Europe's Kid-Friendly Attractions Off the Beaten Path
Europe is brimming with renowned attractions, but it's the lesser-known, off-the-beaten-path destinations that often offer the most memorable experiences for families traveling with children. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore some of Europe's hidden gems that are perfect for families with kids, ensuring you have a truly unique and unforgettable European campervan adventure.
Discovering Europe's Hidden Gems: Kid-Friendly Attractions Off the Beaten Path
Dinosauria (Espéraza, France)
Located in the small town of Espéraza in southern France, Dinosauria is a fascinating dinosaur museum that will transport your family back to the prehistoric era. The museum features life-size dinosaur replicas, captivating exhibits, and interactive displays that will engage and educate children of all ages.
Address: 11260 Espéraza, France
Must-see: The impressive collection of dinosaur eggs, fossils, and life-size replicas
Insider tip: Don't miss the workshop sessions where kids can participate in hands-on activities, such as fossil excavation and dinosaur bone assembly.
Fårup Sommerland (Blokaas, Denmark)
Fårup Sommerland is a delightful amusement park tucked away in the Danish countryside, offering a wide range of attractions suitable for both young children and thrill-seekers. The park features roller coasters, water rides, playgrounds, and an extensive forest area where families can enjoy picnics and nature walks.
Address: Pirupvejen 147, 9492 Blokhus, Denmark
Must-see: The park's newest roller coaster, Fønix, and the waterpark, Aquapark
Insider tip: Save on admission fees by booking your tickets online in advance.
Efteling (Kaatsheuvel, Netherlands)
Efteling is a magical theme park in the Netherlands, inspired by fairytales and folklore. The park is home to enchanting attractions, captivating shows, and beautiful gardens, making it an ideal destination for families with young children.
Address: Europalaan 1, 5171 KW Kaatsheuvel, Netherlands
Must-see: The enchanting Fairytale Forest, the thrilling roller coaster Baron 1898, and the spectacular water show Aquanura
Insider tip: Book your tickets online and arrive early to avoid long queues at popular attractions.
Kugelwald am Glungezer (Tulfes, Austria)
Kugelwald am Glungezer is an outdoor wooden ball run park in the Austrian Alps. The park offers hours of entertainment for children as they create their own ball tracks using wooden channels, tunnels, and other elements, all while surrounded by breathtaking alpine scenery.
Address: Schmalzgasse 21, 6075 Tulfes, Austria
Must-see: The various ball run stations and the impressive panoramic views of the Alps
Insider tip: Make sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring sunscreen, as the park is entirely outdoors.
El Laberinto de Horta (Barcelona, Spain)
El Laberinto de Horta is a beautiful, historic park in Barcelona that features a maze, picturesque gardens, and fountains. It provides a serene escape from the bustling city, allowing families to explore, play, and enjoy nature together.
Address: Passeig dels Castanyers, 1, 08035 Barcelona, Spain
Must-see: The intricate hedge maze and the 18th-century neoclassical garden
Insider tip: Bring a picnic to enjoy on the park grounds and wear comfortable walking shoes.
The Forbidden Corner (Middleham, UK)
The Forbidden Corner is a quirky and whimsical family attraction in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, featuring a unique labyrinth of tunnels, chambers, follies, and surprises. Children and adults alike will enjoy exploring this enchanting garden filled with statues, fountains, and optical illusions.
Address: Tupgill Park Estate, Middleham, Leyburn DL8 4TJ, UK
Must-see: The underground labyrinth and the quirky statues scattered throughout the garden
Insider tip: Book your tickets in advance, as entry is limited to a certain number of visitors per day.
The Park of the Monsters (Bomarzo, Italy)
The Park of the Monsters, or Parco dei Mostri, in Bomarzo, Italy, is a one-of-a-kind sculpture park featuring enormous, bizarre, and intriguing stone sculptures. Created in the 16th century, the park offers a unique and mystical experience for families to explore together.
Address: Località Giardino, 01020 Bomarzo VT, Italy
Must-see: The famous leaning house, the giant stone elephant, and the numerous mythical creature sculptures
Insider tip: Bring a camera to capture the unforgettable sculptures and pack a picnic to enjoy in the picturesque park.
Mini-Europe (Brussels, Belgium)
Mini-Europe is a charming miniature park in Brussels that showcases detailed, scaled-down replicas of famous landmarks and monuments from across the European continent. The park is a great way for children to learn about European culture, history, and architecture while having fun.
Address: Bruparck, 1020 Brussels, Belgium
Must-see: The impressive miniatures of the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa
Insider tip: Plan to spend at least two hours exploring the park and be sure to catch the entertaining live shows.
Märchengarten (Ludwigsburg, Germany)
Märchengarten, or Fairy Tale Garden, is a delightful attraction within the beautiful grounds of Ludwigsburg Palace in Germany. The garden features scenes and characters from various European fairy tales, brought to life through interactive displays, sculptures, and play areas.
Address: Schorndorfer Str. 29, 71638 Ludwigsburg, Germany
Must-see: The life-sized gingerbread house, Cinderella's castle, and the interactive fairytale boat ride
Insider tip: Combine your visit to Märchengarten with a tour of Ludwigsburg Palace to make the most of your day.
Husavikurkirkja (Húsavík, Iceland)
Husavikurkirkja is a beautiful, colorful wooden church in the picturesque town of Húsavík, Iceland. While the church itself is a charming attraction, the surrounding area is perfect for family-friendly outdoor adventures, such as whale watching, horseback riding, and exploring geological wonders.
Address: Garðarsbraut 7, 640 Húsavík, Iceland
Must-see: The vibrant church interior, the stunning views of the harbor, and the nearby Húsavík Whale Museum
Insider tip: Join a whale watching tour in Húsavík, which is considered one of the best locations in Europe for spotting these magnificent creatures.
The Kaisertal (Tyrol, Austria)
The Kaisertal is a hidden gem nestled in the Tyrolean Alps, offering breathtaking natural scenery, abundant wildlife, and idyllic hiking trails for the whole family. The valley is home to charming mountain huts that provide delicious local cuisine and a warm, welcoming atmosphere.
Location: Kaisertal, Tyrol, Austria
Must-see: The family-friendly hiking trails, the traditional mountain huts, and the picturesque views of the Wilder Kaiser and Zahmer Kaiser mountain ranges
Insider tip: Keep an eye out for wildlife, such as marmots, chamois, and golden eagles, during your hikes in the Kaisertal.
The Invisible Exhibition (Budapest, Hungary)
The Invisible Exhibition in Budapest is a unique, sensory experience designed to give visitors a glimpse into the world of the visually impaired. Through a series of guided activities in complete darkness, families can develop empathy and understanding while sharing an unforgettable, educational experience.
Address: Kis Rókus u. 16-20, 1024 Budapest, Hungary
Must-see: The guided tour through various everyday scenarios in total darkness
Insider tip: The exhibition is suitable for children aged seven and older; reserve your tickets in advance to secure a spot on a guided tour.
Predjama Castle (Predjama, Slovenia)
Predjama Castle is a stunning, medieval fortress built into the mouth of a cliffside cave in Slovenia. The castle offers a fascinating glimpse into the past, with secret passages, hidden chambers, and a captivating history.
Address: Predjama 1, 6230 Predjama, Slovenia
Must-see: The intriguing castle rooms, the cave beneath the castle, and the dramatic cliffside views
Insider tip: Combine your visit to Predjama Castle with a tour of the nearby Postojna Cave, one of the largest and most impressive cave systems in the world.
The Time Travel Tunnel (Tallinn, Estonia)
The Time Travel Tunnel in Tallinn, Estonia, offers a unique, immersive experience for families to explore the city's rich history. The attraction features virtual reality technology, interactive displays, and engaging storytelling to transport visitors through different eras of Tallinn's past.
Address: Vene 33, 10123 Tallinn, Estonia
Must-see: The virtual reality journey through time, the hands-on exhibits, and the captivating stories of Tallinn's history
Insider tip: The attraction is suitable for children aged six and older; reserve your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.
The Upside-Down House (Szymbark, Poland)
The Upside-Down House in Szymbark, Poland, is a quirky, interactive attraction that offers a unique experience for families. Visitors can explore the house, which is entirely upside down, and enjoy the optical illusions and disorienting effects created by the unusual design.
Address: Szymbark 83-315, Poland
Must-see: The upside-down furniture, the peculiar feeling of walking on the ceiling, and the intriguing exhibition about the history of the house
Insider tip: Take your time exploring the house, as it can be a bit disorienting at first; photography is allowed, so bring your camera for some fun family shots.
Grottes de Han (Han-sur-Lesse, Belgium)
Grottes de Han is a magnificent cave system in Belgium, offering awe-inspiring underground chambers, sparkling stalactite formations, and a fascinating history. Families can take guided tours through the caves and enjoy the stunning natural beauty of this geological wonder.
Address: Rue Joseph Lamotte 2, 5580 Han-sur-Lesse, Belgium
Must-see: The jaw-dropping underground chambers, the sparkling stalactites and stalagmites, and the thrilling sound-and-light show
Insider tip: Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a light jacket, as the caves can be cool and damp.
The Green Venice (Marais Poitevin, France)
The Green Venice, or Marais Poitevin, is a picturesque network of canals, marshes, and lush greenery in western France. Families can rent a traditional flat-bottomed boat, called a barque, and explore the tranquil waterways, discovering charming villages and abundant wildlife along the way.
Location: Marais Poitevin, France
Must-see: The peaceful canals, the traditional villages, and the diverse flora and fauna of the marshlands
Insider tip: Bring sunscreen, hats, and water, as there may be limited shade while boating through the canals; pack a picnic to enjoy during your adventure.
Spreepark (Berlin, Germany)
Spreepark is an abandoned amusement park in Berlin that offers a unique, eerie, and fascinating experience for families. The park, which closed in 2002, has been left to decay, creating a surreal atmosphere and an intriguing glimpse into the past. Guided tours are available for those who want to explore the park safely.
Address: Kiehnwerderallee 1-3, 12437 Berlin, Germany
Must-see: The decaying roller coasters, the abandoned Ferris wheel, and the eerie atmosphere of the park
Insider tip: Guided tours are the only way to legally explore the park; book your tour in advance and wear comfortable walking shoes.
Smugglers Adventure (Hastings, UK)
Smugglers Adventure in Hastings, UK, is an interactive, family-friendly attraction that transports visitors back to the days of smugglers, pirates, and hidden treasure. The attraction is set within the historic St. Clements Caves, providing a unique and engaging setting for families to learn about the area's history and participate in hands-on activities.
Address: St. Clements Caves, West Hill, Hastings TN34 3HY, UK
Must-see: The fascinating exhibits, the hands-on activities, and the immersive, cave-like atmosphere
Insider tip: Wear comfortable walking shoes, as the caves have uneven floors and can be damp; combine your visit with a trip to Hastings Castle or Hastings Old Town for a full day of family fun.
The Chocolate Museum (Cologne, Germany)
The Chocolate Museum, or Schokoladenmuseum, in Cologne, Germany, is a delightful attraction for families with a sweet tooth. The museum offers an in-depth look at the history and production of chocolate, complete with interactive exhibits, demonstrations, and, of course, delicious samples.
Address: Am Schokoladenmuseum 1A, 50678 Cologne, Germany
Must-see: The interactive exhibits, the chocolate-making demonstrations, and the museum's very own chocolate fountain
Insider tip: Purchase some unique chocolate souvenirs from the museum shop to take home or enjoy during your trip.
Parking your campervan around the attractions
Parking your campervan overnight close to attractions can be convenient and cost-effective. Here are some suggestions for each of the previously mentioned destinations. Please note that regulations and parking availability may change, so always check for updates before your trip and follow local rules and guidelines.
Park Güell, Barcelona, Spain
Camping 3 Estrellas: Located about 30 minutes from Park Güell, this campsite offers a wide range of amenities and easy access to public transportation.
Efteling Theme Park, Kaatsheuvel, Netherlands
Efteling's own campsite, Bosrijk Village, is located within walking distance of the theme park and provides a variety of accommodation options.
Alnwick Garden, Alnwick, UK
Highburn House Country Holiday Park: Situated a short drive from Alnwick Garden, this campsite offers a range of facilities in a peaceful, rural setting.
Jardin d'Acclimatation, Paris, France
Camping de Paris: Located in the Bois de Boulogne, this campsite is about 30 minutes away from Jardin d'Acclimatation and offers a relaxing environment close to Paris's city center.
Húsavík's Wooden Church, Húsavík, Iceland
Húsavík Campsite: Just a short walk from the town center, this campsite offers basic amenities and easy access to local attractions.
Kaisertal, Tyrol, Austria
Camping Häringer Mühle: Located at the entrance to the Kaisertal, this campsite offers a picturesque setting and easy access to hiking trails.
Invisible Exhibition, Budapest, Hungary
Haller Camping: Approximately 20 minutes away by car, this campsite provides basic amenities and good access to public transportation.
Predjama Castle, Predjama, Slovenia
Pivka Jama Campsite: Located near Postojna Cave, this campsite is a short drive from Predjama Castle and offers a variety of amenities.
Time Travel Tunnel, Tallinn, Estonia
Tallinn City Camping: Situated about 15 minutes away by car, this campsite offers a convenient location close to public transportation and Tallinn's city center.
Upside-Down House, Szymbark, Poland
Camping Zawory: Located about 20 minutes away by car, this campsite offers a peaceful, lakeside setting with a range of facilities.
Grottes de Han, Han-sur-Lesse, Belgium
Camping Parc la Clusure: Located a short drive from Grottes de Han, this campsite offers a range of amenities and activities.
Green Venice, Marais Poitevin, France
Camping La Venise Verte: This campsite is situated in the heart of Marais Poitevin and offers a variety of facilities and easy access to the canals.
Spreepark, Berlin, Germany
Stellplatz Berlin: This campsite is approximately 30 minutes away by car and offers a range of amenities and good access to public transportation.
Smugglers Adventure, Hastings, UK
Shear Barn Holidays & Touring Park: Located a short drive from Smugglers Adventure, this campsite offers a range of facilities and stunning sea views.
Chocolate Museum, Cologne, Germany
Campingplatz Stadt Köln: Situated along the Rhine River, this campsite is approximately 20 minutes away by car and offers a range of amenities and easy access to public transportation.
Europe is filled with hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path attractions that are perfect for families seeking unique experiences and unforgettable memories. From magical theme parks and enchanting gardens to awe-inspiring caves and intriguing historical sites, there's something for every family to discover during their European campervan adventure. So pack your bags, hit the road, and explore the lesser-known wonders of Europe with your loved ones.
See also: Traveling with a Toddler: Activities and Games to Keep Them Entertained on the Road