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Best Family Vacations in Europe
From touring the Colosseum in Rome to playing soccer in Madrid, Europe features activities for travelers of all ages and interests. To help guide you to a European locale that offers a winning mix of family-friendly attractions and affordable hotels, as well as high approval among vacationers and experts, U.S. News ranked the best family vacations in Europe. Vote for your favorite spots below, and get inspired to plan your next trip. (Note: Some of the below destinations may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Check with the CDC and the U.S. Department of State before traveling.)
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This city captivates visitors young and old with its London Zoo, West End theatre district, London Eye and Platform 9¾ at King's Cross Station, among other sights. Many of the top attractions offer guided tours, which are excellent ways for families to engage with and learn about the sites. London is known for its high price tags, but you can find budget-friendly lodging at chain hotels or vacation rentals. You can also easily move around the city using the affordable Tube or by taking a ride on London's iconic red buses.
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With iconic landmarks and kid-friendly attractions like the Centre Pompidou and the Luxembourg Gardens, the City of Light offers a fun and enriching vacation. And let's not forget the Eiffel Tower, which is sure to delight your children, whether you climb to the top as a family or see it at night when it's illuminated. Nearby Disneyland Paris is also a popular attraction for those with little ones. If you'd rather stick to central Paris, you'll find many of the city's top attractions situated within 2 miles of one another.
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Prague's fairy-tale setting leaves a lasting impression on its visitors. Kids will likely get a kick out of seeing the bizarre Dancing House, engaging with the interactive exhibits at the Museum of Senses, exploring Prague Castle and trying to make sense of the Prague Astronomical Clock. Meanwhile, parents will likely love the city's cultural heritage, tasty beer and reasonable prices. Because of its small size and compact downtown area, Prague is an easily walkable city, which makes it perfect for those who want to save money on transportation
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This beautiful Italian city offers an array of attractions that appeal to visitors both young and old. When your children get weary of checking out the exhibits in the Uffizi Gallery, take them for a stroll along the scenic Ponte Vecchio or follow your taste buds to a gelato shop. For a protein- and carb-heavy meal that's sure to please even the pickiest of eaters, try some of Florence's excellent Tuscan cuisine. Once you've let your food settle, go for a ride on the antique carousel in Piazza della Repubblica, a perennial family favorite.
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Barcelona, Spain, is known for its nightlife, but there are several reasons for families to visit. Gaudí's whimsical artwork in Park Güell is sure to impress adults and make children feel as if they've wandered into a fantasyland. Similarly, the street performances along Las Ramblas captivate and surprise audiences of all ages. Young foodies will enjoy exploring La Boqueria, where they'll find delicious treats, which range from fruit to churros with chocolate. Plus, families can always head to the beach for some outdoor fun or watch a FC Barcelona soccer match at Camp Nou stadium.
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You don't have to be an urban sophisticate to appreciate Stockholm. Sweden's capital offers tasty kid-approved dishes like Swedish meatballs and open-faced sandwiches, plus museums focused on everything from ABBA to contemporary photography to Vikings. Kids will particularly enjoy the zoo, aquarium and historical buildings at Skansen, the world's oldest open-air museum. They can also immerse themselves in classic children's books at Junibacken, swim in the massive pools at Eriksdalsbadet or ride a roller coaster at the popular Gröna Lund amusement park. To save money while exploring, walk or rely on public transportation.
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In Rome, you and your kids can form lifelong memories as you brush up on ancient history at the Colosseum and the Pantheon. And with plenty of piazzas for children to roam in and kid-friendly museums to tour, Rome is an educational and crowd-pleasing city to explore at any age. Not to mention, the city's culinary scene is awash with kid-approved items, such as pizza, pasta and gelato. As you walk from site to site, children will enjoy watching street performers and musicians.
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Contrary to Amsterdam's dubious reputation, families visiting the Netherlands' capital will find loads of kid-friendly attractions, including the ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo and Zandvoort beach. The city offers plenty of open spaces, such as beautiful Vondelpark. Opportunities for learning and culture also abound at sights like the Anne Frank House, the Moco Museum (home of much of Banksy's work) and the Van Gogh Museum. And thanks to the city's bike-friendly atmosphere, families can cycle around the city and soak up the scenery on a bike tour before finishing the day with a sticky stroopwafel.
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Chocolate may be a top reason why many families choose to visit Zurich, but the Swiss city certainly offers travelers significantly more. It's hard to beat Zurich's incredible location between the banks of a beautiful lake and the base of the Swiss Alps. After snapping photos for your family's next holiday card, explore one of the city's massive museums or its historic Old Town neighborhood. Then, fill up on cheese fondue or authentic German fare at a local restaurant. To save money during your trip, purchase a Zürich Card, which gets you unlimited travel on public transportation.
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If your kids appreciate music or play an instrument, chances are they'll be enchanted by Vienna's House of Music. The museum highlights works from the city's famous musicians, including Mozart and Schubert, through interactive exhibits. Meanwhile, bookworms will find multiple independent bookstores filled with titles for readers of all ages. Vienna is also home to the Prater, the world's oldest amusement park, and Schönbrunn Zoo, the world's oldest zoo. The swimmable beaches along the Danube River and the numerous public playgrounds sprinkled throughout the city ensure kids have plenty of places to explore.
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Scotland's hilly capital is highly walkable, a boon for families who like to keep active on a vacation. Walk the Royal Mile – which is lined with shops and restaurants – up to Edinburgh Castle, where kids can wander medieval halls, rooms and batteries. For a dose of nature in the heart of the city, head to Holyrood Park and hike up to Arthur's Seat. When you need a break from history (and extensive walking), visit Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, which offers five floors of interactive exhibits that delight and tease the senses.
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History buffs and fans of the "Hercules" and "Indiana Jones" films will relish a trip to Athens, Greece. Families can explore the Acropolis complex – which includes the Parthenon and the Erechtheion – to see the buildings where ancient Greeks worshipped the goddess Athena. Afterwards, they can visit the Acropolis Museum, which houses statues and other artifacts from the Acropolis. The museum even offers special family programs every summer and a special kids exhibit. Once they've worked up an appetite, families can join a food tour to introduce children to Greek cuisine before witnessing the changing of the guards in Syntagma Square.
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As one of Europe's most walkable cities, families will find Dublin convenient above all else. Interactive exhibits at the EPIC museum provide educational fun, while a stroll down Grafton Street will delight the senses. What's more, Dublin's lush pastures, including St. Stephen's Green and Phoenix Park, provide a relaxing respite from city expeditions. For a different take on sightseeing, families can sign up for a guided tour in a double-decker bus (complete with tea service), a food tour or – for brave groups – a ghost tour.
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Madrid features some of Europe's most kid-friendly attractions, including the Casa de Campo public park, where families will find the Madrid Zoo Aquarium and an amusement park. Children who need to stretch their legs can run around Retiro Park or play on its playgrounds while adults enjoy the park's formal garden. Luckily, Madrid is an inexpensive city with plenty of public transportation options to bring travelers to each attraction. Before visitors leave Madrid, they should catch a soccer match at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, home of Real Madrid, and take a tour of the Royal Palace.
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A history-laden city overflowing with museums, monuments and plenty of bratwurst, Berlin attracts visitors of all ages. Families will especially enjoy exploring the nearly 520-acre Tiergarten, which is home to Zoo Berlin and its approximately 20,000 animals. Kollwitzplatz, an area with an extravagant playground and weekly outdoor markets, is another popular family-friendly spot. Other can't-miss attractions include museums like the history-focused Neues Museum and kid-oriented Modellpark Berlin. Although travelers will have to use public transportation or cars to get around this large city, Berlin is relatively affordable and easy to navigate.
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