Europe with Kids

Updated March, 2015

Essentials

Hotels in Europe for Families

London with kids

London Eye ferris wheel with kids

Highlights:

Further Reading:

Cornwall & Devon Counties with kids

Long Beach in Cornwall.
Highlights:

  • The fantastic beaches of Southwest England: Kid friendly beaches can be found up and down the coasts’ of both counties.
  • St Michael’s Mount, Marazion: Walk during low tide (or ferry during high tide) to Cornwall’s most important historical landmark.
  • National Maritime Museum Cornwall, Falmouth: The huge maritime collection of boats and artifacts is perfect for slightly older kids.
  • Rent a cottage: Stay in a self-contained cabin — on a farm, near the sea, or in a small Cornish village.
  • Dartmoor National Park: Camp, hike, and explore this beautiful park.
  • The Eden Project: An amazing all-weather destination focused on nature, the environment, the arts, and having fun.

Further Reading:

Edinburgh with kids

Castle in Edinburgh.

Highlights:

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Dublin with kids

Light Rail in Dublin.

Highlights:

  • Dublin Zoo: One of Europe’s best zoos. Easy access with the hop-on hop-off bus.
  • Kilmainham Gaol Historical Museum: A great introduction to Ireland’s history. Located out of town but on the hop-on, hop-off bus route.
  • The National Museum — Archeology: Features items pulled from the bogs (including mummified bodies) and a viking exhibit that are very popular with kids.
  • The Natural History Museum (a.k.a. the Dead Zoo): An amazing collection of animals that kids love.
  • Viking Splash: Tour Dublin and get a (small) spattering of history aboard an amphibious WW II vehicle.
  • Take the DART train to Howth (north) or Bray (south): Get to the coast, go for a walk, play on the beach, and take a break from the city.

Further Reading:

Amsterdam with kids

Canal in Amsterdam

Highlights:

  • Boat tour: Hop on board a canal tour or rent your own pedal boat (from the same shop) to see Amsterdam’s famous canals. There are 3 lines for the canal tours and 14 stops. Day passes are available and most of Amsterdam’s major sites are easily accessible from the
  • Bike tour: Amsterdam is famous for it’s bike friendly culture and visitors will feel quite comfortable getting around it’s compact center on 2 wheels. Numerous shops rent bikes and little ones can hop into a bakfiets — the local version of a bike trailer.
  • Science Center NEMO: Lots of hands-on fun at the Netherlands largest science museum for children aged 6 to 16.
  • Visit one of Amserdam’s beautiful parks: Both Amsterdamse Bos (cheese farms, watersports, and horse riding) and Vondelpark (walking, biking, an open air theatre,  playground, and near to RijksmuseumStedelijk Museum and Van Gogh Museum) are great parks that could keep the kids busy for hours.

Further Reading:

Paris with kids

Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Highlights:

  • The Eiffel Tower (of course): Great views are often dismissed by kids as boring, but not from the Tour Eiffel. The city looks small far below but never feels distant. If your kids are old enough walk the stairs instead of wait in line for the elevator.
  • The Catacombs: Run this by your kids first — you’ll descend 20 metres below street level where you’ll be able to explore 1.7km of corridors walled with the remains of long dead Parisians. They’ll either be thrilled or terrified and you can make your plans from there.
  • Musée de Louvre: It’s a huge intimidating museum that can make for a long visit for kids or an enthralling cultural journey depending on how you approach it. Read and discuss some of the paintings and sculptures before you arrive. Buy postcards of famous paintings and hunt for them during your visit. (There’s also a Workshop for Children available for kids 4 to 13.)
  • Musée d’Histoire Naturelle de Paris: France’s best science museum could fill a whole day. The highlight for kids is usually the Galerie de l’Evolution.
  • Notre Dame Cathedral: Climb the 422 steps to the cathedral’s towers and you’ll be face to face with some fierce Gargoyles and an incredible view of Paris. Kids will recognize the scenes from The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Further Reading:

Provence and the Cote d’Azur with kids

Avignon in the south of France.

Highlights:

  • The cities of Arles, Avignon, and Aix-en-Provence — Three cultural giants that are beautiful, walkable, and packed with cool attractions. Each is overflowing with art and architecture and all are within an hour’s drive of each other.
  • Beaches: The southern coast of France is known for it’s fantastic beaches with the best found between St Tropez and St Raphael.
  • Monaco: A small city state whose narrow winding streets are fun to explore. Highlights for the kids will undoubtedly be the fantastic Oceanographic Museum, the Prince’s collection of antique cars, and the parks and gardens that fill the city.
  • Le Pont du Gard: This Unesco World Heritage Site is a wonder of Roman planning and architecture. The kids program for 5-12 year olds is enriching, well designed, and describes in detail how the aqueduct was built and used.
  • Carcassonne: A remarkably well preserved medieval city. Le Cite can be painfully busy during July and August but as it’s one of Europe’s largest city fortifications it’s probably worth enduring the crowds.

Further Reading:

Barcelona with kids

Church in Barcelona.

Highlights:

Further Reading:

Rome with Kids

Trevi Fountain in Rome.

Highlights:

  • Colosseum and Roman Forum: the highlight of a trip to Rome (likely for the whole family). Visit early to avoid the heat and crowds.
  • Villa Borghese Gardens: rent row boats and bikes, have a picnic, hop on the #3 tram for a tour of Rome, and visit the Cinema dei Piccoli for afternoon and evening children’s movies. This large park can easily form the basis of an entire days activities.
  • Explora: Rome’s top notch kids museum has lots of hands on fun, a outdoor play area, and ice cream shop. Visits are limited to 90 minutes.
  • Tivoli’s temples and gardens make a great day trip out of the city. The nearby Aquapiper water park make it all worthwhile for the kids. (Hydromania is another water park option closer to Rome.)
  • Visiting the Vatican and the Vatican Museum probably won’t be a the tope of you children’s to do list. If you decide to go anyways a private tour will allow you to skip the long entrance lines and will pick out the highlights of the museums extensive works.

Further Reading:

The Greek Islands with Kids

Cruise ship docked off Santorini.
Taking ferries between the Greek Islands is fun and easy (though if you’re on a tight schedule booking tickets in advance can be frustrating). If island hopping is what you want then the Cyclades (Santorini, Naxos, Paros, Mykonos, Milos, Ios) are the best islands to visit as they’re close to each other and have lots of ferry connections between them.

Highlights:

  • Santorini – Incredible views and scenery. Take a boat tour of the caldera which was formed by a volcanic explosion and forms a huge cliff that runs the length of the entire island. The beaches are not Greece’s best but there is a water park with slides.
  • Crete – The largest island in Greece. Lots to do and see. Great beaches, historical sites, small traditional villages, thriving cities, and some wonderful hikes. Crete offers a little bit of everything – or rather, a lot of everything.
  • Rhodes – A great island if you’re looking to visit Turkey – whether it be a day trip or a more involved trip up to Istanbul. Rhodes has great beaches and an incredible Old Town.
  • Naxos – The best island for families in all of Greece. Wonderful kid-friendly beaches, with a gentle slope, and calm shallow water. The main village is packed with fun restaurants and shops. The island’s interior offers interesting traditional villages and great walks.
  • Paros – A hipper version of Naxos with a bit more partying and shopping and perhaps beaches that aren’t quite so kid-friendly – though still wonderful. Nearby Antiparos is a great day trip for its laid-back charm and quiet beaches.
  • Corfu – One of Greece’s most beautiful islands. Corfu Town is a beautiful old city and makes a great base for exploring the island. Lots of kid-friendly activities on the island (including a water park) and some great beaches.

Further Reading

See Also – Family Travel In Europe

86 questions and comments

  1. Switzerland for A Year

    Just moved to Basel, Switzerland from Canada for a year…looking forward to using some of your great trip ideas while here!

    Cynthia Hickey

    Reply
  2. Where in Europe To Go with Kids

    Hi there. Your website has been so helpful to me in planning vacations with my kids, so thank you! Last year, we went to Paris, Bruges and Amsterdam, and my 8 year old twins loved it. In 2017, I want to plan a spring break trip at the end of March to probably Europe again. They will be 9 at the time and really loved staying in neighborhoods (Saint Germain in Paris and on a houseboat in Amsterdam) on the last trip, so I’d be looking to do the same on this trip. The kids also loved Bruges and all of the medieval architecture, riding on boats through the canals, etc.

    We will have around 8-10 days for the trip and would like to hit a couple of places either within one country or possibly 2 if we fly into one and out of the other.

    Initial thoughts were Barcelona and some other area along the coast in Spain or Germany/Austria or something in Italy. Any thoughts on what might be best?

    Lindsey in Denver

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      There are so many places to go that meet the “magical” criteria. Barcelona is wonderful – just a great vibe. Nice, along the southern French coast, is super family-friendly – it’s a stone-beach but otherwise perfect for kids and a great base for making fun day trips around South France. Italy is loaded with magical hill towns or old classical villages: Orvieto, Perugia, Lucca, Gubbio, San Gimignano, Todi, or Siena are all great (and there are many others).

      And for something really different and wonderful try staying at a Agriturismo in Tuscany. It’s basically a farm out in the countryside with some rooms to rent (though some have been converted to full-blown hotels or B&Bs). Many have pools and your kids will love it.

      Reply
  3. Where To Go in Europe with Kids

    Hi- we live in New Zealand and planning to visit Europe in late December and January for 4 weeks. We have 4 kids ages 1-8 years. We have never been to Europe! We are thinking of staying somewhere? Cheaper such as Spain or France and traveling on and out from there. Is this a feasible plan? Do you have any recommendations as to were to base ourselves? Any advice would be much appreciated!

    Ashleigh

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Based on what you’ve told me, I would suggest Barcelona. In general, Spain is cheaper than France and the time of year you’re planning your trip for (late December-January) is a period when many shops in France close. It’s very common for the French to take the week off between Christmas and New Year’s Eve which would be a significant part of your holiday! Even in Paris, many of the better restaurants and mom and pop shops close up. The opposite is almost true in Barcelona and there will be lots of activity to choose from. Plus, besides nicer weather, Barcelona has both mountains and a beach (for walking and playing – you won’t be swimming in December or January). You’ll also be in a great position to explore other parts of Europe. For example a new high speed train links Barcelona and Paris in about 6 hours. You’re roughly a 5 hour drive to the Cote D’ Azur and from there just a few hours to Northern Italy. In Spain, you’re about a 6 hour drive to Bilbao or Madrid or a cheap and quick 2 hour flight away from Portugal, Germany, or the UK on Ryanair.

      Reply
  4. Hotels in London and English Countryside

    Hi David,
    Love your advice, so helpful! Planning a weeklong trip to England with my 16 month old, and I have two questions: do most hotels in London have cribs we could use in the room? And what would be a wonderful “English countryside” 2-3 day side trip we could easily take from London? I’m picturing strolls down green country lanes and rustic pubs.
    Thank you!
    Shana

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Most hotels in London will provide cribs on request, but it’s best to contact them in advance to make sure; many provide cots free of charge, but some may charge a little extra. Chain hotels such as Novotel tend to be well-geared towards families. Other hotels that are child-friendly include Queen’s Gate Hotel (www.thequeensgatehotel.com; boutique town house with comfortable family rooms, near museums, 5min walk from Hyde Park), Rydges Kensington Hotel (www.rydges.com; boutique hotel 10 min walk from Hyde Park, right near Gloucester Rd Underground station, really nice beds, stylish rooms, good location for bus tours); the friendly, family-run Rhodes Hotel (www.rhodeshotel.com), also near Hyde Park – and the Nadler Kensington (www.thenadler.com; spacious family rooms, offers large discounts if you book in advance, rooms have mini-kitchens). If you’re after something top-end, The Athenaeum (www.athenaeumhotel.com) in Mayfair has a great location and they offer services such as organic baby food, nanny service, etc.

      If you’re looking for good places to take your baby in London, the Dulwich Picture Gallery (www.dulwichpucturegallery.org.uk) in Southwark (South London) has a Mini Masterpieces workshop on Tuesdays where parents and babies up to 18 months old can get messy. The V&A Museum of Childhood (www.vam.ac.uk/moc) in Bethnal Green has a sensory pod with water- and bubble-filled columns and mirrors, and the visual and touchy-feely displays are very popular with toddlers.

      As for the English countryside, it’s hard to top the villages in the Cotswolds (West England) when it comes to green country lanes, thatched-roofed cottages and rustic pubs. It’s worth renting a car to get around; most of the villages are 2-3 hours’ drive from London, but if you don’t fancy making your way through London traffic, you can take a train to Oxford (1 hour from London) and rent a car there instead. The prettiest villages in the Cotswolds include Bourton-on-the-Water (stone cottages, cosy pubs, traditional tea rooms), Lower Slaughter (landscaped Manor Gardens, an old mill museum), Castle Combe (cute limestone cottages, good pubs), and Kingham (stone cottages, open village green). Kingham is actually reachable by train from Oxford if you don’t want to drive and are happy to stay and relax in one village. If you’re looking for somewhere good to stay, The Dial House in Bourton-on-the-Water is a 17th century manor with comfortable rooms; it also served creative British food. In Kingham, I can recommend The Wild Rabbit (rustic pub with inventive dishes and cosy rooms). If you’re after something fancy, Lords of the Manor in Upper Slaughter (near Lower Slaughter) is a historic hotel with beautifully landscaped gardens and a Michelin-starred restaurant.s). Kingham is actually reachable by train from Oxford if you don’t want to drive and are happy to stay and relax in one village. If you’re looking for somewhere good to stay, The Dial House in Bourton-on-the-Water is a 17th century manor with comfortable rooms; it also served creative British food. In Kingham, I can recommend The Wild Rabbit (rustic pub with inventive dishes and cosy rooms). If you’re after something fancy, Lords of the Manor in Upper Slaughter (near Lower Slaughter) is a historic hotel with beautifully landscaped gardens and a Michelin-starred restaurant.

      Reply
  5. Stroller or Double Stroller in Europe

    Hi!
    We are traveling with our kids (4 and 1) to St. Tropez, Monte Carlo and Capri. Trying to decide which stroller to bring. We have a double city mini gt but I imagine it will be too big and bulky to travel with. Will a double umbrella stroller make it in and around these cities ok?? My 4 year old can walk but I do like the idea of him being able to sit back and rest if need be, or be strapped in if the streets are busy but if you believe we will be much better off with a single umbrella stroller that is the way we will go!

    Amanda

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      I would go with the single umbrella stroller. Just so much easier that I would live with any other trade offs.

      Reply
  6. Good Neighborhood in Paris for family

    Hi David,

    Thanks for this awesome load of information on travelling with kids. I just wanted to pick your brains on selecting the right neighbourhood for our 4 nights in Paris. I was highly impressed and influenced by your recommendation for StayCity Serviced Appartment (Gare de l’Est) as the best budget hotel option in Paris. However, I then encountered some threads on different forums about the whole Gare De l’est location being too near the station and being far from real Paris experience. And of course I am confused now.

    Just to add to the confusion I also read your recommendation for Marais neighbourhood and I found one budget hotel option – Hôtel Du Vieux Saule [ 6 Rue De Picardie, 3rd arr., 75003 Paris, France] .

    Could you help us select between – Marais neighbourhood Vs StayCity apartment considering the cost of the two is almost the same.

    Really appreciate your help.
    Nidzi

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      If the cost of both options is the same, I’d choose the Marais. However, that’s not to knock the Gare de L’est area which has a lot going for it too. It’s definitely not a tourist destination, but that’s also part of its charm. You’ll be in an area that sees few tourists but has been steadily gentrifying over the years. Its biggest advantage is that you’ll be right by the Canal Saint Martin, a fantastic area with lots of cool boutiques and restaurants. The StayCity is also right by a great park if you’re traveling with kids (Jardin Villemin) and also one of the city’s secret gems, Cafe A. The space was once an abbey and has now been converted into the Maison de l’Architecture. Within this setting you have a large, open terrace, perfect for having a coffee or drink in the summer with regular exhibits and jazz concerts. Since you mentioned that your goal was to have a “real Paris experience” though, I’d lean towards the Marais because you’ll be better positioned to enjoy the museums, the Seine, the farmer’s market at Bastille, as well as shopping and restaurants. Just in that area alone you can visit the Picasso Museum, the Centre Pompidou, the historic Place des Vosges and one of the oldest covered markets in Paris, the Marche des Enfants Rouge. And don’t miss the falafel at L’as on Rue des Rosier or the crepes at Cafe Breizh on Rue Vieille du Temple. Both will have a line but totally worth it!

      Reply
  7. Stroller Friendly City in Europe

    Hi David,
    My husband and my (will be) 9 month old are wanting to visit Europe from Australia in May/June this year. We have to visit family in both London and Brest but that’s all so far. We are wanting to go for about 4 weeks. Are there any particular cities you would recommend that are stroller friendly? My husband loves the countryside and adventure things, while I love the history!

    Thanks!
    Ash

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      I would single out Amsterdam as a stroller-friendly and walkable city. Tram is super handy for getting around. Nice parks in city center. Boat trips along the canal are fun.

      Reply
  8. Europe with Young Children

    Hi, I was just wondering what your thoughts are.. we are thinking of going to Europe in July and have two girls 3 & 5 years old. We are thinking of doing coastal Italy (for a relaxing holiday) and then would like to do either Copenhagen, Paris, or London for a week (for site seeing), before we travel to Hong Kong (Disney) on the way home to Australia. Do you have any suggestions for coastal Italy with kids? And which city would you suggest for sightseeing? Angela

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Italy’s coast is very varied, boasting everything from long sandy beaches to rocky bays and heaving resort towns. Some of the most spectacular beaches are on Sardinia. The island is well set up for family holidays with a vast array of seafront accommodation and regular flight/ferry connections. On the south coast, Chia is a popular spot with two gorgeous sandy beaches.

      On the Italian mainland, Tuscany has some wonderful seaside retreats. Between Livorno and Piombino, Marina di Bibbona is a relaxed family-friendly resort set near a pine grove and a lengthy stretch of sand.

      Down in the heel of the country, the southern region of Puglia is where many Italians take their summer holidays. It has some stunning beaches and its laid-back atmosphere is great for families. Particularly beautiful is the Salento area near the baroque city of Lecce.

      For stunning coastal scenery nowhere can top the Amalfi Coast, south of Naples, and the Cinque Terre in Liguria. But while both are fabulous to look at, the practicalities of getting to and around them can make them difficult with small kids.

      For city sightseeing those are all great. London definitely has the most kid-friendly attractions but at that age they might not get as much out of them as they will in a few years. I’d say you can’t go wrong with any of those 3 so perhaps base your decision on the most convenient and best priced connections.

      Reply
  9. Best Websites for Booking Family Trip to Europe

    I am thinking of visiting London, Paris and Zurich with my wife and 2 kids. Do you have a recommendation on the best site to book a multi-city Europe vacation? I have tried Expedia, but it is not too friendly when it comes to multi city trip planning.

    Thanks.
    Vinod

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      There’s no one website for booking your trip. The best for finding cheap airfares (and widest selection of flights) is Kayak.com. The best websites for finding good hotel deals are Booking.com and HotelsCombined. And the best website for train information is Seat61 (you can’t book tickets on the site but each page has very specific info on the best way to reserve seats).

      Reply
  10. Family Trip from Australia to Europe

    Morning, We’re a family with 2 boys (6yrs and 2yrs) who live in Sydney and headed back to visit England this July. We currently have non stop flights on Singapore to LHR (may amend one flight to stop) and looking to include London, Paris and Lanzarote!! London for the usual reasons, plus we have family with young kids about 35 mins away from central London on the train. I also would like to visit a friend in Paris (although she’s North Paris). In terms of Lanzarote it’s not somewhere we would chose to go except for the fact my parents in law moved there from he UK. I speak Spanish and French and I’m nervous it will be Brits abroad and not at all my thing! We are committed
    To 5 nts in Playa Blanca but will Stay longer if you think it’ll be ok. We’re looking for a balance of culture (love the Spanish) and showing them England (London Eye, Zoo, Dinosaur Museaum, beach/pool for kids, relaxing, them getting to understand the culture, while combining with what we want as adults….we also have friends in Southampton/Bristol/Essex and no idea how we fit all in in 4wks!!! so thinking to prioritise London, Paris, maybe Barcelona and Lanzarote! Help!
    Cara Davis

    Reply
  11. Europe with Kids for 3 Weeks

    Hi David,
    We are a family of 5 – 2 adults and 3 children aged 14, 11 & 4. We are planning to travel to UK & Europe in June starting June 3rd for 3weeks from Singapore. However, we are having difficulties planning our trip. We definitely need to go to London to visit relatives and thereby hope to travel to few places like Brussels, Frankfurt, Switzerland, and hopefully Italy too. But i’m not sure how feasible it is. Would you be able to guide us on this?
    Wani Mohan

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      I can certainly answer some questions for you (the more specific they are the more likely I can help, the more vague the harder it is to give advice).

      Reply
  12. Where to go in Europe with 2 Young Kids

    David,
    My husband and I are planning on taking our children (ages 3 and 5) somewhere in August 2016 for 2 weeks (probably mid-end of August). I have been looking around quite a bit and am uncertain where to even start as I’d love to go every where!!! My husband would like to go visit Iceland since it is a quick and affordable flight for us from Minneapolis but it seems as if it could get quite pricey with car rental and lodging for 2 weeks. I’d love to visit Europe and possibly see a couple countries. Since the kids are quite young and we realize we wouldn’t be doing the typical tourist places but instead go hiking, playgrounds, etc, I was wondering if you have a place(s) in mind that you would choose for your family (now knowing all that you know). Also, can you recommend a good site for searching air fares? We’ve been going to google flights just to give us an idea since you can explore all destinations based on price.

    Thanks and I love seeing the world through your site!

    Denise in Minnesota

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Iceland is a great destination if you like hiking and the outdoors. You could easily fill 2 weeks there if you set out in rental car to do in a tour of the top spots … but at the same time it seems a little long for the country. I think you’d want to seem more. Take a look at Iceland Air as they offer free stopovers in Reykjavik if you buy a ticket to Europe. They fly to a bunch of European capitals.

      Otherwise, I use Kayak.com to do all my flight searches.

      Reply
  13. London, Paris, Brussels, Switzerland, Barcelona, Rome, or Budapest with Kids

    Hello David, wonderful site with very useful information.

    Although question from Jim above echoes my queries too, I have a few more. We are a family of 4 (daughters aged 14 & 8) & planning to visit Europe in May for around 10 days. Want to visit just 2/3 cities. Shortlisted cities: London, Paris, Brussels, Switzerland, Barcelona, Rome, Budapest. Which ones would you recommend? My husband & I have stayed in London for a few months in the past, but none of us have been to any other European City.
    Budget is limited.

    Thanks, Arch

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      I’d do London and Paris for sure (but they are the most expensive of all the cities you named) and then either Barcelona (great sites and good beaches) or Rome (walking tours and wonderful historical sites).

      Reply
  14. Europe with Kids in March and April

    Hi David
    This is a great site! We are needing some planning advice. We are traveling to Europe from Western Canada with our 3 yr old and 14 yr old in March/April 2016. We have planned for 3.5 weeks, with key highlights including Athens, Rome, Venice, Monaco/south of France, Paris then either London and/or Copenhagen and Oslo (where we have family). We want to see historical sites but also have a chance to relax a day here or there without being over scheduled with sightseeing time. Is going south to north the best route? Plane or train? Thanks for your help!!!
    Dena Pedersen

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      You’ll need to fly to get to Athens and then best to fly from there to Rome (you could take the ferry from western Greece to Venice but it takes a fair bit of time and effort to take the bus from Athens to Igoumenitsa). But from Rome to Paris you can do all by train. Train is fun and easy (though can get a little boring on the longer journeys). It saves you from the airport/security/hassle and train stations are centrally located so that makes the train travel much more convenient. There’s a good overnight train from Venice to Paris (if you ever decided to skip south France). London is wonderful if your kids like history and train/military museums.

      Reply
      1. Dena Pedersen

        Thanks for the advice. One last question, we are thinking of bringing our jogging double stroller. The 3 yr old can sleep and eat and play in it, and her bag can ride beside her (we will be packing light with back packs for the rest of us). Is the double stroller going to be an issue on trains/commuter planes or sightseeing?

        Reply
      2. DavidDavid Post author

        Yeah, unfortunately I think it will. Doesn’t mean it’s impossible but be prepared for some major hassles.

        Reply
  15. Austria with Kids

    Hi David
    My husband and I were thinking of going to Europe in the summer for 3 weeks
    Flying from Canada to Munich for a few days and then a train to Austria Kitzbuel ( where I had stayed for 6 months, 10yrs ago and fell in love with) but our concern is wether this would be too hard on our kids who are almost 3 and 5.
    Just considering the long flight and 8 hr time change on toddlers.
    We thought Austria, kitzbuel is low key with simple adventures and train rides to Innsbruck or Salzburg if wanted to
    Do you think it would be to much on a 3 and 5 yr old with flights trains and time changes?

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      3 weeks gives you and the kids lots of time to get settled and adjusted to the time zone. It should be great.

      Reply
  16. Europe with Kids – Where To Go?

    Planning a vacation to Europe with my almost 2 year old for about 9 or 10 days! Could you recommend the best kid-friendly places to go? I visited Rome, Venice, Florence, Paris, London, and Madrid already, but was thinking that going to Paris and London again would be nice since everything is a new experience when you have kids… What do you think?
    Anyris

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Yes, they are very different experiences with kids. In general I recommend going to big cities (lots to do) or beach towns (kids love beaches). And Paris and London are the 2 best, funnest, and most enchanting cities for kids in Europe. Both cities can easily fill a week of almost constant exploration.

      Reply
  17. 2 Weeks in Europe

    Hi David,
    We are booked to travel from Hong Kong for our Europe trip. our daughter is just under 3 years.
    We arrive into London (13th July) and plan on taking a morning Eurostar to Paris on 18th July. At the moment we are thinking maybe see a bit of Paris on 18th July and then have full 2 days 19th and 20th too. is that enough or do you think we need an extra day in Paris. We are definitely not doing Disney as we have one in HK and our daughter gets too tired and with the long queues its going to be a long day for us all.

    We have our flight out from Rome on 27th July in the afternoon so thought of doing 3 full days 4 nights in Rome (reach 23rd night in Rome and have 24th-26th).

    Now you can see we have 21 – 23rd free, .and wondering should we spend 21st in Paris or maybe do the following:

    Option 1 – flight to Nice and Monte carlo and cities around and fly straight to Rome
    Option 2 – fly to Nice spend a day and then next day take a train to Pisa and see Florence too (stay overnight) and 23rd eve go to Rome.

    can you please help…we need to book our Paris/Rome hotels..thank you so much.

    cheers
    Karan

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Wow. Sounds like a wonderful trip. I would go with Option 1. Option 2 sounds a bit too busy and Pisa and Florence can be stifling hot in July. South France will offer more to do for a 3 year old.

      Reply
  18. London to Venice

    Hello David –

    What a wonderful resource for information you have put together – tremendously helpful!

    I will be traveling with my 7 year old daughter in early June and she wants to go to Venice and London from Boston. Her older sister did a “mommy and me” trip at age 7 also, but was very focused on London and Paris. There were many thongs to do in both cities and the logistics were easy because we flew into London, took the train to Paris, flew back to London and then back on to Boston. My younger daughter wants to go to Venice because of the Olivia books she read as a child and her main desire is to go on a Gondola (my older daughter wanted to go to see the Eiffel Tower).

    A few questions:
    1. Is there enough to do in Venice for the 7 year old and is it worth the trip to go on a Gondola ride? It is proving to be difficult to get to Venice ad then back to London from Boston.
    2. Are there museums there? How many days would you stay?
    3. Other than going back to Paris, is there another city or region that would be fun for her and easy to get to from London? She wants to do something different from her sister.
    4. Whats the easiest way to fly from Boston to Venice, back into London for 4 days and then back to Boston?
    5. Do you recommend taking the train from London to Venice?

    Many thanks for your help here! Berret

    Reply
  19. Rome, London, Barcelona or Copenhagen as a Base

    Hi,

    We would like to spend a few days in Europe this august (up to a week), with 2 kids, ages almost 3 and 1. I would like it to be an airline hub city to save money. I am trying to decide between Rome, London, Barcelona or Copenhagen. What do you think? Thank you! Chana.

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      London has the most flights by a large margin – but no one saves money by staying in London. I wouldn’t worry about staying in an airline hub. All those cities have plenty of flights and you only need one – not 5, 10, or 20 flights.

      Reply
  20. Brooke

    Just wanted to say, wow what an amazing blog!! I appreciate all the info you’ve collected and published here.

    Reply
  21. Paris or Barcelona with Kids

    Hi David,
    We’re trying to decide between Paris and Barcelona for a week long stay in August after we visit family in England. We’ll be traveling with a 2 and 6 year old — which city do you think is more kid friendly for young children?
    Thanks!
    Tessa in NYC

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      I think Barcelona has a more kid-friendly vibe but Paris has more for kids to do – if that makes any sense. Both are great. The train from Paris to Barcelona is only 6.5 hours so could easily do both.

      Reply
  22. Lisa

    HI David,
    I am trying to organise our family trip to London France Switzerland for this September.
    We are flying from Australia with a 1 night stop over in Singapore…to break the long journey with our 6 year old.
    Then:
    5 nights London
    5 nights Paris
    3 Nights Disneyland
    then I thought we might go to Strasbourg or Colmar 3/4 nights
    then wanted to do Switzerland and thought about going to Wengen..but now I think it might not be the right time of year and maybe should pick another place in Switzerland for the 4 nights or just stick to France?
    Then make our way to Lyon for 4 nights – fly home from here.
    Any help would be appreciated. We plan to use the trains to travel.
    Thanks

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Both Switzerland and Strasbourg are wonderful destinations. 3 days in Disneyland seems like a lot to me but you know better than myself. London and Paris are both great but London does provide a lot more to see than Paris (for kids and families).

      Reply
  23. Where To Go in Europe with Young Child

    Hi David,

    Am enjoying your blog so much. I always thought…children will only enrich our journey not restrict.

    I am thinking of a trip to Europe in the 1st week of Sep & at the moment leading towards Italy (Rome, Tuscany or Florence) or France (Paris, Provence or ??) but anywhere would be fine. I am a single mom & my girl would be 2yrs 3mo by then. We travel by baby carrier & she’s an active girl who likes to walk/run/climb. No stroller.
    Places to visit will have to include the beach/pool where she get to play with water…her favourite activity.

    Any suggestions would be great….it will just be a 9~12days trip. Wish it could be longer…but not when living & working in this side of the world. judy

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Those both sound like great trips and very doable. I would probably lean towards France rather than Italy. More playgrounds, more open spaces. The beaches on the Atlantic coast are more family-friendly (and less expensive) than the beaches of southern France.

      Reply
  24. 5 Days in Rome and Venice

    Hi David,
    thanks for the links you have shared. We have a 5 yr old daughter and planning for our Venice tour. This is going to be her first tour so far away from home. I have collected a lot of information so far and your links helped a lot. We are planning a train journey from venice to rome. I am pretty sure of the fun she is going to have at Explora museum. We have seen some good itineraries here http://www.triphobo.com/venice-italy and added a few more attractions as suggested here. Do you think 5 days will be sufficient to tour both rome and venice?

    Reply
  25. Trip to Europe

    Hi David – Your site is really helping me out. I was wondering if you could comment on my itinerary which was haphazardly put together as a starting point. I have never been to Europe but have traveled quite a bit with our one child who will be 5. Travel from April through June:

    # Nights Destination
    7 London
    12 Paris
    3 Lyon
    3 Venice
    4 Florence
    5 Rome
    12 Provence & Cote d’Azur
    10 Barcelona
    6 San Sebatian
    7 Madrid
    3 Seville
    5 Algarve beaches
    7 Lisbon
    1 Home!

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Sounds awesome. Try to book your arrival and departure from different cities so you won’t have to backtrack. Book train tickets in advance and through the country ticketing office (e.g. Use the Italian train website to book tickets in Italy not the general Euro website).

      Reply
  26. Jake

    Hi David,
    My wife and I are planning a trip with our 1.5 year old baby to Europe in May. We are thinking about flying into Amsterdam staying 3 days, taking a train to the Loire Valley for 2 nights or possibly Avignon, renting a car and driving to Provence for 9 nights in a cottage within walking distance to a small village. Does this make sense? Any suggestions on where to stay in Provence?
    Thank you!
    Jake

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      That sounds great. Ensure the car company you rent from has a car seat – or take one with you. For hotels here are a couple in Cannes and Nice to get you started. Don’t overlook Marseilles – lots to see and do.

      Reply
  27. Lisa

    Hi David,
    My husband is going to be in Monaco a few days in early April for work. We would love to take our boys (ages 3, and 7) on a 2 – 2 1/2 week trip but are having a difficult time planning an itinerary. We want to spend our final week with friends who live in Zurich. However, we are not sure what to do with the first half of our trip. We love Paris, Provence and Tuscany but this is our first time with kids so we want to do something kid friendly and are concerned about weather in early April. Where would you recommend for about a week between Monaco and Zurich? Also, should we take the boys to Monaco or set up camp somewhere else and just send Dad off to Monaco by himself? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Monaco is great for kids (just be prepared for lots of hills). There’s a great aquarium there that is very kid-friendly. There are easy day trips by train to other cities along the coast (Cannes or Nice). And there’s an open-air trolley tour the kids should enjoy. I’d split my time between Monaco and Paris. Lots of great kid-friendly activities in the city. You could easily fill a week with your kids in Paris. I find cities to have lots to do and it’s the quieter places that you might think have a more kid-friendly vibe that leave you scratching your head to find things to do. But both Monaco and Paris should offer you plenty to keep busy. Good luck.

      Reply
  28. Manny

    David,

    Ours is a bit different a question than what you normally see. We are a family of four (kids almost 4 & 19 months) & are planning on moving to either Spain or France in 2015. Our goal is at least two years & then who knows (a year in each country). Given your travels & knowledge, what cities would you recommend as wise choices? We speak Spanish & plan on learning French. The main purpose of the trip is to immerse ourselves in culture, food, culture & more food. Granada, Barcelona, Lyon, Provence…so many wonderful options!! Any suggestions would be most appreciated.

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Barecelona and Paris would be right at the top of my list for places to live. But what about traveling around for the first month and choosing a place after that?

      Reply
  29. Andrew

    Somehow or other, our first Europe trip with our two daughters (8 and 6) has shaped itself into London-Paris-Venice, but without any real detail. London and Paris we can organise easily – but any tips for Venice with kids?

    Reply
  30. Kristen

    I am traveling to San Sebastián in May for work. Having lived in Seville for a while in college I thought it would be fun to take my three kids (ages 4, 6, 8) and travel around Spain for a couple weeks. My husband thinks I am crazy and is discouraging it. I am trying to put together a reasonable travel plan that would allow us to be in San Sebastián from may 2-4 with travel before and after. Would love the kids to see Barcelona, Seville, and Toledo. Madrid would be nice but scares me a bit as my brother was nearly abducted there in the mid 90s and our concierge told us it “happens all the time” related to slave trade…? (Not sure how accurate that is). Do you have suggestions for great things to see and do with young kids in Spain (I already saw your page about Barcelona which was very helpful). Thanks!!

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Hi Kristen. Sounds like a great plan. (And yes, I’m confident that Spain is incredibly safe and abductions exceedingly rare.)

      I do know of another family that just did a 3 month tour of Spain (blog here: 90daysinspain.wordpress.com.) I’ll see if she has a few minutes to offer some suggestions.

      Cheers.

      Reply
    2. Bambi

      Lay your fears to rest! So many horror stories. So little reality. We just returned from living for three months in Spain with our 9 and 12 years old children and we had the opportunity to go to all the places you are hoping to visit. We had also heard may stories about pickpocketing on the Ramblas in Barcelona, and Gypsie scams in the south, but none of them came to fruition. Spaniards absolutely ADORE children! The family is the core of their culture, and you will be quite welcome when you bring your little ones along. In San Sebastian just wander around and hit the beach and eat every chance you get. The pintxos are fabulous! In Toledo be sure to buy a sword that can fit in your luggage – there will be so many options to choose from. The kids will love clambering up the stairs to the top of the Giralda Bell Tower in Sevilla. They’ll feel a sense of accomplishment that they made it, and be rewarded with great views. The Sevilla’s Alcazar has a whole group of ducks and peacocks running around, and it’s a great place to spend some time. Watch out for the duck that thinks one of the peacocks is his girl – he’ll bite your shoelaces if you get close to her! And as for Madrid – go! Madrid is fabulous. There are so many little parks and playgrounds sprinkled throughout the neighborhoods and the Parque Buen Retiro has little boats to rent. Your kids are younger than mine are, but we also traveled part of the time with my sister-in-law who had a 2 and 5 year old. We all had a great time and they were the hit at all the restaurants. Above all, just enjoy. We always stopped in pastry shops and had the local goodies, and when we had car journeys we would let the kids pick a bag of small Spanish candies from a corner store and distribute them through the ride. They loved looking at all the different wrappers and not knowing quite what they were going to get. As for lodging go with Booking.com. We booked 75% of out places through there and they all turned out outstanding. Giralda Suites in Sevilla were fabulous. In Madrid we stayed in an apartment from Homes for Travellers called the La Latina Loft. Apartments are the way to go. With that many people you are paying too much in a hotel, and they often don’t have the right size of beds to fit everyone. They don’t do two queens like we do here in the US. Also, once you are past 2 people it is sometimes the same price to taxi as to metro. We used the metro a lot, but sometimes a taxi was the better option and just as reasonable. Buen viaje!

      Reply
      1. Kristen

        Thank you so much! That is so helpful. We have booked our flights and I have rooms reserved for the whole time through booking.com. I was able to get the place you recommended in Seville. Now I am trying to prioritize what to see and do in Barcelona, Madrid and Seville. There is so much and we will only have 2 – 3 days in each. I guess it is a good problem to have!!

        Reply
  31. Cassie

    Hi David
    What an amazing website. Thank you. We have a 9 yo boy and 7yo girl, travelling from Aust. to Europe. We want to go to Legoland, and Paris, I’d welcome any suggestions regarding an itinerary: about 5 weeks. Thanks again

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Lots to see of course. Paris is great. London, Rome, Amsterdam. So many great cities. If you’re there in summer the beaches in northern Europe are great too (e.g. the Atlantic coast of France) so no need to visit the Riviera if you didn’t want to. Not sure when you’re going but Legoland Windsor does close from December to March. Not sure about the Legolands in Germany and Brussels. I’d buy tickets to attractions like those in advance. Good luck.

      Reply
  32. Helen

    Hi David,
    We are planning to go to France in July next year to stay in Pezenas with our in laws. (They are there for the entire month, we will spend a week with them) We have 3 boys aged 4,7,9. I want to spend a further 3 weeks travelling, one week will be with my husband and kids, the second week will be with my parents on their yacht and the other week me and the boys. I’d welcome any suggestions.
    Regards
    Helen

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Hi Helen. There are so many different options it’s hard to narrow it down. I guess if I had one tidbit to offer it would be to fly into and out of different cities so you won’t have to retrace your route to get home.

      For destinations you’ll be very central and by the sounds of it you’ll have 2 different weeks to fill. I’d choose between either Barcelona, Madrid, and Spain; Paris and central France; or Rome and Tuscany. Don’t do too much so just choose 2 of those 3 regions and enjoy yourself.

      Hope that helps.

      Reply
  33. AJ

    Thank you David. We are actually thinking of changing our plans to lake Geneva. We are thinking of staying in Lausanne and touring around the lake and the srounding mountains. Do you have some tips for things to do, places to stay? Thanks

    Reply
  34. AJ

    Hi David,
    We are a family of 4, our kids are 3 and 5. We would like to visit Europe for one week on our way to USA. We are thinking either London or Paris. Which one is more kids friendly? Do you have other suggestions? Thanks

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      For kids a little older I’d definitely give the nod to London but for ages 3 and 5 it’s less about attractions and more about parks and street life and wandering around and I think in that category Paris might be the winner. Both are great however. I think you’d have an easier time finding a hotel with a pool in London than in Paris if that means anything to you. Good luck.

      Reply
  35. Michelle

    We have traveled with the kids (now ages 9 and 11) to Europe 3 times. We just returned from our most recent trip in which we spent 4 weeks going through Germany, France, and Italy. We followed your advice to fly home from a different city than we arrived in and it was wonderful. Great tip. Previously we would fly to London, then over to France only to have to return by train to London for that final night. A big expense with no benefit.

    On this trip we spent time in Berlin, Munich, camping in northern France with some friends, Paris (of course), the south of France (mainly around Cannes), and then Milan briefly, Florence, and Rome. We would have liked to visit Venice but ran out of time and seeing as we were very rushed at the end I’m glad we didn’t try to squeeze it in.

    The kids most enjoyed Rome (they had both shown an interest in Roman history in the few weeks before we left and there was lots to see there). The sites of Rome seemed to lend themselves to being enjoyed by kids. They’re right there in front of you so it’s very personal and hands-on, or I guess eyes-on. Paris is always nice but the kids had been twice before so there wasn’t much new there. The beaches of Southern France were wonderful. Very family friendly in their feel and amenities.

    I think our next trip we’ll try to make it to Venice and then ferry (maybe!) to Greece. That’s the plan anyways.

    Reply
  36. Preethi

    Hi David,

    Wonderful site with loads of info.

    We are family of 4 with 7 and 1 year old boys planning to visit Europe from Malaysia for 2 weeks. We would like to visit- Amsterdam, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy and London. I am interested to show my elder son places of historic interests plus some science centers and kids specific activities.

    Can you suggest how to go about? Is train travel cheaper?

    We are visiting Europe for the first time and would like to stay in apartments than hotels and keep the trip enjoyable and pleasant yet on a budget too.

    Tq in advance.

    With regards,
    Preethi

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      The easiest way to keep expenses down is to visit in the off or shoulder season, somewhere between late September and late May. That said, London is always expensive and the cities of Western Europe are never cheap. hotelscombined.com is an awesome site for finding good deals on hotels.

      Also, the more you move around the more you’ll spend. Train tickets are expensive and you tend to spend more in a place on your 1st day then on your 4th (when you have a better feel of where to shop, eat, and how much things should cost). You’ll often get better hotel deals for a longer stay too.

      To save money on trains book early. There are a limited number of cheap tickets and once they’re sold they’re gone. You’ll have to do the math to see if a train pass is worth it. Don’t assume that the train pass will be cheaper. The greater the number of stops you plan to make the more a train pass pays off. Also, check the websites of the individual countries when buying train tickets. So if you’re buying tickets for Italy visit the Italian train website instead of buying through the general Eurail site.

      Plane tickets can be cheaper than the train but they require more planning and the airports for the budget airlines often lie far out of town making even a short flight a half-day ordeal. The train is much funner, easier, and feels more European. Airports have a more generic, “I could be anywhere” feel.

      I hope that helps.

      Reply
  37. tina

    THANK YOU for such a great site. I just came back from two months in Europe with my two boys (6 and 11). My husband only joined us for two weeks because of work. I wish I had seen your site earlier. Now that I am planning a return trip for 2013 (9 weeks this time), I will be relying heavily on your site. I love your section on Greece. Thank you again for such great ideas.

    Reply
  38. Livvy

    GO TO DEVON IT IS AWESOME!
    (I may be slightly biased since I live here but when I first moved here I was amazed at how beautiful it was – now I kind of take it for granted.)

    Reply
  39. Jackie Moes

    Hi David,
    Love the blog! My family of 5 (kids 15, 13 & 11) are planning a 3-4 week trip with another family of same age kids. We originally were going to do a London/Europe trip as you suggested with flying into London and out of Barcelona, however now the other family is leaning toward trip to Bali. You’ve been to both- your thoughts would be so appreciated!

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Hi Jackie. Both are great, but very different. Since you’re planning to travel with another family then I think Bali wins out as it’s much more easy going and chill-out friendly. Big cities are great for kids, but I think trying to negotiate all the challenges, planning, arranging that Western Europe requires would be too much for 2 families and probably result in some unneeded headaches. Go simple, go Bali.

      Reply
  40. Rachel

    Hi David,

    We’re planning a trip to Paris and Rome in June with the kids. Right now, I see a fare for non-stop legs LAX-Paris-Rome-LAX for about $1450 on Air France and Alitalia. In your experience, is that fare in a reasonable range given that it’s June or should I wait a few more months hoping that price will drop?

    Thanks,
    Rachel

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Hi Rachel. It does sound reasonable and if you’re certain you’ll take the trip then I’d book it. Could there be cheaper fares? Yes. But, at best, probably not less than $1300 or so. Whereas it could move in the upwards direction several hundred dollars. My only suggestion for getting a cheaper ticket would be to leave the Paris to Rome leg off your ticket and do this by train or a cheap budget airline. It likely wouldn’t save you a lot of money but you would gain some flexibility (maybe stopping in South France, Milan, or Florence on your way to Rome) and the kids would get to do an overnight train ride which they’d love. Good luck.

      Reply
  41. Jim from Chicago

    We’ll be flying from Chicago to Europe in the fall and are wondering what you’d recommend for a family trip itinerary. We’ll have almost 2 weeks (probably 12 or 13 nights) and are open to anything. We’re a family of 4 with an 8 year old and 13 year old. My wife went on a school trip to France in high school but other than that this will be our first trip to Europe. Thanks for your time.

    Reply
    1. DavidDavid Post author

      Hi Jim. That sounds awesome. Europe is a fantastic destination for kids – especially slightly older ones that will enjoy the history, castles, hikes, and urban attractions. There are so many places to visit it’s hard to pick one perfect itinerary. You’ll always be left feeling like you didn’t see enough.

      My first recommendation would be to fly into one city and out of another. This saves time, effort, and money. Though “open-jaw” tickets, as they’re called, usually cost a bit more it’s more than made up by the savings in a return train ticket, one night in a hotel, and the wasted time spent retracing your steps.

      So with that in mind, I’d look for flights into London and a return flight from either Barcelona, Madrid, or Rome. Spend 4 nights in London, then take the train under the Channel to Paris. 3 or 4 days there – perhaps with a day trip to Versailles – should keep you busy and happy.

      Both Paris and London have some wonderful museums for kids and the subway systems in both are an easy and exciting way to get around the city.

      I’d spend the end of the trip in either Rome, Madrid, or Barcelona – probably favoring Barcelona if you wanted some beach time, Rome and Madrid if the kids were really enjoying the historical sites. Train connections from Paris to all 3 of these cities are great – though you should book in advance, especially if you plan to get a family sleeper.

      If you had a few more days or shortened your time in some of the cities, then a few days at the beaches of Provence and the Cote d’Azur would be a great option.

      Also, IcelandAir has some great prices on trips to Europe with free stopovers in Reykjavik. It breaks up the trip and allows for a day or 2 to explore the city and maybe visit the Blue Lagoon.

      Good luck.

      Reply
  42. Julia, KidsTravel2

    Great list and links, thanks. Taught in Spain near Barcelona for a while and several years, a marriage and 2 kids later am planning to return with family – looking forward to exploring the city from a child’s perspective

    Reply

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