Holidays with kids aren’t always easy, but if you get it right you’ll have memories to cherish forever. Rebecca MacNaughton picks out some of the more unusual, child-friendly ways to get away
Lead image: Whipsnade Zoo (photo: Solovyova/Getty Images/Stockphoto)
It’s tricky to please everybody on a family holiday, but a trip to Japan might just be the answer. Audley Travel offers a jam-packed itinerary over 14 days, allowing you to mix some of the world’s finest theme parks with the country’s spectacular culture. In Tokyo, you can visit Disneyland before exploring the city, including a visit to the man-made island of Odaiba.
A bullet train will take you deep into the Japanese Alps and includes a stay at a traditional inn, offering you lots of opportunities to get in touch with nature. Following that, you’ll take a trip to Osaka to visit Kaiyukan, the world’s biggest aquarium, before a further park-day at Universal Studios. In Kyoto, you will be immersed in culture, learning about the mysterious Geishas, before returning home.
14 days from £5,180 per person, audleytravel.com
Just a short flight from the UK, easy-going Amsterdam offers a fantastic range of museums, art galleries and adventure parks to keep kids entertained. Spanning five floors, NEMO is the country’s largest science museum and a great place to start for those with curious minds. The city is likely to please even the fussiest of eaters, with plenty of places to enjoy its famous waffles and pastries.
While cycling is popular in the city centre, you might prefer the less hectic option of a countryside tour, offering spectacular views of the country’s iconic waterways and windmills. Just over an hour away, in Kaatsheuvel, you will find the nation’s favourite theme park, Efteling, which dates back to the 1950s and is one of the oldest theme parks in the world. Inspired by myths, legends, fables and folklore, it is sure to be a hit with lovers of fairytales.
If staying on home turf is more your thing, there are still plenty of ways to branch out. Organisations like The Landmark Trust and The National Trust – who have just launched a new membership scheme specifically for children – offer lots of short-stay properties.
For ‘glamping’ with a difference, Blackberry Wood in East Sussex allows you to stay in a helicopter, treehouse or retro caravan, and at Whipsnade Zoo, there is plenty to see after dark as you stay in a specially designed lookout lodge.
If your older children are the adventurous types, there’s no better way to explore rural Sweden than on a timber raft built by your own fair hands. Used for logging until 1991, The River Klarälven in Sweden is the perfect way to unwind, disconnect and enjoy each other’s company. Vildmark i Värmland offer packages from between one and five days, and will guide you on your initial raft build before letting you loose on the water.
Surrounded by nature, you’ll have the chance to spot beavers, moose and deer, and get a real feel for the Swedish countryside as you cook and live in the great outdoors.
Adults from £295, children from £150 for an eight day excursion in June or August. For July it’s adults from £325, children from £160. See vildmark.se
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be approaching your later years to enjoy a cruise. In fact, with a range of activities on board, they might be one of the best ways to travel with kids, keeping them busy while you take in some of the world’s most spectacular scenery.
Royal Caribbean’s latest ship, Symphony of the Seas, offers everything from hands-on activities and an award-winning youth programme to an on-board aqua park and live stage performances. While there are rooms to suit all needs, the ultimate family suite – featuring a games table, play area, hot tub and slide – is our top choice.
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