In the years before we had kids, we travelled extensively through North and South America, Africa and Asia. Are you wondering why we didn’t go to Europe? We intentionally stayed away from Europe as we were saving it for when we had kids. We knew it would be an awesome place to travel with kids, and it turns out we were right! Why is Europe so great for family vacations?
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EUROPE IS SO EASY
Europe is so well traveled that there is a very effective infrastructure in place to make life easy on tourists. For example, there are many direct or easy 1-stop flights to the major tourist cities like London, Paris, Rome and Barcelona from North America.
Planning a trip to London? This post has great list of things to do with kids in London on a budget!
Once you get to your European destination, it’s typically very easy to get around. You generally don’t need to worry about bringing a car seat with you as the rail & subway systems in Europe are world class. There are easy rail connections from the airport to the city center in tourist hubs such as London, Paris, Barcelona and Rome. Most of the time, when you are in the city center you can walk anywhere you wish to go, but on the rare occasion you wish to go further afield, typically a short & easy subway ride will get you there. And if you’d like to learn a bit more about the city while you take in the sights, Hop-on Hop-Off buses are a great choice, plus your kids will love sitting on the open upper deck!
The world can be a little crazy at times, both at home and abroad. Another reason we chose to save Europe for when we had kids was that it is amongst the safest places to travel in the world. In the developing world, it’s not uncommon to encounter some form of danger on a daily basis. During our pre-kid travel days, we had a king cobra in our hotel room in Thailand, a scorpion in our tent in Africa and all kinds of exotic bugs inside our cabin in the Amazon. This kind of stuff just doesn’t happen in clean, safe old Europe!
EUROPEANS LOVE KIDS
Our first trip to Europe with kids was to Barcelona with our 3-month old daughter. We were worried about bringing her to restaurants and attractions in case she cried, but we soon relaxed once we discovered how welcoming the locals were. Almost everywhere we went the locals stopped to look at her, make silly faces, etc.
This phenomenon was not exclusive to Barcelona, in fact almost everywhere we have been in Europe, the locals have gone out of their way to make us and our kids welcome. This is especially true in Italy, where the locals are crazy for kids! Waiters in Rome always made a fuss over the kids, which of course they loved.
My favorite memory happened while we were hiking in Cinque Terre with our kids; a local farmer ran after us on the trail to stop us as he wanted to cut a fresh lemon off the tree for each of our children. We took them home and made the most amazing pasta with them!
IT’S FUN FOR EVERYONE
Another great thing about travelling to Europe is the variety of things to do once you get there. There is so much variety in the attractions and activities in each city that everyone will go home happy.
With history extending back thousands of years, the cultural attractions in Europe are second to none. Don’t feel guilty about dragging your kids to some of the world’s greatest museums. Sure they might be bored for a while, but the experience will be good for them and they’ll be happy when they encounter the subject in school one day.
Besides, culture in Europe is not all about boring paintings and sculptures; many of these cultural attractions have elements the kids will enjoy too!
- The view from the Eiffel Tower (did you know it’s as tall as an 81 story building?!?)
- The British Museum has mummies straight from Egypt.
- The Colosseum in Rome will have every kid imagining a life as a gladiator.
- Gliding down a canal in a gondola in Venice – it’s not just for young couples.
Just for Kids
When travelling with kids, it’s important to have a well-balanced travel experience with them. This means the kids need activities just for them too, ideally every day. This will keep them happy, interested and more willing to do the stuff the parents want to do.
With the importance Europeans put on family life, it’s no surprise there is tons of stuff for kids to do:
- The Barcelona Aquarium is one of the most kid friendly aquariums we’ve ever been to and there are so many more great things to do with kids in Barcelona.
- Have a Harry Potter fan in the family? London is the place to go for fan based tours!
- Do your kids love animals? Virtually every major city in Europe has an excellent zoo.
Not sure where to start? We love this post on how to plan a Europe backpacking trip with kids.
The Great Outdoors
Great cities around the world always make public spaces a priority. When you get a little tired of the hustle and bustle of these big cities, head to one of the world class parks for some tranquility and to give your kids a chance to run around and burn off some steam.
- London’s beautiful St. James Park is full of pelicans, ducks and geese and is a fun stop to enjoy a picnic of takeaway fish n’ chips after visiting Buckingham Palace.
- You may not get to step on the grass at Jardin des Tuileries in Paris, but even your kids will be impressed at the finely manicured trees and hedges as they run through the pathways on your way to the Louvre.
- A quick subway ride from the historic center, the Aqueduct Park in Rome is one of our favorite parks in all of Europe.
As you can see, Europe is one of the best places to travel with your kids. An endless variety of cultures and attractions will keep everyone happy every single time.
This post was sponsored by Air Canada Vacations. The opinions are completely our own based on our family travel experiences.