Once upon a time planning, a trip for you and your partner wasn’t such a difficult pursuit. Now that your party of two has grown into a clan that includes fussy tots and fussier teens, you are suddenly hard-pressed to plan a holiday that works for everyone. Yes, it’s tough looking for a destination that allows you to reenergize (in peace) while providing your children with enough dose of adventure to keep them busy and happy the entire trip.
The truth is, there are plenty of age-friendly upscale holidays that kids and kids at heart can do together without driving each other insane. From cruising the tropics to chasing the Northern Lights, here are five destinations you can consider for your next luxurious family vacation.
Stunning landscapes, flourishing metropolises, fascinating culture, incredible natural beauty- it is easy to see why Australia is named the lucky country.
If you are considering the Land Down Under as your next destination, you are indeed in luck. Australia has everything you could want in a family vacation, from extreme adventure to ultimate relaxation and all things delightful in between.
Do you want to experience authentic wildlife adventure that is unique to the country? Seek out kangaroos at Kangaroo Island, meet koalas at the Koala Park Sanctuary, watch penguins waddle back to their nests at sunset at the Phillip Island’s Penguin Parade.
Go deep into the Daintree Rainforest, a 460 square mile protected area that is part of the oldest surviving tropical rainforest on earth. Don’t forget to visit the Great Barrier Reef, home to the earth’s vastest coral reef system. Only kids over 12 may dive; however, there are plenty of other activities for younger children, such as snorkeling, glass-bottom boat ride, and underwater observatory tour.
If your family loves scenic walks, hike up the Three Sisters in the UNESCO-listed Blue Mountains or explore nature and culture at the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Go on a road trip along the Great Ocean Road, sail around the Sydney Harbour, and enjoy the sun and sand at Bondi Beach.
Check out the InterContinental Hayman Island Resort in Queensland for a dreamy private island experience or the Emirates One & Only Wolgan Valley in New South Wales for ultra-luxurious accommodations amidst the quiet of the Greater Blue Mountains.
Craving some Vitamin D? Jet off to the Maldives for a tropical family vacation full of water adventures, stunning seascapes, and hours of lazing on the sand while watching the kids build sandcastles.
Get on a boat and explore the 1900 islands scattered across the Maldives coastline. Watch dolphins frolic in the waves as you sail. At Vaadhoo Island Beach, you can see phytoplanktons glow sparkling neon blue, discover culture and history at the National Museum, and enjoy a unique dining experience at the Ithaa Underwater Restaurant.
Water sports reign supreme in the Maldives. Marvel at fascinating marine life on a snorkeling safari or a scuba diving excursion (child must be at least 10). If you prefer to stay dry, go deep diving onboard the Whale Submarine, a vessel that takes you 150 meters underwater for a view of sharks, groupers, rays, turtles, and other sea life.
For the more adventurous, try surfing, kitesurfing, or big game fishing. Glide above the Maldivian reefs on a paddleboard, test your navigation skills in a catamaran sailing trip, soar over the islands and the sea on a parasail. Don’t leave out the classic banana boat ride, everyone’s favorite.
And because you are in one of the most tranquil places in the world, stay in a Maldives overwater bungalow and feel Zen whilst listening to the sounds of the ocean.These lovely water villas are among the most photographed features in the archipelago, but that’s not the reason you should stay in one.
Privacy is prime when it comes to vacations, and there is nothing more private than living in a water bungalow in the middle of the ocean. For child-friendly accommodations check out Jumeirah Vittaveli, Dusit Thani Maldives, Constance Halaveli, and the Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort and Spa.
Chocolate, the Moomins, and Santa Claus – which child doesn’t love any or all of that? For grownups, there’s a vibrant food scene, excellent coffee, traditional saunas, unspoiled nature. No wonder Finland is the happiest country in the world.
Whether you visit in the summer or the winter, there is always an activity for you and your family. Start your adventure at the country’s capital of Helsinki with a tour of the Fazer Chocolate Factory, an authentic sauna experience and a swim at the Allas Sea Pool, and a stroll around the Kauppatori market for souvenirs and sumptuous local delicacies.
If you are visiting in the summer, visit the popular Moominworld theme park on the island of Kailo, two hours west of the capital city. For staunch thrill-seekers, have your fill of adrenalin-inducing rides at Linnanmäki and Särkänniemi. Then venture out of Helsinki into the remote Turku islands, where you can enjoy kayaking, island-hopping, fresh seafood, and the midnight sun.
In the winter, head to the Lapland for its snow-clad landscape, reindeer sleigh rides, ice castles, and northern lights. If your child believes in Father Christmas, take a trip to Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi.
A winter vacation in Finland is incomplete without viewing the surreal phenomenon of the northern lights.
If you want to stay in the comfort of your room while waiting for the aurora borealis, stay in a magical glass igloo at the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort or a snow suit at the Lapland SnowVillage. If you prefer the outdoors, check out the Lucky Ranch Saloon, where you can sit around a fire by a frozen lake while watching the northern lights.
How do you get your kids off their electronic devices and enjoy the great outdoors? Simple. Plan a safari trip to South Africa. At Kruger National Park, you will find the big five- buffalos, elephants, leopards, lions, and rhinos- freely roaming around.
Countless other mammals and bird species live in this 2-million-hectare protected area. Adjacent to Kruger National Park is Sabi Sands Game Reserve, a private game reserve offering exclusive and opulent lodgings where you can stay for the entire duration of your safari tour.
South Africa isn’t known as the rainbow nation for nothing, meaning it has plenty of other wonders you need to experience.
If you’re looking for active adventure as well as luxury travel around South Africa, get a tour guide and climb the Table Mountain, one of the New7Wonders of Nature, wander around V&A Waterfront and ride the Cape Wheel for a 360-degree view of Cape Town, sail to Muizenberg beach for its crystal-clear rock pools and hosts of seaside restaurants.
Zipline past waterfalls, deep gorges, and giant trees at Storms River, ride a horse in the Drakensberg mountain range, stargaze at the Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome. Don’t miss the chance to bond with penguins at Boulders Beach. And oh! Enjoy the cuisine.
Portugal sounds more like a destination for couples on a honeymoon rather than families on vacation. But the country has something for everyone of every age– from beaches to villages to caves and custard cakes.
Portugal is perfect for families who love to sightsee. Explore the picturesque castles and palaces and their magnificent gardens in the UNESCO-listed town of Sintra.
Descend the spiraling 110 meters passageway that leads to the heart of Grutas de Mira de Aire, the country’s largest cave system. From the depths of caves, ascend the Dom Luis I Bridge in Porto, the Cathedral tower of Evora, or the Elevador de Santa Justa in Lisbon to experience priceless views.
Of course, you can never really escape the beach when you are in Portugal, and that’s a good thing. Get away from the crowd at Praia da Bordeira, spot dolphins in the Algarve seas, join a pirate crew for a day, surf the wave at Costa Vicentina, and indulge in the freshest seafood.