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City Breaks With Children – Yes or No?

City Breaks and children were never something I would have put together; images conjured of small children being bored and dragged around shops and museums, or trying to get them to sit still in restaurants would’ve put me off.

As an adult BC (Before Children) I would’ve been puzzled by why anyone would bring a child into a city – noise, traffic, nightlife; surely the goal was to get away from this? Now, my life has changed and I have two kids... but I still have a lot of cities on my bucket list and actually I think there is so much more on offer to amaze, delight and entertain young children, you just got chose wisely.

I read somewhere that it’s often a good idea to re-visit a city you’ve been to – you don’t feel the need to ‘sight see’ as much and can go at a much more relaxed pace without feeling that you are missing something. Doing city hop-on, hop-off tours are often dismissed as “touristy” but can be a brilliant way to combine sight-seeing with some fun and entertainment for the kids, not to mention giving little legs a rest! Getting around a big city like Barcelona, for example, on an open top bus, with lots of breaks; being able to jump off and explore Park Guell might buy you some extra time at the Sagrada Familia for example.

While art galleries and museums nowadays tend to be a lot more family friendly, it’s worth researching and choosing the more interactive exhibitions and galleries – places like the Guggenheim in Bilbao, even our own Science Gallery in Dublin, or specialist museums like the Lego Museum in Prague will hold their attention a lot longer. London is a fantastic city for children; think London Eye, Somerset House Ice Rink, shows galore like the Gruffalo or currently running at Warner Brothers Studio is ‘Hogwarts in the Snow’ … there is just so much to do and see there; I remember my own awe at the sheer scale of the whale in the Natural History Museum... I would love to see my kids face walking into that room! Speaking of whales... aquariums are always a winner for parent and child alike. Walking through the tunnels of a massive shark tank in Barcelona Aquarium and watching the manta rays is a memory my daughter still has of a trip to Barcelona two years ago… they are also very handy for a rainy day!

On a very practical level, booking a hotel with a pool is another trick and treat for kids - better still, a hotel with a pool, near a park! City parks usually have playgrounds, duck ponds, bike rides and picnic potential and give the kids a chance to run around unrestrained. Consider bringing a stroller with you, even for kids up to 4+ years (the SilverCross Pop is tested to a heavier weight than most strollers - 25kgs as opposed to 15kgs). Sampling local cuisine is part and parcel of experiencing a new city but if little Billy doesn’t like olives in Ireland, he’s probably not going to like them in France either.. but he might go for a gelato instead! Relaxing the routine a little seems to be key.

So which cities to visit? I sometimes wonder are some cities more child friendly than others to explore? Lonely Planet recommends Budapest this year among its top family destinations, with outdoor baths, a children’s railway (driven by children?!) and a permanent Big Top. London and Berlin have regular top ten places. Actually, most cities have so much to offer, it’s a case of cherry picking a couple of suitable activities and attractions. It’s a personal thing, but I feel that city breaks are a bit like Christmas – if you’re going to bring children, then plan it around them and experience it through their eyes. If they enjoy it, you definitely will.

Have you taken the kids on a city break? How did it go? For more travel advice, check out our Travel Experts - The Stork Exchange!

About the Author

I’m Olivia Mai, founder of The Stork Exchange and Mum to two small children. My third baby is the one I leave at home when I go on holidays, it’s called The Stork Exchange and it’s my little business. It is a children's equipment hire service that offers everything from child car seats, prams, buggies, cots and highchairs, to monitors, booster seats, buggy boards and pram bags. I started The Stork Exchange with my husband four years ago after a bad experience on holidays abroad with my kids. Fast forward four years and we now have two shops, one at Dublin Airport and one in Shannon. We work closely with a number of airlines and car rental companies and have spent three years developing our product range. That’s a lot of products to trail -- safety, durability and ease of use are top priorities. I constantly get asked questions by parents about travelling with kids -- what equipment to bring, what not to bring, what’s allowed by airlines, what’s not. Being at the airport day in day out means I am pretty close to it all and as a result have built up loads of knowledge, tips and nuggets of practical and useful info about the do’s and don’t of travelling with children. I also learn from the experience of other Mums and Dads. It’s great to be able to share this advice to help make the journey and holiday a bit smoother and easier for other parents. Want to get in touch? Email me at or call 087 255 8702 Check out my website and social channels at the icons above.


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Isabel Stone
Oh my goodness yes 100% - city breaks with kids are fabulous! As we can't really afford to go anywhere too glamorous or tropical, we often go on small city breaks around Britain instead - London, Dublin, York, Edinburgh...we've done them all and loved each trip equally (though London may slightly win as we did go to see The Lion King!) Honestly I can't recommend them enough - there's always an incredible range of hotels, and a vast array of activities and family trips to choose from! We're actually just about to jet off to Birmingham in a couple of weeks as we have some family there (plus they have Cadbury's World so I'm sold!) We're staying in the <a href="">Park Regis</a> hotel as it's meant to be excellent for families. Has anyone stayed here? I'm just so excited - I absolutely love going away with my family on these kinds of trips. Does anyone have any other tips of what to do when we're there? I haven't been in years and I know there's lots that's changed, so any tips would be fabulous!
11/05/2017 10:10:15

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