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Europe with a toddler

Old Jun 24th, 2020, 12:17 PM
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Europe with Baby

Hi All,
We were supposed to travel this year but with the global pandemic, that was put on hold. Now we are starting to plan a trip for next May to Europe with our baby who will be 16 months. These are the 3 trip ideas we have that we are really excited about. We are planning for 12 days on the ground (not including travel time from the US). We want to rent a car and have one or two bases where we can do day trips at our leisure.
  1. Sicily- split the trip between southeast and western areas of the island. Is a day trip to Malta possible with a baby?
  2. Tuscany- driving trip throughout Tuscany and a few days in Cinque Terre. I assume during the work week and before summer it wouldn't be quite as crowded. I hear some towns are better than others for families
  3. Croatia- split the trip with equal time in Dubrokvnik, Split and Zagreb or Zadar
We want a nice mix of relaxation and sightseeing. Since we have a baby we would like a very comfortable hotel we wouldn't spending the day at if she is fussy.

Thanks for the help!
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Old Jun 24th, 2020, 12:28 PM
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Welcome to Fodors It is just me -- and others might have different thoughts -- but the last (well not 'very' last' but pretty much down the list) I'd want to go with a toddler is the cinque Terre. If it were my trip at that time of year with those choices, it would be a toss up between Croatia and Sicily with maybe a slight nod to Croatia.
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Old Jun 24th, 2020, 12:47 PM
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Thanks for the quick reply.
What if we took off CT and just did Tuscany or would it not be a fun trip with a baby?
What gives Croatia the edge in your opinion over Sicily?
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Old Jun 24th, 2020, 02:56 PM
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Both Cinque Terre and Dubrovnik have a lot of walking up and down (steps and uneven ground) and both can often be very crowded (the main thing to do in the former is hiking) - which means that a baby carrier would be much, much better than a stroller.

If you decide on Croatia, I think travelling from Dubrovnik to Split would be great, stopping in Korcula enroute. Zadar is also nice if you want to travel further but I think 3 stops would be better than more.

If you decide on Tuscany, then I'd choose to stay in towns so you can easily take turns to go out while baby sleeps and you can easily wander out for an aperitif and dinner. Maybe choose three towns.

I haven't been to Sicily so can't comment.

All three options would be great so it really depends on which appeals to you the most. Also whether you want to drive might sway your choice (not as much need for a car in Croatia). It can rain a bit more sometimes in May so plan some rainy day activities but on the upside the countryside is green and flower filled. You also need to consider medical care if you get sick and also consider the risks of you unknowingly spreading coronavirus by travelling. I wouldn't book anything where the cancellation costs would be a problem for you. No one knows yet what travel will be permissible or sensible.
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Old Jun 24th, 2020, 07:50 PM
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It seems from your choices that you have a major interest in landscape, coastal vistas, etc. Are there other things of interest?
IMHO, yes, people live in all those places with children, but they are not trying to sightsee, deal with food outside the house for a toddler all day, etc. Hiking on steep steps and narrow rocky paths, perhaps slippery, is not ideal with a toddler who really can’t do it, and where a stroller is not useful. So, for me, the CT would be out.
Croatia and Sicily could be doable, depending on where you go. Tuscany would work wonderfully because, though there is a lot of walking, you can stay in smaller towns with little parks and places for your child to run around. Luca has a wonderful flat city center with a piazza complete with carousel. Florence is also flat, but with tons to see. You could go further afield as far as Verona, and Padua, both with flat city centers.
Consider a day or two in Rome, which is pretty kid friendly, IMO. There are several day trips which would be lovely and not hard with a little one. Bring a stroller.
One other thing that might be a consideration would be flight length from your home and ease of getting to/from airports at your destination. Sicily might be a longer flight in that respect.

Last edited by Sassafrass; Jun 24th, 2020 at 07:56 PM. Reason: More info.
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Old Jun 25th, 2020, 04:42 AM
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No to CT just too difficult
I'd favour Italy just a little more real than Dubrovnik
Southern Italy is a bit more gritty than the north. I've cycled through much of the country and would rather visit the smaller towns and cities of Tuscany over Sicily. I might try for one stop in a town and one in the countryside. You can stay in a https://www.agriturismo.it/en/ and get B&B or B&B with evening meal depending on what you want in the countryside and then maybe an AirBnB or a hotel in say Siena or somewhere smaller. Having a baby is a real benefit in these areas as it breaks the ice with everyone so quickly.

Lucca another good idea, note that lots of older cities have cobbles everywhere which may make a stroller hard to use. Car hire.... older cities often have bans on cars except for locals, this can be overcome with planning in some.
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Old Jun 25th, 2020, 06:42 AM
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Since I have been to Tuscany and Florence (which I loved), I am leaning more towards Sicily or Croatia. I'll have to transfer in Rome for Sicily or Frankfurt for Croatia, both not a big deal. If we do Croatia, I would stay in two places and absolutely rent a car. Are Split and Dubrovnik baby friendly? Is it extremely hilly or uneven?
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Old Jun 25th, 2020, 06:50 AM
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Split and Dubrovnik are both ports so very much on the coast. The coast itself is incredibly steep so except for towns and river courses the land lifts high above you. There are lots of roads in the hills but the main roads are along the twisting turning coast road. However, don't ignore the many islands just offshore, equally steep but the local ferries are great fun. But for a kid of 18 months?

I wouldn't let "I've been to Florence so I've seen Tuscany" get in your way. I've been 3 or 4 times to Tuscany and only once to Florence (which while beautiful is often deep in coachloads of tourists).

Last edited by bilboburgler; Jun 25th, 2020 at 06:53 AM.
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Old Jun 25th, 2020, 10:16 AM
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At 16 months, Baby will not be a baby so much as a very busy Toddler, a whole other ball game. Some are easy travelers, sleep in a stroller, some not. Too early to tell how they will be buckled into seats for flights and car trips for long periods of time. When you have to do it, no choice, but if you have a choice, simple is best and less is more. Staying in one or two places, perhaps in an apartment with a washer, a place to keep food, a place for naps and doing day trips is easier. You have almost a year to plan. Wait until December or Jan to book or make everything easy to cancel.
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Old Jun 25th, 2020, 10:17 AM
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Have you been to Spain?
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Old Jun 25th, 2020, 11:51 AM
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Yes, I was very recently in Barcelona, Granada, Seville and Lisbon. Would love to go back in the future, but not for this trip.
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Old Jun 25th, 2020, 02:36 PM
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Yes to apartments and a washing machine, and if you can get it, a microwave. The washing machine is essential for toddlers, or you will be left with soiled items of clothing that you try to wash in the sink but don't really do that good a job with ... if your baby is not tall, you might also be able to score one of the bassinets in the plane, but you will have to check the size of the child that your airline allows.

Good luck, enjoy your trip!

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Old Jun 25th, 2020, 02:43 PM
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Dubrovnik is often very busy and has lots of steps within the old town. Split is much flatter and Trogir is also flat. Regardless, a baby carrier would be a good choice. A car in Dubrovnik itself is useless and a handicap if you want to stay in central Split so if you want to have a car for day trips, you are more likely to stay in the suburbs, outside of the pedestrian areas. If dividing your time between Dubrovnik and Split, I would spend longer in Split. I think some island time would be nice so if you want to stick to two places then you could take one or more day trips by boat to the islands nearby.
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Old Jun 30th, 2020, 04:10 AM
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If you decided to travel to Europe the safest way is to do it with car (less chance of corona). There are great car hire companies that offer free child seat.
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Old Jun 30th, 2020, 06:24 AM
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I won't be traveling unless there is a vaccine. Cases are very high in the US right now.
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Old Jun 30th, 2020, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by jamhaneri2020 View Post
Since I have been to Tuscany and Florence (which I loved), I am leaning more towards Sicily or Croatia. I'll have to transfer in Rome for Sicily or Frankfurt for Croatia, both not a big deal. If we do Croatia, I would stay in two places and absolutely rent a car. Are Split and Dubrovnik baby friendly? Is it extremely hilly or uneven?
Tuscany has a great variety of landscape. I've been there numerous times, and have only seen a very small sample of the region. There is a long stretch of seacoast, with resort towns (Viareggio, San Remo), natural seacoast parks (the Maremma), islands (Elba, Isola del Giglio), and also mountains (the Apuan Alps, the Apennines).
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Old Jul 1st, 2020, 07:23 AM
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Europe with a toddler

Hi All,

Supposing its safe to travel again, my husband and I want to plan a trip to Europe next spring (April, May or June) with our baby who will be about 15-17 months old. We've both traveled to Europe a lot, mostly to the big cities. We think we'd like to rent a car where we can bases ourselves in 2-3 places and take drives to different towns each day. I am open to small cities as well. We plan to travel for 2 weeks. A few thoughts we had:
  1. Tuscany- I've been to Florence, San Gimignano, Pisa and Chianti region. Is there anywhere else that you would recommend to be an enjoyable experience?
  2. Germany- Rhine River- I've only been to Berlin and Dresden in Germany so I think this would be a very different experience
Any other ideas? I'm really open to everything.
I live in Texas, so not trying to travel to Europe when its going to be hot. We'd ideally like nice weather for sightseeing and flat terrain for a stroller.

Thanks!
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Old Jul 1st, 2020, 09:36 AM
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Travel dream all you want, but I wouldn't be going anywhere with a toddler until there is a vaccine or a near-zero Covid transmission rate.

As to your specific ideas, I haven't explored the Rhine River area in more than 40 years, so I can't help there. But I love Italy and we have made many trips there in recent years. You don't mention having been to southern Tuscany... There are two 'clusters' of towns that we have enjoyed exploring. Montalcino/San Quirico/Pienza/Montepulciano -and- Pitigliano/Sorano/Sovana/Saturnia. You also didn't mention Umbria which I like perhaps even more than Tuscany. Although it's not a large region, it would be easy to divide your time between the northern part (Lago Trasimeno area, Perugia, Deruta, Gubbio, Assisi, Spello) and the southern part (Spoleto, Montefalco, Trevi, Bevagna, Todi, Orvieto). Obviously, there are many other areas in Italy you could think about, but for that I suggest you crack open a guidebook and look for places that appeal to your specific interests.

If your trip was in June (as opposed to April or May), I'd add the Dolomites to your research with or without a few days in Venice.
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Old Jul 1st, 2020, 01:30 PM
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Hi,

I travelled a lot with my daughters when they were babies and toddlers (they are 4 and 7 now), and Tuscany was a highlight. My eldest daughter was toddler when we went to Tuscany (stayed in an agriturismo). It was part of a bigger trip, Venice, Lake Como, Lucca, Tuscany and finally Manarola in Cinque Terre. In Tuscany I would recommend the Val d'Orcia area, where Pienza is. The scenery with the cypress trees, winding white roads is one of my best memories.

However, if your only nationality is American, your biggest obstacle course is going to be entrance in Europe. But please dream, take notes, and when the borders open, go.
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Old Jul 1st, 2020, 04:19 PM
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The Rhine River would be an easy one to do, and if you wanted to leave the car at the hotel you can easily do all the towns by rail and boat, and save the car for trips into the hinterland. You would fly into Frankfurt and from airport you could travel directly to either Mainz (southern side of the Rhine) or Wiesbaden (northern side of the Rhine) and base yourselves there. They are both about 40 mins west of Frankfurt Airport by train. I would travel in May or (even better) September, which is a harvest month and special food and drinks are served. The cruises up the Rhine depart directly from Mainz (city) and Wiesbaden-Biebrich. The scenic part is up to Koblenz but you could travel as far as Bonn or Cologne. The towns along the Rhine for the most part are flat ground, perfect for strollers, but are surrounded by hills where the wine grapes grow, and you would probably not have to broach them. Places you might want a car for are in the hills, like Schloss Johannisberg. It's no fuss getting there and travelling there with a child would be no issue (we travel with our young daughter and have been to the region numerous times because of our connections there).

Good luck!

Lavandula

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