Busy streets, pollution and an array of un-family friendly eateries often leaves families with young children fleeing for the safety of a beach break or all-inclusive resort. But city breaks don’t just need to be for adults; they can be a cultural learning experience for toddlers too. However we do understand the worries around taking young ones to cities. So if your family is in the mood for a bit more adventure, why not try packing up your young family and heading to one of these incredible family friendly cities for a few days?
Locals in Iceland welcome children of all ages with open arms, so you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere that can entertain children better without jetting off to Orlando. Aurora season lasts from October to March in Iceland, but if you decide to head there out of Northern Lights season, there’s still plenty to keep young ones occupied. The Blue Lagoon is amazing for children, while many of the local geothermal pools boasts children’s pools, paddling pools and waterslides.
Hotel Ódinsvé is one of the best family-friendly hotels in Reykjavik. Just three minutes’ walk from the city’s main street, the triple and family rooms are perfect for kids, while the in-house restaurant will keep hunger pangs down. Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina is also another favourite amongst families. Located within walking distance of the city centre, the modern hotel comes complete with nautical-themed rooms with views that include the water and marina. However the hotel’s real selling point is the screening room, complete with multi-coloured seats and a varied schedule that includes kids' movies on the weekends.
If you fancy staying firmly in the UK, you can’t go far wrong with London. Steeped in history, it has plenty to grab toddlers’ attention. Plenty of green parks open up London for small, fast legs, while its huge range of museums and historic attractions make it a hit with inquisitive young minds. The Changing of the Guard, the Tower of London and London Zoo are all great places to take small children and get them learning. There’s also LEGOLAND a short drive away in Windsor, too!
The Ampersand Hotel in Kensington is ideal for children, thanks to an incredible games room jam-packed with children’s books, trinkets and board games. In here kids will find all the most popular games from both today and days gone by – and even a full-sized ping pong table for the adults! Located not far from the Ampersand Hotel is the Royal Garden Hotel. Featuring multiple interconnecting rooms, it is ideal for larger families. However what will really get kids going are the free micro scooters offered for kids and parents to jet around Hyde Park in, as well as the dedicated children’s entertainment (Sharky and George) who organise treasure hunts and tours and the countless food-themed fun actives, such as the ‘make your own’ ice cream sundae, children’s afternoon tea, and the free milkshakes that are available every day. There’s also a ‘flicks and food’ option that’s ideal for Britain’s traditional rainy days, and includes unlimited films, pizza, coke floats and popcorn for 24 hours.
Lisbon is essentially a children’s playground. Full of old world charm, the city is one of the prettiest in Europe. There are of course the usual historic trips around Lisbon to keep the whole family entertained, and if you’re going to go down this route, we recommend taking the amphibious bus and stopping off for one of the famous pastéis de nata (delicious custard tarts) mid-way.
For something a bit more interactive, the Oceanário de Lisboa, Europe’s largest aquarium, is a must-visit. Toddlers love gazing at the range of sea life and learning about some of the most impressive aquatic creatures in the world. Lisbon Zoo is another must-do for those with toddlers. With a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor, it features one of the largest collections of animals in Europe. Giraffes, elephants, rhinos, birds, dolphins and penguins all blend seamlessly together to provide an interactive day out for all ages.
With numerous family-friendly perks, including kids' welcome amenities, kids' toiletries, kids' menus, complimentary cribs and rollaway beds, and a babysitting service, you’d do well to find a more family-friendly hotel than the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz. The NH Liberdade is another family gem. Kids aged two and under stay free in parents' rooms, while one child up to 11 gets a free breakfast when sharing a parents' room.
Which is your favourite toddler-friendly city?