Deciding where to go for a family holiday can be difficult, particularly choosing a place that everyone will enjoy. But there are some bucket list destinations that are guaranteed to impress children of all ages as well as the adults, while providing unforgettable memories.
We've picked some the once-in-a-lifetime family holidays that take in the lots of things that kids are bound to love, from wildlife, adventures and swimming in the sea.
How about a magical trip to Lapland to see the Northern Lights and go husky sledding, or a holiday in Borneo where you can friends with endangered orangutans, for example?
Closer to home, there's fantastic fun to be had in Scotland where you can take a Treasure Island adventure filled with kayaking, dolphin spotting, bike rides and a Harry Potter steam train ride.
Some of the most family-friendly destinations that everyone will love include Sri Lanka, Cuba and Italy.
Our list below also includes a few many places you may never have thought of taking the kids, but which that provide excellent activities and experiences. Browse our family holiday bucket list for once-in-a-lifetime travel ideas...
Family holiday bucket list
Family holiday bucket list
Throw away the family weekly planner and find a piece of paradise sailing in the British Virgin Islands on an ultimate island escape with the kids. No experience is needed on a luxury private yacht from Moorings, as a skipper and chef are provided. There is something for everyone and the children (and adults) will be in holiday heaven as they search for turtles off the shores, explore hidden beaches and coves, dive off the yacht into crystal-clear waters or take Mum and Dad paddle-boarding. A seven-night holiday in August 2017 on board a Moorings 4800 catamaran with three en-suite cabins costs from £7,456 for up to six people.
For the ultimate Bear Grylls-style family adventure full of the world’s biggest and bests, head for Borneo where you can meet endangered orangutans in sanctuaries and not only get to see them while we still have them on the planet, but protect them too. Stubborn Mule's 15-day Active Borneo holiday includes fun experiences the kids will love, such as a walk along the longest canopy skywalk in the world, a visit to the longest cave passage on the planet (home to three million bats) and a longtail boat ride, as well as trips to idyllic beach resorts for some R&R at end of trip. The tour costs from £1,495 per person.
Family visitors to Vietnam can experience everything from the bustling capital of Hanoi to kayaking between limestone peaks and exploring tiny beaches in Bai Tu Long Bay, before relaxing on a traditional Chinese junk boat. On Rickshaw Travel's 14-day active family holiday to Vietnam, you'll enjoy a real Vietnamese adventure by farming in Hue along the banks of the Perfume River and supporting a local not-for-profit organisation in Hoi An by taking part in a painting class and learning how to make traditional miniature lanterns. Chill-out time on the serene beaches of Palm Island where you can snorkel the stunning waters is also included. The trip costs from £1,275 per adult and £708 per child.
For families that like to throw themselves into a holiday, Peru has everything to keep even the most demanding kids happy - from wildlife in the Amazon and the Ballestas Islands, to adventure sports like sand-boarding and white-water rafting. Meanwhile, older kids and grown-ups will appreciate fantastic cultural and historical sites such as Machu Picchu, and everyone will enjoy getting stuck into the world-beating food. For a shared family adventure that you will all remember, you could even trek the Inca Trail together. RealWorld's 14-day family adventure takes in the Ballestas Islands, Huacachina Desert Oasis, the Sacred Valley, Cusco, Machu Picchu, and the Amazon, from £2,450 per adult and £1,995 per child.
Set off on a ramble along the Rhone Valley and the Ardeche in the company of a friendly donkey for a family holiday the children will never forget. On Responsible Travel's walking holiday in France, you'll make your way along pretty paths and through meadows and forests that offer a change from the daily routine. In the evenings, a warm welcome awaits you in traditional chambres d’hôtes that pride themselves on serving up delicious regional dishes to reward you for your efforts. The easy walking holiday provides beautiful views and a wonderfully warm and friendly furry travel companion that will keep the younger generation excited about each day's adventures. The trip costs from 650 euros per person for six nights.
Cuba is a fantastic family destination, full of charm and character. For the best time on the island stay in casas particulares (family homestays), where you and your family will experience living like Cubans. Rickshaw Travel's 14-day Cuba holiday takes in authentic Cuba, combining Havana, where you will take a ride in a classic car, and then Las Terrazas for an eco-village immersion, swimming in lakes, walking under waterfalls and flying through the air on zip lines. In El Nicho National Park, the whole family can explore the waterfalls and take a dip in the natural pools, before taking a transfer to Trinidad, where a bici-taxi tour through the streets will open your eyes to the locals’ way of life. The holiday costs from £1,578 per person.
Add a visit to Europe’s highest and most active volcano to your family holiday bucket list - a trip the kids will never forget. The whole family can get first-hand experience of Mount Etna’s wild lunar-like landscape, its lava caves and its ancient and recent lava flows on Wish Sicily’s adventure tours, which include half and full day off-road Jeep tours across the volcano's slopes, quad bike tours and mountain bike excursions. If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, a full-day guided walk includes hiking along the Monte Nero degli Zappini nature trail and visits to lava tunnels. A week at Villa Viscalori, a three-bedroom villa which sleeps six and features a pool on the slopes of Mount Etna, starts at £1,532. Guided walks and Jeep tours cost from €65 per person.
Families can travel over five different states taking in the very best America’s West with its dramatic red rock terrain in Utah, the wild frontiers of rural Montana, the natural wonders of Yellowstone National Park and the iconic sculptures of Mount Rushmore, on a holiday fit for budding cowboys. Trafalgar's nine-day Wild West Cowboys and Buffalos itinerary will give children the kick out of staying at an 1800s homestead, which includes a wagon ride out to the river for an authentic finger lickin’, rib-stickin’ meal prepared on an authentic chuckwagon. There is also the chance to go white-water rafting down the Gallatin River or horse riding with a real-life horse wrangler in the Montana wilderness. The holiday costs from £1,896 per person.
The kids will really impress their friends after a fantastic week of cycling the country lanes and riverside paths of the Danube on a 40-kilometre route. The winding stretch of the wonderful Danube River passes beneath fairytale castles on easy riverside routes, pedalling from one family-friendly hotel to the next, while the whole family's luggage is transferred ahead by road. Inntravel's seven-day Danube Explorer holiday allows you to pedal through wine-producing villages on country lanes, stay at cosy hotels linked by quiet cycle tracks and make the most of the swimming pools and the fabulous water park at Melk. The holiday costs from £880 per adult and £698 per child.
American Airlines' new flights from Heathrow to Belize mean you no longer have to spend a night in Mexico before travelling to this gorgeous Central American destination, making it even more appealing for families. Belize may be one of the smallest countries in the region but it’s hard to beat when it comes to outdoor activities the whole family can enjoy. It’s often overlooked for better-known sights in Mexico or Costa Rica but offers fantastic water sports, fascinating wildlife, ancient ruins and lush green jungle. Stubborn Mule's 15-day Belize Adventure Highlights trip combines jungle and beach activities with a dose of ancient ruins thrown in and costs from £2,000 per person.
Sri Lanka offers a cocktail of cultural and ecological experiences for families, such as spotting wild elephants on a Jeep safari or climbing Sigiriya’s mighty rock fortress in the Central Province, relaxing in Trincomalee on palm-fringed sand or snorkelling around the paradise shores of Pigeon Island on the East Coast. Rickshaw Travel's 14-day family itinerary allows you to travel comfortably by private car with an English speaking driver and takes you in land to Kandy for a homestay, where you will learn how to cook a traditional curry and then stay in an eco-lodge in Digana, where you can take walks to local villages, passing by rice paddies. The trip costs from £1,998 per adult and £1,338 per child.
Inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic children’s adventure story Treasure Island, you can take an action-packed trip that visits the beautiful west coast and the Cairngorms National Park, where it was written. Wilderness Scotland's week-long holiday takes families on a guided sea kayaking tour to a desert island, spotting seals, otters and dolphins along the way. It also combines a leisurely bike ride along a canal to Fort William, canoeing along the Great Glen and learning about the great outdoors while hunting for treasure, exploring desert islands and riding on the Harry Potter steam train. The Treasure Highlands holiday costs from £1,045 per person.
High up in the Arctic at just the right latitude, Nellim is one of the best spots to see the Northern Lights on a magical family holiday. There's so much to do in Finnish Lapland that the kids may never want go home! On a four-day tailor-made family break with Best Served Scandinavia, you'll spend three nights at the cosy Nellim Wilderness Hotel, where you can enjoy sky gazing, dog sledding across the frozen Lake Inari, snowmobile safaris and ice fishing. There's even the chance to see the Northern Lights in an Aurora Sledge, a glass-roofed cockpit that is drawn out across the snow by snowmobile. The holiday costs from £1,505 per person.