Travel with us on any Stubborn Mule holiday and you’ll generally start or end in a major city. Whilst it may be tempting to hightail it out of these urban centres as soon as your driver has packed your suitcases into the car at the airport, we say, RESIST!

Put to one side, for a moment, the call of the beach hammock, or jungle eco-lodge, or mountain retreat. Instead, devote a few days to these welcome-mat cities and you’ll both get over the jetlag more easily and also enjoy the most immersive and exciting experiences of the country you’re about to explore.

Below, we’ve cherry-picked what we think are the best cities to visit with kids, tweens, and teens; destinations where spending the first 48 hours (or more) will get your family adventure off to the best possible start.

From North and Latin America to Africa, Asia and the Far East, welcome to the most fascinating and ‘doable’ cities for families on the planet.

Our top 10 cities to visit with kids on a Stubborn Mule holiday

1. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  

Holidays with teenagers in Brazil - Rio beach

One of the most exciting cities to visit with kids, you’ll all enjoy Rio’s fun Latin vibe

As the host of the world’s biggest Carnival, it’s no surprise that Rio de Janeiro knows how to party. Older kids will love samba-ing the night away and sampling the city’s famous nightlife but frankly, there are amazing experiences here by the bucketful. Hanglide around Corcovado Mountain, go paddleboarding, play volleyball, or learn to surf at Copacabana or Ipanema Beach!

It doesn’t all have to be go-go-go, though. More laid-back activities are manifold. Take selfies on the multi-coloured Lapa steps or wander the cobbled streets of Santa Teresa. Hang out in Tijuca National Park, the largest urban forest in the world, or sip a caipirinha (or mocktail) from a rooftop bar.

Want to know what else you could be doing in Brazil? Take a look at our Brazil with Kids Top 10. All three of our sample Brazil family holiday itineraries take in Rio, too.

2. Vancouver, Canada

Stanley Park Vancouver

Cycle along the seawall in Stanley Park, take a quick dip, and eat sushi on the beach as the sun sets

Spend more than a day in Vancouver and you’ll quickly understand why it’s often ranked as the ‘world’s most liveable’ city. It’s clean, cosmopolitan, and easy to get around, but it’s the backdrop of snow-capped mountains and the Pacific Ocean which really propel it to super-star status. No wonder it’s a magnet for those who love easy access to the great outdoors.

Highlights include cycling through the forest and along the sea-front to see the Brockton Point totem poles in Stanley Park and taking the Grouse Mountain Skyride aerial tram. We also love hopping on the aqua-bus to Granville Island’s Kids Market, exploring Chinatown and wandering the cobbled streets of Gas Town to see the famous steam clock. On rainy days, the Vancouver Aquarium is brilliant for kids.

Want to visit Vancouver on your family adventure holiday? Take a look at our 15-day Western Canada for Families adventure or our Canada with Kids Top 10.

3. Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok at night - cities to visit with kids on a family holiday

Dubbed Bangkok’s best night market, Asiatique is the place for kid-friendly restaurants and trendy shops

Those of a certain vintage may remember the song which promised, ‘one night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster’. We’d beg to differ. One night is barely enough time to enjoy this city which never sleeps.

Without a doubt, it’s the vibe which sets Bangkok apart. From the second you touch down, Bangkok is a kaleidoscope of colour, mayhem, and excitement. Getting around is easy – even in a capital as huge as this – whether you want to take a tuk-tuk through the back streets or hail a water taxi on the vast Chao Praya River. The Grand Palace, which has been home to the King since 1782, is an absolute must with its soaring painted spires and courtyards. Beautiful temples include Wat Arun and Wat Pho, with its giant reclining Buddha statue, both a magnet for Buddhists giving offerings of incense and flowers

Teenagers will love Khao San Road, a backpacker’s hangout for decades, and a great place to shop for street food and souvenirs. If you need time out, then head for Lumpini Park, the oldest and largest park in the city.

Want to know more? Take a look at our Thailand with Kids Top 10 for more ideas as to what you could be doing. We also include Bangkok on both our sample Thailand family holiday itineraries.

4. Cairo, Egypt

Best cities to visit with kids - family looking over Cairo from viewpoint

Take a break from the crazy, bustling streets of Cairo and enjoy a quieter viewpoint over the capital

A modern, sprawling metropolis located along the banks of the River Nile, Cairo is fast, frantic, and fascinating. Whilst at first glance you may want to escape from its notoriously traffic-clogged streets as you make your way (slowly) from the airport, there is not-to-be-missed magic here. Trust us.

Highlights include (obviously) The Pyramids and Sphinx at Giza and the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square. We’re also a-quiver with anticipation for the late 2023 opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum which will be the largest archaeological museum in the world. Other family-friendly activities include haggling for souvenirs in Khan El-Khalili Bazaar, walking along the banks of the River Nile and sampling koshari, Egypt’s quintessential fast food.

Want to know more? Take a look at our Top 10 Egypt with Kids blog or our Egypt family holidays itineraries.

5. Tokyo, Japan

Stubborn Mule family in Tokyo on Japan with kids itinerary

With its incredible array of family-friendly attractions, Tokyo is one of the top cities to visit with kids

As the world’s largest city, you could easily spend weeks in Tokyo and not ‘do it all’. But we’re confident it makes the grade as one of the best cities to visit with kids.

Highlights include the Tokyo Skytree, the world’s tallest tower which offers views for miles in every direction, and the 333m high Eiffel-like Tokyo Tower. Lose yourself in the Shibuya crossing, the world’s busiest walkway and let the kids off the leash in Harajuku, Tokyo’s trendiest quarter. This is the hotspot of Japan’s kawaii culture where you can snaffle souvenirs or just simply people-watch.

Whilst there are far, far too many attractions to list here (take a look at our Top 12 things to do in Tokyo with kids for more), Tokyo is an intense blend of old and modern. It’s a place where futuristic tech meets traditional culture, a city in which you are surrounded by neon-hi-rises but where there’s a plethora of cherry-blossomed parkland and ancient temples to escape to. What will you choose to do on your visit?

Take a look at our two sample Japan holiday itineraries, both of which take in Tokyo.

6. Cape Town, South Africa

South Africa, Cape Town trip with kids

Climb Table Mountain, visit Robben Island and chill on the beach. Cape Town is packed with exciting activities

A contender for one of the world’s most attractive cities, as well as the best city to visit with kids, Cape Town’s location – nestled between the foot of Table Mountain and the expansive waters of the Atlantic – is reason enough to spend a few days here.

Highlights include taking a trip to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years and meeting the penguins at Boulders Beach. You can hop on a cable car or hike to the top of Table Mountain, take a township tour, check out trendy galleries, and enjoy world-class wines and local foods in hip restaurants.

Want to know what else you could be doing on your Cape Town adventure? Take a look at our 15-day Classic Cape & Garden Route sample itinerary or our South Africa with Kids Top 10.

7. Marrakech, Morocco  

Family trip to Marrakech - young adult kids in colourful Riad

Stay in a charming Riad in Marrakech, from where you can explore the city’s delights at your own pace

Literally oozing in Arabian atmosphere and exotic charm, Marrakech is now one of the most popular destinations (top 5) for UK travellers seeking an exciting stand-alone city break.

Immerse your family in scenes straight from Arabian Nights as you meander through the bustling souqs of Jemaa el-Fnaa. When you need some respite, hop on a caleche (horse and buggy) for a ride around the old city and head for the great square, Djemaa al Fna.

More laid-back activities include the beautiful Jardin Majorelle or Menara Gardens, whilst the ruins of El Badi Palace offer some of the best views of Marrakech.

Want to know more about what else you could be doing in Morocco? Check out our Morocco with Kids Top 10 or check out our Morocco family holiday itineraries, both of which take in Marrakech.

8. Havana, Cuba

Exploring Havana in an open top car, best cities for kids

All the family will love cruising through the streets of Havanna in a classic open-top car

If there’s one image that instantly springs to mind when conjuring up Cuba’s capital it’s that of cruising along the main strip, top down, in a classic car (cigar optional). What, we wonder, could be a cooler introduction to the capital of the Caribbean’s largest island than this?!

Havana epitomises the term ‘shabby chic’ and, as well as being one of the best cities to visit with kids, is also one of the most atmospheric cities we know. Make like the locals and head to the ‘people’s park’, Parque Coppelia, home to the world’s largest ice-cream parlour. Learn to salsa in a Salsa Cubana class or seek out John Lennon Park to sit next to (a bronze statue) of the man himself.

Want to know more about what else you could be doing in Cuba? Take a look at our Cuba with Kids Top 10 or check out our two sample Cuba family holiday itineraries, both of which take in Havana.

9. Kathmandu, Nepal

Rows of colourful prayer flags strung across the street - kids exploring Kathmandu - best cities for kids

Colourful prayer flags adorn this medieval capital, with their message of compassion, peace and wisdom

Whilst many Asian capitals can be a little overwhelming, Kathmandu, the capital of the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal is quite the reverse.

Our favourite area is the medieval quarter at Durbar Square with its abundance of intricate buildings. Climb Swayambhu, the ancient ‘monkey temple’, for the best views of the city and join Tibetan pilgrims spinning prayer wheels at Boudhanath stupa.

Kids will love checking out the shopping and tourist districts in Thamel or visiting Freak Street, the one-time hotspot on the original Europe to S.E. Asia ‘hippy trail’. (Don’t forget to sample the cakes at the Snowman Café).

We have two sample Nepal Family Holiday sample itineraries that take in Kathmandu. Alternatively, take a look at our Nepal with Kids Top 10 to see what else you could be doing on your next adventure.

10. San Francisco, USA  

Family in front of Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, USA

Walk or cycle over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, one of our favourite cities to visit with kids

Of all the cities we could have possibly chosen in the US, it’s San Francisco that tops our best cities to visit with kids. Scenic, atmospheric, and impossibly cool (hello, teens!), we just can’t think of a more iconic place to start your California family holiday than the Golden City.

Board a historic cable car as you traverse the steep narrow streets or hop on a ferry to visit Alcatraz, the world’s most famous prison. Get giddy on the world’s most crooked street, Lombard St, which has eight switchbacks from left to right or bike over the Golden Gate Bridge. End your day with a trip to Chinatown (the oldest in the US) for steaming plates of dumplings and noodles. Other highlights include catching a baseball game at Oracle Park or visiting the Museum of Modern Art.

Can’t wait to visit San Francisco? See what else you’ll be doing on our sample 15-day Classic California family holiday. Alternatively, check out our other places to visit suggestions.

Find out more about the best cities to visit with kids

Is your favourite city not included in our best cities to visit with kids list? Would you like to know more about others? We’d love to tell you more! Call us on 01728 752 751 or email us using our contact form.

If you’d like to read more, check out our post on Holidays with Teenagers, our Around the World In Six School Holidays guide, and our Best Family Holiday Destinations overview, which includes all our destinations in one handy summary.

Liddy Pleasants, MD Stubborn Mule Travel
I’d love to hear about your experiences of travelling to any of these cities and what you think are the best cities to visit with kids. So do email me at: [email protected].