Check out my top ten city breaks for families, with plenty of activities for both adults and kids to enjoy.
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, its a different story.
City breaks are the best way for kids 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 days 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.
There is so much to see and do in Berlin, 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. There is also a Lego Discovery Centre, a fantastic Zoo, and if travelling in the Summer, the outdoor waterpark at Friedrichstein is worth a visit.
Read: My travel guide to Berlin
I love Lisbon and we had a super time there recently. It is so 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.
Take a Tuk Tuk or Tram tour to see most of the highlights, and make sure you visit Europe’s largest Aquarium – the kids will love it.
Take the train to nearby 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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There are many great places to dine in Lisbon with kids too – make sure to visit TimeOut Market and LX Factory.
Read: Cascais and the Lisbon Coast
Read: Where to stay in Lisbon – My top pick of 3, 4 and 5 star hotels and apartments
Right on our doorstep, London is a great city for a family break. Check out the London Dungeon and Tower Bridge, visit the Harry Potter Experience, or spend a day in Legoland. And if your kids are like mine, they will love seeing Big Ben and taking a spin on the London Eye.
Read: Top things to do in London with kids and where to stay
So this might seem like a long way to go for a city break, but with so many direct flights from Dublin airport, it is more attainable now than ever. Kids will love seeing Hollywood boulevard, the stars on the sidewalk, as well as their favourite characters dressed up.
It is also home to Universal Studios, Disneyland California and the California Science Centre. We combined a stay in Los Angeles with a great California road trip, it was one of our favourite family holidays.
Read: Our California road trip.
The gateway to Lake Garda, Verona is ideal for city breaks for families. In Verona you can’t miss the amazing amphitheatre and Juliet’s balcony, while kids will love trying water sports on the lake.
Like most cities in Italy, kids will receive a warm welcome in the Italian bars and restaurants, and the city has a ‘holiday resort’ feel to it. For a great day out, take a trip to the nearby theme park, Gardaland and Peppa Pig Land. Packed with rollercoasters, water rides and shows, it is a great day out for all the family.
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.
Read My Paris travel guide – top things to do and where to stay in Paris
Read: Top tips for visiting Disneyland Paris at Christmas time
Where else will you find a beach, one of the biggest football clubs in the world, Europe’s largest theme park, PortAventura, and some of Spain’s best tapas bars? Barcelona definitely ticks all boxes for a family city break. It can get very crowded in July and August so my advice is go off peak, and don’t miss a day out in PortAventura.
Read: 10 reasons to visit PortAventura
Read: Barcelona travel guide – top things to do and where to stay in Barcelona
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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!
Read: 12 things to do with kids in New York
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.
Read: Top tips for family holidays in Dubai
Copenhagen is a great city break during the winter time, particularly at Halloween or Christmas. Tivoli Gardens, the world’s oldest theme park is home to roller-coasters, family rides, an aquarium, restaurants and has regular fire work displays. It closes down for weeks before Halloween and Christmas to prepare for the festivities and is decorated with 120,000 lights. It is magical experience for adults and kids.
Read: My city guide to Copenhagen
So now that you have seen my top ten city breaks for families, let me know which one is your favourite, by commenting below.
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