By Anna Tataris De Jesus
As a traveling mommy, one of my favorite places to take the kids is Europe. And my favorite time of year to go is Mid-May or June for three reasons: The tickets are cheaper, you beat the summer heat and it’s less crowded. My husband and I have traveled with our two kids to Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, England, Germany, France, Austria and Ireland. And we are impressed with how many kid-friendly cities we’ve found along the way. Here are a few of our favorite places for the kids.
Barcelona is a beautiful city filled with art and culture, but it’s also filled with fun unique places for the kids. Imagine an old-timey amusement park built in 1889 that’s at the top of a mountain. The Tibidabo Amusement Park is filled with fun rides and games your kids will love. It has everything from Lego rooms for the little ones to a Ferris wheel with amazing views and a roller coaster that will literally take you off the side of the mountain. Another favorite stop is Park Guell, which is probably the most peaceful, whimsical park you’ll ever take your kids to where you’ll find artists painting. Architect Antonio Gaudi designed this beautiful park in 1890, and you’ll still find his vibrant colored tiles everywhere from benches to a friendly mosaic dragon. Take a picnic to enjoy there. Another fun stop is L ‘Aquarium Barcelona, where your kids can see everything from sharks to penguins. Keep in mind that these places are just a bonus to the traditional sightseeing you can do with the kids: Stroll La Rambla with its unique street performers and visit La Sagrada Familia, the breathtaking church that was Gaudi’s biggest project, a UNESCO World Heritage site that has been under construction for more than a century.
Castles, fields of green, rainbows and friendly people—what’s not to love about Ireland? In the warm summer months, I would recommend taking the kids to so many beautiful places, from the Cliffs of Moher to Killarney National Park and Blarney Stone. Dublin by far has the most activities for the kids. We love going to Dublin Zoo! It’s the largest zoo in Ireland with more than 400-animals. St. Stephen’s Green Park is a historical park and garden in the heart of Dublin. The kids will enjoy feeding ducks, strolling through the park and listening to street musicians. Nearby, you’ll also find Grafton Street known for its shopping and eclectic street performers and musicians. If they like Irish dancing, there are several places that offer shows that are kid friendly. Don’t forget to visit Dublin Castle and take the kids to eat Fish and chips at The Famous Leo Burdocks.
The Greek Islands
If you’re looking for a relaxing beach getaway, I recommend the Greek Islands. The Greeks love children and really put kids first when it comes to daily life. So no need to worry if your child starts screaming during dinner; the locals are more likely to try and help you than give you a look. There are so many islands in Greece to visit, but my favorite is Santorini. It’s magical and romantic with stunning views you won’t find anywhere else in the world. The only drawback for taking kids is the thousands of steps they’ll have to climb. The older kids might be ok with that but if you have younger kids, I recommend the island of Rhodes. The island has spectacular beaches to enjoy all day long, but it also has lots of interesting places to explore. The Acropolis of Lindos has incredible views. The climb to the top can be a little tough for small ones, but they can take a donkey ride down. You can explore Rhodes town which is a medieval city and the Valley of the Butterflies, which is a beautiful nature spot with thousands of butterflies. The Island of Rhodes is just one of many islands you’ll hear the laughter of children playing on the beaches throughout the summer.