The 7 best city breaks for families and why
A family city break can be a great way of spending some quality time together. Whatever age your little (or not so little) ones are it’s a great chance to escape from everyday life for a few days and to enjoy exploring a new place, creating new memories together as a family.
We have put together our favourite UK city break destinations for families and why
Best for famous sights and museums
Of course our capital city has to feature as one of the best UK city break destinations for families. With world-famous sights, interactive museums and palaces fit for the Queen herself, there is something to keep all ages happy.
As the weather warms up the many London parks provide a great space for little ones to burn some energy. Older kids will be in their element seeing all the famous sights including Big Ben, the Tower of London and of course Buckingham Palace. It is also the perfect destination for Harry Potter fans with a whole host of sights, tours and attractions from the film.
At first it might seem quite daunting using public transport and the Tube with little ones in tow but once you get in the swing of things you realise how easy and convenient it is getting from A-B in London. Our tip is just to plan your route in advance and off you go.
Where to stay in London?
We have a great range of apartments in London perfect for families. Our serviced apartments in Kensington mean you are conveniently located close to some of the great museums on offer. Collingham Serviced Apartments offer a home from home in the city and the spacious and bright Hammersmith Town Apartments make a great family friendly base.
For more ideas of what you can do in London with the kids check out our post on The Top 21 free things to do in London.
Best for curious minds and engineering feats
The Southwest city of Bristol is next on our list. This pretty harbourside city has a lot to offer visiting families. The historic and industrial docks have been redeveloped into a destination in their own right offering a mix of cultural centres, cafes, bars and restaurants. Here you’ll find Brunel’s SS Great Britain, Bristol Aquarium, Boat trip tours and ‘We the Curious.’ Perfect for inquisitive minds, ‘We the Curious’ is an interactive museum packed with playful exhibits and science experiments all ages will enjoy.
Aerospace and engineering are key industries in Bristol, and the city is a significant part of the UK’s aerospace industry. Aerospace Bristol is a great place for all the family to explore. Here you can find out about the extraordinary achievements in British aviation as well getting to see and investigate different aircraft including Concorde.
As well as all the attractions available, Bristol is a great place to walk round and explore. Don’t forget to visit the famous Clifton suspension bridge and see some of Banksy’s original street art dotted around the city.
Where to stay in Bristol?
Best for football fans and younger kids
Manchester may not be the first city that springs to mind when planning a family break but it really does have a lot to offer.
Discover the history of Manchester, at the Museum of Science and Industry. The interactive displays will keep all ages entertained. The Greater Manchester Police museum is also worth a visit especially for inquisitive minds. Set up as a 1979 Police station, kids love that you can explore a court room and cells too.
Football fans will be in their element in Manchester. Not only does the city have two world class football teams and stadium tours you can do, but Manchester is also home to the National Football Museum. See some of the greatest players showcased in the Hall of Fame, test your skills with a penalty shootout, and find out all you want to know about your favourite footie teams.
For Younger children, Play Factore is the place to go – an extreme version of soft play, with the largest play frame in the UK! KickAir Trampoline Park is also a great place for all ages to burn some energy and there is also Legoland Discovery Centre and Sea Life Manchester if we haven’t sold you yet!
For more ideas of what you can do in Manchester check out our post on 33 Free things to do in Manchester for all ages.
Where to stay in Manchester?
For a central base in Manchester close to all the attractions, La Reserve Aparthotel is a great option. These modern and light apartments have a great range of shops and eateries close by, and are only a short walk from Manchester Piccadilly station.
Best for history & exploring
The scenic city of Edinburgh is a fantastic city break destination for families. From the historic Edinburgh Castle proudly standing in the city centre, to the quaint seaside suburb of Portobello it is easy to see why Edinburgh is one of the UK’s most popular cities to visit.
Edinburgh is so accessible and easy to get around it makes it ideal for travelling with children. Right in the heart of Edinburgh you have the famous Royal Mile which links Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. In the summer, during the renowned Fringe Festival, this street is lined with eclectic street entertainers from all over the world. From the Royal Mile it is so easy to get to a range of sights such as the National Museum of Scotland, Princes Street Gardens and Arthur’s Seat, which is well worth conquering for the panoramic views!
Camera Obscera is one of the oldest attractions in Edinburgh and has remained one of the most popular. Located just next to the Castle on the Royal Mile, all ages will enjoy exploring the five floors filled with interactive hands on exhibitions and optical illusions. It also has one of the best views of the city from the rooftop terrace.
A short drive/bus trip will also take you to seaside town of Portobello. Here you’ll find a pretty sandy beach and a promenade lined with cafes, ice cream shops and amusement arcades.
If you want to explore the city further you can download ‘Edinburgh Hunt’ which is a fun treasure hunt around the city and will help encourage the children to walk and discover the sights.
Where to stay in Edinburgh?
Best for horrible histories and chocoholics
Historic and quaint, the city of York has lots to offer families visiting on a city-break. One of the best ways to explore York is to walk round the medieval walls which surround the city. If you can manage the full two mile route you’ll see the impressive York Minster, as well as historic Roman sights and pretty Tudor buildings.
The city centre itself is just as pretty, lined with cobbled streets and more striking buildings. The Shambles in the centre is even said to of inspired Diagon Alley in Harry Potter.
One of the most highly rated family attractions in York is the National Railway Museum. Not just for rail enthusiasts, this vast museum covers everything from engineering feats to Royal train carriages and engines.
Another winner that proves popular with young and old is York Chocolate Story. Find out about the famous confectioners that originated in York and the process that goes into making this sweet treat! Older children may also enjoy one of the cities dramatic ghost tours or a visit to York dungeon for some grizzly and gruesome tales of York’s past.
Where to stay in York?
Best for thrill seekers and sports enthusiasts
Nestled on the south coast of Wales is Cardiff. A great city to explore on foot, Cardiff has a range of sights and activities all children will enjoy.
Cardiff Bay is worth a visit, this regenerated harbour is packed with cafes, bars, eateries and a play area. You can also take a boat trip from here which is a great way to see the city from the water.
Cardiff is particularly good for sports activities. You can ice skate or watch ice hockey at Viola Ice Arena. Swim at Cardiff international Pool, this Olympic sized swimming pool also has a range of slides and shoots. Treetop Adventure golf is great fun for all the family and you can even try surfing and river boarding at Cardiff International White Water Centre.
For those who prefer something less energetic Cardiff Castle is a good place to explore and neighboring Bute Park. This 130 acre parkland has picturesque landscaped gardens, woodland trails, cafes and play areas.
Where to stay in Cardiff?
To explore all that Cardiff has to offer, Century Wharf Apartments are a great choice. Located within walking distance to the Quay and harbour you are only minutes away from some of Cardiff’s key attractions. They also have some great facilities available including a swimming pool and fitness centre.
Best for book worms and culture vultures
The north east city of Newcastle has a reputation as being one of the friendliest cities in the UK so there is no surprise it is a welcoming, family-friendly city too. You can head down to the scenic Quayside for a stroll by the River Tyne and see the iconic Tyne Bridge in all its glory. Here you’ll also find a range of restaurants and the Baltic centre for contemporary art. Many of the exhibitions are family friendly so it’s worth checking what is on here.
Children will be in their element at Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books. This unique visitor centre covers all things related to children’s books– including some of the parents’ old favourites too! Enjoy the interactive exhibitions which bring the stories to life as well as story tellers and craft sessions.
The Discovery Museum comes highly recommended and covers a range of attractions form local history to science. It has lots of hands on displays kids will love. Jesmond Dene Park is great for those wanting some fresh air and green space. It’s a great place to spot wildlife. There’s also a pet corner with a range of animals, and a decent play area for kids to enjoy. Another hidden gem in the city is Ouseburn City Farm where you can get up close and help feed a range of farm animals as well as discovering all that goes into the running of a farm.
Where to stay in Newcastle?