Following our recent round-up of the best city breaks for parents with babies, here’s our pick of the top urban spots to visit when you have older children in tow. All have plenty of kid-friendly facilities, and sit in cities brimming with family fun.
I’ve never met a child who isn’t fascinated by Ancient Rome, and a gelato– and pizza-fuelled weekend visiting Roman ruins will appeal to all. Stay at this unpretentious guesthouse in Trastevere (walking distance from the Forum), which has triple and quadruple rooms as well as 4 large suites for families. There are books and board games on site, a safe courtyard cloister for kids to run around, and child-friendly cafés nearby.
Two of these 3 uber-stylish self-catering apartments are set up for families, with second twin bedrooms as well as doubles. They sit in a heritage building with a garden in downtown Reykjavik, with a small playpark opposite and shops and sights within a 5-minute stroll. Take a boat trip from the harbour, check out the maritime museum with its excellent flotsam-and-jetsam playground, or head out into the countryside to see geysers and volcanoes. Afterwards, return to your warm and cosy haven for relaxed family meals.
Cosmopolitan Schoenberg is ideally placed in the former West Berlin, with easy transport links to shopping, the zoo and the airport. These attractive apartments have plush furnishings, oodles of space, and well-equipped kitchens for easy self-catering. Half of the 1-bedroom options can take a family with one child; for larger broods, there are 2- and 3-bedroom varieties. There’s a communal BBQ and roof terrace, and the local park has a skate park, a playground and ping-pong tables.
In the pedestrianised heart of this charming Spanish city are 2 clusters of cool, contemporary apartments, with 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom configurations to suit families of all shapes and sizes. Some have terraces or balconies, and all come with excellent kitchens and open-plan living areas. City life is on your doorstep, and the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences is only a 20-minute walk away; you’ll likely spend much of your time here given it has Europe’s largest aquarium, a hi-tech cinema and an excellent science museum. There are beaches nearby, too.
You couldn’t be better placed for immersing your family in London life. These surprisingly peaceful apartment-suites sit on a backstreet behind shopping mecca Regent Street: head eastwards to Soho and Covent Garden, south for Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square, and due north for Regent’s Park and the zoo. Toy emporium Hamleys is just a couple of minutes away, too. When you’re done for the day, return to this oasis of calm with its clean lines, cushioned furniture and swish kitchens.
Although not slap-bang in the centre of iconic Amsterdam, the emerging ’New East’ area is an interesting place to base yourselves for a few days – you’ll find cutting-edge architecture, design stores, and both the maritime and science and technology museums. There’s heaps for kids nearby, from canal cruises to working windmills, and even replica ships to visit. This unique hotel offers child-friendly fare, a play space above the restaurant, and an almost bewildering array of rooms from designer to kitsch.
You get the best of both worlds here: snazzy self-catering apartments with sleek kitchenettes in a quiet cul-de-sac, or a classic Cape hotel with original features, a swimming pool and a really sumptuous breakfast buffet. Either way, you’re in hip downtown Tamboerskloof with charming cafés all around, and it’s only a short taxi ride to the waterfront for a playground, a ferris wheel, an aquarium and boat trips. Beaches are a little further away, and don’t miss taking the cable car up Table Mountain.
This year-old apart-hotel has 5 simply stylish and light-filled apartments, 3 of which can take children. It’s set in the up-and-coming Santa Catalina district, which is a few minutes’ walk from the bustle and sights of the old town. Pleasingly, each family apartment occupies its own floor and has a private terrace for alfresco breakfasts, which you can order in or acquire at the authentic market nearby. For other meals, head to one of the many laid-back eateries hereabouts.
The Bohemian Marais district is a big draw for families. It’s centrally located, with plentiful cafés and bistros, markets brimming with fresh produce, and chocolate ateliers nearby; there are excellent metro connections for exploring wider Paris, too. That’s if you can drag your offspring away from the creature comforts of this stunning 3-storey loft apartment, which has a home cinema, a gym, a sauna and space for up to 8.
The City of Angels may not feel so heavenly if negotiating its humid streets with children in tow. Thankfully, you can return to this verdant oasis of calm, right on the river and complete with a swimming pool. Choose one of the luxurious independent suites in the garden, three of which have kitchenettes should Thai food lose its appeal among the younger fry; one has a private gated terrace and direct pool access, too. Wat Po temple and the Grand Palace are opposite, and there’s a speedboat with a driver to hire for river explorations!