Free holidays for kids? How to find family bargains at top holiday resorts

Holidays where kids travel free can mean huge savings for families. Alice Barnes-Brown discovers the best breaks for each age group

Parents are forever paying out for their children, whether it’s a new school uniform or a request for extra pocket money, so when there’s a significant saving to be made, it’s always welcome. Each year, operators release free child places for summer, with some covering youngsters up to the age of 17. Offers for short-haul destinations can include free flights, but with a plethora of hotels around the world offering kids-go-free deals, far-flung destinations can be brought within budget too – even during school holidays.

Best for… infants

Most airlines allow infants up to the age of two to travel free provided they can sit on a parent’s lap, and it’s a similar picture when they reach the resort, where little ones can sleep in a cot in their parents’ room. Don’t overlook villas, though; these are ideal for young families, as they offer privacy and independence, so holidays can flow around nap and feeding times.

Villa specialist Simpson Travel has a tempting offer for this demographic: during certain weeks, those staying seven nights get five free childcare sessions for kids between six months and 11 years, including one evening so parents can enjoy dinner in peace. At the Mousses Villas in Lefkada, guests have access to an on-site creche and complimentary infant care package, and for settling the tot into their cot, a Toniebox (audio player) softly reads children’s audiobooks.

Book it: A week at the Mousses Crèche and Kids’ Clubs leads in at £1,333 per person, based on four sharing. The price includes flights, car hire and childcare, departing July 21.

Also try: All kids under six stay free at Club Med’s European beach resorts, including Club Med Da Balaia in the Algarve, which offers a Baby Welcome Package and creative workshops at the creche. A seven-night stay for a family of four costs from £6,979, including flights on August 24 and transfers.

Mousses Crèche and Kids’ Clubs, Mousses Villas, Greece

Best for… under-fives

Holidays aren’t just a chance for grown-ups to chill: kids also benefit from exploring a gorgeous new setting. Set in a quiet part of Qatar where the Arabian desert meets the Persian Gulf, the Zulal Wellness Resort by Chiva-Som has a family wellness programme that includes a Zulal Nurture Kinder package for kids up to the age of four.

The experience starts with a family wellness consultation, where parents can choose two holistic treatments and two fitness activities plus a further five sessions that encourage expression and creativity. A nutritious breakfast, lunch and dinner are also served each day.

Book it: The resort’s Kids on Us deal (until October 31) means two adults booking a retreat get another room for up to two kids. A five-night retreat costs £7,710 for a family of four, with flights on August 1 and private transfers.

Also try: Kids can enjoy wellness in a different way at Centara Mirage Beach Resort Dubai, where a candy-themed Kids’ Spa offers edible treatments and colourful mani-pedis. Kuoni sells five nights’ B&B in a Superior King Room for two adults and two under-12s for £3,799, with flights in August, including one free child place.

Centara Mirage Beach Resort Dubai

Best for… under-10s

Turkey’s family-oriented culture means it is welcoming towards children – and Belek, with family attractions and beaches aplenty, is one of the best places to go. Recommend clients try The Land of Legends theme park, book a sailing trip on a pirate boat, or try a jeep safari to explore the mountains and villages further inland.

The Granada Luxury Belek has a dedicated water park for younger children – featuring tipping buckets and slow-flowing flumes – so clients won’t need to worry about height-restricted slides. That’s not all: the Grandy Kids’ Club, which is open seven days a week, is home to a veritable wonderland of fairground rides, including an illuminated Ferris wheel, from where they’ll be able to admire the turrets and towers of this resort.

Book it: EasyJet holidays offers seven nights’ all-inclusive from £3,987 for two adults and one child (on a free child place), including luggage, transfers and flights departing on July 27.

Also try: The Sol Nessebar Palace, near Bulgaria’s Sunny Beach, sports a similarly turreted look and a slide pool for younger children. Balkan Holidays sells a week’s stay for a family of four (including one free child place) from £3,749, including flights from Manchester on August 3.

Sol Nessebar Palace

Best for… tweens

Tweens (nine to 12-year-olds) are the perfect age for those once-in-a-lifetime trips, as they’re young enough to want lots of fun experiences with their parents, and old enough to remember them. At the Nautilus Maldives, two kids up to 12 can stay and eat for free, making a dream Indian Ocean trip more economical. Besides snorkelling the day away or spotting shoals of tropical fish from an overwater bungalow, guests at the Nautilus can choose from an impressive programme of family-bonding activities.

Parents and their tweens can connect over cooking workshops, coral-planting projects, mocktail masterclasses and even lessons in playing the boduberu (Maldivian drums). Plus there are activities where kids can meet others their age: stand-up paddleboard race or a mermaid photoshoot, anyone?

Book it: An eight-night trip for two adults and two children sharing a Beach House with Private Pool costs from £6,599 per person with Pure Luxury, including half-board dine-around accommodation, flights on July 30 and transfers.

Also try: The Ozen Reserve Bolifushi is another showstopping Maldivian getaway. Outdoorsy kids of this age group will relish all the facilities here, from cycling round the island to an eco-friendly ice rink. A seven-night stay with Inspiring Travel costs from £13,979, including two free under-12 places, departing July 21.

Ozen Reserve Bolifushi

Best for… teens

Teenagers can be hard to please on holiday, as they can’t really explore independently, but spending too much time with parents cramps their street cred. Resorts with spaces designed specifically for teens (and not their less-cool younger siblings) may be the answer – especially if they’ve got as many activities on hand as the Magic Tropical Splash Aparthotel in Finestrat, just 300 metres from the golden sands of Cala Finestrat Beach and 3.5 miles from Benidorm.

As well as a huge water park and lagoon pool, the animation programme features teen-only activities and video-game tournaments, plus a games room with Xboxes, big TVs and even an F1 simulator. When the sun goes down, teens can grab a fruity mocktail from the food trucks and enjoy the vibes at the nightly live music shows.

Book it: Jet2holidays sells a seven-night all-inclusive stay for £1,599 per person, based on two adults and one child (aged up to 13) travelling. Includes flights departing Manchester on August 24, luggage and transfers.

Also try: Next to the vast Terra Natura wildlife park, the Polynesian-styled Magic Natura Resort, also in Benidorm, has a VR suite for uber-realistic video gaming. If teens want to stay up late, they can order pizza to their lodge. Seven nights’ all-inclusive with Tui starts at £3,360 for a family of four, including flights from Birmingham on August 3, transfers and luggage.

Two kids up to age 12 can stay and eat for free at the Nautilus Maldives

3 of the best family hotels for children with autism

Michelle Lacey is a luxury travel advisor at The Holiday Fixer and an autism awareness advocate. She says: “Planning is key for a successful trip with a neurodiverse child, so I always prioritise hotels willing to discuss guests’ needs even before arriving at the resort, such as Mar Hotels Playa Mar & Spa in Majorca.

I also look for smaller properties or low-rise buildings with ample outdoor spaces and downtime options to minimise any sense of being overwhelmed. Other things to look out for include flexible meal options, activities catering to the child’s interests, and family-friendly rooms (including for teens) that allow everyone to stay together.”

Domes Resorts, Greece and Portugal

With staff trained in caring for children with autism, the Domes resorts in Corfu, Crete, Zante and the Algarve are a good option for families with neurodiverse children. They feature muted decor, plus a Kids Stay and Play Free offer for under-12s is running this season.

Beaches, Jamaica, Turks and Caicos

The Beaches resorts are home to the Caribbean’s first autism-friendly kids’ camps. Julia, a Sesame Street character with autism, helps neurodivergent kids to feel at ease with activities including arts and crafts.

Gloria Hotels, Spain

All four Gloria hotels across Gran Canaria and Lanzarote have facilities dedicated to neurodiverse guests. Families with an autistic child benefit from fast check-in to avoid waiting, adapted menus and pictogram signage.

5 top tips to find free child places

Book as early as possible: Free child places can run out quickly, so if clients have missed out for this summer, suggest they book now for 2025.

Manage expectations: Usually only one child per party goes free; clients with bigger broods will have to pay for the others.

Use your contacts: As well as finding hotels that offer free child places, agents may be able to source deals on specific room types to meet their clients’ needs.

Read the small print: Don’t assume operators who ran a free child place offer in a previous year will run it again next year or that it will have the same inclusions.

Look beyond school holidays: If your client’s children are not yet school-age, they can bag even more bargains from operators that run offers throughout the year.

PICTURES: Ibrahim Misthah; Stephen Hughes; Stavros Habakis

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