by bullet train, and if you’re lucky you’ll get a clear view of Mount Fuji en route. The temples, teahouses and traditions of the ancient capital will show your teens another side to the country.
Details Ten nights’ mainly half-board from £4,200pp, including flights and seven-day rail pass (originaltravel.co.uk)
The Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires is full of colourful homes
28. Buzzing Buenos Aires
Argentina gives teenagers a taste of South America in a safe, manageable chunk. Starting in Buenos Aires, you’ve got tango, football — this is the home of the world champions, remember — and steakhouses; you’ve also got the city buzz that teens might imagine can only be found in Rio de Janeiro. It’s a short flight to Salta, where the family can pose for epic salt-flat selfies, drink yerba maté and walk with alpacas, as you would in Chile, Paraguay or Bolivia. End at Iguazu Falls — yes, they can be seen from Argentina as well as Brazil — for toucans, tapirs and a face full of spray from the wet-and-wild walkways.
Details Nine nights’ B&B between Buenos Aires and Iguazu from £1,760pp, including domestic flights (Salta and other stops can be added to the itinerary; journeylatinamerica.com). Fly to Buenos Aires
29. New York, New York
You don’t have to be under 12 to have fallen for NYC based solely on Home Alone 2 reruns. The Christmas film is actually a great introduction to the city, as your teens will already know of the famed Plaza hotel (go for an elegant afternoon tea), Central Park (where you can take a hansom cab, as Kevin does in the film) and Rockefeller Center (buy tickets to the 70th-floor observation deck; in winter, get your ice skates on). And — since you are travelling with teenagers rather than Kevin McCallister-aged little ones — they will get a kick out of a wider range of New York’s pleasures, such as a Yankees baseball game, Brooklyn’s flea market or simply sitting in the window seat of a café watching Manhattan on the move.
Details Four nights’ room only at the four-star Empire Hotel from £612pp, including flights (southalltravel.co.uk)
30. Volunteering in Bali
With families in mind, the Mighty Roar — a voluntourism specialist — offers a two-to-four-week Bali trip that is half-holiday, half-work. Teenagers keen on more meaningful “experiential” travel that involves giving something back get to visit Buddhist temples, take a surf lesson and cycle through rice paddies for the first week, but can also engage in a practical way with the local community, either through teaching, childcare or helping with marine conservation during their second week. Accommodation is right on the beach, so even when working your family can still snorkel or swim during downtime, or hire a fisherman to take you dolphin-spotting. As family holidays go, they don’t come much more life-changing than this.
Details Two weeks’ full board (on weekdays; otherwise room only) from £650pp (themightyroar.com). Fly to Bali
Check out a quokka in Australia
31. Oz in two weeks
Maybe I was a particularly ruthless teen, but as I got older I’d expect a good return on my investment into a family holiday — thus the more time I was away from friends, the more bragging rights I demanded (specifically to share when home). And Western Australia gives major bang for your buck as a family. First you can fly nonstop to Perth, which also happens to be only eight hours ahead of the UK for half the year. Once there the state has many of the country’s greatest hits on tap, without the need for domestic flights. These include swimming with whale sharks on Ningaloo Reef, seeing the Pinnacles stone formations, visiting the quokka marsupials on Rottnest Island, wine tasting at Margaret River or surfing for beginners on Fremantle beach. If you thought that Oz couldn’t be done in two weeks, think again.
Details Fifteen nights’ mainly half-board from £4,149pp, including flights, private guide and driver, and entry to many sights (australiansky.co.uk)
32. Cool in Cornwall
Whether it’s your 13-year-old ready for a maiden surf lesson or your almost-off- to-uni, would-be adult asking to go to a music festival, Cornwall is on trend for every teen. Give them personal space by choosing a holiday house over a hotel, but don’t go too remote or it’ll turn into a week of wi-fi wars. Three Mile Beach is a good halfway point where you’ll find a clutch of contemporary beach houses for rent — each with a hot tub, hammock, pizza oven and private sauna — that are arranged around sociable street-food trucks and an outdoor bar. The houses are on Gwithian beach, famed for its surf schools, which also means a generous supply of Cornish-pasty cafés and cream teas to keep the wetsuited well fed. You needn’t leave the area all week but, if you do, St Ives is just across the bay.
Details Three nights’ self-catering in a three-bed house sleeping four from £750 (threemilebeach.co.uk)
A family stroll
I ’ve holidayed with as many as four generations of my family, so come to me if you need a garden centre that has soft play and serves a milky cappuccino in its café (the perfect day trip on any multigen British holiday). Beyond the flapjacks, the key to our success has been honesty, flexibility and zero resentment when not every family member wants to spend each moment together. Granny and Grandad might fly out early because they don’t want to be nailed by school-holiday fares; we’ll hire two cars — not one big van — so that some can go sightseeing while others set off later; Cousin Jess might join just for the weekend and pay less than everyone else — but understand when they get the box room; and, if we’ve chosen a house over a hotel (we always do), everyone cooks at least once. Trying to tick off more than one tourist spot a day is folly. In fact we tend to alternate day trips with time relaxing at base, especially since everybody — whether 80 years or 18 months old — loves a swimming pool.
33. Large-group Lanzarote
The Canaries make a cracking multigen holiday, with oodles of regional departures (handy if your family is spread across the country), winter sunshine (but not too hot for the older folk) and the unmistakable holiday magic you feel when you touch down on an island. Lanzarote is the least developed of the famous four, with an arty atmosphere sure to seduce any snobby in-laws and safe, shallow sandy beaches for kids (try Playa Blanca with babies or rugged Playa de Papagayo if you don’t need facilities). TikTok teens will love the public wind sculptures by the local artist César Manrique, while itchy-footed twentysomethings can escape for the day to the island of La Graciosa.
Details Seven nights’ self-catering in Playa Blanca for up to 14 people from £3,942 (oliverstravels.com). Fly to Arrecife
A beach in the Seychelles
34. Once-in-a-lifetime Seychelles
If market research is to be believed, some families have lockdown savings to blow on a bucket-list trip this year. Lucky them. And since the Indian Ocean represents many people’s paradise island fantasy, I’m going to answer the question that will inevitably come next: the Maldives, Mauritius or the Seychelles? Well, Mauritius is just one island and, while lovely, is no more so than the Caribbean, which is closer and cheaper. The Maldives are stunning, true castaway idylls. But since visitors never leave their one-island resort, a holiday can feel a little claustrophobic and inauthentic. The Seychelles, though, centre on one, beautiful working island — Mahé — from where you can sail to the lesser-known sandy specks. There are direct flights from the UK and there’s little time difference, so if you’re ready to make dreams come true, this is the place.
Details Seven nights’ room only from £1,672pp, including flights (ba.com)
35. Estate life in Dorset
It’s the stuff of family-reunion legend: a sprawling castle with roaring log fires, a grand piano and room enough for kith and kin to celebrate together in comfort. The Penn Estate on Portland has such a castle (it’s even the star of the multigen film Happy New Year, Colin Burstead), but it also has — for families without a Hollywood budget — clifftop lodges for holiday lets, as well as beach apartments and a caravan park with sea-view cabins. On hand you have Portland’s pubs and Chesil beach for walks, while the on-site Hayloft Café can either host pizza parties or dish up a margherita to take away.
Details Seven nights’ self-catering in a cabin sleeping six from £561 (thepennestate.co.uk)
36. All-inclusive Corfu
Granny will love the grandeur of the Achilleion Palace, and Grandad can show off his maritime knots as you sail from cove to cove in a rental boat. Children will relish spending pocket money among the cobbled streets of Corfu Town, and Mum can finally put a place to the island names she has read about in so many classic novels. But nothing comes close to the thrill of a long lunch with many courses and even more empty wine bottles, and no bill to pay. Going all-inclusive frees multigen holidays from the shackles of shared bills (“Who drank the most?” “Didn’t you pay yesterday?” “I didn’t have pudding!”). Lux Me Daphnila Bay is a boutique-size, all-inclusive resort with a private beach and a choice of accommodation in the main hotel or cottages, plus there are many on-site restaurants to prevent buffet fatigue.
Details Seven nights’ all-inclusive from £675pp, including flights and transfers (easyjet.com)
37. Loch in activities for all
Here’s a second UK multigen holiday, since many families avoid flights when travelling with elderly relatives. And yet, despite being less than two hours’ drive from Edinburgh or Glasgow, Loch Lomond feels like another world. Right on the water’s edge is Cameron House, a tartaned-up five-star with country pursuits that families can bond over — enchanted-forest walks, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, fishing, golf, falconry and cycling. There’s also a cinema and a spa where even children can join fitness classes. We recommend choosing a separate lodge in the grounds for maximum peace and privacy (you can still eat at the hotel, but nobody will make you dress up for breakfast).
Details Four nights’ self-catering in a lodge sleeping eight from £598 (cameronhouse.co.uk)
Family fun in California
38. Californian adventure
I’ve visited California many times, but never with three generations, and I’d love to. Every age has a Golden State sight or activity on their to-do list, whether it be Yosemite National Park, the Pacific Coast Highway, shopping on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles or tuning into your inner Baywatch surfer. I’d give this trip the respect it deserves, with two full weeks, but no more than four stops, or everyone will crash and burn. Open-jaw flights into San Francisco and out of LA are a good idea, as they save you having to retread old ground. The only caveat is that travel insurance to cover US healthcare can be prohibitively expensive, especially if there’s a pre-existing condition in the family, so factor this in.
Details Thirteen nights’ room only in all the destinations mentioned above as well as Lake Tahoe from £3,995pp, including flights and SUV hire (bon-voyage.co.uk)
39. Easy-peasy Mallorca
The Balearics are a no-brainer: flights are plentiful, swift and inexpensive, while the weather can be excellent, from the school Easter holidays through to the end of October half-term. Of the islands, Mallorca has the greatest selection of villas (sorry Granny — the Night Manager super-home isn’t up for let). Were you to choose Ibiza instead, large villas tend to have a premium price, and there just isn’t the same breadth in Menorca or Formentera. Mallorca is also the day-trip king, with chic Palma, historic Pollença, yachty Andratx and picturesque Deia village to visit.
Details Seven nights’ self-catering in a villa sleeping eight from £969pp, including flights (simpsontravel.com)
Cefalu in Sicily
40. Sunny Sicily
This was one of the most memorable multigen trips we’ve taken, split between Noto in the south (for history and photogenic Sicilian towns) and Cefalu, with its beautiful north-coast beaches and gelato. Both bases were close enough for day trips to dramatic Mount Etna and ravishing Taormina (now beloved by fans of The White Lotus). Everything about Sicily is just so pleasing to the eye, yet it lacks the petrifying price tag of Amalfi or Sardinia. As always I’d recommend a villa over a hotel, but especially so in Italian accommodation where dinner is served late and meal timetables are strict — you don’t need that when grandparents and kids want to eat at 6pm.
Details Seven nights’ self-catering in a villa sleeping ten from £1,959 (massimovillas.com). Fly to Palermo or Catania