Who’s ready for a family summer holiday like never before? For many of us, vacation plans this year were limited to either a few European destinations, a UK staycation or camping in the back garden (freestanding swimming pool optional).

No wonder, then, that we are all yearning for truly adventurous family holiday destinations for next summer. Step away from the soggy field and freezing shower block! Escape the confines of your four walls! Thumb a nose at the notion of quarantine! Embrace instead the Stubborn Mule Top 10 family-friendly countries for summer holidays in 2021.

It gives us ENORMOUS joy to remind ourselves just what makes the following destinations our perennial favourites.

Our top 10 family summer holiday destinations

1. Where? Sri Lanka

Travel like a local by train in Sri Lanka - budget family holidays

Elephants, hiking, train trips, ancient ruins and gorgeous beaches – what’s not to love

Why?

Easy to get around and with more cultural and historic sites than seems strictly fair, Sri Lanka has for years been our top performer when it comes to family holiday destinations. Offering the perfect blend of adventurous activities (washing elephants in rivers, hiking through tea plantations, swimming in waterfalls, surfing, exploring ruins) you’re also spoilt for choice when it comes to beach relaxation at the beginning or end of your trip.

How?

Our two-week Sri Lanka Summer sample tour offers a huge range of family-friendly experiences.

2. Where? Costa Rica

Young photographer awards - sloth

Spot adorable sloths in Costa Rica’s lush vegetation (photo snapped by a young Stubborn Mule traveller)

Why?

It’s not surprising that Costa Rica is one of your favourite family summer holiday destinations. Packed with untouched jungle and cloud forests, peppered by smoking volcanoes, this relatively small country has exciting experiences by the bucketful. Go ziplining amongst the forest canopy. Watch turtles lay their eggs. Spot an abundance of wildlife, from toucans and macaws to spider monkeys and sloths. Relax on hammocks on the Pacific Ocean, the Caribbean, or both.

How?

Take a look at our 15-day Costa Rica sample summer itinerary or for further inspiration see our Top 10 Costa Rica activities with kids blog.

3. Where? Vietnam

Family bikes rides abroad - kids cycling though paddy fields in Vietnam

Cycle through Vietnam’s tranquil paddy fields

Why?

If ever there was a land of contrasts, Vietnam is it, making it the perfect choice for a family holiday destination. Embracing the 21st century in the larger cities yet retaining its enchanting, exotic charm literally everywhere, this jewel of Asia deserves to be one of the most popular destinations we offer (direct flights also help!). Cycle through paddy fields; eat street food from hawkers’ stalls and night markets; go zip lining in vast caves; take a cycle rickshaw through Hanoi’s streets. And did we mention beaches? For more ideas of what to see and do check out our Top 10 Vietnam with kids blog.

How?

Given its huge popularity, we’ve several sample itineraries: Highlights of Vietnam, Northern Vietnam and Cambodia and Southern Vietnam.

4. Where? Cambodia

Cambodia family holidays

Be wowed by world-renowned Angkor Wat

Why?

Asia in microcosm, Cambodia is one of the least changed and most authentic destinations in South East Asia. That it’s bite-sized, too, and wallet-friendly to boot, means that its star has risen in recent years, making it an ideal family-friendly destination. Of course, its most famous attraction, Angkor Wat, is an absolute jaw-dropping must-do, but there’s so much more. Remote jungles in the north, stunning beaches in the south, a huge lake with stilt villages and delicious cuisine are just for starters (see Top 10 activities in Cambodia with kids for more).

How?

Cambodia Highlights is one of our best value, two-week itineraries.

5. Where? Thailand

Boats on beach in Thailand - family dummer holiday destinations - Thailand

Take a longtail boat to a secluded island in Thailand

Why?

If you’ve never been to Asia before, then Thailand is the perfect introduction as a family summer holiday destination. Picture postcard paradise beaches! Idyllic islands! Dense jungle! Fascinating history! And you don’t need us to tell you that the food is exquisite – your kids will. Western tourists have been coming here for decades so it’s ideally set up for family travel, well connected so easy to get around and explore, and with a whole host of exciting adventurous activities on offer (hello, ziplines!). See our Top 10 activities with kids in Thailand blog where we had serious trouble curtailing to just ten.

How?

Choose either our Highlights of Thailand sample itinerary or our Southern Thailand adventure.

6. Where? Japan

Busy street scene in Tokyo

Jam-packed with family-friendly activities, immerse yourselves in the buzz and glitz of Tokyo

Why?

Japan will wow you like no other. A beguiling hot-pot of ancient, cutting-edge modern and Hello Kitty-cute make for a fascinating family holiday destination. You’ll travel by bullet train from the neon skyscrapers and world-leading tech of Tokyo (see our Tokyo Twelve) to towns and villages steeped in history. Walk the streets of Kyoto with geisha, relax in hot springs, and see the snow-capped icon that is Mt Fuji. We were blown away by the digital museum teamLab Borderless which topped our Top 10 activities with kids in Japan roundup.

How?

Depending on how much time you have, take a look at our 14-day Highlights of Japan sample itinerary or our Japan in 9 days tour.

7. Where? Tanzania

Family summer holiday destinations - lion cubs in Tanzania's Serengeti

Spot big cats in the vast plains of the Serengeti

Why?

We don’t mean to brag on Tanzania’s behalf but it’s only one of the greatest wildlife destinations on earth! If you’re going to do safari, then here’s where you head for The Big-5, The Little-4 and everything in between. Enjoy the majesty of the Serengeti Plains, the splendour of the Ngorongoro Crater and the snow-capped peak that is Mt Kilimanjaro before chilling out on the spice island of Zanzibar. Truly an experience for all the family, take a look at what you could be doing in our Top 10 Tanzania with kids blog post. For what to expect on a family safari, day-to-day, this is a must-read, too: Safari Diary

How?

For world-class game viewing and world-class beaches see our sample Tanzania Safari and Beach itinerary.

8. Where? Namibia

Namiia for kids - child jumping into a pool set in desert landscape

Take a refreshing dip after hiking up an enormous sand dune in Sossusvlei

Why?

An adventurer’s dream, Namibia has wildlife (self-drive, too) but SO MUCH MORE! Whoop down the world’s largest sand dunes! Enjoy exhilarating experiences in the outdoor adventure capital that is Swakopmund! Meet the San Bushmen of the Kalahari! Gorge on succulent shellfish along the Skeleton Coast! Namibia also lends itself perfectly to a self-drive adventure. Want to know more? Take a look at our Top 10 Namibia with Kids blog and be inspired.

How?

Depending on how long you’ve got, you can choose from our Highlights of Namibia (2-weeks) or our Highlights of Namibia (3-weeks).

9. Where? Belize

Family Road Trips blog - photo of Caye Caulker in Belize

Soak up the local vibe and head for the ocean

Why?

Small, compact and far less visited than its Mexican and Costa Rican neighbours, Belize is hard to beat when it comes to both outdoor activities and beautiful beaches. Boasting the world’s second largest coral reef after Australia means snorkelling, swimming and diving opportunities are top of the agenda in this family adventure holiday destination. Away from the crystal clear seas and dazzling sands, you’ll find the rainforests alive with wildlife and, peppered throughout, Mayan ruins to explore. Want to know more about Central America’s best-kept secret? See our Belize in Pictures photo blog.

How?

Opt for our Belize Adventure Highlights or combine it with neighbouring Guatemala in our Belize and Guatemala Highlights sample itinerary.

10. Where? Peru

Peru with kids - reed boat on Lake Titicaca

Explore Lake Titicaca in a traditional totora reed boat

Why?

Possibly our favourite South American destination and ideal for a family summer holiday, Peru packs a big punch for the sheer variety of landscapes and adventures it offers. Although most famous for Machu Picchu, you can watch the condors soar the thermals at Colca Canyon, visit the reed islands on Lake Titicaca, haggle in the markets of Cusco and wake to the sounds of the jungle in the Amazon. As for adventure, then the Sacred Valley is it: cycling, white water rafting, ziplining and more than enough to keep every member of the family adrenaline-fuelled and entertained as our Top 10 Peru with Kids round-up demonstrates. Take a look at our Photo Blog for inspiration, too.

How?

Depending on how much time you have, plump for our 2-week Highlights of Peru or the 3-week version. Wildlife lovers may also want to combine it with the Galapagos Islands Peru & Galapagos Explorer.

Ask us about family summer holiday destinations for next year

As parents ourselves, we know exactly what each destination offers for the family traveller – because we’ve been there with our own kids! If you’d like to know more about these or any of our destinations, we’d love to tell you about them. Call us on 01728 752751 or use our website contact form.

Liddy Pleasants, MD Stubborn Mule Travel [email protected].