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Take the Kids! 5 Fun, Family-Friendly European Getaways

Article by Melissa Liebling-Goldberg 06.30.2017

Traveling to Europe with children, big or small, needn’t be hard to plan. From volcanic islands to cosmopolitan cities, activities abound in these vibrant destinations that will entertain the whole family.

1. Barcelona, Spain: Feel the buzz of this beach-side escape

The colorful Spanish city combines the best of two worlds — sunny beaches and big-city culture — and both are just outside the Hotel Arts Barcelona. Within walking distance is the Barcelona Zoo, or you can venture farther to the Tibidabo, which, at over 100 years old, is one of the oldest amusement parks in the world. But no visit to Barcelona would be complete without seeing an Antoni Gaudi masterpiece, so take the little ones and head to Park Guell where they can let loose while you take in the iconic designs of one of Spain's most important architects. Don’t forget to snap a family photo with the famous dragon sculpture!

A large fish sculpture overlooking the beach

2. Berlin, Germany: Wake up to history

Step out of The Ritz-Carlton, Berlin into the lively and historical Potsdamer Platz, an urban plaza near the iconic Brandenburg Gate. Pick up a Berliner, the city’s eponymous jelly doughnuts, and go way back in time at the Museum für Naturkunde (Museum of Natural History), which has a massive collection of more than 25 million specimens to explore. On sunny days, there’s no better spot in the city than Tiergarten, a massive 630-acre park that features a zoo, tree-lined trails, lakes with row boats and family-friendly beer gardens.

3. Sintra, Portugal: When the palaces are on par with sports

Golfers will rejoice at the Trent Jones-designed 27-hole course at Penha Longa Resort, while their kids will enjoy the Jardim das Damas, filled with a playground, sandbox, cable slide and, of course, mini-golf. If you can tear yourself away from the idyllic resort, head into Sintra to tour the fairy-tale Pena Palace, a vividly painted 19th-century royal residence adorned with decorative towers, battlements and statues of mythological creatures. Explore the Pena Park around the palace with over 200 hectares of forested hills and numerous short walking paths.

4. Tenerife, Spain: Get back to nature in the Canary Islands

Even the most jaded teenager will enjoy a guided Jeep or helicopter tour around this volcanic island — especially when you stop to watch the 26 species of whales and dolphins from a private catamaran below the cliffs of Los Gigantes (a concierge at The Ritz-Carlton, Abama can easily arrange both expeditions). Or get the ultimate view from above when you ride a cable car (or if the little ones are up for it, trek) to the summit of Mount Teide, the highest peak in Spain. Come back and relax at the resort’s exclusive beach or seven pools.

5. Wolfsburg, Germany: Rev your engines for an auto lovers’ paradise

Toy cars will never look the same after a fun-filled visit to the Autostadt theme park, located next to The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg. Tour multiple pavilions filled with the best — from Lamborghini to Volkswagen — and stop into the ZeitHaus for five stories of automotive design history. If you have a mini-scientist or two in the group, take them to explore the 250 interactive “experimental stations” at the Phaeno Science Center. Or let them harness their inner warriors as they roam through Wolfsburg Castle, completed in the 1300s and considered one of the best-preserved medieval castles in Europe.

A tree adds a touch of green on one of several “islands” constructed along the hotel’s waterways

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Plan Your Stay in These Destinations

  • Barcelona

    Location Barcelona, Spain

    Experience A beachfront hotel overlooking the Mediterranean

    • Mediterranean and city views
    • 5 outlets, including a two Michelin-starred restaurant
    • The highest spa in Barcelona
  • Berlin

    Location Berlin, Germany

    Experience A striking hotel in the vibrant Potsdamer Platz quarter.

    • Fantastic views of the Tiergarten
    • Minutes from historic Berlin attractions
    • An exceptional on-site restaurant
  • Penha Longa Resort

    Location Sintra, Portugal

    Experience A quintessential retreat among rolling hills and mountain lakes.

    • A palazzo estate steeped in history
    • Unlimited championship golf experiences
    • Set within a 1355 monastery
  • Abama

    Location Tenerife, Spain

    Experience A beachside retreat where sea, land and resort blend seamlessly.

    • Overlooks the brilliantly blue Atlantic
    • 13 restaurants and bars to experience
    • A 72-par, Dave Thomas golf course
  • Wolfsburg

    Location Wolfsburg, Germany

    Experience One of the most luxurious hotels in Germany’s wealthiest city.

    • Located within the famed Autostadt
    • 3-star Michelin-rated AQUA restaurant
    • Located near Volkswagen’s headquarters