Bored of your usual beach resort? Looking for a family adventure to get you through 2016? With new routes, great offerings and killer ideas, here’s our family travel hotlist for next year.
If the promise of blue skies and tan lines is all that keeps you going through the winter, it’s tempting to book the same old villa – after all, you’re going to get what you know, and whom, by going right back to the trusted place time and again: that taverna with the waiter who always remembers the kids’ names, that same easy walk to the beach and the cafe with the good coffee…
It’s easy, yes. But life is for adventure, and every new experience – from playing beach football in Brazil to taking elephant safaris in Nepal or graffiti-spotting in Lisbon – stands to enrich your children’s (and your) lives and give you all something wild and wonderful to look back on. So with that in mind, here is our pick of the best family adventures to get out and try next year.
Let the adventure begin…
After the post-football lull, Olympic fever puts fabulous Brazil back on the map next summer, when the Olympics and Paralympics are set to be held in Rio de Janeiro. You can still buy tickets to many of the events (www.rio2016.com) and with direct flights from London, it’s a great opportunity to inspire sports mad kids – or simply base a family adventure around an event.
The Olympics are also a great excuse to take that beach trip you’ve always dreamed of… balmy days, beautiful beaches and caipirinhas in hand (you). UNESCO-listed Paraty, five hours from Rio by mini bus, is known for its laid back living, beaches and boat trips, while Bahia is the birthplace of capoeira, where the kids can take lessons and practise on the sand.
The wide-open spaces of Canada will be more accessible from next May, when Westjet launches a series of low cost direct routes from Gatwick. That means it is going to be even easier to reach the child-friendly cities of Toronto and Vancouver not to mention a slew of other destinations across the country.
Transport-spotting tots will love Vancouver: where else can you see float planes, cable cars, skytrains, a sea bus and a vintage double decker bus? Whales give it the seal of approval from March to October too – it’s on the migratory routes for thousands of orcas and humpback whales. Toronto is packed with child-friendly museums, including the Royal Ontario Museum, which has one of the country’s largest collections of dinosaurs and a creepy bat cave. Get into the backcountry and just gulp down the fresh air. Theses a land where kids can stretch their legs, breathe and grow.
Budget flights to Marrakech have opened up Morocco to UK visitors, and now with a recently-launched Easyjet flight from London Luton to Essaouira, this laid-back coastal town is just over three hours away too.
Watersports are high on the agenda, with bountiful sea breezes all year long – the sandy beach here is popular with surfers and kite surfers, with stand up paddle boards on hand for calmer days. Take day trips into the dunes, explore the local argan tree forests or take a camel ride along the beach. Seafood is fresh and delicious and the souk is great for souvenirs.
Bali is currently great value for money, and with endless beaches and village communities as well as thronging resorts, there’s something for all the family. We’d recommend exploring the treetops in Tabanan on high rope courses (like Go Ape but in tropical rainforests), zooming down enormous slides at Asia’s number one waterpark, Waterbom Bali in Kuta, and making friends with the monkeys in Ubud’s monkey forest. Just don’t give them your packed lunch.
Sun-blushed Lisbon is always a great spot for a short family break in Europe, being a short flight away and easily navigable with children. Hop on the yellow trams (number 28 runs a great tourist-friendly route around the city), see the orange and red rooftops via the funiculars and don’t miss the fantastic aquarium with its sea otters, sunfish and swooping rays. TripAdvisor readers voted it the best aquarium in the world in 2015.
Look out for street art around the city – Lisbon is a global centre for it, and some of it has been done by grannies and older people – and make sure you treat the kids to a delicious flaky custard tart. The tourist office has recently opened an exhibition all about the myths and legends surrounding the town of Sintra, just down the coast, perfect if you’re looking for a day trip from the city.
If you’re after an outdoor adventure, your kids will be welcomed with open arms in Nepal, which is now very much back in business for trekkers and culture seekers. Trekking in the foothills of the Himalayas amid yaks, swinging rope bridges and snow-capped peaks is an experience they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.
Try Pokhara as a start point for trekking in the Annapurna foothills. Short loops are possible to Annapurna Base Camp and around the Annapurna Circuit, widely credited as the country’s best trek. Chitwan National Park, little damaged by the earthquake, offers elephant-back safaris, where you can roam through the jungle in search of tigers and sloth bears.
From December 2016, it is going to be even easier to reach Amsterdam without the hassle of flying, thanks to a new direct Eurostar service from London. It will be a four-hour direct train and will cost approximately £99. It’s good timing: just right for Amsterdam’s Christmas markets and ice rinks, and the Amsterdam Light Festival, which runs from the end of November to mid January with light installations, walking tours, boat trips and a parade. See our Amsterdam city guide for more family friendly ideas.Laura Hall is a travel writer and the Director of Communications at Kid & Coe. Follow them on Instagram @kidandcoe