10+ Amazing city breaks for families including bucket list destinations, and classics such as London and Rome – the ideal list for weekend breaks with kids.
City breaks for families should be embraced. Describing ancient Rome to your kids is so much easier when you are inside the Colosseum, Barcelona no longer becomes just a football club, and tapas become something they enjoy eating. Talk about World War Two or the Cold War at home and you will probably be ignored – however, at Checkpoint Charlie, it’s a different story.
City Weekend Breaks with Kids is the best way for our children to understand different cultures, taste new foods and enjoy some quality family time. You will be together 24/7 without kids’ clubs, pool games and only each other to talk to. Sitting down for a nice meal at the end of a day’s sightseeing, and listening to your kids describing the highlights of their day is very rewarding.
However, there are only so many museums kids can take. You do need to make sure there are some ‘cool’ things for them to see too. I have some tips for taking kids on city breaks which you might find useful, and in my list below, you will find my top ten city breaks for families.
The Best Short Breaks for Families Worth Adding to Your Bucket List.
Finding short breaks kids will love can be sometimes a challenging task, especially when there are 101 things to do in each city that you visit. Sometimes it is nice to find a destination that is easy to explore in 1-2 days. Below is a list of some of my favourite cities that are easy to visit with your little ones when you are under a little bit of time pressure.
1. London – One of the Best Short Family Breaks
One of my favourite things about London is the city’s layout. Most of the major attractions are within close proximity of each other, or so it seems, with their extensive public transport system. As a result, London is the ideal destination for those on a time crunch.
There is also plenty to do to keep the little ones entertained, from the Harry Potter Studio Tour – a must-see for Harry Potter Fans (even more so than Universal Studios) to the London Dungeon or Tower Bridge.
And if your kids are like mine, they will love seeing Big Ben and taking a spin on the London Eye.
Another bonus is flights tend to be relatively cheap to London when flying from other European destinations.
2. Barcelona – One of the Weekend Breaks for Families
Barcelona is another fantastic place to visit for those looking for some short family breaks with Kids. The city is extremely easy to navigate and allows you to tick off some of the major highlights in just 1-2 days.
Your kids will love the vibrant atmosphere that Barcelona has to offer, they will adore Park Güell for its fairytale-like architecture, the magic fountain from its evening light display and Barcelona Zoo, where they can visit over 4000 animals in one day.
Besides, what other city has incredible beaches, one of the biggest football clubs in the world, delicious tapa bars and Europe’s largest theme park – PortAventura World.
Barcelona definitely ticks all boxes for a family city break. It can get very crowded in July and August so my advice is to go off-peak, and if you can spare some time, I recommend adding PortAventura to your itinerary.
3. Verona – A Quaint City Break with Kids
Verona is not a city people typically think of when looking to book Family City Breaks in Europe but I highly recommend you add it promptly to your bucket list.
There is so much to do and see, from visiting the home of Romeo and Juliet, where your kids can see the famous balcony with their own eyes and even leave a note of love on the wall. Or, admiring the incredible structure of the Verona Colosseum. Verona is also home to some picturesque gardens such as Giardino Giusti and Giardino Giardino with plenty of green spaces for children to run and play. Oh, and don’t forget to try some delicious local ice cream.
Verona is also the gateway to Lake Garda, making it a good choice for families looking for a city break within easy reach of holiday resorts and the Italian countryside.
Like most cities in Italy, children will receive a warm welcome in Italian bars and restaurants and the city has ‘holiday resort’ feel because of its proximity to Lake Garda and Gardaland.
Gardaland and Peppa Pig Land are must-visits and are less than 30 minutes from Verona. Packed with rollercoasters, water rides and shows, it is a great day out for all the family. There are plenty of sports activities and boat trips available on Lake Garda too.
Iconic Family Weekend Breaks
The next set of city breaks with kids on our list features some absolute must-visit destinations. These iconic cities have earned their fame for good reason and with plenty of things to see and do I have no doubt you will be itching to book flights.
4. Berlin – One of the Best Kids Weekend Breaks for Unforgettable Memories
Berlin, Germany, offers an array of kid-friendly activities. So, much so, you could easily spend a week here. The DDR museum is a good choice for families as it is an interactive museum where kids are encouraged to touch things and interact, while Checkpoint Charlie will be popular with teenagers, they can even get their photo taken with armed guards!
The National History Museum has three huge dinosaur skeletons, including the largest skeleton in the world, and there are numerous technology and science museums that are very child friendly. Berlin also has a Lego Discovery Centre, a fantastic Zoo, and if travelling in the Summer, the outdoor waterpark at Friedrichstein is worth a visit.
There are also many wonderful walks to enjoy while visiting Berlin, including the East Side Gallery which showcases some colourful street art and Tiergarten Park for some outdoor fun.
5. Lisbon – The Perfect Family City Break
I love Lisbon and we had a super time there recently. There is so much to see and do, especially activities the kids will adore. I recommend taking a Tuk Tuk or Tram tour to see most of the highlights. Lisbon can be hilly in places so this keeps the children and your feet happy! And dont forget to visit Europe’s largest Aquarium – the kids will love it.
For all my Irish readers, Lisbon is easily accessible, with Aer Lingus, Ryanair and TAP Air Portugal all offering daily flights from Ireland. I love that the city is by the sea, especially as it tends to have warm weather, but its great to have the choice of a beach day as well as exploring its pretty old town.
If time allows, I recommend visiting the beachside town of Cascais or taking a train to nearby city of Sintra. The fairytale-like Pena Palace is like a Disney Castle, and if time allows visit Quinta de Regaleira too. It is full of dungeons and dragons – my kids thought they were in Hogwarts and loved it.
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6. Rome – The Family City Break Your Children Will Fall in Love With.
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Rome is one of the most amazing family City Breaks in Europe. Your kids will simply fall in love with all there is to do in Rome. From recognising the iconic architecture from famous movies to exploring the city’s history and culture. Rome is like one big open air museum.
Most tours are child friendly, and If you are looking for something unique to do with children then check out the Golf Cart tour. For children age 5 and above the Vespa tour is a great choice, my kids loved it!
I have a detailed guide on where best to stay while visiting Rome.
7. Paris – The Ultimate Family City Break
Disneyland Paris is a reason in itself to warrant an inclusion on this list of best city breaks for families. We visited Disneyland Paris at Christmastime and it was magical. However, there are also plenty of other things that kids will love, particularly the Eiffel Tower and a cruise on the Seine.
A Parisian food tour is a great way to see the city on foot and gives kids something to look forward to, as you stop in various chocolate and pastry shops along the way.
8. Copenhagen – One Best City Breaks With Kids for the Winter Season
Copenhagen is one of the best city breaks for families during the Halloween break or at Christmas time. Tivoli Gardens, the world’s oldest theme park is home to roller-coasters, family rides, an aquarium, restaurants and has regular fire work displays. Safe to say you kids will have a blast on their trip to Copenhagen.
It closes down for weeks before Halloween and Christmas to prepare for the festivities and is decorated with 120,000 lights. It is a magical experience for the family.
There are plenty of things to do in Copenhagen all year round, from visiting the Little Mermaid Statue, to taking a colourful boat ride down the Canals of Nyhavn, or visiting to the local zoo. It might also be worth considering combining Copenhagen with a trip to Legoland – it is 3 hours by train from Copenhagen to Billund.
Best City Breaks for Families – Long Haul
Below are two of my favourite long-haul city breaks for families that I couldn’t resist adding to the list. If you have a few more days to spare I highly recommend checking out both New York and Dubai.
9. New York – The Most Famous City Break for Families
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Older kids will want to shop, younger kids will think they are in the movies, and as for adults, well you will just be happy to be in New York. Climb to the Top of the Rock, go ice skating in Central Park, take a tour of the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier, and pay a visit to the massive Lego Store at the Rockefeller Centre. They are just a small sample of what families will enjoy in New York.
TOP TIP: If you plan on shopping and are bringing a relatively empty suitcase, pack a cheap scooter from your local toy shop. Kids will love to scoot around the city and if you have to leave it there, so be it!
10. Dubai – The Alternative Family Getaway
Waterparks galore, Palm Island, aquariums, desert safaris, and even skiing – there is nothing you can’t do in Dubai. They have just opened the world’s largest indoor theme park and it is a whopping 1.5 million square feet!
Being completely enclosed, it will offer a welcome relief from the hot temperatures. Expect a Dinosaur adventure zone, MARVEL superhero zone with thrilling rides, live shows, movies and lots more.
Of course in Dubai, kids will love to spend time on some of the world’s best beaches. We had a fabulous few days in Dubai with the kids, it is certainly one of my top recommendations for city breaks for families.
I hope my top ten city breaks for families will help you plan a trip away soon. While every effort is made to ensure accuracy, attractions are subject to change. Some of the links in this post contain affiliate links, where I receive a small commission if a booking is made, but at no additional charge to you.