If you have a family, one of the biggest questions when traveling to a new place is whether it will be particularly kid-friendly, whether you’re looking to relocate or are just after a weekend break. The European approach of treating kids as adults (don’t be surprised if you see ten-year-olds drinking wine) when out at restaurants is a stark contrast to the US way of life. This is why it’s important to both understand the culture, and ensure you find a city where you feel welcome.
From good schools to great public transport to museums and entertainment, we’ve picked out five cities which stand out from the rest.
Let’s start at the top, shall we! Copenhagen has been named the best country in the world to bring up children. So clearly, they’re doing something right.
The Scandinavians are renowned for emphasizing ‘outdoor parenting’, even the cold weather doesn’t put them off. And as such, almost all Copenhagen children grow up with a play park within walking distance. With over half of the city’s residents using bikes to get to work every day, Copenhagen is safe, pollution is low and fun is completely free.
Zurich offers a whole range of options for both kids and adults alike. When the sun is shining, there’re plenty of parks and open spaces around the city – and the zoo is a hugely popular option too. However, the range of museums, many with interactive exhibits for kids, means you’ll always have something to do on a rainy day.
Not only is there are a great variety of activities in Zurich, but despite Switzerland’s expensive reputation, children under 6 travel free on the tram. This is hugely cost-effective, as the tram is one of the best and safest ways to get around the city – another reason why we love it!
Vienna is a regular on the ‘Best cities for…’ lists and with its accessibility and beautiful architecture, we understand why. But it’s not just the old architecture which makes it popular with families, Vienna is also extremely well-paved for prams, making it easy for new parents to navigate.
Another excellent feature of Vienna is childcare, where parents shell out hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for childcare, kindergarten in Vienna is free – however, there is stiff competition for places.
Parma’s reputation as the food capital of northern Italy (there really is a lot of Parma ham and parmesan cheese), means it is often overlooked by families and instead concentrated on by foodies. However, with an excellent transport system, parks around every corner, and a reasonable living price, it pays to not overlook this beautiful city.
Not only does Parma offer public transport almost around the clock, but it’s also not too saturated for a city. Even those who don’t live in the center can walk there, and the local international school offers a ‘Happy Bus’ service, which drops kids off and picks them up at their front door – something which is very uncommon in Europe.
If there’s one thing the Dutch are renowned for… it’s bikes. Not ideal for tourists who aren’t used to the priority cyclists have on the roads, but perfect for kids and parents alike as both get a greater autonomy from the lack of parental-taxi-service.
Not only do bikes provide a great way for kids to get around on their own, but they also keep Amsterdam low on pollution. The Dutch boast the shortest working week in the West and schools in areas of lower-economy actually receive the highest level of state funding – basically, when can we move?
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