Europe with Kids: 10 Cities in 16 Days
Europe with kids.....sounds a tad intimidating for many, I know! May was the first time our children (ages 8 and 10) traveled to Europe for vacation and they totally rocked it! We were a tad hesitant to stay so long with them but we also knew that we wanted them to experience as much as we could fit in without overwhelming them....or us!
In this post you’ll find our itinerary for our London and Italy vacation. It covers what cities we visited, how many nights we stayed in each location, and a few highlights.
I know this is a brief overview of our vacation but don't worry because more in-depth blog posts about each specific location is coming!!!
Feel free to comment with any questions about any location or activity you’d like more information on.
You’ll also find our overall thoughts on what we thought worked as well as what we will adjust for our next long vacation.
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London: 3 nights
The first stop in Europe was London! We were lucky that we have friends in London who invited us to stay with them during this portion of our trip. It was SO ideal being able to stay with friends for our first stop. Because we didn’t have a packed schedule it was nice to allow us to have a slow morning after such a long travel day.
Venice: 2 Nights
OF COURSE no trip to Europe with kids is complete without visting Italy! We quickly realized that two nights are not enough for us. I like having more than one full day in each stop. Nonetheless we had a FABULOUS time in Venice. We could have spent a full week here!
We traveled via EasyJet airline from London to Venice and I am SO jealous we don't have those cheap flight options here in the states! It was so easy and so affordable!
- St. Mark’s Square
- St Mark's Campanile
- Row Venice - we learned how to row a gondola!
Florence: 2 nights
Since the train only takes two hours to reach Florence from Venice via train it was the perfect next stop on our vacation. There really is so much to do here so we could have easily spent 4-5 nights. It’s one of my favorite cities and it was a great city for the kids to experience the fast paced Italian city life!
Monterosso (Cinque Terre): 5 nights
This beach town was our recharge and break we needed after visiting three very busy cities. We definitely needed a slower vibe by this point in the trip! It’s a tiny village on the sea that stole my heart in 2010 when I visited for the first time! It has become quite the tourist destination since my first so we try to stay away from the insane amount of tourists that flock in for day trips. Mornings and evenings are our favorites in Monterosso since the day trippers haven’t quite flooded in yet. It’s an ideal base for exploring the region since you can easily take the train many places!
Cinque Terre Highlights:
- Hike Monterosso to Vernazza
- Day trip to Genoa to visit Europe’s largest Aquarium
- Day trip to Portovenere
Radicofani (Tuscany): 3 nights
BEST PART OF THE TRIP - hands down.
Because it was SO authentic and not many residents spoke English! The slow pace was exactly what we didn't realize we would need at the end of this vacation!
I almost hesitate telling y’all because I want it to stay this way!
I don’t want hordes of tourists flooding this quaint little hamlet in southern Tuscany.
If you go you HAVE to please help maintain the integrity of this place!
Another reason it was the best part of the trip is because we had NO plans other than driving to see the thermal baths. My husband and the kids spent so much of their time in playground area of the town so the kids could play with the local children (I ended up getting sick with a sinus infection during this part of the trip and missed a lot of it). It still remains their favorite part of the trip!
Tuscany is an ideal destination for your trip to Europe with kids! It has a slow pace and many outdoor opportunities.
A fun fact: my son took this photo of his sister while exploring the villa grounds!
- Termi di Saturnia
- The SLOW pace and gorgeous views
Rome: 1 Night
We did absolutely nothing in Rome. We had planned to take the kids to the Colosseum but they were DONE by this point.
It makes me so glad I didn’t pre-purchase tickets! We ate at the hotel restaurant and the kids swam in the pool which pleased them.
Was it disappointing we didn’t explore Rome at all?
Yes and no.
YES because we were in ROME and it’s the COLOSSEUM (and one of the highlights our son wanted to see) but NO because we had seen SO much and the kids were completely FINE on missing out on it. And so we were fine with it. There’s ALWAYS going to be something you miss on any trip and it’s best to recognize your limits. Taking a moment to reflect on everything we had the privilege to experience helped us be content and so grateful!
16 days was an ideal time
It allowed us to truly have two full weeks by having those couple extra days for travel.
Both kids started missing home by day 13 but were still happy to be on our adventure. I have dreams of staying for a couple of months but we'd have to stay in each place for at least 5-6 nights. I think the back to back large cities at the beginning of our trip really affected all of us and wore us down.
3 nights in each location is the absolute minimum I would stay for a future two week trip.
Things we will do the same (for the next extended vacation)
- Have a slower start to our trip to allow for jet lag to truly wear off. It was so great to not have a strict itinerary for the first days of our trip. It allowed flexibility for us to adjust to the time zone and rest after our flights.
- Have a “slow” time built in to the end of our trip. It’s so nice to go and see and be adventurous but to have that slow time in Tuscany at the end with no expectations of having to see certain sights was invaluable.
- Not have anything scheduled for the day before we fly out. This wasn’t intentional. We actually had planned to go check out the Colosseum the afternoon before we flew out the next day. Thankfully I had not pre-purchased admission to it because everyone was not having it. The kids were MORE than happy to swim in the hotel pool and it allowed mom and dad to chill as well. If we had been in a place more suited for exploring we likely would have ventured out just to see what we could see but definitely going to keep this in mind for our next trip.
- Planning our transition travel between cities to happen in the morning so we aren’t arriving later in the evening/night to the next destination. We tried not to leave *too* early each travel day but found that leaving by 10 or 11 worked well. I don’t like navigating in the dark so I didn’t plan our departure from each city in the evening.
Things We Will Do Differently
- We now believe that 3 nights is minimum for each city. Staying two nights *seemed* as though it would enough but it really only allows one full day. It made me feel like we had to get up and out early on our only full day to make it worth it. I don’t mind getting up early on some mornings but I felt like the beginning of our trip we had to get up early every morning to feel as though we could experience each city. However we knew we had five nights in Cinque Terre so we could sleep in and have a slower pace so it helped fuel us through the first part of our trip where we were so busy.
- Eat more dinners in. Italy, in particular, tends to eat pretty late for dinner. Our kids could handle it for a night or two but we found the nights we bought groceries from the store to prepare ourselves ended up being more enjoyable than going out to dinner every night. Plus it's SO fun going to the grocery store in Europe!
Europe with kids is totally doable!
In planning, be sure to keep in mind that seeing EVERYTHING it's simply not possible. Allow for one highlight per day and have a list of other possibilities. You don't want to schedule every day to be full and then be disappointed when you miss something on the list because it was just too much!
I'd love to hear itineraries for your European vacations with kids! Maybe next time I can actually get to more places in Europe! Until then....wanderlust it is!