City breaks, or even longer holidays in cities, can be highly enjoyable for the whole family if planned carefully. In addition to ‘typical' tourist attractions like museums, monuments and parks, it's worth bearing in mind that cities are also home to children and therefore have a wide range of facilities to offer your family. We've researched a number of cities for you and you can visit these guides now for further info:
London, Edinburgh, Brighton, Manchester, Liverpool
Paris, Rome, Venice, Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Brussels
New York, Washington
Getting there – there are very frequent flights to European cities (and New York) from most UK airports. There is often a choice of airport at the destination. Lower cost airlines sometimes drop you off at airports up to two hours transfer from the desired city. So think carefully about the hassle involved with a longer transfer before opting for what may be an otherwise less expensive alternative.
Consider the train – if you're visiting Paris, Brussels (or even Bruges) or Amsterdam and live in London or the South East then Eurostar is both faster and significantly more ‘family friendly'.
From the airport - Generally public transport is fast, reliable and inexpensive in European capitals and getting to your accommodation centre should be easier than it would be for a family visiting London. Many European cities offer a multi-day family transportation pass which can prove highly cost effective.
Where to stay - Most European cities are compact, especially compared to London, and many have extensive pedestrianised street sections. And, at weekends, hotel prices can be reasonable. It's worth finding accommodation as close to the centre as possible if your children are young. On the other hand, with older kids and for those on smaller budgets staying on the outskirts and commuting can work fine too.
Hotels or apartments - Choose carefully between staying in hotel and apartments. Hotels can rarely guarantee interconnecting rooms and opting for a larger family room is a big evening constraint (unless the hotel can offer baby listening services or it's small enough for your monitor to work). Nevertheless, hotels often have a range of facilities that you would not necessarily find with self catering accommodation. Swimming pools, for example, are a great way to finish off a day of sightseeing or make up for rain. By contrast, self catering is often less expensive, apartments are becoming increasingly hotel-like with similar facilities, and you're likely to have both a kitchen (or kitchen area) and living area. We recommend a number of apartment options in our city guides. Click here to check availability with our partners Booking.com, and save up to 50% at a wide range of city hotels and apartments.
Itinerary – jam packed city breaks with children can be exhausting for everyone. Limit your plans to a couple of attractions a day and combine a morning in a museum with an afternoon in a park.
Getting around - Many European cities offer a multi-day family transportation pass which can prove highly cost effective. If you have young children consider taking either a lightweight stroller or even just a carrier or sling. Busy streets and public transportation are not on the X-mas card list of a large and heavy pram.
A good compromise - Consider combining a few days in a city with others visiting or staying at a theme park. Barcelona and Universal Mediterranea, Paris and Disneyland or even a weekend in Copenhagen with an afternoon spent at Tivoli are good examples.
Learn what's going on - Invariably a wide variety of events are likely to be taking place in the city you have chosen to visit. It's worth investing the time and energy to find out what's going on and when. You'll find links from within our city guides to upcoming events.