Where in Europe to take a 4 year old

Old Jan 1st, 2023, 11:31 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 142
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Where in Europe to take a 4 year old

Hi all! Happy New Year.
My husband, 4 year old and I are considering spending 2-3 weeks in Europe this summer and are looking for ideas from people who have been to many of the countries. We haven’t been out of the country since before we had her.
We’ve been twice together before kiddo- Italy, Spain and Portugal. I lived in Paris for a year in 2005 and would love to spend more time in other regions of France (and practice my now slightly rusty French!) but we also really loved Italy and Portugal so much we’re considering returning. Now, we’ve been looking at Croatia and Slovenia, Czech Rep. and Hungary. And then of course there’s the Netherlands which we’ve also never been to. How do you decide where to go when there are so many places that seem so amazing? Do you return to countries you love (but maybe visit a different region) or do you go to a whole new country?
If you were traveling with a young kid what country would you recommend?
We are first and foremost food-obsessed. Love architecture and art museums (though we realize we wouldn’t be doing much in the way of fine art museums). Beaches or lakes are nice, big beautiful parks and outdoor things like this are also appealing. The photos of plitvice National park in Croatia look amazing with all the bridges and waterfalls…
Any suggestions are appreciated!!
Lauren1979 is offline  
Old Jan 1st, 2023, 12:05 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 72,943
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
When thinking about 4 and 5 yo's first big trip London and Paris come to mind first. London and nearby counties have soooooooo much for young children. From the London Transport Museum, Natural History Museum. more parks than one can count, the London Zoo, The Princes Diana Playground, city farms ( https://www.mudchute.org is just one of several) , boat trips, - even a LegoLand in Windsor. Plus lots more.

And you know all the great things in Paris.
janisj is offline  
Old Jan 1st, 2023, 12:30 PM
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 1,294
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You might enjoy this German article about where Germans think kids are served best on vacations. If you open it and then right-click in a browser it will translate the whole thing. They focus on beach and 'freizeitparks' which includes theme parks but also less overblown ones - - but also rewarding places for adults - - it gives a real sense of what native Europeans find a successful and enjoyable time with a preschooler looks lilke (I also think boat rides are nice, like in Venice - - could stay out on Lido where there is a beach; also Lake Garda has boat rides and more ice cream than you can shake a cone at, with small easy beaches; staying near the coast of Provence near Aigue Mortes you need a car, but lots of pretty places, and good history - - these are places that avoid strenuous slogs over boring terrain, which I think is essential for a 4-year-old):

dfourh is offline  
Old Jan 1st, 2023, 01:18 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 3,147
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Vienna is an awesome place for a young family - Zoom Children's Museum, butterfly house, the 'beach' on the Danube in summer, the Prater, a tram ride that goes around the city, the aquarium, the zoo, and then many of the adult things you might take a child to (unless your child really doesn't fare well in adult settings). Churches and cathedrals are all open with free admission and are a nice way to introduce your child to some religion as practised in Europe. You will have to seek out child-friendly cafés (google kinderfreundliche Cafés Wien) because the big traditional ones are not so good with kids. This is based on when we took our then 4 yr old to Vienna when I was doing research in the town hall library there in 2013. I did some of these activities with our daughter (including a trip to Melk) and my husband did the rest on his own with her.

i also like the idea of London as you will be able to do language-based activities with your kid (plays, pantomimes in the right season, etc), having the same language does take the heat off a bit.


Last edited by lavandula; Jan 1st, 2023 at 01:31 PM.
lavandula is offline  
Old Jan 1st, 2023, 01:30 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 57,091
Received 5 Likes on 3 Posts
When our kids were around that age we went on a fab family holiday to Mallorca and all loved it. Sea, sand, nice food and lots of excursions in quite a small area. And much cheaper than Italy at the moment. When they were a bit older we went to Lake Garda and that worked very well too. THere's even the eponymous Gardaland if you want a theme park experience.

And from my experience of travelling with kids of that age, albeit a while ago, having a pool in which to cool off at the end of the day is essential.
annhig is offline  
Old Jan 1st, 2023, 08:12 PM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 2,014
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
It's always a tussle between visiting new places and returning to old favourites. It's hard and I have to reconcile myself to not seeing everything and focus on a particular country or region.

With a four year old, I wouldn't worry too much about which towns or country to visit but I would tailor the days to suit a child. Kids of that age will find something interesting and distracting anywhere and don't necessarily need specific kid focused destinations. I'd also try to make sure that your journeys between places are not too long - and we've found trains work much better than cars, buses or planes with our children at all their ages. An afternoon rest can sometimes give everyone the energy to enjoy a (not-too-late) dinner. Lunch as the main meal can work well too and is very European.

If food is a focus, then choose based on the cuisine you enjoy most. And once you've chosen that country or region, then mix up your environments. For example, I'd choose a city location; a rural-ish village or small town; and perhaps a beach/lake location. With a young child, I'd avoid any stays less than 4 or 5 nights each.

As for luggage, I recommend a small case and a day pack for each of the adults, and a small pack (like kids take to kinder or school) for your child (s/he can carry their own toys, pencils, hat, small water bottle, etc).

Enjoy yourselves. Your child won't remember it but you will.
dreamon is offline  
Old Jan 2nd, 2023, 06:48 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 57,091
Received 5 Likes on 3 Posts
Another option in Italy is an agritorismo, which are farms, usually family run, which also cater for tourists. They usually offer evening meals as well as some breakfasts, often have pools, rent out bikes and have play grounds and animals for the children to pet. You could spend the day exploring, come back and allow the little one some play or swimming, feed her, then she could be in bed whilst you had some adult time eating your dinner.
annhig is offline  
Old Jan 2nd, 2023, 04:22 PM
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 220
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by janisj
When thinking about 4 and 5 yo's first big trip London and Paris come to mind first. London and nearby counties have soooooooo much for young children.
I would second Janis's recommendation. Our first trip as a family to Europe in 2019 was to London and Paris, and London in particular was incredibly family friendly. At the time, my kids were 7, 5, and 1, and we had more than enough to keep everyone happy and entertained.
Danielle811 is offline  
Old Jan 3rd, 2023, 02:32 AM
Join Date: Jun 2020
Posts: 682
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Italy, Portugal, Greece, Spain, France are all family friendly countries. Maybe go to the Dordogne or the south of France, castles, architecture, lakes, beaches and good food, things that appeal to kids as well as adults, where you can happily spend 2-3 weeks. Copenhagen is another option, plenty of things for young kids to enjoy such as the Tivoli Gardens, zoo, Bakken, Legoland as well as beautiful nature, lakes and beautiful beaches, food scene is great too, you can rent a summer cottage in one of the upmarket suburbs on the coast, just north of Copenhagen, cross over to southern Sweden for a change. Everyone over the age of about 7 speaks English. There are places to stay such as farm stays or cabins in the forest. Majorca is a good option too, plenty of beaches and architecture, culture and local food. The choices of where to stay are endless in Europe. Cyprus is an easy place to be, English widely spoken, lots for kids to do & adults alike, its a well known holiday destination for Europeans. There's mountains, perched villages, festivals etc and the locals love kids, its a big enough island to spend that amount on time on.
balthy is offline  
Old Apr 26th, 2023, 12:44 AM
Join Date: Apr 2023
Posts: 4
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We recently traveled by car in northern Italy. We visited Florence, Pisa, Verona and Lake Garda. We spent the night along the way in farm houses, where my daughter could see animals, ride horses, pet dogs and sheep. She really liked Gardaland Park, and so did we. Two days was enough to ride the attractions (better from Monday to Thursday, there will not be many people).

Romul81 is offline  
Old Apr 26th, 2023, 08:29 AM
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 18,109
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Take into consideration possible heatwaves and definite droughts in southern Europe.
Maybe Denmark would appeal. Lovely beaches, the original Legoland, Hans Christian Andersen, Vikings, very child friendly and new to you all so you can explore it together.
hetismij2 is offline  
Old Apr 26th, 2023, 11:36 AM
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 127
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I'm biased because I used to live there, but I'd vote for Prague! It's a beautiful medieval city, with lots of gorgeous parks and fun things to do with kids - like paddleboating on the river, going to the zoo, going to the numerous playgrounds sprinkled around the city, etc. The city is also known for puppet-making, so your child might be interested in going to one of the children-centered puppet shows, which happen at certain times at the National Marionette Theatre. Prague also usually has really great weather in the summer - not as sweltering hot as some of the more Western and southern European countries. In the summer, they even have a makeshift beach that they set up along the Vlatva river!
Fleur_de_Lis is online now  
Old Apr 26th, 2023, 01:45 PM
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 3,078
Received 17 Likes on 10 Posts
never mind

Last edited by cdnyul; Apr 26th, 2023 at 02:34 PM.
cdnyul is online now  
Old Apr 26th, 2023, 02:27 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 3,147
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Someone woke up a post from 1st Jan and the OP has not been back - hope she sees these good responses!

lavandula is offline  
Old Apr 9th, 2024, 06:52 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 142
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I’ve seen all of them! And I appreciate all of the fantastic replies!
We had to put off travel (well, everything really) because my mom suddenly became ill.

Copenhagen, Vienna and Prague all sound amazing!! All are going on my future summer trips list
thanks again everyone ❤️
Lauren1979 is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
Nov 7th, 2007 08:34 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -