Make the most of your next family vacation by discovering some of the most beautiful and underrated spots around the world.
After several subdued years, family vacations are back in a big way. And travelers today are looking to make up for lost time, focusing on meaningful and memorable experiences they can share with the ones they love.
So why not hit a bucket list destination for your next family vacation? The world is yours to explore. As you chart your course, here are a few epic experiences to consider.
Active and adventurous family vacations
A breathtaking adventure can be a fantastic way to make lifelong memories — and see the world from a whole new perspective.
Those who like hiking might consider a four-day excursion along the famed Inca Trail, considered one of the best hikes in the world. Starting in Cuzco, Peru, and ending at the sacred mountain of Machu Picchu, the journey takes you through the culture of the ancient Incas. If you’re looking to avoid crowds, try Choquequirao, Peru: This mountaintop citadel was the final refuge of the Incas after the Spanish invaded in the 1500s.
For a unique vantage point, try soaring over the scenery on the ride of your life. Clip into your safety harness and glide over New Zealand’s cliffs and seas at Mossel Bay Zipline, the longest over-ocean zip line in the world. As you zoom along the 3,608-foot course, be on the lookout for seals and sharks in the crashing waves below. A zip line is also a great way to explore the rainforests of Costa Rica. Spot brightly colored birds and playful monkeys among the lush trees as you get a bird’s-eye look at the island.
If you like mountain views, it’s hard to top the Swiss Alps, with their jaw-dropping views of the Matterhorn, or on the French side, the picture-postcard village of Chamonix — a mecca for skiers, snowboarders, and off-piste adventurers. Hoping to escape the crowds? Try Switzerland’s Jungfrau region, home to charming car-free villages like Murren and Wengen. A visit to the region isn’t complete without a day trip to the Jungfraujoch, also known as the “Top of Europe”: At 3,454 meters above sea level, its train station is the highest in Europe — and the views of the surrounding snow-covered Eiger and Aletsch glaciers are stunning.
Tropical escapes for the whole family
Travelers looking for world-class beaches and ultimate privacy have long flocked to the Maldives, where 26 atolls offer pristine sand and crystal blue waters — plus more than 1,000 coral reefs. Dive beneath the waves in the UNESCO Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve to catch a glimpse of manta rays, giant turtles, and schools of brightly colored fish, and then help build new coral frames with biologists working to protect and preserve the delicate ecosystem.
For full cultural immersion, consider the giant celebration of Caribbean culture known as Carnival. While most people associate Carnival with the festivities on Trinidad and Tobago, the St. Kitts-Nevis National Carnival — also known as Sugar Mas — is an island gem you won’t want to miss. Colorful costumes, energetic dancing, and flavorful local dishes, all served up to the joyful beat of soca and calypso music.
Or try the “zoo without fences.” On the coast of South Australia, Kangaroo Island offers charming villages, delicious local cuisines, and plenty of tranquil moments to help you reconnect with loved ones. Wildlife and people peacefully coexist here, and you might share a beach with fur seals or join a guide on a nature walk and spot tammar wallabies and koalas in their natural habitats. And, of course, you could meet some of the island’s kangaroos — it’s home to more than 65,000 of them.
Urban landscapes with family appeal
Sao Paulo is home to more museums than any other Latin American city. If you only have time to visit one or two of its 110 offerings, don’t miss the Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo — it is the country’s first modern museum and is focused on bridging the region’s past and present — and Pinacoteca — the city’s oldest art museum and host to an impressive mix of international exhibits, historical artifacts, and cultural events.
Copenhagen is also moving to the top of many travel wish lists; the city has been named the official UNESCO-UIA World Capital of Architecture for 2023. Want to experience Copenhagen’s world-famous canals? Check into KAJ Hotel — this floating single-suite structure is part hotel, part houseboat, and the total embodiment of Danish hygge.
Of course, you could also choose a family road trip to experience great U.S. cities. For example, the California stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway passes through some of the state’s coolest cities, including San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. There’s also plenty to see along the way — the dramatic cliffs of Dana Point, the “whale capital of the West”; the rugged terrain and purple sand of Big Sur; and the sun-drenched harbor and wharf in Santa Barbara.