Travelling with families: The 10 greatest cities for kids

With kids in tow, it's tempting to go the simple route for holidays. A resort with a kids' club, or a campground where they can't cause much trouble are obvious choices. But if you dare to brave a big city with the little angels, some are far better child-ready than others.


Where? Hungary

Secheni Thermal Pools in Budapest, Hungary.

Secheni Thermal Pools in Budapest, Hungary. Photo: iStock

Budapest's ruin bars, markets and architecture may appeal to adults, but it's the massive parks that'll keep kids happy. Top of the list is Margaret Island in the middle of the River Danube, which is perfect for running and cycling around, and comes with dancing fountains. Budapest's real trump card, however, is the huge thermal bath complexes. Even in winter, kids can happily splash around for hours. See

Cape Town

Where? South Africa

Table Mountain, Cape Town.

Table Mountain, Cape Town. Photo: iStock

Cape Town has its beaches, which are a good fallback. But kids are more likely to get excited by Table Mountain, getting to the top in a cable car, then spotting little dassies scurrying around at the top. There's more wildlife to enjoy near the Cape of Good Hope. Here, hundred of penguins hang out at Boulders Beach, while mischievous baboons and strutting ostriches are regularly spotted nearer the Cape. See


Where? Austria

The city of Salzburg with Hohensalzburg Fortress.

The city of Salzburg with Hohensalzburg Fortress. Photo: iStock


Salzburg's gorgeous old town is full of public art. Set kids on a mission to find it, and they'll get excited when they see the man on a giant golden ball. But Salzburg also offers gimmicks aplenty. Let them get a sugar rush eating Mozart Balls, then take the funicular up to the mountain fortress, run through the forest, then come back down on the lift through the mountainside. See

Washington DC

Where? USA

Sunrise at Washington Monument from the Lincoln Memorial.

Sunrise at Washington Monument from the Lincoln Memorial. Photo: iStock

The American capital is crammed full of museums, most of which children will get thoroughly absorbed in. Many, such as the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, surround the National Mall – which also has dozens of grand, often arrestingly-designed memorials to explore. But the privately-owned attractions, most notably the Spy Museum, are loads of fun too. See


Where? UK

Tower of London.

Tower of London. Photo: iStock

London can be frazzling to get around with kids, but there are so many attractions they'll love, it scarcely matters. The Science Museum and Natural History Museum are solid gold winners, right next to each other. The Tower of London offers shiny jewels and enthrallingly grisly stories. And West End musical matinees provide the entertainment. London also has several tours pitched at youngsters, such as the Horrible Histories cruises on the River Thames. See


Where? Canada

The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park in North Vancouver.

The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park in North Vancouver. Photo: iStock

The biggest kid-magnet in Vancouver is the massive and multi-faceted Stanley Park, which hosts giant totem poles, a high quality aquarium and a gloriously enjoyable bike path around the sea wall. But the young 'uns will also love North America's biggest free water park on Granville Island, and the thrillingly wobbly Capilano Suspension Bridge over the forested mountain slopes. See

Abu Dhabi

Where? UAE

The roller coaster at Ferrari World on Yas Island.

The roller coaster at Ferrari World on Yas Island. Photo: Alamy

Less frenetic than neighbouring Dubai, Abu Dhabi has plenty of hotels with lavish pools and resort-style facilities. There are beaches, too, as well as easy animal encounters at the Arabian Wildlife Park. But it's Yas Island that will really keep the little ones occupied. Here, the Ferrari World theme park and Yas Waterworld water park are right next to each other, complimented by relatively new addition Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi. See


Where? Singapore

Orang Utan family in Singapore Zoo. tra23singapore Orang Utan family in Singapore Zoo

Photo: Seng Chye Teo

The Singapore Zoo and Night Safari are the stand-out kiddy attractions in Singapore, but there's so much more to enjoy. The hawker courts are ideal for tasty, cheap eats that arrive quickly enough to stop children getting restless, Sentosa Island is heaving with rides and the Gardens By The Bay look like something from a sci-fi movie. See


Where? Portugal

Vintage tram in Lisbon.

Vintage tram in Lisbon. Photo: iStock

The Portuguese capital has beaches close by, and a big castle to run around. The nippers will also enjoy the novelty of trams, funiculars and cable cars. But the crowning glory from a youngster's perspective is the Park Of Nations. This huge riverside park is full of novelty gardens – including one with waterfalls. It's also where you'll find the Pavilhão do Conhecimento interactive science museum and Oceanário de Lisboa aquarium. See


Where? Australia

Giraffes at Taronga Park Zoo.

Giraffes at Taronga Park Zoo. Photo: iStock

You might not have to go overseas at all for the perfect city for kids. Australia's big cities are remarkably child-friendly by global standards, but Sydney's combination of beaches, big parks and boat rides puts it top of the list. Surfing lessons, the Australian Museum, the Darling Harbour playgrounds and Taronga Zoo all help, too. See

Disclosure: David Whitley has been a guest of the New South Wales, Singapore, Cape Town, Vancouver, Washington, Salzburg, Vancouver, Hungarian and British tourist boards.

See also: The 10 mediocre attractions that become great when you have kids

See also: Podcast: Is it possible to have kids and still be a hardcore traveller?