The cobblestone streets, new cuisine and museum “DO NOT TOUCH” signs might feel like red flags when it comes to the kids, but certain cities across the pond are actually primed for family-friendly getaways. Thanks to its tourist-friendly nature combined with the allure of old-world charm and rich cultural experiences, Europe continues to be a great option for travelers with young ones, and these five destinations top the list.
The 5 Most Kid-Friendly Cities in Europe
Rich in history and art, Italy is never a bad idea for introducing your kids to culture. Here are some of the reasons we love Florence as a family destination: kid-friendly museums, plenty of chances to get outside, and lots of delicious food (read: plain pasta is an option here). Also, gelato at every turn. The Children's Museum at the Palazzo Vecchio and the Galileo Museum are our top picks for a day indoors. But don’t miss taking a spin on the antique wooden carousel in Piazza della Repubblica, a short walk from Palazzo Vecchio. If your family has a little chef in tow, sign up for a cooking class to bring a taste of Italy back home for your crew. If you’d rather leave the planning to someone else, the concierge team at the Hotel Savoy will help kids and teens navigate the city with custom itineraries.
Monte Carlo, Monaco
This gem on the Cote d’Azur is best known for its extravagant casinos, yacht-filled marina and the annual Monaco Grand Prix—all decidedly not kid-friendly. But the principality secretly has a lot to offer for families. We’d visit the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco for a peek inside the stunning building alone; it’s built into a cliff on the edge of the sea. The kids will love the more than 6,000 sea specimens in the basement aquarium. Don’t miss the view from the top floor before you leave. Each May, the Formula 1 Grand Prix whips around the streets of the city, but the Monaco Top Cars Collection—home to Prince Rainier III’s classic cars—is open year-round and is a delight, even for those not old enough to get behind the wheel. If you’re visiting in October through February, travelers 12 and up can even strap in and whip around the track at Kart Indoor Monaco. Stay at Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort. The luxe resort boasts family-size rooms and an expansive lagoon-like pool area. Swoon.
You can’t plan a visit to the Catalan capital without a hefty dose of Gaudí, one of Barcelona’s most famous residents, on your itinerary. Antonio Gaudí’s work can be seen all over town and will certainly fascinate and inspire your kids. Park Güell is hands down the most interesting public park in the city—and one of the most unique in the world. His still unfinished La Sagrada Familia Basilica is an architectural marvel and a must-see attraction. Buy your tickets in advance for both. Other kid-friendly destinations include the beach in La Barceloneta and the Tibidabo amusement park. If you’re a family of foodies, plan a day around La Boqueria Market and the chocolate museum. Visitors to the Museu de la Xocolata will learn how chocolate is made and can browse its *delicious* sculpture collection. The Majestic Residence, affiliated with the five-star Majestic Hotel and Spa, has family-friendly apartments perfect for large groups that need some space.
While anyone under ten isn't likely to sit through afternoon tea, Londontown's got plenty of family-friendly options for kids of all ages. Start off the trip with a visit to Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station and "Diagon Alley" (aka Leadenhall Market). Your kids will feel as if they're part of the magical world of Harry Potter, and you'll think it's enchanting because it's free. Next? A lovely bike ride or leisurely walk through Kensington Gardens where you can spot the Peter Pan statue commissioned by J.M. Barrie in 1912. Finally, a visit to the oldest toy shop in the world, Hamleys, home to a life-size Lego version of the royal family that will keep the kids plenty entertained while you keep an eye out for Meghan Markle. And we haven't even gotten to the Eye. (Don't worry, your kids will drag you there.) Book the luxury family package at the Marylebone for tepee tent beds for kids under 12, complimentary meals for children under five and so much more. (And hey, why not slip in an afternoon tea while the kids watch TV upstairs?)
Kids of all ages will love the fact that dessert for breakfast is perfectly acceptable in Lisbon. Start your day in Alfama with a pastéis de nata, the city’s famous custard tart, before hopping aboard one of its iconic yellow trams. A ride on the Route 28 tram is one of the best—and cheapest—ways to see the sights. A single ticket purchased onboard costs €2.90. Another unique way to explore this city is by water with HIPPOtrip, a 90-minute sightseeing tour by land and the Tagus River. Animal lovers in tow? You’ll want to set aside a day to spend at the Jardim Zoologico de Lisboa, which more than 3,000 animals from 330 different species call home. Built in a 19th-century townhouse in the heart of the city, the Chiado Family Suites are perfect for families, especially those with small children. Tykes will love the brightly colored accommodations and the robust kids’ club, complete with frequent pajama parties.