Family on Piha Beach, New Zealand (Shutterstock)
List 08 December

The family travel hotlist: Where to take the kids in 2016

Planning a big family adventure in 2016, or just want some summer holiday inspiration? Here's where you – and the kids – should set your sights...

Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland

Why it's hot: A picture-perfect playground, all to yourself

With its abundance of waterfalls, mountains and fairytale castles, this picturesque patch of central Europe is ripe for little adventurers. Families Worldwide's Prague and Tatras Adventure will whisk them (and you) to the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland for a week of white water rafting, cave exploring, lakeside picnics and bear watching.

Rafting on The Dunajec River (Shutterstock)
Rafting on The Dunajec River (Shutterstock)

The adventure starts with an overnight train journey through the Carpathian mountains, where you'll hop off for guided walks and forest exploring. This is prime country for cycling, too – and you'll get the chance to explore Slovakia on two wheels, weaving your way between Medieval castles and cosy hotels.

India

Why it's hot: It's the home of The Jungle Book

Disney's remake of The Jungle Book hits screens in April – a 3D, live-action adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's rainforest romp that'll have your little ones (and probably you too) dreaming of adventures in the tangles of wild India. Kipling was born in Bombay, and it's thought that Madhya Pradesh and Kanha National Park inspired the settings of his books.

Tiger cub in the grass (Shutterstock)
Tiger cub in the grass (Shutterstock)

He might be the terror of the tale, but tigers like Shere Khan are the main draw in wild India. Tiger watching is infamously unreliable – you can spend days searching fruitlessly for a glimpse – but you'll find the highest density of stripey felines in Bandhavgarh National Park. Spend at least three full days here for your best chances of spotting your own Shere Khan, and give your little Mowglis a taste of the real jungle.

South Australia

Why it's hot: It's the home of the hairy-nosed wombat

If your little critters love wildlife, they'll fall head over heels for the hairy-nosed wombat. You'll find them roaming free in glorious South Australia, snaffling grasses and shrubs in their native home. A two-day Hairy-Nosed Wombat Tracking tour will set you hot on the heels of these curious beasts, with guided walks through protected land and camping with plenty of creature comforts.

Wombat, South Australia (Tourism SA)
Wombat, South Australia (Tourism SA)

And South Australia's charms don't stop there. Take your pick from its award-winning wineries, charming coastal rambles, Outback adventures and its culture-rich capital Adelaide.

Oman

Why it's hot: It's a safe haven for little adventurers

Oman is perhaps the Middle East's most stable country – a safe haven in its rather tumultuous neighbourhood. And it's got heaps of activities, adventures and attractions up its sleeve. This is the place to indulge all of your Arabian Nights fantasies: get hopelessly lost in frankincense-scented souks, gawp at gold-covered regal residences, and marvel at Muscat's incredible white-marble mosque.

Beach at Barr Al Jissah in Oman (Shutterstock)
Beach at Barr Al Jissah in Oman (Shutterstock)

Omani culture is very family-orientated, so you'll be greeted with great hospitality and interest wherever you roam. And in just a week, you can roam quite far indeed: the country's highways are great quality, and it's prime road tripping territory. Take a few days to venture down the coast in search of sleepy fishing villages and wild beaches – Masirah Island, just off the mainland, is perfect for wild camping and turtle spotting.

East coast USA

Why it's hot: It's got ice cream, whale watching and waterfalls

The four states of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts aren't exactly undiscovered, but we reckon their family travel credentials are largely untapped. Happily, Explore Travel has cottoned on: its 12-day New England, Niagara and the Big Apple family trip is new for 2016 – and we think they're on to a winner.

Niagara Falls (Shutterstock)
Niagara Falls (Shutterstock)

You'll stuff yourself at the Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Factory, get soaked at Niagara Falls, eat super slices on a New York pizza walking tour, walk and wild camp in Franconia Notch State Park, and go white water tubing on the Ausable River.

Wales

Why it's hot: It's the Year of Adventure

Beautiful Wales made a star appearance on our Adventure Travel Hot List 2016 and for good reason! The mountainous little green country is on a mission to become the world's capital of adventure tourism.

Three Cliffs Bay in South Wales (Shutterstock)
Three Cliffs Bay in South Wales (Shutterstock)

2016 will see the launch of the Year of Adventure and is marked as the destination of choice for discerning adrenaline junkies – and their kids. Top of your list should be a trip to the world's biggest underground trampoline park, the hair-raising longest and fastest zip wire in the world and scaling Wales's highest mountain in Snowdonia.

Southern Namibia

Why it's hot: It's ripe for a road trip

Renting a 4x4 car for a self-drive tour really lets you explore this African gem in your own time, allowing you to tailor the trip to your interests (and your children's patience). Keep an eye out for springboks in the Kalahari desert, admire the grand Fish River Canyon and marvel at the rich red dunes of Sossusvlei.

Sossusvlei, Namib-Naukluft National Park (Shutterstock)
Sossusvlei, Namib-Naukluft National Park (Shutterstock)

Feel safe and secure in the knowledge that temperatures during the summer holidays only reach a maximum of 24 degrees centigrade. The south of the Namibia is considered 'low to no risk' from malaria – so it's a good bet health-wise too.

Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland

Why it's hot: There's something to keep kids of all ages entertained

Passing through nine counties as it hugs Ireland's coastline, The Wild Atlantic Way offers some pretty spectacular views and adventures. Beautiful spots like Connemara, Inch beach in Kerry and Killarney National Park boast perfect picnic spots, while Donegal Castle and the Titanic Experience in Cork offer an educational glimpse at historic Ireland. Kids can feel like giants at the Model Railway Village and soar above the landscape in the Dursey Island Cable Car.

Ross castle in Killarney (Shutterstock)
Ross castle in Killarney (Shutterstock)

Want to meet Fungie, the friendly Dingle dolphin? Boat tours leave from the harbour to see the playful porpoise in his natural habitat – and his appearances are so reliable that you'll be given a refund if he doesn't show.

Azores

Why it's hot: Wild wonders on far-flung islands

The Azores archipelago offers a fantastic adventure for families. Want to seek out wildlife? Take to the high seas in search of whales and dolphins on guided boat trips, or give the kids free reign on a horse riding trip in a volcanic basin. Adrenaline-loving families can enjoy bike rides around beautiful lake shores or rent a 4x4 to venture around the many volcanic craters.

Lake of Sete Cidades (Shutterstock)
Lake of Sete Cidades (Shutterstock)

Got a water-baby on your hands? Discover geothermal watering holes, waterfall lakes and lava rock pools. Plus there are plenty of sandy beaches for castles and shell hunting.

New Zealand

Why it's hot: It's got a brand new cycle trail

With its breathtaking views and incredible landscapes, what better way to see New Zealand than by bicycle? With trails leading across swinging bridges, through lush forests and over mountains, the 2,500km New Zealand Cycle Trail is new for 2016 – and you can tackle as much or as little as you like.

Mountain biking, New Zealand (Shutterstock)
Mountain biking, New Zealand (Shutterstock)

Renting bikes is cheap and easy, and you can camp out for an added sense of adventure (and great star-gazing opportunities) – or for a few more home comforts, hotels are dotted along the trails. If you've got young children in tow, bike trailers can be rented too. Ok, so you'll be stuck doing the hard work, but we can't think of a better introduction to the joys of cycling in New Zealand.



Main image: Family on Piha Beach, New Zealand (Shutterstock)