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Latin America family holidays

Machu Picchu, PeruMachu Picchu, PeruGihan Tubbeh © PromPerú
La Boca, Buenos Aires, ArgentinaLa Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina© Rachel Neathey
Sugar Loaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro, BrazilSugar Loaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil© Rachel Neathey
Tabacón hot springs, Costa RicaTabacón hot springs, Costa Rica© Costa Rica Tourism Board
Galapagos wildlifeGalapagos wildlife©Ministry of Tourism of Ecuador
Grand Piramid at Chichen ‘Iza, MexicoGrand Piramid at Chichen ‘Iza, Mexico© Rachel Neathey

Overview

With the exception of a few tourist hotspots with beach resorts catering to the family market, Latin America (comprising Central America and South America) is generally a region for more adventurous family holidays with older children, often involving wild nature and exciting animal encounters. Activity tours can be a very good way of easing yourself into the Latin American experience with kids.

Things to do with kids in Latin America

Central America

The highlights of Central America for those travelling with kids are Costa Rica and Mexico. Much of the rest of the region is well off the tourist radar, with most travellers put off by lack of familiarity and the memory of recent conflicts, although those with a thirst for adventure might like to investigate the other countries.

Belize offers lush jungles, snorkelling and diving and Mayan ruins, if very basic infrastructure. Guatemala is worth considering for its Mayan and Pipil ruins and beautiful mountains, volcanoes, jungles, lakes and beaches. 

El Salvador is slowly opening up to tourism, with some visitors coming for the surfing and others to see remnants of the country’s turbulent recent past. Honduras is also changing apace, with a rapidly growing tourist industry around its white-sand beaches, snorkelling, wildlife and national parks. Nicaragua, still closely associated with a war that ended more than 15 years ago but now very safe, offers volcanoes, lakes, beaches and cloudforests, plus great coffee! Panama with its beaches, mountains and rainforests generally remains off-the-beaten-track backpacker territory and may suit those with curious teens.

South America

BrazilPeruArgentina and Ecuador and the Galapagos are the must-sees of South America with kids. Colombia too is now generally safe to visit, after decades of civil unrest; its varied attractions range from Caribbean beaches, surfing and whale-watching to jungle walks and Amazon safaris, from archaeological ruins to skyscraper-studded modern cities.

Venezuela deserves more overseas visitors for its lush jungle, Andean peaks, gorgeous Caribbean coastline and islands,and wildlife-rich wetlands – plus the world’s highest waterfall, the Angel Falls.  Snorkelling, scuba-diving, kite-surfing, windsurfing and hiking are just some of the activities available there. 

Guyana boasts incredible landscapes and a growing ecotourism and wildlife-viewing industry, but political instability and corruption make it an edgy choice. Untamed Suriname is difficult to get around, both for its thick forest cover and its confusing mix of languages (even Dutch speakers struggle). Wealthy French Guiana, an overseas region of France, offers unspoilt rainforest, fascinating colonial architecture and stunning wildlife but lacks the character of much of the rest of the region.

Landlocked Bolivia is South America’s poorest nation, but what it lacks in beaches and wealth it makes up for in natural wonders, from mountains to salt flats, from jungles to grasslands. Long thin Chile stretches from the world’s driest desert to vast glacial fields, with geysers, volcanoes, rivers, steppe, beaches, lakes and islands in-between. A good infrastructure makes it easy to navigate, while the first direct flights from the UK started in 2017.

Paraguay is barely on the tourist radar, even for hardcore backpackers, but Uruguay is another up-and-coming destination with lovely beaches and compelling cities full of atmosphere and great restaurants. The Falkland Islands are a far-from-obvious choice but are of note for their amazing penguin, seals and albatross populations.

Eat

Latin America can be one of the more challenging regions in which to travel with kids unwilling to sample new flavours, although in most major cities across the region you should be able to find at least a few places serving familiar international cuisine.

By Rhonda Carrier
Our Favourite Latin America Accommodation
With most activities included in your all-inclusive package, this beach resort in Mexico is ideal for the whole family.
Our Favourite Latin America Trip
This must be an family adventure holiday of a lifetime, exploring Ecuador and the Galapagos offers some stunning sites and creatures.
Our Favourite Latin America Features
Dea and kids get to grips with horrible history in the Mexican capital.
Latin America Feature Two
Georgina hand-picks the finest eco accommodation for families in America and the Caribbean.

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