When faced with only two or three weeks of holiday each year, there’s a big decision to be made: do you want to slow down and unwind, or pack your days with loads to see and do?
If you belong to the second camp — the seers and doers — then you’ll want to opt for a city break over a countryside retreat. And while some cities have a reputation for being rough around the edges, they aren’t actually unsafe for young ones. If you plan and prepare well, a city break can be an educational, enjoyable and memorable experience for the whole family.
Wondering if you should take the family on a city break holiday? Here’s everything you need to know about navigating a new metropolis with your tribe...
When visiting a city, bigger kids are exposed to new cultures and local histories. Littler kids get to eat new foods and see new things. And parents can soak in the atmosphere of a buzzing way of life.
The old adage, ‘there’s something for everyone’, can almost be guaranteed on a family city break. Galleries, theatres and sight-seeing attractions. City zoos, kid-friendly museums and huge city parks.
Want to get the most from your trip? Don’t pack too much into your days, seek out activities your children will love and allow for plenty of snack stops.
City breaks tend to be expensive for a family. The cost of accommodation, transport, activities and eating out can quickly add up.
Holidays in the city can also be tricky if you’re travelling with very young children. Pushing a buggy along hot and busy streets can feel stressful in the extreme.
But if you have the budget and are happy to plan your itinerary around the kids, a family city break really does have the potential to tick everyone’s boxes.
Whether you normally live in a town, village or city, a city break can be something out of the ordinary. Every city has its own unique style, and families who like experiencing history, culture and food as a team will never get bored.
Depending on your style and budget, you have a range of options for where to lay your head:
In a B&B, you get a room and breakfast. In an Airbnb, you can choose from rooms in shared accommodation or exclusive-use self-catered apartments. These accommodation types typically fall at the cheaper end of the city break scale — although some Airbnbs can be very pricey indeed.
Hotels are usually the most expensive accomodation option, no matter where you go. But that price may include a comfortable room, breakfast each morning and a team who can arrange transfers, activities and restaurant bookings.
In an aparthotel, you get your own self-contained apartment with self-catering facilities, which can come in really handy when you’re travelling with kids. Most buildings will also have lifts, where Airbnbs may not.
With plenty of indoor and outdoor attractions, you can take a family city break at any time of the year. Just be aware that some European cities can get uncomfortably hot at the height of summer, as can London.
Edinburgh, London, Paris — we’re lucky to have so many incredible city break destinations, all just a road trip away. The hard part is choosing which to visit first!
In a bustling capital, you’ll be spoilt for things to do. But little legs may prefer a city that’s quieter and more compact. Pick cities with winter markets, spring sun or just a history and culture that takes your fancy.
Holidaying in a city can be expensive, with transport, accommodation and sustenance taking a fair chunk out of your daily budget.
But most cities offer a variety of free activities and family discounts, and if you’re in self-catered accommodation you can keep food costs down. However, if you want to visit ticketed museums and attractions, enjoy an evening at the theatre or do lots of eating out, you’ll need to spend a bit more.
On a family city break you get to explore new cultures, architecture, history and food all together. The kids get to see and learn new things. And you get your culture fix, too.
Pack clothes for the climate, some comfortable walking shoes and your camera. Also include some games or activities that the kids can enjoy while you travel or eat out.
Your accommodation will provide most of the things you need, and you’ll be able to nip to a supermarket for anything you’ve forgotten.
Pick a destination based upon your family’s interests, ages and budget.
Research and book transport and accommodation (making sure your accommodation has everything you need if travelling with young kids). Then plan a rough itinerary of child-friendly activities, allowing lots of time for breaks.
In the hustle and bustle of a busy city, you’d quite rightly be worried about one of the kids wandering off. If your children are old enough, make sure their phone is charged and/or that they know what to do if they get separated from you. For toddlers, write your name and phone number somewhere on their backpack or in their clothes.
Kids will love running around leafy city squares, eating ice cream and maximising on the many kid-friendly activities cities have to offer. Plan carefully, take your day slowly, and the whole family will be reluctant to go home!
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