This is one of Europe’s best-kept family holiday secrets. Northern Spain has so much to offer, whether you’re a teenager in search of activities in the Picos de Europa, a ten-year-old on the hunt for dinosaur footprints along the Asturias coast or a toddler sampling golden-sand beaches in Cantabria. Mum and dad will enjoy the beautiful countryside, historic towns and regional cuisine.
Fancy some serious pampering? You don’t even have to unpack your suitcases at The Residence where a butler attends to your every need. A 1920s style oasis of elegance and luxury on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, this stunning hotel offers gourmet cuisine, colonial suites, a Zen-inspired spa and indulgent kids’ club.
I am always amazed more families don’t look beyond Mickey Mouse when thinking about theme parks in Europe. We have had some amazing breaks at places like Efteling which are far less crowded than better known rivals and far less about the hard sell and more about giving visitors a fun and thrilling day out.
If your kids are kicking their heels during the school holidays, send them off to camp. Sounds harsh? In fact, it’s a real treat with exciting activities from mountain karting to quad-biking, sports and performing arts. There are locations throughout the UK, including one for older teenagers only.
Barbados oozes family appeal. There are daily, non-stop flights, short transfers and some exciting island escapades. Don’t miss the train ride into Harrisons Caves, surfing on the east coast or ziplining over Jack-in-the-Box Gully. Pick an all-inclusive hotel for the best value and peace of mind.
If your kids are like mine and love the Percy Jackson novels, they will love visiting the Greek mainland and seeing all of that mythology made real. This is a fascinating corner of Greece, rich in legends, and there is much to appeal to the kids, from long stretches of golden beach to family climbing on the island of Proti.
This fantastic collection of family villas is a real eye-opener, dispelling the myth that Ibiza is just for partygoers. Tucked away in quiet parts of the island, properties range from stylish villas to rural fincas, all with gorgeous swimming pools. Oliver’s Travels also have some great ideas for child-friendly activities on Ibiza.
Our drive along the Garden Route rates as one of our favourite holidays ever, taking in reef-fringed beaches, waterfalls and, all against the backdrop of the Tsitsikamma Mountains. Whale watching, wine tasting for the grown-ups and abseiling down Table Mountain make South Africa a great place to explore with the family.
We had a beautiful late summer visit to the Algarve recently – gloriously warm days on safe beaches followed by beautiful fish in local restaurants in the evening. The rugged coastline is perfect for walking and you’ll chance upon some great “smugglers’ cove” beaches on the way. There are also boat trips galore, old towns and castles, tennis and waterparks.
This is so much more than just another family-friendly hotel. Located on Jersey’s south coast, The Merton has been refining the art of family-friendy for over sixty years. The result – thoughtful family accommodation, imaginative facilities (we particularly like the Aquadome), the right mix of dining options and spot-on child-care – and a beach close by.
Rich, varied, plenty to get stuck into and always immensely satisfying, we think Andalucia is the paella of Spanish family holiday destinations – whether you want to get active on the beach or delve into the Alhambra. And with this enticing range of luxury hotels, resorts and haciendas from Kirker Holidays you can feel confident you’re experiencing the best of sunny southern Spain.
The Halkidiki peninsula has some of the best sandy beaches in Greece. Stay at the Sani Resort and you also get a superb watersports centre. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to family facilities at this luxury resort. There are also children’s clubs for tots to teens, a crèche and a choice of four stylish family hotels.
Once the last of the snow has melted and summer comes around, the Alps spring back to life, with hillsides carpeted with flowers and sunshine glistening off lakes. Stay in a cosy Alpine village and choose from a menu of thrilling activities, from mountain biking and rock climbing to glacier skiing and white-water rafting.
Getting the bikes out for a family cycle is always a great way to spend time together. These self-guided cycling holidays from Inntravel combine fun, free-spirited adventure with a range of imaginative itineraries. It’s not all ‘puff and pedal’. Luggage is transported for you, and there’s a comfortable family hotel at the end of each day.
It may be the closest Mediterranean island to the UK, but Corsica remains one of the region’s wild and unspoiled gems. It’s perfect for families who want to combine seaside fun with a splash of adventure – whether it’s horse riding in the mountains or trying out a new watersport. Corsican Places has the island covered – its villas and apartments are great value for families.
For kids the world is one great big classroom, but the best way to learn something new is on a small group trip with an expert guide. Gaze at the stars with an astrologer, learn about the animal kingdom in the wild or uncover the secrets of ancient civilisations. They’ll come home brimming with new skills as well as great memories.
It’s not only fans of Merlin or Cinderella that will have a ball at one of these amazing French chateaux. Childhood dreams aside, each one of the 200-plus properties makes a superb base for a unique self-catering family holiday. Many have swimming pools and sleep between 6 and 60 people – great value if you want to take the whole family or travel with friends.
California is a holiday destination with everything – from ski peaks to sunny beaches, national parks to theme parks and cool cities linked by some of America’s best road trips. Our family has loved hiking in Yosemite, exploring Lake Tahoe and Alcatraz and seeking the thrills of LA – and some of the best food and wine Stateside.
Bored, sulky teenagers on holiday? Not a chance with Powder Byrne’s inspirational Sports Academies. Many teens want to be active, challenged and independent on holiday, and these specialised summer programmes (covering tennis, football, surfing and scuba-diving) deliver just that with top instructors in some of the coolest resorts in the Med.
Somehow you just know you’re going to have a great time at a Club Med resort. They’ve had 40 years to perfect the art of the all-inclusive family holiday. But that hasn’t stopped them from innovating. Children’s clubs in 14 resorts are now designed around local themes and the environment. On the activity front, you’ll love the Flying Trapeze Academies.
Have your kids ever wondered what Paddington Bear’s home was like? Marmalade sandwiches are pretty thin on the ground, but what you do get is a fantastic adventure destination for families, jam-packed with condor-spotting in Colca Canyon, a train ride to Machu Picchu and a boat trip to the floating islands of Lake Titicaca.
Superb value and guaranteed fun, Siblu’s holiday villages in France are a sure-fire hit with families. Each one has an amazing pool complex, free kids’ clubs and loads of activities for tots to teens. Parents, meanwhile, will appreciate the excellent self-catering facilities and comfortable mobile home accommodation (yes, they really do have en-suite bathrooms).
Feather Down Farms lead the herd when it comes to luxury camping in the UK. Lift the flap or open the log cabin door and you step into a snug den complete with wood-fired stove, oil lanterns, three bedrooms (including a secret cubbyhole for kids) and everything you need for a back-to-nature holiday on any of 30 working farms.
You couldn’t dream up a cast of creatures with more child appeal – from marine iguanas that snort water from their nostrils to frigatebirds shaking bright red, party-balloon throat pouches – and it’s all there, right at your feet. The magic continues underwater. The Galapagos are the ultimate wildlife-travel treat – and this cruise/hotel combo is perfect for families.