Around a year ago I asked many of my favourite mum and dad travel bloggers what their all time best city break was (selfishly filling out my own travel wishlist of course!) and we came up with one of our all time most popular posts – 10 Best Cities for Family Travel .
Some how though, I couldn’t help but feel there were some real gems we were still missing. We’ve put our collective travelling parent minds together again to come up with a sensational new list; so pack your wanderlust and walking shoes, we now present you with the top 20 city breaks for families.
I hope you’ll enjoy our list – tell me, do we have your favourite here now?
Maggie from Milanas Travels
Bangkok is one of our favourite cities to visit with kids. There is so much to see and do, you can easily spend 2 weeks there and still not see everything! Kidzania was a huge hit for my daughter, and she really enjoyed touring the Grand Palace and seeing all the buildings. Lumpini Park is a huge park, in the middle of the city. There you will find multiple playgrounds and giant lizards walking around. It’s definitely a must see!
If you get tired of the heat, head to the Gateway Ekkamai Mall and check out Snow Town, where you can play in real snow. A trip to the Chatuchak weekend market is not to be missed, you can easily spend hours wandering the different stalls! And just behind the market is the Children’s Discovery Museum, which is free and amazing. Thai people love children, and your child will feel like royalty while there. Kids are welcomed everywhere, and all the restaurants were very family friendly. If you have kids, Bangkok should definitely top your list of cities to visit!
Lisa from Travel Loving Family
Copenhagen city is more compact than other major European city break destinations, such as London. It is also very child-friendly with many family attractions located in or close to the centre. The city has an extensive transportation network (train and metro) which we found inexpensive, easy to navigate and very accessible for pushchairs (and wheelchairs) with lifts at every station we visited.
We also found the locals to be very friendly, this is not a surprise given that Denmark is known for being the World’s happiest nation! Just from walking through the shopping district, it is very evident that Danes love children with several large kids shops – the flagship LEGO store, Scandinavia’s only Disney Store and a Hamley’s toy shop!
We visited last November and had an incredible few days exploring the Danish capital with a hop on and off boat and bus ticket. The tour takes in many of Copenhagen’s beautiful castles, old listed houses, and other sights of interest including Christiansborg Palace, Experimentarium (the Science Centre) and Hans Christian Anderson’s, Little Mermaid statue. We found the hop on and off tickets to be great value for money and really flexible (which is exactly what you need when you are travelling with kids!)
We also spent a full day exploring the popular Tivoli Gardens. We visited just as the amusement park reopened its doors for the festive season and had been transformed into a magical Winter Wonderland. We cannot rate Tivoli Gardens highly enough. The park offers something for everyone, the young and the young at heart…. beautiful scenery, historic buildings, well-manicured gardens, traditional rides such as the classic carousel and thrilling roller coasters.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Keri from Dubai Travel Planner
With activities ranging from indoor ski slopes to desert safari’s, ice skating to aquariums, as well as home to the world’s largest flower garden, it’s easy to see why so many families are not just stopping over in the Emirates on route to another destination but making it a destination in itself. The hot desert climate does not detract from visitor numbers year-round. Many attractions discount their prices in the hot summer months, and a lot are purpose-built indoors. Or just head out after dark like the locals do.
If the current family offering is not enough, the second half of 2016 will see the opening of IMG Worlds of Adventure (think Nickelodeon and Marvel comics) theme park, the much anticipated Dubai Parks and Resorts which will include a Legoland theme park and water park, a Bollywood theme park and Motiongate – a thrilling theme park based on the Dreamworks characters.
There’s also the very newly opened City Walk – across the main freeway from the popular Downtown Dubai (the one with the world’s tallest building, largest shopping mall, indoor aquarium, ice rink, VR Park and spectacular water fountain show); City Walk boasts The Green Planet – the UAE’s first bio-dome – as well as Mattel Play Town and various kids play centres, perfect for the younger audience.
When all else fails, retreat to the beaches and resorts – there are plenty with huge waterparks (Wild Wadi, Aquaventure to name a couple), beautiful the Beach at JBR and of course the famous Atlantis the Palm.
Gold Coast, Australia
Debbie from Travel with the Greens
Beautiful one day, Perfect the next….. The Gold Coast, Australia has a never-ending list of beautiful places to go and wonderful places to eat and drink.
The BEACHES – The squeaky white sands of the Gold Coast and the sparkling blue water makes the beach an ideal place to relax and start your family holiday. Try the family-friendly Burleigh Beach.
The MOUNTAINS – In under an hour you can drive from the beach to the top of Mount Tambourine. Here you will find cooler temperatures, wineries and wonderful walking tracks. The views from the top are wonderful and you truly feel on top of the world.
The THEME PARKS – So many theme parks on the Gold Coast make this such a fun family location. Our favourite is Movie World, SeaWorld and Wet & Wild. DreamWorld is another iconic theme park on the Gold Coast.
Marianne from Mum on the Move
Hong Kong may not be the first city that springs to mind when you think of family-friendly cities around the world. Firstly it’s hardly buggy friendly, with all its hills, steps and crowds of people. Then there’s the weather – it’s usually either stiflingly hot and humid or raining… But don’t let all this put you off visiting Hong Kong with kids!
Hong Kong is a culturally fascinating city and is a great fun place to explore. You can take the cable car up to the Big Buddha, ride the peak tram (beat the queues and buy tickets in advance) or the star ferry to admire the views of the city’s stunning skyline, visit the fishing villages on one of the outlying islands or wander around the multitude of street markets. If all else fails, spend a day riding the roller coasters and visiting the pandas at Ocean Park, or visiting the happiest place on Earth – Hong Kong Disneyland.
Mark from Wyld Family Travel
Melbourne is the great city of Australia. Take away that big iron bridge and that white pointy building from the Harbour and Sydney has very little. Melbourne is filled with attractions that kids will love from Luna Park at St Kilda beach to the Australian Sports Museum at Melbourne Cricket Ground. From the Eureka Skydeck at 298 meters above the ground to the Melbourne Museum which by the way is largest Museum in the Southern Hemisphere.
Melbourne’s history is on display when visiting the Old Melbourne Gaol or fun on the Ice at O’ Brien Group Arena for ice skating. Melbourne also has some amazing sights located just an hour or so out of the city. Melbourne is home to only 1 of 4 Giant observation wheels worldwide, let the Melbourne Star dazzle you.
The Surf Coast near Geelong where the world’s oldest surfing contest is held every year to Phillip Island and the penguin parade and Healesville Sanctuary in Yarra Valley where you will only see native Australian animals. Melbourne truly has something for all the family.
Portland, Oregon, USA
Bethany from twoOregonians
Portland, a family-friendly city that makes space for adults and kiddos alike, is known for world-class breweries, roasteries, parks and open spaces, farm to table dining, and easy access to the great outdoors.
The Oregon Public House (the world’s first non-profit pub), Laurelwood, and H.U.B. are just a sampling of spots where parents enjoy pints while kids play. Head to Poa Cafe for a smoothie (or a cocktail!) while the kids listen to live music, then browse the nearby indie toy stores and hipster holes in the wall. Powell’s, the biggest independent book store in the world, carries used and new books for every age.
Visit the Audubon Society in Forest Park for tips on urban hikes and wildlife spotting, take in the views from the Portland Aerial Tram, grow everyone’s cranium at The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), take the Oregon Zoo train, and check the rotating exhibits at the Portland Children’s Museum.
Ready for more arts and culture? The Oregon Children’s Theater boasts full-scale productions sure to please kids and their parents. Stop at Pip’s Original for the world’s best mom and pop shop mini-doughnuts, house made chai, and locally roasted coffee. Portland is a little big city – cosmopolitan enough to feel adventurous for parents, small enough to manage with kids, and delicious enough to keep the whole family hungry for more.
San Diego, California
Leah from The Kid Bucket List
San Diego is a city that is almost always underestimated. We never expected it to become one of our favourite cities in California. We had thought of San Diego as a pit stop on our travels, a place to stay while we visited the famed San Diego Zoo. What soon discovered that it is a multidimensional city with boasts attractions, culture, history and foodie heaven (if you know where to look).
San Diego is a place where every single family, no matter what their interests, can find something to do that the kids will love. Art, animals, science, transport, water…..there’s something fun to fit this category. The highlight for us was San Diego Zoo, the USS Midway (if you are fans of Top Gun the movie, you must visit), Legoland and Balboa Park.
On our last trip, we stayed in the Gas Lamp district which is historic, full of awesome food spots and within walking distance of many of the sights you will want to see. And of course, you can’t forget the incredible San Diego beaches! Don’t skip this city on your Californian adventure.
Marta from Learning Escapes
A fantastic city to visit with kids and one that makes sightseeing easy even for families with young children is beautiful Stockholm, Sweden. Built over 14 islands interconnected by over 50 bridges, Stockholm strikes the perfect balance between a vibrant urban environment and an outdoorsy, healthy lifestyle.
Water is everywhere: the city’s canals and rivers reflect Stockholm’s medieval buildings and architectural landmarks, creating beautiful light effects, and many of the islands are covered with parks, cycling paths and playgrounds.
Unlike other cities, where families seem to be almost an afterthought, Stockholm is built to encourage parents to spend quality time with their kids. All museums have children programmes and family tours and many boast specialised spaces for kids to play while learning about the exhibition at hand. We visited Stockholm twice and in both cases we perceived it as the perfect city break with kids: quite a statement, from someone who goes on family city breaks at least twice a year! Learn more about Stockholm with kids
Jason from an Epic Education
Tokyo is full of kid-friendly fun. Many families flock to Tokyo Disneyland, Disney Sea and Sanrio Puroland (home of Hello Kitty), but these places barely scratch the surface of the city’s potential. Take the monorail out to Odaiba, where the buildings look like the set of a sci-fi movie. Then check out science museums like Miraikan and RiSuPia, where cutting-edge technology becomes an entertaining educator.
Downtown, visit Meiji Jingu, a shrine shielded from the metropolis by old growth forest. Five minutes east is Harajuku, the frenetic epicentre of Asian youth culture. Walk west into Yoyogi Park, home of free music and cultural events, as well as a fascinating cross-section of Tokyo residents.
Kids are welcome in the city’s many galleries and art museums, as well. The Mori Museum looms over the city 35 floors up (with an incredible view to match), while 21_21 Design Sight curates kid-friendly interactive exhibits under themes such as water, motion and chocolate. Yup, Tokyo has it all, and there’s plenty to go around.
Did you miss the last instalment? Here are another 10 amazing cities to add to your wishlist
See why these 10 cities are also capturing family travellers hearts and minds:
Strolling through Barri Gothic, visiting the Zoo, the beautiful Parc Guell or just enjoying a plate of Catalan tortilla – a laid back, historic and beautiful city break.
Edinburgh Castle, exploring the Royal Mile, The Royal Botanic Garden, strolling through both the “old town” and “new town”.
Hoi An, Vietnam
The perfect combination of culture, great food, friendly people and beaches. Enjoy wandering through the markets, or seeing the city lit with lanterns when the sun goes down, or simply enjoy time at your resort, or building sand castles on the beach.
A true fusion between the very historic the very new and straddled between Europe and Asia, a cultural hotspot with sight, sounds and smells to enchant even the youngest of children. Explore the Mosques, visit the Grand Bazaar, you will be left feeling richer in culture, history and local hospitality
Parks and gardens everywhere, tram rides and tuk-tuks- yes, even in Portugal! Dip your feet in the river or eat ice creams on the sand. Castles to explore, elevator rides to everywhere in the city of 7 hills; street performers hiding in every little square and the bet custard tarts in the world!
Despite its size and reputation for being costly, there are so many places young kids will find enjoyment in London. Moving about on the tube is free for children and plenty of the museums are also free. Sunny days see street performers adorning the south bank or take a river cruise along the Thames.
A city that speaks to the heart; view history from the Colosseum and Roman Forum or feel the power of worship from the Sistine Chapel to the Pantheon. Chill out after a day of exploring with gelato on the Spanish Steps or throw a penny into Trevi Fountain.
San Francisco, USA
An amazing city to simply walk around or find places to play – take in the famous sights like the Zig Zag Road (Lombard St), the Painted Ladies, Coit Tower, or enjoy ambling along the waterfront at the Port of San Fransisco and Fisherman’s Wharf. Take a ferry for a different perspective under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz Island and finish your day visiting the Sea Lions at Fisherman’s Wharf over a clam chowder!
A visit to the Singapore Zoo should be at the top of your list, along with the Night Safari and the beautifully landscaped Jurong Bird Park – the world’s largest walk-in aviary. Sentosa Island is family-getaway paradise – including Universal Studios, the Southeast Asia Aquarium and Adventure Cove Waterpark. Beyond the main tourist attractions, there are two beautiful Botanic Gardens, the Singapore River to visit by boat, and colourful neighbourhoods, such as Chinatown and Little India, to explore.
From a tour of the Sydney Opera House, to a Bridge Climb over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Take a dip at Bondi Beach or a ferry across to Taronga Zoo; why not walk the cobblestone alleys of The Rocks to get a glimpse of early European Australia. Ocean, mountains, lakes and rainforests, you’ll find it all.
Does the idea of trying to keep your brood happy and under control in a big city still make you break out in a cold sweat? RELAX!!! We have you covered in our guide to taking city breaks with kids – everything from how to organise your day to fail safe activities that keep little ones smiling – Definitely Pin this one for later!
The key to city travel with kids is SLOW DOWN! It’s not a race to tick everything off, but a chance to admire a city from a different perspective.
Which City Break will you take next?
Still not convinced on the City Break? That’s ok – we also cover off:
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