Are you thinking about taking some Winter city breaks with kids but don’t know where to start? Then this is the guide for you. Whether you are thinking of doing a trip in December, January or even February this guide will have inspiration and tips for you.
We love doing city breaks in Winter. Winter is technically off peak for many cities in Europe, especially in January or February outside of Christmas Market season and travel at this time can be relatively crowd free but does present itself with some challenges due to Winter closures and more challenging weather to pack for. But fear not, in this guide we will show you:
- the best places to go on a winter city break with kids,
- what to pack for winter travel for families and
- other great planning tips.
Best Places to do Winter City Breaks with kids in Europe
Note: this guide looks about the best places to travel in Europe with kids throughout winter however if you want more information on traveling to European Christmas Markets with kids or Christmassy destinations to visit with kids in December check out these posts.
Amsterdam in Winter with Kids
Barcelona in Winter with kids
Bruges in Winter
As the Colin Farrell film once told us, Bruges is like a fairytale and this is even more true for visitors in Winter. This city is home to some of the best chocolate in the world, and production goes into overdrive in Winter. Children will love heading to stores and trying samples as well as learning about the history of chocolate at Bruges’ famed chocolate museum.
On top of this the city’s canals are at their most beautiful in the frost and winter weather.
London in Winter
I love heading into London in Winter due to the absence of the tourist crowds. It has amazing seasonal events from Christmas markets and Christmas lights to special shows such as pantomimes and temporary ice rinks around of some of London’s most famous attractions such as the Tower of London and Natural History Museum to name just a couple.
On top of that London has lots of indoor things to do if you don’t want to be standing outside in Winter weather from amazing museums, theatres and historical attractions. Also, if your travel budget is reduced in the Christmas aftermath London is a great pick because of the volume of free things to do.
And if you visit London in January be sure to check out the Chinese New Year celebrations that happen in the Chinatown region of the city.
Paris in Winter
Paris is a beautiful city no matter the time of year you visit. But there is something special about visiting in Winter when the crowds are at their lowest and queues for attractions at their smallest.
When we have visited Paris in Winter, we managed to get the best view of the Mona Lisa we have ever seen and we love sitting and watching the evening show at the Eiffel Tower, without the hordes of people that you get in summer.
Also there is something special about visiting Paris in February as the air is filled with love and tourists around the city are making their Valentine’s day preparations.
Reykjavik in Winter with Kids
Rome in Winter
Rome is one my favorite cities in the world, however in summer the crowds and heat can be stifling. For this reason I prefer to visit Rome in the Winter.
In December, Rome has some great Christmas markets and the trees in front of the St Peters and the building affectionately known as the wedding cake are must sees. However in January and February Rome is equally lovely and very pleasant to tour. In Winter you will find sights like the Colosseum and Forum, and even the Trevi Fountains don’t have huge crowds and you can get some amazing family photos.
Another of my favorite things to do in Rome in Winter is an Italian cooking class and as an added bonus there are lots of great family friendly options too!
Rovaniemi in Winter with kids
Rovaniemi is often named the best city in Europe to visit in December as it is the gateway to Lapland, the official home to Santa Claus. However Rovaniemi isn’t just a great place to visit in DEcember but in Winter more generally.
Yes there is something special about heading to see the big man in the run up to Christmas, but this is the busiest and most expensive time to visit. However by visiting Rovaniemi in January or February you can still see Lapland in all its snowy glory but without the crowds and with a much cheaper price tag.
Just be sure to pack correctly for your trip as activities such as husky safaris, sleigh rides pulled by Santa’s reindeer and snowmobiling are usually on the itinerary and the temperatures outside are VERY cold.
Venice in Winter for Families
I love Venice in Winter way more than I love it in Summer. Summers in Venice can be crowded and the water a bit smelly. But in Winter you will notice that the city is a lot more tranquil. You can still take a gondola ride even in Winter, you just need to make sure you wrap up warm as it can feel cold on the water.
But don’t worry not all Venice family friendly attractions are outdoors. If it gets too rainy or cold be sure to check out the Venice Natural History Museum which has something on offer for toddlers to teens.
And Venice also has some great Winter season events the most famous of which is of course the Venice carnival which runs in late February / March every year.
Just remember to pack some good waterproof shoes for Winter in Venice is Acqua Alta aka Flood time.
York in Winter for families
Along with London, York is my favorite city in the UK and it is one of my all time favourite places to visit in Winter. If you are visiting York in December there are amazing light trails but also a fantastic traditional Christmas Market that is perfect for exploring with kids. But if you are visiting in February, you will get to see one of my favourite events in the York calendar, the York Ice Trail where ice sculptures pop up all over the city for one weekend only.
York is also a fantastic place to explore in the evening in Winter as the nights are dark. Some of our favourite things to do at night are to head for a meal by gaslight in the Old Guy Fawkes Inn, wander down the historic shambles streets or find our about York’s more gruesome history on a ghost walk.
Tips for taking a European City Break in Winter
So now you know our favorite places to visit, we will give you some handy trips to make sure your enjoy your trip.
Check the weather before you go
The weather in Europe is very varied in Winter. If you are traveling to the Nordic countries and cities you will undoubtedly need thermals and lots of layers. However the temperatures, although cold, are more moderate in Southern Europe and snow there is a rarity. And while most people think December will be the coldest month in Europe, that honour usually goes to January or February.
Therefore we advise you to check the weather before you travel so you know what to prepare for.
Plan for a mix of indoor and outdoor activities
Although the snow in Europe can be beautiful, it is also very cold. We therefore recommend no matter where you are going in Europe in Winter to plan a mix of indoor and outdoor activities to be sure you don’t get too cold during your trip.
Check for Closures
Although in the European capitals like Amsterdam, London and Rome you won’t find many seasonal closures. However the more off the beaten path you go the more likely you are to find places closing for the Winter season. For this reason we recommend checking any places on your bucket list to make sure they are open during the Winter season or if they are operating reduced hours.
Bring a Carrier if you are traveling with a baby or toddler
Although we love traveling with a stroller in Europe, we recommend bringing a carrier as well if you are traveling with a baby or toddler. The stroller friendliness of places in Europe varies from city to city, but if you have a stroller not built for snowy weather and cobbled stone streets you will definitely want to have a carrier with you as well.
And there you have it, our top tips and favorite places to visit in Europe in Winter with kids. But if you have any more questions please drop us a comment below and we will do our best to get back to you as soon as possible.