5 Family-Friendly Destinations in Europe by Rail

Europe may have a stellar reputation for backpackers and solo travelers, but it’s also full of family-friendly destinations. Many of these are easily accessible by rail – an element that’s sure to excite both young and old members of the family. And the best part? Children aged 0-11 travel for free with Eurail. Here are 5 top cities to consider for your rail trip that are perfect for the whole family.

Family-friendly destinations in Europe

Rome, Italy

Rome may not immediately spring to mind when you think kid-friendly. However, this inspiring city can entrench a lifetime of memories in the younger members of your family. Many of the sites and attractions that appeal to you will have featured in your children’s history books. A visit to the Italian capital will bring their school lessons to life in a way that few could ever imagine.

Insider tip: Museums may primarily be the domain of adult travelers, but many in Rome now feature kid-friendly sections. Check the museum websites to see what’s available.

How to get there by train: There are several trains to Rome’s Termini station from across Italy and major international hubs.

Mother and daughter in Rome at sunset | Family-friendly destinations in Europe

Algarve Coast, Portugal

Portugal’s Algarve coast has several family-friendly resorts and accommodation with vast, beautiful beaches and plenty of outdoor activities. The consistent summer sunshine makes it a popular attraction for families who live in colder climates,. When the kids head off to sleep, there’s likely to be a vibrant bar or restaurant for you to enjoy some more mature company.

How to get there by train: There are several towns along the Algarve coast. The most accessible is Faro, and there are regular daily trains from Lisbon. From Faro you can easily connect to nearby towns further along the coast.

Family at beach Carvalho in Algarve Portugal | Family-friendly destinations in Europe

Paris, France

Paris appeals to travelers of all ages. Whether you’re looking for intriguing museums, famous landmarks, or breathtaking views, you can’t go wrong with the French capital. Museums such as the Centre Pompidou are ideal to explore with younger members of the family. And whether you’re 9 or 90, it’s hard not to be impressed by a glittering Eiffel Tower or pristine Parisian park.

Insider tip: To catch the Eiffel Tower in its most impressive moments, get there at sunset and then wait for the light show that starts each hour on the hour.

How to get there by train: Paris is a major rail hub in Central Europe. There high-speed trains to the French capital from across the country and neighboring cities.

Girls with map at the Eiffel tower | Family-friendly destinations in Europe

Soca River Valley, Slovenia

Active families will revel in the natural beauty and diverse range of activities throughout the pristine country of Slovenia. The Soca River Valley is popular for holidaying families. This beautiful alpine valley offers clear natural pools. There’s also the stunningly beautiful Soca River – perfect for swimming, calm walks, and scenic kayaking. There are three main towns in the region as well as a handful of smaller ones, all of which are worth exploring.

Inside tip: For a bit of an adrenaline rush, don’t miss out on the famous zipline. It’ll whisk you between treetops in the Soca Valley.

How to get there by train: You can reach many towns in the Soca Valley by train along the scenic route from the nearby town of Bled.

Kayaking on river Soca, Bovec, Slovenian Alps | Family-friendly destinations in Europe

Barcelona, Spain

Spain has a wealth of family-friendly holiday destinations dotted throughout the country. While many of the beach resorts cater to a wide range of age groups, don’t overlook Barcelona. Gaudi’s presence throughout the city holds a particular appeal for the younger generations. The vibrant activity along Las Ramblas is sure to be fun for all age groups. And when the city gets too overwhelming, just head to the beach. The whole family can recharge before heading to a nearby tapas restaurant – an education in international cuisine that’s sure to last a lifetime.

Inside tip: Don’t miss a trip to Güell Park. The views and fairytale-esque artwork will enthrall all members of the family.

How to get there by train: Barcelona is a major rail hub in Spain. There are regular high-speed trains to the city from across the country and southern France.

Kids enjoying aerial view on the magic fountain and Placa d'Espanya in Barcelona from top terrace of National Art Museum of Catalonia in Montjuic hill. Citytrip destination for family with children | Family-friendly destinations in Europe

Practical tips for traveling by train with children

Traveling Europe by train with young children can be an incredible way to expose them to the sights and scenery on the continent. Young kids find particular thrill in this classic mode of travel. The following tips can help ensure the trip goes smoothly:

  1. Pack special foods and activities to keep younger children occupied on longer train journeys. Dining carts often run short on items and don’t always cater for younger members of the family.
  2. While the scenery should keep most youngsters occupied, many modern trains in Europe now have power sockets so you can charges devices such as iPads and smart phones.
  3. Take care at train stations. Children are naturally curious and may not be aware of the dangers of oncoming trains.
  4. Be considerate to other passengers and choose activities that don’t disrupt the carriage.
  5. Anticipate your stops and prepare your family to alight from the train ahead of time to avoid a chaotic last-minute rush. The Eurail Rail Planner app can tell you when your stop is approaching.
  6. Don’t rule out sleeper trains. If you book an entire compartment, this can be an incredible experience for younger travelers.
  7. Arrive at the station early. When you bring the whole family, it’s important to be at the right platform well ahead of time.
  8. Pack light. Getting the whole family on and off the train with more than a backpack or two is likely to be a stressful experience.

Young boy on train | Family-friendly destinations in Europe

Traveling Europe by train with the whole family is an experience that you’ll always remember. And with Eurail’s amazing family discounts, it makes perfect sense to explore the continent’s most family-friendly destinations with a rail pass.

Related articles:
Solo, group, and partner travel: a comparison
Sand and surf with Eurail: best beaches in Europe by train
7 European destinations for all seasons