This French city, located just across from Germany along the Rhine River, is famous for its Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg. Since it’s the world’s sixth-tallest church and France’s second-tallest cathedral tower, it should feature prominently on your travel itinerary. You should also set a date with Musée de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame (Museum of the Oeuvre Notre-Dame), which is just across the cathedral.
Tasting some local delicacies at the restaurants and brasseries, relishing cafe au lait at its bakeries that serve it with a kugelhopf, marveling at the city’s bridges (it has 20 marvels that connect the Grande Ile with the rest of Strasbourg), and enjoying a free half-day bike ride with the Strasbourg Pass to visit Parc de l’Orangerie (a magnificent park just opposite to the Council of Europe) are some interesting things you can do in this city.
For families with kids, planning a tour to the Botanical Garden, the Zoological Museum, the Alsatian Museum (where artifacts related to folk art are on display), and the Orangery Zoo (that houses storks, mountain sheep, lynxes, flamingos, and lemurs together with domestic animals in its mini-farm) would be educational and fun. Kids would also love a visit to Europa-Park, Germany’s most popular theme park and Europe’s second most popular one (the most popular crown being in possession of Disneyland Paris) that are located between Freiburg and Strasbourg.
If you plan to explore the city on foot, make sure to get “The Strasbourg Stroll” from the Strasbourg tourist office with professional guides and theme plans so that you don’t miss anything worth a visit. If sightseeing by bus is on your agenda, get a “Tour Pass” to travel around the city for the day.
Simply take in the magnificent view of the medieval Burg Square at dusk while in Bruges. You can also visit the landmarks here, namely the Town Hall, Bishop’s Palace, the Holy Blood Basilica, and Old Civil Registry. Families with kids can take boat rides to get a good view of the old buildings and bridges. Horse and carriage rides could also be a fun activity for the little ones.
Visiting the Folklore Museum to get a glimpse of how 19th-century life was in the city, taking a close look at St. Janshuis Windmill, which is among the few mills that are still functional, being enthralled by Michelangelo’s “Madonna and Child” in the Church of Our Lady, or setting a date with Boudewijn Seapark, a theme park with seal and dolphin shows (at its sea life center) and old-time carnival and wild river rides are other activities that you can indulge in.
Tasting Belgian chocolates, frites and waffles, opting for hot air ballooning or tandem biking to get a different view of the city, or simply taking your little one to the playground at the Astrid park are all options in Bruges. If you plan to travel extensively from Bruges, make sure to utilize Belgium’s public transport rather than hire a taxi. A rail Go-Pass would be ideal if you plan to visit Bruges, Brussels, Ghent, Liège, and Antwerp.
While in Rome, you can’t miss viewing the iconic ruin, the Colosseum. From the Colosseum, you can walk to the nearby San Clemente Church. The ancient Pantheon temple, the lively market square of Campo de’ Fiori, the well-preserved ruins of the city’s ancient seaport (Ostia Antica), the Trevi Fountain, St. Peter’s Basilica (to admire several masterpieces, particularly the “Pieta,” Michelangelo’s masterpiece), and the Vatican are all places worth visiting during your Rome sojourn.
Make sure to plan a trip to the huge Piazza del Popolo and Piazza Navona that has an unusual shape and boasts of stunning fountains. Lastly, don’t miss tasting the varied flavors of gelato with your kids. Learning some basic words and phrases in Italian and saying them with a smile would help a lot when asking the locals for any help or information. Be vigilant with your money and carry it somewhere that is not easily accessible to petty thieves (like a zippered pocket inside your purse).
Algarve is considered among the greatest family destinations in Europe. This land of contrast boasts of a magnificent coastline together with some beautiful beaches. Here, you can enjoy some of the country’s best golf courses along with sandbar islands and a protected natural park. Kids can simply fall in love with Aqualand near Alcantarilha, which is one of Europe’s biggest water parks.
Some other attractions that would surely keep the children occupied for hours are Zoomarine, which focuses on environmental education, and Children’s Life Sciences Centres, where the kids can enjoy various interactive exhibitions. Besides Aqualand, you can take the kids for boat trips where they can enjoy the adventure of boarding, hoisting sails, and riding the curving waves.
Some must-see destinations are Faro, Alcoutim, Tavira, Olhão (which is the city’s busiest fishing port), and Vilamoura among others. Don’t forget to count your calories, as the Mediterranean food is simply tasty and too hard to resist.
Cologne is an ancient cathedral city that captivates people looking for the perfect family destination. It boasts of 12 great Romanesque churches, including the impeccable Cologne Cathedral. Here, you can enjoy culture, entertainment, and arts simultaneously as the city consists of approximately 36 museums and 100 galleries.
Kids can enjoy their vacation time while visiting Altes Rathaus (the country’s oldest town hall), Koelner Zoo that consists of more than 700 species, Museum Ludwig to enjoy postmodern art, Hohenzollern Bridge to have a picturesque stroll, Praetorium, Wallraf-Richartz Museum, and the House of 4711.
If all these fail to enchant the kids, you should take them to the Chocolate Museum, which is a massive hit amongst all ages. If adventure sport is something that interests the kids, head straight to Jever Skihalle Neuss and Alpincenter Bottrop. Lastly, don’t forget to try out different fragrances while in Cologne.
I do hope you’ve enjoyed my 3 part series on Can’t-Miss Destinations When Planning a Family Trip. In this last article my cities and countries of choice have been; Strasbourg, France; Cologne, Germany; Rome, Italy; Algarve, Portugal and more.
In 2011, Gabriela White decided to change her life, retire early, and pursue adventures instead of comfort and possessions. Her goal is to discover new places, meet new people, and take the time to learn about them, their values, and their place on this tiny planet.