Family holidays aren’t just about lazing on the beach – let’s face it, buggies and sand don’t mix well – so a city break might be just the thing for you and the kids. With enough activities to keep even the liveliest children occupied, and to interest mum and dad too, check out these top city getaways that are perfect for the whole brood.
- Take the kids: Palma Aquarium is a great place to start, with plenty of marine life and several touching pools so that kids can get up close to nature. There’s also a pirate-themed play area and a summer activity program to keep them busy! Then relax by the harbour and watch the ships go by, perhaps taking a boat trip yourself and seeing the stunning coastline. For entertainment then why not try Boogie Baby in the nearby resort of Palma Nova? Combining a children’s disco with a baby area and soft play, there’s also a chance for parents to have fun too. Further afield, take the 100-year-old wooden tram from Palma to Soller with the whole family to make the most of your holiday to Palma.
- Where to eat: Las Olas Bistro welcomes children and families and serves everything from tapas to French and Vietnamese food, whilst Rock City is a great choice for pizza lovers of all ages. If you’re after something a little more health-conscious then try +Natural Restaurant, offering local produce and natural ice cream for pudding, with baby changing on-site.
- Getting there: Palma Airport features excellent baby changing facilities which are modern and spacious.
- Where to stay: The Tryp Bosque Hotel sits on the edge of the park, woods and the iconic Bellver Castle, making it the ideal place for families. There are two swimming pools, including one especially for children.
- Top tips: SMA milk for babies has a different name in Spain – look out for Nutraben. When travelling on public transport then bear in mind that children under 4 go free.
- Take the kids: Inquisitive minds will love the Pavilion of Knowledge, Lisbon’s interactive science museum which allows them to learn as they play, with activities ranging from blowing bubbles to discovering how gravity works. Children under 2 go free, whilst those under 6 can visit for €3 and adults cost €7. The city’s beautiful Monsanto forest and park will allow the kids to burn off all of their excess energy as they explore its swings and games areas. If you fancy some retail therapy then the Colombo Shopping Centre has its own indoor fun fair to tempt little ones.
- Where to eat: The Portugalia restaurant chain is reliably child-friendly and provides high chairs as standard. If you’re looking to eat by the Monsanto Park then try Papagaio da Serafina, which has a sun terrace and gardens and is popular with families on a Lisbon city break.
- Getting there: Lisbon Airport isn’t just prepared for baby changing, as kids can learn about its official mascot, Ana, who will reassure them about the different areas of the building such as the X-ray machines.
- Where to stay: The Real Parque Hotel is very child-friendly and has special menus catering to a young family’s needs. It’s very close to the Edward VII Park and is in a quiet area that is convenient for reaching the city centre.
- Top tips: Most shops and a large number of restaurants will be closed on Sundays, so check the opening hours to avoid disappointment. Make the most of the outdoors instead – you’ll never run out of things to do in the city.
- Take the kids: For the ultimate Charlie in the chocolate factory experience, the Museu de la Xocolata offers an irresistible afternoon for adults as much as children. Wander around the museum to see all the chocolaty creations, with some of Barcelona’s most famous sights recreated in chocolate form. Then sign up to an ‘experimenting with chocolate’ workshop, which allows you and children under three to play with solid and liquid chocolate to create some new wacky inventions. There are also lessons in chocolate figurine making and dessert cooking classes for those a little older. Adults’ admission is €4.30, with children under seven allowed in free. Workshops require booking in advance in some cases. After the fun indoors, don’t forget there’s a fantastic long clean beach that makes Barcelona holidays with the kids in tow extra special. Enjoy sun, sea and sand in the late afternoon, out of the main heat of the day.
- Where to eat: Children’s menus are somewhat rare in Barcelona; restaurants prefer to simply provide smaller portions of the adults menu. Whilst wandering the length of La Ramblam, drop in at Bar Kasparo which sits on the edge of the traffic-free Placa Vicen Martorell, which offers lots of child friendly options. Perfect for a snack outside on a warm day.
- Getting there: Barcelona airport is well equipped for those travelling with young children; you’ll find baby changing facilities throughout as well as children’s play areas in all the terminals.
- Where to stay: The Hotel America offers both a great location for easy sightseeing as well as having good amenities for keeping the children happy. A family holiday isn’t the same without some pool time; you’ll find that staying here.
- Top tips: Baby changing facilities are found in most large shopping malls and department stores. Tapas bars are a great option if hunger strikes – stop for a refreshing glass of something and the kids can enjoy the flavoursome nibbles. Public transport is free for under-fours.