We are all dreaming of scuba diving in crystal clear waters and staying at an underwater hotel, however, these options are not especially family friendly. Vacations with children often entail a simple visit to a theme park, perhaps taking in an aquarium or going to an all-inclusive resort that is family friendly. Certainly, kids will have a wonderful time at these types of attractions, but many European cities are family friendly. They offer something rather different to the entertainment mega giants and their amusement parks and accommodations.
Here are a few suggestions well worth exploring.
The UK’s capital city is always a magnet for visitors, and many people consider it very much a destination for adults. In fact, it’s a great place for children with dozens of things to see and do. The Natural History Museum is one of the world’s greatest institutions, and attractions such as the Dinosaurs gallery and the massive model blue whale will enchant and educate. The Science Museum offers a wide range of interactive exhibits to help further a child’s understanding of the world of discoveries and scientific exploration.
There’s always free entertainment available in Covent Garden and the Changing the Guard Ceremony at Buckingham Palace offers a glimpse into the world of Royalty and tradition. The Warner Bros. Studio Tour takes visitors behind the scenes of the classic films featuring Harry Potter, a must for Muggles who aspire to be witches or wizards.
Holland’s famous canal city has a very wide range of attractions and activities for families, including Artis, one of Europe’s oldest zoos, and Nemo, Amsterdam’s Science Museum. [pullquote]As well as many different species of animal, Artis also has several excellent playgrounds and a good restaurant.[/pullquote] The Anne Frank House, probably more suitable for children aged 10 and over, makes for an important and educational visit, focusing on the secret hiding place where she and her family were hidden from the Nazis. It’s the place where she wrote her famous diary that we have all heard of. There are many family and group accommodations in Amsterdam to suit all budgets.
Again this city may be thought of as more suitable for adults, but there are many things that provide thrills for children in Paris. Among the best is the iconic symbol of France’s capital city, the Eiffel Tower. Visitors can take the stairs (where queues are shorter), then an elevator from the second to the third floor, or elevators all the way. Queuing times can be long, but it is possible to book in advance.
The Cathedral of Notre Dame is, of course, the setting for Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Children will love the many gargoyles and be impressed by the building’s interior and the exterior.
The Luxembourg Gardens have a very good playground and the Cité des Enfants and Cité des Science provide interactive experiences for children from the age of two.
In the summer Germany’s capital city can get very hot, so it’s just as well there are plenty of water gardens for kids to cool off in. Of course, adults can do the same so the whole family can enjoy splashing about for no cost at all.
Kids’ Farms are popular in and around Berlin, and there are plenty of opportunities to feed and groom animals such as goats and donkeys or even do a little gardening to get the little ones closer to nature. Berlin also has numerous museums for children, including the Labyrinth Children’s Museum where children learn by doing entertaining activities.
Children are spoilt for choice in the capital of Hungary, especially for playgrounds. The one in Millenaris Park is the best known, and the Kopaszigát has playgrounds, a sandy beach and lots of child-friendly restaurants. Depending on the season the whole family can skate or row on the lake in City Park, and at the Orczy Kalandpark, there is an adventure park that will keep both kids and parents entertained for hours. In summer there are many outdoor pools to choose from with slides and kids’ pools, catering for all ages, and the city has a zoo and a circus in City Park, providing both educational and entertainment experiences.
Europe has always been an attractive destination for families and cities realized long ago that the key to persuading them to come was to ensure they were family friendly. Today the range of choice for eating, accommodation, sightseeing and activities gets ever longer, and there are many other cities well worth taking the time to visit and explore.