With Christmas around the corner, city breaks are the perfect family bonding experience. European cities are full of family friendly restaurants, hotels and activities. The Little Steps Asia crew has prepared a list of our favorite European cities for a great, low-stress family holiday! Flight times from Asia vary but expect a 12 hour trip to your destination of choice. Have you booked your tickets yet?
Fairy tale castles, inspiring landscapes, brilliantly colored buildings and a culture where children and adults are treated as equals makes Copenhagen one of the first stops in Europe to visit with kids. Housing the two oldest amusement parks in the world, Copenhagen is a kid friendly city that will have you wanting to stay forever. The Blue Planet; Denmark’s national aquarium is the largest in Northern Europe and is sure to thrill kids and parents alike with their walls of water and over 20,000 animals. Not only does Copenhagen house a science center, zoo, children’s museum and one of the world’s largest open air museums but also offers carefully laid out parks throughout the city so the young ones can run wild and free.
Vienna is one of Europe’s most beautiful capital cities and a place where merrymaking and Christmas celebrations are taken seriously. Kids will love it! There are events held across the city that range from markets held in the shadow of wonderful Baroque architecture and concerts in some of the greatest venues in the world, to art installations and Christmas ballets. Don’t miss to check out the Belvedere Palace Christmas Market, go ice skating outside the Konzerthaus and watch a ballet performance at the Staatsoper.
Munich in December is magical. At Marienplatz, a four-story evergreen tree glows with Christmas lights, kids can ice skate with bears at Karlstor and Christmas market stalls are filled with toys, ornaments, sweets, chocolates and spice cookies. Store windows are decorated with winter scenes and live Christmas music fills the air! Santa’s in red suits and long white beards arrive on bicycles. When fluffy snowflakes begin to fall, it completes this winter wonderland.
From the Tower of London to the Changing of the Guard, there’s much in London that will bring history to life; plus, most of its museums are free to enter. Make sure you go to the West End for the latest shows. “Matilda” and “The Railway Children” will be big hits with children. The Royal Opera House is an unforgettable experience, especially during Christmas. For a luxurious and unique afternoon tea experience, The Ritz London is the place to go. On Christmas Day, children receive gifts from Father Christmas.
It’s always a good idea to visit Amsterdam with the family but the holiday season is a wonderful time to be in the city. The Dutch know how to make the most of the holiday season! Christmas markets, the Dutch Ice Sculpture Festival, Ice skating and The Christmas Show will keep the whole family entertained. Don’t miss to visit Vondelpark (Amsterdam’s most famous park) and experience the wonders of the canals of Amsterdam by boat tour! The beautiful and unique canal houses can be best admired from the water and the great part is that you won’t be getting your little one’s feet tired. If you are visiting with older kids (over 10yrs old) a visit to the Anne Frank House is a must!
Mediterranean cities are great and Gaudi’s city is the perfect mixture of big city life and beach holiday that makes it the ideal destination for a family vacation. The city of Gaudí with its stunning architecture, the many green spots, the colorful playgrounds, the lovely tapas restaurants, the beaches and the many interesting sights will impress parents as well as children. Regardless of the weather, you will never be bored in Barcelona!
Stockholm has a unique reputation among all other European capitals and winter turns the Scandinavian capital into a Christmas card pretty city! From late November until just before Christmas Eve, stalls selling Christmassy bits and bobs set up on Stortorget, the Old Town’s main square. For a more traditional Christmas vibe, with lots of handmade gifts, sweets and the traditional glogg, head to the Christmas market at Skansen, where all the fun activities for kids take place as well.
Prague offers the perfect setting for the festive season, with its stunning castle, a UNESCO heritage site, the Old Town and Charles Bridge lit up like Christmas trees. The Prague Christmas markets are open daily at the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. A ‘Winter wonderland’ waits, for families to soak up the festive atmosphere. You can browse the stalls and enjoy Christmas carols, hearty food and hot wine. Not your cup of tea? Catch a puppet show or visit the Prague Zoo!
The season leading up to Christmas is a light-filled festive time in Rome that can provide an ideal backdrop for an enchanting vacation with kids. Beside its great museums, on-going exhibits, and the ancient Rome landmarks, there are several annual Christmas events that are not to be missed. While in Rome don’t miss to visit the Piazza Navona Christmas Market, check out Little Big Town toy shop, the largest toy shop in Italy and don't miss the XVII Golden Circus Festival Edition with performers from around the world that is great fun for kids!
The world’s most northern capital city is a great family destination with plenty of interesting activities all year round. Whether it’s splashing around in a thermal pool, trying on Viking armor or viewing some of the largest mammals on Earth at close range. There’s fun to be had for all ages in the city. Locals are also very open to youngsters; you’ll find a high chair in every café and see babies sleeping in their strollers outside on the sidewalk while their parents are inside! Family Heaven!