Embarking on family adventures requires meticulous planning to ensure both safety and enjoyment for every member, especially the little ones. Fortunately, there are destinations around the globe that stand out for their exceptional blend of safety and kid-friendliness, making them ideal havens for family vacations. From enchanting theme parks and vibrant cultural experiences to serene natural landscapes, these destinations prioritize the well-being of families, offering a harmonious balance between thrilling activities and secure environments.
Read on to see our top picks for family-friendly vacation destinations.
1. New Zealand
Ranked number 4 on the Global Peace Index, New Zealand is ranked #3 for the most family-friendly country, making it a fantastic destination for families. For those coming from the East Coast of the United States, the flight can take a full 24 hours or more, making it a difficult destination for young kids and for short vacations. But if you have a week or more to dedicate to your holiday and have older kids who are good travelers, put New Zealand at the top of your list.
Explore the Waitomo Glowworm Caves on the North Island, where you can take a boat ride through an underground cave illuminated by thousands of glowworms. Take the kids to the Rotorua Geothermal Parks. Rotorua is known for its geothermal activity, and visiting one of the geothermal parks can be an educational and entertaining experience for the whole family. If your kids (or you) are into the Lord of the Rings movies, enjoy a Hobbiton Movie Set Tour, located near Matamata. This is the actual filming location for the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogies. Families can explore the charming hobbit holes and lush landscapes, while learning about the movie-making process.
Rated #11 for safety and #4 for its family-friendliness, Canada is the perfect place for your next family vacation. If you're coming from the United States, this is a particularly easy vacation to plan and execute, whether you want to fly or drive,
Explore the stunning beauty of the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park in Alberta, feel the rush of Niagara Falls in Ontario, or experience the thrill of walking across the Capilano Suspension Bridge that spans the Capilano River in British Columbia.
Ranked #6 for families and #2 for safety, Denmark is another country that should be at the top of your travel bucket list. Though Danish is the official language, 86% of the population also speaks English. Denmark, the birthplace of LEGO, is also known for its gorgeous castles and tasty pastries, making it one of the best places for a family-friendly trip.
Take the family to Tivoli Gardens, one of the world's oldest amusement parks and a classic family destination. Explore LEGOLAND Billund Resort, and take a stroll along the waterfront to visit the iconic Little Mermaid, based on the beloved children's classic by Hans Christian Andersen.
One of my favorite countries in the world, Ireland is #3 for safety and #7 for its kid-friendliness. With gorgeous rural landscapes, loads of animals to see (both domesticated and wild), and green spaces within the cities, the Emerald Isle is an excellent vacation spot for families with kids of all ages.
I highly recommend flying into Dublin and doing a road trip around the island. Take in the natural beauty of the Cliffs of Moher and the Cliffs of Kerry, see all the animals at the Dublin Zoo and the stunning red deer in Killarney National Park, and dip your toes in the sand at Inch Beach.
The Netherlands is another country whose official language is not English (it's Dutch), but where a large percentage of the population (95%, to be precise) speaks English as well, making it an easy destination for those who are concerned about language barriers making travel difficult. Netherlands is ranked 16th for overall safety and 9th for family-friendliness.
Take your kids in the spring to visit Keukenhof Gardens, known as the "Garden of Europe" to see the world-famous tulips, visit Efteling Theme Park, a fairy-tale-themed amusement park, and for a more educational experience, explore the interactive displays at NEMO Science Museum.
Finland is ranked #13 for safety and #10 for its kid-friendliness. This Nordic country is known for having the happiest people on Earth, saunas, and the northern lights.
Families who enjoy theme and amusement parks can visit Santa Claus Village, where the kids can meet Santa Claus year-round, and Moominworld, an amusement park based on the characters from Tove Jansson's Moomin books.
Switzerland is a country known for its serene beauty, its chocolate, and its cheese. Rated #10 for safety and #12 for family-friendliness, this Alpine country is certainly worth a visit with the family.
For your little one who loves anything with wheels, the Swiss Transport Museum in Lucerne will be just short of heaven on Earth. Then take a scenic train ride to Jungfraujoch, the "Top of Europe," situated in the Bernese Alps. The journey itself is an adventure, and once you reach the summit, you'll be treated to breathtaking views of snow-capped peaks. There are family-friendly activities at the summit, including snow play areas and the Ice Palace, a cave with sculptures carved out of ice.
Rated #7 for safety and #13 for family-friendliness, Portugal features fabulous wines, tasty seafood dishes, and over 1100 miles of coastline.
In Sintra, explore Pena Palace and the surrounding Park of Pena. In Lisbon, explore the Parque das Nações and the Lisbon Oceanarium, one of the largest indoor aquariums in Europe. And in Algarve, explore the beautiful beaches, sea caves, and rock formations.
Another of my favorite countries, Belgium is #15 for family-friendliness and #20 for safety. Belgium's people are warm and friendly, with more than half of the population speaking English as a second, third, or even fourth language. With a mix of large cities and adorable towns, Belgium has everything a family needs for a fun vacation.
Take a leisurely stroll through Hallerbos - the Blue Forest - a magical destination famous for its vibrant bluebell carpet. Take a dip in the North Sea. Climb the stairs to the top of the In Flanders Fields Museum and learn some of the history of WW1 in Ypres. Take a boat ride in Ghent. Eat chocolate and waffles and croque monsieur till you burst!
Rated #5 for safety and #16 for family-friendliness, Austria is known for its stunning architecture, its art and music, and its natural beauty.
In Vienna, explore the stunning Schönbrunn Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the adjacent Tiergarten Schönbrunn, one of the oldest zoos in the world. In Wattens, visit the unique Swarovski Crystal Worlds - an art museum and theme park dedicated to the world of crystals. And just outside Werfen, take a family adventure to the Eisriesenwelt, the largest ice cave in the world, which stays cold even in the summer.
Germany is a large country with a wide variety of natural landscapes, several large, vibrant cities, and a rich cultural heritage. It ranks #15 for safety and #19 for kid-friendliness.
The family will love Europa-Park, one of Europe's largest and most popular theme parks, located in Rust. Your little Disney lovers will marvel at the fairytale-like Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, which was the inspiration for Disney's Sleeping Beauty Castle. And the kids can run out their wiggles at Playmobil FunPark, a large outdoor playground located near Nuremberg, which is based on the popular Playmobil toy sets.
Though Italy is ranked #34 in terms of safety, it is ranked number one for the most family-friendly countries, and I believe it deserves a spot on the list. Be alert. Don't take the kids out at night in higher-crime areas. But go and visit all the beautiful, historical cities of Italy.
Eat pizza in Naples, ride a gondola in Venice, eat pasta in Rome, explore the Vatican City, and wonder at the Renaissance art and architecture in Florence.
I hope this list of best family travel destinations offers some inspiration for your next family vacation. With these destinations you can feel safe while also exploring all the cultural and historical sites, theme parks and amusement parks, and beautiful outdoor spaces the country offers.
Because of the easy access amongst many European countries via the train systems, consider visiting two or three countries during a longer trip. Perhaps you want to start in Copenhagen, working your way down to Hanover, Germany, and over to Amsterdam. Or perhaps you want to combine Belgium with Eastern Germany.
Whether your family is into water parks, roller coasters, sandy beaches, or historic sites, these countries have everything you need for your next family trip.
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