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Looking for the best family destinations in Europe? So are we! We are currently planning our upcoming family vacation in Europe and there are so many choices for the top family destinations in Europe that it can be very difficult to decide. Europe is jam packed of fabulous places and attractions and choosing which is best can be mission impossible.
So I asked some well travelled friends of mine what are the best family holiday destinations in Europe. If you are planning your own family holiday in Europe or just want some inspiration, you are going to love these nominations for the best places for family holidays in Europe.
Warning: You may want to book your own family vacation in Europe after reading this article!
Our first stop in Europe was in Stockholm and we were blown away by how family friendly it is. It is by far the most kid friendly destination I have visited.
There are many kids’ attractions, it’s very stroller friendly and kids are catered to seemingly everywhere. My favourite part was that even the more adult focused museums we visited, still had kids areas and activities meaning that the whole family was happy.
It’s also a very beautiful country with great people who speak English well, meaning that everything is very easy.
Travel Tip: Head to Djurgarden Island in Stockholm for lots of fun family-focused attractions.
Read our full guide to Stockholm with kids here.
As a mother of a two-year-old living in, and traveling around Croatia every few weeks, I can tell you now that there is no question that Croatia is a family friendly destination. With a strong family culture, Croatia’s welcoming and open to families.
While you won’t find baby change tables in many places, you also won’t find any eye-rolling from staff at restaurants, hotels, and attractions. Instead, they are helpful and attentive. Best of all, Croatia has a stack of fun activities suitable for the whole family, ranging from sandy beaches to water parks and swimming under waterfalls.
Travel Tip: Just remember that Croatia is hot and crowded in July and August, making June and September more kid-friendly.
Contributed by SJ, Chasing the Donkey
You can read our guides to Croatia here.
I never knew what a great country the Netherlands is to visit with kids until we moved here almost three years ago. A source of pride in the Netherlands is how children are welcome (and catered to) everywhere you want to go! It doesn’t hurt that most of the country can speak English and the Dutch are more than eager to help you should you need some direction.
Traveling with our three boys at ages 4, 4 & 6 would normally be rather intimating, but the Netherlands has given us confidence and so much to choose from – I think we’re rather spoiled and never without something to do. With public transportation so convenient and easy to navigate, you can tour the entire country if you so desired.
Be it the history of Amsterdam or Rotterdam’s modern edge in the north, Maastricht in the south and so many villages with little gems in between. You can choose from canal tours, zoos, pancake houses, outdoor play places, windmills, luscious gardens like Keukenhof and even castles. Additionally, in the middle of the country there is a magical theme park – one of the oldest in the world- in The Efteling which, simply put, rivals any other theme park and is fantastic for all ages. We have yet to visit a country that offers so much for traveling families in Europe.
Travel Tip: Get a Museumkaart. It is a card you buy that offers admission to all kinds of museums, castles and more. Many times you can skip the line as well if you have it. Keep it with you. It could result in a discount or some other freebie for the card holding family. With so many places to visit in one relatively small country, coming to the Netherlands with kids should be on any travelling family’s list.
Contributed by Farrah Ritter, The Three Under
Spain was the first European country we visited with our eight year old daughter, so it will always hold a special place in our hearts, but Spain is a great choice for so many reasons.
Spain’s rich history brings us such architectural treasures as the Alhambra in Grenada, Isabella’s Alcazar in Segovia, one of the world’s largest cathedral’s in Seville, and Gaudi’s magnificent Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Even small children enjoy exploring castles filled with knights in shining armor, ancient fortresses with beautiful hidden gardens, and climbing the steps of the bell towers for sprawling views of the cities below.
When they need a break, there are so many beautiful parks and plazas to enjoy and beautiful beaches not far away. Kids can also learn to appreciate the country’s diverse culture by enjoying a flamenco show, visiting a bullfighting museum, or taking in a futbol game.
Today, many elementary school children (in the United States at least) are studying Spanish, so visiting Spain will provide them an opportunity to hear and practice the language. And, while the Spanish do eat dinner late, you can always stop in at a tapas bar and snack on cheese, bread, sausages, tortilla, patatas bravas and other kid-friendly small plates. There is plenty to do and explore, and the good news is that Spain is not as expensive as many other Western European countries.
Travel tip: Take advantage of Spain’s excellent high speed trains to use a big city as a home base and take day trips to smaller cities and towns. From Madrid, Segovia and Toledo are both only 30 minutes away by high speed train. Inside cities, the public transportation systems, including subways and busses, are convenient and easy to navigate.
Contributed by Tamara Gruber, We3Travel
You can read our guides to Spain here.
If you’re an English speaker and new to traveling internationally with children, England is a great first stop for European travel. Knowing the language of signs, menus, transportation, and the locals goes a long way towards helping you navigate your adventure abroad. In London, the good central transit system also makes travelling by foot very easy for young families. Just hop on the tube, mind the gap, and you’re on your way to your next stop.
The rich history of England also provides extensive learning opportunities for children and their families. From authors to kings, the country is laden with castles, buildings, and monuments celebrating the extensive culture the country has to share. Visiting the Tower of London, where you learn of oppression and opulence, and Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon, where you see quaint simplicity, offer you just samples of the history England offers to visitors. Don’t forget to add the British Museum to your list; it’s a beautiful building filled with stunning artifacts.
England’s beautiful lands and rich history make it a wonderful place for traveling families.
Travel Tip: For families who want to give their kids a fun day, LEGOLAND is fun for all and their Miniland is a must see for LEGO enthusiasts.
Contributed by Kim, Stuffed Suitcase
Italy is a top family holiday destinations in Europe.
Wake them up early and take a morning walk toward the Colosseum. Point their sight to the right, to the left, behind them, in front of them. The past, in present tense, envelopes them. In a matter of hours, they will learn more about the foundation of Western Civilization than they would in a whole school year. Afterward, take them for a gelato and sit on the Spanish Steps and introduce them to a bit of art by having them drink out of the fountain sculpted by Bernini. The City of Rome is a living History Book, and as a parent, teaching was never so easy. As a kid, learning never so much fun.
Go North and enjoy the splendor of the countryside. Take bicycle rides in beautiful Tuscan towns like Lucca. Maybe rent a room at an Agriturismo and have them appreciate the pride the locals have for the ingredients they grow and the animals they farm. Enjoy many wonderful farm to table meals as a family.
For car lovers, well there’s Modena and Turin, homes of Ferrari and Fiat, respectively. If you have lovers of fashion in the clan, there are Milan and Florence, two great capitals of style. You want to introduce them to some of the best food in the world, take them to the Emilia-Romagna Region and stop over in towns like Parma, and have them try the real Parmigiano cheese along with great prosciutto and other salami. If pasta is more their cup of tea, look no further than the Bologna where the famous bolognese came from.
If leisure and activity are what you’re looking for, there’s few beaches more fun than the ones in Italy. Our favorite for families is Monterosso al Mare in the Cinque Terre. Hike by morning and swim the blue sea by day. Enjoy the lovely promenade as the sun sets. Go to the Old Town and order the Pesto Pasta and fried fish and have them experience what it’s like to live off the land and sea.
Most of all, just about anywhere you go in Italy there will always be that moment of embrace from a local. Before you know it, they’ll be embracing back. Isn’t that what we really want in the end.
Contributed by Brenda, Dish our Town
You can read our guides to Italy here.
The land of Tintin, the Smurfs, gaufres (waffles), and chocolate pralines couldn’t possibly be anything but a family-friendly European destination. Belgium may occupy only a fraction of the European continent, but it has a wealth of rich history, culture and food that is worthy of discovery on your next family vacation.
A visit to the cosmopolitan capital of Brussels should include the Grand-Place (main square), the famous Manneken Pis statue just off the square, and a stop at one of the best gaufre (waffle) shops in town. We prefer to spend time admiring the lovely 15th century town centres of Bruges and Ghent, just to the north of the capital. These well-preserved wealthy medieval cities are filled with churches, artworks, more chocolate shops than you can imagine, as well as interesting museums, such as the Chocolate and French Fry Museums in Bruges.
A visit to the North Sea coast and the Flanders region showcases the beautiful Belgian countryside, as well as former World War I battlegrounds, memorials and cemeteries. Stop in Ypres to visit the In Flanders Fields Museum, which has done an exemplary job of commemorating the 100 year anniversary of World War I last year.
Travel Tip: If your child is a comic book fan, drop in to the Tintin Boutique in Brussels or better yet, visit the Hergé Museum (Hergé was Tintin’s creator), in Louvain-la-Neuve, south of Brussels.
We travel frequently with our children but our recent vacation to Berlin has us sold that Germany is a great destination for families in Europe. While we love the laid back family nature of the Mediterranean countries, we found Germany to be more our style.
The access to lots of very reliable and affordable public transportation is one of the things that sold us. It was very easy to get around with our children, and we didn’t need to rent a car. The transportation is so well laid out and easy to understand that our children were able to participate in plotting where to go and how to get there.
Another thing we liked about Germany was the variety of options available from food to activities and everything in between. Even sensitive topics were presented with younger audiences in mind, or ample warnings were given. We enjoyed the cleanliness and sense of rules and protocol that helped us keep our kids on a schedule.
Earlier dining times were also welcome. We often struggle with travel in countries where meal times can stretch very late into the evening, making for grumpy children. Coming from an English speaking background, Germany was easy to manage as nearly everyone speaks English and the similarities between the two languages made things easier to decipher.
We think Germany is a great destination for all families but especially for those who may not have travelled much in Europe.
Travel Tip: Visit in winter. It’s the off season and you’ll be able to find some great deals. Sure you’ll want to bundle up but we loved ice skating and enjoying the fun activities for kids in Berlin’s Christmas markets.
Contributed by Amanda Mouttaki, MarocMama.
Denmark may not be on many people’s radar as a family-friendly destination but it is one of our favorite countries. We spent most of our vacation in Copenhagen which offered so many family-friendly attractions.
My kids’ favorite attraction was Tivoli Gardens which was said to be Walt Disney’s inspiration for Disneyland. We went there multiple times. Tivoli had rides, gardens, theaters and was just magical. There is no shortage of castles and Viking history for kids in Denmark. Our favorites were Fredericksborg Slot which has been turned into the Museum of Natural History and the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde.
Since Denmark is the birthplace of the Hans Christian Andersen, famed fairy tale author, there are many references of his stories throughout the country. Families can visit his charming hometown of Odense. Kids can see the Little Mermaid statue and follow along in his footsteps around Copenhagen. The original Legoland in Billund is also a family-favorite.
The train and subway system is an easy and efficient way to get around. All the places we visited were clean and child-friendly. Most Danes speak English and are quite friendly. There’s a reason they’re consistently ranked as one of the happiest people in the world.
Travel Tip: Start your first day in Copenhagen with a canal cruise to get a wonderful orientation of the city. It’s also hop-on/hop-off so you can spend more time at some attractions.
Contributed by Mary Solio, The World is a Book
That’s it! Hopefully, you have found our list of top European family destinations helpful for planning your next vacation!
What is your vote for the best holiday destinations for families in Europe?
You can also read our articles which focus on the best holiday destinations in the world, Asia, the Pacific and the Caribbean.