Pick your next holiday destination from this curated selection of family winter vacations in Europe you and your kids will love.
A winter trip to Europe can be a fantastic way to spend the holidays with your kids.
Europe is cold in winter, so traveling at this time means you will have to wrap up in warm winter coats and scarves.
However, Europe during the holidays turns into a magical land of Christmas markets, lights and, in some locations, dreamy snowy landscapes.
We live in Europe and often take short hops to celebrate the holidays with the kids away from home.
Today, we share our favorite winter destinations in Europe for families. Safe travel planning!
This post is part of our series ‘Travel inspiration for families – the very best destinations for families around the world’
As well as this post on the best winter destinations in Europe for families, you want to also check out: best warm weather destinations for a winter family holiday.
The best place to spend winter in Europe with family
There is such as variety of family friendly destinations in Europe, you can take your pick and build a family winter vacation just as you like it.
Depending on the type of vacation to enjoy the most, the best family holiday destinations in Europe could be:
- One of Europe’s most family friendly cities
- Europes’ small towns, maybe visited using the excellent European train system
- or the stunning ski sloped of the Alps.
Dreaming of a big city with shows, shops and plenty of exciting attractions for kids and adults? London, Paris and Amsterdam have all the kids’ entertainment you can dream of!
Prefer snowy slopes for the kids to move their first skiing steps? Head to one of Italy’s family snow parks.
Want to experience Christmas markets where they were born? Head to Germany or Austria.
Want to have to all? Consider Amsterdam, one of the most family friendly cities in Europe, or Geneva, surrounded by the most beautiful mountains!
Below, we will look at all these options, and more!
Safe travel planning!
Please note: this is a list to inspire you to plan a family winter vacation in Europe when safe to do so. Before committing, check official travel advisory and current regulations that may affect your trip.
Best winter family vacation in Europe: map
Our favorite family winter vacations in Europe bring you to the north of the continent.
If you embrace the weather, we believe these destinations will be the best for holiday atmosphere, winter wonderland charm, and will be ideal for mixing family fun and have an educational vacation for the kids.
All locations have a great selection of family -friendly accommodation options too. We link to our detailed guides to each destinations, where you will find all you need to know to plan a family trip to each of our top picks!
The best destinations for a family winter vacation in Europe
Paris – the perfect winter city break with kids
Paris is one of the most exciting destinations in Europe for families in all seasons.
In winter, Paris gets cold weather and possibly a dusting of snow.
However, it compensates cold temperatures with a plethora of attractions and activities for kids and their parents that will make it a huge success with the the whole family.
If you go to Paris during the Christmas season, Paris will treat your kids to fantastic light displays and magnificent shop windows.
The big shopping malls in the city dress up with elaborate trees and garlands and become destinations in themselves.
For instance, in Printemps department store, kids can peruse the fabulous toy floor and parents can have their fix of Parisian fashion.
Then, you can catch the lift and enjoy the spectacular views from the rooftop terrace: access is free by the view over the roofs of Paris, as they say, priceless!
In January, shopping gets even better as Paris has its famous sales!
For an afternoon of fun, you can go to the family friendly ski rinks in the city or you can bring the kids to Aqua Boulevard, Paris’ family friendly indoor water park.
As well as kids’ attractions, the winter is also a fantastic time to see Paris’ must see sites.
The Eiffel Tower is unmissable and often a little less busy in winter, and the Trocadero, the Arc du Triomphe and Montmartre are all kids’ favorite.
In bad weather, you have an infinite amount of museums to explore and you can always escape the cold in a charming Parisian bistrot, enjoying French pancakes and macaroons!
Want even more? Disneyland Paris is a short hop from the city by train and the Royal Palace of Versailles is also nearby.
All this and much more is what makes Paris our favorite destination for a winter vacation in Europe with kids!
You can find here >>> our complete family guide to Paris with kids.
Austria – perfect family destination for Christmas markets and mountain lovers
If you are looking for a family winter destination in Europe that mixes city life, Christmas markets and stunning mountain scenery, then Austria is the place for you!
Austria has a lot to offer to families with children.
If you love city breaks, Vienna is a fantastic destination.
Big but well organized and easy to navigate, Vienna has a plethora of attractions for all ages.
The city center is compact and beautiful: here, you can see the incredible Vienna imperial palace, you can taste an authentic sacher torte (so chocolatey!) and you can treat your kids to a night at the opera.
While this may not seem a kid activity, the Opera is Vienna welcomes them and it is great fun to dress up for the night and admire this palatial, historical theater.
Vienna also has the Prater theme park and Schonbrunn, the incredible royal palace, famous for its large gardens and zoo.
If you prefer smaller centers, Austria has many smaller towns that are charming in winter. You can make them your main destination or you can create a family itinerary, making the most of Austria’s excellent train system.
Salzburg is like a little chocolate box: the city center is pretty, the mountains around it stunning and kids will enjoy the connection with the sound of music.
Innsbruck and Graz are also fascinating, historical and they are famous for having some of the best Christmas markets in Austria!
If you are looking for festive cheer, they are a perfect Christmas destination in Europe!
Germany – the best place to visit in December in Europe with family
If you have always dreamed of visiting Christmas markets right where they were born, then you should look no further than Germany!
A trip to Germany can take many shapes and will be very different depending on the area you will focus your winter family vacation on.
If you like big cities and culture, you cannot miss the cultural powerhouses of Berlin and Hamburg.
Berlin is very cold in winter but it is spectacular; the city has stunning museums, many family friendly, an excellent indoor lego center for kids and it is home to one of the most important zoos in Europe, where kids can even see pandas!
You can find here >>> our guide to see Berlin with kids
Hamburg is also a kids’ paradise.
This vast, elegant city has a stunning city center, a breathtaking port you can visit with a day cruise, a wonderful concert hall and it has a large, historical area now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
For kids, the city has museums and play centers and what was the highlight of our family trip to Hamburg: Miniature Wunderland, a fantastic lego center with tho whole works recreated in lego bricks!
You can find here >>> our complete guide to visiting Hamburg with kids
If you prefer smaller centers, there are plenty of smaller towns in Germany worth seeing.
One we love is Trier, which is home to a lovely Christmas market and has a stunning ancient Roman gate worth seeing.
Trier is close to Belgium so you can also combine a visit there with our next suggestion: Belgium!
You can find here >>>> our guide to the best things to see in Trier.
Belgium – a fairytale destination for families in Europe in winter
Belgium is a very special place for our family as it is where it all started for us!
We lived in Belgium for over two years and we fell in love especially with the Christmas season there, which is festive and fun.
Some of the best places to visit in Belgium in the winter are the pretty town of Bruges and Gent.
These are ancient market towns with fantastic architecture that seems out of a fairytale, with turrets and pinnacles that make the buildings look as if they were made in marzipan!
Compact and family friendly, Bruges and Gent are wonderful also outside the festive season; however, at Christmas they are a treat for kids as they host large Christmas markets with stalls, lights, ferry wheels and tons of kids friendly attractions that will brighten up the darkest of winter days.
You can find here >>> our favorite places to visit in Belgium with kids
Brussels is also worth visiting in winter as it has many fun museums and attractions for kids, including fun ones such as the chocolate museum and the museum of comics.
Not to be missed here are stunning Grand Place, Place Saint Cathrine and La Bourse, which dress up in festive markets, and Mini Europe, maybe the best kids’ attractions in Brussels, where they can see the whole of Europe in miniature version!
You can find here >>> our complete guide to visiting Brussels with kids
Italy snow parks – the best vacation destination in Europe for families at a first skiing experience
If you are dreaming of a holiday destination in Europe where the kids can have a fun and safe first ski experience, then you will love Italy’s family friendly snow parks.
Italy has fantastic Alpine slopes perfect for skiers of all levels; however, it also has special places for families where kids who do not yet ski can enjoy the snow, with or without taking ski lessons.
Family ski resorts in Italy have all families with kids may dream of: fantastic hotels, beautiful slopes, tons of snow games, pretty towns.
They are perfect for kids and, in most cases, they also offer access to more difficult slopes, so more experienced skiers in your party can enjoy them too!
You can find here >>> our complete guide to the best family snow parks in Italy.
Amsterdam – fabulous winter city break in Europe for families
Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities in Europe for kids and one I fell in love with over Christmas many years ago.
There are many reasons that make Amsterdam the perfect destination for a family winter vacation in Europe.
First, it is stunning!
Amsterdam’s architecture is picture perfect and seems to be designed for Christmas.
The city’s pretty houses seem made out of gingerbread and its historical canals sparkle like diamonds during the winter months, when they host the popular festival of lights, with displays from light artists from all over the world
You can read here >>> why I love Amsterdam in December.
Amsterdam also has tons of kid friendly attractions for the winter.
Family friendly museums abound here and the city host Christmas markets in several locations including famous Museum Plein, where you find Amsterdam’s top museums and an open air, scenic ice rink!
You can find her >>> our complete guide to visiting Amsterdam with kids.
Reykjavik and surrounding area – perfect winter family destination in Europe for adventurous families
The idea of going to Iceland in winter may scare many however, Reykjavik is one of the best cities to visit in Europe in winter and for more than one reason.
A lot less cold than many realize, this capital city is compact and in a perfect location to mix city sightseeing with easy day trips to see the best of what Eastern Iceland has to offer.
A warning is in order about the Blue Lagoon, however: it is a lot colder than you may expect, so I recommend you go in the daytime and on a dry day!
If you can, make plans to go chasing Northern lights, visible from in and neat Reykjavik for most of the winter months.
You can find here >>> our complete guide to visiting Reykjavik with kids
Rovaniemi – perfect winter family vacation to meet Santa!
Ask your kids where they want to celebrate Christmas in Europe and chances are they will scream: with Santa, in Lapland!
Rovaniemi is most famous for its Christmas Village, where you can immerse yourself in Christmas atmosphere like nowhere else in the world: what can be better than experiencing Christmas in Santa Claus Village, with elves and the big man himself?
However, it is also perfect if you love outdoor pursuits and want to treat your kids to a snow holiday in what is the ultimate European winter wonderland.
You can find here >>> all the things you can do in Rovaniemi with kids
Stockholm – stunning winter wonderland in Europe for families
Stockholm is a fantastic winter destination for families in Europe.
Built on a network of beautiful canals, Stockholm is a beautiful, well organized city, with an incredible amount of family friendly attractions for all ages.
In the morning, the bright part of the day in. winter in Stockholm, your kids will love walking around the historic city center and taking a boat tour of the city’s beautiful canals.
In the afternoon, you can find refuge in one of the many kid-friendly museums in the city: you cannot miss the fantastic Vasa Museum and its ship, but you should also check out the fun Post Museum and the Abba Museum, so colorful and fun, also kids who may not know the band will love it!
You can find here >>> our complete guide to visiting Stockholm with kids.
Geneva, Switzerland – perfect escape to enjoy city and mountains in one go!
Geneva has a very special place on my heart.
It is a city many overlook as a vacation destination, especially with kids; however, but it is a fantastic place for a family winter vacation and it is perfect if you want to mix city life with time outdoors.
Christmas is the very best time to visit Geneva in winter. From the beginning of December, the city hosts a lovely Christmas market in Parc du Bastions, in the center of town, with pretty wooden huts selling seasonal food and organizing activities for kids such as a carousel and ice skating rink.
The festival of lights brings light displays to Geneva old town, which acquires a distinctive fairytale look!
Geneva is a stone throw from stunning mountains and it is therefore perfect also if you want to enjoy some time on the snow with the kids. you can stay in the city and then relocates to a hotel on the slopes for a few days, or you can simple take day trips right from Geneva towards the Saleve.
Should you want to explore even more, you can catch the train and go to pretty Montreaux and Nyon, where their kids can visit the stunning castle and local aquarium.
Geneva is a beautiful, family friendly, livable city and one of your favorite place for a winter family trip to Europe!
You can find here >>> our guide to Geneva in winter
Dublin – lovely winter city break for families
The best time to visit Ireland is the summer; however, the best time to visit Dublin with kids is Christmas!
The city is simply stunning at this time. As if to compensate for the dark days, the town center dresses up with adorable lights and the shops showcase wonderful displays that bring to the town a fantastic, cheerful atmosphere.
Christmas markets, ice skating rinks and the city’s wonderful parks are perfect for spending time outdoors with the kids and Dublin has wonderful indoor attractions for kids that are perfect for cold days.
Winter is also the best time to visit Dublin’s Museums and to enjoy the city’s incredible hotels: they are perfect to defrost in front of a fire and they have excellent offers for families that make Dublin the perfect winter city break for kids and parents alike!
You can find here >>> our complete guide to Dublin at Christmas.
London – possibly, the most exciting city in Europe to visit with kids in winter!
London is one of the most exciting cities in the world for kids.
It is the type of city you can spend a lifetime visiting and never run out of things to do.
In winter, you will find cold and rainy weather but London has so many attractions, both outdoors and indoors, you’ll be spoilt for choice in terms of things to do.
Especially if you are planning Christmas in London with the kids, the magic of that time, with the lights and Christmas cheer in the air, will make you forget chilly temperatures and envelope you in a warm, festive embrace!
On a first trip to London, you must see the city’s most iconic sites.
The tower of London, Westminster and the Big Ben and Buckingham Palace are all must-see for kids.
However, they will also adore and of course Harrods Department Stores, with its incredible displays and toys, and of course the London Eye, from where you catch stunning views of the city from a cozy, panoramic pod.
The city has an infinite number of museums and indoor kids attractions for rainy days too.
For something special, you can also bring the kids to London’s famous musicals, something really special for kids and adults alike!
Aside from year-round sightseeing opportunities, in late January /February the city hosts the biggest Chinese new year celebrations outside of Asia, and the cold weather will make you enjoy to the fullest the many London tea houses, where you can have a fun, kid-friendly afternoon tea!
With attractions for all ages, I think London is one of the best places to visit in Europe in December with family for Christmas cheer and a great option for January/February too, when the lower season brings lower prices and smaller crowds.
I hope you enjoyed this quick overview of some of the best family winter vacations in Europe.