Best family holiday destinations for 2024 that kids of all ages will love

Go worldwide with the family this year with these child-friendly trips

Natalie Wilson
Saturday 02 March 2024 20:18 GMT
Find the perfect spot for family fun
Find the perfect spot for family fun (Getty Images)

There is a lot to consider when trying to execute a memorable week of quality family time free from boredom, tears and tantrums. Do you try to teach lessons in history, encourage tired legs around thrilling theme parks, build new memories braving adventure activities or create distractions by embracing wildlife?

Ticking everyone’s boxes is no mean feat. You can’t beat a villa holiday for comfort, relaxing beach days, and shallow sandy beaches. What’s not to love about daily ice cream breaks? Cruises offer the easy family fun, with contained entertainment and cultural stop-offs, but you can also get your money’s worth at an all-inclusive luxury resort. Utilise a laid-back kids’ club to schedule in some well-deserved alone time that is sure to please parents.

With such a versatile mix of incredible trips for the whole family, here’s The Independent’s selection of holiday destinations that toddlers, teens and the in-betweens will love to inspire your next family getaway.

Read more on family travel:

Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver makes for a best-of-all-worlds trip
Vancouver makes for a best-of-all-worlds trip (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Vancouver is full of bustling markets, interactive museums and foodie hotspots. The Canadian city’s dynamic landscape makes it the perfect holiday destination for all ages. Adventures for outdoor enthusiasts spotting black bears in the Rocky Mountains, relaxing on the beaches of Vancouver’s waterfront and taking a stroll around the unmissable Stanley Park are all accessible from the cosmopolitan city. Direct long-haul flights from the UK take around nine hours 30 minutes — that’s roughly six back-to-back viewings of Moana for those with toddlers — and teenage travellers are sure to appreciate the nap time. With plenty to do indoors and out in every season, be it skiing, hiking or enjoying a coffee with the locals, make the trip over the pond and get stuck into Canadian culture.

Disneyland Paris, France

Let imaginations run wild at the Disneyland Park in Paris
Let imaginations run wild at the Disneyland Park in Paris (Getty Images)

Experience the magic of the ultimate childhood dream at Disneyland Paris. Beat the height restrictions by taking your big kids so the whole family can ride — you’re never too old for a Mickey Mouse beignet and headband ears. Fear not, there are lots of child-friendly rides for youngsters: go for a flight with Dumbo and float along the iconic It’s a Small World River for endless entertainment.

Make sure to take a day off from the rollercoasters to explore the culture and taste of the French capital from the Disneyland area hotels. Travelling to Paris on the Eurostar not only avoids the stress of taking unpredictable little ones on a plane but is more mindful of carbon emissions, has a generous baggage allowance for prams, and children under four can travel for free.

Reykjavík, Iceland

Visit the cityscape of Reykjavík, Iceland
Visit the cityscape of Reykjavík, Iceland (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Iceland’s capital has a small-town feel and is super accessible via a great bus system, including hop-on hop-off journeys, to explore the famously safe and friendly nation with kids. There are endless activities in and around Reykjavík that cater to all ages. Nordic staples, including hunting the Northern Lights, whitewater rafting and a round trip to the Golden Circle, are bound to be a hit with everyone. Teenage Game of Thrones fans will love touring Thingvellir National Park and other filming locations from the hit series, while youngsters light up on whale and puffin-watching boat trips and memorable visits to Viking museums.

The milky waters of the Blue Lagoon are another perfect spot for all members of the family to make the trip their own. Parents, think about enjoying a relaxing spa day with the adults. Children, take the opportunity to put on a silica mud mask as you float around under Iceland’s breathtaking volcanic landscape.

Tanzania, Africa

Animal lovers can safari with elephants in the Masai Mara
Animal lovers can safari with elephants in the Masai Mara (Getty Images)

Tanzania’s vast reserves and savannahs are the best destination for wildlife-loving families looking to take on an adventure-style safari in the Serengeti. Mesmerise the kids during action-packed days and make the most of the ample opportunities to get up close and personal with the Big Five — lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalo — to add a tick to your bucket list.

Post-safari visit the tropical haven of Zanzibar for blissful sandy beach days after a rewarding trip full of lessons and experiences in rich culture, cookery and spectacular natural beauty. Most safari providers tailor to the ages of your family so you are suitably comfortable in glamping accommodation, the truck on game drives and set out early to avoid the worst of the intense Tanzanian heat. Alternatively, explore taking it at your own pace and keeping the attention of little ones with self-drive safari options and canoe trips on Lake Manyara National Park.

Mallorca, Spain

Beaches and boathouses are aplenty in Mallorca
Beaches and boathouses are aplenty in Mallorca (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

From waterparks to dolphin-spotting trips and scenic orange train rides, Mallorca is a dream for families looking to unwind— there’s a reason it’s a favourite with the Brits. The largest of the welcoming Balearic Islands is well equipped to accommodate everyone, with an abundance of family-friendly bars, restaurants and exceptional holiday resorts at your disposal.

Warm Spanish temperatures from June to September are just a short-haul flight from the UK, and trips to the Mediterranean climate can be surprisingly affordable. Put up the whole family in a spacious villa and – if you can bear to part from the pool – there’s something for all on Puerto Pollensa’s picturesque stretch of beach. Teenagers will love chilling out in the sun and toddlers can practice the art of the sandcastle before enjoying an ice cream.

Phuket, Thailand

Take a day excursion on a long tail boat in South Thailand
Take a day excursion on a long tail boat in South Thailand (Getty Images)

Consider a cruise with the kids to combine vibrant Thai culture with the security of on-deck accommodation. Travel to the remote waters of Phuket via a multicultural medley of Asian destinations to guarantee an exceptional adventure each day. With plenty of secluded spots away from the hustle of city life, soak up the sun with views of Thailand’s lush mountain landscapes and see the sheer cliffs of the famous “James Bond Island” in Phang Nga Bay. Lively marine life, such as turtles, manta rays and vibrant coral, are best spotted from under the water when snorkelling and scuba diving.

Hop off the ship to sample local cuisine in Phuket town and pay a visit to the 45m-high Big Buddha and the temple of Wat Chalong’s Grand Pagoda. Adventures onboard include swimming, surfing and a skydiving simulator all kids will love. With so many fun activities on and off the land, we imagine it’ll be a unanimous yes from all your relatives.

Carlisle Bay, Antigua

The Caribbean beach of Carlisle Bay
The Caribbean beach of Carlisle Bay (Carlisle Bay)

It’s hard to imagine anyone saying no to a holiday in the Caribbean, but long-haul travel to an unfamiliar destination with tots and teens can be daunting. Worry not: turquoise water, white sand and a rainforest backdrop await at the luxury resort of Carlisle Bay in Antigua. Make the most of the Cool Kids Club for children under 12, or cherish the thrills of a family day out at the unique experience of Stingray City and the Antigua Rainforest Zipline Tour for all ages.

With nothing overlooked, leaving the resort isn’t a necessity but there is much more to a stay in Antigua than beaches and all-inclusive Bacardi’s. Nearby, the Unesco World Heritage Site of English Harbour and Nelson’s Dockyard, a Georgian naval base since 1725, is the island’s historical hub for archaeological research. On Sunday nights, the famous viewpoint of Shirley Heights comes alive with spectacular sunsets, Caribbean music and barbeque food a huge hit with tourists.

Isles of Scilly, England

St Mary’s Harbour, Isles of Scilly
St Mary’s Harbour, Isles of Scilly (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Staycations to the Isles of Scilly are a great option for more low-key travellers, and the destination can be reached on ferries, small planes and helicopters departing from the Cornish coast. Families longing for a beach holiday can relax on the sheltered, clean bays of the remote British surroundings. With some of the best of the UK weather in the summer months, friendly locals and stunning scenery, embrace the slowed-down pace of life on the child-sized isles — ideal for roaming with little legs.

Bikes and golf buggies are available to hire, and boat trips run regularly from the capital of St Mary’s to each of the other islands. Make sure to visit Scilly’s Tresco Abbey Garden, a subtropical gem home to plants from every Mediterranean climate. The kids are bound to come home with sand and shells in tow — no, you will never be allowed to throw them away — as tokens from their home-from-home holiday.

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