Family holiday ideas
By William and Sally Gray, Editors of 101 Family Holidays
Looking for family holiday ideas? We have picked some of the best family holidays for 2014. You’ll find dozens of summer holidays with kids on this page. All the holiday companies featured here are personally recommended by us.
UK family holidays
1. Take a cottage holiday in Devon and explore some of the UK’s most beautiful coastline.
2. Delight the kids with a holiday on a working farm. You can bottle-feed the lambs, collect the eggs and help milk the cows – choose from fabulous locations in Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset. See the latest special offers. If you want to camp in style, stay at Feather Down Farms which has stylish fixed tents at 20 farms across the country.
3. You may have been to the Isle of Wight many years ago, perhaps on a school trip. If so, you’ll be pleased to know that it hasn’t changed a lot, and is still one of the best value family holidays in the UK.
4. Rent a cottage in Cornwall to explore surf beaches, rock pools and family-friendly attractions, whether you opt for a stylish seafront apartment or a rustic fisherman’s cottage. There are some great special offers. If you have a dog, you can find a dog-friendly cottage.
5. Children between 7 and 17 can head off to summer camp with Camp Beaumont which has locations in the UK and France and a great selection of multi-activity holidays that include quad-biking, caving, kayaking, zipwiring and archery.
6. Join the camping craze! If you have your own kit you can pitch up at one of 23 Haven Holiday parks around the British coastline. Each has great facilities. Alternatively, rent a spacious caravan, a three-bedroom tent or African-style safari tent. Find more camping holiday ideas.
7. We’ve found some great family-friendly hotels in the UK. We love Gwel an Mor in Cornwall which has its own wildlife centre and accommodation in wooden lodges. On the North coast of Cornwall, the Sands Resort Hotel is perfect for kids of all ages (see the latest special offers). If your kids love activities and watersports, head for the Cotswold Water Park Four Pillars Hotel.
8. What child would not love the Merton Hotel in Jersey? One of the UK’s most family-friendly hotels, it boasts a weather-proof Aquadome complete with swimming pools, slides and fountains, plus a large outdoor pool complex, a learn-to-surf Flowrider and child-friendly evening entertainment. Parents will love the spacious family suites and serviced apartments, and four restaurants.
9. If you want to go on holiday with one or two other families, why not rent a large property. You can find some superb large houses in the UK and abroad at The Big Domain. Some very grand houses in private grounds are very reasonable when you divide the cost between a few families.
10. Renting a boat or barge to explore some of the UK’s most beautiful rivers and canals is a fun family holiday and great value. Full tuition is provided so you don’t need any experience at the helm, and you can choose from 1,600 boats across the country. Find out more from Waterways Holidays.
11. If you’ve never tried a family holiday in the Lake District you’ll be amazed by the natural beauty of the region. It’s ideal for children of all ages, whether you have teenagers keen to conquer peaks and explore slate mines, or toddlers paddling in lakes and riding steam trains. We recommend Sykes Cottages.
12. Sheepskin has some lovely quirky family cottages, mostly in Wales and the Welsh borders. Our favourites include Lletty which is set in a forest clearing with views of the Black Mountains, and has a zip wire, trampoline and woodlands to explore.
13. Take the kids to London and stay in a serviced apartment, a good-value alternative to expensive hotels where you can enjoy lots of space, freedom and home comforts.
Best family beach holidays in Europe
1. Turkey is one of this year’s most popular family destinations, not least because it’s outside the Eurozone. In our view, the Aegean Coast ranks among the most beautiful in southern Europe. Stay in a luxury villa with private pool or a family-friendly hotel such as the Kalkan Regency or Bördübet.
2. Most people associate Spain with the Costas, but Northern Spain has some beautiful beaches, along with rolling countryside, mountains and cultural treasures. You can fly there or take an overnight ferry, and stay in one of these self-catering cottages or traditional small hotels.
3. If you want a classy Mediterranean hotel that takes great care of children, take a look at the award-winning Borgo Egnazia Hotel Ville Golf Spa in Puglia, southern Italy.
4. For a good value family holiday in Europe, it’s hard to beat a holiday parc in Brittany. We recommend Siblu which has everything on site to entertain children of all ages and some great special offers.
5. We rate Corsica as one of the most beautiful islands in the Mediterranean, yet few Brits know it well. The beaches are superb, and ideal for young children. We’ve found a great selection of villas with pools on the west coast, St Florent in the North East and Porto Vecchio in the south. View the child discounts.
6. Sardinia is one of Europe’s great family holiday destinations. The island boasts some of the finest, unspoilt beaches in Europe, plus it has outstanding child-friendly hotels including Forte Village and Chia Laguna Resort, and low-cost flights.
7. On Portugal’s Western Algarve, set within a national park, the Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel is a stunner. It’s genuinely family-friendly and chic. The beach is gorgeous and there are all sorts of activities and clubs for kids aged from 6 months to 8 years.
8. A Mediterranean beach club is a great solution for both very young children and active teens. At Mark Warner there are kids clubs for ages 2 to 17 and free watersports. We like the Sea Garden Beach Resort in Turkey – one of the best all-inclusive family holidays in 2014. See the special offers.
9. The upmarket tour operator, Scott Dunn, has opened its own Explorers kids clubs at selected luxury hotels in Europe, including Pine Cliffs in the Algarve, Daios Cove in Crete and Almyra in Cyprus. Aimed at kids aged 4 months to 13 years, the clubs offer a packed programme of activities, adventures and sports.
10. Rent a family villa in Italy. Not just because Italians love children, and children love Italian food, but because it’s one of Europe’s most beautiful countries with a great choice of well-priced rental properties whether you choose the rolling countryside of Tuscany or Umbria, or the stunning southern beaches of Campania and Puglia in the south.
11. Croatia has one of Europe’s most beautiful coastlines with great opportunities for boat trips to idyllic islands. Choose from a handpicked selection of hotels, guesthouses, cruises and apartments plus cruise options. Find out more from Completely Croatia and see their latest offers.
12. For great value family holidays in France and Spain, stay in a self-catering apartment in a car-free holiday village complete with aqua parks and slides, golf courses, farms and tennis courts. Belle Dune in Normandy is just an hour’s drive from Calais.
* See more ideas for toddler friendly holidays along with expert advice on travelling with children of this age.
Best family activity holidays
1. Iceland is arguably the world’s most exciting geography lesson. View the Northern Lights in winter while in summer you can swim in geothermal lagoons and take whale watching boat trips. Take an off-road trip in a 4WD Superjeep to discover bubbling mud pools and erupting geysers.
2. PGL is best known for its summer camps in England, Scotland and Wales for ages 7 to 17. But it also has a great range of 4-night and 7-night activity holidays for families in the UK and France. Find out more. Accommodation options include hotel-style rooms and chalets.
3. A walking holiday can be a great family bonding experience, particularly if you are strolling through lovely unspoilt countryside. We think the Austrian Tyrol is a perfect location with lush pastures and sparkling Alpine peaks, well-marked paths and friendly family-run hotels with swimming pools. Explore more family walking holidays.
4. Take the kids on a cruise on a traditional Turkish gulet to explore the beautiful coastline of Turkey, Greece or Italy. It’s both adventurous and lazy, and private guides will show you around local sites of interest, so there is culture thrown in too.
5. Give the kids something to look forward to when winter comes by booking a trip to visit the “real” Father Christmas with Santa’s Lapland. It’s not just for tiny tots – there are loads of outdoors activities to keep older children and teenagers happy, too.
6. You can introduce your children to skiing – and the beauty of the mountains in winter – from about the age of four. You’ll get a good deal if you choose the right resort, and find a special discount. For luxury family skiing in Europe we recommend gorgeous San Cassiano in Italy.
7. Enjoy summer in the French Alps with Esprit Sun. Drink in the fresh mountain air and work up an appetite with summer skiing on the glacier, mountain biking, white-water rafting and hiking. Esprit Sun offers free child care for children aged 3-10 and also has a lovely property in Lake Garda in Italy.
8. If your family enjoys cycling, how about taking an independent cycling holiday. Most popular destinations include Brittany, the Loire and the Catalan coast of Spain (with a few nights in Barcelona). Luggage is transported for you, and there’s a comfortable family hotel at the end of each day.
9. Indonesia is one of the most exciting destinations for adventure and active family holidays. You could go sailing, fishing, kite surfing, water-skiing, snorkelling and scuba-diving. Check out this idea to Java and Bali which includes an elephant-back adventure, horse-riding, white-water rafting and a volcano trek.
10. Want something different? How about a family volunteering holiday where you combine activities and sunshine with useful work such as feeding and building shelters for animals before they are returned to the wild. Best family destinations include Costa Rica.
11. Explore Paris with young children on a choice of delightful private tours, including a private magic lesson, a chauffeur-driven Citroen 2CV, a visit to the Eiffel Tower and a lesson in making baguettes. Find out more from Family Twist.
12. If you have active teenagers, check out Powder Byrne’s new PB Sports Academies in Sardinia, Elba, Sintra and Crete – they feature luxury accommodation, great facilities and professional training in tennis, football, surfing, sailing, scuba diving, water skiing and wake boarding.
13. Activities Abroad has a great collection of summer and winter group trips for families with children of all ages. Options include surfing on Portugal’s Alentejo Coast and abseiling in the Lake District.
See our full recommendations for family activity holidays.
Best family villa holidays
1. There’s a lot more to Mallorca than tacky overcrowded resorts. Get out into the countryside and you’ll find some superb villas to rent, ideal for families who want some privacy. We also recommend Menorca for family villa holidays. It has superb beaches and is ideal for young children.
2. On the south-west tip of Spain, the Costa de la Luz is an unspoilt strip of white sand beaches, pine forests and fishing villages.
3. Corfu is a lovely island once you escape the package resorts. The best part is the north-east coastline where CV Villas built its reputation with some wonderful houses with private pools, such as Villa Aktea which has breathtaking views and even a separate swimming pool for toddlers.
5. Crete is one of the most interesting of the Greek islands with lots to do, charming villages and countryside and a long season. We love the Pendamodi villas – a small collection of detached houses with private pools. They are great value for families.
5. GIC The Villa Collection has more than 40 years experience arranging family holidays in the Greek Islands. It recommends Kefalonia where many of its properties are within walking distance of beach, shops and tavernas. There are direct flights from across the UK. See its latest special offers.
6. The tiny Greek island of Paxos, too small for an airport, is a lovely place to laze around your private pool and rent a boat to explore the coastline. One of our favourite family summer holidays. Find more holiday ideas in Greece.
8. Think beyond the Med. Florida has some great homes with pools in and around Orlando – a good-value base if you want to do the theme parks and discover more of the Sunshine State. Stay close to Walt Disney Resort or Universal Orlando or opt for the popular, good-value International Drive.
9. Further still … you could go as far as New Zealand where we recommend you embark on a two-week self-drive tour in either North Island or South Island (but not both – unless you have more time). To keep down costs you could opt for a motorhome holiday in New Zealand.
10. If you want to push the boat out, check out Scott Dunn‘s luxury staffed villas. The properties are gorgeous, plus you get the services of a chef, host and fully-qualified nanny.
11. If you’re travelling in a big party and a villa might be too small, why not rent a chateau in France with Oliver’s Travels. There are some beautiful properties available such as Chateau de Tille in the Loire Valley, which sleeps 16 and has a swimming pool and tennis court.
Best family hotels in the Med
1. If your kids love water parks, book a stay at a First Choice SplashWorld hotel. There’s a choice of 24 locations, but all are all-inclusive and great value. Also see the free child holidays from First Choice.
2. Lanzarote is a year-round destination just four hours away. For the ultimate family treat, check into the Princesa Yaiza Suite Hotel Resort. The children’s clubs offer everything from treasure hunts and five-a-side football to theatrical performances and mini discos. Another great luxury hotel in the Canaries is Abama Golf & Spa Resort in Tenerife.
3. It’s not easy to find a small, classy, family-friendly hotel on the Cote d’Azur, but the three-star Deluxe Hotel l’Arena midway between Cannes and St Tropez fits the bill perfectly. One child under 12 stays free when sharing a room with two adults.
4. On the Greek mainland, Sani Resort is one of Europe’s finest family resorts. It has three superb hotels stretched out along a protected beach, plus a charming harbour with shops and restaurants, lots of sports activities and open spaces where children can run around safely. Families particularly enjoy the Sani Beach Club.
5. Club Med is one of the best places for all-inclusive holidays whatever the ages of your children. More than 40 of its beach and ski resorts worldwide are specifically tailored for families. It offers excellent child care from 4 months and lots of activities. See the latest special offers.
6. The Algarve is another destination with a long season, making it a solid choice for Easter and half term. You’ll find some great hotels here.
7. We love Daios Cove on the island of Crete. It’s a luxury contemporary-style resort in Crete where Scott Dunn has set up its own exclusive summer children’s clubs. Each family gets its own private pool, plus there are tennis courts, a fitness centre, spa and three restaurants, watersports and dive centre.
8. In Cyprus, the InterContinental Aphrodite Hills Resort in Cyprus has great facilities including a 18-hole championship golf course, tennis courts, an award winning spa and two beach clubs. Its kids clubs cater to aged 6 months to 17 years.
Adventure holidays with kids
Check out our detailed and comprehensive guide to family adventure holidays for kids of all ages. Here is a selection of the best…
1. South Africa is one of the must-see destinations of the year. It’s great value right now, and a 13-night self-drive holiday can take in Cape Town, the Garden Route, Grootbos Nature Reserve, and four nights at Amakhala Game Reserve for a “Big Five” game reserve. You can also enjoy a fabulous safari at a malaria-free game reserve such as Madikwe or Pilanesberg.
3. You can’t beat India for excitement, sensory overload and cultural shock – all things that make a family holiday unforgettable. It’s not just visiting the Taj Mahal and seeing tigers in the wild, but all the smaller differences that will amaze and delight your kids. Find out more.
4. All children love America, and there are some great family-friendly ways to see this amazing country. Enjoy the freedom of the open road by renting a motor home or take an escorted coach tour through California, Alaska, the South West or New York.
5. A fly-drive is a great way to discover North America. You could see bears in Algonquin National Park and witness the power of Niagara Falls on a self-drive holiday in Ontario and Québec. Or take a self-drive adventure through the magnificent National Parks of Utah and Arizona and go white water rafting on the Colorado River, all with hotels, lodges and activities chosen with children in mind.
6. Asia is packed with eye-opening, exciting destinations for children. Try one of these family holidays in Vietnam, which include the ancient town of Hoi An, the villages of the Mekong Delta and a junk cruise in Halong Bay.
7. Play cowboys on a dude ranch in America where you not only ride but also you can also visit a rodeo and try whitewater rafting, fishing, skeet shooting, line dancing, cattle driving and camping out in the wilderness. For luxury in the wild, we recommend Echo Valley Ranch and Spa in British Colombia.
8. See all the best bits of Australia in a fortnight. Try this two-week winter sun holiday which is perfectly timed for the Christmas holidays. Northern Australia works well in the summer holidays.
9. Japan is a thrill a minute for kids of all ages, from the futuristic neon-lit cities crammed with technology to the mystical temples and ancient traditions of the countryside. Explore manga and anime, eat strange food from conveyor belts, ride on bullet trains and visit a Samurai castle. See a selection of family holidays in Japan.
10. The Adventure Company has a great selection of trip ideas for kids of all ages, from ages 2 right up to high-adrenalin trips for teenagers. Check out their educational tours and adventures for families on a budget.
11. If your kids love nature, there are few more exciting destinations than the Galapagos Islands. Follow in Darwin’s footsteps to enjoy close up encounters with seals, turtles, iguanas and giant tortoises. We took our twins there and it was one of the best holidays of our lives. We particularly recommend this Galapagos land-sea combo.
12. We also recommend Families Worldwide which has an inspiring collection of active family holidays, including a Rainforest & Volcanoes trip to Costa Rica. It offers both escorted small-group trips and tailor-made private tours all designed with kids in mind. Its most popular destinations include Egypt and Thailand. See its special offers.
13. If you want to visit Africa as a family, Tanzania is a great option. Take a safari and beach holiday with Exsus and you’ll get your fill of wildlife at the tented Selous Impala Camp before decamping to the coast and relaxing at The Tides, a charming hotel with cottages dotted along a pristine beach.
14. Zambia is a great safari destination for over-12s who can experience the thrill of walking safaris in South Luangwa National Park and white water rafting near Victoria Falls. Details from Abercrombie & Kent.
15. Even if your children are tiny, you can still take them away with Families Wordwide. Its group adventure trips start from just 2 years old in Morocco while 5-year-olds can explore Vesuvius and Pompeii.
16. Powder Byrne has a collection of Air & Space family adventure holidays including this fabulous trip to Oman that includes desert safari camps, learning to drive a 4×4 in the desert, camel rides, wild swimming, snorkelling and stargazing at night by the campfire.
17. The same company has introduced an exciting 10-day trip to the Canadian Rockies that features a seaplane flight to Vancouver Island, a sleeper train to Jasper National Park, horse riding in Banff and a helicopter flight over the Columbian Icefield. Wow!
18. Morocco is packed with excitement for kids of all ages, but easy to reach (just three hours flying time) and good value. Stay in a riad, surf on the Atlantic, climb into the Atlas Mountains or tour the kasbahs. We recommend Lawrence of Morocco which has a range of activities for children.
19. Egypt is packed with cultural treasures, amazing sights and child-friendly adventures. It may also be appearing on your children’s school curriculum. Check out these family tours in Egypt with On the Go Tours for ages 5 to 17, and their latest special offers.
20. South America is a fantastic destination with plenty of wildlife, beaches and natural wonders. For Brazil, Peru and Argentina, we recommend Dehouche, a British company based in Latin America.
21. Sri Lanka is a wonderful destination for families: full of excitement, friendly and good value. For inspiration, see this two-week tour which includes elephant riding, whale watching, mountain hikes, tea plantations, historic Galle and the beach resort of Bentota.
Long haul family beach holiday holidays
1. Antigua is a great island for families, with tot-friendly beaches and great all-inclusive hotels including the Verandah Resort & Spa, which is set in 30 acres of beaches and gardens and offers free watersports, children’s playgrounds and a great gym and spa for mum and dad.
2. The Maldives are not just for honeymooners. Kids are well catered for at One&Only Reethi Rah which has its own KidsOnly club.
3. The Caribbean has several great family hotels including Round Hill Hotel & Villas in Jamaica. Beaches Resorts are action-packed all-inclusives with endless things to do. On the Caribbean coast of Mexico, we recommend the wonderful Dreams Tulum and Dreams Riviera Resort & Spa.
4. Mauritius is a great beach destination with superb luxury hotels and no jet lag, which makes it ideal for young children. The Residence Mauritius has an amazing kids club and special offers including free children’s rooms and upgrades. For all-inclusive Mauritius, we recommend Beachcomber Hotels which have free kids clubs. Check out Le Victoria which has two-bedroom family apartments.
5. Oman is great for winter sun, with guaranteed warm temperatures and a touch of Arabian mystique. Check out the extraordinary Six Senses Zighy Bay where you can stay in a spacious villa with a private pool beside a superb beach ringed by mountains. Even the airport transfer is exciting – the last part of the journey is by speedboat.
Try our family holiday quiz
If you’re still not sure where to take the kids on holiday, why not try our family holiday quiz. Answer 10 fun questions like the one below and we’ll tell you what kind of travellers you are, and give you a list of personalised recommendations. Try the quiz now.
This article was last updated on 24 July 2014.