Picking a vacation destination can be complicated, particularly for families. The more people you have involved in planning a family trip, the more difficult it is to appeal to everyone’s disparate interests and activity levels. But the best family travel destinations offer a diverse array of options for activities and accommodations, ensuring there’s always something for everyone.
Discover Corps founder Andrew Motiwalla and many of our staff members have kids, so we’re constantly looking for the best family travel destinations to add new tours to. Whether it’s exploring culture and history in Cuba or learning more about wildlife conservation in South Africa, we’re always exploring and expanding our options for family volunteering.
So when it came time to write about the best family travel destinations in the world, we decided to consult with the experts– more than a dozen of the world’s top family travel bloggers. From classic favorites like Costa Rica and Tanzania to adventurous options such as the Australian outback, Galapagos Islands and India, their picks span nearly every continent on the globe.
Check out their tips for the most amazing places for traveling with kids, and be sure to let us know your favorite family travel destinations in the comments!
Australia is our pick for the best family travel destinations. It’s safe, English-speaking, and warm all year-round. Sydney’s Darling Harbor has an aquarium, a fantastic (free) playground complex, an IMAX theater, boats for whale watching, plenty of shopping, authentic restaurants, and fireworks almost every Saturday evening. Getting out of the city, there’s no place quite like the country’s so-called Red Centre. To get a sense of the vastness of the Outback after visiting Uluru, try taking a camper van through Alice Springs (home to festivals such as the Camel Cup) and Coober Pedy, Australia’s underground opal mining town. –Kalli Hiller of Portable Professionals
Belize offers something that fits every type of family travel itinerary. There are countless beautiful beaches, some of the best snorkeling and SCUBA diving in the world, incredible caves, and spectacular Mayan ruins. This English-speaking nation has all the best of Central America and the Caribbean wrapped up in a small and easy-to-maneuver package. Visitors can explore the jungle, getting up close and personal with Monkeys, Tapirs, and possibly even Jaguars in the morning; then in the afternoon they can cruise out to discover the spectacular Great Blue Hole in the middle of the ocean. What more could an active family ask for? –Kevin Wagar of Wandering Wagars
Chile’s landscapes are incredibly diverse, making the country a paradise for families who love wide open spaces! In the north, San Pedro de Atacama is the starting point for great excursions into the world’s driest desert. One of the most fun activities with children is to surf on sand dunes. In the same area, known as Moon Valley, the Chaxa Lagoon (with its pink flamingos and mountain lakes) offers easy but splendid hikes. From the capital, Santiago, you can fly to Easter Island, where you’ll find the fascinating giant Moai statues. And that’s not to mention the funiculars of colourful Valparaiso, the wildlife of Torres del Paine National Park, and exceptional wines! –Virginie Auguste-Dormeuil of Travel With My Kids
Costa Rica is an amazing family travel destination, offering a broad variety of activities. Those with young kids will enjoy a nature hike at Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Keep an eye out for exotic fauna, such as Tarantulas or the aptly-named Resplendent Quetzal. Or just watch the incredible variety of Hummingbirds you’ll find feeding near the visitor’s center. Older kids will enjoy a zip line adventure, or hiking the canopy walkways. Families with teenagers should try white water rafting on the Pacuare River. It’s a warm white water experience through the jungle near San Jose, and it’s one of the best rafting experiences we’ve ever tried! –Chris Christensen of The Amateur Traveler
Soon, everyone will be able to discover what a great destination Cuba is for families. The island is rugged and beautiful, with a rich and fascinating history that even little kids can appreciate. We love that you can include culture, architecture, and exploring nature on an itinerary that still allows for plenty of lazing around on beautiful beaches. Cuba is safe and clean, Cubans adore children, and there are family-friendly accommodation options that range from cozy Casa Particulars (private rooms and villas) to lavish all-inclusive resorts. –Corinne McDermott of Have Baby Will Travel
If you ask our kids which was their favorite of the 67 countries they’ve been to, they’d unanimously agree on Finland. And Finland loves kids! In Helsinki, anyone pushing a pram does not need to purchase a public transport ticket, and the majority of entry tickets allow children under 7 to get in free (or heavily discounted). Further north in Finnish Lapland is Rovaniemi, where the the real Santa lives. You can spend an evening with the elves in the forest, decorating trees, baking cookies and learning Santa’s secrets. When you’re not visiting Santa, you can spend the days riding husky sleds through a winter wonderland, taking a reindeer sleigh through the forest, or snow tubing down giant hills and through ice caves. Magical! –Erin Bender of Travel With Bender
If your family has even an interest in nature and Wildlife, the Galapagos Islands are guaranteed to blow their minds. A model of how conservation and ecotourism can work together, these remote islands 400 miles off the coast of Ecuador were the first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Only five of the 18 major islands are inhabited, with just 26,000 residents spread across 3,040 square miles of land. So you’ll see far more rare/endangered species– including Galapagos Sea Lions, Penguins, Marine Iguanas, Land Iguanas, Darwin’s Finches and more– than you will people. Most of them have no fear of humans. A visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station is a must, and there are also coffee farms, fincas that provide sanctuary for giant Galapagos Tortoises, and some of the world’s best snorkeling/Scuba diving. –Bret Love of Green Global Travel
India is one of the most diverse countries on earth. It’s not always the easiest country to travel in, but it does make a wonderful destination for families. From golden beaches in Goa to golden temples in Punjab and wildlife sightings in reserves all across the country, everyone in the family will be mesmerized. You can choose to be adventurous by riding camels in the Thar Desert or relax while watching life go by on floating houseboats in the southern state of Kerala. Visiting iconic historic buildings like the Taj Mahal, participating in India’s colorful festivals, and riding in innumerable modes of transportation will have your children dreaming of returning to India to experience even more! –Karilyn Owen of No Back Home
Think of Peru and no doubt images of the lost city of Machu Picchu spring to mind. This wonder of the world is Peru’s most famous attraction, and rightly so. It’s breathtaking. But many people don’t realize just how many other mind-blowing sights this country holds. There’s the magical Sacred Valley of the Incas, the biological wonderland of the Amazon Rainforest, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Cusco. And, of course, Peru is home to Paddington Bear (a Spectacled, or Andean Bear). This is a wonderful destination for families seeking adventure, archaeological wonders and delicious cuisine. You might even be tempted to try the local delicacy… cuy, or guinea pig! -Victoria Westmacott of Globetotting
Not only is Spain affordable, but there’s a vibrant culture there that’s accessible to kids. Even children can appreciate the wow factor of the third largest cathedral in the world (in Seville), Gaudi’s magnificent La Sagrada Familia (in Barcelona), the ancient Roman aqueducts (in Segovia), and the Alhambra UNESCO World Heritage Site (in Granada). Kids love watching the energetic flamenco dancers and hearing the joyful cheers of fútbol fans. I’d recommend spending two weeks– 3 days in Madrid, 4 in Barcelona, 4 in Andalucia split between Seville and Granada or the pueblos blancos (white villages), and the rest relaxing on the coast. –Tamara Gruber of We3Travel
Tanzania is arguably among the best family travel destinations, and not just because it offers virtually every safari animal in abundance. There are also the traditional cultures (including the Maasai) and the beauty of nature. The national parks are the main draw, particularly the Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti, Tarangire and Lake Manyara. Africa’s highest point, Mount Kilimanjaro, is in the north, and Oldupai (Olduvai) Gorge is one of the most important fossil sites in the world. Travel throughout Tanzania is easy and safe. I’d recommend 8-10 days on safari, and then a few days at the beach in Zanzibar. Ngonongoro was our favorite park for seeing animals. We also loved Lake Ndutu, as you’re allowed to drive off-road to get closer to the animals. –Eric Stoen of Travel Babbo
Thailand is one of the best family travel destinations we’ve visited. You can spend time soaking in the action of Bangkok, visiting the Grand Palace, playing in Siam Square and taking an old canal boat. You can head to Phuket and enjoy amazing cultural shows and water activities. You can g0 to Chiang Mai and volunteer with elephants or go trekking to see hill tribes. Or you can go find your own beach among the thousands in this beautiful country. We love all this variety, and the fact that our children were always welcomed everywhere. This makes it a very easy place to travel with kids (even very young ones), as people will always stop and help out if you’re having problems or even entertain your kids while you eat some dinner. –Sharon Gourlay of Where’s Sharon
BIO: Bret Love is a journalist/editor with 23 years of print and online experience, whose clients have ranged from the Atlanta Journal Constitution and American Airlines to National Geographic and Yahoo Travel. Along with his wife, photographer/ videographer Mary Gabbett, he is the co-founder of ecotourism website Green Global Travel and Green Travel Media.