On safari (Shutterstock: see credit below)
List Words : Hazel Plush | 13 July

9 of the best family trips to take with pre-teens

These trips are designed for families with kids aged 8 to 12 – ideal if you want to try a more adventurous holiday with your choosy pre-teens

1. Make pasta in Italy

Puglia Family Adventure, Exodus
For families with kids aged 8+

Pizza, pasta and ice cream: the three food groups that every child loves. On Exodus's Puglia Family Adventure, the whole family can gorge on each one – with a special bottle of 'mummy's Ribena' for you, of course. This 8-day trip takes you to 'heel' of Italy, the picturesque region of Puglia which is best known for its crumbling Mediterranean villages and postcard-perfect beaches.

Polignano al mare, Puglia (Shutterstock)
Polignano al mare, Puglia (Shutterstock)

You'll take part in family cooking classes (learn how to make pasta like a pro), eat home-made ice cream, cycle next to the sparking Adriatic Sea, and poke around the Roman archaeological site of Egnazia. This is two-centre holiday, with four nights in a coastal farmhouse surrounded by olive groves and three nights in a 3* hotel with a swimming pool.

Puglia, Italy: southern Italy's overlooked province | Visiting Italy's most intriguing towns
How to cook pasta like an Italian | You've been doing it wrong all these years
The Wanderlust guide to the best of Italy | Your slice of la dolce vita

2. Make your own chocolate in Peru

Adventure in the Andes, Families Worldwide
For families with kids aged 11 and under

Explore the land of the Incas and revel in all that this ancient civilisation held dear: mountains, Machu Picchu, and (mmm...) chocolate. Families Worldwide's 11-day Adventure in the Andes trip takes in a huge variety of sights, from the Andean peaks and spectacular coastline to Inca ruins and the exciting city of Cusco.

Llamas in Machu Picchu (Shutterstock)
Llamas in Machu Picchu (Shutterstock)

A day hike up to Machu Picchu is the star of this itinerary, but Peru has plenty of other great experiences to offer too – like climbing the Sacsayhuaman fortress, making your own chocolate bar, stand-up paddleboarding on Lake Piuray, cycling along the River Urabamba, and trying your hand at pottery. Hunt for souvenirs in the craft market of Pisac (a pretty Andean village), soak in the hot springs of Aguas Calientes, and discover the culture-rich cobbled streets of Cusco.

Know before you go: Peru | Essential tips for your trip
Peru on a plate | Take your pick from these foodie hotspots
What to pack when you're hiking the Inca Trail | Advice from a gear expert 

3. Find Vikings in Iceland

King of Vikings, KE Adventure
For families with kids aged 8+

Iceland was made for family adventures. With its bubbling, squirting, weird-coloured volcanic earth, countless waterfalls, huge groaning glaciers and curious folk stories, it's like somewhere out of a fairytale – fascinating stuff for kids and adults alike.

Hiking at Landmannalaugar (Shutterstock)
Hiking at Landmannalaugar (Shutterstock)

Over 8 days, KE Adventure's King of Vikings group trip loops through south-west Iceland on a spectacular circuit. You'll see Geysir's geysers, gawp at Gullfoss waterfall, take a dip in the  Landmannalaugar hot springs, and spy puffins at Glacier Lagoon. Even cool kids will be awed by a walk on Solheimajokull Glacier and a visit to a Viking farmhouse near Thingvellir National Park.

20 Icelandic adventures | A great starting point for trip planning
Five things kids will love to do in Iceland | You'll probably enjoy them too!
5 quirky European theme parks your kids will love | Forget Disneyland: this is much better!

4. Get active in Croatia

Family Croatian Active Adventure, Explore
For families with kids aged 8+

If your kids have a limitless supply of energy, they'll love this 8-day trip – it's jam packed with adrenalin activities and watersports galore. Explore Travel's Family Croatian Active Adventure does exactly what it promises, with an eye-popping (and exhausting) itinerary of abseiling, canyoning, river swimming, and caving along Croatia's coastline.

Kayaking in Croatia (Shutterstock)
Kayaking in Croatia (Shutterstock)

It's a group trip, so the kids will make friends with their fellow young travellers – and you'll have great adult company too. The holiday is based in a family-run pension with a swimming pool – so if you (or the kids) want a break from the fun and games, there's always somewhere peaceful to chill. Every evening, you'll enjoy traditional Dalmatian home-cooked food (with no washing up!), and the historic town of Trogir is nearby if you fancy a dose of culture.

The Wanderlust Guide to the Best of Croatia | See our favourite spots
Croatia on a budget | The Mediterranean as it used to be
Croatia's 1,244 Dalmatian Islands | Which one will you visit first?

5. Go wild in the Wild West

Cowboys and Indians, Grand American Adventures
For families with kids aged 8+

This trip has all the essential ingredients for an epic kids' holiday: lots of wild activities, huge landscapes and sunny national parks where they can run amok. On Grand American Adventures' 10-day Cowboys and Indians trip you'll be whisked to the Wild West, for horse riding in Monument Valley, an overnight stay at a working ranch, and a trip to the whopping Hoover Dam.

Family at the Grand Canyon (Shutterstock)
Family at the Grand Canyon (Shutterstock)

You'll spend a full day at the Grand Canyon, with sunset and sunrise views, hiking through the national park in the company of expert guides. And back in 'civilisation', there's a driving tour of the Las Vegas strip – a jaw-dropping experience for kids and adults alike...

Hiking in the Grand Canyon | It's a cut above the rest!
The USA's wildest national parks | 21 of its finest wild spaces
USA trips of a lifetime | Big, bold beautiful America

6. Safari in South Africa

Cape Town, Garden Route & Safari, Rainbow Tours
For families with kids aged 12 and under

If you're struggling to think of holiday ideas that will engage your choosy pre-teens, you can't go far wrong with Rainbow Tours' Cape Town, Garden Route & Safari trip. Tick off the Big Five in a malaria-free private game reserve, with extra activities – like games, treasure hunts, and a kids' club – to keep them entertained while you relax in the luxury safari lodge.

On safari (Shutterstock)
On safari (Shutterstock)

South Africa has plenty of other wildlife encounters too, so over 16 days you'll meet the meerkats and ostriches of the Karoo town of Oudtshoorn, go whale-watching on the coast of Hermanus, spy elephants in Knysna, and spot dolphins from a Garden Route boat trip. Even the accommodation is engaging and fun: expect family-friendly hotels with special activities for the kids, like African bed time stories, movie nights, and babysitting services (if you fancy a night away from your own wild animals).

What's your safari style? | Safari is an amazing experience, but what’s the best way to do it?
First 24 hours in Cape Town | Plan your first day in CT
South Africa for the weekend | The ultimate minibreak!

7. Explore Borneo – the ultimate playground

Family Fun in Borneo, TransIndus
For families with kids aged 12 and under

Indulge your little ones' overactive imaginations in the wilds of Borneo: land of orang utans, pygmy elephants, and monkeys with rude-shaped noses. TransIndus's Family Fun in Borneo tour will give your kids some epic school holiday stories – and nothing bonds a family quite like adventuring together.

Orang utan in Borneo (Shutterstock)
Orang utan in Borneo (Shutterstock)

The kids can play out headhunter fantasies in a remote tribal longhouse in northern Borneo, and learn how to make fire and shoot a blow-pipe at a nearby cultural village. On the island of Selingan (an idyllic white-sandy spot) you'll meet endangered turtles, and along the Kinabatangan River there'll be wild encounters with crocodiles, hornbills and proboscis monkeys. Throw in some canopy walkways and luxury beach-side accommodation, and you've got a holiday that will keep everyone happy.

The Wanderlust guide to the best of Borneo | Our guide to Borneo's best bits
Insider Secrets: The hidden corners of Borneo | Essential tips for your trip
A sojourn in Sabah, Borneo | A little slice of paradise

8. Cruise heavenly Halong Bay, Vietnam

Vietnam Family Tour, Experience Travel
For families with kids aged 12 and under

Experience Travel's Vietnam Family Tour is rough and ready – perfect if your pre-teens have a sense of adventure and you want to show them the thrill of the open road. Start with an adventure onboard a rustic junk boat in Halong Bay, where you'll cruise among towering limestone karsts and dock in beautiful lagoons. It's an idyllic spot for snorkelling, kayaking, and exploring the coastal caves.

Halong Bay (Shutterstock)
Halong Bay (Shutterstock)

Next, board the overnight train to Hue, where you'll have the option of wandering around the citadel and city or venturing to a nearby national park. The coastal road to Hoi An is, quite possibly, one of the most scenic road trips you'll ever experience – and you'll be dropped off at your hotel which is just a stone's throw from the beach. After a few days of relaxation, take a short flight to Ho Chi Minh City, from which you'll explore the Mekong Delta – a final adventure on this wild, varied itinerary.

Top 10 things to do in Ho Chi Minh City | Which will you pick first?
First 24 hours in Hanoi | Hit the ground running in Hanoi
5 alternative things to do at Halong Bay | Some alternative things to keep the kids entertained

9. Wildlife and waterfalls in Namibia and Botswana

Namibia & Botswana Family Adventure, The Family Adventure Company
For families with kids aged 7+

So you like family camping trips? Maybe it's time to take your hobby to the next level: camping in wild, wonderful Africa. The Namibia & Botswana Family Adventure with Family Adventure Travel Company lets you do just that: alongside Victoria Falls, in Chobe National Park, on the banks of the Okavango Delta, in Etosha National Park, and among the sand dunes of the Namib Desert. 

Elephant in Okavango Delta (Shutterstock)
Elephant in Okavango Delta (Shutterstock)

At 21 days, this is a BIG trip – jam packed with safaris, horse rides, boat trips, and adventures in the desert. You'll swish through the Okavango Delta in dugout canoes, watching elephants wallow in the shallows, and spot the Big Five around the watering holes of Etosha National Park. This is a group trip, so you'll be accompanied by a guide at all times, and the kids will make firm friends with their fellow adventurers.

At home with the Himba of Namibia | Meet the locals on a homestay
Walking Fish River Canyon in Namibia | Is this Namibia's best walk?
5 things I wish I'd known before driving in Namibia | Mind the bumps!

Main image: On safari (Shutterstock)

Enjoyed this article? Get the best of Wanderlust delivered straight to your inbox

Follow Team Wanderlust