What UK and Europe trips are "must-dos" for family with two small DCs?

(12 Posts)
BeaArthursUnderpants Fri 08-Apr-16 09:52:00

We are Americans living in the UK through the end of summer 2017 with our 2 DCs (age 3 and 5). We are anxious to travel as much as we can in the UK and Europe while we are here. Right now we are planning summer holidays but we want to make a list for long weekends, Christmas break, and any other time we can get away. Once we go home we aren't likely to be relocated again, and we are from the west coast so it's quite far. So basically we are looking for suggestions for nice, special trips that will be fun with small kids in tow. I wouldn't say money is no object but we have set aside a nice amount for what we see as "once in a lifetime" travel opportunities.

Where should we go? We are clueless so I would be grateful for any recommendations for specific areas/neighborhoods/hotels, when to go, how long to stay, etc.

Thanks so much!

revealall Sat 09-Apr-16 11:32:30

Well I would just make a list of places you want to see and just do it.
The children will remember very little so I wouldn't worry about their activities. Europe is very child friendly and there is yummy food, little parks, water features for children to play in etc in pretty much every town and city there is. They'll have a great time.

The bit you'll really be stunned at about Europe will be just how tiny it is. I would recommend at least one road trip just to experience the truth of this. You can have breakfast in Germany, lunch in Austria and be in Italy by the afternoon. This is also a good way to see prime sights without longer than needed. Milan for instance has the Last Supper which is really really worth seeing but I wouldn't want to stay in the city for a whole weekend. Similarly with the Greman concentration camps which make for a sobering morning but then you can move on for the children to somewhere "pretty".

The city break cities Rome, Barcelona, Venice, Paris get very very crowded. There are always rooms but the queues for attractions should not be underestimated.Do them out of season Nov - Jan. it also gets very hot in southern Europe during the summer so factor that in with the little ones. You can get very reasonable fly cruises around the Med which worked well for my then 3 year old. It also gives you the option to keep them on board if you want to look at something( Pompeii is tricky for buggies). You can see a lot of Europe in a short amount of time.

Look on Tripadvisor forums for hints and tips.

revealall Sat 09-Apr-16 12:21:03

In the Uk I would do Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight. Portsmouth Dockyard is amazing with Henry Vlll warship and Nelson's HMS Victory. Nice trip over to the quirky Island for lovely beaches and great dinosaur stuff - walks, museums etc.

breward Sat 09-Apr-16 22:01:26

Hever Castle in Kent to see the jousting and water maze in the summer.
A weekend in York... such a beautiful city lots to do for young and old.
Weymouth for a bucket and spade weekend with Punch and Judy on the beach and a ride on a steam train.
Windsor for the castle, river cruise and Legoland.

Those are 4 lovely things we did with our DC when they were little and all very British (exc Legoland!) and memorable.

BeaArthursUnderpants Sat 09-Apr-16 23:36:30

Thank you so much. This is so helpful. When I search online yheee are just SO many options and I feel pressure to make the "right" choices because we don't know when/if we will get to do it again. Over the years DH and I have both been to a lot of the major European tourist attractions, and with little ones those things are not always easy. So we're not too convened with checking the boxes to say we went to the Eiffel Tower, the Coliseum, etc. But we do want to take advantage of the fact that we are here and not do things we could easily do at home. Except Legoland, of course. That one there's no getting out of smile.

JoanCallamezzo Sat 09-Apr-16 23:51:23

Have a look at joining the National Trust which would give you access to hundreds of amazing places around the UK, so if you are spending weekends in different places there's always likely to be a NT place to visit - and they are pretty good at having play areas and activities for children.

You don't say what area of the country you are based but I'd say two places in Britain not to be missed are Bath for a beautiful, historic city and Pembrokeshire in Wales for stunning coast and wild, rugged beaches.

ThirtyNineWeeks Sat 09-Apr-16 23:57:02

The Lake District.

Cakescakescakes Sun 10-Apr-16 00:23:19

North and west coasts of Ireland

revealall Sun 10-Apr-16 10:02:15

Ok well if you have done the sights before then I agree that I wouldn't bother to do them with your young ones.

Efteling is a very European children's theme park that is worth a visit. Easy to get to from the Chunnel. I would seriously look at doing the alternative Center Parcs and Legoland on the continent. Quirkier, cheaper and just more interesting than their British counterparts. And if you drive you can see other stuff.

sooperdooper Sun 10-Apr-16 10:10:32

In the UK I'd say Corwall, the Eden Project, and beautiful little villages like Mevagissey.

Edinburgh is stunning, the Scottish Highlands, York is lovely, Chester, a traditional British seaside resort where the kids can ride donkeys and eat ice cream on the pier - Brighton?

lljkk Sun 10-Apr-16 12:29:13

come back when they are 9 & 11!?

TheOddity Wed 13-Apr-16 21:01:26

Hmmm. Decisions, decisions! You can't really go too wrong actually. As an English person purely in terms of what the children will enjoy or what my four year old has enjoyed in the past.... York as there is a big railway museum which is great for boys, any national trust property that has a good playground and cafe (and will interest you too), London for the Natural History Museum (dinosaurs and weird animals!) plus a ride on a double decker. In Europe, I can highly recommend Rimini or thereabouts in Italy on the Eastern coast. The beaches are literally bursting with stuff for the kids (bars with icecreams right on the beach, restaurants on the beach, trampolines on the beach, slides etc etc), the whole place is just designed around children plus the food is fabulous and you can eat out with the children in Italy and stay out as late as you want with them and you will blend right in. Anywhere along that coast and you won't go far wrong. Campsites have little bungalows with bedding you can rent, or there is Europcamp with ready erected tents with beds inside for the bit of comfort for you but the excitement of a tent for the kids. Also apartments or hotels but I find camping more relaxing with small children especially if I don't have to erect the tent. Again, Italian campsites are very clean, organised and civilised. I wouldn't go and sightsee either with kids that age!

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