It’s being dubbed ‘The Greatest Summer Holiday Ever’, and it’s no wonder that after more than two whole years of on-again, off-again travel, summer bookings are through the roof.

Step back, soggy fields and freezing shower blocks! Say sayonara to over-run staycation destinations where you can’t find a restaurant table for love nor money! Instead, dust off that suitcase, stop dreaming, and start planning! 

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

The definitive best family summer holiday destinations for 2022 starts here!

Our top 14 family summer holiday destinations

1. Where? Greece

Sailing around Zakynthos - Greece family holidays

Perfect for active families, there is so much to do and see in Greece on a Stubborn Mule adventure

Why?

The quintessential Mediterranean summer holiday destination, Greece has been on the tourist map for years, wowing visitors with its history, temples, and amphitheatres, spoiling us with its beaches and tempting us with its delicious, fresh cuisine. If you’re wanting a more adventurous experience than that offered by the average fly and flop, we’d love to show you a different side of Greece this summer. Explore sea caves by boat! Hike through gorges! Go white-water rafting in crystal clear waters! Discover ancient sites and recently uncovered ruins!

How?

Take a look at our Peloponnese Adventure to find out more. Alternatively, if you’d rather combine the mainland with some of the best the islands have to offer, choose our Athens and Cyclades trip.

2. Where? Crete

Kids on a family summer holiday in Crete - with sun setting in the background

Hike, sea-kayak, cycle, and chill on the beach – Crete is a top contender for a family summer holiday

Why?

We know that technically we should have included Crete in our Greece section, above, but as the largest island in Greece offers such a huge number of family-friendly activities, we felt it warranted its own mention! If you can tear yourself away from the stunning beaches, both large and off the beaten track, there’s so much to see and do. Wander the atmospheric streets of the Venetian harbour of Chania (pronounced ‘Hania’), go hiking in the Samaria Gorge, enjoy sea-kayaking in Loutro or try your hand at cycling, slow-travel style, though picturesque villages. 

How?

Want to know more? Take a look at our 10-day Crete Adventure for what you could be doing this summer. Parakalo!

3. Where? Croatia

Family summer holidays in Croatia - young person in a river canoe going over small waterfall

Our kayak trip on the River Zrmanja is full of thrills, with gentler options for younger family members

Why?

When we launched Croatia last year, little did we realise what a smash hit it would turn out to be. But hit it was, and we’re tipping it to be a hot (not just temperature) destination for summer 2022 (take a look at what Stubborn Mule Travellers did in Summer 2021!)

Blissfully clear azure Mediterranean waters are Croatia’s biggest drawcard and have to be seen to be believed: think lazy days watching the sunset and more active days snorkelling and swimming. There are also gorgeous coastal towns (Dubrovnik being a clear favourite), stunning mountain scenery, and the best gelato in Europe (controversial, we know). There’s endless scope for active adventures including white water rafting, hiking, cycling, kayaking and more. 

How?

Depending on what time you have available, choose between our 2-week Highlights of Croatia trip, our 1-week, Croatia Short Break or combine Croatia and Slovenia on our two-week combo!

4. Where? Portugal

Portugal family holidays, footpath to the beach, Praia da Bordeira, Carrapateira, Costa Vicentina, Algarve

Beyond the beautiful Algarve beaches, there are also castles to explore, gorgeous river valleys, and picture-postcard cities

Why?

With cheap flights, gorgeous beaches and delicious food, why wouldn’t you want to go to Portugal this summer? Whilst mainland Portugal is renowned for the beautiful white sands of the Algarve there’s so much more to Spain’s smaller neighbour than this!  The rolling hills of the Alentejo are stunning and beg to be explored on foot, by bike, or by horse. There are dramatic and deserted Atlantic beaches buffeted by surf, gorgeous river valleys begging to be visited by kayak, and remote national parks. Even urban exploration is enjoyable, Lisbon is small for a ‘capital’ city, whilst the picture-postcard streets of Porto, the second-largest ‘city’ are a delight and certainly very child friendly. 

How?

We’ve packed a lot into our two-week Highlights of Portugal adventure, from wild camping on remote beaches, searching for dolphins on a catamaran, visiting a cork plantation and cycling along a vertiginous roman aqueduct. 

Perched in the middle of the Atlantic, the Azores offer an exciting and adventurous Portugal experience, from whale watching or swimming with dolphins to coasteering and kayaking. See our Azores Family Holiday Short Break for more. Slightly less windswept but utterly charming, there’s also our Madeira Family Short Break to choose from, too.

5. Where? Turkey

Cappadocia landscape -family adventure holidays

The kids will love Cappadocia, where they can hike, bike, or ride through the mysterious lunar-like scenery

Why?

An absolutely wonderful summer family holiday destination, the food alone is enough to entice some to Turkey!  Aside from this, though, Turkey boasts a beautiful coastline, other-worldly landscapes, magnificent ancient ruins, and the intoxicating buzz of Istanbul. There’s something for everyone here; those more inclined to relaxation will love the Turquoise coast with its beguiling blend of beach, boutique hotels, and the odd activity 

How?

See our Turquoise Coast Adventure. And if you have a thirst for adventure, take a look at our Highlights of Turkey trip, which takes in the backstreets of Istanbul, the fairy-tale landscapes of Cappadocia and the coast with some R & R at the end of course! 

6. Where? Sri Lanka

Family on beach, on Sri Lanka with kids family

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 summer holiday destinations. And with good reason! 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 you’ll remember for years to come!

7. Where? Kenya

Kenya - kids on safari - family holiday tribe blog

For superb child-friendly safaris and palm-fringed beaches, Kenya is a top choice for a family summer break

Why?

This is where you come for the quintessential African safari and there’s no better time of year to visit than the summer holidays!  Scan the rolling plains for the Big 5, enjoy a bush breakfast in the shade of an acacia tree with giraffe strolling past, share stories around the campfire under an African sky before retiring to your tent (luxury or otherwise) for the night. And in addition to the superb wildlife, Kenya has a long and beautiful coastline. Time on its palm-fringed beaches provides the perfect complement to those early mornings and long days on safari. For pure safari inspiration check out our 30 Unforgettable moments on safari. For ideas on what else you can do in Kenya to complement your safari, have a look at our Top 10 Kenya with Kids blog.

How?

Check out our sample 15-day Highlights of Kenya itinerary or our 10-day Kenya Safari & Beach trip.

8. Where? Mexico

Mother and kids posing at Coba ruins on family Christmas break in Mexico

Exploring Mayan ruins against the noisy backdrop of howler monkeys will fire the children’s imagination

Why?

If images of crowded Cancun resorts and package holiday hell put you off Mexico, we’re delighted to offer a completely different, more adventurous experience for family travellers. For first time visitors we recommend concentrating on the Yucatan Peninsula with its wonderfully family-friendly offering of Mayan ruins, gorgeous beaches, picturesque cenotes, enticing hacienda stays, exciting activities and jungle.

How?

It’s easy to explore on a self-drive basis but we can arrange a driver if you prefer – see our Best of the Yucatan Peninsula sample itinerary. For more inspiration check out Top 10 Things to do in Mexico with the kids.

9. Where? Tanzania

Stubborn Mule family meeting local people on Tanzania family safari

Spot the Big-5, explore by canoe, cycle through plantations, and learn bush survival skills with the Hadza

Why?

We don’t mean to brag on Tanzania’s behalf but if you’re wanting to experience the ultimate summer holiday safari experience, here’s where to 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 the 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.

Child climbing steps of Mayan ruin on Belize family holiday

Belize is hard to beat with its gorgeous beaches, water activities, wildlife-rich rainforests, and Mayan ruins

Why?

Small, compact and far less visited than its Mexican neighbour, 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), 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 plenty of Mayan ruins to explore. Want to know more about Central America’s best-kept secret? See our Belize in Pictures photo blog or snaps from Stubborn Mule families holidaying in Belize & Mexico last summer.

How?

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

11. Where? Costa Rica

Young visitor preparing to go zip-lining in Costa Rica on Easter family holiday

The canopy walks and zip-line at Arenal are firm Stubborn Mule family favourites

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 with 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.

Kids with giant tortoise in the Galapagos - family summer holidays

Swim with sea lions, spot weird and wonderful birdlife, and get up close to giant tortoises

Why?

What makes Ecuador and the Galapagos such a fabulous summer holiday destinations apart from great weather and balmy waters? First up, Ecuador is arguably South America’s best-kept secret, yet one which boasts incredible Amazonian wildlife, volcanic landscapes, Incan ruins, jungles, and Andean mountains. It’s affordable with small travel distances, too. Some 850 miles off-shore, and needing no introduction whatsoever, the Galapagos Islands offer the world’s most unique, untouched, and exquisite wildlife and family experiences, from swimming with marine iguanas and sea-lions to getting up close with giant tortoises and pelicans.

How?

See our Galapagos with Kids blog for an in-depth first-person account and The Ultimate Galapagos Guide for more information.

13. Cuba

Cuba street scene on a family adventure holiday

Everyone will enjoy a classic car tour of Havana before setting off to enjoy a huge range of outdoor activities

Why?

Despite it being quite hot and humid, the summer months are still a really popular time to visit Cuba, the largest of the Caribbean islands. Lush and tropical, surrounded by idyllic palm-fringed beaches for hanging out in hammocks, swimming, and snorkelling, there’s also a raft of adventurous activities like ziplining in the rainforest canopy or cycling in Vinales on offer, too.

How?

Choose from our 10-day Highlights of Cuba adventure, or Cuba in 2 weeks if you’ve more time.  It’s also worth looking at our Top 10 Cuba with Kids blog for our favourite activity inclusions and suggestions.

14. USA

Golden Gate Bridge - Family summer holiday in California

San Francisco is lots of fun and one of many highlights on our Classic California for Families itinerary

Why?

It may be peak season, but one of the reasons the USA makes for such a great summer holiday destination is its size: you need maximum time if you’re going to explore it properly!

Live the American dream on a USA family self-drive trip through such iconic cities as San Francisco, Las Vegas, New Orleans, and New York. Get out of the car to hike the Grand Canyon or Yosemite National Park. Spot bears amidst the thermal mud pools of Yellowstone. Embrace your inner cowboy at a dude ranch in Montana then ‘let it go’ at Disney. Get the kids California dreaming and head for Hollywood. Take a look at the key Places to Visit in the USA.

How?

See our sample itineraries: Classic California for Families and  Western National Parks USA. Every Stubborn Mule Travel itinerary is tailor-made for you and your family, so these are just a starting point. Ring us on 01728 752751 or use our enquiry form and let’s get planning.

Ask us about family summer holiday destinations for 2022

As parents ourselves, we know exactly what each destination offers for the family traveller – because we’ve been there with our own kids! Check out our blogs on Holidays with teenagers, Multi-generational holidays, and holidays with toddlers for more ideas. Or see our Around the World in Six School Holidays calendar for where to travel when. And 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 contact form.

Liddy Pleasants, MD Stubborn Mule Travel