Best International Vacations for Extended Families: Your  Guide to Unforgettable  Experiences

From the sandy beaches of the Algarve to the unique culture of cities like Bangkok and Paris, an international vacation offers multi-generational families an enriching experience. An overseas getaway entertains kids with unique activities and allows the family to bond over new shared experiences. Luxury homes across the globe now cater to extended families,    with plenty of space to spread out, unwind, and spend time with your favorite people.

Whether paddle boarding in Costa Rica or savoring delicious food in Tuscany, the world is brimming with exciting destinations to spark every family member’s sense of adventure and wonder. From the Mediterranean charm of Greek islands to the stunning natural wonders of Cape Town, South Africa, these vacations are not just trips; they are transformative experiences that educate, inspire, strengthen bonds, and create lifelong memories.

Crafting the Perfect Family Getaway: An Overview

What makes the ideal 3-generation family getaway? When traveling overseas with two or more generations, creating excitement and relaxation is best, ensuring that children and adults enjoy themselves equally. We’re looking for a stunning location, a spacious, luxury home, and lots of fun things to do – novel, authentic experiences that typical tourists don’t get to do.

With thoughtful planning, you can create a trip your family will talk about  for years. 

10 Top Destinations to  Wow All Ages

From  Amazon jungles to national parks to traditional Japanese gardens, here are ten trending international destinations for families looking for unordinary vacations

1. Crete, Greece – Mythology Meets Mediterranean Beauty

 Crete, Greece

The island of Crete, nestled in the heart of the Mediterranean, offers mythology and beauty, making it one of the most fascinating places for multi-gen families to explore. Our most recent extended family trip to Greece was one of our faves.

Island hopping across the Greek islands unveils a world where ancient history and sun-drenched shores abound.  Whether you want to visit the ruins of the ancient city of Delphi or the picturesque beaches of Santorini, Crete is a perfect starting point for your Grecian odyssey.

For active families, the Greek islands offer water sports such as windsurfing and kitesurfing, ideal for teens seeking an adrenaline rush. The landscape, dotted with remnants of civilizations past, is living history for children and adults alike. You’re walking in the shadow of the gods.

Add in sailing, snorkeling, hiking, fishing, delicious food and wine, and some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe, and it’s easy to see why a trip to Crete and the surrounding Greek islands goes well beyond the everyday.

2. Florence, Italy –  Art, History, and Cuisine, Oh My! 

Florence, Italy

Do you like incredible food? Great wine? History? Art? Architecture? Stunning landscapes? It’s all here in Florence – and more. Florence is a Renaissance gem that beckons families with its artistic grandeur. As you stroll through its cobblestone streets, you’re walking in the footsteps of Michelangelo and Da Vinci, and the ghosts of the Medici seem to whisper tales of past splendor. 

Florence is a treasure trove of artistic masterpieces, the birthplace of the Renaissance. The Duomo, a magnificent cathedral with a dome that defies gravity, is a marvel of engineering by the brilliant Brunelleschi. And Giotto’s bell tower adds a musical charm to the city’s skyline.

The Galleria dell’Accademia is home to Michelangelo’s ‘David.’ The Uffizi Gallery showcases Botticelli’s ‘The Birth of Venus,’ a painting that embodies beauty itself, and da Vinci’s ‘Annunciation,’ a masterpiece sure to leave you speechless. How about a gelato-making class? Who doesn’t like gelato?

But Florence isn’t just about art and history; it’s also about the magic and delight that await around every corner. After all, you’re in Tuscany. I love that you can be sipping Chianti, truffle hunting in under an hour, or visiting enchanting towns such as San Gimignano, Siena, and Pisa. An authentic bucket list experience is the Palio horse race in Siena’s Piazza del Campo, described as “the most thrilling 90 seconds in sports.”  

3. Cape Town, South Africa – From Penguins to Mountains

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, a jewel at the tip of the African continent, offers families an array of experiences, from wildlife encounters to panoramic views from Table Mountain. One of my favorite things about Cape Town is that within an hour, you can be at the beach or in the mountains or sipping an amazing Chenin Blanc in the famous wine region. Also, the lifestyle here centers around the outdoors and an active lifestyle.

The area’s rich biodiversity is on full display at game reserves, where families can observe African wildlife, including lions, giraffes, hippos, and elephants. The Two Oceans Aquarium is an interactive hub for children to learn about marine conservation and the mysterious creatures of the deep.

Steeped in history, iconic Robben Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cape Wheel is a giant Ferris wheel that provides 360-degree views of the city (it’s even more spectacular at night). The city’s diverse offerings cater to a broad range of interests, ensuring that there’s something for every generation to enjoy.

From fascinating history to natural wonders,  it’s easy to see why Cape Town is known as the adventure capital of South Africa.

4. Paris – The City of Light Shines for All

Paris, France

Paris is a city that caters to all generations, offering a mix of culture and cuisine, art and architecture, fashion and fun. Here are my recommendations for an unforgettable bonding experience with your loved ones while getting an authentic taste of Parisian Life.

Attend the Olympic games. Paris is home to the 2024 Summer Olympics. 

Cruise down the Seine and marvel at iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. Visit the magnificent Palace of Versailles and explore its grand halls and lush garden – like stepping into a fairytale!

Stroll through the Tuileries Gardens, offering plenty of space for the little ones to run around. Indulge in some classic French pastries at a local patisserie. Bon appétit!

Visit the Louvre Museum and marvel at the legendary Mona Lisa. Art appreciation for all ages! Go on a Parisian scavenger hunt and discover hidden gems and local secrets together. Paris’s 20 arrondissements are like chapters in a captivating novel.

Take Saint-Germain-des-Prés, home to famous monuments and historic churches, along with the cafes where Sartre and Hemingway used to hold court. It’s like stepping into a page of literary history! Or chic Rue Saint Honoré, where shopping becomes an art form. It epitomizes Parisian elegance and sophistication, where every store window tells a story of style and fashion.

5. The Algarve – Portugal’s Playground

The Algarve

You don’t have to be half Portuguese (which I am) to love an Algarve vacation. One visit to this stunning region in southern Portugal will win you over. Few places offer such a winning combination of sun, fun, and engaging activities for multi-generational families. 

Visit the picturesque village of Carvoeiro and take a boat tour to explore the fantastic coastal caves, jaw-dropping cliffs, and charming grottoes. It’s like stepping into a pirate adventure! Do NOT forget your camera.

Head to Zoomarine Algarve, a theme park and marine life center, for a day of family-friendly fun. Kids can learn about marine life, while adults can relax and enjoy the shows and attractions.

Explore the historic city of Lagos, where you can stroll through the old town, visit the local market, and enjoy a delicious meal together. Take a scenic train ride on the Algarve Regional Railway and soak up the breathtaking views of the coastline. 

Golf anyone? The Algarve boasts 32 courses, including many with spectacular views, such as Monte Rei Golf & Country Club, Quinta do Lago, and Vale do Lobo along the cliff’s edge.

Go on a dolphin-watching boat tour and marvel at these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat. Or simply explore one of the Algarve’s famous beaches, considered some of the best in Europe, if not the entire world. With over 300 days of sunshine per year, there’s plenty of opportunity to enjoy the Algarve’s many outdoor activities.

6.  Wales – the Land of Castles and Dragons 

Wales

Wales has rolling green hills, sparkling lakes, and majestic mountains such as Snowdon. Families love it for its wild natural beauty, wildlife, and outdoor adventures. Wales boasts 74 nature reserves and three national parks, impressive for such a small country. 

Rich in culture and heritage, Wales is a Celtic treasure trove, with charming small towns, picturesque villages, majestic castles, and historical sites that tell tales of ancient legends and lore. Welsh fables are the basis for famous literary figures such as Merlin and Arthur and Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Did you know the Welsh flag is a dragon?

Are you looking for thrills? Wales has got you covered, with zip lining, abseiling, coasteering, biking, surfing, white water rafting, kayaking, and kitesurfing all readily available. Wales is a hiker’s paradise with vast expanses of countryside to explore, plus coastal paths, mountains, and caves. Walking grassy, flower-lined paths along Pembrokeshire provides breathtaking views over the sea and cliffs and the chance to see seals and dolphins in the sea below.

Wales has several locations that have been awarded International Dark Sky Reserve status. The lack of light pollution makes it the perfect place for stargazing and seeing shooting stars.

7. Costa Rica – A Tropical Adventure Awaits 

Costa Rica

What I like about Costa Rica is the wide range of experiences available in a relatively small geographic area.  In no time, you can go from pristine beaches to lush rainforests teeming with wildlife like howler monkeys. Costa Rica’s  Pura Vida lifestyle encapsulates the country’s laid-back charm and opens the door to a broad spectrum of family-friendly activities. From horseback riding along the coast to paddle boarding in calm Pacific waters, Costa Rica offers endless opportunities for exploration and family bonding. 

Hike deep into the jungle. Make a chocolate lover swoon with Costa Rican cacao. Don flippers and a mask in one of the best diving countries on earth—it’s all here. 

From spotting exotic birds to ziplining through the canopy, Costa Rica offers activities catering to thrill-seekers and nature lovers. The country’s commitment to conservation and eco-friendly tourism also means that families can feel good knowing they are contributing to preserving one of our planet’s most biodiverse regions.

8. Marbella, Spain –  A Sun-kissed Gem on the Costa del Sol 

best international vacations for families

Known for its luxury resorts,  golden sands, and glam, Marbella is a sunny escape for families looking for relaxation and adventure. Sunbathe on gorgeous beaches, from the famous Puerto Banus to the more secluded Playa Artola-Cabopino. Indulge in delicious Spanish cuisine, from fresh seafood to traditional dishes like paella and gazpacho. Marbella’s culinary scene includes everything from Michelin-star restaurants to casual, family-run establishments.

Rub shoulders with rock stars and movie stars at trendy Puerto Banus bars and clubs such as Tibu and Pangea, or explore the quaint Old Town’s hidden gems.

Tee it up at world-class golf courses like Valderrama Golf Club, home to the 1997 Ryder Cup. Visit the Old Town’s historic landmarks, including the Church of Our Lady of the Incarnation and the 10th-century castle walls. Go sailing or yachting or track dolphins, whales, and orcas for an unforgettable day at sea. Marbella has something for all ages.

9. Bali, Indonesia –  Paradise Found

Bali, Indonesia

If Mother Nature had a favorite child, Bali might be it. Ubud, the island’s cultural heart, provides a gateway to Bali’s exotic traditions, with attractions like the Ubud Monkey Forest, where ancient temples stand amidst a sanctuary for Balinese long-tailed macaques. The town is also a starting point for excursions to Bali’s stunningly beautiful rice terraces and towering volcanoes. 

For those seeking sun and sea, the beaches of Sanur are world-famous,  inviting families to relax on the soft sand or swim with manta rays, sea turtles, and tropical fish. Bali’s delicious food adds another layer of discovery, with flavors that appeal to adventurous and cautious palates, ensuring that every meal is a delightful experience for all family members.

The island’s blend of spirituality and natural beauty creates a tranquil setting where families can connect and create lifelong memories. Engaging in the local way of life, exploring the lush landscapes, and savoring the island’s warm hospitality are just a few ways Bali promises an unforgettable family getaway.

10. Swiss Alps – Alpine Adventures for Every Season

Swiss Alps

The Swiss Alps are synonymous with year-round family fun and are undoubtedly one of the favorite places for families seeking adventure and relaxation. With stunning landscapes that seem to leap out of a storybook, every family trip here promises a magical experience. Whether skiing on the powdery slopes in winter or hiking through blooming meadows in summer, the Swiss Alps caters to all ages.

My favorite part about Switzerland is the charming mountain villages that welcome families with open arms. In winter, hit the slopes and enjoy some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the world. Sledding and tobogganing are also widely available. After your last run, warm up with hot chocolate by the fireplace or indulge in some delicious Swiss fondue.

In summer, hiking and mountain biking are great ways to explore the stunning Alpine scenery. The Swiss Alps offer trails for all levels so that everyone can enjoy the adventure. Visit a local farm and sample delicious cheese and chocolate, and try your hand at milking a cow!

Take a scenic train ride, like the Glacier Express, and soak up the breathtaking views of the mountains and valleys. If you’re adventurous, you can try paragliding. Enjoy a picnic in the mountains or cool off with a swim in one of the many Alpine lakes, like Lake Geneva or Lake Lucerne. The crystal-clear waters and stunning mountain backdrop make for a picturesque family outing, not to mention epic selfies.

Adventure and Relaxation: How to Balance Activities for a Fulfilling Trip

Striking a balance between thrilling exploration and peaceful relaxation is the key to an enjoyable overseas trip. Imagine discovering new places and engaging in exciting activities while also taking time to recharge and reconnect. This balance ensures that family members of all ages return home feeling refreshed and still fond of each other. From cultural excursions to lazy days by the pool, a well-rounded trip acknowledges a family’s diverse interests and energy levels.

Cultural Immersion Through Authentic Local Experiences

Want to make your multigenerational vacation even better? Dive into the local culture for an enriching and fun experience. Take part in traditional festivities, try the local cuisine, and chat with the friendly locals. Your family will feel more connected to the place and come away with a deeper understanding of the destination.

Explore historical sites, catch live shows, or join local workshops to learn about the culture. Museums often have interactive exhibits and fun games like scavenger hunts for kids. Cooking classes are another great way to understand the local cuisine and create a delicious memory together.  For families, these experiences can be tailored to be both informative and fun – extending beyond the usual tourist activities. A local guide or villa concierge can help in the planning.

Encounters with  Nature and Wildlife 

Get up close and personal with wildlife and explore the great outdoors.  Seeing animals in their natural habitat or hiking through scenic landscapes will fill you with a sense of wonder and appreciation for the environment. There are guided tours perfect for families, such as safaris in national parks or snorkeling trips to explore marine life. 

These experiences teach  valuable lessons about conservation and biodiversity. Families can choose activities based on their comfort level and interests, from easy nature walks to more adventurous wildlife tracking. 

Spending time in nature is a great bonding experience for families. It’s a wonderful way to bridge the generation gap. 

Beaches and Water Sports – Fun for Sun Seekers

For families who love the sun and sea, beaches and water sports offer endless fun . Some of the most stunning beaches provide a safe and family-friendly environment where kids can play in the sand while adults relax and soak up the scenery. Water sports such as kayaking, paddleboarding, and snorkeling invite families to explore the ocean’s beauty together.

Beach destinations cater to all tastes, from secluded coves for those seeking peace to bustling beaches with lively boardwalks. Water sports centers often have expert instructors who can teach both kids and adults, ensuring a fun and safe experience. For many families, days spent by the sea are the highlight of their vacation, providing the perfect mix of excitement and relaxation.

Practical Tips for International Travel with Kids

Traveling abroad with children requires extra careful planning. 

  1. Do your homework: Research your destination to know what to expect and plan. 
  2. Pack smart: Make a list and check it twice to ensure you have everything you need for a smooth journey.
  3. Map out the logistics: Consider transportation, accommodations, and any special needs your kids may have. 

Taking the time to prepare and paying attention to the details will make your trip much more enjoyable. You’ll avoid unnecessary stress and create a vacation that will be remembered with a smile, not a frown.

Navigating Airports and Long Flights

Unfamiliar airports and long flights can be challenging for families but can be managed effectively with the right strategies. Preparing children for the journey by discussing what to expect can help alleviate anxiety. Keeping kids entertained with books, games, and movies is critical to a peaceful trip during flights. Parents should also pack snacks and comfort items like favorite toys or blankets to maintain a sense of familiarity for their children.

Families are sometimes shy about this, but you should take advantage of pre-boarding and family lanes to reduce wait times. You’ll save time and reduce stress by keeping documents organized and accessible. Parents can lead by example by planning ahead and staying calm, showing children that travel can be an exciting part of the adventure.

Health and Safety Precautions Abroad

When traveling to family-friendly destinations abroad, your well-being should always come first. Here are some tips to stay safe and healthy. 

  1. Prioritize safety: Make sure all activities meet local safety standards and follow a comprehensive safety policy. 
  2. Work with experts: operators specializing in family holidays are typically trained to handle your unique needs and often conduct rigorous safety assessments of activities. 
  3. Stay vigilant about health: Keep vaccinations up to date, understand local healthcare facilities, and have a plan for dietary restrictions or allergies. 
  4. Come prepared: Bring a well-stocked first-aid kit and secure appropriate travel insurance to mitigate potential risks. 

By following these tips, you can enjoy your international adventures with peace of mind, knowing you’re prepared for any eventuality. 

Budgeting for a Multi-Family Vacation: Maximizing Value

How do we plan a fantastic multi-generational vacation without breaking the bank?  One option is to consider all-inclusive packages. These can provide a variety of activities and amenities at a fixed price, so there are no surprises. Everyone knows their share upfront. 

Another option is to consider off-peak travel.  Visiting destinations during non-peak seasons can save money and  avoid the crowds.

Setting a daily spending limit can also keep costs in check. Keep track of your spending and prioritize experiences over souvenirs. If traveling in a group, you’ll often save on accommodations by staying in a house or villa instead of a hotel. You’ll also have a kitchen; this can help you save on meals by cooking at home. Planning and being smart about your spending allows you to explore unique, family-friendly destinations like Crete, Cape Town, and Florence without sacrificing fun or overspending. 

Best International Vacations for Extended Families: The Last Word

Exploring the world together is an adventure like no other. From the colorful towns of Bali to the lush wilderness of Costa Rica, each destination is a page in your family’s travel journal, filled with memories and stories to share.

Imagine marveling at the northern lights, snorkeling in the south coast’s crystal waters, or trekking through the Sahara Desert’s vast dunes together.  The world is brimming with opportunities for outdoor adventures tailored to adventurous families. 

The secret to an unforgettable vacation is finding the right balance between exciting exploration and family-friendly accommodations and experiences. This guide is designed to inspire your journey, helping you navigate the world’s wonders, from the Swiss Alps’ hiking trails to Marbella’s golden beaches. With careful planning and a sense of adventure, international travel can be both possible and profoundly rewarding for families. So, get ready to embark on a journey filled with memories and stories that every member of your family will cherish.

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