Nothing else will inspire kids to travel like the history of their favourite fairytales. Step back in time following the footsteps of kings and queens, wander ancient palaces and medieval towns, and hear the stories that have inspired countless fairytales while exploring hand-in-hand.
Travelling with kids doesn’t have to mean beach breaks, theme parks and too much candy. Family travel can be an immersive, educational and entertaining experience that brings you closer as you discover the real-life Disney castles, unreal landscapes and fairytale destinations. Better yet, booking your family holiday as a guided tour means mum and dad can relax and focus on what matters most – quality time and creating memories. Here are 10 child-friendly fairytale destinations to explore as a family.
Chillon Castle, Switzerland
Sitting pretty on the shores of Switzerland’s Lake Geneva, the magnificent Chillon Castle has stood guard here since the 11th century. Fans of the Little Mermaid might recognise the structure as the inspiration behind Prince Eric’s fantastical animated palace in the hit fairytale movie. Kids will love crossing the small bridge to the castle island and stomping about the grounds of the impressive structure. Just picture Ariel popping her head up in search of the Prince!
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There’s nothing like the lure of Santa to inspire kids to travel abroad. Take the kids for a snowy adventure into Finnish Lapland. The summer months are gorgeous, but winter is when the fairytale destination really shines with thick snow-covered trees, Huskies dashing about on sleds and the glistening Northern Lights are most likely to appear.
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Germany’s financial heart is loaded with unexpected charm. Frankfurt’s old town square is straight out of a fairytale and will inspire kids to travel in a heartbeat. If you squint your eyes just right expect characters to leap off the page and into real life, wandering past the tall buildings. The Grimm brothers, famous for tales including Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, grew up just outside the German city and it’s easy to see the influence. Do you know the real, darker Grimm fairytales? Older kids will love hearing the true versions of these tales.
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Krzywy Domek, Poland
Want to feel like you’re part of a real-life animated fairytale? Poland’s Krzywy Domek, a famous house in Sopot, was designed using illustrations from old Polish fairytales. Built in 2004, the name means “crooked house” and this whimsical, warped location is now home to various shops, restaurants and even a radio station.
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Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
It’s said that Mr Walt Disney himself saw Bavaria’s imposing Neuschwanstein Castle on a tour of Europe with his wife in 1935. Inspire kids to travel to see the 19th-century castle yourself and admire the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s famous candy-hued castle. This castle was originally built as a summer home for King Ludwig II of Bavaria, but he passed away in 1886 before construction was complete. Now a worldwide symbol of romanticism, some 1.4 million visitors pass by the iconic spires each year.
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Imaginations will run wild in the otherworldly landscapes of Cappadocia. One of Turkey’s great natural wonders, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to cities carved into the rock and tall “fairy chimney” rock formations that dot the landscape. Surprise the kids with a magical hot air balloon experience and watch them enjoy the spectacle of hundreds of balloons rising.
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The birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen, Odense is at the heart of many fairytales that we know and love. Wander the streets looking for the famous Little Mermaid statue, or pick up a copy of the beloved Danish writer’s tales such as the Princess and the Pea.
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Mont Saint-Michel, France
The rocky island of Mont Saint-Michel rises from the sand off the northwest coast of France. Back in 798 A.D the Benedictine Abbey was built here, and Disney fans might find the sight somewhat familiar. In Tangled, animators based Rapunzel’s parents’ fairytale castle on this tiny Normandy town. While historically it was hard to reach at high tide, now a bridge makes it easy to inspire kids to travel there and explore this fairytale destination.
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Chiang Mai, Thailand
This bucket list event is another one for Disney’s Tangled fans. The skies above Chiang Mai fill with thousands of glowing orange paper lanterns for the Yi Peng festival once per year. On the full moon of the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar, thousands of lanterns are released into the sky. It’s a spectacular scene that might make you want to burst into song singing “I See the Light”. In Thai culture, the lanterns are a way of letting go of negative things from the past year and inviting the positive in.
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Pena Palace, Portugal
The bright, fun yellow-and-red Pena Palace looks straight out of a Disney movie. Inspired by German Romantic architecture, this 19th-century palace is filled with dramatic features from ornamental buttresses to scary gargoyles. Set atop the highest hill in Sintra, kids will love running around the expansive terraces and the lush green gardens. You can even take a horse-and-cart ride through the grounds.
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Ready to inspire the kids to travel with an unforgettable trip? Let us know which fairytale destinations are at the top of your list in the comments below…