If you are traveling to or through Europe with the kids, you have likely considered London, Paris, and Barcelona – the top three most visited cities in Europe. But where else should you go? Based on a decade of traveling throughout Europe with our children, these five family-friendly European cities are worth a visit.
Recognized as home to one of the ten best airports in the world, Munich, Germany is one of two European cities I prefer to fly through. Zurich, Switzerland is the other one, and it is also on this list of family-friendly European cities.
Family-friendly things to do in Munich
Spend a day or two exploring the Deutsches Museum, one of the largest science museums in the world. Opened in 1903, the Deutsches Museum attracts more people than any other museum in Germany. Here you can learn about musical instruments, sailing ships, tech toys, and visit a large display on the history of flight, including full-size replicas. Many of the displays are interactive making the Deutsches Museum one of our favourite family-friendly attractions in Europe.
At the Deutsches Museum, there is an on-site cafe, rooftop viewing area, and regularly scheduled free tours. Consider purchasing a guidebook at the gift shop for more detailed information on the museum’s history and approximately 50 exhibition areas.
Visit the Marienplatz, Munich’s historic central square. Here colorful figurines representing stories from Munich’s history perform in a Glockenspiel for over ten minutes at 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. daily. The Glockenspiel is in the tower of the Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall), and the Marienplatz is large, so no worries about arriving early – the performance is easy to see. Between March and October, there is also a show at 5:00 p.m.
The Galeria-Kaufhof Department Store near the Marienplatz has an excellent toy selection. If you shop, be sure to follow the correct process to claim your tax refund – read more about it here.
Visit the famed Hofbräuhaus München, where adults can enjoy a stein of beer and a meal while the costumed servers and oompah band provide the entertainment.
Englischer Garten (English Garden)
Visit Munich’s expansive Englischer Garten, one of the world’s largest urban parks. Here you can take a boat out on a small lake, wander the paths while the kids race around on the grass, and quench your thirst in a family-friendly Biergarten (beer garden). At the southern tip of the park, join the crowds watching experienced Eisbach surfers ride a rolling wave on the 2km Eisbach Creek.
Vienna is one of the most approachable European cities. The excellent transportation, rich culture & history, abundant green space, and walkability mean I often recommend the capital of Austria as one of the most family-friendly European cities.
We have visited Vienna as a family a few times. I collaborated with the Vienna Tourism Board to develop a travel guide highlighting family-friendly things to do in Vienna. Click here to access the article.
Located 2.5 hours from Vienna by train, Budapest, Hungary exceeded our expectations. The architecture, beautiful setting along the Danube River, excellent food, warm locals, and rich history left us longing to spend more time in the Hungarian capital. This post highlights where to eat, stay, and play in family-friendly Budapest.
Zurich’s efficient transportation, lakefront location, and proximity to the mountains make Zurich our other favourite European arrival (and often departure) city. Plus we love to fly SWISS, and with the airline’s central hub in Zurich, we visit the city often.
During the summer, Switzerland’s largest city has a bit of a resort vibe, especially on the weekend, when it seems like everyone is on Lake Zurich. We love to rent a pedalo, tour the lake on a ferry, and visit a lido (beach club). You can read about our other favourite things to do in Zurich here.
Often overlooked by travellers to Italy, Milan is one of my favourite cities. The elegant fashion and finance capital of Italy is rich in culture and sightseeing opportunities but doesn’t feel overrun with tourists. Even when we visited Milan during Expo 2015, the city felt authentic. You can read more about what to do and see in Milan here.
As a gateway to the Italian Lakes, Dolomite Mountains, and the Lombardy region, Milan is an excellent place to spend a few a days before traveling elsewhere in Italy.
Travel Tips Family-Friendly European Cities
- Many of the family-friendly activities listed are appropriate for elementary school-age children and above.
- If you plan to travel throughout Europe by train, you may appreciate these European train travel tips.
Have you visited any of these family-friendly European cities? Are there any others you recommend?