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City breaks with young children

(20 Posts)
Misty9 Wed 11-May-16 23:16:34

Dc are 4.5 and 2, and neither like swimming pools/theme parks and eldest hates the beach...so usual family destinations of sun sea etc are out! Pre-dc we loved city breaks and I think this is doable still with them, but dh not so convinced.
Dc love playgrounds and interactive museum type attractions. So I think a city is perfect.

Anyone experienced in this sort of holiday with under 5s? Tips/suggestions/advice? I need to convince dh! Budget up to £2k for 10 nights in June. Location open to ideas smile

justabigdisco Thu 12-May-16 00:18:25

We recently did a week in Paris with our 4.5yo and 6mo. Was great for all the things you mention - parks, cafes, even some art. We did a day at Disney. We had thought that city breaks were off the cards for a few years but it worked really well. Your 2yo might make it a bit more difficult as they get bored more easily! Oh and get an apartment with Airbnb.

backinthebox Thu 12-May-16 00:29:20

10 nights in one city is a long time, I think. But if I was spending that amount of time in an urban environment I would go for a multi centre break in Italy (e.g. Rome/Sorrento/Venice/Florence/whatever takes your fancy) and break it up with a couple of days by the sea.

Misty9 Thu 12-May-16 00:37:02

I agree about too long in one city and am now considering a plane-train two city extravaganza grin crazy?

Am thinking fly to Amsterdam (only place local airport serves) then get a train to eg Brussels or Munich. Stay there 5 nights in Airbnb place then train to another base (maybe overnight?) and another 4-5 night stay before flying back. Doable? We've been to Munich and Amsterdam pre kids, so need to research cities with amazing parks and museums for the kids. 2yo is a handful full stop!

mouldycheesefan Thu 12-May-16 09:16:03

Not with pre schoolers but we have done city breaks age 7 and upwards, New York etc and had a brilliant time. Also done city breaks in uk, London, Oxford etc and had great weekends.
Try one in uk first e.g London and see how you get on. It's the getting the buggy in and off public transport and the amount of walking for little ones that is a challenge. Also it's not always that much fun spending all your time in kiddy friendly museums and parks etc so do include some more adult orientated venues even if just a half hour sit down in a nice bar. Expect that everyone will come home tired!
Personally I would leave it till they are older or combine with a more toddler friendly break so a city near the beach (Palma in Majorca or Barcelona). People on here recommend duinrell in Netherlands which is near Amsterdam but also has theme park, water park and beach,
Overall our guidelines are:
-Don't plan more than two activities per day, don't aim to overdo it rushing around
-max one museum per day
--max two hours in a museum, aim for the highlights
-regular pit stops for food and drink
-breakfast buffet at the hotel to fortify everyone for the day ahead

Have a great time

mouldycheesefan Thu 12-May-16 09:17:26

Sorry just saw they hate pools, beaches and theme parks so duinrell is out!
Unusual kids!

BikeRunSki Thu 12-May-16 09:23:00

We did 4 days in Paris with our 7 and 4 year olds at Easter. I think we all had fun apart from the constant rain!

Misty9 Thu 12-May-16 09:44:47

They are unusual kids! Tbh dh doesn't really like beaches or water either...

So I'm looking at flying to Amsterdam, sleeper train to Munich, stay there for 4 nights then train to Vienna, stay there for 4 nights and fly home from there. Airbnb stays in both places. Doable? Crazy?! I think the sleeper train would be great fun, although possibly not much sleeping involved!

We love kids museums and had a ball at Nemo in Amsterdam when ds was a toddler smile
Hmm, we went to London recently actually and it was a disaster....but we didn't take the pushchair (big mistake) and we all stayed in one room (even bigger mistake!) so a learning curve, yes?! Maybe I won't remind dh of that when I'm trying to sell this trip... grin

lalalonglegs Thu 12-May-16 10:20:00

We've done tons of city breaks with our three children - the biggest problem we have, as we usually stick to Italy or Spain, is the heat. At that age, I think it's worth choosing three small things to do each day and doing them well rather than trying to fit in a whirlwind tour of the city. We also try to do a bit of research on the city before we go and get them to come up with suggestions of attractions that they would like to visit when we get there.

FeckinCrutches Thu 12-May-16 10:24:37

Can you do Paris/Barcelona split? Barcelona is fab for children, so much to do.

BiddyPop Thu 12-May-16 10:38:11

We took DD to London aged 4 and she loved it - 3 day weekend. Natural History museum (which also had a butterfly exhibition in the grounds), the Eye, playground near hotel (don't ask me to remember that sorry - it was 6 years ago now). Getting the Tube (she loved train for commuting anyway but the underground part was new).

Paris is quite interesting as well - lots of people "boating" in the Tuileries Gardens, Eiffel Tower, different types of public transport etc.

Rome last year was quite interesting too, and there was good advice on the travel boards here for that. I only looked at older kids stuff, given the age I am now dealing with, but there was ice cream everywhere, we walked loads and DD is well up for that, but there is decent public transport as well.

If you want a 10 day holiday, I would make it at least 2 centres - and possibly try to get the train between the 2 cities (maybe drive if you really fancy that), or look at other local options (maybe there's a water taxi type service to go by sea?). I'd try to get a set of interconnecting rooms or a suite - so you can watch tv with a glass of wine at night when they go to sleep, or sit on a balcony and people-watch.

Brussels is nice - there are big parks to just run around in, the Marrionet (sp?) Pis is easy to miss but kids always seem to find him funny, there's "Little Europe" and the Atomium on the outskirts and great public transport. And plenty of good places for food (and chips!!).

Yes, do remember to take things slow - have ideas in your head for options if 1 thing is "boring", but be prepared to spend all day in 1 place and not get to the 4 on your list.
Allow running around time daily. Look for things like parks to feed ducks/pigeons as well as playgrounds.
Bring backpack yourself, to carry snacks, drinks and tissues with you - in case urgent stops are required in not-so-pitstop-friendly places.
Research ahead of time - most cities now have websites giving child-friendly options (tripadvisor, lonely planet etc are great for these, but just google)
Get out a map, and show the DCs, where you are going, and what journeys you will have to take, and how they will be made (so flying here, and train there etc).

Enjoy

Misty9 Thu 12-May-16 14:04:45

Well, after much research I presented the idea to dh....and he vetoed it confused

We're going to wait until next year when dd will be out of nappies and sleeping in a bed. I think it sounds brilliant though and hopefully won't be too much more expensive in school holiday time.

He has agreed to a last minute deal to Portugal...so am happy with that. Next piece of research!

I've been to Barcelona a few times but I agree it's fantastic and will be on the list for the future smile

Teds77 Thu 12-May-16 15:21:41

Oh boo to DH!!

We took our then 3yo DTs to Stockholm last August. Five days staying with family (which was great as had lovely house with toys and a garden etc) but we had a great time in he city with loads to do. You could certainly combine it with a few days on beaches on the islands near to Stockholm.

In February we did 3 days in Madrid and 2 days in Lisbon with the sleeper train in between. DTs now 3.5yo. Madrid was lovely for adults but the attractions were less child friendly. It was a case of doing a more grown up thing for a few hours then escaping to a park or playground - which there were lots of so this worked fine. We all loved Lisbon though - loads of things that are a bit more aimed at kids from Aquarium to tram rides and the castle. And if you went when warmer there are beaches very near by too.

Now the sleeper train - in principle a good idea and our DTs did go to sleep pretty easily in the bottom bunks. Things to bear in mind - they often leave the station well after toddler bedtime so you could have a few long hours to kill with tired kids. And err, when things go wrong it's less fun! So there was flooding on the line between Madrid and Lisbon which meant we were all woken up at 2am. Had an hour in a very cold station from 2am until 3am and then ended up on a bus. The kids slept on this but we didn't and whilst in the days on no children we could have found somewhere to hang quietly from 6am until hotel check-in time in Lisbon, instead we had to deal with two children who wanted to do stuff!! Extreme example but worth thinking about how you might cope with delays and cancellations with young kids!

Misty9 Thu 12-May-16 16:19:44

Yikes, that doesn't sound fun teds !! Definitely worth thinking about worst case scenarios I agree.

I'm now sold on cascais near Lisbon, so we can do city and beach. Winner! Just need to find accommodation and least hideous flight times...

Janek Thu 12-May-16 19:16:30

For future reference - Berlin! Loads for everyone to do, loads of playgrounds, v hot in summer though.

NoMoreParades Fri 13-May-16 09:27:15

Another vote for Berlin, amazing for children

Misty9 Sat 14-May-16 21:38:17

Well dh has vetoed anything now angry and although he doesn't have final say or anything, I'm not going to force him to go away. Maybe a spa weekend on my own then... grin

rosy71 Sat 14-May-16 21:59:21

London is great for kids - loads to do & lots of it free. We've also taken the kids to Amsterdam (aged 5 & 8) & ds1 to Bruges (age 2.5). Both times though, we were staying nearby & made days trips.

Misty9 Sat 21-May-16 23:18:44

We're off to valencia next month! smile

ShanghaiDiva Sun 22-May-16 03:25:14

I have done lots of city breaks with young kids and I know you are planning something different now, but for future ideas:
Helsinki - small, great museums and zoo
Stockholm - DS loved the vasa ship there

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