Three generation family sitting outside and taking a selfie

Three generation family sitting outside and taking a selfie ()

The words ‘summer vacation’ brings memories of packing into the family station wagon and driving cross-country to Wally World, with a pit stop in Kansas to visit cousin Eddie. Okay, that is the plot to “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” but you likely had something similar growing up. With your family now living in Europe, you can avoid station wagons, Wally World and cousin Eddie. Here are five family-friendly vacation spots in Europe.

Stockholm, Sweden

Even on its tourism website, Stockholm boasts it is a city for children. Aside from having loads of attractions that cater to families, it’s also considered one of the most ‘stroller-friendly’ cities in Europe, with ramps that run alongside stairs, elevators in most buildings and free bus fare if you have a stroller. One of the best sites to hit up is Djurgården Island, where you’ll find an open air-museum, petting zoo and aquarium. The city also says all its restaurants and cafes are kid-friendly.

Vienna, Austria

Vienna is easy to get to whether you’re driving or hopping on a train. There are even sleeper trains that can take you from Mannheim to Vienna. Kids will no doubt have a blast at Prater Theme Park, which claims to be the oldest amusement park in the world, with its origins dating back to 1162. It’s free to get in and you pay for the individual rides you want to take. Inside Prater is the Wiener Riesenrad, a supersized Ferris wheel that opened in 1897. Kids can run out their energy at Bogi Park, the city’s largest indoor playground. Rainy day? Visit Kaiser Kindy, a children’s museum where kids can dress up as Kings and Queens

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague is often overlooked for families, but the City of a Hundred Spires is a kid-friendly destination. Families can take a hike through beautiful Petřín Hill, where there is a mirror maze inside a castle and pony rides for kids on the weekends. Prague also has several children’s museums, including the Art Gallery for Children, an interactive gallery where kids can touch, create and even alter art installations. Prague is also known for its marionette shows, which I find to be the creepiest thing next to clowns and mannequins, but my niece loves them and she’s the smartest kid I know. The Divaldo Minor has puppet shows geared to specific age groups and offers deals on its website. Just remember, Czech Republic is not officially on the Euro. Some businesses accept it but at a higher exchange rate. You’ll get more bang for your buck by getting some Czech Koruna.

Lagos, Portugal

If you’re craving a beach vacation this summer, Lagos, Portugal is a good family spot. Porto De Mos is said to be one of the most family-friendly beaches in Europe with clean water, lifeguards on duty and restaurants that serve alcohol, because what parent doesn’t need a cocktail after dealing with overly stimulated children all day? Lagos also offers boat trips where kids can go dolphin watching. There’s also an adventure park that will ensure your children will sleep through the night, as well as the Lagos Zoo.

Crete, Greece

Another good beach vacation spot for families is the island of Crete. There are beaches that specifically cater to families with shallow, clean water and soft sand. Those include Elafonisi, Falassarna and Bali beaches. If you want to take a break from the beach, Crete has the Acqua Plus, a massive water park with a kid-proof sarea filled with safe water slides and pools. Younger kids will no doubt enjoy the island’s Dinosauria Park, an interactive dinosaur park where kids can even dig for fossils.

As a girl who grew up in the sticks of Oklahoma, I couldn’t imagine being a kid growing up in Europe, with so many magical destinations a short plane or train ride away. The memories you make with your family on these European excursions will be something they will always cherish as the tiny humans become life-sized adults.

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