Here's a quick summary of our family trip to Europe itinerary.
- Day 1 – Paris
- Day 2 – Disneyland Paris
- Day 3 – Paris
- Day 4 – Brussels
- Day 5 – Bruges
- Days 6 and 7 – Amsterdam
- Days 8 to 10 – Exploring Germany
- Days 11 and 12 – Prague
- Days 12 and 13 – Vienna
- Day 14 – Travel home
Days 1 to 3 – Culture and thrills in historic Paris
Day 1 – Take in the sights of the City of Lights
Paris gets its nickname "the City of Lights" both from its incredible beauty when lit up at night, and its history as a European centre for enlightenment and culture. The marvellous Louvre Museum is at the heart of the city, with its countless masterpieces, it’s well worth a wander around.
Be sure to scale the mighty Eiffel Tower while you’re here. An excellent time of day to visit is for sunset, you’ll climb the lower levels as the sky changes, with magnificent night-time views awaiting you at the top. Finish with dinner at a classic French bistro and introduce the children to local cuisine. If you’ve got fussy eaters in the group, steak and fries is usually a safe bet! Once you’re back on the ground, stick around to watch the tower’s twinkling 5-minute light show – on the hour, every hour.
Day 2 – Take the family to Disneyland
Take the train from central Paris to Marne-la-Vallée Chessy – the nearest station to Disneyland Paris. The journey takes around an hour and brings you right to the gates of Disneyland. The resort is technically made up of three distinct areas – the most popular and famous is Disneyland Park. This is where you’ll find most of the main attractions, such as the iconic Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.
Walt Disney Studios Park takes you behind the scenes in a movie-themed wonderland. Meet Captain America and Buzz Lightyear, and ride Aladdin’s Magic Carpet among many other attractions. Disney Village features a superb array of shops where you can pick up souvenirs and enjoy live music shows.
Day 3 – Wrap up your Paris stay
Spend your last day in Paris doing a little shopping and sightseeing. The Champs-Élysées is one of Europe’s most iconic avenues. Head here for chic boutiques, perhaps as a special treat for the grown-ups, and see the Arc de Triomphe here. Climb atop it for a birds-eye view of Paris’ urban core in motion.
Alternatively, spend the day at the majestic Versailles Palace. Most famously Queen Marie Antoinette's residence, it displays the splendour of French Baroque architecture. In fine weather, you can row boats through the Grand Canal of its gardens. Regardless, you’ll definitely want to visit the incredible Hall of Mirrors inside. Travel from Paris to Versailles-Chantiers in just 15 minutes on the RER suburban train service.
Days 4 and 5 – On to beautiful Brussels and Bruges
Day 4 – Architecture and Belgian treats in Brussels
It takes just under 90m to travel by train from Paris to Brussels. Once you arrive, you’ll be close to the heart of the city at the Grand-Place. This is the city’s historic commercial centre, with stunning 14th-century architecture encircling you. Marvel at the City Hall and surrounding guild houses before you venture off to discover even more of Brussels.
Take the kids to the iconic Atomium structure, a giant version of an iron crystal. Soar up almost 100 metres for panoramic views and visit science exhibitions in its numerous pods. Nearby is Mini-Europe, with the Continent’s great monuments recreated in small form. What better place to get inspiration for onward travel in Europe? Finish the day with a typical Belgian meal, perhaps with some moules-frites (mussels and fries).
Day 5 – A day in scenic Bruges
The hour-long direct train journey from Brussels to Bruges makes for a superb day trip. Bruges is considered one of Europe’s most picturesque cities. Rather unspoiled by modernisation, it offers a glimpse into life in old Europe. Walk along its canals, or even book a tour by boat. The guides will fill you in on all the local history, and children are bound to enjoy the thrill of a boat ride.
Another option in this quaint city is a tour by horse-drawn carriage. Families of up to five can ride together at once. The city is also very bike-friendly, with many places to find rentals. By foot, be sure to visit the beautiful Grote-Markt church and climb its belfry for sweeping views from 83 metres in the air.
Days 6 and 7 – Tulip fields, windmills and cosmopolitan Amsterdam
Day 6 – Art and cycling in Amsterdam
Travel from Bruges to Amsterdam by train in just 3h 3m. You’ll pass through the gorgeous Belgian and Dutch countrysides on the way. Amsterdam is the ideal city for active families, who can pedal along its bike-friendly streets. A visit to the Anne Frank House is also an important and must-visit educational experience.
If you missed your chance in Bruges, a canal cruise in Amsterdam is a fun choice when you need to rest your legs from cycling. There are all types of cruises available along the 165 canals in the city, including child-friendly excursions.
Day 7 – The Dutch countryside
If you happen to be visiting in spring, find out if the tulips are in bloom in nearby Noordoostpolder. If not, take advantage of the gorgeous surroundings. Hop on your bike again and head to Purmerend, just over an hour away when cycling. Its historic town centre captures the authentic charm of the country.
If you’re a more serious cyclist, just over two hours away by bike is charming Alkmaar. Reward yourself on arrival with some produce from its famous cheese market!
Days 8 to 10 – Choose from Germany's megacities
When heading on to Germany, you’ll have plenty of choices for where to visit. You could easily spend three whole days in incredible cities such as Cologne. It's famed for its cathedral, superb Christmas markets, and laid-back atmosphere. For an even closer journey, travel from Amsterdam to Essen in 3h 20m. This is a city surrounded by lush green scenery and features the intriguing Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex Museum.
Frankfurt is the country’s financial capital and offers a taste of contemporary Germany, a fast train from Amsterdam to Frankfurt takes just 3h 44m. Climb its 200-metre Main Tower for incredible urban vistas sure to thrill the whole family.
Munich is the gateway to Germany’s fairytale castles. Take the kids to the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty's castle, Neuschwanstein. Or, travel from Munich to Füssen to reach the iconic palace. Examples of journey times within Germany include Essen to Cologne in 90m and Berlin to Munich in just under four hours.
Days 11 to 12 – Central Europe's best in magnificent Prague
Day 11 – Scale an ancient hilltop castle
Travel from Berlin to Prague by train in just over four hours. Walk along the 14th-century Charles Bridge and go paddleboating in the Vltava River. This gives gorgeous views of the hilltop Prague Castle. You’ll definitely want to explore this royal complex, which is now over a thousand years old!
If your family appreciates odd architecture, you'll certainly smile at the quirky Dancing House hotel, which seems to bend in on itself. For a look at the Czech Republic’s political past, the John Lennon Wall features Communist-era graffiti with Beatles-inspired protest themes.
Day 12 – A relaxed museum tour
Perhaps a chilled-out day exploring Prague’s museums is in order? The National Gallery is an excellent place to learn about Czech history through paintings and photography. The Prague City Gallery is more modern, with innovative sculptures and moving image exhibits.
A tour with Riksha Prague is an excellent idea for seeing the Czech capital while giving your tired feet a rest. The Chotek Gardens are an ideal place to relax with a picnic, with great views of the city below.
Days 13 and 14 – Enjoy serene Vienna
Day 13 – Vienna, home of classical music culture
Travel by train from Prague to Vienna in 4h 30m. Make the trip early in the day and you’ll have time for cake in Vienna's regal coffee houses and a visit the legendary Vienna State Opera. The 12th-century St Stephen’s Cathedral is an ornate masterpiece. The kids will adore the beautiful Butterfly House, where giant species of these majestic creatures fly about you within an art nouveau palace.
Day 14 – Indulge in a show on your last day
Allow yourself a calm final day on this suggested family trip to Europe itinerary. If you're going to introduce your kids to classical music, there's no better place to try than Vienna! Opera and ballet performances are spectacular in the State Opera, and live music orchestras can be a more accessible way for some. If you’re visiting in summer, you’ll be able to catch various festivals showcasing jazz and art.
Travel tips for an incredible family itinerary in Europe
Smart ways to pack lightly
With the family in tow when travelling in Europe, make life simple with smart packing. Train travel means you won’t have to worry about weight limits. Carrying less often means less stress. Consider buying vacuum-seal bags which shrink your clothes flat.
Also, think about the time of year you’re travelling, and how much footwear and outerwear you’ll really need. Using a list rather than rifling through your closets to decide what to bring can also keep things under control. If you bring your own towels, microfibre varieties take up far less room than standard ones.
Pre-book to make the most of your time
You'll not only keep things simple, but you’ll also save money when you plan ahead. It varies from country to country, but train companies usually release tickets at their cheapest price around three to six months ahead of time. You can also check out our information on Interrail and Eurail passes that are valid all over Europe and can be brought for a certain amount of days.
Discuss as a family which sights you want to see in each city. Then, get your tours and entry tickets pre-booked as well. That way, you’ll spend more time experiencing Europe and less time searching once you’re there.
This suggested itinerary for a family trip to Europe makes for an exciting, varied introduction to the delights of the continent. Or pick and choose parts of it for inspiration, and explore your other options to work in. An open rail pass to the Continent allows mixing and matching, with countless combinations to explore on your rail tour of Europe.