6 Places in Europe to Take the Kids in 2018

Dec 31, 2017

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Every European city has its unique charm, but a few destinations stand out as especially friendly, exhilarating (and accommodating!) to those us who travel with tiny sidekicks. Planning a European adventure this year for the whole clan? This list is a good place to start.

The Algarve, Portugal

A man and two children stand on the beach in Praia da Luz in Algarve, southern Portugal, on April 28, 2017.Scarred by Madeleine McCann's disappearance 10 years ago, the seaside resort town of Praia da Luz in southern Portugal is struggling to shake off the mystery of the young British girl's disappearance. Madeleine McCann (Maddie) disappeared on May 3, 2007. Portuguese police closed the case in 2008 before reopening it five years later. / AFP PHOTO / PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA (Photo credit should read PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images)
Image courtesy of PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images.

The sun-drenched Algarve in southern Portugal checks everything off your perfect family-beach-vacation list. Spectacular weather; wide, beautiful beaches (some of them secret locales accessible only from the water); surfing for the big kids; dolphins; the freshest seafood you can imagine; a laid-back, welcoming European vibe; and plenty of VRBOs, points hotels and all-inclusives to call home for a week. Plus, it’s cheap!

Try the Conrad Algarve (rates start around $261 or 49,000 Hilton Honors points) or the Belmar Spa & Beach Resort in Lagos (rates start around $165 per night with a two-night minimum).

Christmas in Salzburg, Austria

(GERMANY OUT) Christmas market in Salzburg (Photo by Mayall/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
Photo by Mayall/ullstein bild via Getty Images.

Possibly the most Christmas-y place on earth during December, this is clearly where Santa pre-games before he heads to the NP. Walk the Christmas markets, ride the funicular at Hohensalzburg Castle to see the gorgeous views, catch a classic marionette performance, dance in the twinkling lights and falling snow, and drink a lot of hot chocolate. Stay at the Sheraton Grand Salzburg (rates start around $277 or 16,000 Starpoints for a December stay), or the Radisson Blu Hotel Altstadt (rates start around $304 or 50,000 Club Carlson Gold points for a December stay).

Barcelona, Spain

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JULY 24: A couple take pictures of their daughter at the roof of the building 'La Pedrera' or 'Casa Mila' of Antoni Gaudi with La Sagrada Familia on the background on July 24, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain. Foreign visitors to Spain set a new record high in June surpassing six million tourists for the first time ever and climbing by 5.3 percent since June 2012. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images.

Parents of picky eaters can breathe easy here, since kids will find plenty to love in a country where omelettes, jamon and croquettas are on virtually every menu. But the magical Barcelona architecture is really what makes this city so special for kids. Gaudi monuments around every turn feel like a Dr. Seuss book come alive, and now that that the Sagrada Familia is in its final construction phase, it’s a great time to pay a visit. Plus, you can take advantage of the serious airfare sales happening right now.

If you’ve got an older crew, stay at the W Barcelona — the perfect place for too-cool-for-school teens — with its amazing location overlooking the ocean and Barceloneta Beach — just make sure everyone is comfortable with nude sunbathing. (Rates start around $280 and 20,000 Starpoints.) Families with younger kids will like the NH Collection Barcelona Podium, with its central location, cribs and cots on request and family guides to the city (rates start around $130 per night). Also, it’s worth checking out our points and miles guide to Barcelona.

Copenhagen, Denmark

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - APRIL 09: The Tivoli Guard are seen marching through the Tivoli Garden during the first Sunday of the new season on April 9, 2017 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Tivoli Guard, once male only, have 90 members for children 8 to 16 years of age and now include 9 girls. The guard itself goes back to the year after the amusement park was established in 1843 in the very center of Copenhagen. (Photo by Ole Jensen - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
The Tivoli Gardens’ Tivoli Guard is made up of children ages 8 to 16. Photo by Ole Jensen/Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images.

This walkable city, full of friendly, bike-riding locals, is home to a ton of kid-friendly possibilities. Say hi to the Little Mermaid statue in the harbor, then visit her real-life cousins at the National Aquarium Denmark, surrounded on three sides by the sea. Spend a day at Tivoli Gardens, the amusement park said to have inspired both Hans Christian Anderson and Walt Disney, and then watch the changing of the guards at Amalienborg Palace.

Stay at the gorgeous (Arne Jacobsen-designed) Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Copenhagen, where you can rent bikes on site and walk to the Hans Christian Andersen Fairy-Tale House and Tivoli Gardens (rates start around $308 or 70,000 Club Carlson Gold points). Check out low-cost carriers for the best deals when you’re booking flights to Copenhagen.

London, England

A girl in a santa hat is seen as people walk over Westminster bridge in London, on December 9, 2017 with the London Eye in the background. Britain and the European Union reached a historic deal on Brexit divorce terms on December 8, but Brussels swiftly warned that even harder talks lie ahead on a future relationship after the split. / AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images.

The Tower of London, the London Eye and the zoo (and realistically, the ease of everyone speaking English when you’re on a panicked 2:00am search for pediatric cough medicine) all make this a favorite vacation for families with littles. Make sure to get a few Harry Potter books under your belt before taking the Muggles tour of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a 20-minute train ride outside London.

Stay at Rubens at the Palace near Buckingham Palace and check in with the Director of Fun, who’ll regale the kids with secrets of the hotel, how many times he’s seen the queen drive past and maybe even invite them to afternoon tea (rates start around $260 a night including a restaurant credit). Rather pay with points? Check out this huge list of points hotels in London.

Pompeii, Italy

Truthfully, anywhere in Italy makes a great family getaway (especially if you have babies — Italians love babies!) but Pompeii will blow your mind. The fact that you can walk through the ruins of a town while looking up at the very mountain that created the devastation is thrilling. Imagining it streaming with lava brings history home for kids in a way the abstract ruins of other cities can’t.

Stay a few miles down the road at the Hilton Sorrento Palace and keep an eye on Mt. Vesuvius from the pool (rates start around $255 or 57,000 Hilton Honors Points).

Featured image of Pompeii courtesy of Giorgio Cosulich/Getty Images.

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