If your considering family travel, Europe
offers up some fantastic family-friendly cities. And, if you’re going to travel Europe with kids
family-friendly cities are a priority. You need places where you can keep them amused with tons of fun activities. But, you also want to introduce the kids to art
, architecture, great food and fantastic cultures. Europe’s got all that and more.
So, before you travel through Europe take a second and read through our guide for our recommendation of some of the best cities to enjoy with a family in tow. Now, get to making some memories.
Who’d have thunk it? The city that gave the world Paulaner and that is most widely recognized for the boozy Beerfest, Oktoberfest, is actually a fantastic family holiday destination. So, pack your bags, gather up the kids and head for the Bavarian capital of Munich.
As Europe travel destinations go, there’s plenty to do to keep the kids entertained. And, as always, a great place to start is the zoo, Munich’s Hellabrunn Zoo. With summer right around the corner, Hellabrunn will be a world of lush greens. And, with 19,000 exotic and domestic animals, a petting zoo and two playgrounds the kids are sure to have a whole day's worth of fun-filled activity ahead of them.
You could also keep the kids amused with a trip to the Bavaria Film Studios. Here, they can catch a ride on Falkor - the dragon from The Neverending Story. Or, you can whack them in front of the stunt show where spectacular special effects are sure to have them watching in quiet awe. And, for the grown-ups, take a stroll through the submarine set of “Das Boot.”
LEGOLAND Deutschland is a couple of hours by train or car and guarantees a fantastic day out for everyone involved. Taking up an area equivalent to 26 football fields, LEGOLAND boasts a ton of amusement rides like roller coasters and waterslides. There are also LEGO towns modeled after European cities which are sure to have your kids desperate to get home to try to build their own.
If there are any burgeoning petrol heads in the family, then stop off at the BMW Museum. There is a fantastic display of BMWs and a comprehensive history of the company. The museum also boasts a Junior Programme which offers an unforgettable experience for kids aged between 8 and 18.
Covering four floors in Munich’s Marienplatz is the Munich Toy Museum. This museum houses an incredible collection of toys, from old antiques to more modern day variants. The teddy bar room will undoubtedly have the kids pressing their faces up against the glass dividers. A Barbie doll collection tracks the evolution of the dolls from their origins, and there are displays on antique trains and rocking horses.
Beyond all of London’s amazing free museums is a city that makes for a great family vacation. You may be surprised to hear that nearly 50 percent of Greater London is green spaces, meaning there’s plenty of places for you to let the kids off the lead.
Try Hampstead Heath; it’s sprawling 320 hectares are a veritable garden of Eden for kids desperate to run wild. Take your bathers along too because the park boasts the UK’s only lifeguarded, open water swimming areas in its ponds. If ponds are your thing, then at the bottom of the park is the Parliament Hill Lido, a large open-air swimming pool. Both are perfect for the summer months.
No trip to London would be complete without a quick trip to St. Pancras station for a look at Platform 9 ¾. Followed up, of course, by a day at Harry Potter World. Experience the magic of the Harry Potter movies in a studio tour of the sets, scenes, and props. And, when the day is through, grab a butterbeer and look over all the fantastic photos you’ve taken.
For a wildlife kick, make your way to the London Zoo, one of the world’s best and most famous. Gorillas, tigers, and giraffes are some of the zoo’s top highlights. But, make sure to “meet the monkeys.” This enclosure houses a breeding group of black-capped squirrel monkeys in a habitat designed to look like a Bolivian rainforest. The London Zoo also hosts Zoo Nights where you can visit the zoo at night.
In August, Kids Week sees kids aged 16 and under enjoy free admission to selected theatre shows. With 43 shows to pick from, plus a whole range of extra activities, the kids are bound to find something to keep them entertained. There are always plenty of tickets available, but remember to be flexible on times and dates.
- Royal Observatory - Space Safari
The Royal Observatory offers a superb Space Safari show for preschool children under the age of seven. An interactive experience complete with music and rhyme, Ted the Teddy Bear leads the kids on a journey through space in search of the “Great Big Bear.”
Beyond the allure of the red light district and coffee shops that attract so many of Amsterdam’s twenty-something-year-old holidaymakers is a city that’s perfect for a family vacation. And, If you're going to “family travel Europe” with Amsterdam as your destination you’ll quickly discover there are two things central to the city’s unique identity, canals and bicycles. So, when you rock up with the kids, give them the full experience and make sure to include an activity that involves one or the other.
The Wanted: Fresh Water Pirates kids cruise, offered by Blue Boat Amsterdam Canal Tours, is an interactive audio tour perfect for kids that takes them through Amsterdam’s canals. The tour comes complete with a booklet, games and a pair of real pirate binoculars. We Bike Amsterdam also offer excellent family friendly bike tours through the city or surrounding countryside. Cargo bikes can be provided to accommodate the wee-ones who can’t quite peddle yet.
For the thrill-seeking, outdoorsy kids Amsterdamse Bos’s Fun Forest is the place to head too. Here, the kids can strap in and move between the trees on ladders, ropes, and bridges. There are tons of climbing elements and zip lines to shoot down on a wide range of courses at different heights and difficulty levels.
- NEMO Children’s Science Museum
A short walk from Central Station is the incredible NEMO Children’s Science Museum. NEMO offers up an exciting way for children to learn about the history of science. It also allows them to experience and experiment with it first hand. There are hundreds of educational games for kids to interact with while learning about engineering, physics chemistry and biology. Kids can also perform experiments, under supervision, in the museum’s chemistry laboratory.
Amsterdam is also home to the Van Gogh museum. But, if you’re thinking that an afternoon spent wandering around an art museum might be a bit much for the kids, think again. The museum provides a fantastic introduction to Van Gogh and his work. Admission is free for all those under the age of 18, and the museum offers a special multimedia family guide as well as fun activities like treasure hunts.
If you are planning a trip to Europe with kids
, then you should definitely consider Rome. This is a fantastic family holiday destination. Apart from the fact you’ll be a massive hit with them for planning a trip to the land of pizza, the ancient city, with all its ruins and history, offers up an excellent opportunity to educate. Remember, to “family travel Europe” doesn’t just mean amusement parks and ice cream (do make some time for a gelato tour though). But, don’t worry this also doesn’t have to mean hours spent trying to keep the kids still while a stuffy tour guide drones on about history. Book your Colosseum tickets in advance to visit in peace.
What better way to kick off your family trip to Rome than an afternoon at gladiator school? That’s right, let your kids follow in the footsteps of the gladiators of old. This two-hour class will teach the whippersnappers about the history of an ancient city, Roman weapons and much more, all while schooling them in how to duel. The end of the course sees each new gladiator given a certificate and dubbed with a brand new gladiator’s name.
- Tour the Major Attractions
There are plenty of family-friendly tours of all of Rome’s major sites. The Colosseum, Roman Forum and the Vatican become opportunities to introduce your children to some of the most impressive and significant sights in the world. Many tours are interactive meaning kids, and adults can learn about the history of what they’re seeing together. A walk around the Centro Storico is also a great thing to do with plenty to see. Take the kids to the Piazza Navona and get them to flip a coin into the Trevi Fountain.
- Pizza Classes & Ice Cream
Treat the kids and sign them up for a pizza making classes. InRome offers child-friendly cooking classes hosted inside a 17th-century castle. Afterward, why not round off the day with a gelato tour? If you’re worried about too much sugar, just remember that gelato is unique to Italy and it’s an excellent opportunity for kids to learn about the sweeter side of the country’s rich culinary history.
The relaxed tempo of life, tapas and vermouth make Barcelona any adult’s dream destination. But, for family travel, Europe’s Catalan capital on the Mediterranean, is a pretty perfect destination with a lot to offer the kids.
Kick off your trip and keep the kids entertained with a ride on the Barcelona Bus Turístic. This is one of the best ways to discover Barcelona. The kids can climb upstairs and sit on the open-air top deck, enjoy the sunshine and all the iconic sites the bus whizzes by.
For a full day out, jump onto the Tramvia Blau, Barcelona’s oldest and only surviving tram line. This charming little ride takes you through some lovely parts of the city and boasts some fantastic views as you climb towards the Tibidabo funicular. Then grab a ride on the funicular railway all the way up to Tibidabo. If you want to surprise the kids, keep quiet until you get there. At the summit of Tibidabo, there is a vintage amusement park (the oldest in Spain), and an afternoon of rides on roller coasters and Ferris wheels awaits.
- Barcelona Aquarium & Beaches
Located in Port Vell, the Barcelona Aquarium is an absolute must for kids and parents alike. It’s one of the largest aquariums in Europe (the largest tank is 3.7 million liters) and houses over 11,000 species of marine life. The aquarium also organizes activities for kids. They can “meet the sharks” and learn little-known facts about the creatures. Or, they can meet the penguins and discover all there is to know about the dinner jacket sporting birds. This aquarium is also only one of six in Europe to house an Ocean Sunfish, the heaviest known bony fish in the world.
After the aquarium head for the Barcelona beach
. The Mediterranean with its warm, calm waters makes for perfect swimming conditions. Take a ball along with you and play a game of catch or jump on a banana boat for a thrill. Then, go for a stroll along the Barcelona beach promenade and stop off for ice creams at one of the many cafes along the way.
CosmoCaixa is an interactive museum that invites the entire family to participate in games and didactic activities. You won’t have to worry about your kids touching the exhibits because pretty much everything is “on limits.” There is a permanent exhibition full of exciting science related stuff and a replica of a rainforest. CosmoCaixa also boasts a planetarium where you and the kids can explore the universe together. This is a must for families interested in science, nature and the universe.
- Sagrada Familia & Park Guell
Of course, no trip to Barcelona (with or without the kids) would be complete without a couple of afternoons spent strolling around the Sagrada Familia and Park Guell. Pretty much all major tour operators offer family friendly tours of both these sights. So, do a quick search, and you can pick one that best suits your needs.
To round a day of off, treat the kids to a world of chocolate and head to the Chocolate Museum. That’s right, an entire museum dedicated to chocolate. Here, the museum tracks the story of chocolate from its origins through to how it has developed in Europe. The fantastic chocolate sculptures are sure to have you all wanting to indulge by the end of the tour. So, make your way to the adjoining cafe where you can grab a cup of Barcelona’s signature, thick hot chocolate.
There you have it
So, there you have it, family travel, Europe’s got the cities to do it. From Munich to Barcelona and everything in between, you’re sure to have a vacation packed with great times and fantastic memories.