Europe is a treasure trove of historic sites, outstanding museums, and, yes, kid-friendly fun. The culture is unlike any other across the pond and it can be a once-in-a-lifetime (educational) experience for your family. If you’re ready to leave behind the American beaches and theme parks, consider Europe’s 10 best cities for families.
Rich with history and educational value (something your kids don't envision when they think "vacation"), Rome is filled with a ton of must-see landmarks: the Coliseum, Pantheon and Trevi Fountain, to name a few. And once the sightseeing is done for the day, head out for some real Italian food think heaping plates of spaghetti and homemade sauce in quaint restaurants along cobblestone streets.
Recommended Hotel: Albergo del Senato
Of course London
makes our list. This city is a great first-entry visit to Europe because there isn't a language barrier and kids are often well versed on British history (it"s a great chance to bring their history books to life). From London's famed Tower
to its giant merry-go-round Eye
, there is a lot to see and do in the U.K.'s capital city. Check out historical sites, such as Westminster Abbey
and the Imperial War Museum
, which, in Summer 2014, will have exclusive galleries and exhibits for the 100th Anniversary of the First World War.
Recommended Hotel: The Rubens at the Palace
is for romance, but kids will also fall in love with this regal and park-filled capital of France. The Eiffel Tower alone may be enough to conquer their hearts -- after a heavy-duty climb or a smooth ride up its elevator. For the best views of the Eiffel Tower
from afar, climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe
at night. Beside its many museums and attractions, Paris also pleases palettes with delicious food -- think cheese, chocolate and crepes! Make sure to visit the art museums
, too -- you can"t go all the way to Paris without seeing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre Museum!
Recommended Hotel: Hotel Plaza Athenee
A lesser-traveled gem is Austria's capital city
, which is just as alive as its renowned Salzburg. Vienna was the birthplace of classical music and the Hapsburg royal family, which loved opulent decor and fineries still visible today in Vienna's palaces
and museums. But the energetic city also welcomes children with special puppet museums and sand-filled city "beaches." See the city from an even better angle by riding the giant Ferris Wheel at Miraculum in Ferris Wheel Square
Recommended Hotel: Hotel Austria
Although Harry Potter is decidedly English, his start began in a coffeehouse in Scotland's capital city, where JK Rowling penned her first book atop a steep mountain that overlooks the city. From the fort to Arthur's Seat to the underground closes (alleys), the kids will be amazed by this magical city. Before you go, research what festivals will be taking place during your stay you won't want to miss the noteworthy celebrations, such as the Edinburgh International Festival, which takes place in August.
Recommended Hotel: The Howard
Visit the land of leprechauns and fields of green to take in the beauty of Ireland
, but be sure to spend time in Dublin
, where the kids can pick up Irish history through its famous churches (St. Patrick"s Cathedral, for example), museums and structures, including the Spire of Dublin. They'll also enjoy one of the world's oldest zoos
and its connection to the Vikings with an interactive Viking adventure
. The Dublin Castle
is also a great landmark to check out, as it also has connections to the Vikings of the 13th Century.
Recommended Hotel: Fitzwilliam Hotel
What was once a forbidden city
for Westerners has become a fabulous destination for world travelers hoping to teach their kids a deeper world history. Visit Kollwitz Platz, a large playground with wooden toys, or the Berlin Zoo
, the oldest zoo in Germany. We also recommend a boat tour on the River Spree. An added bonus: Hotels in Berlin are not outrageously expensive; you can easily find a room for less than 100 Euros per night.
Recommended Hotel: Abion Spreebogen Waterside Hotel
The candy-colors of the Parc Guell and the lights of the Magic Fountain will have children star struck in this exotic and flavorful city. Enjoy tapas in cafes and outdoor restaurants for hours while trying to figure out how to squeeze all the sites into your trip. The hills are filled with history and all around you is the memorable architecture of the city's greatest 19th Century artist Antoni Gaudi. And if your family is a fan of soccer or should we say futbol -- be sure to check out an FC Barcelona game and the club's museum.
Recommended Hotel: Hotel Roger De Lluria Barcelona
Travel through the city
with ease on public transportation, and save money at the same time -- kids under the age of 6 ride free. You"ll fall in love with the city"s vast rivers and signature chocolates, served in little cafes. You can also experience a piece of the rainforest at the Zurich Zoo
. Most attractions are open year-round, and the snowy winter months offer families a unique chance to ride on wooden toboggans through the breathtaking landscape. Also check out the ice-skating rink at the over-the-top luxurious Dolder Grand
Recommended Hotel: Gstaad Palace
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