15 of the Best Destinations for Family Travel

With Christmas behind us, our thoughts naturally turn to the new year. And with the bleakness of January in our sights, many of us will be starting to plan a week or two in the sun and other family holidays for the year.

Whether you prefer a perfect sunny beach or some culture, good food and wine or something off the beaten track, there are soem amazing destinations out there for family holidays.

Scroll down for some of our top picks of the best destinations for family travel.

1. Bordeaux

Beautiful Bordeaux offers neoclassical architecture, wide boulevards and a riverside location on the banks of the Garonne. 

Try a river cruise to see all that the region has to offer, and make sure you try the wine.  After all, this region claims to be the wine capital of the world!

You may also like: City Breaks with Kids: Paris

2. Cornwall

With the reopening of Penzance's art deco gem the Jubilee Pool, the refurbished and expanded Tate St Ives and a new timber-clad 115-room eco-hotel at the Eden Project, Cornwall's star continues to rise.

Embrace your inner Poldark with a stay at the National Trust's Count House Cottage from £275 for three nights.  Explore the beautiful countryside and all the attractions that Cornwall has to offer.

More Cornish inspiration:

3. Costa Rica

Costa Rica remains one of the most unique places on the planet, home to an astonishing array of endemic species, thanks to its diverse landscape and micro climates on both coasts.

With forests, mountains, jungles, beaches, volcanoes and wildlife, this is an unparalleled country for trekking, wildlife spotting and exploration.

The Manuel Antonio national park, 110 miles from San Jose, is one of the best places for trekking and wildlife spotting, including howler monkeys, sloths and iguanas.  With a quarter of the country's land mass protected, Costa Rica is pioneering advances in conservation and sustainability.

Costa Rica is a year round destination, with the dry season running from November to April and a mild rainy season from May to October.

4. Cuba

We've all been saying for years that we must go to Cuba before it all gets spoiled. So go now to soak up the faded colour and delightful dilapidation we've all come to know and love from the photos and movies.

With fancy new boutique hotels already invading the old colonial buildings and beaches, time is of the essence.  Book your trip, but go with a great offbeat agent not any old mainstream tour group or you will miss it all.

5. Dublin

Bring the history of the 1916 Easter rising to life with a 1916 Rebellion Walking Tour, visiting landmarks such as Dublin Castle, Trinity College and Kilmainham Gaol.

Don't forget to sample lots of Guinness, have a bar crawl to enjoy the craic, and maybe visit the recently opened Teeling Whiskey Distillery, complete with tastings.

6. Iceland

With direct flights from Gatwick to Egilsstaðir in the east of Iceland, travellers can head straight to some of the wilder, more remote areas of the country.  Drive down the impressive east coast to view fjords and little towns like Seyðisfjörður, a great base for summer hiking.

Or take a trek to Mount Snæfell or the Hafrahvammar canyon, and for true Icelandic culture head up the Fljótsdalur valley, a place inextricably linked with author Gunnar Gunnarsson, nominated six times for the Nobel prize.

At the upper end of the Fljótsdalur valley, you can walk or ride horses into a lost wilderness inhabited by pink-footed geese, reindeer and arctic foxes.  And don't miss out on a dip in a thermally heated hot pool!

7. India

Never far from world travellers' imaginations, beautiful, exotic India is a feast for the senses. Be inspired by the wildlife and landscapes of Madhya Pradesh, or spot wild Bengal tigers and other jungle animals in Satpura National Park.

8. Iran

Independent travel is still not allowed in Iran but a number of adventure tour operators like Explore are running trips to the country, where travellers can experience a number of climate zones and habitats, including the stunning Alburz mountains.

Culture vultures should visit the incredibly well-preserved Persepolis, seat of Darius the Great and his son Xerxes, the spiritual site of Takht-e Soleyman and the 14th-century mausoleum of Soltaniyeh, all unmissable.

There is also a wealth of ancient history to explore in the cities of Shiraz and Isfahan, but make time for visiting bazaars, mosques and gardens, the perfect places for encounters with local people.

9. Japan

Travel around Japan just got even easier with a direct bullet train link from Tokyo to the north’s wide open spaces in Hokkaido.

The most northerly of Japan’s main islands, Hokkaido is often referred to as the country’s natural adventure playground, with hiking, climbing and camping pursuits during summer and skiing in winter, especially in Niseko.

Vast expanses of forest, lakes, mountains and hot springs, Mount Hakodate, historic buildings in central Hakodate, and a unique cuisine make this a fascinating region to explore. Whilst hipster Sapporo offers a laidback but cool city edge.

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10. Le Marche, Italy

Beloved of the chattering classes every summer, much of Italy is often overlooked as passé by serious travellers, but why not try a new region which offers beautiful beaches, picturesque countryside and exquisite art, but without the crowds.

Halfway up the eastern side of Italy's boot, Le Marche offers a relatively new idea in Italy, British-style bed & breakfast, with lower rates than the more touristy areas.

With 14th century villages set in beautiful countryside and stunning beaches such as Due Sorelle, considered one of Italy's best, this is a must-see destination.

Medieval Urbino has some of the finest examples of renaissance art in its Palazzo Ducale, and there are modern art treasures to be found in contemporary galleries such as Il Conventino in tiny Monteciccardo, and unexpected but wonderful examples of modern sculpture, such as that inside a 15th-century tower in Cagli.

11. Mexico City

Not a place that immediately springs to mind for a safe holiday?  Perhaps not, and of course there are lots of areas to steer clear of, but with some of the world's most amazing food, fantastic museums, forward-thinking architecture and design, and a super-hip vibe, it is the place to go for young Latin American and Spanish tourists.

Following the reinvention of Mexican cuisine by Enrique Olvera at Pujol, a whole new generation of restaurants have sprung up in his wake.  Some of the best include Fonda Fina in La Roma and Fonda Mayora in nearby Condesa.

Photography lovers should head to the newly renovated Centro de la Imagen and the FotoMuseo Cuatro Caminos, while design fans can indulge in the work of Carla Fernández and the studios of David Pompa and Lagos del Mundo.

If you can, stay at the new design-conscious Carlota hotel and dine at the surrounding restaurants on the Colonia Cuauhtémoc.  For a more sedate vibe, stroll by the French-style 19th-century mansions of La Roma or explore the Parque México in Condesa.  This is a city on the up.

12. Poland

Poland offers stunning architecture, many ancient treasures and beautiful scenery with a rich range of flora and fauna.

Krakow, Katowice, Gdańsk and Wrocław (pronouncedVrots-waf) are all perfect for families to visit.

The Tatra mountains, medieval Malbork (German name Marienburg), Bialowieza forest, and cities of Gdansk, Poznan and Lublin remain top of the must-see list too.

13. Rio de Janeiro

With stunning natural landscape a stone's throw from downtown, you can travel from vibrant city life to rainforest hillscape, and back via the natural Lake Lagoa ringed by black mountains to the world-famous Copacabana beach.

Go for the food, the culture, and the incredible Museum of Tomorrow which looks at the need for change if we are to avoid climate disaster.

14. San Sebastián, Spain

The northern Spanish city of San Sebastián has a strong gastronomic reputation, and no shortage of art, culture and music. Live music and contemporary dance are popular, the perfect places to enjoy an alfresco feast at dusk.

Families will love the wonderful Playa de la Concha city beach, then indulge in a pintxo (tapas) crawl around the bars of the old town, or head to the Paseo Nuevo to see and be seen, take a stroll and watch the sunset.

For a real treat, foodies should reserve a table at one of the many Michelin-starred restaurants in the city which boast 16 stars between them, including three three-star establishments.

You may also like: City Breaks with Kids: Madrid

15. Slovenia

Slovenia’s capital city Ljubljana is a delight for families with large parts of the city pedestrianised, wide open green spaces and the beautiful Ljubljanica river making it a pleasure to visit at any time of year. 

Paths wind down to the city from the towering castle, the huge Tivoli Park extends almost into the centre of the city, and the river embankments encourage walking and use of river transport.

The country's traditional cuisine and local ingredients have been championed in a fantastic and innnovative new culinary scene.

Ljubljana offers beautiful architecture, a laid-back atmosphere and many riverside bars serving excellent Slovenian wines.  The Christmas markets are also superb.

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And a bonus suggestion:


Yes, it's obvious, but away from the cities and built up areas that many of us flock to are the stunning landscapes of the National Park Service.

Often described as the best idea America ever had, President Woodrow Wilson's National Parks act of 1916 is now responsible for the creation of 84-million-plus-acres of park across 409 sites, including 59 national parks, as well as monuments, historical sites, battlefields, and seashore.  Including world famous sites like the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Death Valley, as well as lesser known parks and sites, these spectacular landscapes are well worth exploring.

Landscape ranges from surreal rock formations to belching geysers and alligator-infested swampland. Make NPS exploration the heart of your trip, not an after thought.  Delta flies direct to Salt Lake City, a great place to start your national parks adventure, with the jaw-dropping pink rock national parks south of the city such as Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands and Zion.

See: Top 10 Places in the U.S. You Can Camp By A Waterfall

Wilderness, wildlife, cruise, culture, beach or city.  What kind of holiday do you prefer?

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