Many destinations in Europe are fantastic for family travel – but not simply for their abundance of green spaces, exciting museums, or excellent public transport. You’ll find many European destinations are home to a family-oriented culture, where kids are not just tolerated, but celebrated. With philosophies and customs that prioritize family wellbeing and inclusivity, these destinations have integrated family values into the core of their culture and city planning. From Copenhagen to Barcelona, we take a look at eight of the most family-friendly European cities.
1. Edinburgh, Scotland
If fairytales were real, they would probably be set in Edinburgh. With its enchanting castles, narrow winding streets, and sprawling parks, the Scottish capital is a dream come true for adventurous families. Edinburgh offers a rich educational experience, with attractions like the National Museum of Scotland offering exhibits for kids. The city also hosts many festivals, including the iconic Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, with endless opportunities for families to connect with the local culture. And if you’re fans of Harry Potter, you’ll love spotting some of the filming locations like Victoria Street which is the real life Diagon Alley. The Scots place great emphasis on community and family life, making this a warm and welcoming destination for families.
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2. Copenhagen, Denmark
Denmark consistently ranks high in global happiness and quality-of-life indices. Danish culture places a strong emphasis on ‘hygge,’ a concept that roughly translates to coziness and comfort, making family wellbeing a natural part of the local lifestyle. The country’s capital, Copenhagen, is no exception, and it’s one of our favorite family-friendly cities in Europe. There are plenty of things for families to do together, like exploring the cycling paths and green spaces through King’s Garden. You can also find many family-friendly attractions such as the iconic Tivoli Gardens, the world’s second-oldest amusement park.
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3. Barcelona, Spain
Got a beach-loving family? Head to Barcelona in Spain, where you’ll find a mix of beach and city life that’s perfect for families. The golden beaches and green parks like Parc Güell offer stunning locations for outdoor activities. Many of the city’s iconic landmarks, like the Sagrada Familia, offer discounted or free admission for children, making it easier for families to explore without breaking the bank. The Spanish culture itself is very family-oriented, and children are commonly seen participating in all aspects of life, from dining out to late-night strolls with their parents.
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4. Zurich, Switzerland
Often topping the charts for quality of life, Zurich in Switzerland is undoubtedly one of the most family-friendly European cities. You’ll find it easy to navigate the city with kids in tow, with the clean and efficient public transport. Your family will also have plenty of room to roam freely, with green spaces like the Botanical Gardens and Lake Zurich Promenade. If you’re looking for more outdoor adventure, the Swiss Alps are just a stone’s throw away. Zurich is also an educational hub with over 50 museums and more than 100 art galleries. Don’t forget to visit the Lindt Home of Chocolate. With a 29-foot-high chocolate fountain and interactive museum, this is one of the biggest chocolate shops in the world.
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5. Amsterdam, Netherlands
The Netherland’s capital Amsterdam might be famous for its adult-oriented attractions, but it’s also one of the most family-friendly European cities. With lots of pretty cycling paths, lush parks, and cruisy canals, there’s plenty of wide open spaces for your family to enjoy. Places like Vondelpark offer lots of free children’s activities, while many museums, including the Rijksmuseum, have interactive exhibits designed for young minds. Amsterdam also has plenty of kid-friendly cuisine that’s perfect to eat with your hands, such as bitterballen, stroopwafel, kroket, poffertjes, and patat (fries). The Dutch are known for their tolerant and open-minded culture and it’s common to see children playing unsupervised – a testament to the safety and community spirit of the city.
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6. Munich, Germany
Munich is one of the most welcoming cities in Germany for families, largely thanks to its embrace of the German philosophy ‘gemütlichkeit’. Similar to the Danish ‘hygge’, this concept conveys a feeling of warmth and friendliness and emphasizes good living… And that’s exactly what you’ll find in Munich. The city has a unique blend of traditional Bavarian culture and modern living, with excellent public transport to boot. It’s also home to a myriad of parks, including the gorgeous Englischer Garten. You’ll also find plenty of entertaining museums here, like the Deutsches Museum. It’s of the world’s largest science and technology museums that’s as fun for adults as it is educational for children.
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7. Ljubljana, Slovenia
Perhaps one of the lesser-known family-friendly European cities, Ljubljana is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. The capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana is home to an enchanting old town and a pedestrianized city center – perfect for wandering around with little ones. The city offers a relaxed pace that’s ideal for families looking to escape the bustle of major cities. There are dozens of parks and green spaces throughout the city. Head to the pretty Ljubljana River for kayaking, boat rides, or enjoying ice cream on the grassy banks. You can also visit Ljubljana Castle for panoramic views of the city and history lessons. Or wander through the city’s markets for traditional treats like strudel and kremna rezina (cream cake).
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8. Vienna, Austria
Austria’s capital Vienna is another city that’s been ranked as one of the most livable cities in the world… And for good reason. The city is known for its modern amenities and excellent public transport, while retaining it’s stunning old-world charm with regal palaces and cobbled streets. Attractions like Schönbrunn Palace and Hofburg Palace aren’t just historical landmarks but also interactive educational experiences for kids. Vienna’s coffee-house culture also offers much more than delicious Sachertorte and coffee. You’ll find many cafes where children are welcomed with open arms, often with play areas and child-friendly menus. If you’re looking for European cities that are big on family, history and culture, Vienna should be on your list.
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What are your favorite family-friendly European cities? Let us know in the comments below!