Europe doesn’t have to drop off your travel to-do list once you’ve got a family in tow. Family holidays to Europe are not just possible – they’re magical! In every season you’ll find amazing cities, famous icons, world-class kid-friendly museums and whole new worlds straight out of storybooks that are sure to capture even the shortest of attention spans. From English-speaking capitals to warm, family-centric cultures and majestic cityscapes that are sure to dazzle, here’s our top pick of family friendly cities in Europe.
The home of Oliver Twist, Mary Poppins, real life Kings and Queens and the mysterious Platform 9- 3/4, children are bound to love London. The hardest part here is deciding where to go! The Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studios Tour is a must, as is the London Dungeon, London Zoo, Tower of London and Tower Bridge, Big Ben, and Madame Tussaud’s for a photo with One Direction (of course!). There are also stacks of fabulous – and often free – museums that are great for adults and children alike, including the hands-on Science Museum. Take a river cruise, picnic in Hyde Park and ride on the famous red double-decker buses with a hop-on hop-off tour. Then be sure catch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, take a ride on the London Eye, and dress up to the nines for a kid-friendly theatre show in West End.
Families love London because: The culture is similar to home and there are no tricky language barriers.
Paris is full of famous icons the kids will recognise. The Eiffel Tower, for one, is not only magical to admire in real life, but an elevator ride to the top – or a long stair-run for those energetic teens – is rewarded with amazing views across this beautiful city. The Notre Dame Cathedral is also special for kids, who might remember the Hunchback of Notre Dame story. Then simply wander the gorgeous character-filled streets, where pocket parks pop up around every corner and food stops for croissants, baguettes and nutella-filled crepes are never far away. Sprawling beautiful parks – some packed with rides – will draw in the kids too, including Jardin d’Acclimatation and Parc de la Villette. There are tonnes of great theme parks and museums to explore together too, like the Museum of Magic, Museum of Dolls, and the fantastic Cite des Enfants. Everywhere around Paris, there are fun, well-organised things to do with kids.
Families love Paris because: Who could resist the characters, rides and worlds of fun at Disneyland Paris?
Forget what you know about Amsterdam for adults – it’s a fantastic city to take the kids. With a relaxed atmosphere, historical treasures, world-class museums and an outdoor-friendly lifestyle, all ages are well catered to. The whole family will enjoy the Amsterdam Dungeon, the Royal Palace and all the colour and fun of a real Amsterdam kermis (fun fairs are always a hit!). For more child-friendly museums, drop into the Anne Frank Museum, the NEMO Science Centre and the National Maritime Museum, full of interactive exhibits. But the best thing about Amsterdam is that you can go for a leisurely bike ride around the city, paddle on the canal or simply wander the cobblestone lanes. And if you’d like to get out of the city altogether, go spotting old working windmills in the beautiful countryside.
Families love Amsterdam because: It’s far from overwhelming, but instead a relaxed and pretty city that’s easy to get around on foot, bike and boat.
Barcelona is fabulous for families. For starters, kids will be enthralled by the fascinating and peculiar Gaudi architecture as much as any adult. Add to that the city’s walkability, the many parks to explore and the Mediterranean shores at its doorstep and that’s still just the start of it! Although it was created for adults, kids too will love the Museum of Inventions and Ideas, full of wackiness, and the CosmoCaixa is quite possibly the largest science museum in Europe. Take a leafy stroll up Montjuic mountain for fabulous views or through the forests of Serra de Collserola Natural Park. Then take a swim along the golden shores or in the historic Torre de les Aigues pool. Kids will have a ball at the Barcelona Urban Jungle, full of zip lines, rope swings, bridges and nets, as well as the Tibidabo Amusement Park funfair, and Poble Espanyol, where you can join a treasure hunt. But most of all they’ll love the many confectionery shops around town, and the amazing Museum of Chocolate.
Families love Barcelona because: It’s a fabulous mix of art, nature, beach and city that’s easy to walk around and interesting for all ages.
Children’s imaginations will come alive in the grand baroque and medieval streets of Prague. Take a majestic ride on a horse-drawn carriage through the cobblestone streets before exploring the largest castle in the world, Prague Castle, which just so happens to be home to an ogle-worthy Toy Museum (including a special Barbie exhibit). Other family favourites include a cruise on the Vltava River, the light and music show at Krizik’s Fountain, and a ride on the funicular to the top of Petrin where pony rides, rose gardens, mirror mazes and an observatory await. All across the city though you’ll notice that puppet shows are extremely popular – just be sure to watch a family-friendly show, which you’ll find at the National Marionette or the Black Light Theatre. Buy your own handcrafted puppet to take home in the markets around the old town – and while you’re there, be sure to catch the famous hourly show on the Prague Astronomical Clock. Otherwise, animal-lovers simply can’t get it wrong at the Prague Zoo, Sea World or Dinopark, full of dinosaur models (some which roar!).
Families love Prague because: The enchanting old-world architecture and beautiful spires dominating the skyline feel like they’re straight out of a fairytale.