Pleasant children on holiday can go beyond the costumed characters and exciting rides of the amusement park. Whether it’s trying new foods, getting closer to wildlife, hitchhiking on a ferry or tuk-tuk, or just wandering the streets of a new city, kids are fascinated by all kinds of experiences. But of course, travelling with children also means looking for safe, easy places to go around, and parents can also enjoy it. That’s why we’ve compiled 10 unexpected child-approved destinations that offer all this and more.
Kids and zoos are always a winning combination, and a safari is just like a zoo on an epic scale. In South Africa, many child-friendly stations and programmes can bring children closer to wild elephants, cheetahs and other creatures. Make friends with a herd of saved elephants living on the property at Camp Jabulani, which is located near Kruger National Park. In Cape Town, board the funicular to see the historic Cape Point Lighthouse and enjoy the panoramic view of the coast. A trip to South Africa may also include a trip to Boulders Beach to see native African penguins or to one of the farms in Oudtshoorn to build an ostrich.
Nicaragua may not be the first place you consider a family destination, but listen to us. Not only are its beaches first class, but it is an affordable alternative to many tourist complexes in Costa Rica and Belize. Discover Granada, a colonial city by the lake. Choco Museo, which resembles Willy Wonka with a Latin flavour, is a must. Children will also love learning to surf and boogie on nearby beaches. Get on a ferry and spend a day exploring Ometepe, a volcanic island, or discover the wildlife at Mombacho Volcano, an easy hike for children.
Malaysia, which is home to several ethnic groups such as Malay, Chinese and Indian, offers a cultural solution for families. Take the Skybridge to the top of the Petronas Towers of Kuala Lumpur, the tallest twin buildings in the world. Then explore the Batu Caves, which have a Hindu temple inside. In addition, which children would not like to build towers in Legoland? Malaysia has one, just across the Singapore border. Here, families can enjoy the Water Park as well as Lego replicas of some of the most famous structures in Asia, including China’s Forbidden City and Cambodia’s Angkor Wat. Thereafter, adventurous families can travel to Borneo for an unforgettable experience by helping orphaned orangutans in a sanctuary such as International Animal Rescue.
When it comes to escapades in the islands, Mauritius, safe and welcoming, is as perfect as families with young children. La Pirogue and Sugar Beach in Flic en Flac offer crystal clear swimming beaches and activities for the youngest travellers. With children’s pools, thatched children’s clubs and tennis lessons, the little ones will never be bored. Then go whale and dolphin watching along the coast or spot eagles flying over while hiking in Black River Gorges National Park.
Think Ibiza is only for alcoholic partygoers? Wrong. Many coastal areas on the island are quiet and ideal for a break with the children. The young people will gravitate towards Playa d’en Bossa, the longest beach on the island, and the slides of the nearby Aguamar water park. You can head for the calmer north and west coasts for beautiful beaches with gentle waves. Discover the facilities for children and teenagers in the beach clubs in Cala Bassa and Benirras. Ibiza also hosts the Cap Blanc Natural Aquarium, where children can explore while parents sip a glass of wine.
Of course, Thailand is an excellent destination for honeymoons, but it is also an excellent choice for children. Walking alone in a tuk-tuk through Bangkok will be an unforgettable experience for young children. Children can also admire Buddha’s large structure at Wat Phra Kaew Temple. Then visit the playgrounds and fly kites with the residents of the gigantic Lumpini Park. Then head for the quiet, shallow beaches of Ko Chang. Older children will enjoy kayaking in and out of the mangroves. The island also has several elephant camps for those who have a weakness for animals.
Breath-taking Cyclades are not just for newlyweds – children are sure to feel a thrill as they travel by ferry from island to island. Most islands, including Santorini, Naxos and Mykonos, offer many daily ferry connections. Admire the magnificent blue waters of the volcanic island of Santorini and visit the exciting slides of the water park. Then take a boat tour of the caldera and learn more about the volcano that formed it long ago. Nearby, Naxos offers shallow and quiet beaches for swimming and snorkelling. Finish your visit in the main village, which is full of trendy shops.
Located between North America and continental Europe, this island country is easily accessible from anywhere. The capital, Reykjavik, is safe and compact for children. Climb aboard a replica of the Viking-World Museum or splash around in the hot springs that dot the city (many have pools designed for children). Animal lovers will enjoy exploring the surroundings from the back of an Icelandic horse. And Mount Esja, a nearby volcanic chain, offers easy hikes with breath-taking views of the hilly landscape below.
Sin City has earned the reputation of being the Disneyland for adults, but with many sparkling attractions, children can also have fun. Have fun sliding down Fremont Street, ooh and aah at free acrobatic shows while dining at the family Circus restaurant or discover the roller coaster and arcades of the New York New York Hotel & Casino. And while you could be in the desert, the children will jump at the opportunity to go down the lazy river on an inner tube in Mandalay Bay. They will even enjoy climbing to the top of the replica of the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel.
Children may not have the patience to spend three hours sipping a latte in a charming café on the sidewalk, but fortunately, there are many other activities they can enjoy in and around the City of Light. Visit the artistic district of Montmartre, where sidewalk artists draw souvenir portraits. Then head to the Luxembourg Garden, where children can race with pedal cars or boats floating on the pond. Visiting the turrets of at least one fairy-tale castle, such as the Chambord de la Loire, is a must. Oh, and the magic of Disneyland Paris is only half an hour from Paris by train.