In a post-COVID world, what destinations still hold the most appeal for our international family travellers in 2021?
What an incredibly different situation we find ourselves in now compared to 12 months ago when we last completed our annual travel survey for family travellers.
Each year, we ask members of our Family Travel Inspiration Facebook Group to share with us their travel plans for the upcoming year, however, clearly when we presented our Top 20 Destinations for 2020, nobody saw a global pandemic on the horizon.
Changes to the Family Travel outlook in 2021
This years survey was exceptionally different to past years when we asked families what they actually have booked for the upcoming year. For 2021 we have viewed this as a “wishlist”; If – a big IF – we can travel freely around the world again in the next 12 months, where would be top of your list?
We had fewer survey respondents than usual so it was difficult to come up with a pragmatic list that truly reflects community feeling as there are simply too many unknowns still (as at November 2020).
We have seen Japan jump up in popularity to top our favourite family destiantion for 2021, followed by Italy, Ireland, Canada & Australia.
Some notable absences from past hot-favourite family destinations include London (which took out last year’s top spot), Hawaii (2020 runner up) and New York. Undoubtedly big cities look to be off the agenda in 2021.
This year’s top destinations guide should be read in conjunction with our post “2021 Family Travel Expectations“. We have asked families from around the world to talk about their current and future expectations around tourism in key travel markets around the world.
Without further ado, here’s the 2021 Family Travel Wishlist, as chosen by travel-loving parents.
Always a popular choice in our travel community and this year jumping into top spot as the most sought after family travel destination in 2021. From the bustling capital of Tokyo through to the much-Instagrammed and beautiful Kyoto, there is a lot of fun family exploring to be had.
Learn more about Japan with kids
- Tokyo with young kids for beginners
- Best Family Hotels in Tokyo – Little City Trips
- Japan with Kids – 2 Week Itinerary – Kids & Compass
- Flying review with ANA
Always a favourite with our families and it seems despite the events of 2020 it’s still top of most European bucket lists. From art to history to food, there is so much going on that family members of all ages will love. Most kids will no doubt learn about the Roman Empire at school, and what better place to come for some real-life lessons.
Learn more about Italy with kids
- A practical guide to exploring Rome with a Baby
- The Best Places to visit in Italy with Kids – Mama Loves Italy
- 3 Day Rome Itinerary – Little City Trips (Podcast)
- Explore Naples with Kids
An ever-popular family destination, the Emerald Isle is popular with those tracing their family heritage to the stunning natural wonders. Ireland is an easy country to navigate by road and will be a firm favourite to visit when borders re-open.
Learn more about Ireland with kids
- 40+ Things to do in Ireland with Kids of all ages – Learning Escapes
- Visiting Ireland with Kids – Mama Loves Ireland
- Best itinerary for your first family vacation to Ireland – Walking on Travels
Whether its the majestic tranquility of the mountains or the skiing and winter sports you love, Canada is undoubtedly being eyed up by many families as the perfect nature escape in 2021.
Learn more about Canada with Kids
- Toronto summer activities with Kids
- 30 Things to do in Vancouver as a family – Mommy Poppins
- Canada with kids how to plan the perfect road trip – Little Travelers Tribe
- Easy Hiking in the Canadian Rockies with Kids – Packed Again
From the urban centres to the isolated beaches and the great outback, it’s not hard to see why Australia is a popular choice. It’s deciding which parts to see which is hard! It would take several months to remotely cover Australia’s highlight, so most family visitors choose to concentrate on one coast or state.
Learn more about Australia with kids
- Beginners guide to planning a trip to Australia
- Unique ways to explore Sydney with kids
- 9-day road trip itinerary south-west Western Australia with kid
- 5 essential stops on a Queensland Road Trip
- Best Australian Animal Encounters
6. Sri Lanka
The stunning natural beauty of Sri Lanka is a huge drawcard for families. A small country that deserves to be travelled slowly, taking in the spectacular mountains to the incredible beaches and amazing national parks and reserves.
Learn more about Sri Lanka with Kids
- Family highlights tour of Sri Lanka – how to plan your vacation around all the best times to visit
- Best Beaches in Sri Lanka for Kids – Travelynn Family
- Sri Lanka Itinerary with Kids – Travel Melodies
- An unbiased review of the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage – Time Travel Turtle
7. South Africa
From the stunning city vistas of Cape Town to the charming wine-growing regions of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, through to wildlife safari’s, its quite easy to see how South Africa is an attractive choice for family adventurers. Allow yourself at least a couple of weeks for the long flight and different areas to explore.
Learn more about South Africa with Kids
- Best of Cape Town & Cape Peninsula with kids
- Best family getaways from Cape Town
- Exploring Stellenbosch with Kids
- South Africa with Kids – Full Suitcase
- Garden Route with Kids – Go Live Young
8. Florida, USA
From theme parks to wide sandy beaches it’s pretty clear to see why Orlando remains a staunch crowd favourite, for US and international family visitors alike. So much more than just Disney World there’s no surprise we’ve been here 3 times now with the Globetrotters!
Learn more about Florida with kids
- A weekend in Sarasota with Kids
- 25 Best Family Vacation Spots in Florida – Family Destinations Guide
- 60+ Things to do in Orlando besides theme parks – The Momtrotter
Is it the mythology and legends behind Greece or its dramatic landscape that keep it prominent on every families bucket list? We’re sure it’s a little bit of both – plus the food! And the mild weather… The list goes on! Whether you’re just stopping through Athens or exploring the Greek Islands you’re bound to find your favourite little spot.
Learn more about Greece with kids
- Explore Athens with young children!
- Greece with Kids: Where should you go? – The Family Voyage
- Best Greek Islands for Family Holidays – Kids Love Greece
Iceland nearly fell out of our Top 20 destinations for families last year but we see it back again in our Top 10 for 2021. A country of dramatic vistas and raw beauty, visitors are expanding their travels well beyond the Golden Circle and easy day trips to Reykjavik.
With younger children why not start with the Snæfellsnes Peninsula? Driving distances are short and there are far fewer crowds, you will find black sand beaches, volcanoes, lava fields and waterfalls
Learn more about Iceland with kids
- Iceland with kids – 5-day self-drive itinerary – Travelynn Family
- Exploring the Snæfellsnes Peninsula – Family Can Travel
- Where to stay in Reykjavik with kids – Little City Trips
- Age-based guide what to do in Iceland with kids – We 3 Travel
The next 15 are in no particular order but came up with equal votes in our survey as ever-popular and emerging destinations that interest our travelling families in 2021 and beyond.
So where will YOU be heading this year? Tell us in the comments or jump on over to Family Travel Inspiration and share your ideas, ask questions and get involved in our family community group.
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Disclosures: This page contains affiliate links that if you make a purchase through may earn us a small commission at no extra cost to you. The destinations chosen are by community vote in November 2019 and don’t necessarily reflect the author’s point of view! You can read our full disclosure policy here.