Are you planning a European vacation with your family? Or wondering which cities to travel in West Europe with kids? Than this post is for you!
Since becoming parents in 2018, Frank and I have taken our son on several city trips in Europe, to Athens and London for example. Traveling as a family is different than traveling as a couple, but we love it just as much!
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To provide you with plenty of travel inspiration, I’ve asked family bloggers about their favorite West European city to travel with kids, from personal experience.
The result is this list which includes 20 wonderful cities in West Europe for families, but it’s by no means exhaustive… Nevertheless, I hope it will give you lots of ideas and when planning your (next) family trip to West Europe!
The best cities in West Europe to visit with kids – recommended by family bloggers
- Amsterdam (the Netherlands)
- Barcelona (Spain)
- Bern (Switzerland)
- Bruges (Belgium)
- Cagliari (Italy)
- Córdoba (Spain)
- Florence (Italy)
- Lisbon (Portugal)
- Madrid (Spain)
- Munich (Germany)
- Nantes (France)
- Nice (France)
- Paris (France)
- Porto (Portugal)
- Rome (Italy)
- Salzburg (Austria)
- Seville (Spain)
- Valencia (Spain)
- Venice (Italy)
- Vienna (Austria)
1. Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Tracy from Amsterdam Wonderland: if you’re looking for the best city in West Europe for kids its hard to top Amsterdam. This small family-friendly capital is packed with treats to delight the little ones. With hands-on museums, transport wonders to amaze (think bikes, trams and child-friendly canal boat tours) and over 400 playgrounds, yes you read that right, you’ll be spoiled for choice.
Our favorite hidden hot-spots include:
- The extraordinary Mouse Mansion (a little workshop with floor to ceiling mice frolicking in tiny dioramas).
- The Tony’s Chocolonely shop with its amazing chocolate vending machine.
- NEMO, the city’s world famous science museum with its “touch everything” philosophy.
What’s more, Amsterdam food is perfect for little ones too. Why not taste kibbeling from a street-side food truck (crispy fried pieces of fish served with mayonnaise); a very Dutch breakfast of “hagelslag” (chocolate sprinkles on white bread) or of course the ultimate Dutch specialty: pancakes or poffertjes!
So whatever the age of your youngsters, Amsterdam is sure become their very favorite Euro destination!
2. Barcelona, Spain
Keri from Little City Trips: a wonderful city to visit with kids is beautiful Barcelona. Located on the Spanish coast and full of cultural attractions, Barcelona is a great city for families since it offers both opportunities for outside play and as well as traditional sightseeing.
Families are spoilt for choice when it comes to child friendly activities in Barcelona! In terms of green areas, famous Parc Guell is a beautiful park where kids can play while parents admire the whimsical creations of architect Gaudi. Parc de la Ciutadella is lovely to visit and hosts the Barcelona Zoo.
The beach is always a hit with kids and Barceloneta is surprisingly family friendly, with many cafes equipped with high chairs, juices and often even kids menus.
If you are looking for attractions that are just for kids but adults can enjoy too, head over Montjuic. Here you can visit the Poble Espanyol, a village built to replicate the different parts of Spain. Kids can also play at the Magical Fountain, which has a light show in summer nights that your kids will adore (and so will you!).
Last but not least, don’t forget to plan a trip to the Barcelona Aquarium where you can walk in an underwater, see-through tunnel!
3. Bern, Switserland
Claudia from the The Travelling Mom: the stately capital city of Bern, Switzerland, is a surprisingly kid-friendly destination that offers lots and lots for visiting families.
Bern has a highly walkable, pedestrian-friendly downtown core with a UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Some of the best (and free) family-friendly attractions are easily accessed by wandering through Bern’s historic limestone arcades.
These include the 16th century Zytglogge astronomical clock that chimes every 15 minutes, the waterpark in front of the Federal Parliament Buildings and the famous Bear Park, home to the brown bears that are the city’s namesake. The Park is situated next to the Aare River, and offers landscaped green space for the bears to roam.
Upriver is the popular MarziliBad swimming pool area, where swimmers can also access the fast-flowing Aare for an exhilarating swim in glacial melt-water.
A short tram ride from the Old Town leads to the Gurten Park, a mountain-top playground for children, with cafes, restaurants and a 360 degree view of the city and Alpine countryside. It’s a wonderful place for kids to run off energy and have fun!
Bern is also home to various museums, including the Alpine Museum, Bern Historical Museum and Einstein House. For budding fine art lovers, Museum Paul Klee has wonderful children’s program called Creaviva, that offers hands-on creative fun inspired by one of Switzerland’s most famous modern artists.
4. Bruges, Belgium
Sierra from Free to Travel Mama: Bruges is a picturesque little canal city and is one of the best cities in West Europe to visit with kids. Upon arrival for your weekend getaway, you can’t help but sigh at its fairy-tale appearance.
Bruges is very walkable for families, be sure to to visit the Markt Square and meander its quaint streets. The most popular activity is to take a canal ride to get an overview of the city’s history and see areas that would go unseen when exploring on foot. a canal tour is a perfect activity for families with small children as it’s inexpensive and not too lengthy.
The Belfry tower is located in the Markt square, climbing tours are available for those willing to brave the steps… You can also rent a bike from several shops near the Markt Square. A bike ride along the canal to the nearby town of Damme (less than an hour ride) will bring you views of windmills and a place for children to run freely in the countryside.
Once you have worked up an appetite, Bruges’ famous chocolate shops, waffles with toppings, French fries, moles frites, and breweries are sure to provide you with options that everyone in the family will love!
5. Cagliari, Italy
Claudia from My Adventures Across the World: often overlooked for other more famous destinations in Italy is Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia. However, Cagliari is actually a fantastic destination for a city break, as well as a great starting point to explore the island.
Cagliari is an ideal place to travel to for families with kids. The city is packed with history and culture, plus the old city center is easy to explore. The four main areas are all connected to each other and each of them has its own style and interesting spots.
Castello is where the Cathedral is located and, as it’s on a hill, it’s the perfect place to get incredible views of the city. La Marina is right by the harbor. Stampace is home to several beautiful churches. Villanova is a maze of small alleys with beautiful colorful buildings and lovely squares where children play in the summer months.
One of the best things to do on Sardinia is hiking and Cagliari has several trails that, although located at a mere 10 minutes drive from the city center, will transport you to a completely different world!
Also read this 1 week Sardinia itinerary
The trail that takes to La Sella del Diavolo (one of the city’s landmarks) start in the lovely Calamosca beach. In just 30 minutes you can hike to a viewpoint from where you can see the entire gulf.
Poetto, Cagliari’s main beach, is a fabulous place to run, bike or skate and a favorite of local families. From Poetto beach you can easily access Molentargius, a natural park perfect to admire wildlife.
With its city charm and its easy access to nature and beaches, Cagliari is one of the best places to visit in West Europe with kids!
6. Cordoba, Spain
Lori from Fitz 5 on the go: of all the cities we visited during our gap year, the city of Cordoba in the Andalusia area of Spain was my son’s favorite.
We had watched videos of the area before our trip and the kids were really looking forward to seeing the “candy cane” mosque. They were so excited that I was afraid it would not live up to the hype, luckily it did and more!
The main tourist area of town is very walkable and a great representation of an old Spanish city. Our first stop was the Mezquita de Cordoba. This mosque/church has changed hands several times during its 1000 year history.
The majority of the building is a fabulous mosque with unique red and white striped columns. Right in the middle sits a ornate Catholic Cathedral. This was by far my kids favorite building of our year long trip.
After touring the mosque, we explored the town and took a lovely stroll across the Roman Bridge and guess what’s on the other side? A playground!
Cordoba is a perfect place to visit with kids, it’s full of surprises and a city where music hangs in the air.
7. Florence, Italy
Raluca from Whisper Wanderlust: Florence, the city in the heart of Tuscany, is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Europe.
The Italian city has so much to offer, that it’s often called an open-air museum. Buildings with spectacular architecture, historic bridges, vibrant streets, delicious food, and a pleasant atmosphere make up the landscape of the settlement divided by River Arno.
Florence is a perfect city for couples and families with children. The little ones will have much to learn here about the world’s greatest artists, Florence also being known as the heart of the Renaissance. The streets are filled with monuments and imposing statues, and the balconies are decorated with flowers.
Surely, your kids will also enjoy eating pizza and gelato. Fun fact: did you know Florence is the birthplace of gelato?
Florence or Firenze is also a very safe place and most of the areas of interest are pedestrian, so parents can spend an unforgettable vacation here with their little ones.
8. Lisbon, Portugal
Katja from Globetotting: Lisbon has everything that you look for in a city; it’s colorful, charming, walkable and there is lots of incredible food to be found!
But there’s more to Portugal’s capital than endless sunshine and grilled sardines. Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world, predating London, Paris and even Rome by hundreds of years. This makes Lisbon a fascinating city to visit for kids and parents alike.
Also read: what to pack for your baby’s first trip
Start your adventure with a tram ride on board the Eléctrico 28. This trolley operates like a hop-on-hop-off bus and takes you through some of Lisbon’s most popular neighborhoods.
Make sure to jump off at Praça do Comércio, the city’s biggest public square down by the waterfront. This is a great place for the kids to run around and it’s also where you’ll find Livraria Bertrand, the oldest bookstore in the world.
Other highlights are the Lisbon Aquarium, the Lisbon Story Center and the Jeronimos Monastery. Although the kids might be more interested in the Pastéis de Belém pastry shop nearby, which sells the most famous custard tarts in town!
But sights aside, my absolute favorite thing to do in Lisbon is to just wander around. It’s vibrant neighborhoods are a joy to discover on foot and you can always hail a tuktuk if the kids decide that they’ve had enough!
9. Madrid, Spain
Sinjana from Backpack & Explore: the Spanish capital Madrid is one of the most interesting city to visit with kids. It will bring to life some of the things which your kids would have only read about in their GK (General Knowledge) books.
Be it the grandeur of the world’s largest palace, or the first of the victory arches in Europe (the Alcala gate), there is no dearth of attractive monuments in Madrid.
You can visit the archaeological museum, which is a gem and the most fun way to learn about human history. And if your kids love art there are ample art museums to take them to.
Furthermore, you can enjoy some great family time in the beautiful parks of Madrid. The West Park and the Retiro Park among my favorite European parks.
At night you can dine out while watching a flamenco dance show. If time permits you can even add a day trip to the historical city Toledo. Doesn’t this sound like a perfect family holiday?
10. Munich, Germany
Soumya from Stories by Soumya: Munich is the capital city of Germany’s largest state of Bavaria. While Bavaria itself is an extremely picturesque destination as well, it’s capital is one of the best cities in West Europe to visit with kids.
Families usually start at the Marienplatz which is home to a number of exciting activities. For example, you can watch a free show of the Rathaus-Glockenspiel, a huge clock that comes to life with a wedding dance and a jousting match every day. Alternatively, you can climb up the Peters Tower for an amazing view of the city.
If you are looking for your kids to run free, head straight to the Englischer Garden or the opulent grounds of the Nymphenburg Palace. Let your kids run wild while you settle down with a comfortable, German picnic.
Munich also houses the Deutsches Museum, which will keep your child engaged for hours and hours. The museum has a Kid’s kingdom, special guided tours for children and a huge interactive collection.
Altogether, Munich is definitely one of the best family-friendly cities I’ve ever been to!
11. Nantes, France
Elisa from World in Paris: Nantes is a great city in Franc to visit with kids. The former capital city of Brittany is located by the Loire River and at only two hours from Paris by TGV train.
Nantes is Jules Verne’s hometown and the city inherited his adventurous character and creativity. You can start your Nantes exploration by visiting his museum, with several short videos and activities designed especially for kids.
The city is best known for its industrial past, it’s also home to the biggest shipyards of the country. Today the former shipyards host Les Machines de l’Ile de Nantes, a group of unusual and quirky machines loved by kids and adults alike. Families can wander around the island on a giant elephant or take a ride on the carousel of the Sea World, populated by fantastic creatures. Or they can check the newest machines created to populate future giant the Heron Tree.
Finally, don’t miss Nantes’ delicious crêpes and galettes, after all you are in Brittany! Also, there are many yummy cakes like “le gateau nantais” or “the Kouign amann”.
12. Nice, France
Alex from Laska Baby Travel:Nice la Bella undoubtedly is the shining star of the Azure coast. A vibrant cosmopolitan city with a stunning coastline, parks and cafes; Nice makes a great base for exploring with children!
From Nice, you can easily go day tripping across the Rivera because it’s well connected to the rest of the Coast and the Alps Hinterlands.
Nice was one of our favorite places in France. We enjoyed a day on a beach, while our children played in gentle waves of the Mediterranean sea. Strolling along the Promenade des Anglais (you can also rent bikes, roller-skates or skateboards here) towards the Port of Nice is also highly recommended. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the Old Town, nestled on the top of the hill, with amazing views overlooking the coast.
Nice is easy to explore on foot, even with small children. Kids will love Parc Phoenix, a large green area with playgrounds, greenhouses and animals. For older children there are Adventure Parks (with obstacle courses and zip lines) located around the Riviera.
In addition, French cuisine is great for the whole family, so why not take a cooking class? Children as young as 3 years old can participate!
13. Paris, France
Rim from Curious and Geeks: The French capital, one of the most visited cities in the world, has in incredible amount of activities to offer. Be it cultural visits, playful activities, excursions or macaroon testing, your kids will love Paris.
If you only have a couple of days to visit, do not miss the Eiffel Tower, the kids will be amazed by its height. Then head to the Luxembourg Gardens and let your kids test out their skills with model sailing boats, enjoy a carousel ride or admire the statues.
A trip to Paris wouldn’t be complete without a museum visit. Choose the Louvre if your kids are into art and history or the National History Museum if they prefer animals! Take a subway to la Villette and let them explore the fascinating Science Universe.
If you do have more time to spend in Paris, try a cruise. You will be able to see the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Île Saint-Louis and enjoy a little rest!
Finally a day trip to Versailles or Disneyland Paris will be an amazing addition to every Paris trip with kids.
14. Porto, Portugal
James from the Portugalist: Porto may be a great destination for boutique hotels and boozy Port-tasting sessions, but it’s a surprisingly good destination for families as well.
It’s within easy reach of the beach, which is perfect for families visiting Porto during the summer. Plus, here’ are lots of things in Porto City Center that are worth seeing and doing as well! There is no shortage of great accommodation options, including some hotels that really are family-friendly.
Did you know that J. K. Rowling lived in Porto, and was undeniably inspired by a lot of the city’s architecture and culture? If your kids are Harry Potter fans, then taking them on a tour around all those Harry Potter landmarks (like Livraria Lello and the Majestic Cafe) is an absolute must. While you’re out and about, be sure to check out the city’s fabulous street art as well, this is always a winner with kids.
As well as Harry Potter landmarks and street art, Porto also has several speciality museums that are great for families like the Museu do Carro Electrico (tram museum) and the World of Discoveries museum which showcases the adventurous Portuguese age of discoveries.
Whatever you decide to do, Porto is an incredibly beautiful city and one that you and your family will remember for many years to come.
15. Rome, Italy
Marta from Learning Escapes: we love family city breaks in Europe but there is no city we love exploring more with our kids than Rome. The Eternal City is special for visitors and particularly impressive for little ones and their parents: here they find endless opportunities for sightseeing and copious amounts of Pizza and gelato, likely to be a hit with very young travelers!
In terms of sights, two of the most famous in the city are suitable for all ages:
- The Colosseum: with its immense size and gladiator stories it never fails to impress children a
- St. Peter’s Square: this is often mentioned by our kids as a highlight, crossing an international border on foot is not something they do every day!
As well as important historical landmarks, Rome offers to its visitors large green spaces and cool play areas. On a sunny day, large inner city parks such as Villa Borghese offer refuge from the traffic with playgrounds, a large pond and Rome zoo.
If rain hits, kids and adults can stay dry in Explora, Rome’s children museums with attractions suitable from babies (they have a soft play area for under 3 years) to teenagers. Rome truly is great for families, in all seasons!
16. Salzburg, Austria
Vrushali from Couple of Journeys: one destination that is ideal for your trip to West Europe with kids is Salzburg. Places that kids particularly enjoy in this culturally rich city are:
Hohensalzburg Fortress: one needs to take a funicular to travel to the top of this fortress. Kids find the short journey particularly amusing and because the frequency of the funicular is fantastic, parents don’t have to wait with impatient kids in long queues. The fort offers breathtaking views of Salzburg. The museums on the Fortress also provide educational value to the inquisitive minds of young kids.
Hellbrunn Palace: the unique trick fountains of this palace were designed by its owner to have some fun with his guests. The fountains are operational all through the summer and will surely amuse your kids. The open lawn area next to the palace is ideal for an open-air picnic lunch. Next to the palace area, is the famous Salzburg Zoo where kids get to see a great variety of animals from various regions of the world.
Mozart Residence: kids, even though uninitiated to western classical music, can’t help but admire the many different musical instruments kept here. That Mozart was a child prodigy himself proves to be an added source of inspiration for kids.
The Sound of Music: Salzburg is the city of the timeless classic ‘The Sound of Music’. Kids who have watched the movie are always elated when they get to actually see the locations where the movie was shot.
Altogether Salzburg is a great city for kids and definitely worth a family visit!
17. Seville, Spain
Katy from Untold Morsels: Seville in the Andalusia region of southern Spain is a fun city for a family escape. Lonely Planet nominated the city as the best place to visit in 2018 for good reason.
This is a city with culture, delicious tapas, modern and ancient architecture, parks and much more. Seville has a pedestrianized old town and wide squares that are perfect for wandering with kids.
The most famous of these, the Plaza de España, is a riot of colorful tiles and fountains sure to capture your children’s imaginations. Walk through the adjacent park and along the Guadalquivir river from where Christopher Columbus set sail for the new world. You can also visit his tomb in the city’s famous cathedral.
Eating is fun in Seville. The best thing to do is snack your way around the tapas bars of the city that welcome children of all ages. Don’t forget to try the churros dipped in hot chocolate. Then soak up the culture and enjoy the city’s flamenco heritage.
You will find street performances on street corners and in plazas. Or, for a real treat, take the family to the short and fiery shows at the Flamenco Museum.
18. Valencia, Spain
Jason from An Epic Education: when people plan a trip to Spain, places like Barcelona and Madrid come to mind first. That’s okay with Valencia, Spain’s third-largest city. It doesn’t mind being out of the spotlight. After all, it has plenty of sunshine as it is.
Sitting on the Mediterranean, Valencia is sunny year round, with loads of fun things to do with kids. Let’s start at Turia Gardens, a nine-kilometer strip of green built into a diverted riverbed. Here you’ll find playgrounds, bike rentals, museums, and sports fields.
On the western end of the gardens is Bioparc, one of Europe’s best zoos. On the eastern side is the City of Arts and Sciences. This futuristic squadron of white buildings houses a science museum, a planetarium and an opera house. Next door is the largest aquarium in Europe.
A few minutes’ drive south of the aquarium and you arrive at the Al Bufera nature reserve and the home of paella. It’s here where the rice for Valencia’s most famous export is grown. Yet it’s also a resting point for thousands of migratory birds each year: from ducks to flamingos.
This is just a primer for all Valencia has in store. Throw in the amazing traditional festivals and countless excellent restaurants, and you have everything you need for a spectacular family vacation.
19. Venice, Italy
Catherine from We Go With Kids: our family loved our two-day visit to Venice. We arrived via Thello night train from Paris, which our kids’ favorite sleep over party, ever.
We took the vapretto (Venice water bus) to St. Mark’s Square and walked to our Airbnb. After dropping of our bags we explored Venice on foot for two days.
We visited St. Mark’s and were wowed by the Byzantine architecture, particularly the gold mosaics. My daughter loved chasing pigeons in St. Mark’s Square. Doge’s Palace gave us a glimpse into the lives of Venice’s government leaders and felons and also some stunning Renaissance art and Venetian Gothic architecture.
We also enjoyed wandering through the narrow pedestrian streets and then following the signs back to St. Mark’s. But, the highlight of our time in Venice was our gondola ride that took us under the Rialto Bridge and through Venice’s canals. Venice was a magical city like no others we’ve visited!
20. Vienna, Austria
Linda from Travel Tyrol: there are many reasons why Vienna, the capital of Austria, is one of the best cities to visit in Europe with kids. After all, how can the place that was named the best city to live in nine years in a row not be kid-friendly?
Did you know that Vienna is home to the oldest zoo as well as the oldest amusement park in the world? Both the Schönbrunn Zoo and Prater Park are great hits with kids. But they’re only two of the seemingly endless variety of things to do in Vienna with kids.
Viennese museums all cater for younger visitors. Some, like the Vienna Museum of Technology, focus mainly on keeping future engineers and inventors happy. The best part is that entry to this and many other museums in the city is entirely free for kids.
Even learning about Viennese history is fun for kids with an underground Vienna Time Travel experience. And it’s one of the safest cities to let kids run wild in one of the many beautiful and clean public parks.
I hope this list has inspired you to visit (some) of these beautiful cities in West Europe on you next family vacation, happy travels!