Top 10 cities for travelling with kids

Face painting for children in Copenhagen's Zoological Gardens
Image courtesy: Anders Blomqvist

One of the eternal vacation traditions is the fight between the grown-ups and the youngsters over the places to visit. Chances are, the kids will not want to go where the parents plan to. But despair not, for help is at hand. With lots to see, do and eat all within a relatively condensed area – often with entertaining transit systems as well – these cities can be both adult playgrounds and a paradise for kids:

Oaxaca (Mexico)

This colourful Mexican city is pint-sized, charming and fun to explore on foot. A central plaza provides plenty of space to run around for kids and there’s the vibrant Benito Juarez Market. The city is surrounded by lush rainforest which isone of the richest wildlife habitats in the Americas.

Istanbul (Turkey)

With its mosques, palaces, museums, bazaars, multi-coloured carpets, food markets, Bosphorus cruises and sweet apple tea, Istanbul offers much to fascinate and enchant children at every turn. Kids will love Miniaturk, a park that contains around 105 scale models of the famous buildings of Istanbul.

London (England)

You could stay in London for a whole year and find something new and interesting to do with the children every day. In summer, don’t miss out on playing in the fountains at Somerset House, where in the winter there’s an outdoor ice-skating rink. A perennial favourite with kids is to try and make a statue-like Beefeater blink. Makes for many an adorable video.

Los Angeles (USA)

A good destination for teenagers – choose between the original Disneyland, Universal Studios and Santa Monica. There’s heaps to see and do in this sprawling city that encapsulates the American Dream.


Artificial outdoor mall of Universal Studio's Citywalk, Los Angeles
Artificial outdoor mall of Universal Studio's Citywalk, Los Angeles
Image courtesy: Richard Cummins

Vancouver (Canada)

Vancouver is frequently named the most liveable city in the world. There’s lots of water as well as beaches, a huge urban park (Stanley Park) and numerous hiking and biking trails. In addition, all the attractions of the Rocky Mountains are only just over 100 km away.

Lisbon (Portugal)

Lisbon isn’t exactly the first place that comes to mind when you think of holidaying with kids, but wait till you explore the lovely town! With trams trundling up to a castle, a state-of-the-art aquarium and a fascinating maritime museum that explores Portugal’s great seafaring past, this city captivates kids. The fairytale town of Sintra, too, is a just a short train ride away.

Copenhagen (Denmark)

Copenhagen oozes old-world charm, with a compact city centre, a lively waterfront and plenty of pedestrian-only zones. Thrilling rides at Tivoli Gardens and Bakken, a royal palace and museums designed especially for children will keep you plenty busy.


Safe, clean and accessible, Singapore is a good, gentle introduction to the cities of Southeast Asia – and an excellent jetlag-busting pit stop on the long haul between Europe and Australasia. Also, Sentosa Island with its beaches, butterfly park, dolphin lagoon and underwater world has to be seen to be believed.

Sydney (Australia)

If beaches, swimming pools and numerous ferries aren’t enough, there’s Sydney Aquarium, Taronga Zoo and the Koala Park Sanctuary, which are all huge hits with the young ones. If there is a cricket match on, trust us, Sydney Cricket ground has the best ambience!

Rome (Italy)

With some of Italy’s best gelato, the impressive Colosseum and Castel Sant’Angelo, spooky catacombs under Via Appia Antica and the green spaces of Villa Borghese, the challenge in Rome is not to try and do too much. And then there is the pizza! Need we say more?

This article is based on an extract from Lonely Planet’s Travel with Children. It was published on and refreshed in July 2012.