Family holiday ideas

America is one of the best family holiday destinationsUK holiday ideas for kids

 By Amanda Statham, Editor

With all UK travel restrictions now lifted, here are my best family holidays for 2022. You’ll find dozens of great ideas, and I have detailed advice if you have a baby, toddler, teenagers or more than two children, or if you’re planning a holiday with grandparents.

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UK family holidays

1. It’s hard to beat Devon for family holidays. I recommend renting a cottage in and around Exmoor or Dartmoor if you want to explore those beautiful National Parks. For seaside fun, head to the South Hams.

2. Young kids will really enjoy these holidays on working farms. They can bottle-feed the lambs, collect the eggs and help milk the cows, and there’s a choice of locations in DevonCornwallDorset, Somerset and The Cotswolds. See the latest special offers.

3. For delightful – and quirky – self-catering accommodation across the UK, check out i-escape. For example, Foxham Boutique Barn in Wiltshire is set in 200 acres of woodland and meadows and has a private lake for wild swimming with its own jetty and rowing boat.

4. Hop over the Solent to the Isle of Wight which is becoming fashionable again for families. Book a ferry with Wightlink which gets you there from Portsmouth or Lymington in as little as 22 minutes.

5. Rent a cottage in Cornwall and you can explore surf beaches, rock pools and family-friendly attractions, with a choice of stylish seafront apartments and fishermen’s cottages. There are some great special offers. If you don’t want to leave behind your pet, see this collection of more than 200 dog-friendly cottages around the UK.

6. ITV’s Broadchurch was filmed on the Jurassic Coast of Dorset. It’s a beautiful part of the country with great food – and fossil hunting! See these rental cottages.

7. Two more regions of the UK that work well for cottage holidays: Norfolk and Northumberland. Check out these places to rent on the coast of Norfolk and the popular resorts of Bamburgh and Alnmouth in the North East.

8. What child would not enjoy The Merton Hotel in Jersey? It’s among the UK’s most family-friendly hotels with 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. Stay in a spacious family suite or serviced apartment.

9. If you want to go on holiday with friends, you could get together to rent a large property. You can find some superb large houses in the UK and abroad at The Big Domain. Some 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. Waterways Holidays provides full tuition so you don’t need any experience at the helm, and you can choose from 1,600 boats across the country.

11. If you’ve never tried a family holiday in the Lake District you’ll be knocked out by the region’s natural beauty. It’s ideal for children of all ages, whether you have teenagers keen to conquer peaks and explore slate mines, or toddlers who want to paddle in lakes and ride steam trains. Find self-catering accommodation at Sykes Cottages.

12. Brecon Beacons is one of the UK’s most beautiful National Parks, but only gets a quarter of the visitors of the Lake District. Go for the hiking, mountain biking, stargazing, rock climbing and horse riding. Stay in one of these family-friendly cottages.

* If your child is under 18 months old, see my baby holiday ideas.

Also, see my full guide to the best family holidays in England.

Best family beach holidays in Europe

1. For a cheap family holiday in Europe with sun, sea and lots of activities for kids, stay at a holiday parc in France. I recommend Siblu which has everything on site to entertain children of all ages and some great special offers. See more of our favourite family holidays in France.

2. Most people associate Spain with the Costas, but Northern Spain has beautiful unspoilt beaches, rolling countryside, mountains and historic villages. You can fly there or take an overnight ferry, and stay in one of these villas with private pool.

3. If you want a classy Mediterranean hotel that takes great care of children, I recommend Puglia in southern Italy. Head to the award-winning Borgo Egnazia which has indoor and outdoor pools, a luxury spa, 18-hole golf course and exciting kids club for ages 3-12.

4. Simpson Travel has a great solution if you want the freedom of a private villa, and top-quality children. It is offering its  bespoke crèche and kids’ activities at villas and hotels in the Greek Islands and Mallorca. A crèche and two kids clubs for ages 6 months up to 11 years old are staffed by qualified English-speaking nannies.

5. I 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. I’ve found a great selection of villas with pools on the west coast, around St Florent in the North East and Porto Vecchio in the south. There are also 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 low-cost flights and some outstanding child-friendly hotels including Forte Village and Chia Laguna Resort.

7. Sample la dolce vita by renting 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. Go for the rolling hills of Tuscany and Umbria, or the pretty beaches of Campania and Puglia in the south.

8. Or head down to the stylish resort of Sitges near Barcelona where you’ll find some lovely family villas and historic country houses to rent.

9. Mark Warner operates Mediterranean beach clubs which work well for both very young children and active teens. There are kids clubs for ages 2 to 17 and free watersports. The new Phokaia Beach Resort in Turkey is one of its best – see the latest special offers.

10. If you want to recapture the heady days of youth – but with kids in tow – check out the Nobu Ibiza Bay Hotel, a stylish new bolthole with activities for children including cooking and DJ classes. See more family holidays in Ibiza.

* 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. In winter you can view the Northern Lights while in summer you can swim in geothermal lagoons, join whale watching boat trips and experience the Midnight Sun. Take an off-road trip in a 4WD Superjeep to discover bubbling mud pools and erupting geysers.

2. A walking holiday can be a great family bonding experience, particularly if you are strolling through lovely unspoilt countryside. I think the Austrian Tyrol is a perfect location with lush pastures and snow-capped Alpine peaks, well-marked paths and friendly family-run hotels with swimming pools. There is a family option in the Swiss Alps too.

3. 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.

4. Older kids will love these outdoor adventures in SwedenNorway  and Lapland with wildlife safaris, campfires, kayaking and huskies. In summer there’s the midnight sun, wild swimming, canyoning and camping. In the winter you can go husky sledding, visit glacier caves and stay in a wilderness camp on this Northern Lights itinerary.

5. You can introduce your children to skiing – and the beauty of the mountains in winter – from about the age of four. You’ll save money if you choose the right resort and avoid the school holidays.

6. Rent a motor cruiser and putter along the canals and rivers of rural France. No experience is required – staff will show you the ropes – and the boats sleep between 3 and 12. Locations include Brittany, Burgundy, Aquitaine and the Loire Valley. Find out more.

7. If your family enjoys bike rides, how about taking an independent family cycling holiday. There are itineraries for families in some of the most beautiful corners of Europe – most popular destinations are  Mallorca and Catalonia in Spain. Your luggage is transported for you, and there’s a comfortable family-friendly hotel at the end of each day.

8. On the Algarve, Pine Cliffs is a family-friendly resort that is great for a tennis holiday, with professional coaching for adults and children.

9. You’ll find endless activities to keep children of all ages busy at Club Med. It has 46 family-friendly resorts worldwide with clubs catering to babies through to teens and sports including horse riding, golf, roller blading and circus trapeze. See the latest offers.

10. If you simply want to escape to the French countryside, pick from this list of family hideaways in rural France. They’re outstanding value and include stylish houses to rent on a working domaine in the Languedoc with shared tennis courts, a huge infinity pool, spa and restaurant.

11. Activities Abroad has a well-priced collection of group trips for families with children of all ages. Options include surfing on Portugal’s Alentejo Coast and abseiling in the Lake District.

12. PGL is best known for its summer camps in England, Scotland and Wales for ages 6 to 16 (hence the nickname “Parents Get Lost”). But it also has a great-value range of activity holidays for all the family across the UK. See the latest special offers.

13. In winter, you can take the children to visit Santa in Lapland. This trip includes a husky sled ride, a snowmobile safari, a visit to a reindeer farm and great chances to see the Northern Lights.

14. There is plenty to keep children of all ages busy on a P&O Cruise ship. The Ventura was designed with families in mind and offers four-player Scalextric, a Rock School, 3D movies to its very own circus school. Its sister ship, Azura, is particularly good for toddlers. See the latest family cruise offers.

See our full recommendations of family activity holidays.

Best family villa holidays

1. Rent a family villa and you get privacy, space and freedom – and usually your own private swimming pool. Head to the “posh” parts of Mallorca and you’ll find some superb villas to rent.

2. 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. It’s one of my favourite family summer holidays. Find more holiday ideas in Greece.

3. Corfu is a very attractive island once you escape the package resorts. The prime area 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.

4. If you crave something more rustic, you’ll love this collection of rural hideaways in Sicily, many of which are part of Italy’s agriturismo scheme. You could enjoy tractor rides on a working olive farm or find a bargain at these chic self-catering apartments.

5. The Costa Brava has a battered reputation, but there are superb parts. Let’s call it Catalunya. Rent a villa and explore the delightfully rugged coastline. See the latest special offers.

5. Sizzling Cyprus is a great choice for Easter and half-term weeks. Away from the beach, these budget self-catering suites will suit adventurous families.

6. 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.

7. 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. We’ve found some lovely places to stay. The South of France has some outstanding villas.  Provence is arguably the most desirable region, though South West France is increasingly popular and very good value.

8. Another upmarket option is this selection of luxury villas in the Algarve, all of which have private pools. Some even have a private cinema or tennis court.

9. 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. It has some stunning properties including Chateau Gombardy in the Loire Valley, which sleeps 16 and has a swimming pool and tennis court. See the latest special offers.

10. If you want to be on the coast, there’s a good choice of family-friendly villas on the coast of Croatia, many overlooking the clear waters of the Adriatic. See the latest special offers.

Best family hotels in the Med

1. It can be tough to find high-quality inclusive hotels at great-value prices, but I’m pleased to be able to recommend the MarBella Corfu which has an outstanding creche for ages 4 months and up. In Halkidiki on mainland Greece, the all-inclusive IKOS Olivia has exceptional accommodation, spa and childcare.

2. Lanzarote is a year-round destination just four hours flying time from the UK. 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. In Turkey, Simpson Travel has exclusive use of the charming family-run Kalkan Regency hotel, which is a superb choice for children of all ages. Its runs its own kids clubs for ages 5-11 at family hotels in the Med including Bella Mare Hotel on Corfu and GK Beach Hotel  on Crete.

4. In Cyprus, the Almyra is a stylish contemporary beachfront hotel that excels at catering for families, especially younger children. See more family holiday ideas in Cyprus.

5. The Algarve has a long season, making it a solid choice for Easter, May half term or October half term. You’ll find some great hotels here.

Adventure holidays with kids

Check out this detailed and comprehensive guide to family adventure holidays for kids of all ages. Here is a selection of the best…

1. South Africa is great value right now, because the currency is weak. This 11-night Kwa-Zulu Natal holiday includes game drives to view the “Big Five” along with spear-fishing, orientation, bush tracking and lessons on  conservation and anti-poaching. You’ll stay in amazing camps such as Umkhumbi. For younger children, try one of these malaria free safaris  at superb game reserves such as Madikwe.

2. If you fancy beach and safari, I recommend this 13-day Kenya and Mauritius holiday combining the Kichwa Tembo tented camp in the Masai Mara with a two-bedroom villa with a private pool at Constance Belle Mare Plage in Mauritius.

3. South America is a fantastic destination with plenty of wildlife, beaches and natural wonders. For Brazil, Peru and Argentina, I recommend Dehouche, a British-run company based in Latin America.

4. Costa Rica packs a huge punch into a small country with an array of activities including zip lining, white-water rafting, canoeing, horse riding, surfing and rainforest walks. British Airways flies direct and getting around the country is easy with good roads and a reputation for safety and efficiency.

5. For a full-on sensory experience, you can’t beat India. Specialists Cox & Kings has put together a two-week Taj, Tigers and Beaches private tour and this slightly more laid-back Kerala Family Adventure.

6. Morocco works really well for older kids. It’s only a short flight from the UK and great value. This family favourite combines the Essaouira coast, the Atlas Mountains and Marrakech. On the coast, Rebali Riads is a popular place to stay for families.

7. 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.

8. Thailand is a wonderful introduction to Asia, and Thai people adore children. Adventures galore await – you could head to the Southern Beaches and Jungle or to Northern Thailand with village bike rides, hill tribe encounters, river rafting and a hot air balloon ride.

9. Borneo offers an exciting mix of wildlife, white sand beaches, rainforest, hiking and tribal culture. Cycle around a mud volcano, ride a 250m-long zip wire and visit an orang-utan sanctuary. Best time to visit is May to September. I recommend this Borneo family adventure.

10. 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.

* See more family adventure holidays.

Long haul family beach holiday holidays

1. Mauritius is a great beach destination with superb luxury hotels and no jet lag, which makes it ideal for young children. For all-inclusive Mauritius, I recommend Beachcomber Hotels with their free kids clubs. Check out Le Victoria which has two-bedroom family apartments and optional all-inclusive rates.

2. The Maldives are not just for honeymooners. Check out these family holidays in the Maldives with recommended hotels including the fun and quirky LUX* South Ari Atoll and Six Senses Lammu for world-class surfing, plus wake-boarding, scuba-diving and snorkelling.

3. The Caribbean has some great family hotels. For all-inclusive fun, head to Beaches Resorts which offer outstanding facilities, clubs and entertainment for kids. For luxury, I recommend Blue Waters in Antigua. If you have very young children, check out Tots Too.

4. Oman has pristine white-sand beaches (you might see turtles hatching if you’re lucky), but there’s so much more to this ancient country in the Arabian Gulf, from desert dunes to atmospheric souks. Best family hotels include the Al Bandar and the Six Senses Zighy Bay.

For more ideas please visit 101 Family Holidays. If you need to travel during the summer holidays, see our recommendations for family holidays in July and in August.

Also see these money saving tips for family holidays.

Last updated: 26 May 2022

Before you book

Travel guidelines and advice are still subject to change. Check the latest travel restrictions for UK residents.