Rating Every Country We’ve Traveled To
During the COVID-19 shutdown last year we were at home and looking for ways to stay entertained, so I asked my wife and kids to rate every country they’ve been to from 1 to 10. I added in my votes and ranked every country that had at least two votes. The goal: come up with a list of the best countries to visit, at least from our experience.
Everyone could vote based on any criteria. In general the ratings were consistent from person to person, but there were some definite outliers – places where one person remembered things differently than the others. In a family of five, you can’t always keep everyone happy. I will say that we had some fun discussions when people disagreed!
Our Top 20 Countries (the 20 Best Countries to Visit)
In order to give you family travel ideas, here are our top 20 countries to travel to. Keep in mind that we have two girls (10 and 14) and a boy (12), and they’ve been traveling since they were infants – 62 countries so far. We split our travels between cities and nature and add in frequent cultural activities and cooking classes. We don’t go to a lot of museums or concentrate on history. Likewise we don’t spend full days at the beach or shopping.
Five continents are represented in our top 20. Australia came in at number 21, and our top African country is the Seychelles at 29.
Note that I’m including the average score after every destination.
20. The Netherlands (7.3)
Favorite Places: Amsterdam, the Keukenhof Gardens and the tulip fields throughout the country in the spring.
Relevant Blog Posts: None. Amsterdam is usually a 1-2 day layover for us. We love the city but I’ve never written about it.
19. Chile (7.4)
Favorite Places: Patagonia, the Atacama Desert and Easter Island. Santiago is fun for a day or two as well.
15 (tie). Antarctica (7.5)
Favorite Places: Antarctica isn’t, strictly speaking, a country, but it’s an amazing place to visit with or without kids. We loved it all.
Relevant Blog Post: Antarctica with an 8-Year-Old
15 (tie). Indonesia (7.5)
Favorite Places: Indonesia is mainly about Bali for us, since my daughters love the island, but Borobudur is amazing as well. We want to keep exploring.
15 (tie). Norway (7.5)
Favorite Places: We love Oslo and Bergen, especially in the summer, and the Norway in a Nutshell tour is a great way to travel between them. The fjords are gorgeous as well, and Tromsø in the arctic circle is a good way to experience the midnight sun.
Relevant Blog Post: Oslo with Kids. Most of my Norwegian travels were pre-kids and I haven’t written about them.
15 (tie). Sweden (7.5)
Favorite Places: Stockholm and Gothenburg are both great cities to explore for a few days, but we love the coastal towns and the forests of Central Sweden.
14. Turkey (7.6)
Favorite Places: Istanbul and Cappadocia. And we loved our day on a gulet near Bodrum.
13. Switzerland (7.7)
Favorite Places: My wife and I have traveled all over Switzerland pre-marriage and loved all of the small towns – places like Interlaken, Crans-Montana and Luzern – and I recently hiked and biked from Engelberg to Interlaken. With the kids we’ve only explored Zurich on layovers and Lake Lugano on a day trip from Como. Definitely one of the best countries to visit – we just need to plan more Swiss trips with the kids.
Relevant Blog Post: Hiking in Switzerland: Engelberg to Interlaken
12. The Maldives (7.8)
Favorite Places: Six Senses Laamu in the Laamu Atoll.
Relevant Blog Posts: Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives: Our New Favorite Resort Anywhere | A Return to Paradise
11. Canada (7.9)
Favorite Places: Vancouver, Banff and Winnipeg and the surrounding areas. Victoria on Vancouver Island is fun as well.
Relevant Blog Post: Manitoba, Canada with Kids. All of our other Canada trips were before I started writing about our travels.
10. Croatia (8.0)
Favorite Places: Zagreb and Plitvice National Park. We still need to get to Krka National Park and Dubrovnik.
Relevant Blog Posts: Croatia With Kids: Zagreb and Plitvice Lakes
9. Brazil (8.3)
Favorite Places: The Amazon Rainforest and the Rio Negro. Manaus is worth a day or two as well. We haven’t been to Rio yet.
Relevant Blog Posts: The Amazon Rainforest with Kids: A Magical (Unplugged) Expedition
7 (tie). Laos (8.5)
Favorite Places: We’ve only been to Luang Prabang and loved it. We need to explore the rest of the country.
Relevant Blog Post: Asia with Kids: A Crazy Three-Week, Six-Country Itinerary
7 (tie). Japan (8.5)
Favorite Places: Tokyo, Kyoto, Naoshima Island and Hiroshima
6. Portugal (8.7)
Favorite Places: Lisbon, Cascais and Sintra. Still haven’t visited Porto or the Douro Valley.
Relevant Blog Posts: None. Definitely one of the best countries to travel to, but our trips have largely been focused around weddings.
5. New Zealand (8.8)
Favorite Places: The South Island. We’ve explored it far more than the North Island, even though we’ve visited Auckland several times.
Relevant Blog Posts: None. We need to go back and see more, and I’ll write about it next time!
3 (tie). Faroe Islands (9.0)
Favorite Places: Torshavn, Tjørnuvik, Saksun, Gjógv, Mykines
Relevant Blog Post: An Amazing Week in the Faroe Islands (with Kids)
3 (tie). France (9.0)
Favorite Places: Paris, Provence
2. Italy (9.1)
Favorite Places: Florence, the Dolomites, Venice, Cortona, Cinque Terre, Rome, Lake Como, Ravenna, San Gimignano
Relevant Blog Posts: Florence with Kids: What to Do and Where to Stay | Our Favorite Restaurants in Florence | How to Visit Cinque Terre | Positano Italy (and the Amalfi Coast) | Why You Should Never Do a Day Trip to Florence or Rome | A Week in Florence without Kids | A Perfect Trip to Florence with Kids | Venice in High Season with Kids | Italy Unplugged: A Week in Emilia Romagna | Hiking the Via Francigena Through Tuscany | Kid-Friendly Adventure in Trentino’s Stunning Val di Fassa | Adventures with Kids in the Dolomites: Trentino’s Val di Fiemme | Two Weeks on Lake Como with Kids | A Villa in Tuscany for a Month
1. Greece (9.8)
Favorite Places: Naxos, Paros, Santorini (or pretty much any Greek island in the summer, unless it sees a lot of cruise ships)
The Best Countries to Visit: Your Turn
What are the best countries to visit from your family’s experience? Do you agree/disagree with our ranking? Would love to hear your thoughts on the best countries to travel to in the comments below.
And I should note that a lot of people are finding this post when Googling “coolest countries to visit”. So I did a separate post on the coolest countries!
We never used to travel with travel health coverage, or even trip cancellation insurance, but we regretted that when my wife broke her knee traveling recently. I write about it here. I highly recommend purchasing insurance – either on an annual basis if you travel a lot, or for individual trips. We went with G1G based on price and what they offer.