Family Vacations in Europe

Survival Guide

Many of Europe’s great museums, such as British Museum in London and the Louvre in Paris, have worksheets that help keep a child’s mind occupied by providing challenges such as finding the fruit in a selection of paintings or explaining the stories behind classical selection. You can get a little cooperation by promising something more to kids liking after museums, like going to get ice cream afterwards.

In summer, families should try to get a hotel with a swimming pool.

Most hotels allow no more then two people in a room, but we have a list of hotels which will take a family of four into one room. However, we found that the self-catering apartments work the best. They are becoming very popular with our clients traveling with kids. Prices are very competitive and you will get more space in apartment. And going to the market for food is fun, kids like it. This also eliminates problems with picky eaters. You will sample the local cuisine without drag the small children tot lengthy, late dinners (most dinners in Europe are late comparing in U.S.).

Have a realistic idea what to expect to accomplish on a trip. Make a dream itinerary and be prepared to cut in half. Children notice the small details, like a way siren sounds or the way toilets work. It is a big hit with them. Rent them a wooden boat in Tuleries Gardens and rest at the fountain while the play with the boats and newly found friends. Realistically, parents should plan to spend half the time doing what they want to do and the rest of the time doing what children need to do, such as napping and other forms of relaxation. City stays are doable too, if you travel off-peak season. And, for art, touring Florence is easy, and because much of its art is outdoors, parents are spared having to drag children to museums.

Avoid visit too many cities. Better to choose one or two bases and take day tips from there.

Parents familiar with structured organized supervised children’s programs in many Caribbean’s and U.S. resorts, will probably no find comparable programs in most European countries. And also private babysitting could be arranged, not every parent will feel comfortable with a caregiver if a language barrier is involved. Families also have to be prepared to spend more money when traveling with children to ensure that their accommodations are comfortable and safe. Families can save money by getting out of cities alltogether. There are excellent untouristy destinations, like the Coast of Tuscany  Terre on Northwest coast of Italy, with its unspoiled atmosphere, easygoing ambiance and recreational activities.

But, no matter, which destination you choose, you should be prepared for the locals to lavish attention on their children.

Fun Spots for kids

The Catacombs, Paris.

This underground labyrinth, formerly a sewer system, was made famous in Victor Hugo’s novel "Les Miserables" and is the subject of daily tours. Disneyland Paris. 

Kids love it and they are fascinated with the differences between European and American theme parks. Linderhof, seven miles southwest of Oberammergau, Germany. One of mad King Ludwig castles, Linderhof boasts an open-sesame cave with swans in the lake. Longleat House, Warminster, England. 

This manor house in the west of England has a drive-through jungle and a miniature train collection. Jungfraujoch train, Jungfrau region, Switzerland. 

The train takes passengers to the top of glacier where dogsled rides, skiing and sledding await children.

Family Attractions in Denmark

Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen. 

One of the Europe’s oldest amusement parks lives up to its hype. Open from April 24 through September 13. New rides in this 154th season. Roskilde 1,000 year Jubilee. 

Located 20 miles west of Copenhagen, Roskilde will celebrate its heritage all year, especially at its Viking Ship Museum. Baken, Klampenborg. 

For more then 400 years, this free-admission amusement park has entertained kids with rides and live theater. Baken’s season runs from March 26 to August 31. The Home of Hans Christian Andersen, Odense. 

On April 2, the city will hold exhibitions and activities to mark the birthday of its most famous former resident. Legoland, Billund.

The 18-acre city was created from 44 million Lego bricks. Open from April 4 - October 25. Fourth of July in Denmark, Aalborg.

Denmark has been saluting the U.S. Independence Day since 1912 with a celebration that includes bands, singing and fireworks. European medieval festival, Horsens. 

Europe’s largest medieval festival features crafts, costumes and street artists as the entire city center is turned into the medieval playground from August 28-29. A night of culture in Copenhagen. 

October 9, visitors can explore 160 museums, galleries, palaces and churches from 6pm to midnight, children are welcomed by musicians and firework displays.

 Kids-Friendly options in Italy.

Rome.

Parks, outdoor swimming pools, and pizza restaurants plentiful. Eating gelato by the Trevi fountain, the Spanish Steps or the Piazza Navona. Outdoor markets are also a good bet for kids. Villa Borghese which boasts a zoo and a puppet shows along with a park. Another beautiful park is the Villa Doria Pamphili. Florence

The Boboli Gardens at the Pitti Palace offer greenery, interesting walks and plentiful waterfowl. The Giardini d’Azeglio and Le Cascine have playground equipment and lots of actions for children. Kids in the Florence area can also swim in hot springs at Saturnia or visit the zoo at the Giardino Zoologico Citta de Pistola nearby. Theme park lovers can visit Gardaland, located near Verona. 

Also in Itlaian lake region are a host of water sports and other outdoor activities. Sicily boasts attractions such as noisy, colorful religious festivals that usually combine parades with costumes, finger food and music. Children also might enjoy the many architectural ruins in Sicily, particularly if interspersed with visits to the beach in season.

Belgium family attractions, supplied by Belgium Tourist Office

Families traveling with children to Belgium during the summer keep in mind that summer is the season for colorful festivals. Beach enthusiasts might explore many resort areas along the Flemish Coast.

Antwerp

Open Year round, the Antwerp Zoo houses an aquarium, a dolphin house, a reptile house and a petting zoo. For those who don’t get their fill of wildlife at the zoo, Antwerp is also home to the Planckendael Wild Animal Park, which boasts more then 1,000 furry friends, and adventure trail for children and a petting farm. The park is open daily year-round. Bruges

The Lamme Goedzak riverboat takes travelers along the canal between Bruges and Damme. There are several daily departures from April through September. Brussels

The Autoworld museums houses a collection of Belgian and imported cars dating to mid-1800’s. Families visiting Brussels should not miss the Belgina Center for the Comic Strip Art. The museum houses a permanent exhibit of comic strips, with the centerpiece being Belgium’s own Tintin. The Natural History museum has been completely renovated and houses fossils, dinosaur skeletons and interactive exhibits. Genk

The most modern planetarium in Belgium, the Europlanetarium takes visitors on an audiovisual journey into space. Borkrijk Park 

is an open-air museum where model villages depict how people lived and worked 150 years ago. Ghent

The Castle of the Counts was built in 1180 as a military bas.e The gloomy medieval castle houses dungeons and torture chambers. This attraction might not be appropriate for young children. Wavre

Walibi Adventure Park features a roller coaster and water rides. Waterloo

Older children can recall an important moment in history at the Wellington Museum, which is devoted to the story of the Hundred Days leading up to Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo.

United Kingdom

London, Legoland.

Just outside the British capital is one of Europe’s top family attractions - Legoland - a theme park set on 150 acres of landscaped parkland. The theme park is divided into several sections, the most astonishing of which features city-like and landscaped settings constructed of Legos. The park also features a canoe ride with motorized pirates, frogs and other creatures squirting water at passengers until they and the canoe reach a point where the canoe plunges to the waters below. Other highlights include a comedic stunt show, mysterious caves full of Lego creatures and life-sized Lego figures on park benches. Parents should plan to spend an entire day at the parks; hopes of combining it with a visit in a nearby Windsor castle are probably over ambitious. Legoland is open from late March through the end of September and on select weekends in October.

Terms, conditions and restrictions apply; pricing, availability, and other details subject to change and/ or apply to US or Canadian residents. Please confirm details and booking information with your travel advisor.