The Most Family-Friendly Destinations in Europe
One of the best things of planning a family trip to Europe is that you can easily tick a bunch of destinations off your bucket list in a single trip. It’s such an amazing place to visit that it offers attractions that cater to every visitor: cultural diversity, beautiful landscapes, stunning historical landmarks and delicious food.
European cities usually offer excellent museums, large city parks, decent public transport services and well-maintained roads that make moving around and exploring easier and more comfortable. However, visiting Europe with teens and children in tow can seem discouraging for many parents. No parent wants to drag children around town with a sad face or complaining that they are bored, tired or that there’s nothing interesting to see and do there!
If you’d love to take your family to the Old Continent in your next holidays, we’ll help you plan out your itinerary by compiling the most remarkable destinations that you can explore in Europe and what you can see and do there.
But first, let’s share with you some general tips that will make it easier for you to organise your trip. To begin with, remember that you’re travelling with children and you probably won’t be able to tick off every single item in your bucket list. It’s all right! Don’t get frustrated. Travelling is also about making memories so make sure you enjoy this special time as a family. Do your research beforehand and take advantage of as many child-oriented activities you can in the cities you’ll visit, especially at museums and exhibitions. And don’t forget to include some low-key days in your itinerary.
Public transport is excellent in Europe but families may find that renting a car helps them move around more easily and comfortably. Roads in general are in excellent condition and driving will give you more flexibility and allow you to accommodate your schedule to your family needs and preferences. If you choose to rent a car, don’t forget about buying car rental insurance beforehand. There are many options available in the market but you’ll probably find this one interesting.
Do a quick online search for European destinations for families and Barcelona will pop up. The attractive cultural capital of Spain is a must-visit thanks to its delicious Mediterranean food, Gothic architecture and plethora of attractions. It’s a favourite amongst families since it offers an interesting combination between cultural life, traditional attractions and outdoor fun.
Gaudi’s monuments, the Gothic Quarter, Roman walls, the impressive Sagrada Familia and Parc Güell with its colourful and fantastic mosaic figures are some of the unmissable attractions in Barcelona. You can also ride the Montjuic cable car experience and then visit the national art museum at the hilltop. Parc de la Ciutadella is lovely to visit and hosts the Barcelona Zoo.
Other must-sees to include in your Barcelona bucket list are: Casa Mila, Casa Batiló and Poble Espanyol.
Barceloneta beach is the place to go to enjoy the Mediterranean sea and beautiful sandy beaches. Here you can enjoy a great family day sunbathing, swimming or simply building sand castles and forts! In the evening, shake the sand off and take a relaxing stroll along the Rambla and enjoy some nice street performances.
Are there any football fans in your family? If so, don’t forget to include a tour to Camp Nou stadium, which belongs to the famous Barcelona FC.
Another highlight for kids is the Tibidabo Amusement Park, located on the mountain of the same name. Here you’ll find a great Barcelona viewpoint and lots of fun rides and activities for toddlers.
A visit to The Chocolate Museum is a must-do for those with a sweet tooth; here you can admire chocolate replicas of monuments and tasty souvenirs. Curious families will love CosmoCaixa, an interactive science museum that includes a mini rainforest and a planetarium. The Museum of Ideas and Inventions is equally fascinating. If you’re feeling adventurous, go shark cave diving in the Oceanarium at the aquarium near the Marina in Port Vell.
Eating in Barcelona is an experience in itself. Catalan cuisine is tasty and diverse and there are delicious dishes to try. Parents can eat delicious tapas (a collection of small snacks) and children will love the Spanish tortilla made with potatoes and eggs, a traditional Spanish dish.
Finnish Lapland and Rovaniemi
If you’ll travel to Europe around Christmas time, what can be more fascinating than including the Finnish Lapland and Rovaniemi to your itinerary? Rovaniemi is one of the most special places on Earth to visit with kids as it’s the official home of Santa Claus. Having the chance of meeting the man in red and telling him what they want to receive for Christmas is an exhilarating experience for children (and adults as well).
Rovaniemi can be easily reached by airport and there’s a good selection of hotels in town. It’s a small picturesque city and it offers interesting options when it comes to food. Santa Village is snowy, festive and magical. You can meet reindeers and huskies.
Since it’s located close to the Arctic Circle, you can cross it and get a certificate that authenticates your achievement. Can you think of a more fantastic souvenir to take back home?
Other unforgettable things to do in the Finnish Lapland include: attend Elf School, go on a husky safari and learn about the people, flora and fauna of the Arctic Circle in Arktikum Museum and, of course, skiing and sledging!
If having Rovaniemi in your itinerary has inspired you to explore the other Scandinavian countries, let’s discover what Stockholm has to offer. The Swedish capital is built on 14 islands joined by bridges crossing open bays and narrow channels soaked in history that can be appreciated in its mediaeval old town, grand palaces, ancient churches and plethora of parks and museums.
Stockholm is an interesting destination for families: its relaxed atmosphere and efficient services make it ideal to explore with kids in tow in a fun and easy way. Some of the most popular highlights in the city are: the Vasa maritime museum, the Stockholm Palace, the Stockholm Museum of Science and Technology, the Nordic Museum and the ABBA Museum, dedicated to all-things related to the famous Swedish music group.
Sweden is known for its family-friendly attitude and for being a child-friendly country. Most of the family attractions are on Djurgarden island, including the Vasa Museum and Junibacken, the children’s museum devoted to bringing Swedish literary characters to life. Let your children play in Pippi Longstocking house or ride the story train! Fun and excitement for all the family!
Copenhagen, the Danish capital, is a perfect destination to discover with kids: a plethora of child-friendly museums, fairy castles, colourful Nyhavn, hundreds of years of history and the great Tivoli gardens are a captivating mix for adults and children alike.
Copenhagen’s National Museum is home to a remarkable collection of artefacts, most of them related to the Vikings and Danish prehistory. Are you afraid that children won’t like it? Fear not! It has an entire section for kids to interact with, climb and touch and art lovers will love visiting the National Gallery that regularly offers weekend craft activities.
Tour Christiansborg Palace and admire its Riding School and a little court theatre built in the late 1760s. Take your time to admire Rosenborg Castle and its lavish interior and stroll the beautiful gardens surrounding Frederiksborg Castle. You can also plan a day trip to Kronborg Castle, considered the setting of Shakespeare’s famous play “Hamlet”.
Families will appreciate that moving around the city is very easy. There are broad bicycle lanes and you can easily rent a bike with a touch screen table and built-in GPS to tour the town. Ride a bike along the historic waterfront that is adjacent to a XVII-century. Tell the kids that the fairytale author Hans Christian Andersen used to live in the area and then take them to the sculpture of the Little Mermaid, one of his most beloved characters.
The Tivoli Gardens, one of the oldest theme parks in the word, is another highlight in your Copenhagen itinerary. Apart from a carousel called the Star Flyer that rises 80m above the ground and an unforgettable roller coaster, there are lovely groomed gardens that adults and children can enjoy.
When it’s time to grab something to eat, most cafés and restaurants feature open play spaces with plenty of toys for children and children-friendly menus for their delight.
If you’d like to visit a classic European city that is also a hit with children and teens then Rome it is. Famous for its incredible history, delicious food, gorgeous art and unmissable attractions, it’s a city that all members of the family will find fascinating.
Two major city attractions that are suitable for all ages are The Colosseum and St Peter’s Square, in Vatican City. The Colosseum is absolutely fascinating for children and teens due to its huge size and bloody gladiator stories. And while you may be interested in the architecture and history surrounding the building, your children will love to see where the lions, bears and elephants were kept until it was time for battle or performance. This space is down below the arena, where there are tens of different passageways, chambers and tunnels. In fact, Italy’s capital is a city-sized museum with fascinating attractions everywhere you look. Apart from the Colosseum, there are the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, Vatican City… you mention!
Spend some time admiring the fascinating and the works of art at the Vatican Museums. Michelangelo’s ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and the size and beauty of St Peter’s Basilica are absolutely mesmerising.
Looking for other things to do? Throw coins into the Trevi Fountain, climb the Spanish Steps or stick your fingers into the Mouth of Truth.
When you need some down time, head to the Borghese or Pincio Gardens or go to a gelateria and enjoy a delicious tasty Italian gelato. Is it rainy? Go to Explora, Rome’s children museum with attractions suitable for toddlers, children and even teens!
Eating in Rome is probably the easiest thing to do even for families with picky eaters. Home to delicious pizza and tasty dishes of pasta and gelato, you won’t find it hard to try delicious dishes!
Vienna is full of culture and history and is a perfect destination for families looking for a vacation of a lifetime. There are plenty of things to enjoy in Vienna with kids and you can easily spend a whole day exploring its multiple attractions. .
The Austrian capital is home to the oldest zoo in Europe: Schonbrunn Zoo and it’s a great hit with kids. Another popular attraction is the Children’s Museum at Schonbrunn Palace; here kids acna learn about everyday life of the imperial family and even play with old toys! Hofburg Palace with its perfectly manicured gardens are also a true delight.
Vienna Museum of Technology with several floors packed with interactive exhibits will make future engineers and inventors happy and history fans will enjoy the underground Vienna Time Travel Experience. The city is also home to Wolfgan Amadeus Mozart and you’re Vienna experience won’t be complete without exploring the different attractions related to this great composer while you’re there. There are also children’s operas at the Vienna State Opera.
If your children are into horses, book ahead for the displays at the Spanish Riding School or take a city tour in a horse-drawn carriage. Wildlife fans will love the marine species on display at the unusual Haus des Meeres aquarium. If you’re looking for panoramic views of the city, take the elevator to the top of the North Tower of St Stephen’s Cathedral.
Need to grab a bite? Head to any Viennese coffee house and sample an Austrian specialty, whether you choose a slice of Sachertorte or a flavoury apple strudel.
London is probably one of the best European destinations to visit with a family. From Buckingham Palace to the Big Ben, the British Museum to Madame Tussauds, the English capital is packed with so many attractions that it will keep you busy as a bee for as long as you stay here. London is home to Paddington Bear and Harry Potter and it’s a fantastic location for all the family.
And while moving around by car can be a bit difficult as they drive on the other side, you can save a few bucks and enjoy a great experience riding the traditional London tube or any of the famous red buses.
The Natural History Museum with its stunning exhibitions, animated T-Rex and dinosaur skeletons are definitely a must-do. Another highlight of your London trip is to take a boat ride over the River Thames, chase the squirrels at St James’ Park and watch the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, where Queen Elizabeth II lives. And while most historical sites may seem boring to kids, visiting the Tower of London is guaranteed to make an impression. Check out the Crown Jewels and meet the ravens known as the guardians of the Tower.
London is also an important destination for musical lovers and your trip to the city won’t be complete without watching any of the long-time favourites: Matilda or The Lion King are greatly popular for all the family!
The impressive Westminster Abbey or St Paul’s Cathedral are also impressive and beautiful buildings that you wouldn’t want to miss. Portobello Market is the place to go for lovely street photos and you can spend a whole day exploring the exciting British Museum and its invaluable historic artefacts, Egyptian mummies and so much more! The Science Museum and Madame Tussaud’s Museum are also exciting attractions to add to your bucket list for an unforgettable experience in London.
Other attractions are the Sherlock Holmes’ Museum in Baker Street, Trafalgar Square, the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studios Tour,the National Gallery, the Tate Museum and riding the London Eye for spectacular panoramic views of the city.