It’s true that there are no lack of family-friendly vacations available relatively close by. From all-inclusive Caribbean resorts and themed parks like Disneyland and Caribbean resortand themed parks like Disneyland and Great Wolf Lodge, there are plenty of options for a hassle-free family vacation. But for those looking to get a little more adventurous with their next family holiday, here are a few unforgettable trip ideas to some of the world’s most remote places that the whole family will love.
Meet Santa Claus
Make your next Christmas one the kids will remember forever with a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Santa Claus Village in Lapland, Finland. The village is located eight kilometers north of the Lapland capital Rovaniemi, and you can choose to stay in the city and visit for the day or stay a night or two (at least) in one of the many hotels at the village.
In addition to meting Santa, there’s a whole village to explore and loads of outdoor entertainment with reindeer sleigh rides, sledding or building a snowman to name just a few. Santa Claus Village is located in the Arctic Circle, which marks the southernmost latitude in the northern hemisphere where the sun is able to continuously stay above or below the horizon for twenty four hours. The line is marked in the village and you can even get a certificate confirming your crossing to the Arctic Circle.
But visiting Santa’s home isn’t the only reason to visit the Arctic Circle. There’s also cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, fat biking, husky or reindeer sleigh adventures, snowmobiling and Arctic survival, hunting or nature trips and waiting for you in the Lapland winter time. In the warmer months, activities include hiking, biking, horse riding, boat trips and much more.
The other big reason for a trip to Lapland is to view the stunning Aurora Borealis, better known as the Northern Lights. This mind blowing show of dancing lights (which are formed by collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun and gaseous particles in the earth’s atmosphere) can be seen from mid-August to early April.
Santa Claus Village is open all year round, but for the most authentic Santa experience, winter time is best. This is of course the busiest time of year for Rovaniemi, so be sure to book your travel and accommodation well in advance to avoid missing out.
To learn more about the village visit https://santaclausvillage.info/ and for travel information about Rovaniemi go to https://www.visitrovaniemi.fi/. And for those looking for adventure further afield, check out this even more remote glass igloo resort.
Go Wild in the Galápagos Islands
One of the most famous regions for viewing unique wildlife, the Galápagos Islands is home to some of the world’s most interesting animals. With fauna found nowhere else on earth such as the land and ocean iguanas, the Galápagos Giant Tortoise and the renowned Blue-Footed Booby, this remote Ecuadorian archipelago off the west coast of South America offers a truly one-of-a-kind experience.
Undoubtedly the best way to explore the Galápagos is by cruise boat. Although you can opt for a land-based vacation and take day trips from one of the hotels found mainly on the islands of San Cristóbal and Santa Cruz, a live-aboard vessel will allow you to see so much more. There are a range of operators offering everything from yachts and catamarans to cruise ships with up to 100 person capacity.
The traffic around the islands is controlled by the Galápagos National Park in order to minimize the environmental impact of tourism. The itineraries of each operator have set routes and dates, so you’ll want to do plenty of research to find out which itinerary best aligns with the activities you’re interested in and the wildlife you want to see, as some species of the Galápagos only live on particular islands. Your research should also include seasonality for wildlife spotting, as migration and mating seasons can affect your chances of seeing many of the archipelago’s residents.
Of course, exploring the islands by sea doesn’t mean you’re stuck on a boat the whole time. Most tours include land-based activities such as guided hikes, biking and kayaking tours of the stunningly diverse landscapes of these volcanic islands.
If swimming with sea lions, watching playful penguins or humpback whales, and spotting the many unique animals of the awe-inspiring Galápagos sounds like something you’d like to learn more about, a couple of good places to start are https://www.galapagos.org/ and https://www.galapagosislands.com/.
Take the Hogwarts Express
For avid Harry Potter fans big and small, there probably aren’t many things more exciting than the chance to ride the real-life Hogwarts Express. Although it’s actually called The Jacobite, the steam train and the route to Hogwarts featured in the Harry Potter movies – including the iconic viaduct – is quite real, and offers a superb 42 mile journey from Fort William to Mallaig through the stunning scenery of the Scottish Highlands.
Starting at Fort William at the base of Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, the two-hour steam train expedition traverses a landscape of jaw-dropping mountains, valleys and deep lochs including Loch Nevis, the deepest saltwater loch in Europe. The journey ends at Mallaig, a quaint port village located on the west coast of Scotland and one of the main gateways to the Isle of Skye.
Whether the train ride is a day trip in a larger Scottish tour or the beginning of a grand tour of the highlands, the Jacobite offers a remarkable scenic journey that even those who would not describe themselves as Harry Potter fans will be find hard to forget. For more information on the train journey click here and for information about touring Scotland head to www.visitscotland.com.
Explore Amazing Antarctica
There is nowhere else on earth like the White Continent, and now with a range of voyages from the South Shetland Islands to the Ross Sea, crossing the Antarctic Circle or even flying to the South Pole, there are many options available for visiting this vast continent. With any Antarctic tour you will encounter breathtaking scenery and an abundance of wildlife including whales, seals, penguins and birds. Some itineraries also include visits to research stations and many include opportunities for scenic flights, climbing, hiking, kayaking, diving and other adventure activities. Even camping!
Ocean voyages leave from either Ushuaia in Argentina or Bluff on the south island of New Zealand. Most tours arrive and depart from the same location, although there are semi-circumnavigation options as well. If you’d rather skip the long ocean journey, you can also fly to Antarctica from Cape Town in South Africa or Punta Arenas, Chile. Many tours last 10 – 14 days, although longer voyages are available. Trips like the journey between Argentina and New Zealand taking up to 50 or more days.
The Antarctic can only be visited during summer, which runs from November to March. The best time for wildlife is in the middle of the season, although prices are lower at the beginning and end.
There are a range of operators from smaller expedition ships of 100 passengers or less up to huge luxury cruise liners equipped with spas, lounges, theaters and casinos. Some also include tours led by qualified field naturalists and opportunities to dive with experienced polar dive instructors. The main thing when choosing a tour operator is to make sure they are reputable. This is the Antarctic we’re talking about after all. It is an extreme environment that poses a number of potential dangers. A good place to start looking for responsible operators is the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators: https://iaato.org/home