If you’re the parent of a teenager, you don’t need us to tell you they’re fussy when it comes to holiday destinations or what you do when you get there. But whether it’s a quick city break or the travel trip of a lifetime you’re after, there are many different types of holidays for teenagers to choose from – making sure you all have a fantastic family break before the kids get old enough to go away on their own.
Parking yourself on a sun lounger for eight hours a day may be your idea of holiday heaven, but your teenager probably won’t thank you for dragging them away from their friends to sit staring at the water all week. If you want to go to a beach with your family, choose one close to a new culture or activity they can experience. Try Cuba or Costa Rica for a truly unusual beach break. And if you really want to surprise them, head to the beaches of Iceland – named among the most beautiful in the world – and go on a tour of Game of Thrones filming locations.
Teenagers aren’t known for their patience when it comes to, well, anything, so take them on an activity holiday and keep them busy the entire time. What that activity is depends on their interests – you could spend a week sailing round the Greek islands, biking through the Alps, kayaking in the Rockies, or even walking in the Himalayas. Whatever you do, throw yourself into the activity and your kids will love it.
If your teenager likes their sport there are plenty of places they can work off some of their energy while honing their skills. For football fans, head to Chia Laguna Prodays Football Academy in Sardinia, where your 6-16-year old could be coached by Premiership legends, while tennis aces are well served at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Majorca. If they like to keep their sporting options open, head to La Manga Club in Spain, which offers everything from football and cricket to rugby and golf.
Long-haul city breaks
Cape Town, Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro will all get your kids excited, but New York is the place that will really thrill them. The famous skyline, the shopping, the food, the shows and the sheer energy of the city all make it the perfect holiday to take teenagers on. For the true New York experience, rent an apartment in Brooklyn and, once you’ve done the city, travel out to the Jersey Shore for a bit of beach life.
European city breaks
There are plenty of cities closer to home that have a huge amount to offer the world-weary teenager. Barcelona is the ideal combination of beach and city, with fabulous shopping, stunning architecture and a world-famous football stadium providing more than enough stimulation for a short break. Meanwhile, Rome has the history and food, while Paris has the glamour and romance.
Cornwall is now one of Europe’s top teenage holiday destinations, with resorts such as Newquay and Polzeath a haven for teenagers keen on catching a wave. Book yourself a hotel such as the St. Moritz near Polzeath so you can treat yourself in the spa while your kids hit the surf. If you fancy a bit more guaranteed sunshine, head to San Sebastian in Spain or Ericeira in Portugal.
Many tour operators such as Mark Warner and Club Med offer holidays tailored specifically for teenagers, with activities laid on throughout the day to keep them out of their room and off their screens. Water sports from the sedate (sailing, windsurfing) to the exhilarating (paragliding, banana boating) will ensure your kid never gets bored, while you’ll have the chance to relax without the constant search for something to do.
Seeing animals in their natural habitat in Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, and when you combine that with sharing stories around the bush campfire and sleeping with the sounds of the wildlife is an unforgettable experience for both you and your teens . If you want to go further (and help them with their evolution homework) book a trip to the Galapagos Islands. As well as seeing one of the world’s most diverse ranges of wildlife, your teenager can hike up a volcano, swim with sea lions and visit the legendary Charles Darwin Research Station.
Villa with friends
You can offer your children all the experiences in the world but sometimes all they want is to be with their friends, so consider renting a villa and inviting a few of them and their families. Book a villa within walking distance of a town that the kids can wander around safely and ensure there’s plenty to do for both adults and children in the daytime.
The ultimate road trip
With your child about to head off to university or the world of work, this may be the last chance for you all to be on holiday together, so it’s a great time to book that road trip you’ve always wanted to go on. Whether it’s the iconic Big Sur in California, the thrilling Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse in Austria or the epic Route 66 across America, taking the ultimate road trip with your family will create some fantastic memories for you all.