Our Expert Guide to India Family Holidays
This magical country can be overwhelming with its sheer number of activities on offer, but this guide will help you plan the best spots to visit on your getaway.
India is a magical destination to head off to on a family holiday. If you’re looking for a thrill, for something completely different to your every day, and for a trip that you and your kids will never forget then this is it. It is the kind of country that people fall in love with. The royal palaces, energetic cities, peaceful backwaters and spiritual way of life are unlike anywhere else in the world.
Best Family Holiday Destinations in India
There are many ways to experience family holidays in India, from dipping your toe into the quiet and calm beaches, to immersing yourself fully into the colourful mayhem. We know that children might not want to trudge around countless temples and forts, so we blend experiences that they will find interesting too. We also know that a balance of sightseeing and dedicated pool/relaxation time is a must.
Overall, India is more geared towards older children, rather than younger. Hotels don’t always have interconnecting bedrooms, and some might not allow extra beds in the rooms. Plus, it’s important to consider the food (often spicy) and the risks associated with the lack of clean drinking water. Families with small children might prefer a holiday to Sri Lanka or Thailand instead. However, if India is still on your bucket list with tots in tow, then we will make it work for you, suggesting tours, destinations and hotels that are better for young children.
Read on for inspiration for your next family adventure.
South India Family Holidays
The south of India is very different to the north, in culture and in landscape. While you still get the lively city life, there are quieter corners of the countryside, whether that’s tea plantations or the coastline. Because of the slower pace and beautiful nature, the south is one of the best family holiday destinations in India.
Known as ‘God’s Own Country,’ beautiful Kerala has lots to offer families and is an ideal place to go for your first trip to India, particularly with younger children. You could fly into Cochin airport, via Mumbai, and spend time in the city’s ancient port Fort Cochin with its iconic Chinese fishing nets, colonial architecture, and (relatively) quiet, cobbled streets filled with markets, heritage hotels, art galleries and cafes. From there you are within reach of the sleepy backwaters to tour on a houseboat, Periyar National Park, with its elephant and tiger population, plus the pretty palm-fringed coastline of places like Marari Beach. The best time to visit Kerala is between December and April.
Goa has been popular with tourists since it found favour with the hippies in the sixties and since then it’s kept its boho-vibe, attracting arty celebrities and yoga fanatics from around the world. Because of this, it’s also one of the most accessible places to travel to on a holiday to India with your family. Restaurants serve Western food, everyone speaks English, and there’s a spate of high-end hotels to stay in. North Goa is where you’ll find most of the action but South Goa is better for children as it’s quieter and more about the stunning beaches and colonial architecture than nightclubs and beach bars. Adding Goa to your family-friendly itinerary works well at the end of a trip before flying back home. The best time to visit Goa is at Christmas, New Year, February half term, Easter and May half term.
North India Family Holidays
North India is perhaps more what you’d imagine when you think of quintessential India. Rajasthan is full of exquisite palaces, the Golden Triangle takes in some of the country’s key sights, and there are incredible national parks full of wildlife to explore too. Unless you are particularly adventurous, north India is better with older kids.
Delhi is a good place to start your family holiday in India, either use it as a base to acclimatise after your flight and enjoy the luxurious hotels on offer, or soak in all the fascinating culture. Kids will love a cycle-rickshaw ride around Chandni Chowk trying fragrant spices and mooching among the colourful bazaars. Listen as your guide brings places like the Red Fort and Jama Masjid Mosque to life with tales of their fascinating history.
Just the scale of the Taj Mahal will leave your kids in awe. Once they hear about its history and how the details were painstakingly carved into the smooth white marble, it’s sure to be something your kids will remember from your family adventure holiday in India. But, if the monument isn’t for them, they’ll at least enjoy running around the gardens, in between the fountains. Afterwards, head to nearby Agra Fort, a sprawling red sandstone structure, to find out more about Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, the man behind the Taj Mahal.
The capital of Rajasthan gives you a taste of Indian city life in a more manageable way than Delhi or Mumbai might. Full of colour and life, Jaipur has become a hot spot for many top textile designers around the world and as such has a cool, arty feel to it. Shopping is excellent – which might not be the top of your kid's to-do list, but you could leave them at the hotel kids’ club while you dive into the bazaars and shops like Soma or Anokhi. Then reconvene to explore the many palaces, temples, and forts, which will captivate kids who love fantasy and history. With an expert guide, watch the buildings come alive and learn about the tales of royalty, warriors and gods who inhabited them. Amer Fort, Hawa Mahal and Nahargarh Fort are among the most notable and exciting to see.
Ranthambore National Park
Ranthambore National Park is a beautiful place, with a historic fortress standing within the greenery and tigers wandering freely. Since becoming a national park in 1973, tiger numbers have grown, and sightings are now abundant. You might also see other jungle cats such as leopards and desert cats including jackals and nilgai. A tiger safari is a fabulous addition to a luxury holiday in India, combined with either a visit to Agra (5 hours away) or Jaipur (4 hours away). Older children will love staying in the tented accommodation in the park, such as Sujan Sher Bagh, which has a family tent for four.
A trip to Ladakh in the Himalayas is not one you’ll forget easily, especially if you share it with your children. For a family adventure like no other, head to the stunning town of Leh set among the snow-capped peaks and glistening streams of this majestic landscape. Adrenaline junkies will love hiking and white-water rafting, while the beautiful monasteries, gompas and temples offer an enriching glimpse into Buddhism in this unique region.
Things to Do With Kids in India
When it comes to things to do, India is varied and vibrant and with the right itinerary planned meticulously by our travel specialists, a family holiday there is smooth and stress-free.
Many of the hotels in India offer cooking classes, which are a fantastic way to learn about the traditions and rituals involved in Indian food. Get involved in creating your own dinner with your children and return to the UK a pro chef.
National parks in the north and south of the country work to conserve the animals and there are now many luxurious tented safari camps to stay at too. Ranthambore National Park is known for its tiger population, while parks in central India, such as Pench National Park are often quieter, although it can be harder to spot tigers there, you might see leopards. In the south, there are monkeys, deer, wild boar, elephants and many birds to be seen in Periyar National Park, four hours from Cochin. Kids will love a 4X4 jeep safari or early morning boat ride in these parks looking out for the elusive animals in their natural habitats. It will be a real highlight of your family holiday in India.
Take a train ride
Riding the railway can be an exciting but also overwhelming experience, which is not ideal for young children. However, if you’re travelling with teens who would relish the thrill, it’s a fantastic way to traverse the country, particularly in a first-class cabin with a lie-down bed. Tell your travel specialist if a train ride is high on your priority when with your family in India and they can advise on the best journey for you.
Just south of Cochin is Vembanad Lake where you can set off for a watery tour of Kerala’s beautiful backwaters. Spend a night or two drifting along in a traditional houseboat past the river life that inhabits the banks. Days on board houseboats are sleepy ones spent reading books, observing the world go by and eating delicious food – not one for active kids who’ll struggle to be still for so long. It’s the ideal antidote if you’ve come from busier cities like Mumbai.
Hiking in Munnar
A beautiful retreat for family adventure holidays in India, Munnar’s tea plantations are where Indians go to cool off from the city heat. Nature walks take you through lush and green national parks, plus there are caves with murals from the Stone Age, which kids will love discovering.
Delhi Street Food Tour
Join a guide to explore the crowded streets of Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi where a cacophony of street food stalls await. Try stuffed parathas, chaat wrapped in newspaper, samosas and sweet jalebis.
Puppet Show, Jaipur
When in the Pink City, be sure to take in a puppet show, which is a theatrical spectacle traditional to Rajasthan. Kids will delight as puppeteers reenact tales of bravery and love, performed to the beat of a drum.
Balloon ride over Jaipur
A magical way to see Jaipur in all its glory is with a balloon ride over the city. Away from the noise of rickshaws and daily life, float high above the forts and palaces, and smaller villages on the outskirts.
Where to Stay in India on a Family Holiday
India has a flurry of fabulous places to stay, from sparkling palaces in Delhi and Rajasthan to boutique homestays and beachside properties in the south, here are some of our family-friendly favourites.
For Younger kids
Hotels in India are not as geared up for young kids as those in Europe and other parts of Asia, but they are very welcoming, and some have activities tailored to their smaller guests.
With family-sized villas and a kids’ club, this is one of the most child-friendly hotels in Goa. Right on the beach and among pretty tropical gardens, Taj Exotica is a fantastic place to base yourself for a few days of sun-filled relaxation or to explore the area while on your family holiday in India. Goan- and Portuguese-style rooms with sea or garden views have private verandas and some suites and villas come with private pools. There are several restaurants, including the beachfront Lobster Village, which serves seafood under the stars. While the kids are happily being entertained, spend an afternoon in the Ayurvedic spa.
Half an hour outside Jaipur is the palatial Oberoi Rajvilas. Along with the kind of interiors that will make you feel like royalty are activities to keep the whole family happy. For children, there are puppet shows, block-printing workshops and treasure hunts around the pretty grounds, while the spa, tennis courts, croquet and golf putting will please the big and little kids among you. Villas and suites have space for extra beds, and some have private gardens where you can have a twinkly dinner for two once the children are asleep.
For older kids
With a bit more to keep the older kids entertained, these hotels in India are best for those 12 and over.
This very charming boutique hotel in a 300-year-old building was one of the first in the area. Blending Dutch and Portuguese styles of architecture, there are 13 rooms in total, which either face the garden or the backwaters, and an extra bed can be added to three of them. A shady pool is the perfect place to cool off after a day wandering around Cochin. And delicious food – western and Indian – can served in the garden too.
Set among Munnar’s tea and coffee plantations, Windermere Estate has 360-degree views of the hillsides around it. This is one of our top picks for older kids but also for family adventure holidays in India. Its serene location will feel refreshing after India’s busy cities, but it has enough to keep active kids happy, with hikes and trails around the mountains and tea gardens. There are also several national parks nearby, offering the opportunity to see animals such as ibex, deer, elephants, leopards and langurs. Meanwhile, a lovely outdoor pool and yoga classes offer some relaxation among all the excursions. And it’s worth knowing that there are two sets of interconnecting rooms, which are ideal for families.
For Multigenerational families
Thanks to Scott Dunn’s seamless service, which organises transfers and guides, India is a brilliant place to travel to with all the family, young and old.
Sitting 2,500m above sea level and poking out of pine and cedar forests, Wildflower Hall looks more Bavarian than Himalayan. The former residence of Lord Kitchener has a stately home feel to it with a billiards room, library and personalised butler service. Named after the beautiful flora that surrounds the hotel, Wildflower Hall looks over the Himalayas and makes the most of its location with horse riding, mountain biking, rafting and day treks with picnics all available from the hotel. Slower days can be spent at the world-class Oberoi Spa and admiring the unbeatable views from the swimming pool. There are interconnecting rooms and kids of all ages are welcome.
Once the home of the Maharaja of Jaipur, staying at Rambagh Palace is an extremely regal experience. Rooms look out over the courtyard or vast gardens and come in a contemporary or heritage style. All are sumptuous. There are several on-site restaurants, including the Verandah Café, which serves afternoon tea, and the Steam Café, which serves wood-fired pizzas from a vintage steam train. Along with excellent facilities like polo fields, croquet, mini golf, indoor and outdoor pools, and a spa, the hotel will happily arrange bespoke experiences for you and your family. Babysitters can be arranged.
For some well-deserved beach time, head to Marari Beach Resort where you and your teens will love the downtime spent reading in a hammock, joining yoga classes and lounging by the swimming pool. Rooms have space for an extra bed, while there are villas with a separate living room for a bit more space, which also come with private pools. A magnificent buffet will suit fussy eaters, or those who want to try a bit of everything, while the Beach Shack serves up fresh fish in a laid-back setting. There are martial arts demos, cooking classes and an interactive kitchen garden to explore too.
Neeleshwar Hermitage sits on a six-mile stretch of soft, sandy beach. Its 18 thatched cottages are dotted around the grounds, each with a large outdoor bathroom set in a small, walled garden. Some look out over the sea and others the peaceful gardens, there are also those with private pools. Families can request garden-view huts all in a row or add an extra bed to their sitting rooms. At the seafood restaurant, tables spill out onto the beach for alfresco dining, and there’s an impressive wellness centre dedicated to Ayurvedic treatments.
You don’t have to look far for adventure in India, but these are the best hotels for the ultimate in high-octane accommodation.
The concept of this accommodation is to take you off-the-beaten-track. For families travelling with teenage or university-aged children, staying at the Ultimate Travelling Camp will be a momentous experience. The mobile camp is set up in locations where there are little or no tourists and allows you to explore or hike by day and return to comfortable, luxurious tents by night. They come with ensuite bathrooms with hot showers, lovely beds with crisp linen and personal valets to look after you. This is experiential travelling at its best.
Stay among the wilderness on your family adventure holiday in India in the beautiful Suján Sher Bagh tents. The high-end safari camp is just outside Ranthambore National Park where wildlife sightings are abundant. Decked out in gorgeous earthy tones, reminiscent of a bygone era, the tents are designed with the utmost comfort in mind, including in and outdoor showers. Two Imperial Suites each accommodate families of four. A private valet will look after you impeccably and the food here is exceptional, all adding to an unparalleled experience.
India Family Holiday Itineraries
Scott Dunn’s travel specialists will put together a bespoke itinerary for your family holiday in India. We will book and plan all your transfers, experiences, and tours down to the very last detail, meaning you just have to get yourself to the airport. For inspiration, we have some family-friendly example itineraries to browse, including Family Fun in Rajasthan and Exceptional Kerala and the Maldives.
Delhi, Bandhavgarh National Park, Kanha National Park, Pench Tiger Reserve, Satpura National Park
A rugged wilderness home to a myriad of wildlife, including the famed Bengal tiger, this India tour itinerary offers the ultimate central India experience. Think remote lodges, luxury tented camps and safaris in four of India’s most prolific national parks, including Kanha and Satpura. Savour every moment with this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
GBP £7,100 pp
Epic India: Spotting Snow Leopards
Delhi, Leh, Ulley Valley & Delhi
Take the chance to view the magnificent snow leopards in their natural habitat with some of the best private India tour guides in the Trans-Himalayan Region on a join-in expedition. This epic itinerary is fabulously unique and perfect for someone who likes to get off the beaten track in search of adventure with added luxury and home comforts.
GBP £6,600 pp
Family Fun in Rajasthan
Delhi, Agra, Ranthambore, Jaipur, Nimaj & Jodhpur
This two-week tour of India’s Rajasthan state combines rich history, awe-inspiring wildlife encounters and immersive cultural experiences. Ideal for families looking to step off the tourist trail and embrace quality time together, this India tour combines the perfect mixture of modern family-friendly hotels, boutique lodges and heritage properties.
GBP £6,000 pp
Ultimate Nepal and India
Kathmandu, Pokhara, Annapurna Trek, Delhi, Agra & Jaipur
Nepal and India are a fantastic combination and this classic itinerary introduces you to the highlights of Nepal with a brilliant trek in the Annapurna’s and a great taste of India, in the cultural triangle of Rajasthan.
GBP £7,000 pp
Ultimate North India
Delhi, Varanasi, Agra, Jaipur, Shahpura & Udaipur
This itinerary provides a brilliant journey through Rajasthan and northern India, allowing you to experience the beautiful cities of Delhi, Varanasi, Agra, Jaipur and Udaipur. On this in-depth Golden Triangle tour of India through this romantic and emotive region, you can delve into the culture and history of the area with your private guide.
GBP £4,600 pp
Delhi, Alwar, Rathambore National Park, Jaipur, Udaipur
Witness a rich tapestry of life, vibrant colour, tranquil countryside and mind-blowing beauty, all while staying in some of the most exclusive properties selected just for you. This is the ultimate trip through Rajasthan. We'll take you to all our best-kept secrets while delivering next-level service and luxury with the help of expert guides.
Meet Our India Specialist
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