Category: European city breaks

Alternative European city breaks with kids

35 ALTERNATIVE European city breaks with kids

One of our favourite things about living in the UK is the ease (once you’ve got through airport security checks!) of being able to pop on a short flight to a different country and immerse yourself in a totally different culture for a weekend. We’re so lucky to have such a variety of culture and history on our doorstep and just over the past few months we’ve visited Reykjavik, Lisbon and Nuremberg thanks to Easyjet and Ryanair.

Lisbon with kids

Visiting Lisbon, December 2018

But as a family, we’re always looking for something a little different. Yes, Paris, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Rome, are all incredible cities, but their popularity often translates to expensive accommodation and busy tourist sights (especially if travelling during school holidays), and perhaps you’ve ticked them all off already. However, if you are looking to venture somewhere different, you need to have the confidence in knowing that there will be enough to keep the kids happy.

Looking for an eco resort in Europe? READ: Best family eco resorts and accommodations in Europe


So I’ve reached out to some fellow travel bloggers for their suggestions of alternative European city breaks with kids. I’ve already found so much inspiration from this, and hope you do to. You may also want to check out my list of ‘Places to visit in Europe in Summer to avoid the crowds’.

Alternative European city breaks with kids

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Now put your feet up with a cuppa, as this is a bumper of a post…

Nuremberg, Germany

(Jenny, TraveLynn Family)
Recommended stay for families: Holiday Inn Nürnberg 

Nuremberg with kids

Our visit to Nuremberg after Christmas last year really took us by surprise. It was a city I’d always associated with a dark history, and really had no idea how much there were for families to do. There’s the Transport Museum, Toy Museum, the castle, and Playmobil Park, to name a few (READ: Nuremberg with kids: Top 10 things to do).

With it’s cobbled streets and medieval architecture set within the old city walls, it’s a lovely compact city to wander around, perfect for little legs. If you wish to venture further afield, the public transport is excellent with a choice of tram, bus and metro criss-crossing the city efficiently to a reliable timetable. If you need to refuel at any point, try the Nuremberg Bratwurst, sold at street stalls around the Old Town. Apparently the way to ask is “Drei im Weggla” (“Three in a bun”); a bit different to your standard one-sausage in a finger bun, and arguably tastier.

Sion, Switzerland

(Corina, Packed Again)
Recommended stay for families: Chalet Cygnet

Alternative European city breaks with kids

Image used for feature photo | credit: Corina, Packed Again

I’ve got to be honest, cities are not our most favourite travel destinations, unless they are surrounded by mountains, have a medieval feel and a size whereby we can easily walk from A to Z.

Sion, the Capital City of the Canton of Valais in Switzerland has all this to offer and more. A scenic train journey from either Geneva or Zurich airport brings you right into the heart of the city.  Sion is really family friendly with beautiful narrow streets, fashion shops, small coffee corners and amazing old architecture.

The Nature Museum of Valais surprises and seduces young and old with its original approach. Interactive stations and questionnaires make this a great family activity and a museum the kids will love. And last but certainly not least walk up to the medieval castle Tourbillon and pretend to be back in the time of knights and princesses. Once you have finished exploring the old town hop on the tourist train (Le P’tit Sédunois). The route brings you out of the city to a beautiful park with a lake which gives you a great perspective of the city layout.

Kotor, Montenegro

(Rachel, Adventure and Sunshine)
Recommended stay for families: Apartments Residence Portofino

Alternative European city breaks with kids

The medieval town of Kotor in Montenegro is a great city break for families looking for a combination of city and outdoor activities.

The world heritage listed town is tucked away on the spectacular Bay of Kotor. Take time to explore the pretty cobblestone alleyways and churches. Our kids loved climbing the city walls and chasing/patting some of the many cats that call Kotor home. Our top tip is to check the arrival times of the cruise ships that regularly dock at Kotor as the town can be very busy at times.

While you are in town, plan to hike to the San Giovanni Fortress overlooking Kotor. The cobblestone path winds up past a dilapidated stone church tower to the top where the views across the bay are spectacular! Allow at least 2 hours to make the climb with kids and plan to walk early or late in the day to avoid the heat. The views are worth the steep climb and any grizzles you hear from the kids!

Finally, hop on a boat to really appreciate the beauty of the bay and surrounding areas. Book a tour or rent a private boat and visit the small island of Our Lady of the Rocks and take a swim.

Mechelen, Belgium

(Tea, Culture Tourist)
Recommended stay for families: Novotel Mechelen Centrum

Alternative European city breaks with kids

Located right between Brussels and Antwerp, city of Mechelen is one of those beautiful hidden Belgian gems. With majority of the city centre being a pedestrian zone, many child-friendly restaurants and activities for kids, it’s also a great place for a family trip.

Things kid will love meeting Rommy;A cute character created after the St Rumbold’s Tower. His image is in front of the child-friendly restaurants, museums with some children activities and similar child-friendly places.  There’s also the Toy Museum, which holds one of the biggest toy collections in Belgium. With different tasks kids could do there and art workshops, it’s a place where the whole day could be spent.

Also make sure you do one of the two self-guided children tours. Maps with routes and explanations can be found at the Tourist office. They could be combined with tasting booklets, so you can try some cheese (there is even a kids corner at the cheese shop), pastries or cookies on your way.

Ohrid, Macedonia

(Leah, Kid Bucket List)
Recommended stay for families: Hotel Aleksandrija

Alternative European city breaks with kids

Whilst Croatia and Serbia get most of the attention when it comes to travelling to the Balkans, the landlocked country of Macedonia provides the same opportunity to explore incredible history whilst also taking in wonderful natural sights.

A great city break is the historic UNESCO township of Ohrid nestled on the ancient shores of Lake Ohrid.  Here families can explore a plethora of sites and experience the wonders of both history and nature.

A quick walk along the cobblestone laneways of Old Ohrid will take you to an ancient theatre where the kids can jump on stage and perhaps put on a impromptu act for you whilst you watch from the stands. Or perhaps you could take a walk along the lakeside boardwalk to Kaneo Beach where you can feast on the unique trout caught from the lakes depths before exploring the archaeological site of Plaoshnik and then climbing up to Samuel’s Fortress which is said to have been built by Alexander the Greats father Philip himself.

But to take full advantage of the location, charter one of the traditional fishing boats and sail to Sveti Naum where the kids can run around, row along a hidden river and explore a medieval monastery before heading back via the Bay of Bones, a prehistoric immersive museum which is well worth your while. Or, if you would rather just relax, you could park yourself on the shores of the lake for the duration of your trip!

Wizz Air offers flights from both England and France to Ohrid airport. Some visitors prefer flying into the country’s capital city of Skopje and taking a bus to Ohrid.

Stavanger, Norway

(Nicky, Go Live Young)
Recommended stay for families: Scandic Stavanger City

Alternative European city breaks with kids

On a recent summer road trip through Norway, Stavanger quickly became our favourite city. Stavanger on the west coast of Norway has many things going for it. It has a spectacular location on the edge of the Lysefjord, an old historic centre, several interesting museums, and also some amazing hikes all within easy reach of the city.

There is plenty to do in Stavanger with kids. Take a boat ride on the Lysefjord for spectacular fjord views. Visit two of the best child-friendly and interactive museums we’ve been too – the Norwegian Canning Museum to find out all about Stavanger’s sardine history and the Norwegian Petroleum Museum to find out all about oil exploration. Spend some time in the great outdoors with a hike to Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen), manageable for most active kids.

Cork, Ireland

(Cath, Passports and Adventures)
Recommended stay for families: Gabriel House Guesthouse

Alternative European city breaks with kids

When you think of visiting Ireland, Dublin is probably the city that springs to mind the most. But there are so many more family-friendly cities in the country that you should forgo the expensive capital and try somewhere else. Like Cork City. Located in the southern half of the country it is less than 3 hours from Dublin along smooth motorways and has plenty on offer for kids.

If you’ve got a budding scientist on your hands, why not visit Blackrock Castle. Although it looks like a castle from the outside, it’s actually an observatory with interactive displays for kids to learn about things like life and the cosmos. If your kids love animals, then Fota Wildlife Park is the place to take them. With all the major animals on-site and more, it’s a great place to spend several hours with the kids. Just remember your wellies if it’s been raining.

And finally, no trip to Cork is complete without visiting Blarney Castle. Situated just 20 minutes from the city, you might even get bestowed with the gift of the gab if you are brave enough to kiss the Blarney Stone. 

Helsinki, Finland

(Cathy, Mummy Travels)
Recommended stay for families: Hellsten Helsinki Parliament

Alternative European city breaks with kids

Without an iconic landmark such as Paris’ Eiffel Tower and Rome’s Colosseum, Helsinki sometimes gets overlooked when it comes to city breaks with kids. But where else can you swim in an outdoor pool next to the Baltic, spot Moomins and submarines on an island fortress, and visit a church hollowed out of the rock – just for starters?

We spent a few days in the Finnish capital in May, a perfect month to make the most of the sun – while still having some night to encourage my daughter to sleep. If you visit nothing else, make a trip to the island of Suomenlinna: once a naval base and a prison, today it’s home to the city’s toy museum as well as a submarine you can board, plus long clifftop paths to wander along.

Some of our other highlights included the interactive National Museum, which mixes VR goggles and audio exhibits with child-friendly displays, plus the Allas Sea Pools on the harbour front. The Baltic pool is as bracingly chilly as you’d expect, even in early summer, but there are two heated pools including a kids pool to try.

Odense, Denmark

(Line, NordicTravellers)
Recommended stay for families: City Hotel Odense

Alternative European city breaks with kids

Photo credit: Finn Wraae

Do your kids know the fairy tale writer H.C. Andersen? And do they like his stories? If so, you should consider visiting Odense, Denmark.  H.C. Andersen was born in Odense, and the city is full of H.C. Andersen related activities. Most of them are some that can be enjoyed by adults as well as children – like H.C. Andersen’s childhood home where he lived with his parents from the age of 2 to 14. When you see the house, you’ll realize that H.C. Andersen came from very humble beginnings. You can also visit The Tinderbox, a children’s culture house where H.C. Andersen’s fairy tales come to life through play and art.

If you visit Odense in October, there is a unique opportunity to let your imagination run wild and dive into a fantasy world almost as popular as H.C. Andersen’s – namely Harry Potter’s universe. Every year more than 10.000 people come to Odense to take part in the Harry Potter inspired festival “Magical Days“.

Zakopane, Poland

(Char, Taylor Hearts Travel)
Recommended stay for families: Villa Nova

Alternative European city breaks with kids

If you’re visiting Poland and want to shun the popular tourist spots like Warsaw and Kraków head to Zakopane. It’s roughly a two-hour drive from the more well-known city of Kraków and ticks the boxes for a cheap weekend break with little ones.

In Zakopane you can head to what claims to be the smallest factory of sweets in the world, Ciuciu Cukier Artist. You can watch syrupy concoctions being mixed and rolled out to create colourful candies. If you look longingly enough you might even get a little sample.

If you want to tire the children out or you’re in need of a rainy day activity head to Aqua Park Zakopane. There’s a small toddler section with fountains and small slides, an outdoor pool (great for sunset) and bigger slides for older ones. Also, whilst in Zakopane, it would be wrong not head up the funicular for the mountain views and a cheeky chimney cake.

Larnaca, Cyprus

(Kyla, Where is the World)
Recommended stay for families: Hotel Opera

Alternative European city breaks with kids

Larnaca (Larnaka) in Cyprus is a great place to visit with kids. The temperate climate can get a bit warm in the summer months, but it’s ideal in the spring and fall when the rest of Europe can be a bit cool for outdoor fun. When I visited with my daughter, our favourite thing was to grab an ice cream (or a coffee) in the square by the Church of Saint Lazarus, then wander down to the promenade. We could people-watch, do a bit of shopping with the various vendors, or simply sit with our toes in the sand.

However, for a phenomenal beach experience, Ayia Napa is a quick car ride away. The sand is soft and white, and the water is a warm and calm. It’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon! The beaches are very different, but many have have pedal boats and jet skis to rent so there’s a little bit of something for everyone.

No trip with kids would be complete without a visit to a playground. The closest one to central Larnaca is beside the Cultural Center at the Monastery and Church Saint Georgios. There’s plenty of room for the kids to run around, and the Monastery itself makes a beautiful backdrop.

York, England

(Leona, Wandermust Family)
Recommended stay for families: The Grand Hotel & Spa

Alternative European city breaks with kids

York is the perfect alternative city in Europe to visit with kids! Easy to get to either by car or train from most major UK cities and close to Leeds international airport, York is very accessible wherever you are coming from! There are tons of family friendly things to do whatever the weather, such as the fabulous National Railway Museum, river cruises, ghost walks and the yummy chocolate story museum. For older children you can learn about some of York’s more gruesome history on a ghost walking tour or a trip to York Dungeons!

It is also a great place to visit for the budget conscious family! A trip to York doesn’t have to be expensive for families with plenty of free activities such as walking the historic city walls, visiting the national railway museum – where you can see the mallard, rocket and other famous trains or taking a trip to the historic shopping street the Shambles! Be warned there is s Harry Potter shop there that may prove a costly trip!

On top of that York is full of historical and cultural gems that no visit to the city is complete without. Firstly, be sure to visit the York Minster and marvel at the beautiful stained glass. With older children, climb the tower for unrivalled views across the city. Clifford Tower is another gem that explores some of York’s more unpleasant history. And, at any time of year, children will love the Museum Gardens. My little one especially loves a visit York during Christmas to see the beautiful illuminations.

St. Gallen, Switzerland

(Augusta, Mini Me Explorer)
Recommended stay for families: Sorell Hotel City Weissenstein

Alternative European city breaks with kids

What would Switzerland be without cheese, chocolate? Not much, possibly! Well, you can experience all this without visiting the Top-Rated Tourist Swiss Attractions, which means anywhere in the Alps.

The city of St.Gallen is the 8th Swiss largest city and definitely off-the-beaten-path.
Visit the Naturmuseum, one of the best Swiss museums dedicated to natural history. Learn all about bears (the symbol of St. Gallen) and get to know all the other inhabitants of our mountains, rivers, lakes and forests: beavers, lynxes, stags, ibexes, and so on. Even cat fish. The museum is highly interactive, with plenty of touch&smell positions.

Ride out to the Appenzell cheese factory (Schaukäserei Appenzell) in nearby Stein, less than 20 minutes away. The Appenzeller cheese is one of our most popular ones, as well as the tastiest and smelliest. You can see the production in the making, sample 5 different types of cheese and visit an interactive exhibit. The secret of this cheese unique flavour derives from the 42 local herbs and spices used in the making. Kids can mortar and pestle some of these herbs, and take them home.

Make your own chocolate bar at the Maestrani Chocolate Factory in Flawil (25 minutes away). Enjoy the interactive Chocolarium museum and eat as much Swiss chocolate as you can. During the 1-hour long workshop, wearing a chef hat and apron, you’ll be creating your own unique chocolate bar to take home, using the types of chocolate and toppings of your choice.

Waterford, Ireland

(Vanessa, Wanderlust Crew)
Recommended stay for families: Treacy’s Hotel Spa & Leisure Club Waterford

European city breaks with kids

Ireland, in general, is one of my favorite family destinations and Waterford, located in Ireland’s Ancient East along the southern shore, is one of the best cities in Ireland to visit with kids.  It’s chock full of incredible museums, fun food, old charm, water, and historic sites.

Kids will love wandering down the old cobblestone streets and learning all about Vikings and medieval times in Ireland at the Medieval Museum where you can see actual ruins from ancient castles and learn about life long ago in a fun and engaging way.

The Waterford Crystal factory, although not a place you would normally think to bring kids, is actually amazing. You can take a factory tour and learn all about how the crystal is made and even see crystal moulds for many famous people as well as high-end projects that are in progress.

If you catch Waterford on a rainy day, you can head to Activate, a huge indoor family fun centre with a soft play area, rock climbing, and bowling. It’s a fun alternative if the kids are burnt out from learning about all of Ireland’s incredible history! If you visit during good weather, be sure to take advantage of all the outdoor activities and nature that Waterford offers, from horseback riding, cycling, hiking, and boating.

Nantes, France

(Lisa, Travel Loving Family)
Recommended stay for families: Nantes Camping

Alternative European city breaks with kids

We absolutely loved our city break in Nantes located in the Upper  Brittany region of western France. It’s a very green city with over 100 parks and gardens, lots of attractions, museums and over 30 theatres so great for active and culture loving families.

Our favourite attraction was 40 foot mechanical elephant at The Machine de l’île (Machines on the Island).  He strolls around the former ship yard spraying water at bystanders.  My boys loved it!

The Château de Ducs de Bretagne (Castle of the Dukes of Brittany) is also worth checking out.  You can walk around the ramparts whilst taking in the impressive views of Nantes city centre.

Directly opposite the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany there’s a free water sprinkler area which is great fun for young kids to cool off on a hot day.

We stayed just at a five star campsite, Nantes Camping, which was just a short ten minute drive from Nantes City Centre (although on the bus and tram route too so we found it easier to pop in on public transportation).

Durbuy, Belgium

Recommended stay for families: Chez Tante Alice (a lovely family-friendly B&B about 14km from Durbuy itself)

Alternative European city breaks with kids

Durbuy is “la plus petit ville du monde” (the smallest city in the world) but few people outside of Belgium have even heard of it. This medieval city in the country’s Wallonia province is incredibly picturesque with ancient cobbled streets, timber-frame houses and a pretty chateau – all dating back to the 14th century.

Today Durbuy includes 41 villages and hamlets under its umbrella making it a great destination for families with plenty to do. Start your visit with a ride on Le petit train touristique, a fun tourist train that winds its way through the city streets and up to a viewing tower where you can see how small the city really is. Once you’re back in the centre, head to Durbuy’s topiary park; it’s the largest of its kind in Europe home to over 250 figures crafted from Boxwood plants. Kids are given an activity booklet as they enter and have a great time trying to work out what all the sculptures are. From here, visit the neighbouring town of Borlon and the Goat Farm run by the extremely friendly Géradine. Visits to the farm have to be arranged in advance and run from a two-hour experience to a full-day outing milking the goats and taking them to the field. We spent a couple of hours here and the kids loved it!

Porto, Portugal

(Karen, Mini Travellers)
Recommended stay for families: Yours Guest House Porto

Alternative European city breaks with kids

In 2018 we spent February half term exploring Porto with kids. As a family of 5 we flew from the UK to Porto for only £220 (yes that price was for all of us) so it was a fabulously cheap thing to do for Half Term.

The three things we loved in Porto were our family friendly tour with Sara from Portoalities. She was warm and engaging and made the history of Porto accessible to the kids as well as to us. We took a trip to Guimaraes (another recommendation from Sara) which everyone enjoyed and the train trip was fun. Thirdly we loved the Teleferico de Gaia – the cable car which runs from the Jardim de Morro park by the Dom Luis I bridge down to the port warehouses and the boat tours.

Lucca, Italy

(Katy, Untold Morsels)
Recommended stay for families: La Romea

Alternative European city breaks with kids

A city with buckets of charm and green spaces for exploring, Lucca is a great alternative to Florence for a family trip to Tuscany. In the 19th century, Lucca’s historic city walls were converted into a public park circling the old town. This is the perfect place to take a stroll or hire bikes to cruise around the 4 kilometre track. There are a couple of playgrounds along the way too.

From the walls you can see the city’s iconic medieval towers rising up over terracotta rooftops. Visit the most famous Torre Guinigi for sweeping views of the Tuscan countryside under the shade of the trees of its unique rooftop garden. On the ground, Lucca is a delightful city to wander and stop at fountains, admire Renaissance churches and play in its piazzas. Of course there are plenty of opportunities to stop for gelato.

Bled, Slovenia

(Leo, Safari Nomad)
Recommended stay for families: Garden Village

Alternative European city breaks with kids

Bled is not only one of the most iconic places in Slovenia but also a favourite spot for families with children. One of the things you can do is taking a walk around Lake Bled. This is a beautiful 6 km long walk, also suitable for cycling with your little ones. Along the path, there are several areas suitable for having a picnic, also numerous cafes and restaurants.

And what is visiting the lake without water activities?! Of course, swimming will make for kids the best part of the day. There is a great area for swimming with several pools, two waterslides, playgrounds, but also various table games and kayak rentals. And if this is not enough, you can also enjoy a boat ride and paddle to the island.  

Another activity is visiting Bled Castle, a mountaintop fortress with a stunning view – of the lake and surrounding areas. This is a must place for taking a good family picture with a panoramic background. A popular hiking trip from here, not difficult at all, is going to Vintgar Gorge.

To make the family day perfect, there is a typical symbol of Bled – cream cake, called “kremšnita” that kids will surely love it.  

Dundee, Scotland

(Nicola, FunkyEllas Travel)
Recommended stay for families: Apex City Quay Hotel & Spa

Alternative European city breaks with kids

The city of Dundee on Scotland’s east coast hasn’t always had the best reputation but in recent years that has changed. It’s now a city that is thriving and exciting and is the perfect destination for a city break with the family. A city, which is best know for its jam, jute and journalism is the birthplace of Beano, Dandy and Oor Wullie, cartoon characters which can be found as sculptures dotted across the city centre.

The brand new V+A Museum (the only one in the world outside London) has exhibitions popular with kids including comics and a dress from Star Wars and next to this amazing building is the RSS Discovery which Captain Scott sailed in to the Antartica. Kids absolutely love the Science Centre where they can shoot out nose like a bogey, move a ping pong ball with their mind and turn themselves into a gorilla.

Gdansk, Poland

(Katalin, Our Life, Our Travel)
Recommended stay for families: Hotel Sadova

Alternative European city breaks with kids
Gdansk is a budget destination for families on the northern shore of Poland. We rented a whole floor in an old villa and spent 10 days to rest, emerge to culture, explore nature, and fill up our bellies with delicious Polish meals.

The Old Town is filled with historic buildings, famous war locations and our favourite a museum ship, the Sołdek, is anchored on the shore of Vistula too. The variety of sights can occupy teenagers as well.

The city beach and its wooden pier are must-visit places with kids. Although the sea is rather cold compared to the popular beach destinations, the sandy beach and the cheap prices make it up for. The beach spreads along the shore for several kilometres.

If you want to avoid crowds, head to Westerplatte peninsula. The WW2 started there and it’s a spacious green area with remains of bunkers and monuments to learn about the war or just let the kids run around. Ideal location for a half-day-trip from the city.

Conwy, Wales

(Kirsten , Kids Are A Trip)
Recommended stay for families: Pen y Bryn

Alternative European city breaks with kids

Conwy, Wales is one of the most beautiful areas of Wales, and often overlooked by travelling families. Located on the northern coast, just outside Snowdonia National Park, the area is perfect for exploring with kids. Conwy is a walled town with a historic castle built by King Edward I in the 13th century. Kids will love exploring Conwy Castle with all its nooks and crannies and views of the town and harbour.

Families can also walk along the town walls for free for a different perspective, but know that the stairs are steep and it is not stroller friendly. Once you’re done exploring the castle, head into town for a bite at one of the local restaurants or pubs on High Street.

Kids will also enjoy the Conwy Valley Railway Museum where they can ride on a miniature train or taking a visit to Bodafon Farm Park where they can interact with the animals and see a working farm.

Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

(Margherita, The Crowded Planet)
Recommended stay for families: Park Inn by Radisson

Alternative European city breaks with kids

Luxembourg City is fairly compact and has a great public transport system, which recently became free for everyone. On top of that, the tourism board has devised a really cool way for families to visit Luxembourg City – the ‘City Promenade for Kids’, a walking tour and treasure hunt for families including tales about the city, like that of Melusina, the wife of the city founder, who also happened to be a mermaid!

Older kids and teenagers will love to explore the Bock Casemates, a network of tunnels into the rock atop which the city was built, also housing cannons, kitchens, shelters, and even stables.

If the little ones (and the big ones) get hungry, the Chocolate House is a great place for a break. Located right in front of the Grand Ducal Palace, you’ll find lots of chocolate-based delicacies including ‘hot chocolate spoons’, lumps of chocolate with various flavours on a spoon that can be stirred into hot milk.

Granada, Spain

(Bec, Wyld Family Travel)
Recommended stay for families: Hostal Atenas

Alternative European city breaks with kids

When you see a picture of Granada the one thing you will not be able to go past is the Alhambra. Sitting high on a hill it overlooks everything, it looks stunning from a distance but it is nothing like the beauty on the inside. It is a must visit, as well as the Generalife Gardens which can be done on the one day or over two if you have little ones.

But there are plenty of other things to do in Granada as well. You can go on a Segway Tour through the streets of Granada for people with older kids. You can see a Flamenco show and share some tapas together.  You can wander the alleyway markets and pick out a gorgeous souvenir of your time in the city. Find a free walking tour and learn about how a local feels about their city. Visit the Hammam Al Andalus Arabian baths for a relaxing soak.

You can also just wander the streets and find so many gorgeous buildings. There is an old Bull fighting ring in the city. While it is no longer in use we found it a great conversation started with our girls about the practice. There are plenty of play grounds for the younger children as well.

Granada is a lovely place and is a great family friendly place that not everyone knows about!

Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

(Sinead, Map and Memories)
Recommended stay for families: Apartments Old Bridge 

Alternative European city breaks with kids

The beautiful city of Mostar is not the obvious choice for a European break but any visitor will fall in the love with this city – just like we did! Located in the Herzegovina region of Bosnia Herzegovina the city has easy links to Sarajevo and the neighbouring countries of Montenegro and Croatia. Mostar is still recovering from the devastating conflicts of the early 1990s and whilst there is still evidence of this, the people of Mostar have made incredible progress in rebuilding their historic city.

There are many attractions in Mostar but our children particularly enjoyed learning about the variety of traditional dress of this region at the BosnaSeum museum. They liked exploring the 17th Century Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque and climbing the impossibly narrow minaret for a stomach-churning but beautiful view of Mostar. This was our children’s’ first visit to a mosque and it was a wonderful experience. After exploring the cobbled streets of the Old Bazaar, the kids favourite activity was to sit beneath the iconic Stari Most – Mostar famous bridge – and watch the daring divers leap into the Neretva river below.

We stayed in the new Appartments Old Bridge, a sparkling clean, one bedroom self-catering apartment metres from the Old Town for just £40 a night for five people. Accommodation, food and attractions are much cheaper than most other European destinations making this fascinating city a perfect destination for an affordable family break.

Cordoba, Spain

(Emily, Kids and Compass)
Recommended stay for families: El Palacio del Corregidor

Alternative European city breaks with kids

Cordoba is one of Spain’s most historical cities.  Throughout its history it’s been home to large populations of Christians, Jews and Muslims and all three religions have left their mark on the city.  There is plenty of interest here for adults, but there’s a surprising amount of things for kids to do in Cordoba too.

The main attraction in Cordoba is its incredible Mezquita-Cathedral, a combination of mosque and cathedral.  It’s most famous for its candy cane arched hall; a photographer’s dream, but children will also be enchanted by the space.

After you’ve explored the Mezquita, head to the Alcazar.  Yes, it’s another historical building, but don’t worry about looking around the Alcazar itself; the gardens are what the kids will love.  Beautiful pools with delicate arched fountains, borders full of hibiscus and some hedge lined paths perfect for hide and seek make this garden a great place to visit with kids.

Elsewhere in the town centre, kids will enjoy splashing in the many fountains, exploring the Roman bridge and looking in all the souvenir shops.  A little way out of the centre of town there’s a little zoo and botanical garden just opposite, and the nearby Children’s City, a brilliant playground for small kids.

Bialystok, Poland

Recommended stay for families: Apartamenty Centrum

Alternative European city breaks with kids

Bialystok is one the largest cities in Poland but relatively unknown. Situated in north-east Poland, Bialystok is a great leisure destination for families, if you want to avoid the huge tourist crowds and immerse yourself instead in local culture.

A visit to the beautiful Branicki Palace is a must, as kids will love exploring the expansive gardens that surround it. There are also several museums and a zoo in Bialystok, and a quaint town square – Kościuszko Market Square, lined with restaurants and cafes. Be sure to get yourself a plate of pierogi, followed by something indulgent at the E.Wedel Chocolate Lounges.

Although the number one thing you must do when visiting Bialystok with kids is take a day trip to Bialowieza National Park, which is only around an hour and a half by car or bus. Bialowieza is what last remains of the primeval forest which once covered most of Europe, with many unique native plants and animals, and a really cool zoo and museum.This is the only place the European bison still roam free in the wild. There are guided tours that take you into the inner area of the forest.

Verona, Italy

(Nancy, Map and Family)
Recommended stay for families: Hotel Milano & Spa

Alternative European city breaks with kids

My teens and I escaped the bustle of Venice to beautiful Verona, just an hour away. It’s a compact and walkable northern Italian city that dates from Roman times with pretty squares and medieval buildings. One must-see is Casa di Guilietta, a little house and balcony in a courtyard said to be linked to the real-life feuding families who inspired Shakespeare’s tale of star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet. Though probably not historically accurate it’s a romantic story that has made Verona world famous.

No one can question the history of Verona’s Arena, the third largest Roman amphitheatre in the world and a present day venue for opera. It’s more complete than Rome’s Colosseum and audiences still sit on the marble tiers. Visitors can climb to the top – not for young children it’s scarily steep! – to see the views. I’d take a guided tour next time. Outside the Arena, Piazza Bra with it’s colourful buildings is a great place to stop for a break and an ice-cream.

Castle Vecchio on the river Adige has a museum and crenellated bridge with stunning views. And don’t miss Piazza delle Erbe with it’s market stalls, ancient frescoes on the high walls and a whale rib hanging from an archway. The bone will fall the day someone walks beneath it who has never told a lie!

Akureyri, Iceland

(Catherine, We Go With Kids)
Recommended stay for families: Lava Apartments & Rooms

Alternative European city breaks with kids

Akureyri in North Iceland is a great off the beaten path location for families. Akureyri is Iceland’s second largest metropolitan area outside of Reykjavik, but it’s population is only about 18,000. This quaint town has break taking views, a walkable shopping area, and the city’s Lutheran church, Akureyrarkirkja. We were very ecstatic to find Asian cuisine available. We enjoyed a morning at the Akureyri Thermal Pool, which is just outside the centre of town. Whale watching is available in Akureyri, but most people opt for the more popular but relatively close options in Dalvik and Husavik.

Akureyri is an ideal location to use as a home base while exploring Northern Iceland because of availability of accommodations and its amenities. It’s harder to secure lodging in the popular Lake Myvatn area, but we were able to make a lovely day trip to explore the the Lake, Dimmuborgir lava field and the Hverir geothermal field that made our kids feel like they stepped into a Star Wars set. Nearby, we visited Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful waterfall and Godafoss, a stunning waterfall just off the Ring Road between Myvatn and Akureyri. We also attended memorable Mass  at St. Peter’s Parish, one of seven Catholic churches in Iceland. We spent two nights in Akureyri, a hidden gem that has so much to offer traveling families!

Haarlem, The Netherlands

(Lisa, Flip Flop Globetrotters)
Recommended stay for families: Suites and Apartments Mya

Alternative European city breaks with kids

A lot of people that visit the Netherlands only stay for a few days, and spend those days in Amsterdam. Amsterdam is a fun city, but there’s so much more to see in The Netherlands! Haarlem is one of the oldest cities in The Netherlands, dating back to 1245. It’s only 15 minutes away from the Dutch capital by train, but offers a completely different experience.

Haarlem has a beautiful historic centre and if your kids are into history don’t forget to look up the legend of brave Kenau Simonsdochter Hasselaar, who defended the city against the Spanish invaders in the 16th century. A visit to petting farm De Houthoeve, a few minutes walk from the city center, should definitely be on your list when visiting Haarlem. Kids love petting the goats and seeing the pigs, turkeys, rabbits and guinea pigs. Both the Archeology Museum and the Teylers Museum are fun to visit with kids age 4+. And hidden city playground Het Paradijsje in the Witte Herenstraat is great to visit with young kids.

Lyon, France

(Catherine, Cultural Wednesday)
Recommended stay for families: ibis Lyon Gare Part Dieu

Alternative European city breaks with kids

Romans, museums and food. Lyon has the lot, and you can catch a train direct from London St Pancras.

Lyon has not one but two huge Roman amphitheatres, right next door to each other, even better you can clamber all over them, playing at being Roman to your hearts content. Hidden in the centre of Lyon is a network of Traboules. These are tiny pathways that lead to hidden courtyards with fantastic tower staircases. Younger children might struggle with a tour but our teens loved the search for hidden doorways.

No trip is complete for the Cultural Wednesday family if it doesn’t include a museum. We caught a boat to Musee des Confluences. It is housed in spectacular new building and the displays are tailor-made to appeal to children.

What drew us to Lyon was its reputation as the culinary capital of France, it has Michelin starred restaurants coming out of its ears, but more teen friendly are the traditional Bouchon restaurants, or better still the huge Les Halles food market; here you can either sit down and eat or buy a picnic to eat by the banks of the Saone.

Billund, Denmark

(Karen, The Mom Trotter)
Recommended stay for families: Hotel Legoland

Alternative European city breaks with kids

Billund is a small town located in Denmark, 265.5km away from Copenhagen. This town is famously known for being the home of the first ever LEGO factory, Legoland resort and Lego House. Most families who travel to Billund, usually do so because of Legoland. However there are plenty of other kid friendly things to do. A few are Givskud Zoo, Museumsgaarden Karensminde and Skulpturpark. My hotel recommendations are Lalandia because of it’s huge indoor waterpark and Hotel Legoland because there are many activities to keep your kids entertained. When in Billund, make sure to stop by Billund Pizza Steakhouse for a meal your kids will love.

Utrecht, The Netherlands

(Nichola, Global Mouse Travels)
Recommended stay for families: Hotel 26

Alternative European city breaks with kids

My favourite city in the Netherlands and one of my favourite cities in Europe is Utrecht. It’s a beautiful city, reminiscent of Amsterdam with all its canals and cobbled streets but with a fraction of the tourists. Life goes on as it always has in Utrecht and you turn corners to feel you’re in a painting, it’s so picturesque.

When visiting with kids don’t miss the Miffy Museum – the creator, Dick Bruna was from Utrecht so there is a fantastic museum dedicated to the little rabbit here as well as little reminders through the city, like a set of traffic lights with Miffy characters to tell you when to stop and when to walk. We also adore the Speelklok Museum which is a converted church now filled with instruments and street organs and they have the best trail to take with children where they get to make their own sheet music that you can then play at the end. Another activity kids will love is to take a trip down the canals which are so peaceful in Utrecht. In fact my top tip is to stay next to one – we loved the old canal cellars, many of which have been converted to accommodation and we stayed in Hotel 26 which was beautifully reimagined as somewhere to stay. I have such happy memories of our wonderful times in Utrecht.

Toulouse, France

(Tan, Travel To Work)
Recommended stay for families: Hôtel Croix Baragnon

Alternative European city breaks with kids

Toulouse is an intrigue destination for family holidays. There are so many kid-friendly activities and attractions to make your child occupied for days.
While the city itself reflects the charm of Southern France with beautiful brick houses, shimmering Capital squares, the rural areas are full of castles, parks to spontaneous kid’s brain.

The first place you should bring your kid to in Toulouse is the Space museum known as Cite Espace. This is simply the best exhibition of space science in Europe featuring perfect educational chances about planets, stars, etc..

For a taste of Toulouse heritage, a day trip cruising along the Canal Du Midi is really recommended. It is undoubtedly a perfect way to appreciate the rich history of the area in combination with local sightseeing where you can photograph the unspoiled nature in the suburb of Toulouse.

If you thinking about something that excites your kid very much, take a zipline trip. The large forest will welcome them with different games and different challenges. Personally, a flight from one trip to another is very exhilarating for all kids.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

(Alex, Swedish Nomad)
Recommended stay for families: Four Points by Sheraton

Alternative European city breaks with kids

Ljubljana is a capital with everything set up for an exciting weekend trip.  When visiting with kids, I especially suggest to go to the Ljubljana Castle. It’s a great history lesson and a fun activity for the day as well. If your kids love knick-knacks and antiques, don’t miss the famous flea market called Cakarjevo Nabrezje on Sundays. It’s fun to check out the stalls, and for kids there are plenty of old toys to find. There is also a new museum called the Museum of Illusions that is another fun thing to do with kids in Ljubljana.

Alternative European city breaks with kids

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Disclosure: This is a collaborative post where fellow travel bloggers have expressed their own opinion of a city. Where possible, the blogger has recommended the accommodation. If they were unable to, I have suggested family-friendly accommodation recommended by Trip Advisor.  Also, this post contains affiliate links. Should you click on a link to purchase, it is at no extra cost to you, but I receive a small commission, which goes towards the running of this blog.

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Holiday Inn Nuremberg

REVIEW: Holiday Inn Nürnberg City Centre

Our visit to Nuremberg after Christmas last year really took us by surprise. It was a city I’d always associated with a dark history, and really had no idea how much there is for families to do. There’s the Transport Museum, Toy Museum, the castle, and Playmobil Park, and you can read all about these things and more in our recent post – Nuremberg with kids: Top 10 things to do. Plus the city is nicely compact, making it easy to walk around, and if you wish to venture further afield, the public transport is excellent.

But what really made our visit special was our stay at the Holiday Inn Nürnberg City Centre. It’s situated in the picturesque Old Town, meaning it’s close enough to visit sights on foot, but it’s tucked away from the hustle and bustle. It’s a hotel which combines modern, international class accommodation, with cute B&B style features like free coffee and pastries in the foyer, and warm, welcoming staff.

Click here to book Holiday Inn Nürnberg 

Location of Holiday Inn Nürnberg | credit: Google Maps 2019

Nuremberg with kids

Foyer of Holiday Inn Nürnberg

Family rooms

Holiday Inn Nürnberg kindly hosted our five night stay in a family room, which included bunk beds for the boys. Handily, the bunk beds are tucked in a corner, meaning that once the boys were asleep, we could put lights on to read and watch TV, whilst their area still remained reasonably dark and undisturbed.

The temperature-controlled rooms, are clean and modern, with tea/coffee making facilities, generous storage space, a safe, and spacious en-suite with deep bath and double sinks. Fluffy towels are standard. The sparkling apple juice left daily in the room’s fridge is a nice touch. There are also black-out curtains, which are handy if visiting in the summer months.


There’s a restaurant on site and we enjoyed a couple of take-in dinners. However at a fee of €2.50 per dish (including sides) for room delivery, we decided to send down Dad to collect the food, rather than have it delivered to our door.

However, the highlight of our stay each day was the generous buffet breakfast each morning offering fresh breads and fruits, yogurts, cereals, meats, cheeses, and cooked breakfast options. As the breakfast was so large, we treated it more like a brunch and it kept us all going through to an early dinner, albeit with a couple of snacks along the way (where do my boys put all the food they eat?)

Nuremberg with kids

Holiday Inn Nuremberg

Check out

Check out is 12pm, meaning that our last morning was nice and relaxed (we didn’t need to be at the airport until 1:30pm). A leisurely brunch and final stroll around the old town was a perfect end to our break.

Click here to book Holiday Inn Nürnberg 

Getting to Holiday Inn Nürnberg

It’s very easy to get from the airport to the hotel. Take the Metro (U2 line) direct to Plärrer (approximately 20 minutes). It’s the a 5 minute walk to the hotel.

credit: Google Maps 2019


Holiday Inn Nuremberg

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Disclosure: Our stay was complimentary for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

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Nuremberg with kids

Nuremberg with kids: Top 10 things to do

Nuremberg is steeped in elegance and charm, boasting medieval architecture, numerous museums, and characterful beer cellars. It makes for a wonderful German city break. But what we didn’t appreciate before our visit, is exactly how much there is to do in Nuremberg with kids; a castle, toy museum, train museum, zoo, and planetarium to name but a few.

Check out our video to see what we got up to:


We visited Nuremberg in December for five nights, in-between Christmas and New Year, flying direct from Manchester with Ryanair. With temperatures hovering around 0°C we wrapped up warm, but there was always a hot chocolate or Nuremberg Bratwurst to warm us up if needed. The city is compact making it easy to walk between places in the Old Town, and the public transport efficient and affordable if venturing further afield.

Nuremburg with kids

If you are looking to visit Nuremberg with kids, these are our top ten things to do:

1. Walk around the old town

Nuremburg with kids

Nuremberg’s old town is compact, with lots of pedestrianised streets. It’s therefore relatively easy for little ones to get around, and also rather flat if you wish to take a buggy. Take a stroll from Josephsplatz to the small island in the Pegnitz across the wooded ‘Hangman’s Bridge’, then along picturesque Weißgerbergasse and up to the Imperial Castle (where kids will want to play and climb on the boulders at the front), via the Lutheran St. Sebaldus Church. Head back in to the centre via  Burgstraße, past Hauptmarkt (opposite the Catholica Church) and on to St Lorenz Kirche.

2. Imperial Castle

Nuremburg with kids

Towering over the rooftops of Nuremberg, the Imperial Castle was once one of the most important fortified palaces of the Roman Empire. Explore the hidden staircases and marvel at the armour and weaponry, before taking a guided tour of the Sinwell Tower and Deep Well. At the foot of the castle are large boulders, perfect for little explorers to climb over. Note that there are no toilets inside the castle, only mobile toilets by the viewpoint.

3. DB Railway Museum

A must for all train enthusiasts, learn about the history of the German railroad at the oldest railway museum in the world. There are lots of fine models displayed behind glass, and restored and replica engines, all to admire from a distance with no touching. The lack of interaction was initially disappointing.

Nuremburg with kids

However, if you head through the Communications Exhibition (which is a lot more interactive with quill writing, pneumatic postal tubes, and phone calls – our boys had no idea how a dial phone worked!), you will find ‘Kids Trainland’. This is a fantastic kids’ play area with train carriages to scoot around on, a dress up area, wooden track making, an electric ride-along train, and much more. We would have missed it if we hadn’t decided to wander into the Communications Exhibition.

4. Toy Museum

Nuremburg with kids

Nuremberg has a long history of toy making, starting with the doll makers of the Middle Ages. Marvelling at the historic toys behind glass, I couldn’t help but notice how delicate toys used to be, and how they wouldn’t last a second with my boys! Thankfully there are designated play areas next to the entrance and on the third floor. Lots of building blocks, board games, retro electronics, and wooden toys await curious minds, both young and old.

5. Taste the Nuremberg Bratwurst

Nuremburg with kids

Mini sausages piled into a bun. Apparently the way to ask is “Drei im Weggla” (“Three in a bun”); a bit different to your standard one-sausage in a finger bun, and arguably tastier. You’ll stumble across market stalls in the old town selling them, ready to eat. Squirt on ketchup, mustard, or (more traditionally) horseradish (“Kren”). Perhaps order some sauerkraut on the side. The kids will love it.

6. Nuremberg Zoo

Nuremburg with kids

Since our overlanding travels through Africa, we were yet to visit a zoo as we didn’t feel right seeing animals in captivity. However, as far as zoos go, Nuremberg Zoo is pretty good; the conservation work and research undertaken is extremely worthwhile, and it’s wonderful to see children so engaged in our natural world. The pens are clean and spacious, yet the zoo isn’t too spread out for little legs. There’s a good playground and lots of picnic sites for the warmer months. Our boys particularly enjoyed the gorilla enclosure and the rather vocal lion (although it didn’t quite seem right watching him pacing up and down in the snow). Take tram no. 6 from Main Railway Station (Hauptbahnhof Nürnberg) and get off at Tiergarten (Zoo).

7. Playmobil Fun Park

Nuremburg with kids

A Playmobil theme park offering various play worlds including a Farm, Police Station, Dinosaur Land, and a Knight’s Castle. There’s also an extensive water play area and sand sludge section for cooling down on hot summer days. As we visited during the winter, only the glass HOB-Center was open. This is a huge Playmobile entertainment centre with lots of Playmobil toys to play with, a large climbing area, and lots of cafés. It was insanely busy and overcrowded when we visited, but the boys loved it. Check their website for opening times.

8. Tucherland

If it’s a rainy, cold day and your little ones need to burn off some energy, head to this indoor play centre. There are trampolines, bouncy castles, high ropes, a climbing wall, and virtual games. There’s also an outdoor lake where you can paddle and swim in the summer. We didn’t actually visit here, but thought I’d mention in case a parent is in need 😉

9. Nicolaus Copernicus Planetarium

With shows geared at kids aged 4 and up, this is a fantastic way to explore outer space from the comfort of an air-conditioned domed hall. This is another place we didn’t get round to visiting. Do bear in mind that shows are all in German. Check out their website for further details. 

10. Nazi Party Rally Grounds

Nuremburg with kids

Now this is far from the most obvious place to take kids on a city break in Nuremberg, but it’s a place us parents wanted to visit, and we actually found the boys were quite engaged in the various displays which provided a factual, sombre and thought-provoking explanation of the past. Entry price includes an audio guide but there are no buttons to press or interactive exhibits for kids, and you will have to be selective in how much ground you cover. To the back of the building is a open parkland if your little ones require a run around.

Save on attractions with the Nürnberg card

With the Nürnberg card you have free entry to more than 40 museums and attractions and you can use the Nürnberg card for unlimited travel in Zone A on 2 consecutive days (not 48 hours). The cost is €28 for adults, €6 for children ages 6-11, and FREE for children aged 5 and under. If you plan to visit three or more attractions in Nuremberg over two consecutive days, it’s definitely worth getting. Contact you hotel to purchase or email Tourismus Nuernberg directly.

Where we stayed

Centrally located within the city walls, the aptly named Holiday Inn Nürnberg City Centre is a great choice for families. We stayed in a spacious family room with bunk beds for the boys. The temperature-controlled rooms, are clean and modern, with tea/coffee making facilities, generous storage space, a safe, and spacious en-suite with deep bath and double sinks. Fluffy towels are standard. The sparkling apple juice left daily in the room’s fridge is a nice touch.

Read our full review of Holiday Inn Nürnberg City Centre here.

Staff have a good balance of formal and friendly, and we particularly enjoyed the generous buffet breakfast each morning offering fresh breads and fruits, yogurts, cereals, meats, cheeses, and cooked breakfast options.

Getting around Nuremberg

The old town is compact and therefore walking between places within the city walls is doable with young kids. The city is also buggy-friendly. However, should you wish to venture further afield, there is a good network of trams, buses and metro. If you ride the tram, try and get a seat right at the back so you can watch the rails from the large rear window.

Nuremburg with kids

The easiest way to get from the airport to the city centre is via the metro.


Have you visited Nuremberg with kids? I’d love to hear what you got up to!

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Disclaimer: Tourismus Nuernberg provided us with a two-day pass to cover transport and entry costs to the Imperial Castle, Toy Museum, DB Museum, Nazi Party Rally Grounds, and Zoo. Holiday Inn Nürnberg City Centre provided us with five nights complimentary stay in a family apartment. However, as always, these are all my own words and opinions. Furthermore, this post contains affiliate links. Should you click on a link to purchase, it is at no extra cost to you, but I receive a small commission, which goes towards the running of this blog.

Where would we be without our Lonely Planet guide?

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Lisbon in December

Lisbon with kids: a 3 day itinerary

Feeling the warm sun on my face, my toe tapping to the buskers behind me, I couldn’t help but feel a little smug that we were visiting Lisbon in December. I was sat on the steps of the Tagus River at Comércio Plaza, whilst the boys chased the waves lapping up the steps, dodging tourists with their selfie-sticks.

Check out our video of what we got up to in Lisbon with kids.


Admittedly the warm winter sun and bright blue skies provided the perfect filter, but Lisbon was a city I instantly fell in love with; cobbled streets connecting grand architecture, restaurants spilling out onto expansive plazas, and brightly coloured buildings framed by terracotta rooftops. Plus, we found that there is so much to do in Lisbon for kids! The Oceanarium and Science Museum were a huge hit, but also riding the trams and metro, as well lots of open, pedestrianised squares for running and chasing pigeons. If you’re visiting Lisbon with kids, you should kind some inspiration here. There is particularly lots to do in Lisbon for toddlers.


Our Lisbon with kids itinerary

We usually embrace slow travel and generally like some downtime of an afternoon. Not this time. The boys were on form this weekend and were happy to keep going and going (Portuguese ice-cream must contain magic beans, and it was also the first time they wore their hiking boots for a city break). Plus, there is really so much to do in Lisbon with kids, that we wanted to cram in as much as possible!

Lisbon with kids

We flew in to Lisbon in December on a Thursday morning, arriving at our hotel just before noon, and left on a Sunday morning. So we had 72 hours across 4 days.

Day 1 – Soak up the history

As we arrived at our hotel just before noon, our first day started around lunch time…

Begin your Lisbon family adventures in the heart of the old town at Comércio Plaza. If the sun is shining, head down to the steps on the river and soak up the atmosphere, before enjoying a short wander along the waterfront.

Lisbon with kids

Soaking in the sun and views of the Tagus River

Head back to the Comércio Plaza and through Arco da Rua Augusta to stroll along pedestrianised Rua Augusta towards Rossio. Give in to temptation and stop for a drink at one of the many restaurants spilling out on to the cobbled streets.

Take tram No.12 from Praça da Figueira towards São Jorge’s Castle (it’s a short walk up hill from the tram stop) to marvel the impressive views across the old city and over to the Tagus River and beyond, before exploring inside the castle. Unintentionally, we timed our visit perfectly with sunset.

Lisbon with kids

View from São Jorge’s Castle

We had wanted to have dinner in the area, but found restaurants closing. So instead we took a very crammed tram back to Comércio Plaza and found a restaurant along Rua Augusta.

Day 2 – Visit the ‘new’ Lisbon

The former industrial area of Lisbon was transformed into Parque das Nações for Expo98 and has been completely transformed into a modern and pedestrianised recreational area.

Just a 15 minute walk from our hotel, is Lisbon’s Oceanarium. This aquarium is considered one of the best in the world, and a must if visiting Lisbon with kids. The marine life seem to be very well looked after and it’s thrilling watching the sharks and rays brush past with just a sheet of glass separating you. They also have penguins, puffins, and some extremely cute otters. However, get there early. It was too busy for us and we left earlier that we would have liked as it felt rather claustrophobic.

Almost next to the Oceanarium is Pavilhão do conhecimento (Science Museum). This is honestly the BEST kids science museum we have ever been to. This museum is all about learning through play, and extremely fun play.  We spent a good few hours here, and there are friendly staff on hand to help kids work out how to to do things. My boys particularly loved playing with the wheels and cranes in the building area, driving the car with square wheels, creating flowers out of their heads through dance, and programming a robot around a maze. This would be our absolute must do if visiting Lisbon with kids.

Then for some chilled time, enjoy the cable car ride along the river and back again, before jumping on Bus no728 from here  to Comércio Plaza. Walk along Rua Augusta and select a spot for an early dinner.

Day 3 – Sintra and Belém

A 40 minute train journey from Lisbon (we took the train from Oriente) transports you to the fairytale-esque town of Sintra, complete with ornate castles and pastel-washed alleyways. We only had a couple of hours to wander around and unfortunately missed out on visiting the ‘must-see’ Pena Palace as buses were full and the boys were apparently too young to ride tuk-tuks. Our friends over at Wyld Family Travel suggest spending three days here (check out their Sintra post) and we can totally see why. However, a morning was just enough to get a vibe of the town before the throngs of tourists arrived.

Tip 1: Get there early!
Tip 2: Don’t wait for a bus into the town. It’s a lovely walk and only about 15 minutes.
Tip 3: Escape down the alleyways to avoid the crowds. You’ll have those instagrammable walls and doorways all to yourself. 

Lisbon with kids

Lisbon with kids

Back in the city, as we were visiting Lisbon in December, we visited Wonderland Lisboa to soak up some Christmas cheer. Being brutally honest, rides are over-priced and there were long queues. However, I don’t think that’s very different to any other Christmas markets across Europe. But we all loved the views from the top of the ferris wheel, even if the cabin did feel like a sauna in the winter sunshine.

Take the metro back to Comércio Plaza (we keep ending up here!) and board the Yellow Boat Tour to Belém. Do check the website for times as the boat only runs four times a day in winter. It’s lovely seeing the city from the water and many people opt to stay on the boat to return to Comércio Plaza. However, we jumped off to take a closer look at the impressive Belém Tower before walking along the waterfront and then catching a tram back to Comércio Plaza.

And whilst we found ourselves back at Comércio Plaza yet again, we felt it suitable to enjoy dinner for a third night in a row along one of Rua Augusta’s side streets. If visiting Lisbon with toddlers, this area is perfect for dining as you can sit outside and it’s pedestrianised for your little one to wander around close to the table.

Day 4 – Return home

Our flight back home departed at 10:20 am. We therefore only had time for breakfast, before catching the 15 minute metro to Lisbon airport. If you are departing from Terminal 2, allow enough time to get the transfer bus as the metro takes you to Terminal 1.

If you have more time…

You could also visit the Puppet Museum, Lisbon Zoo, and Kidzania.

Christmas in Lisbon

Lisbon in December isn’t the obvious choice if you’re looking for a Christmas family city break. Many head to the traditional Christmas markets of Germany and Belgium. But perhaps consider a little sunshine and warmth with your mulled wine and Christmas shopping?

We visited Lisbon in the second weekend of December and found that the city really comes alive at this time of year. There are Christmas markets at seemingly every main square. Or your can head to Wonderland Lisboa to go ice-skating, meet Father Christmas, ride the Ferris Wheel and peruse even more Christmas markets.

Wonderland Lisboa runs from the 1st December to 1st January. 

You will also find the main shopping streets decorated with twinkling lights, and we absolutely loved the conical tree in the main square of Comércio Plaza, which you can sit inside and looks magical when lit up at night.

Lisbon with kids

Plus Lisbon is perhaps a more affordable option compared to the traditional Christmas market cities of Germany and Belgium. Check out this post – How much does it cost to travel to Lisbon?

Where to stay in Lisbon with kids

Visit Lisboa kindly arranged and paid for our accommodation at TRYP Lisboa Oriente Hotel and we would certainly recommend it to those visiting Lisbon with kids. Check out the tripadvisor reviews.

The location is fantastic for the Oceanarium and Pavilhão do conhecimento (Science Museum), and there is a massive supermarket in the mall across the road. Plus, it’s only three stops away from the airport. However, we only spent half a day at these places and seemed to gravitate more towards Comércio Plaza and its surrounding streets. To get to Comércio Plaza you either have to take a bus or the metro (including a change). Although this wasn’t too much of a problem as my boys loved riding the public transport.

Book TRYP Lisboa Oriente Hotel on

We had a family room on the 10th floor overlooking the Oriente train station; my train-obsessed boys loved this, although personally I would have preferred a river view. Rooms are modern, clean and a good size. There’s a fridge in the room, although unfortunately no coffee and tea making facilities. We had a double bed and a bunk bed for the boys. Do note that the sides of the beds in the bunks aren’t entirely safe, as there are big gaps where they could fall out. We filled these gaps with pillows and bedding, which worked, but wouldn’t be ideal for very young children.

A buffet breakfast is provided, including a full English, pancakes, omelettes, breads, meats, cheeses – it really is an impressive spread! Although do note that the hotel is popular with tour buses and so breakfast does get busy at all times.

Getting around Lisbon with kids

We advise getting the Lisboa Card for unlimited free travel by bus, metro and tram. You can get this for 24, 48, or 72 hours. The card also includes free or discounted entry to many museums and attractions, and also free travel by train to Sintra and Cascais.

It is very easy to navigate the public transport system and signage is very clear. Plus, we never seemed to be too far from a metro, bus or tram stop; and rarely had to wait long.

Be warned though that from our experience, Lisbon public transport gets extremely busy, especially around rush hour. We were lucky on a few occasions to actually get a seat. If travelling with babies and toddlers, I would imagine that getting a pushchair on and off would be hard work. Consider taking a carrier.

Getting to Lisbon

We flew direct from Manchester, UK, to Lisbon in December with easyJet. It’s a 2 hour 50 minute flight.

Manchester airport is only a one hour hour drive from our home and we left our car at the airport using the Meet & Greet option booked with Holiday Extras. This is super easy. Drive to the Meet & Greet drop off following the signs (M+G), pass through the inspection area that automatically scans your car to record its condition, park up, drop keys into the machine, and walk the 2 minutes into the terminal. On return, pick up your keys from the collection point in arrivals and you will find your car parked in the short-term car-park. It was 15 minutes from walking off our flight to stepping into our car and driving home.

“Holiday Extras is the market leader in UK airport parking, hotels and lounges, and in 2018 customers who pre-booked their parking with Holiday Extras saved an average of £59 each vs the price they’d have paid on the day. Meet and Greet parking takes the hassle out of your trip to the airport and is the best way to start your holiday with a smile.”

Lisbon with kids

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Disclaimer: Our visit to Lisbon was hosted by Visit Lisboa who provided us with three nights bed and breakfast at TRYP Lisboa Oriente Hotel as well as a complimentary 72 hour Lisboa Card for unlimited free travel by bus, metro and tram. Our visit to the Oceanarium, Pavilhão do conhecimento, São Jorge Castle, and our Yellow Boat Tour was also complimentary. We paid for our own flights with Easy Jet. This post also contains affiliate links. Should you click on a link to purchase, it is at no cost to you, though I receive a small commission that goes towards the running of this blog. 

Where would we be without our Lonely Planet guide book?

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Reykjavík with kids

Reykjavik with kids: BEST things to do

If you are visiting Iceland, there is a good chance that you will head to Reykjavík at some point. Whether you’re using the city as a base for your Iceland travels, or are just popping for an afternoon, it’s a fascinating place to explore in its own right, with lots to keeps kids entertained (in both good and bad weather). Indeed a visit to Reykjavik’s museums is considered one of the best things to do Iceland with kids!


Walk along the scenic waterfront
Take in the views from Hallgrímskirkja Observation Tower
An afternoon in Laugardalur (swimming pool, botanical gardens, zoo, and much more!)
Visit a hot spring
Visit a museum
Go bird spotting at Lake Tjörnin
Watch a children’s concert at Harpa Concert Hall
Grab a yummy hotdog
Take a FREE walking tour

Getting around Reykjavík with kids
Family accommodation recommendationss

We only spent a few hours in Reykjavík on the way back to the airport as part of our 5 day Iceland itinerary, and although it was bitterly cold, we enjoyed a few free activities (walking around the seafront area and visiting a playground) and realised that we should probably have allowed longer to explore the city. So I reached out to some fellow bloggers for their suggestions on what to do in Reykjavík with kids; including the best museums to visit in Reykjavík with kids, watching a children’s concert at Harpa, and visiting secret hot springs in the city.

Read: 5 day Iceland itinerary with kids
Reykjavík with kids

Small playground near the seafront (click here for Google Maps location)

Walk along the scenic waterfront

(Marta, Learning Escapes)

One of my favourite things to do in Reykjavík and one that is easy to enjoy with kids too, is taking a walk along the scenic city waterfront.

It follows the curve of the Reykjavík bay and stretches from the famous Harpa concert hall, to the impressive sculpture called the Sun Voyager and then the historical Hofdi house. It is a long and flat promenade but is a beautiful one: on a good day, you can see the mountains in front of the city and it is sheltered enough from traffic that kids can trot around and you can push a stroller safely.

Reykjavík with kids

The sun voyager is easy to spot and fun for kids: the sculpture represents a vessel but kids will notice it resembles an insect with stick legs too, a quality that my two found absolutely hilarious! This is a lovely spot to add to any Reykjavík itinerary.

Take in the views from Hallgrímskirkja Observation Tower

(Catherine, We Go With Kids)

When visiting a new city, our kids always the opportunity to get a a bird’s-eye view of the area. Located on top of a hill in the centre of Reykjavík, Hallgrímskirkja is visible throughout the city and one of its best known landmarks.

Reykjavík with kids

On clear days (which are certainly not guaranteed in Iceland), it 239 foot/73 meter observation tower offers a perfect 360 degree panoramic view of the Reykjavik and its harbour.

Most cathedrals we have visited were built well before elevators were invented and required significant climbs up winding and narrow staircases to reach the towers. However, Hallgrímskirkja is a modern 20th century building that includes the convenience of elevators, which makes the trip to the top so much easier with small kids. Our kids really enjoyed checking out the view from each window, and we definitely recommend visiting Hallgrímskirkja Observation Tower with kids.

Spend an afternoon in Laugardalur (swimming pool, botanical gardens, zoo, and much more!)

Just a 10 minute drive from the city centre, there is the recreational area of Laugardalur. Here you will find lots of green open space, a playground, ice skating, Botanical Gardens, a campsite, and it is also where the Secret Solstice festivals is held every year.

Reykjavík with kids

Laugardalur. Google Maps 2018.

A highlight for kids is the geothermal swimming pool (Laugardalslaug). It’s the largest in Iceland, complete with a slide and hot pools. Entry is only ISK980 (approx. £6.20) for adults, ISK160 (approx. £1) for children, and FREE for children under 5 (a fraction of entry costs to the Blue Lagoon).

It’s also worthwhile visiting Reykjavík’s Family Park and Zoo, which is also in Laugardalur and open all year round. This is home to lots of native animals, such as Icelandic goats and horses, seals and Artic Foxes, as well as reindeer.

If your kids are a bit older and love sport, you may even catch a game of football or basketball at the main sporting arena.

Visit a hot spring

(Patrick, Adventographer)

After a long day exploring the sights and sounds that make up the vibrant city there’s no better way to unwind than visiting one of Iceland’s hot springs.

You’ve likely heard of the famous Blue lagoon (read a review about visiting the Blue Lagoon with kids from, but were you aware that Reykjavík has its own geothermal hotspots that won’t break the bank and aren’t a 45 minute drive away?

Reykjavík with kids

The Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach is an interesting phenomenon. This small stretch of beach just outside of Reykjavik’s core is a geothermally heated bay. Even in the dead of winter you’ll find hearty Icelanders taking a dip here where the water temperature is consistently 10C higher than the surrounding ocean!

If an ocean swim is too much consider visiting the Kvika foot bath. Though not big enough for full immersion this small beachside hot spring makes a great place to explore and soak your tired feet after a day exploring Reykjavík with the kids!

Visit a museum

Reykjavík has some fantastic museums, and these are our recommendations for families:

Saga Museum

(Lori, Maps, Memories And Motherhood)

Reyjavik’s Saga Museum takes you on a journey back in time to the first inhabitants of Iceland. Seventeen sagas features lifelike scenes from particular points in time — with life-sized mannequins of historical figures (which we swore winked at us a few times). The museum is self-guided, with an audio recording, describing each exhibit. It’s a great primer on the history of Iceland, but might be tough to get through for kids under 10 as there are some pretty graphic depictions: battles, The Black Death, the first Icelandic martyr. There also aren’t any interactive exhibits until you get through the entire museum, which was my boys’ favourite part where they tried on traditional costumes and battled their dad with shields and swords. Don’t miss the gift shop. It has some beautiful hand-made, traditional Icelandic products, and there’s also a restaurant to grab some lunch after your tour.

Reykjavík with kids

Maritime Museum

Iceland has a deep rooted history of fishing and fish is a staple of the local diet. Learn about the history and growth of the fishing industry at Reykjavík’s Maritime Museum. This is a fantastic museum for kids as it’s high tech and visual displays are engaging. You can also take a guided tour around the Coast Guard Vessel, Óðinn.

Whales of Iceland

(Constance, The Adventures of Panda Bear)

Whales of Iceland is an educational exhibit about whales in Iceland and its surrounding waters. The museum is located close to downtown Reykjavík and offers an amazingly immersive experience and interactive exhibits for children.

Kids will delight at exploring the museum and walking amongst the life-sized whale models. The museum is home to over 20 different whale models, one of which is a 25 meter or 82 feet long blue whale. Your child will love learning about whale anatomy with their interactive exhibit, touching the whale models, and using their virtual reality headset.

Reykjavík with kids

Admission is free for children under 7 years. Whales of Iceland also has an audio guide app which you can use to learn more about each and every whale on display. The self-guided tour takes approximately 30 minutes and guided tours are offered for groups larger than 15 people.


(John, From Real People)

One of the down sides of being in the centre of Reykjavík itself is that you miss the chance to view the whole cityscape. The way to solve this is to take a trip to the 4th Floor Observation Deck of the Perlan, or the Pearl in English. At a height of 25.7 metres, it’s one of the best places to get your bearings and take in the best views across the whole area. Kids will particularly love chance to watch the aircraft taking off and landing from Reykjavík ReykjavíkCity airport.

Perlan was built out of some old hot water storage tank by adding the giant hemisphere back in 1991. There are some fantastic exhibitions that kids will really love. The ‘Wonders of Iceland’ experience gives you the chance to see, hear and feel the power of volcanoes, earthquakes and the geothermal energy of this amazing place. There is an augmented reality model of the largest sea cliff in Europe as well as a virtual aquarium and a man-made ice cave. The joy is that everything is inside, you can even get great views from the Cafe when the weather is bad.

Go bird spotting at Lake Tjörnin

(Ting, My Travel Monkey)

Right in the heart of Reykjavík, Lake Tjörnin or ‘the pond’ as it’s known locally, has more than 40 species of visiting birds including geese, swans and Arctic Terns. During the summer, it’s popular with families feeding the ducks, while there are pretty sculptures that line the shore. We were amazed to see people actually skating on the frozen lake!

Watch a children’s concert at Harpa Concert Hall

(Nicolette, Nic & Cam)

When I was researching family activities for our trip to Iceland, it was my desire to incorporate a cultural experience into the mix. Since Harpa Concert Hall is such a magnificent focal point in downtown Reykjavík, I decided to check their calendar to see if, per chance, something would fit our schedule and interests.

Reykjavík with kids

We hit the jackpot! The Iceland Symphony Orchestra would be performing a concert for children, including a narrated story featuring Maximus Musicus. Maximus Musicus was created by two members of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, and Icelandic children absolutely love “the most famous musical mouse in Iceland!” What a treat! Harpa was filled with children and parents. There were crafts for the kids before the concert. And then, we got to experience a wonderful concert in the Eldborg concert hall, the largest hall in Harpa!

Grab a yummy hotdog

(Celine, Family Can Travel)

If you’ve done any research into a trip to Iceland, there’s no doubt you’ve heard of the Icelandic hot dogs. These dogs are delicious and sold everywhere (including gas stations). The Icelandic hot dogs are made mostly of Icelandic lamb with some pork and beef. What better time to indulge in this popular food than a day out in Reykjavik!

Reykjavík with kids

After having seen it on a travel show, we planned our mid-day stop at the popular Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, a short walk from Reykjavik’s best known landmark, the Lutheran church Hallgrimskirkja. We recommend trying it first as the locals do, served on a steamed bun with raw onions, crispy white onions, ketchup, pylsusinnep (a sweet brown mustard) and remoulade (a sauce made with mayonnaise, mustard, capers and herbs). For our kids, we just went with ketchup, which is always a winner.

Take a FREE walking tour

(Bec, Wyld Family Travel)

One thing we decided we needed to do while we were in Reykjavik was one of the free walking tours. It is a city we did not know much about so it was the perfect opportunity to learn more about the Icelandic culture. We met at the square in front of the Parliament building and our guide was Eric. It was an easy walk through the city and as we went in the winter Eric made sure we weren’t standing still for long.

Reykjavík with kids

We went to all of the popular sites around Reykjavik and Eric told us about them, when they were built and what the significance of the building was. He was also able to share with us some of the more quirky sides of the Icelandic culture…the tree of the year being one of them! (We won’t give any of that away though, you will have to go on the tour to find out about that!) and how names are passed down to family members. It was a great way for the girls to learn about the Vikings all the way through to how tourism is now effecting Iceland.

We highly recommend a free walking tour when you are in Reykjavik especially with Eric. There is so much more you can learn from a local that is just not in any guide you will find and standing, in, near or around a landmark of importance to a city is the perfect way for the whole family to learn about a magnificent place like Iceland.

Essential info

Getting around Reykjavík with kids

We had a hire car and we found it reasonably easy to find parking spots in the city. Parking is not especially pricey (30 minutes was approximately £0.80).

The city is quite compact and you can walk around between the main sites. However, if little legs are tired, one of the best ways to get around Reykjavík is on a hop-on-hop-off bus tour.

Family accommodation recommendations

Budget: Central Guesthouse Reykjavík
Near airport: Airport Hotel Aurora Star
Mid-range: Fosshótel Rauðará

For more family-friendly accommodation options, check out the Best Family Hotels in Reykjavík from Little City Trips.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Should you click on a link to purchase, this is at no extra cost to you, although I get a small commission that goes towards the running of this blog. 

Reykjavík with kids

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Where would we be without our Lonely Planet Guide? There’s also a specific Iceland Road Trip edition.

We also recommend you purchase a good Iceland road map.

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5 day Iceland itinerary with kids
How to save money on a family trip to Iceland
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Suitcases and Sandcastles
Copenhagen with kids in winter

Copenhagen with young kids

Think of Copenhagen and the first thing that might come into your mind is: expensive? If not that, then perhaps wintry? Or you might be like us and feel that even though it’s so close (for those in the UK), it’s not somewhere you know very well. It’s tucked away, the sort of place you might not think of visiting. But when you do, you’re very pleased that you did.

Copenhagen with kids in winter

We caught the train from the airport to the station, which costs DKK36 (approx £4.10) and is an easy, cheap and efficient way to reach the city. Make sure you buy your ticket before you board – there are machines in the baggage collection areas, plus a main ticket office in the arrivals hall. The journey only took fifteen minutes and the first thing that struck us when we emerged from Central Station was how imposing the city is, reminding us more of a Moscow or Berlin rather than the Riga or Amsterdam we were expecting. Stepping onto the January streets outside the station, everything seemed to be on a surprisingly large scale.

Copenhagen with kids in winter

Where we stayed

Our beautiful hotel (The Savoy) was within walking distance of the station and it wasn’t long before we were out of the cold and into the welcoming foyer. As with everyone we met in the city, we received a friendly, warm welcome from the staff and made our way up to the top floor where our family room awaited us. It was a fantastic room, spacious (for a European city hotel) with a lovely view over the surrounding rooftops, the chiming of the church bells nearby reminding us it was time to head out and find some food. This was another advantage of the hotel; right in the heart of things with numerous bars, restaurants, shops and supermarkets right on the doorstep. We also took advantage of the tasty, filling and complimentary breakfast each morning which was a perfect start to the day, lots of coffee, fruit juice, pastries, bread, meat and cheese to choose from. Plus the added bonus that when we returned each evening there were complimentary pastries available in reception which were a welcome treat before bed.

Copenhagen with kids in winter

Getting Around

As we say, Copenhagen is deceptively large with the distance between the main sights a little too far for us to manage on foot with the boys in tow. We’re sure that if you were travelling here without young children you could easily make your way around on foot but instead we took advantage of the excellent number 26 bus which stopped outside our hotel and took us to most of the places we wanted to get to. Tickets worked out quite expensive (DKK24 – about £2.75) if you only used them for a short hop but they were valid for an hour so would be better value if you were making either a long trip, or managed to hop back on-board within the time limit and in effect hitched a free ride. Our boys enjoyed sitting at the back and there was always space at the front for our buggy (very useful in the city to help the youngest ones cover the distances in warmth and comfort).

In general (and despite our preconceptions), we were quite lucky with the weather, as January in Denmark has a well-deserved reputation for being very cold. But we’d been warned in advance and were very well wrapped up and always made sure we dived into a shop, museum or bus whenever it got too cold.

How to keep the kids entertained

Copenhagen has so much going for it that we couldn’t hope to cover all of the sights in a few days but the following were some of our child-friendly highlights:

Wandering the streets around Nyhavn

If you’ve seen one photo of Copenhagen before, it’s probably of this colourful, picturesque street. It’s a great way to spend an hour or so, checking out the boats, grabbing a quick hot-chocolate and taking the obligatory selfie on the bridge.

Copenhagen with kids in winter

Visit the Lego shop

We didn’t know Lego came from Denmark until we arrived! How lax of us, but we soon made up for it by escaping the cold and spending almost an hour marvelling at these tiny pieces of plastic turned into amazing sculptures. The super-friendly staff were always on hand to help keep the little ones entertained in the various free play areas.

Copenhagen with kids in winter

National Gallery of Denmark

Visit the brilliant children’s workshops if you’re there on a weekend and let your little ones get their creative juices flowing with paints, crafts and crayons. The museum is well worth a visit on any day of the week with the building itself a spectacular sight. Leave your buggy outside and borrow one of the museum’s to give you and the little ones a smooth ride around the gallery. There are also free cloakrooms and spaces to eat your own food. Great place to visit, highly recommended.

Copenhagen with kids in winter

Take the number 26 bus out to the little Mermaid statue 

Head to the edge of the city and see the iconic statue, fight the crowds to get the perfect picture and grab a delicious cup of coffee or hot chocolate when you’re done.

Copenhagen with kids in winter

Spend some time at the fantastic National Museum of Denmark

One of the few museums we’ve ever visited which has a dedicated Children’s section where the kids are encouraged to touch, climb and interact with the exhibits – a definite relief for parents not to have to constantly tell them not to touch things – the kids will love it.

Copenhagen with kids in winter

Play in the park near Rosenborg Castle 

If the weather is kind, head to the Rosenborg Castle in the heart of the city. Play in the children’s playground, walk around the grounds and take in the views of the fairytale castle.

Copenhagen with kids in winter

Looking for more ideas? Check out 25 Unique Things To Do In Copenhagen

How to keep costs down

Our other preconception proved to be wrong as we didn’t find Copenhagen as expensive as we’d been warned, mainly because we stocked up on the fantastic hotel breakfast, caught the bus most places, didn’t drink alcohol (much), and had a supermarket nearby which we used to stock up on the essentials most days. The public transport is efficient but not incredibly cheap if you only buy single trip tickets each time you travel. However, there is a travel pass (Copenhagen Card) which covers all travel in the city over a 72 hour period – recommended if you intend to use public transport a lot during your stay. As with most other cities, there is also a city card available which includes access to most major sights, museums, galleries and monuments, plus all public transport. It’s quite a large initial outlay but would be good value if you planned to fit a lot into your trip. We did the sums and decided not to get one but your mileage may vary.


We stayed at the Savoy Hotel on Vesterbrogade in the heart of the city.  The room rates include an excellent breakfast. 

We flew with EasyJet from London Gatwick airport, the 90 minute flight was very straightforward (it takes almost as long though to walk from the arrival gate in Copenhagem to baggage collection though – be warned!)

The Copenhagen Card costs EUR85 for 72 hours (child EUR43 although two children under 10 are included with the adult pass).

Disclaimer: We’re very grateful for the Savoy Hotel, National Gallery of Denmark and National Museum of Denmark for hosting our visit. However, as always, all words and opinions are my own. This post also contains affiliate links. Should you click on a link to purchase, it is at no extra cost to you, but I get a small commission that goes towards the running of this blog. 

Travel Copenhagen, Denmark, in winter with kids

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A winter weekend with young kids in Ghent, Belgium
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Wander Mum


Ghent in winter with kids

A winter weekend with young kids in Ghent, Belgium

Have you considered visiting Ghent with kids? One of our favourite travelling experiences is heading over to Europe and exploring the different cultures and countries right on our doorstep. There is something incredibly exciting about arriving in Calais, watching the ferry doors open and then driving out of the port with a whole continent in front of you. We’re always looking for new places to visit and the latest has been the beautiful Belgian city of Ghent, only ninety minutes drive from Calais.

This compact medieval town is often overlooked by travellers who make a beeline for Bruges. But with fewer visitors and cheaper accommodation, travellers are discovering the quaint canal-side architecture, edgy art scene and quirky bars of Ghent. But is is a good weekend destination with kids, especially in Winter?

Ghent in winter with kids

Getting there

As usual, we caught the excellent DFDS service from Dover and had our customary breakfast and soft-play time on the ferry; it passes so quickly doing it this way and provides an extra activity for the kids at the start of the holiday. The drive over to Ghent is straightforward as well; just head east along the A16, then join the E40 and stay on it until you reach Ghent (Gent in Dutch).

Where we stayed

We were staying in the fantastic Ghent Marriott hotel which is located on a street called Korenlei, right in the heart of the historic part of the city. At one time all the country’s produce (including corn, hence the street name) had to pass through this area and the result today is a Facebook-profile worthy, picturesque location, right on the river and only a short walk to all of the city’s attractions.

Ghent in winter with kids - Marriot

Getting around

Ghent has a small-town feel and we found it very easy to navigate, meaning that we didn’t need to jump onto the frequent trams which glide (sometimes a little too close for comfort) around the city. Alongside the trams, there are also buses and water-taxis to choose from if you don’t fancy walking. We had the buggy with us and were lucky with the weather so didn’t use them much.

What to do in Ghent with kids

We were in Ghent for a couple of days just after New Year and wanted to see as much of the city as we could in the short time we had. To help with this, we were very grateful to Visit Gent who provided us with complimentary city cards. These provide free access to a large number of museums, galleries, monuments and other attractions, plus all public transport (and bike-hire) so they are a great deal if you plan to visit several attractions and perhaps travel further afield using public transport.

Boat trip

It also provides a free boat trip around the central district which we enjoyed but it could perhaps have covered a greater distance at a less sedate pace for it to be truly something we’d recommend – the boys were becoming a bit restless by the end. But, it’s free with the card and certainly a relaxing way to spend forty minutes and see the city from a different perspective.

Ghent in winter with kids


We then spent a fantastic couple of hours in Gravensteen, the castle overlooking the city. The boys really enjoyed it here with it being a great combination of ancient ruins and interesting displays for the children. There are a few tricky staircases so you’ll need to leave the buggy at reception but the rest of it is fairly child-friendly, the highlight being a medieval dungeon transformed into a Christmas room, complete with soft cushions, classical music and a Christmas tree.


Ghent in winter with kids - Gravesteen

Christmas Markets

Luckily for us the Christmas markets were still open so we wandered around there on several occasions looking at the stalls, eating lots of chocolate waffles and riding on the Ferris wheel.

Design Museum

We also found time to visit the Design Museum which we initially found slightly too formal for our group but it got better as we went around and our eldest had a great time trying to find the tiny Playmobil figurines dotted around the museum, happily ticking them off on his checklist. Both boys finished the visit by rolling around for fifteen minutes on a huge structure made of wool, which was certainly a first.


Where to eat in Ghent with kids

We found lots of food options around the city and we mainly ate at the Christmas markets from the various stalls (bratwursts and waffles were our staple diet). There were also numerous fast food chains if you fancied something more familiar plus several incredibly beautiful and inviting bistros tucked into the backstreets which we’d have loved to visit but decided to save for when we visit without children and will appreciate candles and tablecloths again.

Ghent in winter with kids

So is weekend in Ghent with kids a good idea?

Before we knew it, our time in Ghent was over and we were heading back along the E40 towards Calais and our early morning ferry. We really recommend Ghent as a family-friendly weekend break. It’s so close to the UK and easily accessible by either car or train so you’ll be spending minimal time travelling. Which leaves plenty of time to look around this beautiful historic city at your leisure, safe in the knowledge that the kids will be entertained just as much as you.


We stayed at the Ghent Marriott Hotel on Korenlei and travelled with DFDS ferries. During our stay we used the Ghent city cards which can be bought from the tourist office, hotels and other places around the city. They cost EUR30 for 48 hours and EUR35 for 72 hours.

Disclaimer: We’re very grateful to the Marriott Hotel for an upgrade and to Visit Gent for the complimentary City Passes. However, as always, these are all our own words and opinions. This post also contains affiliate links. Should you click on a link to purchase, it is at no extra cost to you, but I get a small commission that goes towards the running of this blog. 

Travel Ghent with kids

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Lanzarote with kids: off the beaten track
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