Kids grow up fast. Blink and they’re teenagers, irritated by everything you do and pouring scorn on your ideas of what constitutes a good time. So, while they’re still happy to hang out with you, make the most of it. Here are places so spellbinding that they desevre to be seen through young eyes – magical places to visit with your children before they grow up, and grow out of you.
BeWILDerwood is different. This wonderful woodland playground in Norfolk offers a sprinkling of magic for everyone. There are treehouses to explore, dens to build and aerial ropewalks. You'll also find zipwires, a maze, and stories of magical woodland folk, such as Swampy the Marsh Boggle and the Twiggles, relayed during a gentle boat ride.
There’s interactive storytelling in cosy bell tents, crafts activities and face painting. The setting is a large part of its appeal, with 50 acres of forest to play in, and also the fact that everything is built from sustainable wood. Parents, connect with your inner child!
If that's caught your imagination, discover more reasons to visit Norfolk — the area has plenty to keep all ages happy. You might also want to read up on the best day tours and holidays for children in Britain.
Adventureland offers family fun and excitement by the bucketload, Don't miss the excellent Pirates of the Caribbean ride and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril. Fanatasyland is perfect for little ones – see your kids’ eyes light up at the sight of the Sleeping Beauty Castle and share their joy from a hug with a favourite Disney character.
With Rough Guides Tailor-Made Trips, our travel agent in Paris will create a personalised itinerary to help you explore the magic of Disneyland Paris in a way that suits your family.
Discover more child-friendly places to stay near Disneyland Paris. And, for more advice on accommodation read our experts' guide to the best area to stay in Paris.
A wildlife safari is an unforgettable experience for kids – and adults – and one of the best places for this trip of a lifetime is Kruger National Park in South Africa. Covering an enormous 19,485 sq km (we’re talking roughly the size of Wales), it’s home to the Big Five: lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and buffalos, as well as zebras, giraffes and so many more besides.
It’s fairly easy to spot these magnificent creatures, alongside some of the hundreds of species of birds that live or pass through the park. Also watch out for resident reptiles (“…and if you see a crocodile don’t forget to scream!” as the nursery rhyme goes).
Go on a guided bush walk or rent a car and drive around at your own pace, stopping off to watch a family of baboons quenching their thirst at a water hole, or a giraffe munching the leaves of an acacia tree.
Stay overnight at a safari lodge, restcamp, basic bird hide, or one of the park’s campsites, such as Tamboti. Children will love gathering around the campfire at the end of the day’s safari, swapping tales of animal spotting.
Adventure abounds at every turn, which is why South Africa and Kruger National Park feature in our overview of the world's best adventure holidays for 2022.
There are performances aimed at tiny tots, as well as for older kids, from adaptations of firm faves, such as Julia Donaldson stories, to shaping Shakespeare into wonderful kid-friendly shows.
Once the show is over, explore the Big Smoke on foot to burn off that excess excitement — discover the best walks in London.
You can fumble your way through your answers or distract them with descriptions of all the other magical things about visiting Lapland in northern Finland. If you’re going in winter there are reindeer and husky sleigh rides, snowy woodland ski trails, ice-covered lakes for skating on, and dazzling displays of the Northern Lights.
Once you’ve done the obligatory visit to Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, where you can meet Father Christmas all year round (doesn’t he have toys to make?), you can enjoy exploring the wonderful wilderness of Lapland.
Warmer months offer lake cruises and swimming, forest hikes and berry picking. Bask in the magic of unbroken daylight — from mid May to late July the sun never sets. And, although perhaps nothing can top the excitement of meeting Santa, for any child who has read We’re going on a Bear Hunt, an overnight bear safari has got to come close.
If you're inspired by the idea of visiting the Arctic Circle and seeing the Northern Lights, you may also be keen to visit Norway's Arctic north. Don't miss this if you're also a fan of whiskey – you can visit the world's northernmost distillery!
Explore more accommodation in Lapland.
There's such an abundance of wildlife that on a trek through the forest you might see playful monkeys swinging through the trees or a sloth eyeballing you from a branch. Kids will marvel at the sight of a caiman’s eyes glinting from a riverbank and a tree frog leaping across their path.
Filling the air are the calls of dazzling birds, such as toucans, hummingbirds and Scarlet Macaws. You can get a birds-eye-view of the forest canopy by ziplining through the trees – an exhilarating adventure no matter your age.
Try a canopy tour in the cloud forest. If that sounds a little too hair raising, hanging bridges are also a great way to explore the forest from up high.
With Rough Guides Tailor-Made Trips, our local travel agent in Costa Rica, Roberto, will create a personalised trip plan and quote, just for your family.
When planning your trip, be sure to check out the best beaches in Costa Rica, for there’s plenty of water-based fun to be had here, too. Enjoy a family surf lesson on the Nicoya Peninsula or get afloat on the rivers. Splash about in swimming holes next to waterfalls, and soak in volcanic hot springs in Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal.
In fact, all kids love volcanoes, and looking down into the crater of the active Volcan Poás, knowing it could still erupt, will blow their minds.
Explore more accommodation around Arenal Volcano National Park – a fantastic base for those travelling with kids.
Taking a family-friendly tour is the best way to deal with crowds and to keep kids engaged. You’ll walk in the shoes (or rather, gladiator sandals) of a Roman fighter as he walked through the gladiators’ gate into the giant arena to engage in mortal combat. And you’ll go underneath to the hypogeum, where lions and bears, were kept in cages, before being brought up to take part in the bloody fighting.
Mentions of school will inevitably elicit groans from your kids, but ask them if they want to go to Gladiator School and you’ll get a rather different response.
Start with a tour of the little museum, discovering artefacts and weapons of gladiatorial life and trying on the clunky armour. Then spend a couple of hours waving swords around (albeit wooden ones) while dressed in traditional tunics, and learning the moves to help you emerge victorious from battle.
Gladiator School is run by Gruppo Storico Romano and located at: Via Appia Antica 18, a 15-minute taxi ride from the Colosseum. While the website is somewhat difficult to navigate, you can book tickets through Get Your Guide.
Ready to plan your trip to Rome? Our Tailor-Made Trips local travel agent, Martina, will plan a trip itinerary just for you, based on your family's unique needs.
Nose around Dumbledore’s office and peer among the 500 bottles on display in the Potions classroom. Walk through the Great Hall and the Gryffindor common room, and peek into the windows of the old shops on Diagon Alley. Film yourself flying on a broomstick (OK, via special effects), sit on Hagrid’s motorbike and have a sip of butterbeer.
The huge number of props, costumes and information provide such insight into how J.K. Rowling’s stories were translated to the big screen, that parents will find the tour just as interesting as their excited offspring.
Be warned: you’ll need an extremely strong magic spell to leave the gift shop without spending a small fortune.
Go Snorkelling and you may see massive turtles, reef sharks (don’t worry, they’re harmless), rays, sea lions, Galápagos penguins, and playful seals among the schools of tropical fish.
Idyllic beaches hug the islands’ shores. Tortuga Bay on Isla Santa Cruz is a winner – calm waters for swimming and a lovely stretch of white sand. Other gorgeous spots include Puerto Villamil on Isla Isabela, and Isla San Cristóbal’s Puerto Chino and La Loberia, a highlight being its large sea lion colony.
All that considered, it's clear to see why the Galápagos Islands feature in our best places on earth for 2022.
For more inspiration on great places to visit with children, check out our 30 best places to go with kids and practical tips for travelling with young children. We also have advice on travelling with children on a budget.
Fancy hitting the open road? Find out all you need to know about taking a van trip with children.
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