Way back when, before I had children, I was a corporate banker living and working in London. With my corporate banker fiance. In ultra trendy Clapham.
I went from being someone who hated anything to do with cities, to being the ultimate city girl. I relished the chance to go visit the big European cities on my doorstep.
And then we had children.
And those city breaks seemed so far out of reach.
But are they?
We started small. A trip on the Eurostar to Brussels to visit the Christmas markets when my eldest was a tiny baby. Lessons learned? ALWAYS take the carrier with you, not everywhere is pram friendly. Can you imagine trying to wield a MASSIVE Bugaboo through the cobbled, busy, bustling, streets of the Christmas markets? It wasn’t pretty.
Then we emigrated out to Dubai, added to our family, and all thoughts of city trips kind of just fell away.
Then came Paris
The city break that changed our minds. The one where we realised that taking children on city breaks. The one that opened our eyes to a range of possibilities and extended our bucket list even further
4 days in central Paris with two children under four. Sounds like hell on earth?
One of the best breaks we’ve had.
We walked, and we walked, and we walked. Visiting the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre to see the iconic Mona Lisa, the beautiful Jardin des Tuileries. Strolling along the banks of the River Seine where the Paris Plages had been set up. Eating the most delicious food, sampling the most delicious wine.
We were happy. The children were happy. It was an absolutely blissful few days.
We just have to manage our expectations better
The biggest lesson we learned in Paris was to better manage our expectations. There would be times we were tired, or hungry, or grumpy. The children do not always like the same things we do. We need to make it a trip for everyone to enjoy.
For every park visit there was a museum that we made special games up in to keep them interested.
For every restaurant we sat in, there was a picnic in the park.
For every monument we saw there was a relatable reference (Go Jetters and the Eiffel Tower anyone?)
For every walk we did there was a reward with a croissant.
Since then we’ve done trips away in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Then, once the baby arrived completing our family, we headed to Sarajevo, Bosnia.
But where next?
The question is, where do we go next? Which cities are the best to travel to with kids?
There are fierce debate over which European capital cities are the best. Heck there are debates over which cities in each country are the best. But for me I’ve narrowed it down to the following five cities that I want to take my boys too.
With so many things to do, that you wouldn’t expect from a city. The beautiful Bioparc, a zoo with a difference where all the animals can be found in their natural habitats rather than enclosures. The magical Turia Gardens where you can leisurely explore on four wheel bikes, or take your whirlwinds to the renowned Gullivers Park. A park based on the classic tale of Gullivers Travels. The Oceangrafic Aquarium. The beaches. The playgrounds on the beaches. The science museum. The central market.
And of course tapas. Well, you can’t be in Spain and not indulge in tapas right?
There is SO much to do for the whole family to enjoy, a city break in Valencia sounds just up our street. With a VisitValencia tourist card available as well making it even better value for money. You can get those tourist cards in official tourism sites such as VisitValencia. Remember is important to check many sites as possible before a trip in order to find the best ideas of what to do in the city and special discounts for tourists
A classic city break destination. And one we have done without children many moons ago. A place where my husband said he had been too many times and wouldn’t go back.
And then I read about the top 6 things to do in Rome, from a travelling with children perspective. I was sold.
A half day tour on a gold buggy covering the main historical attractions? Vatican City, the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum, the Sistine Chapel, the Pantheon, and of course Trevi Fountain.
Where I did throw a coin in all those years ago, so I WILL be going back one day!
Another ancient city. One where we could go outside and explore the ancient ruins in a way that is child friendly.
From climbing up the Acropolis to discovering mythology. The museum of illusions to wandering the streets exploring. Parks and ancient history all steeped together.
And, again, the food! Tzatki, souvlaki, mousakka, taramasalata. The list is endless.
Thought to be an adults only kind of place, Amsterdam in Holland offers so much more than just sex museums and sex workers.
Biking tours around the city, the Anne Frank museum, canal boat tours, nine little streets. The possibilities are endless.
Where would you go?