17 essential tips for visiting Europe with kids

Are you planning a trip to Europe and think you have everything mapped out, but you’re not sure what you need to know when you’re actually on the ground?

Well, then you are in the right place! Whether it’s your first time or you’re a seasoned traveler, exploring the enchanting continent is always an amazing experience.

A mother and two daughters look at a canal in Venice
Venice, Italy

In this guide, we’ll share valuable tips and ideas to make your European adventure unforgettable. From navigating transportation to dealing with the stress of finding places to eat, we’ve got you covered. A Guide to Ischia, Italy – The Best of the Island of Ischia

If you need some tips for visiting Europe with kids, we hope the following tips will help you create unforgettable memories with family without the stress.

Essential tips for visiting Europe with children

Kaz and the girls have a picnic in front of the Queen's Hamlet of Versailles
A walk in Versailles, France

Now that you’ve planned your European trip with kids and have everything prepared before you go, it’s time to think about what to plan for when you’re actually there.

Here are some tips for visiting Europe that will help you as you travel around the continent.

1. Minimum + Continue Package (You can also check in for free)

Kaz and the girls look at the tower in St. Mark's Square in Venice
St. Mark’s Square Vienna (with Lightweight everyday bag!)

For our family, we had three backpacks and one suitcase. We wanted to check in for liquids and in case we had any excess baggage.

Baggage allowances can vary while flying within Europe – and they can weigh, so we wanted to get this checked bag just in case. They never fornicated them!

Doing minimal packing is much easier if you are visiting Europe in the summer as the temperature is generally the same – hot. I even managed to pack for a 4-week trip.

Kaz and Craig stand around a wine barrel looking out over the Tuscany view
Summer clothes in Europe!

However, I checked my belongings most of the time. Why? Because we had to wait to receive the only checked bag anyway and I prefer not to carry my bag with me. And because I’ve never had to pay for my checked baggage – that’s the only reason I check it in.

Airlines have now created a strife-like s**t with their outrageous fees for checked bags, which most people carry. Planes don’t have the space to hold everything you’re flying with, so they ask volunteers to check bags for free.

I am always a volunteer. (Unless I have tight connections and can’t wait for the luggage cart.)

Pack layers that can be mixed and matched to create different outfits and get a good pair of walking shoes, I suggest sandals in the summer. It’s worth the investment.

Two people sitting on sun loungers and drinking coffee
We wore our shakos every day!

Crag and I love our superior comfort Chaco hiking sandals. I chose the color black so that I can wear it with all outfits and for all occasions, and even wear it with a dress if I want to elevate my style. I also threw in some slippers, but I only needed the Chaco

Also, check your kids’ bag after packing it. We’ve encouraged our girls to pack their own bags since they were little. They’re generally great at this, but I didn’t check properly this time.

Calera had packed her heavy Dr. Martens boots (which she had worn once—and it was very hot), a heavy winter jacket, and half her bookshelf. Savannah also packed 6 pairs of denim shorts that she refused to reduce!

2. Book (almost) everything in advance

Calera and Savannah make tiramasu
Cooking lessons in Tuscany

For Europe, especially in the summer, If you do not book in advance (And sometimes too soon) You’ll miss it.

We booked our flights three months in advance, our accommodations not long after, and our tours and attractions at least a month in advance.

It was too late for some of the rides and attractions e.g Eiffel Tower (We missed the second floor tickets, Boat tour in Venice, Climb the Vatican DomeAnd Climb the Duomo Dome in Florence.

Most tours and hotels offer free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance, so if you want to do something spontaneous, there is always the option to cancel and try to rebook for another day.

Boat near the beach with colorful buildings of Vernazza in the background
We booked it last minute Boat tour in Cinque Terre!

If there’s a tour or attraction you decide to do last minute, book online as soon as possible. Our timed tickets for the Eiffel Tower It was canceled due to a delayed opening. I jumped online immediately and was able to purchase more tickets for the first round the next day.

We recommend using booking sites such as Get your guide, and Phytoror Ticket As much as possible. Guided tours will give you guaranteed entry when tickets are purchased in advance. So, if all the attractions you want are sold out, they may have the admission ticket you need.

Don’t forget to note the free attractions you can visit too, like the Trevi Fountain in Rome or… Arc de Triomphe in ParisPlan your visit as soon as possible to avoid the crowds, especially the Trevi Fountain. Top 10 Airlines to Fly to Bangkok

3. European travel and attraction tips

A mother and two daughters stand in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
Eiffel towernaturally!

We share lots of tips about tours and attractions in Europe in our guide to Planning a trip to Europe with the kids.

Here are some basics you should know before you arrive in Europe:

  • Purchase skip-the-line passes and timed entries. Lines are very long to buy tickets on the day.
  • Tours It’s a great way to engage children, gain deeper insights, get an overview of the city, and get to know the crowds. We love the small group tours of Europe that you offer Take tours And Live Tours.
  • Food tours and cooking classes It is a fun way to learn more about the culture. Kids love them! Also, check before Taking tours And Live Tours For food tours and cooking classes.
  • Book the first tour Or a timed entry slot, the day has a greater chance of fewer crowds and less delay.
  • Children can often be free For attractions in Europe.
  • There may be some attractions Closed on certain days always check.
  • Leave yourself enough Time to get security, which is often slow.
  • Sometimes there is There is no clearly marked walkway to the attractions For people with skip-the-line tickets or timed admission tickets. Several times in Paris ended up waiting in the general admission line. It wasn’t until I went up to the front to speak to the steward that they said: “Oh no, you don’t have to wait“And let us in. Always ask.
  • Make sure you have a scarf in your bag Cover your shoulders when visiting religious sites, including for children. Many may also want to cover their knees. You will need to cover both Vatican. I had to buy a camera scarf to wrap around her waist and cover her knees for St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice. There will always be street vendors nearby to take advantage of this opportunity if you get stuck!

4. Tips for eating out in Europe

People sitting outside the flower-covered Café Montparnasse
Café Montparnasse
  • Most people in Europe eat late. A lot of restaurants won’t open until around 7:30. So go early You are sure to get a table.
  • Take a food tour During meal times you will have killed two birds with one stone.
  • An aperitif hour (generally around 4-7) This is great as you can get free snacks with an Aperol Spritz (usually not much, just nuts and chips, some can be nicer)
  • Grab a baguette with cheeseGrab a bottle of wine from the local market and enjoy a refreshing walk in one of the many parks or wonderful viewpoints and let the kids play.
  • Pastries and coffee From an espresso café in Italy, or a boulangerie bakery in France, they are cheap and delicious breakfasts. Kids can’t resist chocolate pastry, can they?
  • Food and wine is Cleaner and healthier In Europe so enjoy them. I overrated and didn’t put on any weight!
  • There are many accessible places where you can get a panini, sandwich, and other easy lunch options.
  • Ask to go whenever you can – This includes coffee – because it is always cheaper than sitting down.
  • Daily gelato! Is there really any other way?
  • Eat away from the main squares (arenas/campuses) and tourist attractions and head to the smaller streets. It will often be cheaper and better.

What about food allergies?

Woman eating a bowl of pasta
Gluten-free pasta

I’ve found that Europe is very good with food allergies, especially Italy! I was shocked at the number of gluten-free options they have. It was our favorite restaurant in Rome Mama is eating In Trastevere, a completely gluten-free restaurant serving delicious Italian food.

France not so much. I think they are terrified that you won’t eat the flour!

At least they understand what “gluten-free” means, unlike many places in the US. I’ve even asked flight attendants to give me a box of pretzels when I ask them if they do gluten-free snacks.

Translate your dietary requirements into the local language on your phone (or save them to the Google Translate app) to easily show servers.

5. European cities are easily walkable

Kaz and Savannah are walking around the grounds of Milk Monastery
Explore Austria

Have a pair of comfortable, sturdy shoes as walking is possible in most European cities.

Walking is cheap, a great way to see cities – because in Europe there’s something around every corner – and can help avoid the extra pounds from all the delicious food and Aperol Spritz you’re consuming.

Our rule is if public transportation takes 20 minutes or less, we walk. By the time you get to the subway station and wait for the train, you’ll almost get there on foot.

In fact, we were logging between 20 and 30 thousand steps every day. We will be disappointed in ourselves if we go below that.

6. Public transportation in Europe

Girls traveling from London to Bath by train
London to the bathroom by train
  • Uber is not found in Europe like the United States. Verona You don’t have it at all, so you will use a meter. Make sure that taxis set meter number one.
  • Oftentimes, for families, an Uber may end up being the same price or cheaper than individual train or bus tickets – especially for shorter distances. So, we always check it first.
  • Be careful of traffic. We thought it would be cheaper and easier to get a taxi from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport to the hotel after our red-eye flight. mistake! After another 2 hours and 30 euros, we arrived.
  • It is fast, efficient and convenient. You can probably book tickets on the day but use sites like Omi And Train Line in advance just to be sure.
  • Buses are usually a last resort. You can often walk or take the subway instead. Buses will be delayed frequently due to traffic conditions!
  • Subways in major cities It’s also an easy and affordable way to get around. If you’re staying for several days and riding the subway a lot, it may be cheaper to buy a day or weekly ticket. Check out our post on Get Around London.
  • In some cities like Vienna And Budapest are no ticket barriers for getting on and off the train. You will need to find a small machine to validate your ticket before boarding the train. Do not try to board the train without a ticket. Trust me. We did this in Budapest, only because we couldn’t find a ticket machine anywhere or find anyone to help. So, we hopped on the train thinking we could buy a ticket from a ticket clerk on the train or when we arrived. Oh no. The ticket man didn’t have it. He gave each of us a fine of 30 euros! What should have been a €4 trip cost us €120.

7. Driving in Europe

Roadside car with views of the coast
My rental car in Greece

As we mentioned in the Planning Guide for Europe, Book your rental cars in advance. Here are some tips when you’re on the road in Europe.

  • It will be space for cars and luggage smallest in Europe. Allow this when booking and take less luggage!
  • Fuel is really expensive in especially if you’re coming from America (but don’t worry, almost everything else is cheaper)
  • On the continent of Europe They drive on the right is the case in the United States of America. In the United kingdom, they drive on the left, as in Australia.
  • You usually won’t need an international driving license (but check this as it varies from country to country) and I wouldn’t recommend driving if you don’t feel confident.
  • Europe is much more than that Environmentally friendly than the United States. Some cities will restrict driving downtown and can impose hefty fees and taxes if you do.
  • The roads are narrow and crowded with all kinds of moving things from people, bikes, scooters, Vespas, cats, etc. In May, I rented a car for my family’s Peloponnese road trip He had to drive his car to Athens Downtown on my own – it was an adventure!
  • Download Google Maps For the area you are driving in if you lose your Wi-Fi connection. It won’t give you updated traffic information though.
  • There will be a lot of toll roads. You can avoid it, but it will add time to your trip. Most will take a credit card but have some cash on hand just in case. Look for the money symbol or ticket man, so you know which lane to take, as some cars can drive straight using their electronic tag.
  • Drunk driving laws are strict in Europe. Do not even try.

8. Things to know about living in Europe

Girl sitting on a sofa in an apartment
Our apartment in Rome

Again, we have more in-depth information about booking accommodation on our website A guide to planning a European vacation with kids.

Here are some helpful tips when you arrive:

  • Accommodation is cheaper than in the USA, but you will usually find the rooms to be smaller.
  • You won’t find many American hotel chains (although they are not great for using points).
  • You won’t have many in-room amenities like body lotion and coffee. Some will. Body lotion in general no! Most will have hair dryers.
  • There won’t be many elevators, so Be prepared to carry luggage.
  • If you have a rental apartment and there is a laundromat, be prepared for non-working or non-existent dryers. Washing machines can be confusing to operate.
  • Not everyone will have parking options. There will be some higher-priced valet parking, street parking if you’re lucky, or paid parking. We had difficulty finding parking Our apartment in La Spezia And we took a gambling parking lot in what looked like an apartment complex near where the apartment owner told us there would be free parking. It ended up going well, but as we were leaving, a soldier stopped us and told us we were in a military zone and couldn’t be there! We were so lucky!
  • You will be charged a City hotel tax at the end of the stay. Some places will only take cash. They will generally warn you.
  • Some hotels may include bicycles, Our hotel in Verona is an act.
  • Many hotels will not provide breakfast – Our hotel in Florence did just that it was beautiful. I wouldn’t advise you to buy it anyway, as you can get much cheaper breakfasts from the bakery.

9. You will always feel thirsty!

Kaz pours water from a fountain in Paris
The water fountains in Paris are special

One of the things we missed most about the USA on this trip to Europe was easy access to unlimited drinking water. This does not mean that you cannot find water in Europe.

In reality, in Rome And Paris There were plenty of free drinking fountains around town to encourage the use of refillable water bottles. Other places did too, but not to the same extent.

In the United States, as soon as you sit down, a cup of ice water is filled and added without needing the rest of your time.

In Europe, you have to ask for water, and then they bring out little cups – in a café Venice We have espresso cups – and you should keep ordering them.

During the summer, the weather is so dry, and the service is so slow, that we felt like we were dying for water most of the time.

Once you’re seated, order several jugs of water – they’re also small and disappear with one round of drinks poured for all of us.

Ask for tap water, or they will bring you still or sparkling and charge you.

Carry refillable water bottles with you and fill them whenever you get a chance. The water is safe to drink in most places but always check.

10. The service is slow

Four people posing for a photo
Service has never been slow with Julian!

Additionally, the other thing we missed most in the USA was the service.

Service in Europe is painfully slow and inattentive. You will be reporting and stalking servers most of the time.

It can really lengthen your eating time. So be prepared to place your order, order everything at once, and ask for the bill as quickly as possible.

The only good service we got was on our website Avalon Cruise on the Danube River – It was extraordinary!

11. Learn basic phrases in European languages

People savor at Les Naturistes
Communicate in a few French words – more wine, please!

With the English language, you will be able to live quite easily in Western Europe. But we think it is good manners to learn at least a few basics of the local language and use it regularly.

We find that locals love it when you do this. Keep it simple with Hello, please, thank you, excuse me, cheers…You can add more as you learn it!

Savannah learned Latin in school, so she was very good at learning Italian and I asked her to translate some old Latin words for me about historic buildings. She also took Italian lessons at Duo Lingo before we left.

12. Or use Google Translate

Caroline and Calera take pictures on the boat
On our website Boat tour in Cinque Terre

How did you travel for decades without Google Translate? I enjoy trying to communicate without it more, but it has come in handy when I’m short on time, or when miscommunication makes me sick – like explaining my gluten-free requirements. Top 10 Airlines to Fly to Maldives

I found that most of the people we met on our European vacation spoke enough English that we could get by.

13. Let older children stay at home

Girl lying on bed looking at her phone
Calera is enjoying her time in her room with us River trip

Several evenings, when the girls were tired from a busy day and just wanted to catch up with their friends at home, we let them stay at the hotel.

We of course arranged dinner for them before doing so. This is a tip for those traveling to Europe with older children. We always stayed close to the hotel so we could return if needed. They were in no hurry to call us back.

It was a break we all needed and loved.

14. You don’t need to tip

People sitting outside Café de Flore in Paris

I’m not going to lie, I loved this. The price is the price!

Sure the service isn’t great, but considering tipping has gotten out of control recently in the US, where people expect to hand you a donut that’s only 20-30% off, I’d take a no-tipping culture any day!

Of course, you can if you want, and we did that sometimes. In Europe, the percentage is usually 10%. Some places will charge a service fee, or cover charge per person, so check your bill. If this is there, I won’t leave a tip.

15. Get a data chip in Europe

Three women outside a train station in Paris
Using free Wi-Fi

You’ll get free and fast Wi-Fi mostly everywhere, including accommodations, airports, trains, and even entire cities. You’ll have to ask restaurants and cafes for passwords, but they’re very good at giving them to you.

We traveled with our phones disconnected from international roaming. We with AT&T are terrible, and I would not recommend them to anyone who likes to travel.

We’re considering moving to GoogleFi or T-Mobile, which includes international roaming at no additional cost.

AT&T charges $10 a day, which is a complete scam. If your phone is unlocked Get an eSim. Our phones are not like that. Version and other carriers will allow you to get an eSim even if ATT locks your phones to the phone plan)

Many companies in Europe understand What’s app and can contact you through it.

The first thing older kids will ask you when you get to your hotel or sit down at a café is “What is the Wi-Fi password?” It’s how they communicate with their friends, so I get that, but I was also happy to separate them from it, so they could be there when we were exploring.

One of the best places to buy your eSim is through Airola. Check prices and availability here.

16. Access to and Use of Funds

City Parliament building in Budapest at night
Budapest at night

Most places accept credit cards but some carry cash for small businesses. ATMs everywhere. The great thing about traveling through Europe is that most countries use the Euro, so you don’t have to change currency.

We got stuck in Budapest because they took Hungarian money – some would take euros. We were only there for a day, so we didn’t want to take Hungarian money because we couldn’t use it then. You may get that in change if you use Euros.

Use credit cards whenever you can, especially if you’re hacking and your card doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee. We used our credit card.

Click and go technology is very popular in Europe, and usually everyone offers it. But if it doesn’t work out, they still have facilities for chips.

You might get stuck in some places – like paying at the gas pump – where if you use a credit card they’ll ask for a PIN.

US credit cards do not have pins. Payment at the pump is usually a tap payment, so look for that next to where you inserted your chip. Otherwise, keep a debit card on hand that you can use instead if you get stuck.

17. Give your children a daily budget

Kaz and Savannah look into the stained glass windows of St
Sainte-Chapelle, Paris

I didn’t think about this until near the end of the trip, and I wish I had. Give your older children a daily budget and the money on their own cards.

They are responsible for what they spend during the day including food. You can also make a deal where you pay for one meal a day but cover the rest. This way they can learn about budget and spending.

They may ask for fewer rewards and figure out clever ways to get the best deal, carrying over the excess money to the next day, which they can then spend on souvenirs and so on.

Souvenirs are not usually something we spend money on, usually due to baggage restrictions. If they do, it will be jewelry or clothing – something the teen typically likes. Calera has already added two more books to her heavy bag. Read more top family travel tips here.

We’ve created a 3-page printable PDF with a step-by-step guide on planning a trip to Europe. Members of our free email community have access to all of our freebies—including planning guides, checklists, cheat sheets, and itineraries. Join by filling out the form below and get instant access!

Free travel planning guides to Europe

Want help planning your trips to Europe? Guides, tips and step-by-step itineraries.

Featured image

Final thoughts

A family of four inside a palace in France
Hall of Mirrors, Palace of Versailles

So, these are our top tips for visiting the European Union.

We learned these tips the hard way by making and discovering mistakes along the way, so we hope these tips provide you with useful insights and inspiration for your next adventure.

If you’re still planning your trip, be sure to check out our other guide How to plan a trip to Europe To make sure everything is covered.

So go ahead, pack your bags, and embark on the trip of a lifetime. Happy trip! Here are some more specific tips about Things to know before visiting Rome, Things to know before visiting Paris, And Things to know before visiting London.

If you have more tips for visiting Europe, let us know in the comments section below!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top