Freedive in Cape Town

Cape Town may seem like a schlep, but the 12-hour flight south comes with zero jet lag, making it easy enough for children, and you, to get back on schedule. For an unusual twist on a family holiday, try a freediving holiday with Steppes Travel. The company has partnered with Hanli Prinsloo, founder of the I Am Water foundation, an organisation that aims to teach you the techniques of freediving while also learning about the importance of ocean conservation.

Hanli teaches adults and children aged eight and above to swim and freedive with dolphins and sharks in Mozambique and Cape Town, but also educates them on the importance of the underwater ecosystem. Each freediving trip helps generate funds for Hanli to teach local children to swim in the ocean – you and your children might also get a chance to help, too. If you’re looking to go all out on the holiday, consider tagging on a safari.

How: Steppes Travel offers nine-night free diving trips to Mozambique and Cape Town from £2,485pp full board,

Self-drive through Iceland

Why road-trip up the M1 when you could cruise in a car along the coast of Iceland? Discover the World’s nine-night, tailor-made Family Explorer trip is the best way to get children excited by the school curriculum – by actually seeing the waterfalls, fjords and volcanoes of those dry geography lessons. Staying in two different summer houses along the coast, you can explore some of the country’s most dramatic scenery at your own pace, while distances between sights offer excursions including whale watching, a puffin safari boat trip, glacier hiking and caving in a lava tube.

How: Discover the World offers nine-night fly drive trips from £1,099 based on four sharing on a self-catering basis,

Sani Resort, Greece

Sani Resort, Greece

Take it easy in Greece

Family holidays can be hard work, we get it. That is until you take a holiday at Sani Resort, a 1,000-acre eco reserve on the Halkidiki Peninsula of mainland Greece. Here you’ll find cool young couples with cute kids making the most of 9km of private beach, along with four luxurious hotels and 20 restaurants that range from tavernas to intimate fine dining (use the free babysitting for that evening, yeah?). The resort even offers a babe watch programme – leave your toddlers with childcare pros on the beach while you slip off for a snooze, sunbathe or beer. If you’re really keen on abandoning the kids, book them into the football academy, baby swimming classes or send them off to the Sani wetlands – a space crammed with flouro-pink flamingos.

How: Classic Collection offers seven nights for a family of four from £2,089 with return flights and transfers,

Pile into a villa in France

Sometimes the best family holidays are just a load of people piling into one big house, lounging around the pool, prepping home-cooked meals and playing lilo wars. If that’s your idea of a break, check out the latest collection of French self-catering villas and apartments from Sawday’s. La Ferme du Monteil is a particularly cushy option – located just 90 minutes from La Rochelle (not a bad drive from the UK), the four-bedroom restored farmhouse comes with fresh yet cosy interiors, lavender flower boxes, a pool and lots of pretty countryside views. In the garden you’ll also find a space for badminton, boules and a sand pit (remember those?!). Stock up on fresh baguettes, cheese and vino, and get the children on dishes duty.

How: Sawdays offers stays at Le Ferme du Monteil from £2,300 per week, sleeping ten people,

Scream it out in Germany

Never mind the kids – if you’re anything like us you’re also desperate to ride the second-highest rollercoaster in Europe. Theme-park focused holidays don’t have to involve long flights to Orlando – Europa Park is Europe’s biggest theme park with 13 themed areas (Russia, Greece, Ireland etc) that take families on a round-the-world tour in one handy day.

Accommodation-wise, there are well-priced hotels on site, along with log cabins, covered wagons and teepee tents. Twin your fast-paced adventures with a few low-key days across the border in France. Share tyre-size tarte flambées (a sort of cheesy pastry pizza) and rent bikes for countryside jaunts along the river.

How: Europa Park offers rooms from £70 a night, with tickets from; Ryanair offers return flights to Baden Baden from £45,

Go glamping in Norfolk

Like it or loathe it, at some point kids want to go camping. If a week in a collapsing tent is too much to handle, try a long weekend at the Fire Pit campsite, close to the village of Wendling in Norfolk. The meadow is planted with 420 saplings planted by the Woodland Trust, and there are just 15 pitches, making your camping experience as chilled-out as it gets. Bring your own tent or go for the Wren’s Nest, a two-level glamping dome crafted with recycled materials and local hazelwood, and kitted out with warm lighting and five cosy beds. As nice as the field is, you’ll probably want to leave the site and explore a bit – try Cromer, a Victorian seaside town that’s seeing a bit of a revival.

How: The Fire Pit campsite offers pitches from £15 per night per adult, or £400 for a weekend in the Wren’s Nest,

Take a Disney-themed cruise

Whatever you think about cruises, you’d be a nutter not to love a Disney-themed cruise in the Mediterranean. One of Disney Cruise Line’s newest cruises is a Frozen-inspired, seven-night sail on Disney Magic – a ten-deck sparkle fest of waterslides, theatre shows, spas, gyms and all-you-can-feast restaurants. And it doesn’t stop with the Frozen cast either: there’s Belle, Ariel, Jasmine, an epic kids club that little ones will never want to leave (hello, time to yourself) and limitless ice cream. Oh, and that’s not all. When you dock in port ‘When You Wish Upon A Star’ blares out, just in case the locals missed your arrival. Sophisticated it isn’t, but seriously fun it certainly is.

How: From £1,955 per person,

Farm Stays

Live on an English farm

Everyone wants to spend the weekend with Muffin, Gypsy, Tiny and Pip (they’re Shetland ponies, FYI). Their tranquil Devonshire home is Lower Campscott Farm, and now you can stay there, too. Set in 35 acres of lush English countryside, the farm’s lodgings are made up of seven cosy self-catering cottages, which have access to a games room, outdoor play areas, farm trails and wildflower walks – perfect for kids who like to charge around and let off steam. It gets better – this is a farm after all, so expect daily animal feeding (the ponies are just the beginning), while Devon’s sandy beaches are just minutes away. If the location doesn’t suit, the Farm Stays’ website is chocca with other farm-focused holidays, with plenty of dog-friendly options, too.

How: Week-long stay based on a family of four sharing starts from £980,

Illfracombe in Devon

See animals in the sunshine in Florida

For year-round sunshine, beaches and wildlife, Fort Lauderdale serves up an easy family holiday. Forget the theme parks that this American state is famous for, and instead let your kids get their animal fix. Take an airboat ride through the Sawgrass Recreation Park, a great chance to see alligators, turtles and pelicans while gliding across the water, and for even more animals, take a swamp buggy eco-tour, where you’ll splash through the wilderness of Seminole Country and see native animals and possibly the elusive Florida Panther, an endangered subspecies of cougar. Back on water, book onto a catamaran cruise of the coast, with snorkelling, swimming and most importantly, hurling yourself in the water from a giant blow-up water trampoline.

How: Book into the Pelican Grand Beach Resort Hotel – it’s set right on the beach without you needing to cross a road (unusual in Florida) and has a top lazy river. Norwegian Air is the only airline flying direct to Fort Lauderdale, one-way flights from £179,

Explore the beaches of the Algarve

Beach hop in the Algarve

The Algarve may have a rep as a golfers’ paradise, but alongside the sun-drenched beaches and lush fairways, there are pretty mountain villages and historic coastal towns to explore, and excellent local food and wines to discover, too. Base yourself somewhere near Faro – it’s where you’ll be flying into (in just under three hours from London). Our pick would be Olhão, a picturesque fishing village that’s been trading since the middle ages. Spend the morning exploring the waterfront market and cobbled lanes, then hit one of the beaches that this part of Portugal is famous for.

We recommend that you head for Praia da Marinha, a Portuguese pin-up beach which ticks the ‘turquoise water’ and ‘soft sand’ boxes nicely, and is an absolutely great choice for families. For a day out, hit the Parque Natural Ria de Formosa. A cluster of idyllic islands sit offshore here – catch the boat from Tavira town to Ilha de Tavira, which has lagoon paddling for children, bars and plenty of sand to explore. The more adventurous should head due east to the border with Spain – particularly intrepid explorers can cross between the countries on a 2,363ft zipline that glides 50ft above the Guadiana River.

How: Various companies offer rentals in the area – try Alternative Portugal, a newly launched company specialising in villas,; or something like Only Apartments,; EasyJet offers return flights to Faro from £50,