Paris is such a fun city to explore with children.
Paris is such a fun city to explore with children.

Family City Breaks

City breaks, city stopovers or longer holidays in cities can be great for families if well planned. Cities have lots of major attractions, from museums to malls, but being home to many children also have heaps of family-friendly amenities, from playgrounds to restaurants. 

The trick to great city breaks with kids is not to overdo it – stick to a couple of attractions a day, and combine them wisely (a morning in a museum with an afternoon in a park, for instance). See our favourite family city breaks in the UK, Europe, North America, Africa and the Middle East, Asia, and Australia and the Pacific.

Some of the most enjoyable family short breaks combine a couple of days in a city with a day or two at a themepark. Some of our top tried-and-tested city and themepark breaks are:
Barcelona and PortAventura World.
Paris and Disneyland Paris.
Copenhagen and the Tivoli Gardens.

Other favourite family city break destinations are Dublin, Brussels, Rome, Berlin, Amsterdam, New York, Washington DC and San Francisco, along with DubaiSingapore and Hong Kong for stopovers en route to Australia.

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Tips

• Before you choose a city break destination, look at the actual airport served by low-cost airlines – many require a long transfer to the city itself, so the saving can cause more trouble than it’s worth. If you're taking the kids to Paris or Brussels, it's more fun to take the train anyway.

• Take a hop-on hop-off bus tour for an overview of the sights and to pick what you all want to see first/most.

• Think before buying a sightseeing pass – you won’t save money if lots of sights are free for kids, or you end up visiting fewer than hoped. Find out if some attractions are free on given days of the month, and look at websites/in tourist offices for discount vouchers. See our tips on visiting museums with kids.

• Find out what's going on locally ahead of your trip – tourist board websites are a good start.

• Consider taking a lightweight stroller or a by carrier even if your child no longer uses one at home – younger ones may still get tired, even in compact cities. If you're going to use public transport, find out about multi-day family passes to save you money.

• Pack picnics for days out – your children won’t want to sit down for proper meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Many museums have indoor picnic spaces.

• Research family-friendly eating options at or close to attractions on your itinerary to save heading for the nearest in desperation.

• Think about booking an apartment for greater space and to save money on eating out, if only at breakfast. Accommodation close to the centre is best for families, but do have a look at review sites to see if your chosen accommodation has noise issues. 

• If you want to sample local nightlife, find out if your accommodation organises babysitting  (most require at least 24 hours’ notice).

• Look for accommodation with a pool – a useful energy-burner (and reward!) after sightseeing, especially with younger kids.

• Keep your eye out for weekends offers – many hotels popular with business travellers during the week struggle to fill rooms Friday to Sunday.

See also our dedicated family city break tips page.

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