City breaks with children

 You may not be as fancy free as pre-children, but a city break with the kids in tow is certainly do-able - and enjoyable.

But just as with all things involving travelling and children, it means more planning, sensible packing and factoring in plenty of time for snacks and toilet stops - dragging bored and tired children (or adults) on sightseeing isn't fun for anyone.

So, to help ensure you have the most family-friendly city break possible, here are a few things to consider before you book. 


Where to go and where to stay

Your first decision is likely to be how far you're willing to travel and only you know the answer to that. But if you can avoid school holidays then all the better, as prices will be cheaper. Likewise, if you want to travel over a long weekend, book your tickets early for the best prices.

As for accommodation, there are deals to be had if you search through the online hotel sites. You could also look for a city apartment rather than a standard hotel. This will give you more space, additional facilities (serving up Weetabix at 4am will certainly be more be feasible) and could work out cheaper than a hotel.

Another option to consider is a home swap - you'll get the space and equipment to suit your family without the cost of a hotel. This Mumsnetter says: "We did a number of home exchanges when we still lived in London. Absolutely loved it! Never had a bad experience, home spotless on return and we had holidays in Copenhagen, south of France and Sweden that cost a fraction of what we would have paid with accommodation."

Mumsnetters' favourite city destinations

  • Barcelona

A short flight from the UK and combining city with beach, Barcelona comes highly recommended. With plenty of open spaces, mesmerising Gaudi architecture, shops, museums, zoo, cafes and markets, there's plenty to fill a weekend. And should the children tire of the city, then the beach is a great place to decamp. Otherwise, you can easily head out to Portaventura theme park.

"Barcelona is good as you don't need the underground to get around. There's plenty to see without having to go into anywhere, like Parc Guell, or the beach. And it's also good if you are going outside of the summer months, as Barcelona isn't too cold. I got fed up of wrapping up a toddler in a hot hotel to be out in freezing Venice." AllthefunUseful


  • Paris

Easily reached by train, flight or ferry plus car, Paris gets a big tick for being easily accessible. Older kids will enjoy seeing the big sights, younger ones will enjoy a boat rides along the Seine, and of course there are more museums and art galleries to explore than you can shake a stick at. As is the case across Europe, kids are welcomed into restaurants with open arms and most will probably revel in the chance to eat frog legs and snails – it will probably be what they remember the most. And of course, Disney is close-by and easily reached in a day from the city should you fancy.

"There are the numerous carousels scattered about the city by big monuments to dispel the grumps. We particularly like the double-decker ones at the base of the steps to the Sacré Coeur (there is a playground here, too) and across the river from the Effiel Tower. Lizcat

"Go early to the Eiffel tower, as the queues are mad, miss breakfast, buy croissant en route and eat it in the queue! Metro and buses are both easy to understand. Bluesky


  • York

If it's history you're after, then York should be on your shortlist of cities to visit. With the Castle, City Walls, Jorvik Viking Centre, York Dungeon and National Railway Museum, there's more than enough to keep the kids entertained (and educated). Throw in some fine teashops, a fair few good shops and a good selection of affordable hotels and restaurants, and York emerges as a front runner. Its accessibility from the South by train is also a plus. 

"The National Railway Museum is good for all ages and has lots of areas to run around in. When we went in April, they had a little funfair. Also, the road train goes from the York Minister Cathedral to the museum, which my son loved." Dontdillydally


  • EdinburghEdinburgh

Accessible via train and plane from around the UK, Edinburgh is another popular city break for Mumsnetters. If the weather is good, there are plenty of fun walks around the city and if the weather is not so good, head inside - all the cities museums and galleries are free. Festival time is a great time to visit with kids (although prices soar) - on Fringe Sunday in Holyrood Park there are children's shows, workshops and entertainers.

"Museum of Childhood on the Royal Mile is one of our favourites (and free). Chambers Street (National Museums of Scotland) wonderful, Camera Obscura worth the money - lots to see and do inside. I don't rate Dynamic Earth, but lots of people do. National Storytelling Centre is near the Museum of Childhood, has lots of great events for adults and children (and a fab café). Princes Street Gardens great if the weather is good. Dominion Cinema is a great experience if there's a good film on. Have fun!" Superlemoncrush


  • Copenhagen

An increasing number of Mumsnetters are talking about Copenhagen, and we're not surprised. It's a family-friendly city - not too big and not too small, so perfect for wandering around. There are plenty of parks and open spaces, plus interactive museums (release your inner Viking), a planetarium, zoo and soon-to-open aquarium, which is set to be the biggest in northern Europe.

"Copenhagen's very easy to navigate, and most things are close by in walking distance, so legs won't get as tired. Loads of Viking and historical stuff, with grand buildings, museums with art and Danish design, zoos, and Tivoli Gardens in case you fancy a bit of a change." Oldteacher

"The transport is very good, quick and clean. Make sure you get a CPH card, as you'll save a fortune, and it'll give you discount entry into places like museums. Bicycles are cheap to hire, and we thought the boat cruise and tour was nice and reasonable. Plus, there's lots of good food, beer and pastries. And it's nice and flat, so even for unfit me it was fine cycling about." Kellestar


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Last updated: 19-Sep-2013 at 5:02 PM