14 Family-Friendly European Destinations for a Vacation to Remember

From Copenhagen to Crete

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Summer is approaching and if you want a big family vacation abroad, now’s the time to start planning. When traveling with kids in tow, though, it’s important to pick a destination that caters to the interests and needs of every family member. Not to mention, you'll want someplace that is easily accessible and easy to navigate. Without further ado, here’s a list of family-friendly Europe destinations that check all the boxes, including public parks, playgrounds, kid-friendly museums, beaches and a whole host of sophisticated cultural and historic attractions.

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Also spelled ‘Majorca,’ this gorgeous Mediterranean oasis is one of Spain’s Balearic islands. You can expect scenery that includes lush limestone mountains, sheltered coves and the pristine shorelines of the sparkling Mediterranean Sea. The island is also home to many ancient ruins and historic architecture, so there’s plenty to see. As for family-friendly activities, we recommend a visit to the island’s highly interactive and budget-friendly aquarium, as well as a ziplining adventure the whole family will enjoy in Jungle Parc and perhaps a visit to Katmandu Park for thrill seekers who crave an adrenaline-fueled theme park experience.

England’s capital city is huge so it goes without saying that there’s an abundance of things to do. Tour the city with a double decker bus ride, stroll the many public parks and be sure not to miss Buckingham Palace, which is an obvious sightseeing must. The Natural History Museum is also quite impressive and a great educational activity that will engage all members of the brood, and we’d be remiss not to mention Hamleys, the world’s oldest toy store and the largest one in the U.K.

A visit to Prague truly feels like stepping into a fairytale—namely because, in addition to the world famous Prague Castle, the city is replete with Gothic cathedrals, Romanesque chapels, Baroque palaces and beautiful gardens. The architectural attractions alone make Prague a truly breathtaking and memorable European destination, but the relatively small and highly walkable city has more going for it than just its striking looks. The Museum of Senses provides a quirky interactive experience that will captivate visitors of all ages and the Prague Zoo, which you can access by way of a charming river cruise, is one of the best in the world and features many interactive exhibits that will delight children. Before you head back stateside, be sure to spend a day at the Slavonic Island, which sits on the Vltava river and boasts beautiful scenery, ample park space, paddle boat tours and a very impressive playground.

  • Why We Recommend It: bike-friendly, cultural attractions, historic architecture, scenic, food scene
  • Main Attractions: Van Gogh Museum, Bloemenmarkt, Amsterdamse Bos, Vondelpark, Zandvoort Beach
  • Where to Stay: Hotel Jakarta Amsterdam, Ambassade Hotel, The Lake House

Amsterdam has a reputation for having a few somewhat unsavory attributes, but forget what you’ve heard because this gem in the Netherlands is perfectly family-friendly and brimming with things to do and see. The city has romantic vibes and unmistakable European charm thanks to its extensive canal system and picturesque brick-laid streets lined with historic Dutch buildings. Amsterdam is designed for bike-riding but families can easily get around on foot as well. Plan your visit for when the famous tulip garden is in bloom (usually from late March to mid-May), browse the botanicals at the Bloemenmarkt and be sure to avail yourself of some of the excellent street food before you head to beautiful Vondelpark for a picnic. Families looking for water recreation won’t be disappointed by Zandvoort Beach, a scenic destination where hiking, water sport opportunities and sunbathing are all on the menu.

  • Why We Recommend It: big city escape, cultural attractions, historic attractions, shopping, food scene
  • Main Attractions: Luxembourg Gardens, parc Monceau, Louvre, Eiffel Tower
  • Where to Stay: Hotel Maison Mere, Hotel Augustin-Astotel, Il Patio

The romantic charm of Paris is well-documented, but it isn’t just for love birds. The whole family will have a memorable experience climbing the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre serves up a once-in-a-lifetime museum visit complete with kid-friendly tours. The Luxembourg Gardens will delight the whole family, there are public parks aplenty and you can’t stroll the cobblestone streets of the city without stumbling upon something to see or do. If you’re looking for a family-friendly vacation that provides a ton of cultural enrichment and a uniquely European je ne sais quoi, the City of Light is the place for you.

Cable car rides, scenic ziplining opportunities, thrilling “safari” rides—there are so many ways to explore the enchanting beauty of Dubrovnik. Walk the famous ancient walls for breathtaking views, explore Old Town for an experience that feels like stepping into a history book and a stroll that features postcard-ready photo ops galore. When you’re ready to kick back and relax, hop on an island cruise or pay a visit to Lapad, one of the city’s only sandy and very family-friendly beaches that boasts a boardwalk lined with activities for kids, from arcades to trampolines and playgrounds.

Needless to say, there are historical and cultural attractions galore in Rome (like the Colosseum and the Vatican, to name a few). That said, if you’re traveling with younger kids who have a lower tolerance for all the sightseeing, you’ll be pleased to know that Rome has plenty of kid-oriented activities on offer as well. The city has an abundance of parks and playgrounds, interactive museums geared towards the younger crowd and a food scene that will undoubtedly appeal to palates both young and old. (I mean, who doesn’t like gelato and pizza, right?) There’s also plenty of shopping to be done, so if you have a teen in tow, you might want to agree on an allowance before you arrive.

  • Why We Recommend It: vibrant street performances, food scene, beach, historic attractions, cultural attractions
  • Main Attractions: Park Güell, Cosmocaixa, Montjuic Magic Fountain, Casa Batilo, Labyrinth Park
  • Where to Stay: Hotel 1898, The One Barcelona, The White House

Although Barcelona is known to be a destination where nightlife reigns supreme, there are so many things to do in the city by day. You can aimlessly walk the streets and count on being treated to some free, family-friendly entertainment from the many street performers, and much of the sightseeing has all-ages appeal as well. Younger ones will enjoy the spectacular light show provided by the Montjuic Magic fountain, Park Güell is an oh-so beautiful tribute to architect Antoni Gaudi’s work that has ample green space and whimsical architecture that invites imagination and play. Finally, Labyrinth Park, one of Barcelona’s best-kept secrets is as it sounds an expansive maze; it’s also a beautiful historic garden the whole family will be happy to get lost in for hours.

Lisbon’s magical architectural landmarks like Sao Jorge’s Castle and the nearby town of Sintra provide a fairytale experience to visitors of all ages, and there’s no shortage of other sightseeing opportunities that will fill the whole family with a sense of wonder (like Jamor Adventure Park and the Oceanarium aquarium). The walkability of Portugal’s capital also makes it particularly appealing to those traveling with kids and the gorgeous beach is a major bonus that promises some much-needed chill time once you’ve checked off the other memorable attractions on your itinerary.

Provence, a region located in the sunny, southeastern part of France that borders Italy and the Mediterranean Sea, is quite large and every village is worth visiting. In fact the hardest part about taking your family to Provence is narrowing your itinerary. If you want a glamorous beach vacation, Monaco, Nice and St. Tropez fit the bill. Avignon, on the other hand, sits on the Rhone River and boasts many historic attractions and sightseeing opportunities, including Palais des Papes and Pont du Gard; while the smaller provencal villages promise a laid back vacation that still offers plenty to do, plus sunny weather and small town charm. In other words, when planning an itinerary in Provence, you’ll have to do some picking and choosing (and should consider renting a car so you can explore a few different places), but this list of kid-friendly attractions in the region is a good place to start.

  • Why We Recommend It: beaches, historic attractions, natural attractions, outdoor activities, wildlife viewing
  • Main Attractions: Elafonissi Beach, Balos Lagoon, Cretan Caves, Amazonas Park, Samaria Gorge
  • Where to Stay: Lyttos Beach, Nana Golden Beach, Vraskos Villa

The breathtaking coastline of Greece’s biggest island is home to some of Europe’s most beautiful (and family-friendly) beaches, as well as some stunning natural attractions like the Cretan Caves, including one where Zeus was supposedly born, and gorgeous hikes at places like Samaria Gorge. For more specifically kid-oriented activities, Amazonas Park is a charming little zoo in a scenic hillside location that offers young visitors the opportunity to pet and feed the animal, as well as other wildlife attractions like the CRETaquarium and Reptisland, which allows for a hands-on experiences with the various reptilian species at the preserve.

Berlin, known to be a cultural hub in Germany, has a vibrant art scene and an effortlessly cool character. It’s also a big city with a ton of things to do for families, including the impressive Berlin Zoo, enriching and interactive Museum of Natural History and, of course, some pretty significant historic landmarks. Tierpark, another Berlin zoo, serves up a particularly unique and fascinating experience where visitors can see animals in their lush natural habitats. Boat tours and kinder museums can almost be included on the itinerary for a full family-friendly experience, but the gist of it is that you’ll have plenty of options when visiting Berlin.

Perhaps one of the most kid-friendly destinations on the list, Copenhagen is full of European charm and positively brimming with playgrounds and parks to keep younger ones occupied in between more structured activities. There’s also a pretty awesome science center, Experimentarium, where kids can engage in activities that encourage learning through play and Tivoli Gardens—an amusement park like none other, providing all the thrills of a theme park you might find stateside, with the added benefit of a far more scenic experience featuring gorgeous, manicured gardens. Oh, and did we mention the street fare in Copenhagen is a foodie’s dream?

Kid-friendly museums (Museum of Illusions, Children’s Museum and Butterfly House, to name a few) abound in the Austrian capital of Vienna, which is renowned for its rich culture and history. Best of all, these attractions are all located within close proximity to each other in the MuseumsQuartier, so you won’t have to run your kids ragged while trying to pack in as much fun as possible. There are also waterparks all over the city and a whole host of cultural attractions and historic attractions, including the truly magical and awe-inspiring Schoenbrunn Palace.

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