Packed with historical cities and towns, culture and architecture, Europe is a wonderful place for a family vacation. With so many countries with a diversity of food, landscapes and cultures, choosing the best family holiday destinations in Europe can be confusing.
Whether you’re traveling with one-, two-, three- kids or a whole brood, from the beaches of Portugal to the forests of Finland, there are so many places to visit in Europe for your family travel bucket list. Where do you start? Here are 10 of the best family holiday destinations in Europe to get you and the kids excited.
Best Family Holiday Destinations in Europe
For most people, Portugal is a holiday destination with lovely weather, great beaches and good food but you might be surprised at how much fun a trip to Portugal is for the kids. Besides swimming and playing the beach, visiting zoos and aquariums, there’s a host of attractions in Portugal that makes it one of the best family holiday destinations in Europe.
Best city for kids: Lisbon is a colourful city that should be on everyone’s European itinerary, especially if you’re planning to visit for two weeks or longer. The family will enjoy exploring the historical monuments, parks and gardens. Taking instagram photos is a fun way for the whole family to enjoy a destination, especially in a places as lovely as Lisbon. For inspiration, check out these fantastic photos of Lisbon’s best instagram spots.
Don’t miss these things in Portugal for kids:
- Take a fun trip on a historic tram in Lisbon or in Porto
- Ride a gondola in Porto
- Explore the caves Grutas de Mira de Aire
- Taste traditional Portuguese custard cakes Pasteis de Nata
Looking for somewhere to stay? Check out this list of B&Bs for families in Europe
Italy is a family friendly country all round and you’ll find the Italians are truly welcoming of kids, which makes it easily one of the best family holiday destinations in Europe.
Best city for kids: The best place in Italy for families is Rome, a historic city packed with adventures and educational experiences for kids of all ages. Fun attractions to see in Rome with kids are visiting the Pantheon and making a wish at the Trevi Fountain.
Your kids will love pretending to be a gladiator for a day and exploring the Colosseum.
Don’t miss these things in Italy for kids:
- Take a day trip to Bomarzo Monster Park (near Rome) to see the mythological statues
- Scoot Through Rome on a Vintage Vespa
- Join one of the Rome4Kids family-friendly itineraries, such as scavenger hunt tours and golf cart tours
- Eat pasta and gelato in a Roman restaurant
From zoos to fun parks, the Netherlands best family holiday destinations in Europe for its long list of excellent attractions, including markets, gardens, squares and water sports. Zoos to put on your list are Blijdorp, Dolfinarium Safaripark Beekse Bergen, GaiaPark, and the Apenheul. With amusement parks such as Madurodam, Neeltje Jans, and Efteling, there’s hours of fun for the family.
Best city for kids: Amsterdam is a scenic city for sightseeing, with lovely canals and lots of bicycles!
Don’t miss these things in the Netherlands for kids:
- A canal cruise in Amsterdam is lots of fun
- Visit a “speltuins” (playgrounds) which are found in most neighborhoods
- See the animals at The Artis Royal Zoo in the city center of Amsterdam
- Outside of Amsterdam, the Amstelpark has gardens, an enormous playground and petting zoo.
As the only European country that shares a border with Africa, Spain is a one of the coolest family holiday destinations in Europe for kids. Spain is separated from Africa by the Straits of Gibraltar.
Best city for kids: Barcelona is one of the best beach cities in Europe and has amazing buildings by Gaudi that most kids will love! Here are some of the best places in Barcelona for sightseeing.
Don’t miss these things in Spain for kids:
- Visit Valencia’s futuristic ‘Museum of Sciences’ complex and explore the old town
- Go back in time in Granada at the historic Alhambra
- Taste Chocolate con Churros, which is hot and very thick chocolate drink with sweet fried pastry
- Attend the ‘Tomatina’ festival in Buñol where the world’s biggest food fight happens when people throw tomatoes at each other before the running of the bulls
Norway’s fjords are even more beautiful than they look in the brochures. Seeing such amazing scenery is a balm for the soul for anyone of any age. UNESCO World Heritage Listed Nærøyfjord is one of the most popular fjords in Norway but there are so many other wonderful fjords to see besides that one. Here’s a great Norway travel guide to plan your trip.
Best city for kids: Bergen is a colorful storybook town that looks like it’s straight out of a fairytale.
Don’t miss these things in Norway for kids:
- Take a boat ride in Oslo or get outdoors on a bicycle
- Go on a cruise of the fjords from Bergen
- Ride the Flam Railway for one of world’s most beautiful train journeys along with these other fantastic things to do in Flam.
- Learn to ski or snowboard in Lillehammer
- Stay in an igloo hotel in Northern Norway
- See the Northern Lights
Famous for chocolate, waffles, beer and French fries, Belgium is a perfect place to explore with the family and certainly one of the best family holiday destinations in Europe for the taste buds. Tasting praline chocolates in the city where it was invented is really cool for kids of all ages (Praline chocolates were invented by Jean Neuhaus in Brussels in 1912).
Did you know that the town of Spa in Belgium is where the word ‘spa’ came from? Since ancient Roman times, people used to seek out the healing waters of the town.
Best city for kids: Brussels is a memorable city to holiday with kids in Europe for its UNESCO World-Heritage Sites and great food.
Don’t miss these things in Belgium for kids:
- Visit the Grand Palace, which is in one of the best city squares in Europe
- Check out the Manneken-Pis’ bronze statue and the magnificent Van-Burgen Garden’s maze
- Eat waffles or fries (while Mom and Dad drink Belgium’s famous beers) in a café – the three main kinds of Belgian waffles are Liege waffles (similar to cookies), Brussels waffles (eaten with strawberries or ice cream) and thinner galettes.
From the world’s oldest amusement park to the world’s largest ice cave, Austria is one of the best family holiday destinations in Europe for fans of the Sound of Music. From salt mines to dinosaur parks, Austria’s attractions are eye-popping to the little ones.
Best city for kids: Salzburg is very family friendly and small enough to manage when you’re traveling with kids. The city of Mozart and home to the Von Trapp family in Sound of Music, Salzburg is a delightful destination in Europe for families.
Don’t miss these things in Austria for kids:
- Visit Schönbrunn Palace and join a specially designed children’s tour to the maze and Schonbrunn Palace Tiergarten Zoo
- ZOOM Children’s Museum is where children can participate in exhibitions and events
- Travel back to ancient Rome at Carnuntum archaeological park
- Discover the fairy tale world of Dachstein Caves, including the Ice Cave
- See a puppet show at the Salzburg Marionette Theatre (according to WorldWanderingKiwi this is one of THE best puppet theatres in the world!)
- Take a trip to the Hallein Salt Mine near Salzburg
- Take a funicular ride to the Hohensalzburg fortress
- The Sound of Music Tour of the locations where the musical was filmed
Croatia is one of the best family holiday destinations in Europe for water babies. Pack sunscreen and choose for a holiday in the sun. Croatia is also one of the safest family destinations in Europe.
Best city for kids: Split is the perfect city to visit with young kids as it’s small and has plenty of charm with lots to see and do for families. Here are some of the best things to do in Split with kids.
Don’t miss these things in Croatia for kids:
- Visiting Split Diocletian palace city center is one of the must-do things for kids in this 1700-year-old town
- Learn about military history and pretend to be a soldier for the day at Klis Fortress
- The playroom at Carobni Grad (Magical City) is fun for the little ones on a rainy day
- Enjoy a day on Znjan beach
- Take a day trip from Split to Vis Island to see the Blue Cave
No matter what your travel style, France is a destination that has something for everyone. If you’re traveling with the kids, there’s definitely plenty to see in Paris and beyond. For a relaxing family vacation check out some of these lesser-known places in Southern France. You may not have heard of Mustier or Bandol and you’ll be surprised how intriguing it can be to explore villages none of your kids’ friends have every heard about.
Best city for kids: You can’t ignore Paris, for the multitude of kid-friendly attractions such as Disneyland Paris, the Eiffel Tower and the Paris Aquarium.
Don’t miss these things in France for kids:
- Spend a day at Paris Disneyland
- Climb the Eiffel Tower
- Go on a road trip to explore the smaller villages of Southern France
- Go on the Louvre tour for kids
- Get a Paris pass for the Hop On Hop Off bus
Looking for more European family holidays? Here are some other ideas.