Family Holidays: The world’s top cities for travel for all ages – New Zealand Herald | Dauktion

With unique places to explore and pizza and gelato galore, you can’t get much better than Rome for a memorable family day out. Photo / Getty Images

With a wide range of attractions to discover, big cities are perfect for family outings, writes Alexia Santamaria.

It’s almost a little overwhelming to think about family vacations abroad. We’ve explored our beautiful backyard for so long that it feels slightly surreal to even think about adventures on a global scale again.

But it’s also quite exciting – the thought of wandering the cobbled streets of Europe or dining al fresco at a street vendor in Asia. If you’ve taken the first step of a Pacific break, maybe it’s time to start planning to take your tribe further afield next year (or even this year). Here are some suggestions that might work well for you and your whānau, depending on what you like.


A city where eating pizza, pasta and gelato is part of the cultural experience has to resonate with kids, right? Rome is easy to navigate and enjoy with family in tow. The Colosseum will certainly appeal to you if you taught them about its history before you left, and there’s tons of fun to be had at Villa Borghese Park – hire bikes or tandems, or even a rowboat for some relaxing outdoor fun.

Then, of course, there are the Catacombs for subterranean exploration – and the splendor of places like St. Peter’s Basilica and the Pantheon. If they haven’t traveled extensively in Europe, the sheer size of Rome’s most famous attractions will blow their little minds. And if all this is too exciting for you, there are plenty of beaches just 30 minutes to an hour away for a little downtime.


While Japan isn’t yet open to fully independent travel (hopefully later this year, but that’s still speculation), you can enter if you get a visa and book a tour. Whether you’re planning ahead for next year or looking for organized trips sooner, Tokyo is a truly fabulous city for all ages.

It’s hard not to be drawn in by the quirky sights of Harajuku, or swept away by the magic of Disneyland, or overwhelmed by Akihabara’s vast electronic selection. And, of course, plenty of special interests are covered – animal cafes, Pokémon centers, the Ghibli Museum – as well as things for the whole family to enjoy: robot restaurants, the interactive immersive wonder Teamlabs Borderless, as well as endless places to eat, stroll and hang out Explore Japan’s history and tradition. It’s safe, public transport is good and there’s food for all tastes.


They must have pretty picky kids if they can’t find anything in London that makes them shine. Sports fans can visit the holy sites of Lords, Twickenham, Wembley, Wimbledon and more; Shopaholics can get lost in a new mall, high street, department store, market or op-shop every day of their stay, and junior foodies can taste all the world’s cuisines in one city.

The options for family-friendly tourist attractions are endless: Legoland, Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour, the London Eye, the Aquarium, hop-on hop-off buses, Kidzania and the London Dungeon – just to name a few. And if your offspring is still small, there is a wonderful amount of green space where they can burn off their energy while romping around.

From shopping and sightseeing to Legoland and Harry Potter, there is something for all ages and interests in London.  Photo / Getty Images
From shopping and sightseeing to Legoland and Harry Potter, there is something for all ages and interests in London. Photo / Getty Images

los Angeles

There’s a reason New Zealand families have flocked to the City of Angels for decades. Aside from the obvious – theme park paradise, stargazing and gorgeous beach action – there are so many other ways to have fun in this diverse, vibrant city. There are of course insane shopping opportunities; There are the neighborhoods where you can get a glimpse of different cultures (Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Olvera Street, Little Armenia and so many more), and then there are also the opportunities to watch sports. The Rams, Lakers, Dodgers and Kings all call LA home, so there’s always something happening at one of the famous stadiums. And the range of fun museums is fabulous – from the Discovery Cube to Kidspace, the California Science Center, the Wildlife Learning Center to Travel Town, you’ll never have a hard time keeping them occupied.


The city-state of Singapore couldn’t be more perfect for families. shopping on an epic scale; fun at universal studios; Gardens by the Bay with its impressive sci-fi light and sound antics; the amazingly interactive Art Science Museum; every kind of food a child can dream of; one of the largest aquariums in the world; Night safaris to meet new furry friends and thrills at Adventure Cove water park are just some of the options that might appeal to your tribe. Transportation is easy, many hotels have great pools to while away those hot afternoons — and the whole experience strikes a great balance of stimulation and relaxation.


Honolulu is best of all for family travel, so it’s no surprise that it’s a popular destination for travelers with kids. It manages to convey that laid-back island vibe with its ukulele and lapping waves soundtrack, but also loads of big-city fun — and great shopping and dining that the whole family will love.

Stroll along Waikiki Beach, visit the Royal Hawaiian Center (where kids can learn to hula dance, play traditional instruments, hear stories and make local crafts), visit Chinatown, stroll through the Botanical Gardens, check it out Catch fireworks at the Hilton and shop ’til you drop at Ala Moana – the world’s largest open-air mall. A city trip right on the beach, does it get any better?

A perfect combination of beach and city fun, Honolulu is a place the whole family will love.  Photo / Getty Images
A perfect combination of beach and city fun, Honolulu is a place the whole family will love. Photo / Getty Images


The quirky legacy of Gaudi sets Barcelona a little apart from other European cities – and combined with the cheerful nature of its people, it’s a fabulous city to explore with kids. You will love the atmosphere of this fun city with its tapas bars, wild architecture and proximity to the beach, but also attractions such as El Poble Espanyol (an outdoor amusement park), Tibidabo Amusement Park, Catalonia in Miniature and the Animated Forest: a Multi-adventure park with zip lines and exhibitions of models from different places in Catalonia and the Port Aventura World theme park.

Young scientists will enjoy CosmoCaixa with all its interactive installations, space exhibitions and science-related workshops, and young musicians will love the Music Museum near the Sagrada Familia. Of course, this is a place you need to take them to, as is Park Güell – Gaudi’s wacky architecture naturally appeals to young people with its colorful whimsicality, and once they’ve explored too many art galleries and traditional cathedrals, they’ll find you it’s a breath of fresh air, even better when followed with churros and hot chocolate.


If you’re not quite ready for a long-haul flight, it’s only a few hours to Sydney, a city full of family activities. Get out on the water and enjoy the famous harbor by boat, make new friends at Taronga Zoo. Visit one of the many museums (Maritime, Contemporary Art, Powerhouse, Australian Museum and more). Ride rollercoasters at Luna Park, go silly shopping and – of course – spend plenty of beach time on Sydney’s golden sands.

Vibrant Sydney ticks all the boxes for a family getaway.  Photo / Getty Images
Vibrant Sydney ticks all the boxes for a family getaway. Photo / Getty Images

If it’s a summer getaway, places like Centennial Parklands offer wide open spaces for kids to run around, and the Darling Quarter playground has a splash guard for when they need to cool off. The food choices are wide and varied and it’s an easy city to get around. A good first step if you’re not quite ready for Northern Hemisphere flights.

This is just a handful of options for anyone thinking of getting out into the world with their whānau, and there are more cities reopening their doors to tourists every week. It’s been a long two years (almost three actually), but we’ve all learned the value of making memories with those we love the most, and what better way than to explore new and exciting destinations with them .

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