by Sally Peck, The Telegraph, April 4, 2018
City breaks are the perfect family bonding experience – they’re a great low-stress option for half-term - and Europe is full of child-friendly restaurants, hotels and activities. Here are our favourite cities for children of all ages.
With playgrounds and glorious parks in every neighbourhood, London has plenty to entertain young visitors. Its vast range of museums and sporting venues make it a winner for teens, too.
From the Tower of London to the Changing of the Guard, there’s much in London that will bring history to life; plus, most of its museums are free to enter.
Forget any trips you made to Amsterdam pre-children. Actually, you probably already have. Happily, there is far more to Amsterdam than coffee shops and the red light district; in fact, it's the ideal place for kids.
Start by touring the city by boat or bicycle. The Van Gogh museum is unmissable (buy tickets ahead to avoid queuing), and for children of mid-primary school age and upwards, the Anne Frank House offers unforgettable insight into the horrors of war - read this brave girl's diary as a family ahead of the trip.
Dutch food will please even the fussiest eaters (who doesn't like pancakes and chips?) In fact, Amsterdam may be the most easy-going family city destination in Europe. If you've got extra time, why not squeeze in a side-trip to Efteling, Holland's favourite theme park - and the best for under-8s in Europe, according to our reviewer.
Disney's sappy happy endings have no place in Copenhagen; here, the fairy tales take a darker and altogether more fascinating turn. From the sad mermaid in the harbour to the magical Round Tower, with its equestrian staircase, there is plenty of food for thought.
Tivoli, Copenhagen's amusement park, open since the days of Hans Christian Andersen, features a handful of adrenaline rides, but also flower gardens, funfair booths, a lake, good dining venues and a romantic air in the evenings.
Luckily, Copenhagen is so compact, that you can easily drag the children around town - and some spectacular castles are just half an hour's train ride away.
Skip serious Vienna in favour of Salzburg, where you can throw yourself into full-on Sound of Music appreciation (see below for a review of the B&B housed in the real von Trapp family's house). Swallow your pride and head to Residenzplatz, where you can begin a horse-drawn ride, singing Do Re Mi through the centre of the Old Town on a 25-minute tour.
If you really want to spoil the children, hop on a bus to the outskirts of Salzburg and visit Hellbrunn Palace, a 17th-century villa with fabulous gardens designed by Markus Sittikus von Honenems, Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg.
A tour of the water game-filled estate reveals this eccentric man to have been a practical joker determined to soak his guests. Expect to get wet.
It is not unusual to find Icelandic babies sleeping in their prams outside of shops in Reykjavik, so safe and friendly is this city.
Venture beyond the city limits for once-in-a-lifetime experiences of the wonders of the natural world: thermal hot springs, many with special children's sections, the Northern Lights, and myriad adventures with Icelandic horses, whale watching, and hiking. This is the ultimate city break for active families.
Photo by vwalakte/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images
When travelling as a family, all roads should lead to Rome. This capital of ancient history, fantastic cuisine, and stunning beauty will please even the grumpiest travellers.
Coordinate with the school curriculum, and trips to the Vatican or the Colosseum will seem like an investment in your child's academic future - with breaks for gelato and Roman pizza (extra points if you take a side-trip to Naples, to determine which city has superior pies).
Banish all thoughts of Oktoberfest. You're not here to drink or to flirt with be-dirndled ladies; you have come to the Bavarian capital to revel in handcrafted toys - not beer.
From the Toy Museum to the Deutsches Museum, one of the largest and oldest science museums in the world, you will find hundreds of child-centred activities in Munich.
Disney fans will want to visit Neuschwanstein Castle, the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty's pad. After all that, you've probably earned yourself a few hours in one of Munich's many beer gardens where, luckily, children are welcome.
From fire-eaters on La Rambla to the ever-present Gaudi, Barcelona offers everything that is most charming about Mediterranean cities - a relaxed pace, months of endless sunshine, unbeatable food - plus, whenever you tire of urban life, you can always collapse on the city's fine stretch of beach.
Sweden's capital is bursting at the seams with things to lure children: from the World of Pippi Longstocking amuseument park or a casual stroll right by the royal palace, to the ever-present cinnamon and cardamom buns.
Spend a day island hopping and the whole family will be charmed by the irresistable allure of Stockholm's island districts, which are bound together by bridges and ferries. To save on your trip, purchase a Stockholm Card.
Overlooking the turquoise waters of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik, a Unesco World Heritage Site, is one of the planet's most magnificent walled cities; it is the perfect family city break to combine history and activity. Why not climb the city walls in the morning, and take in the coastline from the comfort of your own kayak in the afternoon?
Ok, we were a bit dismissive of dear old Vienna in number 4. And it is not the capital of levity. But Vienna regularly wins "best quality of life for families" awards and is the absolute best city in the world to bring your budding musician: 15,000 concerts are staged there each year. And from the famed Boys Choir to Mozart operas with marionettes, there is great musical joy to be had - and plenty of pastries and coffeehouses to ensure that no one loses steam along the way. Here is how to design the perfect family trip to Vienna.
Rarely too hot or cold, fairytale Lisbon, with its century-old wooden trams and iron funicular, is a child-pleasing year-round destination. After winding through the medieval streets of Lisbon's most ancient neighbourhood, Alfama, twist up to the city's Moorish pinnacle, and then perhaps consider a day-trip to the cool seaside suburb of Cascais.