One of the best things about living in England is how easy it is to travel to Europe. Ok, so that might all change as and when Brexit happens but, for the time being, the continent is on our doorstep and travel between the UK and Europe is easy. There are so many kid-friendly city breaks both in Europe and around England that really all I need is more time to explore them all!
When we first moved back to the UK a year ago, I asked some of my fellow family travel bloggers to share their best european city breaks with kids. The result was a fantastic list of cities throughout Europe and the UK that are brilliant for families. Given that it’s almost time for a new year of adventures to start, I thought I would update this list for 2019 with a few new destinations added. Here then, are the 32 best destinations in Europe for a family holiday – better get packing!
The best cities in Europe for families
Surely one of the most beautiful cities in the world has to be Edinburgh. Scotland’s hilly capital is home to a medieval Old Town and a graceful Georgian New Town, all beautiful neoclassical buildings and elegant gardens. Overlooking the city is Edinburgh Castle, which kids are sure to love. There is a lot to do in Edinburgh for kids from fantastic museums such as the National Museum and Dynamic Earth as well as lots of sights that are sure to appeal, such as the legend of Greyfriars Bobby. Visit during the summer months and witness the amazing Edinburgh Fringe when the city comes alive with art, theatre, comedy, music and more, much of it suited to kids of all ages. The other great thing about Edinburgh is how easy it is to leave and there’s plenty to do nearby that will keep children happy. The south of the city is the gateway to the Braids, Blackford and Pentland Hills – miles and miles of rolling hills speckled with golf courses and woodland. Blackford Pond is an idyllic pond set at the foot of the Braids and perfect for a stroll and duck feeding session. Another favourite day out is to nearby Gullane Beach, a strip of dunes, rocky outcrops and blustery headland that makes for one of the the best day trips from Edinburgh. The large sweep of beach is great for making sandcastles, rolling down the dunes, investigating rock pools and kite flying. On the drive home make sure to stop at Lucas Ice Cream Parlour, a favourite with kids big or small!
Nominated by Philippa, globetotting
The Danes are consistently praised for their approach to parenting so it’s no surprise that Copenhagen is a perfect European destination for families. Indeed, as you wander around the compact city, you’d be forgiven for assuming it was planned with the younger generation in mind. You’ll find dedicated pram sections on buses, wonderfully imaginative playgrounds, green open spaces, a National Museum with an entire section for kids to touch, interact and climb over the exhibits, and a National Gallery with a regular weekend craft session for kids of all ages.
There are also a fantastic array of landmarks, including fairy-land castles (Rosenborg Castle), brightly coloured streets (Nyhavn) and a little bronze mermaid statue to fire the imagination of little minds. But the prize attraction for kids must be the bright lights and thrilling rides of Tivoli Gardens. Copenhagen can get busy during the summer months and the city is renowned for being pricey, so we’d suggest donning the thermals and visiting during the winter when there are fewer tourists, crisp clear days and cheaper accommodation options. We recommend staying at The Savoy which is located on the No26 bus route (which drops you at the majority of the sights) – you’ll also find a handy Lidl supermarket opposite.
Nominated by Jenny, TraveLynn Family
I love Lisbon, I love everything about it and so do my kids. They love that it feels like home, they are welcomed and they feel safe. They can wander from our sides and know they will be ok, we won’t be far away. You can go sight seeing around the city or take a day trip to Sintra or Evora, you can have a paddle in the water right off Rua Augusta or out at Belem while enjoying the views. The museums are brilliant, especially the maritime museum, the aquarium has to be one of the very best in the world and don’t even get us started on the little custard tarts! The girls love the little squares that we would go to at dinner with musicians and jugglers while the waiters told them stories and made them feel as important as the adults. People smiled at them and waved or said hello as we walked. But the best part was that there is a tour made just for them…Little Lisbon Tours! They loved it. If you ask them where they want to go back to it is Lisbon and I love that as I want to go too!
Nominated by Bec, Wyld Family Travel
If you ever wanted to wander through the pages of a fairytale, take a trip to Durbuy. Located in Belgium’s Wallonia region, this pretty city is a great destination for families; a place to wander medieval streets, discover mysterious stones, embark on a myriad of outdoor adventures and eat like a king.But there’s more to Durbuy (pronounced Dur-bwee) than its fairytale looks, this medieval village is in fact “la plus petit ville du monde” (the smallest city in the world).
Despite its small size, however, there’s lots to do for families; we spent four days here and could easily have spent longer. Start your visit with a trip on the tourist train that takes you up to a watchtower were you can see just how small the city really is. Back in town, have a picnic by the ‘Roche de la Falize’, that dates back some 360 million years and then visit the topiary gardens, the largest of its kind in Europe. There are also goat farms you can visit (and try your hand at herding the residents), ancient monoliths to discover, underground caves to explore and lots of waffles to eat. One of the things that kids will love most about Durbuy is the Adventure Valley. Located on the outskirts of town, this enormous adventure park is the biggest in Belgium and is where you can climb, bike, zip, slide, run, jump and much, much more We spent a day at Adventure Valley and had a fabulous time but I’ll warn you, one day is not enough to do all the activities on offer!
Madrid has been our favorite city to visit with a child so far! My daughter was 5 when we visited in March and she had a blast! We stayed at the Westin Palace Madrid, which was in a great location and walkable to a lot of the attractions in the city, including the famous Plaza Mayor. The food options in Madrid are amazing and having a little foodie meant she was able to sample a little bit of everything thanks to all the tapas restaurants. There are also playgrounds scattered all over the city, making it super easy to stop for a quick play break. The Spanish people really seem to enjoy kids and many people stopped to talk to her and one lady even hugged her on the street! Madrid is also a very walkable city, which is perfect if you want to take an afternoon stroll. If you’re venturing to Europe, I highly recommend not missing Madrid. We will definitely be back!
Nominated by Maggie, Milanas Travels
As a family, we have no doubts: our favourite city in the world is Rome! You may say we are biased, Rome is after all the city I grew up in, but I do believe the Eternal City is special for visitors and particularly impressive for little ones and their parents.
Rome’s long history means endless opportunities for sightseeing. The colosseum, with its immense size and gladiator stories, never fails to impress children and adults alike and St Peter’s square it is often mentioned by our kids as a highlight: crossing an international border on foot is not something they do every day!
As well as important historical landmarks, Rome offers to its visitors large green spaces, cool play areas such as Explora children museum and something that is likely to be the one thing kids will talk about once back home: pizza and gelato at every corner! To fully enjoy Rome, I recommend you choose accommodation in the city centre and explore on foot. A good address is the Indigo hotel St George (luxury) where you can book interconnecting rooms and baby sitting services.
Nominated by Marta, Learning Escapes
Colourful Bergen is the gateway to Norway’s fjord region but before you head to the wilderness spend some fun family time exploring the city. Stroll around the pretty harbour Bryggen and check out the fish market where you will find the biggest crabs you ever saw. Next take the funicular to Mount Floyen overlooking the city. Apart from the amazing views there are some fantastic playgrounds catering for kids of all ages and a special garden in the forest dedicated to the famous (and friendly) Norwegian trolls.
Hungry children are easy to feed in Bergen. The city is famous for pølsen (hotdogs) and cinnamon buns and you can find them on every corner. If it is raining (and it probably will in Bergen) you can visit the fun Fisheries Museum and local aquarium.
Nominated by Katy, Untold Morsels
I had low expectations about visiting Amsterdam with kids because of its red-light district and drug reputation, but we were completely surprised at how family friendly Amsterdam was. Amsterdam old town is so picturesque and we loved the delicious Dutch sweets and bicycle culture. We stayed on a houseboat on a canal, which was a huge highlight for all of us. The kids would wake up in the morning and look out the houseboat windows and see swans and ducks and boats going by.
The city has so many great activities to do with kids from enjoying green Vondelpark to canal cruises to the amazing NEMO Science Centre. Our kids learned a lot about the history of Amsterdam and the Holocaust and visiting the Anne Frank Museum was a somber, but important sight to see. We absolutely loved our day trip outside of the city to Zaanse Shans to see working wind mills and learn about traditional Dutch culture and history. Amsterdam is a beautiful city to explore with kids and it is definitely a city we will return to.
Nominated by Dawn, 5 Lost Together
We travel in France most years and we always seem to be drawn back to this wonderful city. With so much to offer for young and old alike, I wasn’t surprised to read that Lonely Planet have declared Bordeaux as the Number 1 city to visit in their Best in Travel 2017 guide. We simply love Bordeaux and couldn’t agree more with their verdict.
Apart from Paris, Bordeaux has more preserved historical buildings than any other French city; it is a real treat to glance upwards when walking along the streets and alleyways to be greeted with some of the most beautiful and ornate buildings. That coupled with a big regeneration of the river frontage over the last say 20 years creates a truly wonderful traditional French city with a real family friendly twist. From an interactive fountain, traditional carousels, family friendly wine chateaux and beautiful squares for delicious long lunches; there really is something for everyone in Bordeaux. Our children love visiting the city and ask to return every year, and we certainly find it hard to refuse!
Nominated by Daisy, Dais Like These
Budapest, often referred to as the Pearl of the Danube or Paris of the East, is a stunning city that warmly welcomes children and offers them plenty to do. Start your family holiday to Budapest with a chimney cake. These Hungarian specialities are a little like doughnuts; bakers will roll raw dough around a wooden spit, coat it in butter and sugar and then bake it over glowing coals until the surface is a golden brown. For an extra treat, grab a cone of fagyi, or ice cream. During the summer months, everyone in Budapest eats fagyi. But there’s more to Budapest than sweet treats, the city is home to some excellent attractions including a train line run by children (yes, really!), a friendly zoo and some great views. Once you’ve seen the city from up high, you can float down the Danube and admire this European jewel from the water followed by a ride on one of the oldest subway lines in the world.
Vienna is a brilliant city to visit with kids – at any time of year. In the winter, they (and you) will love the Christmas markets, and in the spring, autumn or summer, it is wonderful to just walk around and enjoy all the delights on offer. Plus, the hot chocolate (a Viennese speciality) and cakes are great at any time!
Vienna is easy to walk around as it’s not too big, but is full of things to see. If you’re with kids, don’t miss a trip to the big wheel at the Prater, which is a large theme park with a range of rides for everyone. It is most famous for the Wiener Riesenrad Ferris wheel, which is like the London Eye, and a must-do in this city. For some culture, take in an audio tour at the Schönbrunn Palace, and marvel at the treasures on offers at the Schatzkammer (or Treasury), and follow that with a horse and carriage trip around the city. And whatever you do, don’t miss the wonderful Haus der Musik, a brilliant museum, all about sound, where you can conduct an orchestra yourself. You won’t want to leave…
Nominated by Sarah, Family Travel Times
Verona is often over-shadowed by it’s more glamorous neighbour Venice but for me it’s so much nicer, much more genuine and down to earth and more beautiful because of it. Verona is a city made for walking and perfect to explore with kids, with gelato stops on every street there’s always a good excuse to break the journey up. You can climb the Torre die Lamberti and look down on all the terracotta coloured rooftops, listening to distant bells ring. Stand on Juliet’s balcony and read about the history of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, set here in fair Verona. Wander across countless historic bridges in a city that is so welcoming and beautiful. Our favourite Verona sight has to be the Roman Arena in the centre of Piazza Bra though. Unlike it’s famous counterpart in Rome this is older and much more fun to explore with children as they can run through the dark corridors underneath and, without the crowds the Colosseum attracts, their imaginations can also run free. Verona is so picturesque and my favourite Italian city, it really does have it all.
Nominated by Nichola, Globalmouse Travels
Munich is an über child friendly city. For a whirlwind tour with kids, try and cram in some of the following:- Start at the Marienplatz to watch the jousting knights at midday, across the square here you can find the small but perfectly formed Toy Museum. The nearby Viktualienmarkt is a great place for a bite to eat, and if you are feeling energetic afterwards climb the 300 steps of the Alter Peter church!
Munich’s giant green lung – the Englischer Gartens is a must see. If the weather’s good, let your children run wild in one of the biergarten playgrounds, then visit the surfers on the Eisbach (all year round). Museum time? How about the world’s biggest science museum – The Deutches Museum (Kids Kingdom has lots of hands on exhibits)! Afterwards try the best ice cream in Munich nearby at True & 12. There are plenty of city pools for outdoor summer swimming, and it’s also a brilliant city for cycling if you fancy hiring bikes. Try and make it to Olympia Park – it’s a great place to let off steam, and also home to BMW Welt, the Olympia Tower (with amazing views!) and the Aquarium. If you visit during winter, it’s also the perfect place for sledging, and you should absolutely head to Schloss Nympenburg to skate the frozen canals. Munich Mealtimes are usually a pleasure, there are few places that children aren’t welcome (yes even in the bier halls!). Click here for a more in depth Munich guide.
Nominated by Emma, Bavarian Sojourn
This northern European city may not be on the top of your list of places to visit but when it comes to kids and travel the Finnish Capital has plenty to see and do. There is a great mix of city sights and plenty of outdoor spaces to discover including over 300 islands off the coast of Helsinki. I highly recommend taking the ferry over to Suomenlinna Fortress Island and spending half a day exploring the old garrison buildings and fortifications, a submarine, museums including a Toy museum as well as a variety of restaurants and cafes.
A few other suggestions are the Natural History museum which has some fantastic interactive displays, Helsinki Zoo which is located on an island and in summer you can take a ferry there. If your looking for the best view over the harbour than take a ride on the Sky Wheel or be in awe of Temppeliaukio Church otherwise known as The Rock church which is a must see for all ages and has been built right into the side of a natural rock wall. A walk around Toolonlathi Bay past some of the original wooden houses is a wonderful way to relax and there is a great play park and a trip to Finland wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Moomins Store near the central station.
Nominated by Laura, Side Street Style
Stockholm is the perfect place to visit with children, with a perfect mix of indoor and outdoor activities. The city has some lovely green spaces for kids to run around in while the outdoor living history museum with nordic zoo is a great place to learn more about Sweden’s rich heritage. On rainy days, the Vasa museum can’t be missed. The ship, brought up from the depths after it was wrecked seventeenth century is the sight to behold! And next door there is a fantastic children’s museum which is sure to keep your little ones amused. While gamla stad, the historic centre of Stockholm is great to walk around and do a bit of shopping. On nicer days, touring the archipelago by boat is a definite must do!
Nominated by Leona, Wandermust Family
Like much of Italy, the city of Florence is bursting with things to see and do. The birthplace of the Renaissance is home to phenomenal museums filled with world-class art as well as incredible architecture from the fabled Duomo, clad in pink, white and green marble, to large, austere palaces built in local stone. Tackling Firenze, and all the history and culture it has to offer, might seem like a daunting task with kids in tow but it’s entirely doable! We visited on a multi-generational trip and discovered that the best way to keep everyone happy was to organise a tour with LivItaly. Our half-day tour with Raffaella, an artist and historian, ended up being the best start to our time in Florence and a great introduction to this incredible city. Once we had learned about Florence’s artistic past – and how to spot the best gelato in town – we tackled the rest of the city on our own, visiting the Uffizi Gallery, walking over the famed Ponte Vecchio and scaling the Palazzo Vecchio. Next time we hope to visit the family-friendly Museo Galileo, a state-of-the-art science museum, and the Museo Stibbert, to see knights in shining armour.
Venice, in northern Italy, is a magical place that captures your imagination whatever your age. The minute you step into its world of Renaissance palaces and canals you know it’ll be a city break like no other. Although it’s famous for its art treasures and ancient buildings, it’s the canals that set Venice apart. There are no roads or underground trains, instead a network of waterways thread through the city and the best way to get around is on foot or by waterbus.
The absence of cars means that Venice is very walkable for families and this is what makes it unique. You haven’t visited Venice properly if you haven’t got lost in its maze of ancient streets and bridges, courtyards and alleyways. There’s plenty to see and do as you explore. Look out for the shops that make masks for Carnevale or the beautiful glassware from nearby Murano. Drop by the Rialto market in the morning to spot mysterious fish caught in the Venice lagoon and catch the lift to the top of the Campanile for classic rooftop views.
A vaporetto journey along the Grand Canal is essential to appreciate the splendour of Venice. Or splash out on your own private tour in a gondola. If you hop off at St Mark’s Square you can have coffee in its stately piazza and visit the Doges Palace. Last time we were in Venice we caught a train to Verona for the day but equally we could have taken the boat to the island of Murano or Burano or hired bikes to cycle along the Lido. We’ll do that next time!
Nominated by Nancy, Map and Family
Oslo has gone through a transformation in recent years. It’s still the same relaxed, outdoorsy place, but now there’s a host of new, hip ways to relax and enjoy the city.
Mathallen, a new food market based in a revamped, bright, warehouse space, sells delectable international cuisine. A stroll along the harbour will give you the opportunity to take a dip at one of the city beaches, or sample caramelised goat’s cheese ice cream. Oslo’s high concentration of houses with gable ends has offered canvases to the best international street artists. That’s not to mention the slew of world-class museums, including exclusive collections of works by Edvard Munch, and Viking ships that were buried for almost a millennium.
Oslo’s location makes it ideal for a range of holidaymakers and city trippers. If the remarkable fjordside harbour, with its iconic Opera House and lively restaurant area doesn’t grab you, there’s also the Nordmarka forest. Just a short twenty-minute ride on the t-bane Metro will bring you to the edge of 430 km of deep pine forest. Walking and ski tails are clearly marked, but the forest is wild enough to make elk sightings a distinct possibility.
To find out more, you can read my blog post here.
Nominated by Nell, The Pigeon Pair and Me
In Berlin, traveling families can feel comfortable, and not just because of the mild climate. In this cosmopolitan city, we saw families everywhere with strollers, and kids, and teens. Overall, we sensed a kind acceptance of children from the general public, restaurant waitstaff, and attraction attendants.
Besides the feeling of ease, the city offers activities for everyone! There are many types of museums: art, science, government, world history, natural history, transportation, just to name a few. Some have interactive features that kids love, or special audio or booklets just for youngsters. For little ones, many creative outdoor playgrounds, the zoo with its wide garden-like paths and play area, and the indoor Legoland Discovery Centre provide run-around time.
It’s easy to find food kids will like in Berlin. Simple breaded schnitzel, roasted chicken, and potatoes are on most German-style menus. But here, families can find any cuisine from around the world. For inexpensive eating, try the KaDeWe department store’s giant food court or the main train station’s casual restaurants. In the city center, we enjoyed our stay in the family room of the highly-rated, budget-friendly Hotel-Pension Bregenz. The proprietors were friendly and the breakfast was yummy.
Nominated by Sandy, Sleeps 5
Modern Leipzig is all about creativity. Once a relatively uninteresting city in East Germany, it’s now a both a cultural hub and a hive for the hip. But unlike some other German cities, it’s good value for a family and not too tourist heavy.
Start in the centre, with a music themed walking tour. Leipzig was home to Felix Mendelssohn and Johann Bach and you can find your feet with its musical history by downloading and following the Leipzig music trail app. Wind up at the end of the day at the concert hall; the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra is about to celebrate its 25th year and has hooked up with the celebrated conductor Andris Nelsons from the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
If you are there in the winter, be sure to visit the huge Christmas market that mixes traditional food and gifts with entertainment. Our kids loved the beautiful old Market Square with nativity scene, ferris wheel and stalls from around Europe including the singing Finnish Santa.
If visiting in summer, hire a canoe from nearby Stadthafen and take turns paddling yourselves along a river that winds through the city to Lake Cospuden. If you’ve time (sadly we didn’t!) you can always hire a bike and ride back along the riverside. Stop off at a festival on the way; there’s no escaping the music in this tuneful city.
Nominated by Kirstie, Family Adventure Project
I’ve always called London home even though I only actually lived here for five years before moving away. But, having led a somewhat nomadic life when I was growing up, it’s where all my family members eventually migrated to. We returned to live in the capital just two months ago and we are slowly starting to discover London with kids. My time in London before life on the road involved was very much a 20-something existence of working hard and playing hard, but absolutely zero to do with kids (we left newly engaged with a handful of bags and have returned with three kids and a 40ft container!).
Now that I’m back, what I am amazed about is just how much stuff there is to with children in London. There the obvious activities such as London’s incredible museums, it’s vibrant theatre life (with endless performances for children) and it’s myriad parks. But there’s so much more to the life in the capital with kids; every neighbourhood has regular activities from Bear Grylls adventure weekends and arthouse theatre performances to street food fairs and kid-friendly workshops. We are, quite literally, spoiled for choice. And, as much as I miss our old home in Mexico City, I know that the kids are going to love living here. As are we.
Nominated by Katja, globetotting.com
“When can we go back to Paris, mom?” This is a question I am asked almost weekly by my 10-year-old daughter. It’s true that we have had some marvelous times riding carousels in the gorgeous parks and savouring gelato on Île Saint Louis, with Notre Dame as our backdrop. We have climbed the stairs of the Eiffel Tower, ridden the funicular at Sacre-Coeur and enjoyed an incredible view of The Louvre and beyond from the top of the Tuileries Fairground ferris wheel.
In Paris, however, we have found that sometimes just getting around is half the adventure. My kids delight in navigating the Metro, and taking the trains even further afar— visiting the golden splendour of the Palace of Versailles, or the quintessentially french amusement park, Jardin D’Acclimation. When tired legs finally prevail, we have enjoyed nothing more than cruising along the river back to our temporary home by Bateau Mouche admiring the beautiful bridges and buildings of Paris along the way. For more ideas on things to do in Paris, take a look at this post.
Nominated by Tara, Pint Size Pilot
This stunning city, regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, is a perfect place for a family break. From its historical sights and stunning architecture to the contemporary art, culture and entertainment activities of a modern city, Prague will not disappoint as a destination for family trips. For starters it looks like a place out of a fairy-tale. With many castles, cathedrals and fortresses it will sure sparkle the fantasy in your kids’ minds. It is also very convenient for parents. You can enjoy the whole city with public transport system which is easy to understand and also reasonably priced. There are plenty of parks and outdoor areas for kids, many child friendly restaurants and cafés, interesting monuments and museums for the kids to enjoy. This city will definitely make a fun and unforgettable holidays for families with children of all ages.
Nominated by Thassia, Family Off Duty
Stuttgart in Germany is a wonderful place to travel and explore with family. The The Park Inn by Radisson is located a couple of minutes walk from Stuttgart City Centre train station. And is great value with clean lines and very modern décor making it the perfect base for exploring. Getting around Stuttgart is easy as the transport network is efficient and organized. With the choice of buses, trains or traditional tour busses which are the perfect way to get your bearings.
Offering many attractions and museums within and surrounding the regions such as the Mercedes and Ferrari museums for car enthusiasts, The Mercedes museum tracks the history of the automobile in an engaging and interesting way that draws everybody in. And you can not fail to be impressed by the grand scale of Ludwigsburg Palace, not only is it an historical work of art, but the team at the palace work hard to engage all ages of visitors, with dressing up opportunities and a fairy garden to keep children happy. If you are wowed by German architecture then a visit to Esslingen is essential. With its cobbled streets and beautiful buildings you won’t want to leave.
Nominated by: Sarah, Extraordinary Chaos
My favorite European city to spend a holiday with my daughter is Milan, Italy. It always provides me the backdrop to share with her my story of my former life as a fashion professional. We window shop the latest looks in the boutiques on Montenapoleone and spend hours at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II where I bring her to one of my favorite cafe’s for a drink (a macchiato for me, a steamed milk for her). My daughter is a musician, so I love to be able to show her the famous opera hall, La Scala.
We love our food, so we always search out to find the best Vitello Milanese and look for cool places to have a snack; our favorite being a place called, Princi. Last time we were there, we stayed a family-friendly hotel named, Hotel Gran Duca di York, where we were able to walk the Duomo to say our prayers every morning before the start of a new day. I always feel that it’s the city in which we got to know each other better.
Nominated by Brenda, Dish Our Town
Sweden is well known for its welcoming attitude to families and its second city, Gothenburg, is no exception. We spent just one day in the compact port city and wished we’d stayed longer. There’s so much for families to do! Top of the list is surely Scandinavia’s largest theme park, Liseberg, which has been open since 1923 and has the biggest wooden rollercoaster in the world.
If that’s not your thing then how about visiting the world’s largest floating ship museum, Maritiman, or check out Sweden’s only original Viking vessel at the Gothenburg City Museum.
If you prefer to be outdoors, there’s plenty of green spaces to explore. Its largest park, Slottsskogen, has a small zoo with Swedish elks and Gotland ponies as well as seals and penguins. When you feel a bit hungry, head to Gothenburg’s oldest suburb, Haga district. It’s filled with quaint wooden buildings and cafes serving giant cinnamon buns. While you’re there head up to the fortress Skansen Kronan for incredible views across the city.
Gothenburg also has a large interactive science museum, Universeum, with seven floors filled with aquariums, a rainforest, life-sized dinosaurs and space travel.
Gothenburg is a compact city and easy to navigate with children. As well as its museums and open spaces, its tram network provides an extra child-friendly activity with locals on hand to assist with the buggy. So, what are you waiting for?
Nominated by Elizabeth, Wander Mum
When we first told people we were taking a 4 year old to Iceland in the dead of winter, most looked at us as if we were mad. Reykyavik is known as cultural and hip city – there’s music, literature, art, and Viking history, as well as shopping and a lively nightlife. But it’s also super child-friendly. Kids are welcome everywhere, as demonstrated by the the pushchairs lined up outside cafes and restaurants downtown, such as The Laundromat – which even has a soft play area in the basement. Meanwhile, in nearly all cases, kids under 12 get into most attractions for free – and this includes transport, too.
There may not necessarily be specific activities and attractions aimed solely at youngsters but Reykyavik is a natural playground that will keep even the most active child occupied from walks, museums, and an abundance of hot pools – and that’s just for starters. My son was so enamoured with the thick, powdery snow, it took us double the time to walk anywhere because he just wanted to play in it and make snow angels! Staying in Iceland’s capital also puts us in prime position to go whale watching, see spouting geysers, stand on top of waterfalls, swim in The Blue Lagoon and catch the Northern Lights. It was an unforgettable experience for all of us. It’s not a case of if we’ll go back, just a matter of when…
Nominated by Ting, My Travel Monkey
Athens, one of the world’s most historic cities is a treasure trove for family adventures. We travelled to Athens with little Adventurers aged 7,5 and 3 and had a wonderful time in the city.
The city is history brought to life. You wander through the streets of Plaka and the quaint houses, cobbled streets will take you back thousands of years. You can take your children and let them run around the oldest athletics stadium in the world, following in the footsteps of some of the world’s greatest athletes. No visit to Athens is compete without a mention of the Parthenon. Whilst the adults may love to admire the structure, opposite are the entrance are huge stones which the children will love to climb, which provide you with incredible views of the city. We took along Greek myths and read the stories in the feet of the buildings which inspired so many of the tales. You cannot help but be in awe.
The underground network coupled with trams has much of the city covered but we loved walking around the city taking in the smells, sounds and vibe of the place. Food is ideal for families, with lots of street food being breads and rolls which the children can enjoy as a quick snack and plenty of Greek and Turkish food places providing cheap and healthy food options, even for the fussiest eater. Families are welcome open armed everywhere and the locals had a lovely way of making us all feel welcome from the hotel, to museums to restaurants.
Nominated by Nisbah, Five Adventurers
One of my favourite cities to take children is York. Located in Yorkshire, York is a Roman city known for its city walls, narrow winding streets and the magnificent York Minster which towers above everything.
The good thing about York is that it is fairly compact so it is easy for children to get around. Children will love going to the world famous National Railway Museum and seeing famous trains like the Mallard, or learning about York’s chocolate making past at the York Chocolate Story.
In the summer, the Museums Gardens are perfect for a picnic and you can follow this up with a walk along the river to find the Ice Cream Boat (the salted caramel flavour is to die for!). My children also love visiting DIG where children can practice being a mini archaeologist and have a go at digging for treasure.
There are so many family friendly places to eat and drink in York, but for a treat, we love having Afternoon Tea at the Grand Hotel. This is a not to be missed experience for anyone thinking of visiting York!
Nominated by Jo, Kiddie Holidays
We have just returned from Nantes in Brittany and had an incredible time. The vibrant city has so much to offer families including The Machines de l’île (Machines on the Island) and Castle of the Dukes of Brittany.
Nantes, is the 6th largest city in France, located on the Loire River in the Upper Brittany region of western France. It’s a very green city with over 100 parks and gardens. It’s also a historical and cultural hub with its own national theatre, 36 theatres and concert venues, 14 museums and a dozen annual family friendly festivals. As first timers to Nantes our initial and lasting impressions of the city were how clean it was and how energetic it felt with street buskers, friendly locals and lots of people exploring by bike.
Nominated by Lisa, Travel Loving Family
The French Riviera is not only for the rich and famous but also makes the perfect base for a family break and Nice being an exciting and welcoming city to explore with children. The first stop would have to be along the beautiful seven mile Promenade des Anglais with it’s white sand and clear blue water you can set up camp here for a whole day as well as rent bikes, roller-blades, listen to musicians or hire some deck chairs. You can then stroll over to Castle Hill and either take the elevator to the top of challenge yourself to the walk and cool down from the spray of the waterfall near the top, you are also rewarded with some fantastic views across the city. If you’re hungry head into the wonderful maze that is old town, taking in all the smells from the food and flower markets and make sure to try some traditional Socca which will be a hit with kids. The Museum of Modern Art is also popular with kids with it’s colourful pop art on display, there are also plenty of outdoor spaces and a very cool playground at Promenade de Paillon and a trip to the Cimiez neighbourhood to see some Roman ruins and explore the Matisse Museum is also worthwhile.
Nominated by Laura, Side Street Style
Venice is one of my favourite cities in the world and a wonderful destination for family travel. With beautiful scenery around every corner Venice makes for a fascinating place to explore. I’ve visited four times now including two trips with my four-year-old son in tow, once as a baby and more recently with his best friend. Enjoy the pretty Venetian squares, stroll along the canals, visit the parks and wander off the beaten track. From climbing to the top of St Marks Basilica to taking a short gondola ride across the canal, kids will find excitement everywhere. My son’s highlights were feeding the pigeons in St Mark’s Square, watching boats pass under the low bridges and finding quirky toys in the shops! There are child-friendly museums, art galleries, parks and playgrounds on the island. If, however, you want to escape the city, take a boat ride to the Lido and spend the day at the beach, a perfect trip for children! And, of course, the food is a big bonus for kids. Delicious pizza, pasta and double scooped gelato in every flavour imaginable! What more could a child ask for?
Nominated by Polly, Our Seaside Baby
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