Family holidays can sometimes be more of a stress-causer than stress-reliever. Finding a holiday that entertains kids of different generations, as well as parents, can be daunting and within budget can seem impossible. Fear no more, we have picked the brains of experienced family travellers to give inspiration for your next family holiday destinations. Whether you want to stay in the UK or travel Europe, we give you the top 5 best family holiday destinations in Europe, including activities suited for all ages.
1. London, United Kingdom
With thanks to Nicola, Jet Lag and Mayhem
My favourite European family destination is London! There is so much on offer from fantastic museums to glorious parks, delicious eateries and fun shows for all the family. In fact, London has so many great attractions to offer the family traveller that it would be impossible to cover off everything in one visit.
There are so many world-class museums that you should narrow down by what would interest your kids. For wannabe-paleontologists and dinosaur lovers, you can’t beat the Natural History Museum. The neighbouring Science Museum has a fantastic interactive section for kids, called Launchpad. Best of all both museums have free admission.
2. Thames Clipper/Cruise
A brilliant way to see the city is on the Thames Clipper, London’s cheap River Bus service. You can hop on at various points along the River Thames. A fun day out would be to visit the sights of the City Of London (including the Museum of London), then hop on board at London Bridge City. Take the boat all the way to Greenwich and check out the Cutty Sark and National Maritime Museum.
3. London Parks
London has so many beautiful parks dotted around the city. My favourite is Regent’s park which has several playgrounds, a sandpit and you can even go boating on the lake.
2. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
With thanks to Cathy, Mummy Travels
A great city break with younger kids, there’s everything from canal cruises and plenty of green space in the Vondelpark to quirky family-friendly museums and kids’ audio guides in the art galleries – just watch out for the bikes!
1. Canal Cruise
One of the best ways to see Amsterdam is from the water – and while you’re admiring the gabled architecture and discovering more about Amsterdam’s history, the Blue Boat canal cruises have a pirate commentary for kids. There are also hop-on, hop-off options and even a pancake cruise too.
2. Artis Royal Zoo
Set in the leafy Plantage district, Amsterdam’s zoo is a lovely place to wander around. As well as the larger animals, including elephants and giraffes, there are plenty of smaller creatures, an aquarium, and planetarium to visit.
3. Nemo science center
This science museum managed to entertain three generations of my family, and it’s incredibly fun and interactive for younger kids with plenty of hands-on educational experiments. Pop up to the roof cafe for some great views afterwards.
3. Rome, Italy
With thanks to Marta, Learning Escapes
Our family’s favourite European destination is the amazing city of Rome. Full of art and history like few other places in the world, Rome can be overwhelming with young children, but with some inside tips, you can easily plan a perfect family holiday to Italy.
1. The Colosseum
The most iconic building in Rome and always a great hit with adults and kids of all ages. Its sheer size and most peculiar shape are awe-inspiring and the gory stories of fights and gladiators spark the children’s imagination, making it an endless source of entertainment. For a stress-free visit, make sure you book skip-the-line tickets and choose a guided tour specific for families.
2. Villa Borghese
Rome is a very green city and its many beautiful parks are a great place to relax with kids. For the perfect blend of adults and kids activities, choose Villa Borghese, right in the centre of the city: as well as the famous Borghese art gallery, the park has playgrounds, a small lake with rowing boats, Rome’s zoo and even a small indoor play area for rainy days!
3. Explora Children Museum
Explora children museum is the only museum in Rome designed exclusively for kids. It has several installations to teach children about the world around them and it is an excellent way of spending a rainy day. For an easy visit, plan to be there at lunchtime: the museum has a café and a nice restaurant with a good kids menu, as well as an outdoor play area where kids can play after the visit – a great little family holiday in Italy.
4. Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
With thanks to Ariel, My Life in Verbs
Situated in the middle of the stunning Bavarian Alps lies the quaint German town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. There are many reasons my husband and I have continued to return to this place with our two young sons. There is plenty to do as a family in the town itself, and it is in the perfect location for some wonderful day trips.
1. Partnach Gorge
If you like the outdoors like we do, then the Partnach Gorge on the south side of town is a must-see. To get to the entrance of the Gorge you must first pass through the historical ski-jump arena that was used in the 1936 Winter Olympics, so you are really getting two experiences at once! After walking through the arena, it is only about a 20-minute walk along a well-marked trail to the Gorge.
2. The Zugspitze
The Zugspitze, the highest peak in Germany, is just a short drive outside of Garmisch (or, if you are ambitious, just keep walking the trails from the gorge all the way to the summit!). It is not cheap to reach the top by cable car or train, but it is completely worth the money when you experience the view! There is a live camera feed on their website so you can check the view prior to going; you definitely want clear skies to get the best bang for your buck! You can also ski and sled on the lower levels of the mountain.
3. Day Trips to Füssen, Innsbruck, and Munich
From Garmisch, it is only about a 45-minute drive to Füssen where you can visit the iconic Neuschwanstein Castle, Hohenschwangau Castle and the more subtle, yet stunning Linderhof Palace. Also located in Füssen is the Forest Discovery Center (Walderlebniszentrum), which includes a hands-on learning experience about the forest and a 480 meter-long tree-top trail! Munich is only a 40-minute train ride away from Garmisch and Innsbruck, Austria, less than two hours. Garmisch itself is the perfect mix of rich culture and modern shopping. From horse-drawn carriage rides to an eclectic assortment of restaurants, there is something for families with children of all ages, making it one of the top family holiday destinations.
5. Lake District, United Kingdom
With thanks to Claire, Tin Box Traveller
My top European destination when travelling with kids is the Lake District in Cumbria, England. The fresh air, water sports, and jaw-dropping scenery make it somewhere we have decided to revisit again and again.
1. Climb a mountain
Scafell Pike is England’s highest mountain and has routes to the summit suitable for moderate to expert walkers. For families with younger children, there are many smaller peaks that can be conquered with your little person in a baby or toddler carrier.
2. Take a boat trip
Why not explore some of Cumbria’s 16 lakes from the water? You can hire a boat, cruise around the region’s largest lake Windermere or take a ride on one of the old-fashioned steamers on Ullswater. I have happy memories from my own childhood of relaxing days sailing on the lakes.
3.Explore Beatrix Potter’s Lake District
The author of Peter Rabbit and countless other children’s classics lived in the Lake District at Hill Top. Her 17th Century farmhouse is now looked after by the National Trust, which is organising lots of special events in 2016 to mark the 150th anniversary of Beatrix Potter’s birthday.
Catriona (known correctly as Ka-tri-na or mistakenly as Ka-tre-o-na, but has given up trying and adheres to both) grew up in Hannover, Germany to Northern Irish parents. Spends her time trying to be active either cycling, playing football, GAA or drums.
Latest posts by Catriona Megahey (see all)