Travelers looking to plan UK family holidays are spoilt for choice. The weather isn’t too extreme, and there’s plenty to do in the cities and countryside for the whole family. It’s home to beautiful national parks, most of which are accessible to all ages and abilities. If you are looking for a traditional family trip to the seaside, the coasts offer plenty of family fun. And if you are for family holiday destinations in a city, some amazing places fit the bill.
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Where to Go for Family Breaks in the UK
Here are our top spots for your trip to the UK.
1. Cornwall, England
Cornwall is one of the best places in the UK for a family break as there’s so much to do and it’s small enough to get around. For beaches, the best are St Ives and Newquay. St Ives is a little town with shallow waters and a long beach, perfect for building sandcastles and paddling with little ones. Newquay is great for those visiting the UK with teenagers. The waves make bodyboarding a popular activity there.
If you’re looking for nature, The Eden Project is a great place to explore, learn and have fun. They offer seasonal activities and have free play sessions, especially for kids and their grandparents!
Getting to Cornwall can take a long time. If you’re flying into London you can either drive, take the train, or take an internal flight to Newquay. Once you arrive in Cornwall, you will need a car to get around and make the most of your trip.
Where to stay in Cornwall
Many of the towns in Cornwall have holiday cottages that are perfect when traveling with a group. If you are planning a short family break, you might want to stay in St Ives or Falmouth. The Harbour Hotel in St Ives has easy access to Cornwall’s sandy beaches and an indoor swimming pool. They even have a deluxe family room with bunk beds, providing plenty of space for families to spread out.
If your family is looking for outdoor activities and cultural attractions, head to Falmouth. St. Michael’s Resort has a variety of accommodations, a luxury spa, and fine dining. They also offer self-catering apartments which are perfect if you’re visiting the area with grandparents or extended family.
If your family is looking for kids’ clubs head to Watergate Bay which offers activities and childcare for ages 2-12. They offer family suites, on-site restaurants, a swim club, surfing lessons, and fitness classes. Families with kids of all ages will find something to do at this hotel.
2. Lake District, England
The Lake District offers plenty of opportunities to spend time together doing different activities. It’s one of the most beautiful National Parks in the country and a popular destination any time of year.
During the summer, families can go hiking or spend time on the lakes. There are many sailing clubs and companies that offer opportunities to kayak, windsurf, and paddleboard. No matter the age range of your family members and their abilities, there are accessible activities for them. Why not hire a couple of canoes and race one another?
During the fall, the stunning countryside of the Lake District transforms into beautiful reds and golds. It’s a popular spot for leaf peeping and hikes.
In winter, the Lake District becomes a winter wonderland. It’s the perfect place for sledding, ice skating, and cozy evenings by the fireplace.
To reach the Lake District take a train from Euston to Oxenholme and then another to Windermere. It is possible to explore the area without a car, however, you’ll see much more with one.
Where to stay in the Lake District
There is a large variety of family-friendly accommodations, including holiday homes and family-run inns. We like the Lakeside Hotel in Newby Bridge as it sits on the lake and has easy access to the national parks, Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway, and the Lakes Aquarium. The hotel’s classic suites have sofa beds for families and there’s a spa, indoor pool, and hot tub.
3. Peak District, England
Despite being called the Peak District, you won’t find any mountains here. Only rolling hills, beautiful homes, and spa towns.
The District has lots of unused railway lines which are now motor-free cycle routes. You can hire bikes and take a leisurely ride through the green landscapes together without worrying about traffic.
Chatsworth House, Gardens, and Farmyard will keep the family entertained for hours. The farm has feeding time with the animals, a maze, and an extensive adventure playground.
To get here from London you can take the train to Derby or Manchester. From there you can get a local train or bus to the Peak District.
Where to stay in the Peak District
Hall Farm Cottages are self-catering holiday cottages that are perfect for family groups looking to stay in the Peak District. Located between the villages of Horning and Ludham, they offer family-friendly cottages and accessible accommodations.
There is a lake for fishing on-site and easy access to BeWILDerwood Adventure Park which has crafts, a boat ride, treehouses, a ropes course, and more. If you are looking to spend quality time on your next family holiday, this is the place to be.
4. Edinburgh, Scotland
Scotland’s capital city is perfect for urban exploring with easy access to charming seaside towns. Edinburgh has plenty of places to see and things to do for a multigenerational trip.
Younger children will love the city zoo that is home to pandas, koalas, and some cheeky penguins. It makes for a fantastic family day out for animal lovers who want to see some exotic creatures.
Older children who want to soak up city life will find great shopping boutiques near Grassmarket or historical buildings like Edinburgh Castle and Holyroodhouse. Edinburgh with kids doesn’t disappoint and there are plenty of romantic things to do in Edinburgh for parents as well.
In the city centre, families can spend time in Princes Street Gardens, or take a hike up Arthur’s Seat. Just minutes from the city by train are the Pentland Hills where you can take a picnic and enjoy the views at your own pace.
Edinburgh is easily accessed by tram from the airport, or even by train if you’re coming from London and aren’t in a hurry. From there you can easily walk through the city or take the train to the outskirts.
Where to stay in Edinburgh
If you want to stay in the city centre with your family, we recommend renting an apartment through Plum Guide or VRBO. If you’re interested in a country house stay, Norton House, about 20 minutes outside of the city is a great choice. They have lovely grounds, spacious family rooms and suites, a spa, and an indoor heated swimming pool.
5. Aberystwyth, Wales
This Welsh city offers beautiful beaches and stunning countryside that is made for scenic hikes and outdoor adventures.
Aberystwyth loves families and has plenty of fun activities you can enjoy together. The town has a charming promenade lined with shops and cafes. Or hop on their steam train (Vale of Rheidol Railway) and take it to the best viewpoint in the town.
It can take quite a while to get to Aberystwyth from London but it is possible by train. If you are flying into the UK, land in Birmingham and take a three-hour train to the town from there.
Where to stay in Aberystwyth
The Richmond Hotel has a prime seafront location on the main promenade overlooking Cardigan Bay. It is a short stroll to the town centre and the sand, making it the perfect family getaway. The property offers family rooms, breakfast included, and views of the sea. What more could you want?
6. Isle of Skye, Scotland
Traveling through the Scottish Highlands is one of the best UK holidays for families. The area is rich in history, from the castles that belonged to the clans to dinosaur fossils. There are so many unique things to see and do, like visiting the fairy pools at the foot of the Black Cuillins near Glenbrittle. You can even swim in them if you want to brave the cold. If you’re not into swimming, they make a great place for kids’ imaginations to run wild!
The Isle of Skye is remote, so you will need to fly into Glasgow and then hire a car to make the 4.5-hour journey. The scenery is so beautiful, that you can make it a part of your vacation and stay in villages and towns along the way.
Where to stay on the Isle of Skye
The Cotswolds covers such a vast area that there’s plenty to see and do. If you pay a visit in the summer months, the beautiful villages will be busier with tourists, however, they will also be bathed in sunlight and covered in colorful flowers!
Visit the lavender fields when they are in full bloom in July and learn about the history of the magnificent Blenheim Palace to add an educational element to your family trip to the UK. There’s also a large garden here for kids to explore and an adventure play area.
If you are staying in the northern area of the Cotswolds with access to a car, you can take a day trip to Windsor’s LEGOland theme park for a different kind of adventure.
As previously mentioned, the Cotswolds covers a large area, so access depends on where you are staying. You can fly into London, most conveniently Heathrow, and get the train from Paddington to most places. Otherwise, I’d highly recommend hiring a car to be able to make the most of your trip.
Where to stay in the Cotswolds
There are many stately homes offering lodging in the Cotswolds, but if you prefer to be somewhat independent we recommend renting through VRBO or Plum Guide. The towns of Chipping Campden and Cirencester are good options for a home base.
8. Pembrokeshire, Wales
This beautiful part of the Welsh coast is one of our favorite UK family breaks. It’s also a great place to go if you want to explore more of the British Isles as you can catch a ferry from here to Ireland.
This part of the coast has a record number of blue flag beaches, which means they have been rated as some of the best in the country.
The Pembrokeshire Coastal Path has a lot of trails for a long or short walk or bike ride. Some of them have been refurbished to become wheelchair and baby-stroller-friendly.
Pembrokeshire is famous for its national parks, castles, and Welsh legends. Many ancient tales of King Arthur and his knights are tied to this land. This is also the best place to see dolphins in the UK. You can take wildlife safaris and go dolphin, seal, and whale spotting.
To reach Pembrokeshire, fly to Swansea Airport and hire a car. You can take several buses, however, it’s a quick 1.5-hour drive in a car compared to a 3-hour bus ride.
Where to Stay in Pembrokeshire
The beaches are some of the most popular attractions in Pembrokeshire, so if your family wants to spend time near the water, consider staying in Saundersfoot or Tenby.
9. Snowdonia National Park
The final destination is another Welsh beauty. This little country is seriously underrated! Located in North Wales, Snowdonia National Park (Eryri National Park in Welsh) covers more than 823 square miles. It’s a great spot for family-friendly holidays in the UK.
The most famous thing to do in Snowdonia is to visit Mount Snowdon. This peak is the second tallest in the UK and is accessible no matter your age or ability as there is a train that runs up and down the mountain.
If you want to stay closer to the ground, you can catch the Welsh Highland Railway. This steam train takes you through the stunning Welsh landscape. It’s a great way to see the area in an exciting, yet leisurely way.
This is the perfect escape if your family is looking for an adventure holiday. Stroll alongside lakes and rivers, climb through the forests, and learn about peatlands. This rugged mountain area is made to be explored by all ages.
To reach Snowdonia, fly to Liverpool John Lennon Airport where you can either take trains (4 hours) to the National Park area or rent a car and drive (2 hours).
Where to stay near Eryri National Park
UK holiday parks are a popular accommodation for traveling families. A holiday park is usually a facility that offers a variety of accommodations, from cabins to campsites to RV (caravan) parking. Many of them have an outdoor play area for young children and it’s an opportunity to meet up with other traveling families. There are dozens of caravan parks in Snowdonia and the popular holiday parks are Haven Hafan y Mor and Haven Presthaven.
So there you have our top destinations for UK family holidays!
As you can see from our recommendations, when visiting places outside of a city in the UK, a car is the most convenient way to travel. The UK is a beautiful place to visit and is very accessible for all ages.
About the author: Sian Davey is a London-based writer and travel enthusiast. She works as a Campaign Manager in the education industry and eats, sleeps, and breathes travel in her spare time.