There is a lot to think about when planning a family trip to Europe. There are so many countries to consider and they’re all vastly different from each other, meaning it can be tricky to figure out which are the best places in Europe for kids. This guide highlights some great places to visit with kids and things to do in that area! Get planning that trip!
Best Places In Europe For Kids
Whether you’re heading off on an epic family European adventure lasting several weeks (or months!); road-tripping through a few different places; choosing one particular country and exploring it in depth; or even picking just one area or city and sticking to it, knowing the attractions and type of vacation or holiday that appeal to your family is important.
This post gives detailed information about the best places to visit in Europe with kids. You’ll find guides to each country including specific regions, some of the best European cities to visit with kids, family friendly attractions and accommodation recommendations with budget, mid-range and luxury options to choose from.
What are the best countries to visit in Europe with kids?
Every country in Europe offers something unique, so where you choose to go will depend on what you want to get out of your European family vacation as well as the ages of your children. Europe has something for everyone, from tots to teens and a European vacation with kids will ensure you make memories to last a lifetime.
You might be wondering where is the best place to travel with toddlers? Or which are the best European cities to visit with kids? Or where are the best places to travel with a baby in Europe? This post will help answer all of those questions and more.
If it’s history you’re interested in, France or Germany would both be a good choice. For beaches, head for Spain, Portugal or Greece. For the best places to visit with kids in Europe that are a little off the beaten track and offer a bit more adventure, maybe opt for Scandinavia or try some of the less well-known countries.
Spain with kids
Spain is a fantastic choice for a family trip to Europe. It has great weather, gorgeous beaches, cool cities, impressive castles, delicious food and children are warmly welcomed with open arms by the Spanish people.
Spanish cities are full of interesting things to see and do with children, no matter what age they are. There are museums, parks, playgrounds, gardens and architecture to explore. Read this post for tips on seeing Madrid with kids and this one for things to do in Valencia with kids
Of all of the Spanish cities, Barcelona could easily be named one of the ‘best European cities for kids’. There is so much there that appeals to children of all ages and a lot of it is completely free: building designs to capture their imaginations; Parc Guell; plenty of play areas and open spaces; a chocolate museum, the CosmoCaixa science museum (complete with mini rainforest & planetarium); the Museum of Ideas and Inventions; illuminated dancing water fountains; cable cars that lead to both beaches and castles… the list goes on.
For more adventurous family travellers looking to escape the tourist areas and explore somewhere a little off the beaten track, give northern Spain a try. Charly from POD Travels has spent time in the regions of Asturias, Cantabria and Aragon and loved it there. Read her post on things to do in Northern Spain.
The Spanish ‘costas’ all offer beautiful and varied beaches. The main ones are: Costa Brava, Costa Dorada, Costa Blanca and Costa Calida on the eastern coast of Spain; the Costa del Sol in the south (be sure to check out Nerja with it’s beautiful Balcon de Europa and famous caves as well as the Butterfly Park in Benalmadena); and the Costa de la Luz which stretches from the southernmost tip of mainland Spain to the border with Portugal in the west.
The Spanish islands are ideal for families to explore too. The four main Canary Islands of Tenerife, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura (off the NW coast of Africa) and the Balearic Islands of Ibiza, Majorca and Mallorca (off the east coast of mainland Spain) all have heaps of fun things to do as a family including waterparks, beaches, volcanoes.
Where to stay in Spain
Luxury accommodation in Lanzarote: Elena from Loved by Elena recommends the H10 Rubicon Palace which offers luxury and relaxation for parents, great facilities and activities for children, gorgeous views and amazing food. You can read her full review here. Another stunning property in Lanzarote is the Princess Yaiza, with pools, spa, soft play, playground and other amenities.
Mid-range accommodation throughout Spain: For a list of great hotels at reasonable prices in various different parts of Spain, read this post full of trusted recommendations for family friendly hotels in Spain.
Budget-friendly accommodation near Barcelona: Lisa from Travel Loving Family suggests Roca Grossa – a large campsite with lots of facilities for children located within a short walk of a stunning sheltered beach.
The Netherlands with kids
The Netherlands is wonderfully child-friendly with it’s windmills, cycle paths, theme parks and interesting cities. If you’re planning a trip to Europe with children, it’s definitely somewhere to include on your itinerary.
The Netherlands’ capital, Amsterdam, is one of the best European cities for kids. It has a plethora of history, art and culture to explore. Older children might enjoy the Anne Frank Museum and the Van Gogh Museum. The NEMO science museum is tailored to kids with it’s interactive exhibits, Vondelpark is a beautiful outdoor space with play areas, and for something a little different you could try out a pizza canal cruise. Public transport is easy to navigate and there are plenty of fun day trips from the city too.
The Netherlands is home to a number of theme parks. The two best known are Efteling and Duinrell. Efteling is a fairytale themepark packed with shows and rides suitable for all ages from tots to teens and the attention to detail is fantastic. Read this post to find out why Efteling is one of the best places in Europe for kids. Helen from Actually Mummy visited Duinrell, an amusement park with over 40 rides and attractions for kids. Read her account of their family visit to Duinrell.
For more ideas, Nichola from Globalmouse Travels has visited The Netherlands several times with her family and has put together this fantastic guide to The Netherlands with kids which covers all the best family friendly sights to see in the various different provinces. A cliche, but the Netherlands is somewhat a hidden gem, and considered one of the best European family vacations by those in the know.
Where to stay in The Netherlands
Luxury accommodation in Rotterdam: Nichola from Globalmouse Travels recommends Hotel Pincoffs. She says “It offers a great space for families with really large interconnecting rooms. Each room has a DVD player and there is a library of DVDs, including children’s ones, to borrow downstairs. Directly opposite the hotel is a children’s museum, which is great place to head for on rainy days.”
Mid-range accommodation in Amsterdam: Carrie from Flying With A Baby recommends Yays Oostenburgergracht Congierged Boutique Apartments – self serviced apartment with all the essentials including an oven, microwave, fridge freezer & washing machine. They’re close to local amenities and bike rental is available. Each apartment comes with a guide book to nearby attractions and restaurants so you get the ‘local’ experience.” Try the pancakes next door – they are delicious!
Budget-friendly accommodation near Apeldoorn: Nichola suggests Landal Coldenhove, which offers peaceful family lodges in the forest. Various lodge sizes are available.
Italy with kids
Thee are three main words that describe why Italy is one of the top destinations to visit on a European family vacation: Pizza; pasta; and gelato!
It doesn’t matter what region of Italy you visit, the food is always going to be incredible. Add to that the stunning natural scenery, the endlessly fascinating towns and cities, and the warm-hearted, friendly people and you can’t go wrong.
This post on visiting Italy with kids gives a good overview of the highlights of different regions and cities all over Italy.
The Italian Lakes in the mountainous north of Italy are truly spectacular. The three most well known are Lake Como, Lake Maggiore and Lake Garda.
They all have a variety of family-friendly attractions such as fun cable cars with stunning views, swimming in the clear water of the lakes and exploring the streets of picturesque little towns dotted around the perimeters. Read this post for ideas on things to do with kids of all ages around Lake Maggiore. This post from Claire at Tin Box Traveller has plenty of tips for things to do on a family holiday at Lake Garda.
Katy from Untold Morsels says “Venice is a wonderland for kids who are entranced by a city built on water. You can spend hours wandering the streets and canals, finding treasures around every corner. After seeing Saint Mark’s square, take a boat ride to colourful Burano for lunch (there’s a small playground hidden behind the main streets).
Discover a bookshop where titles are stacked high in gondolas instead of bookshelves, visit the Rialto market to check out the catch of the day and enjoy a gondola ride on the canal – if you’re lucky your gondolier will sing for you”. Read her post for more tips on seeing Venice with kids.
Tuscany’s beautiful rolling hills are home to towns and cities such as Pisa (with it’s famous Leaning Tower), Lucca (sandwiched between the mountains and the coast, you can walk all the way around the top of the old city walls) and Volterra (medieval streets and the remains of a roman amphitheatre). You can take a tour of Florence that’s great for older children/teens or those interested in classic history.
Rome is a must-do on any visit to Italy. Children will love exploring the Villa Borghese Gardens (including the Bioparco zoo), throwing a coin in the Trevi Fountain, imagining life as a gladiator on a visit to the Colosseum and trying to spot as many animal sculptures around the city as possible (there are hundreds).
There is also the Explora Museum with it’s interactive exhibits for children under 12. Read this post for an excellent guide to visiting Rome with a baby from Leona at Wandermust Family.
Exploring the ruins of Pompeii is an experience that visitors of all ages, even young children, will never forget. A unique and fascinating glimpse into history, it really needs to be on everyone’s list of places to visit once in their lifetime.
With the city of Naples (the birthplace of pizza) and the stunning Amalfi Coast (with the picturesque towns of Sorrento, Amalfi and Positano as well as the island of Capri) in close proximity too, the region of Campania is an ideal base for exploring much of what Italy is famous for.
Puglia, the ‘heel’ of Italy’s boot shape, is one of the less well known regions of Italy but it’s well worth a trip to see the unique Trulli (conical roofed houses), the nearby UNESCO World Heritage Site of Matera and the Castellana Caves. Read this post for more ideas for things to do in Puglia.
Where to stay in Italy
Luxury accommodation in Tuscany: The Country Relais & Spa Le Capanne in Tuscany would be a great choice for large families or a two family group. Tucked away in the countryside it’s perfect for families as it has a pool, a pizza oven and plenty of space to play as well as stunning views. Cots and highchairs are provided and babysitters can be arranged. Stays can be self-catered, full board or a combination of the two. You can read more about it in this candid review.
Mid-range accommodation at Lake Maggiore: There is a huge range of options for places to stay around Lake Maggiore. Read this post for more information on the best places to stay in Lake Maggiore with kids.
Budget-friendly accommodation in Venice: Katy from Untold Morsels recommends Hotel Guerrini – situated in a great location with clean and simple rooms, including quadruple rooms for families.
France with kids
France is one of the best places in Europe for kids because it offers such a diverse range of places to explore. From centuries old chateaux to wartime history to chic Parisian streets to luxury yachts and beaches in the south, you’re guaranteed to keep the whole family happy in France.
Iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower with it’s impressive views over the city; beautiful Sacre-Coeur; the Arc de Triomphe and medieval Notre Dame (sadly ravaged by fire in 2019 but now undergoing restoration) are Paris essentials. Children will love wandering through Montmartre watching the street artists and performers.
There are also numerous parks to explore: Le Jardin du Luxembourg (which is the backdrop to a stunning palace and has plenty of playgrounds to enjoy); Jardin des Tuileries (with it’s carousel, carnival and ferris wheel in the summer months); and Parc Floral de Paris (which has a mini-golf course resembling a miniature version of the city). For culture there are multiple museums including the Louvre and the Pompidou Centre. Read this post from POD Travels for more ideas on things to do with kids in Paris.
Most people immediately think of Disneyland Paris when they think of theme parks in France, and it is, of course, a magical place to visit with children.
For something a little different, consider spending a couple of days at Puy du Fou in western France which was recently voted the number one attraction to visit in Europe. It’s a fully immersive theme park and spectacular history lesson all rolled into one, and children, teens and adults will be utterly captivated. A visit here makes it a very visual educational family trip for this part of Europe. Read about why you should visit Puy du Fou with kids here.
The south of France is a region that manages to combine glitz and glamour with old world charm and sophistication according to Gail from Wellies On The School Run. Nice, Cannes, Monaco, Biot, Eze and Antibes are a few of the highlights of the area.
The Vendee area in western France is beautiful and has something for everyone: stunning beaches, forests, lakes, towns and villages to explore. Brittany in north-western France has child-friendly beaches, walks along the dramatic coastline where you can see pink granite rock formations up close, plus there is the Oceanopolis Aquarium to visit too.
There are so many things for families to do in Normandy, from finding out about Joan of Arc in beautiful Rouen to trying seafood in Honfleur, one of the prettiest harbours in France. There are castles to explore, excellent beaches and charming medieval towns with colourful half-timbered houses. Be sure to take the kids to Monet’s garden at Giverny and visit the local markets for some delicious cheese and cake.
For another great overview of ideas for a French family road trip, read this guide by Chilling With Lucas.
Where to stay in France
Luxury accommodation in Paris: Charly from POD Travels recommends Hotel Melia Paris La Defense. “It’s in a quiet location and only 10 mins on the Metro to all the sights. There is fantastic attention to detail, breathtaking views and helpful staff.”
Mid-range accommodation in Brittany: Nell from Pigeon Pair And Me suggests Villa Les Hydrangéas, a stylish boutique hotel that’s also family-focused. She loved the handwritten notes on the beds that welcomed the children by name.
A mid range option in Paris for families is the StayCity Aparthotel near Gare de l’Est giving you the flexibility to cook meals in the apartment, or eat out and have a separate sleeping area to the kids. Another StayCity in Paris is close to Disneyland Paris, and about 30 minutes out of the centre.
Budget-friendly accommodation in the Vendee: Katy from Otis & Us highly recommends Camping Le Clarys Plage holiday park. “It’s a great family-friendly site and the kids loved the facilities here including the waterpark and play park. The 3 bedroom mobile home had everything we needed for our stay.” You can book direct with Camping Le Clarys Plage or with eurocamp, Canvas Holidays
Ireland with kids
Ireland is a brilliant place to visit with children because of it’s beautiful green countryside, castles galore and friendly people.
Dublin, Ireland’s capital, has a lot of great attractions for children. Dublin Zoo has about 400 animals and will easily entertain kids of all ages for a day.
Dublin’s Children’s Museum – Imaginosity – is aimed at under 10’s and is packed full of interactive exhibits and activities. The Dublinia Viking and Medieval Museum is also an interesting dive into learning about the city’s history.
There are plenty of parks and green spaces to run off excess energy and the National Leprechaun Museum is great fun for little ones. Nearby Malahide Castle makes for a good day trip.
For those who want to sample a pint of Guinness, children are allowed in pubs with adults until 9pm. The weather can be temperamental – read this post for some ideas for things to do on a rainy day in Dublin.
South of Dublin city you could marvel at Ireland’s highest waterfall at Powerscourt Estate in County Wicklow, get lost in the Kildare Maze in County Kildare and climb to the top of one of the world’s oldest lighthouses, Hook Lighthouse in County Wexford, and admire the views.
In the southwest of Ireland be sure to pay a visit to the coastal fishing town of Dingle in County Kerry. Kids will love trying to spot Fungie the bottlenose dolphin who has been a local resident in the port for over 30 years.
In County Cork Blarney Castle is fun for kids to explore – as well as kissing the famous Blarney Stone there are also waterfalls and a playground.
For animal lovers there is a donkey sanctuary about an hour north of Cork city and just 40 minutes east of Cork is Fota Wildlife Park, a fenceless zoo where the animals roam free.
For more breath-taking scenery, the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare in the west are an essential stop. If you’re looking to get even more off the beaten track, Assaranca Waterfall and Maghera Caves and Beach in County Donegal in the north of Ireland are wild, windswept and beautiful.
This post from Cath at Passports and Adventures is a fantastic, comprehensive guide to the best things to do in Ireland with kids.
Where to stay in Ireland
Luxury accommodation in Cork: Sinead from Bumbles Of Rice has stayed at the Westlodge Hotel which offers family suites and interconnecting suites. Self catering cottages are also available. Her children loved the Kids’ Club and the Teen Space.
Mid-range accommodation in Dublin: Cath from Passports & Adventures recommends the Castle Hotel. It has family rooms and is conveniently located for all major tourist attractions.
Budget-friendly accommodation in County Kerry: Sinead suggests the Hotel Killarney. She says “It has basic interconnecting rooms with a kitchenette and bathroom. There is a Teen Loft, a kid’s playroom, an outdoor playground, an indoor pool and also a softplay centre.
UK with kids
The UK is uniquely diverse for such a comparatively small place and you can explore a lot of different areas (ranging from bustling cities; to hills and valleys; to the sensational coastline) without too much travelling involved. It really is one of the best places in Europe for kids.
England with kids
England: the birthplace of Harry Potter and home to the Queen. A rich history, interesting and important landmarks, breathtakingly varied landscapes and dramatic coastal scenery plus cities full of culture and diversity. England is most certainly one of the best places in Europe for kids.
London is packed with iconic attractions suitable for families and children of all ages: Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard ceremony; the British Museum; the Tower of London; Trafalgar Square; Tower Bridge; Big Ben, the Tate Modern art gallery and so very many more. For more unusual attractions in London (still kid friendly), this post has some great ideas.
Younger children will enjoy counting the London black cabs and red double decker buses that pass by (maybe with a trip to Hamleys – ‘The Finest Toy Store In the World’ – thrown in too).
The Warner Bros Studio Tour is only 20mins from the city centre and is an absolute must-do for any Harry Potter fans. Read this post from Gretta at Mums Do Travel for more ideas for things to do in London with kids
There is a huge variety of places to explore in northern England. Learn about The Beatles in Liverpool, visit the National Football Museum in Manchester, see the Illuminations in Blackpool, marvel at the Angel of the North in Newcastle and walk the City Walls in York.
The Lake District (the UK’s most popular National Park) is beautiful and has many literary connections including Beatrix Potter.
Central England boasts the stunning Peak District as well as the rolling hills and idyllic villages of the Cotswolds.
Shakespeare’s Stratford Upon Avon is a lovely place to spend a day. Wander along Birmingham’s canals, window-shop in the Jewellery Quarter and enjoy tasting samples at the Cadbury Chocolate Factory. Make sure you spend a day at the Think Tank Museum which is absolutely brilliant for kids with inquisitive minds and curious questions.
Cambridge in eastern England is beautiful: go punting on the river and admire the stunning architecture of Cambridge University’s many colleges. Norfolk on the east coast also has plenty to offer for families including seeing the Queen’s home at Sandringham and seal-spotting on the beautiful beaches.
There are so many seaside towns on the coast in southern England, including Brighton, Bournemouth and Weymouth. Pull up a deckchair in front of the beach huts, build sandcastles, paddle in the sea and eat fish & chips for a quintessential English experience.
Those who prefer the forest to the beach need to explore the New Forest – keep an eye out for wild ponies wandering about.
There is also the Isle of Wight, just a ferry ride away from Southampton or Portsmouth, which is fantastic for family holidays. Read this post from Cathy at Mummy Travels for ideas on things to do on the Isle of Wight with kids.
The counties of Dorset, Devon and Cornwall in the SW of England are wildly, spectacularly beautiful. Jo from Kiddie Holidays wrote this guide to things to do in Dorset with toddlers. Read this post for things to do in Devon with kids.
A trip to Cornwall is an absolute must with gems such as St Ives, Padstow, Tintagel, Boscastle, The Lost Gardens of Heligan, The Eden Project, Bude, Fowey, St. Michael’s Mount and Lands End to explore.
Where to stay in England
Luxury accommodation in North-East England: Sam from North East Family Fun recommends Rockliffe Hall, recently voted the ‘best UK hotel for families’ by The Sunday Times. Read her full and honest review post about her luxury family break at Rockliffe Hall.
Luxury accommodation in London: Carrie recommends the Georgian House Hotel, which is ideally situated for major attractions and has some Wizarding Rooms (one behind a secret bookcase!) Read her full review.
Mid-range accommodation in Cornwall: Chloe from Picture Taker Memory Maker raves about The Beach Haven in Bude in North Cornwall, a self catering bungalow that sleeps up to 8. It has a cupboard full of games, a pretty garden to play in, beach themed decor and is just 10 minutes walk from the beach and stunning clifftop views.
A mid range option for Devon which is both child and dog friendly is the Langstone Cliff Hotel – recommended by Claire who lives locally and enjoyed a staycation at the Langstone Cliff Hotel. She says, ” If you’re looking for a traditional family hotel with indoor and outdoor pools and play areas, that’s close to the beach and lots of family attractions then Langstone Cliff Hotel is a great choice.
It’s also very dog-friendly with all rooms able to take family pets. During the school holidays there’s family entertainment and packed lunches can always be prepared for your days out in Devon.”
Budget-friendly accommodation in London: The YHA (Youth Hostel Association) has six hostels to choose from in Central London, all with private family rooms available.
Wales with kids
Wales has over 600 castles – more per square mile than anywhere else in the world – which are bound to capture children’s imaginations with stories of knights and kings from the years gone by. Add to this the endlessly dramatic coastlines that are a photographer’s dream, stoic lighthouses perched on the edges of cliffs, mountains to climb and beaches to play on and it means that Wales is an ideal stop on a family European vacation.
Cardiff, Wales’ capital, has plenty to keep the whole family busy and it’s an excellent base for day trips. Cardiff castle is a must-see, little ones will love a ride on the Cardiff Road Train and Cardiff Bay waterfront is great for just wandering. For rainy days try Techniquest, an interactive science museum.
If you’re feeling adventurous, head for Snowdonia and climb Mount Snowdon – there are 6 different routes to the summit. You can also ride the world’s fastest zipwire at Zip World. This post has a great itinerary for exploring Snowdonia with kids.
Pembokeshire in the SW corner of Wales has plenty of beautiful beaches to explore. Try South Beach at Tenby, Barafundle Bay at Stackpole or Whitesands Bay at St. Davids – all excellent for building sandcastles. Read this post from Sarah at Family Travel Times for more ideas for things to do in Pembrokeshire.
Where to stay in Wales
Luxury accommodation in Pembrokeshire: Bluestone National Park Resort is a family resort with luxury lodges and cottages, activities for kids, a waterpark and a wellness spa onsite.
Mid-range accommodation near Cardigan: Ali from Incredibusy suggests Fforest Farm, where kids sleep in cosy bunks, toast marshmallows under a giant tipi and run wild in the fields, whilst grown-ups calmly look on and breathe in the silence and fresh air”. You can read her review here.
Budget-friendly accommodation near Caernarfon: Nicky from Go Live Young recommends Riverside Camping for a rustic adventure. The cabins are beautifully handcrafted from wood and here are two proper bedrooms plus a cabin bed (tucked away in a cupboard) which children will love. Cabins are heated by a wood burner which can also be used for cooking.
Scotland with kids
From the legends of the Loch Ness Monster to the opportunity to ride the Hogwarts Express (actually a real train called The Jacobite, which travels over the Glenfinnan Viaduct, as seen in the Harry Potter movies), Scotland is a brilliant place to spark kids imaginations on a family trip to Europe.
Spend some time in Edinburgh and be sure to visit the stunning Edinburgh Castle which stands proudly atop Castle Rock. The view from the summit of Arthur’s Seat is also well worth the walk. Follow the Harry Potter Trail, explore the streets of the Old Town and if the weather is less than favourable head for Camera Obscura and World of Illusions.
A visit to Loch Ness and the Scottish Highlands is a must and children will be desperate to find out if the stories are true and whether there really is a monster at the bottom of the most famous loch in Scotland. Read this post for useful information about visiting the area and what there is to see and do around Loch Ness with kids. Loch Lomond in western Scotland is also a stunning area to explore.
For an even more wild Scottish adventure head for the Isle of Skye in the Scottish Hebrides. Nicky from Go Live Young says “There are a number of iconic hikes, including the Old Man of Storr, the Fairy Pools and the Quiraing, taking you out into the glorious scenery. Enjoy a boat ride to Loch Coruisk, and play on the white sandy beaches of Claigon. You’ll be forgiven for thinking you’re in the Caribbean on a sunny day!”. Read her post about the best things to do on the Isle of Skye with kids.
Where to stay in Scotland
Luxury accommodation in West Scotland: Katy from Otis & Us highly recommends Cameron Lodges at Loch Lomond. She loves the onsite family-friendly facilities, the designated kid’s swimming times in the pool, the light and airy accommodation, the games provided for the children and the little touches that mean you have everything you need for a comfortable stay. Read this post with her review of Cameron Lodges.
Mid-range accommodation in Edinburgh: Cairn Hotel offers 2, 3 and 4 bedroom apartments for families who prefer to self cater.
Budget-friendly accommodation in Edinburgh: Stay Central Hotel has a great range of options for families including rooms with bunk beds.
Northern Ireland with kids
Belfast is a city best known for being the place where the Titanic was built. The external angular architecture and fascinating exhibits inside of Titanic Belfast certainly live up to expectations and will occupy children of all ages.
Belfast’s Botanical Gardens are not to be missed and make sure you walk to the top of Cave Hill for spectacular views over the city (on a clear day you can see Scotland!). There is also Belfast Zoo and Belfast Castle with it’s many turrets – kids will love trying to find all nine cat sculptures in the gardens.
Scotland isn’t the only place in the UK full of legends – Northern Ireland has plenty of stories too. According to folklore, Irish giant Finn MacCool was challenged to a fight by Scottish giant Banandonner. Finn built the Giant’s Causeway so that they could duel.
Whether or not the stories are true, the Causeway Coast’s unique and ruggedly spectacular scenery (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is an essential part of a visit to Northern Ireland.
Summon up your courage to walk across the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge in County Antrim. Suspended thirty metres above the waves crashing on the rocks below, it’s 20m span connects the mainland to a tiny island.
Where to stay in Northern Ireland
Luxury accommodation in County Antrim: Emma from Amble and Ash suggests Larchfield Estate for a luxury stay. It has a variety of accommodation choices including a glamping truck set in gorgeous gardens, a selection of cottages and the option for a larger group to stay too. You can read her full review here.
Mid-range accommodation near Londonderry: Emma also recommends Roe Park Resort and Spa which she says caters really well for larger families and has great free use of the Health Club as well as fantastic food in the restaurant.
Budget-friendly accommodation in Belfast: The Botanic Rest Bed & Breakfast is in the heart of Belfast and children stay for free.
Germany with kids
If you have history-loving kids in the family, or if you love outdoor family adventures then Germany is a must-visit country to include on your European family vacation.
Berlin is packed with monuments and museums. For those who want to learn more about the wartime history of the city, there are several places to see the remains of the Berlin Wall including Checkpoint Charlie, Potsdamer Platz and the East Side Gallery – the largest section of the wall that remains standing.
It has been painted with murals and is the now the longest open air gallery in the world. There is also the Brandenburg Gate, the Holocaust Memorial, the Stumbling Stones and the Jewish Museum – all thought provoking, deeply moving and suitable for children.
For ‘lighter’ attractions in Germany’s capital, kids will love the Berlin Zoo and Tiergarten, the magnificent Charlottenburg Palace, the Labyrinth Kindermuseum (perfect for ages 3-11, no shoes allowed!), Legoland Berlin, MACHmit! Museum and the Natural History Museum with it’s impressive T-Rex skeleton. Try some ‘Berliner’ doughnuts (filled with jam and covered in sugar) to keep little ones going during sightseeing stops.
Other German cities worth visiting are Frankfurt (gleaming skyscrapers contrasting with traditional half-timbered buildings in the medieval Old Town), Cologne (a beautiful cathedral and chocolate museum), and Hamburg (maritime history, music and Minatur Wunderland which will delight children and adults alike).
Munich – ‘the city of art and beer’ – also needs to be on your list. The world-famous 17 day long Oktoberfest from mid-September onwards is an experience not to miss. Despite the main focus of the folk festival being on beer, it is very family friendly with facilities, activities and funfair rides for children (who will also love the traditional Bavarian costumes and music).
Throughout the rest of the year children will enjoy riding the trams, visiting the Toy Museum, exploring ‘Kids Kingdom’ in the Deutches Museum (which has 1000+ kid friendly activities), seeing the animals at Munich Zoo and playing in the themed playgrounds at Tierpark Hellabrunn. Beautiful Schloss Nymphenburg’s sumptuous palace and gardens is also worth a visit. Read this post for more tips on things to do in Munich with kids.
Emma from Bavarian Sojourn says Munich is a great base for exploring more of Bavaria: “There is a lot for families to see and do. From the wonderful Marchenwald for the tiniest members of your family to Neuschwanstein Castle for the fairytale enthusiasts. There’s also Legoland for the brick building fans, Poing for the animal mad and Playmobil Land”. Read her post about the best day trips from Munich for kids.
For outdoorsy families who love adventure and nature, the Black Forest in SW Germany is the place to go. Nationalpark Schwarzwald has dedicated children’s discovery trails, and is fantastic for both hiking and cycling through forests, lakes, valleys and mountains.
Further south, the Triberger Wasserfalle, a seven tiered waterfall, is a great place to visit with kids – the access path is paved, the falls are illuminated until 10pm and you can feed the curious red squirrels who come to investigate.
Where to stay in Germany
Luxury accommodation near Munich: Emma says that Schloss Elmau is “a perfect place to stay for families wanting a bit of luxury. There are fantastic ‘edutainment’ activities for kids including science workshops, debating clubs, hiking in the mountains and paddle-boarding, plus all kids meals are included. For the grown ups there is a rooftop spa and an infinity pool”. You can read her full review here.
Mid-range accommodation in Hamburg: Hotel Amsterdam offers beautiful family rooms that sleep 3 or 4 with extra beds available on request.
Budget-friendly accommodation in Saxony: Kirstie from The Family Adventure Project highly recommends Schloss Colditz Youth Hostel and says “This castle hostel is a great value, family friendly hang out. Rooms are comfortable but basic, there’s a games room and terrace, and you can have simple meals cooked for you if you book in advance. There’s plenty to explore in the surrounding village, and the cool German city of Leipzig is not far away for a day trip”. You can read her full review here.
Portugal with kids
Portugal is a picture perfect destination for families – golden beaches galore, sensational sunsets, warm weather, dramatic coastlines and delicious ‘pasteis de nata’ (Portuguese custard tarts) to devour. It’s definitely one of the best places in Europe for kids.
The Algarve region in the south of Portugal is an area packed with activities for families. Younger children will have fun playing on the beaches and mini-golf courses, older children and teens will enjoy the variety of watersports and water parks on offer, and everyone will love seeing dolphins swimming alongside their boat on a dolphin-watching tour. Towns to explore include Carvoeiro, Albufeira, Lagos, Silves and Faro.
If you visit Faro make sure you visit Cape St Mary. It’s the southernmost point of mainland Portugal and has a white sand beach with a boardwalk – children will love searching for seashells and paddling in the turquoise waters.
Lisbon, the capital, has plenty of fun stuff for kids to experience. Take the cable car for incredible views of Vasco de Gama Bridge (the longest bridge in Europe), or ride the #28 tram for a tour of the city. Little kids will love the Parque das Nacoes and there are playgrounds to play on in most of the city squares. Read this post for more ideas on how to explore Lisbon with kids.
Sintra is an easy day trip from Lisbon. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site perched atop a steep hill surrounded by lush greenery, caves, grottos and wells, giving it an almost other-worldly feel. Wander through the colourful cobblestone streets and spend time exploring Pena Palace, which looks like it’s come straight out of a fairytale. If you have a car make a point of visiting Cabo da Roca – the most westerly point of mainland Europe.
Porto offers plenty of things to do: a city of steep hills; the world’s most beautiful bookshop (Livraria Lello, said to have inspired JK Rowling’s descriptions of the library at Hogwarts when writing Harry Potter); a picturesque waterfront (La Ribeira); and funky street art.
Be sure to explore the Jardins do Palacio and the Garden of Feelings, climb Torre dos Clerigos for impressive views over the city and seek out the decorative tiles (especially inside São Bento Train Station). Read this post from Cathy at Mummy Travels for more ideas on things to do in Porto with kids.
Where to stay in Portugal
Luxury accommodation: The Martinhal group offers impressively family-friendly, luxury hotel and self catering accommodation across four different sites throughout Portugal. The original is at Sagres and is arguably the favourite.
Mid-range accommodation in Faro: Be Live Family Palmeiras Village Hotel is just a 10 minute walk from the nearest beach and the ‘Better Together Family Room’ is specifically designed for kids with it’s colourful décor and child-friendly amenities.
Budget-friendly accommodation in Lisbon: The Hotel Expo Astoria has a family room for two adults and two children.
Iceland with kids
If cascading waterfalls, breath-takingly rugged scenery, rumbling volcanoes, toasty geothermal pools, glittering glaciers and a real life abandoned plane wreckage (in between Skogafoss waterfall and the town of Vik) are what you’re after from a family vacation in Europe then Iceland is the place for you.
Adventures abound in Iceland and depending on the time of year you visit you could either be wowed by the midnight sun or captivated by a glimpse of the magical Aurora Borealis (Northern lights). A truly unique experience and one of the top places to visit in Europe with kids.
Reykjavik, Iceland’s colourful capital (and the most northerly capital in the world) has plenty of attractions for children to enjoy. Read this post for more on exploring Reykjavik with kids.
Jenny from Travelynn Family says “With all it’s vast open spaces, magical geography and charming Icelandic horses, Iceland is a fantastic destination for families. It’s a natural playground for kids and a geography lesson for all ages: you can explore exploding geysers; lava fields; dramatic beaches and caves. Hiring a car is the best way to get around.
Most travellers start in charming Reykjavik and then venture out to Golden Circle. We also recommend heading off the beaten track to The Snæfellsnes Peninsula and the far North for seal/whale watching and husky sledding”. Read Jenny’s post on the top 16 things to do in Iceland with kids.
Where to stay in Iceland with kids
Luxury accommodation in Reykjavik: Emily from Kids & Compass suggests Tower Suites for a special family stay. Centrally located with floor to ceiling glass windows and views to die for. They have corner suites suitable for families.
Mid-range accommodation near Snaefellsnes: Jenny from Travelynn Family suggest Kast Guesthouse which has spacious rooms, bunk beds for the kids, a powerful shower and a large window to watch the Northern Lights dance over the mountains.
Budget-friendly accommodation in southern Iceland: Jacquie from Flashpacking Family recommends Hörgsland Cottages and says “These cosy, self-catering wooden chalets are a fantastic option for families as they have 3 bedrooms and the communal hot tubs are just what you need after a long day out. They’re also far enough in the middle of nowhere to get a glimpse of the Northern Lights if you’re lucky”.
Croatia with kids
Croatia, situated to the east of Italy on the other side of the Adriatic Sea, has a perfect mix of beaches, nature, culture and history. It might not be your first thought for a family vacation in Europe but there are actually plenty of fun and interesting things for families to see and do together.
Old towns with bustling cafes, pebbly beaches leading to clear water that’s ideal for snorkelling, intriguing caves, adrenaline pumping zip lines, impressive waterfalls and exciting islands to explore…need I go on?
Ting from My Travel Monkey visited Dubrovnik in the south of Croatia with her two young children and says “This pristine walled town evokes wonder in all who visit the Old Town’s historic maze of streets. Surrounded by the shimmering Adriatic Sea, it’s full of attractions, and the most popular city in Croatia. Don’t let the crowds deter you from the amazing beaches, scrummy ice creams and views to die for”. Read her post on Dubrovnik with kids for more ideas on what to see and do.
Wander the winding stone streets of Hvar Town and soak up the history of the ancient castle, cathedral and monastery. Explore a sprawling Roman palace (complete with two 3,500 year old Egyptian sphinxes brought to the city by the Roman Emperor Diocletian) in Split. And marvel in wide-eyed wonder at the Sea Organ and Sun Salutation in Zadar – installations powered by wave and solar power to create nature’s own music and light shows.
Further north is Plitvice Lakes National Park – a captivating area where lakes and waterfalls have created a completely unique landscape that you can explore by way of wooden footbridges. Krka National Park is another area of stunning natural beauty where magnificent waterfalls abound – Skradinski Buk and Roski Slap are the two most famous ones. You can swim in the waters here as well.
Katy from Otis and Us visited the Makarska Riviera near Podgora and found the beautiful beaches, peaceful bays, crystal clear turquoise waters and impressive mountain views absolutely breathtaking. Read her post for more ideas about things to do in Croatia with kids.
Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, is home to some ‘interesting’ museums… the Museum of Illusions will fascinate and amaze children of all ages whilst the 80’s Museum and the Museum of Broken Relationships will have the grown-ups reminiscing. An Art Park with mural painting sessions, various green spaces with playgrounds and a ride on the funicular that connects the Lower and Upper Towns will keep younger tots happy.
Where to stay in Croatia
Luxury accommodation in Dubrovnik: Gretta from Mums Do Travel suggests James Villas Sun Gardens Resort – the perfect location for visiting Dubrovnik. It has plenty of sports and activities on offer, a playground, a kids club, boat trips, a private beach, 3 outdoor swimming pools and 16 bars & restaurants to choose from on site. You can read her full review here.
Mid-range accommodation in Podgora: Katy from Otis and Us highly recommends staying at the Medora Auri Family Beach Resort near Podgora in the Makarska Riviera. The resort has a wellness centre, children’s playground, daytime activities, evening entertainment and is just metres away from a beautiful beach.
Budget-friendly accommodation in Zagreb: InZagreb Serviced Apartments have everything you need for a comfortable stay with children and kids even get a little gift on arrival.
Scandinavia with kids
Scandinavia: the land of the midnight sun; home to Santa Claus; and the ideal place to experience the magical phenomenon of the Northern Lights. For every child that’s ever been obsessed with Disney’s ‘Frozen’ and for every teen that has fallen in love with Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy of books, it’s a dream come true (and everyone in the family will be excited to build their very own Olaf!).
Sweden with kids
Sweden is a brilliant place to travel to with kids on a family holiday in Europe. It’s super clean and there are plenty of interesting and immersive attractions for kids that don’t involve looking around old buildings. Plus, for those who are fans of Swedish flat-pack furniture, you can even visit the Ikea Museum!
Stockholm, the Swedish capital, is an archipelago made up of 14 islands. Visit the ABBA Museum, be enchanted by the story train at Junibacken, think outside the box at Megamind in Tekniska Museet (the National Museum of Science and Technology) and learn about the ideas that changed our world at the Nobel Prize Museum.
Step back in time at Skansen historical museum, catch the ferry to Gamla Stan (Old Town), stretch your legs in Hagaparken and see colourful butterflies at Butterfly House. Head to Monteliusvagen for panoramic views of the city and climb the beautiful painted stairs near Hotorget Square. Finally, make your way to Kulturhuset – a space designed for kids of all ages (including a dedicated teens section) to be able to hang out, read, and get creative.
Gothenburg offers the simple joy of tram rides as well as Universeum (reported to be the best museum for kids in Sweden) and Liseberg amusement park where you’ll find rides that cater for little ones all the way up to the most hardened thrill-seekers.
Head for the beach in Malmo – Ribersborg is perfect for kids with shallow water, play areas and beach cafes. And make sure you make the most of the novelty of stepping into a different country (and back again) when you cross the impressive Oresund Bridge into Copenhagen.
For outdoorsy families, the best ski resort for families in Sweden is Salen. You can also canoe and kayak in the cities and around Sweden’s intricate coastline. And if you’re venturing further north, why not give dog-sledding a try?
Where to stay in Sweden
Luxury accommodation in Northern Sweden: Why not try the unique Treehotel? Situated just outside the Arctic Circle in Harads, it’s sure to capture kid’s imaginations. Even further north, 200km above the Arctic Circle in Jukkasjarvi, is the Icehotel, a truly magical place to stay. (Compare prices on Booking.com here)
Mid-range accommodation in Stockholm: The Best Western Premier Hotel Kung Carl is a family run hotel in the middle of an upmarket shopping area of Stockholm. The family room has bunk beds and the interior decor is an eclectic mix of modern, Swedish art and antiques.
Budget-friendly accommodation in Stockholm: Petra from A Mum Reviews suggests First Hotel Norrtull as a great budget option. “The airport shuttle stops right outside the hotel making transfers easy and it’s only a few underground stops from the city centre. The hotel is stylish and modern and close to parks, playgrounds, restaurants, cafes and shops”.
Norway with kids
A snowy adventure playground with plenty of fun attractions makes Norway a great place to travel to as a family when considering kid friendly European vacation options.
Nell from Pigeon Pair and Me visited Norway and has this to say: “It’s easy to fall in love with the Norwegian capital, Oslo. An environmentally conscious city, it’s surrounded by forest. A ‘bee highway’ links the forest to the sea and the city has a large number of family-friendly museums & galleries. In the summer there’s swimming in Sørenga Seawater pool or at Tjuvholmen City Beach. In winter, families can try cross-country skiing through the Nordmarka Forest”. Read her post about free things to do in Oslo.
Bergen was also on her itinerary: “If you want to explore the western fjords of Norway, Bergen is a good base to start from. Kids will love the fact that the seven tree-covered mountains surrounding the city are rumoured to be home to trolls. Bergen’s most-recognised landmark, Bryggen, is a colourful cluster of buildings overlooking the harbour. In the summer months it’s buzzing with people enjoying coffee, beer and seafood dishes”.
Nicky from Go Live Young spent the summer road tripping around Norway and loved Stavanger on the west coast. “It’s famed for its many natural attractions, including its position on the Lysefjord and famous hikes including Preikestolen and Kjerag, as well as its beautiful old town and interesting museums”.
Where to stay in Norway
Luxury accommodation in Alta: For a truly unique experience, try out the Holmen Husky Lodge in the far north of Norway. Options range from an Arctic Dome to a Viking Lodge and you get to meet and learn about the 100 huskies who live there.
Mid-range accommodation in Stavanger: Nicky recommends the Scandic Stavanger City Hotel in Stavanger, which is centrally located with family friendly rooms.
Budget-friendly accommodation in Bergen: The Ole Bull Apartments in Bergen are apartment style accommodation right in the heart of the city meaning that everything is within walking distance.
Finland (and Lapland) with kids
If you are looking for a winter wonderland with a Narnia-inspired landscape that could have been taken straight from the pages of C.S. Lewis’ ‘The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe’, Finland is the best place to travel to in Europe for kids.
Children will love the magic of it all: deep snow; reindeer and huskies; and the opportunity to experience the Aurora Borealis, which puts on its natural light show on over 200 nights a year. In Autumn the changing colours of the leaves (known as ‘Ruska’) is spectacular and in summer the sun never sets, leaving plenty of time to enjoy the numerous fun activities Finland has to offer.
Finland’s capital of Helsinki (in the south of the country) has a whole host of family friendly attractions to keep everyone occupied no matter what time of year you visit. The Finnair Skywheel is a fun way to get a great view, Esplanade Park is a lovely green space to wander through, and you can even step on board a real submarine at Suomenlinna – an island full of museums exploring Finland’s history through the ages.
For animal loving kids a trip to Helsinki Zoo is a must – it focuses mostly on Nordic animals so expect to see snow leopards and bears rather than hippos or giraffes. The Heureka science museum is fully interactive and a great learning experience and Linnanmaki is an amusement park like no other – it’s home to the Sealife Centre, numerous playgrounds and even Cotton Candy School. As an added bonus some of the proceeds go towards supporting Finnish child welfare work.
On the SW coast at Naantali younger kids will adore visiting delightful Moomin World whilst school-age children will be thrilled to explore pirate themed Vaski Adventure Island (open June to August).
Further inland at Tampere you’ll find Sarkanniemi, an amusement park with something for everyone (Angry Birds Land for the littles and rollercoasters for bigger kids, plus an aquarium, a planetarium and a children’s zoo). Tampere is also home to the fascinating Spy Museum. In SE Finland right near the border with Russia, you’ll find the Imatra Rapids.
Finnish Lapland is, of course, the official home of Santa Claus. Rovaniemi, the capital, is the heart of it all, so if visiting Santa is on your list for your family trip to Europe, make sure it’s on your itinerary.
You can visit Santa every day of the year at Santa Claus Village and it’s a truly authentic Christmas experience. Cathy from Mummy Travels ventured even further north to Levi (2 hours north of Rovaniemi) in the Arctic Circle with her daughter – read this post for her account of a Lapland holiday with kids.
Where to stay in Finland
Luxury accommodation in Finnish Lakeland: Katja from Globetotting highly recommends staying at the beautiful Anttolanhovi Art & Design Villas on the banks of Lake Saimaa and says “We could have happily spent a week here enjoying lake life in Finland”.
Mid-range accommodation near Helsinki: The Sokos Hotel Pasila is a great family friendly option with large family rooms, gifts for children on arrival, a kids playroom and blackout blinds (essential during the summer months when daylight hours are long).
Budget-friendly accommodation in Tampere: The Dream Hostel and Hotel is an ‘affordable design hostel’ with family rooms and apartments.
Denmark with kids
Denmark is well known for regularly topping the list of the happiest countries in the world. It’s likely to be due to the Danish concept of hygge (pronounced ‘hue-guh’) – creating a feeling of cosiness and contentment through simple, small acts of pleasure that keep you focused on the present moment. It might also be due to all the cool things there are to see and do with kids in Denmark, which make it an essential stop for anyone planning to travel Europe with kids.
Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen, is friendly, colourful and easy to get around (kids will love the driverless trains on the Metro!). Hire a bike and use pedal power to explore the sights, or take a canal tour and see the city from the water.
Tivoli is a must-do – an amusement park and pleasure gardens offering a program of live open air entertainment, a century old rollercoaster and thousands of twinkling fairy lights. It’s been said that Walt Disney gained inspiration for Walt Disney World on his visit there.
See the statue of The Little Mermaid, meander along the bright facades of Nyhvan harbour, enjoy the Copenhagen Islands ‘parkipelagos’ (floating public parks) and, if it rains, head for the zoo or the aquarium. Read this post for more ideas for things to do in Copenhagen with kids.
There are numerous places close to Copenhagen that are perfect for a day trip. Go on a treasure hunt for the Forgotten Giants – six wooden sculptures hidden in the city suburbs deliberately off the beaten track to encourage people to explore beyond the obvious tourist stops – you’ll need a car to find them all.
For something a little different head for Camp Adventure just under an hour away from the city – spiral up the Forest Tower for incredible views or try out one of the climbing courses (ranging in challenge level from child-friendly right the way up to pure adrenaline junkie). And if you’re in Denmark in July, head for Bakken (the world’s oldest amusement park) to see one of the biggest gatherings of Santa Claus’ in the world!
Odense (on the ‘Garden Island’ of Fyn) is an easy one and a half hour drive or train ride from Copenhagen. The birthplace of Hans Christian Anderson is full of cosy cobbled street and in October is home to the Magic Days Festival. It started off as a Harry Potter Festival and has now expanded to incorporate all kinds of magic and fantasy – the entire town fills up with elves, werewolves, witches, princesses, magical animals and more.
Aarhus on the Jutland Peninsula is small but packed with cool things. Just 3 hours from Copenhagen it’s worth a visit for the Infinity Bridge alone. You can also walk inside a rainbow at Aarhus Art Museum, take photos of picturesque cobbled street Mollestien, be amazed by the unique apartment buildings at The Iceberg and wander the pretty harbour.
1h15m further north is Aalborg where you’ll find the Park of Music and it’s 94 unique ‘singing trees’. Every famous musician who visits the town plants a tree and their music is filtered through it – stars such as Bryan Adams, Cliff Richard, Take That and Elton John have all been.
There is plenty to do in Denmark for nature loving families too. Mons Klint (just under 2 hours south of Copenhagen at Borre) has towering white chalk cliffs, rare flora & fauna, and children will be excited to hunt for fossils on the beach below. Grenen (literally, ‘lands end’), Denmark’s northernmost point and 1h20m north of Aalborg, is a rare occurrence where two seas collide and you can stand with a foot in each.
On the west coast at Esbjerg is the impressive ‘Man Meets The Sea’ sculpture of giants. A bit further south at Tonder in SW Jutland you can witness the incredible natural phenomenon of 1 million starlings in murmuration in late August.
Where to stay in Denmark
Luxury accommodation in Skagen: The Color Hotel in Denmark’s northernmost city is surrounded by nature and sandy beaches. It offers 48 apartments as well as hotel rooms and a swimming pool.
Mid-range accommodation in Billund: Bolding Apartments in Billund are very well appointed for families. As well as self catering facilities and a huge garden with trampolines, it’s very close to Legoland.
Budget-friendly accommodation in Jutland: Landal Seawest, on the Jutland coast near Legoland, has a range of options to suit different budgets. Nell from Pigeon Pair and Me stayed there with her two children – you can read her full review here.
Switzerland with kids
Switzerland is the home of chocolate (Toblerone, Movenpick AND Lindt!), cheese fondue, fairytale alpine villages, towering mountains, glittering glaciers, turquoise lakes, lush green meadows, great hiking and incredible panoramic views. As such, it’s a perfect place to visit on a European vacation with kids.
It’s worth spending time in the cities of Switzerland too, before you head out to the mountains. Bern, the Swiss capital, is a medieval city. Try and find all 100+ fountains and statues in the Old Town, visit the Zytglogge clock, spend an afternoon at Bear Park and stop to play at Gurten Park – a wonderland of playgrounds for kids and great views over the city.
Zurich, in the north, hosts a fantastic street parade in the summer and there are numerous outdoor pools to swim in. Children will love the freedom of playing at Josefwiese park and playground as well as taking the ferry across Lake Zurich, and grown ups can wander along the lake promenade and explore the cobbled lanes of the Old Town.
Take a daytrip to Zug and do the Zuggiblubbi Adventure Trail on Zugerberg Mountain to hunt for the nine hidden diamonds. There’s a great playground there too.
Geneva has a fantastic interactive game that will help you explore the city as a family in a way that’s really fun for children. The ‘Secrets of Old Town Discovery Game’ gets you solving clues & riddles via an app on your phone to take you to the next location – the novelty of a treasure hunt never wears off. There is also Le Boir de la Batie Park and (free) Zoo, the famous Water Jet, the Flower Clock and the English Garden to discover.
Of course Switzerland is the land of mountains. To see the most well known, the Matterhorn, you’ll need to travel to Zermatt in the south of the country. It’s a car-free village so if you’re driving you’ll need to leave your car in the next village (Tasch) and catch the train.
In Zermatt, as well as being left open-mouthed at the sheer scale of the peak you can visit Matterhorn Glacial Paradise. Here you can ride the world’s highest altitude cable car (with impressive views of 14 glaciers and 38 mountain peaks) and explore Glacier Palace – an ice palace with ice sculptures, an ice slide and snow tubing. The Sunnegga funicular also provides amazing views.
If you are feeling brave, head for Mount Titlis (south of Lucerne, near Engelberg) and do the Cliff Walk and Suspension Bridge. An experience to remember forever, but not for the faint-hearted. For fans of Harry Potter / Fantastic Beasts, the town of Grindelwald is south of Interlaken.
Switzerland is famous for it’s incredible railway journeys and taking the train is actually one of the best ways to get around the country. Three picturesque routes include 1/ Geneva to Montreaux (make sure you get off and see Chateau do Chillon), 2/ the Golden Pass route which takes you from Montreaux to Lucerne, or 3/ the Glacier Express, which travels from St. Moritz to Zermatt.
If you prefer camping and hiking to cities and trains, read this post from Charly all about her highly recommended experience of a family camping holiday in the Swiss Alps.
Where to stay in Switzerland
Luxury accommodation in Zurich: The Dolder Grand has impressive views across the city and looks like a fairytale castle. It has a Kids Room supervised by a qualified childcare specialist and babysitting services are also available.
Mid-range accommodation in Zurich: Hotel Rossli has suites and apartments suitable for families. It’s in a historic old-town building for an authentic Swiss experience.
Budget-friendly accommodation in the Swiss Alps: Charly from POD Travels recommends Camping Molignon which she says is “cost-efficient with spotless facilities and 360-degree mountain views in a tranquil setting surrounded by nature”.
Belgium with kids
Belgium is worth a visit for the chocolate, waffles and frites alone. If you’re there for the festive season, the Christmas markets are beautiful and one of the best places in Europe for kids who want to experience the magic of it all.
Belgium’s capital, Brussels, has plenty to keep the whole family entertained. Older kids and teens will enjoy the Comic Strip Museum and the comic strip street art trail of impressive murals around the city, whilst littler ones will be in heaven tasting all the chocolate they can eat at the Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate.
About half an hour outside of Brussels is Bruparck where you’ll discover over 350 famous European landmarks from across 80 cities shrunk down to 1/25th of their real-life height. A ‘mini-Europe’ is quite a sight to behold and many of the exhibits are interactive, which makes it great for smaller children too – you can make Vesuvius erupt or the Berlin Wall fall down with the push of a button. A fun geography and history lesson hidden in amongst the sightseeing.
Bruges is a fairytale city circled by a canal that will have little ones enthralled. Visit the Markt Square, climb the Belfry Tower for impressive views, admire the Gothic architecture in Burg Square and wander the pretty cobblestone streets and winding canals of the rest of the city.
For history buffs, a visit to Ypres is a must. Reduced to rubble and almost completely destroyed during WW1, Ypres has been respectfully rebuilt and now tells the story of the battles that took place. Visit the Flanders Fields Museum and the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing. At 8pm the Last Post is played, just as it has been every evening since 1928.
Antwerp’s medieval, café-lined cobbled streets, architecturally beautiful Grote Markt (market square), and stunning cathedral is definitely worth a visit. Ghent’s imposing Castle of the Counts, romantic St Michael’s Bridge and historically fascinating Ghent Altarpiece painting ‘The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’ should also be a stop on your travel route.
Where to stay in Belgium
Luxury accommodation in Mechelen: Martin’s Patershof is a converted church with quirky interconnecting rooms where children are made to feel welcome.
Mid-range accommodation in Brussels: Nichola from Globalmouse Travels recommends the Novotel Brussels City Centre Hotel, which has interconnecting rooms, lots of space and a small play area downstairs with books, cushions, blocks to build towers with and a wii for older children.
Budget-friendly accommodation in Brussels: The Vintage Hotel in the heart of Brussels has a retro feel and rooms with multiple/interconnecting bedrooms that are perfect for families
Czech Republic with kids
Prague is likely to be your main stop on a trip to the Czech Republic and there is more than enough to keep the whole family occupied for however long you decide to stay. It’s a beautiful place and one of the best cities in Europe to visit that’s a little off the beaten track and different from all the usual tourist hot spots.
Ride the Petrin Hill funicular up to the Lookout Tower and explore the mirror maze and numerous parks. Visit the planetarium and gaze through the observatory telescopes to see the stars. Spend the morning at the Lego Museum and the afternoon exploring Prague Zoo.
An easy way to see the city is to hop on nostalgic vintage 1900’s tram #91 for a tour around the main sights and children will enjoy the novel way of travelling. Prague Castle, resembling a fairytale fortress, will be a hit with fans of knights and princesses (and it’s free to wander around the grounds). Definitely make time to see the Prague Astronomical Clock which chimes on the hour – kids will delight in the moving figures and the intricacy of the design & mechanics will fascinate the adults.
Leafy green Children’s Island playground is great for kids of all ages from tiny tots to skateboarding teens, and Prague Botanical Gardens is a lovely place for a picnic in the summer months. For train-lovers, order a drink at train-themed restaurant Vytopna and wait for it to be delivered to your table by a mini locomotive.
The Museum of Senses and the Museum of Miniatures will capture everyone’s imaginations and for fantastic views over the city take the lift to the viewing platform of the Zizkov TV Tower, which has suspended chairs and a small mini golf course. For a fun photo opportunity, head for the John Lennon wall, which is a symbol of peace and freedom in the city.
Where to stay in Czech Republic
Luxury accommodation in Prague: Mooo Downtown Hotel has modern, luxury, boutique style apartments suitable for families of up to six people.
Mid-range accommodation in Prague: The Nicholas Hotel Residence has junior suites suitable for small families and is situated in a peaceful neighbourhood very close to Charles Bridge.
Budget-friendly accommodation in Prague: The Czech Inn Hostel has family rooms available plus a studio with kitchenette that sleeps five people.
Austria with kids
Much like Switzerland, Austria is a land of breathtaking scenery – mountains and valleys and lakes abound in this beautiful country. If it’s skiing you’re after, Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis in Tyrol is considered to be one of the best places to take kids in Europe. It’s a ski resort with family friendly accommodation, dedicated children’s slopes & lessons and an adventure land just for kids.
The cities, towns and villages have plenty of attractions too. Vienna, Austria’s capital, is home to the fantastic ZOOM Children’s Museum. There is also the Cultural World Heritage site of Schonbrunn Palace which contains an impressive palace, beautiful gardens, a children’s museum and the world’s oldest zoo all in one place.
For the world’s oldest amusement park, head for Wiener Prater (Wurstelprater). For horse lovers, pay a visit to the Spanish Riding School of Vienna and to learn about Austria’s musical heritage the brilliant interactive museum ‘Haus der Music’ is the place to go.
Salzburg was the birthplace of Mozart and the setting for the famous musical The Sound Of Music. Catch the funicular railway up to Hohensalzburg Fortress and be sure to visit the giant ice caves in Werfen – children will be spellbound by the natural ice sculptures.
Innsbruck is a must-see place on any visit to Austria. The old town could have been lifted from the pages of a fairy tale book. Take the Nordkette cable car up the mountain and be sure to stop at the Alpen Zoo (the highest zoo in Europe). For those who are fond of a bit of sparkle, keep an eye out for the Golden Roof in the old town and pay a visit to Swarovski Crystal World too.
The rest of the Tyrol region is fantastic for kids too. In the summer the Muttereralmpark is a mountain of adventure with treehouses, go-karts, geocaching and biking trails. In winter it turns into a snowy paradise with skiing, snowbikes and sledging available. A fun and quirky attraction that will amaze children is the ‘upside down house’, Haus Steht Kopf, in Terfens. Tyrol also has ice caves you can visit.
Another fun day out is Minimundus in Klagenfurt – a miniature world of over 150 sights from all around the world built to a scale of 1/25th of the full size.
Where to stay in Austria
Luxury accommodation in Innsbruck: Hotel Innsbruck has a range of options for families including family rooms, triple rooms and interconnecting rooms. There is also a pool and a spa.
Mid-range accommodation throughout Austria: Kinderhotels provide high quality 4* accommodation for families of all shapes and sizes, from babies to teenagers, multi-generational breaks, single parent families and large families. Childcare is available and there is an exceptional programme of children’s activities.
Budget-friendly accommodation in Vienna: The Best Western Plus Amedia has brightly coloured spacious rooms with the option of extra pull out beds which makes it ideal for young families. There is also a babysitting service available as well as a spa and wheelchair-friendly accessible rooms too.
Greece with kids
With scores of ancient temples to explore, fascinating Greek mythology to delve into, beautiful beaches to play on, turquoise seas to swim in, numerous island hopping opportunities and sunshine for much of the year, Greece is a wonderful place for a family holiday in Europe.
The Greek people love children and they’re very welcome wherever you go. Be sure to try some ‘loukoumades’ – a small Greek doughnut covered with honey and cinnamon.
Athens, the capital of Greece, is a good place to begin a trip. The iconic Acropolis (and accompanying museum) is an essential part of any Greek adventure and one of the best places to visit in Europe with kids for the wow factor.
Be sure to seek out the increasing number of fantastic street art displays around the city and for something a bit different watch a movie at one of several open air cinemas. Somewhere kids will love is ‘Little KooK’ – a fairytale themed café with incredible attention to detail. Take a day trip to the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion (70km SE of Athens) too – it’s worth it.
There are hundreds of Greek islands. Some of the most well known include Crete (if you only get the chance to visit one island, make it this one – the Palace of Knossos is incredible and children of all ages will be in their element), Santorini, Mykonos, Kefalonia, Corfu, Rhodes, Kos, Skiathos and Aegina. All have stunning beaches and are perfect for a relaxing family holiday. You can hop between islands via ferry or catamaran. Read this post for more information about the best family friendly Greek Islands.
For those looking for a quieter European vacation with kids or for somewhere a bit more off the beaten track, try some of the smaller, less well known Greek islands.
Clare from Suitcases and Sandcastles says “You can explore pretty fishing villages, eat delicious local food at simple tavernas and enjoy a slower pace of life even in the busy summer months. Try laid-back Folegandros or stylish Sifnos in the Cyclades, or venture further, to tiny Koufonisia where you’ll find water that’s the clearest turquoise you’ve ever seen and some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece”. Read her post for her recommendations for the best quiet Greek islands to visit with kids.
Where to stay in Greece
Luxury accommodation in Peloponnese: Gretta from Mums Do Travel recommends the Westin Resort on Costa Navarino in the south-western corner of the Greek mainland. She says “Kids are very well catered for – the resort has its own water park, bowling alley, go-kart track, climbing wall, mini cinema and a childcare centre which caters for four month-olds to 12 year-olds. There’s an excellent nature museum where you can learn about the local flora, fauna and conservation.”
Mid-range accommodation in Nafplio (mainland Greece on the coast): Susanna from A Modern Mother recommends Vida Hospitality apartments which are comfortable, modern and spacious. You can read her full review here.
Budget-friendly accommodation in Athens: The City Circus Hostel has a superior quadruple room that is perfect for families. It’s located half a mile from the Acropolis and is in an area neighbourhood filled with colourful and unique street art.
The Channel Islands With Kids
The Channel Islands of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Sark and Herm, situated in the English Channel just off the coast of Northern France, are small in size (Jersey, the largest, is just 9 miles by 5 miles) and big in personality.
They are brilliant to explore with kids of all ages, from toddlers right the way up to teens – there really is something for everyone. Foodies, nature lovers, sunshine seekers, adventure addicts, history fanatics… Jersey has it all. They are definitely worth adding to your itinerary for a family trip to Europe.
Jersey is packed with a huge variety of fascinating historical sites such as Elizabeth Castle and the Jersey War Tunnels; stunning natural scenery including the Devil’s Blowhole, towering cliffs and peaceful countryside; beautiful beaches on every side of the island; picturesque towns and villages to wander in; and interesting locations like Corbiere Lighthouse that will capture everyone’s imagination.
You can read Chloe at Picture Taker Memory Maker’s guide to the top ten things to do in Jersey for a fab list of ideas for family fun.
Where to stay in The Channel Islands
Luxury accommodation in central Jersey: Chloe and her family stayed in luxurious Woodland Barn. She says “Woodland Barn was very high quality accommodation and with a hot tub, playground in the back garden and regular visits from red squirrels it’s perfect for families. It’s the ideal location for exploring the whole island.”
Mid-range accommodation in St. Brelade: The St Brelade’s Bay Hotel offers family rooms with added extras to keep little ones happy including a toddler playroom, a games room for older kids, free children’s dinner (up to age 12), an outdoor play area and the beach right on the doorstep.
Budget-friendly accommodation near St Helier: The Merton Hotel has plenty of options for families to stay including interconnecting rooms, family rooms, suites and self catering. There is an onsite pool, plenty of entertainment for tots all the way up to teens and spa treatments are also available.
So has this inspired you to do some Europe travel with kids? Which countries and places will you choose? What activities for kids appeal to your family?
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