Travel around Europe with kids is easy and efficient; there are fast trains, well services bus routes and airports in every major city. Another great option is a driving holiday. This gives you a lot of flexibility and allows you to bring whatever you need from place to place, particularly if you are travelling with babies and toddlers..
Car seats are compulsory in all EU countries (except when travelling by taxi) and you can either bring your own or rent one at your destination. You will be able to order taxis with car seats throughout Europe and your hotel will be able to arrange this if you do not have a number of a local company.
Border Controls in Europe
There are virtually no border controls between most European countries except under special circumstances during major events. When travelling between most EU member state coutnries by road and rail you will not need to produce documentation however, if travelling by air you will need to have your passport with you at all times, unless you are an EU Citizen as in some cases an ID card may suffice for air travel. Regardless of your citizenship, If you are travelling between continental Europe and Ireland and England, you will need to produce your passport.
Getting Around Europe by Plane
All flights within and from the European Union limit liquids, gels and creams in carry-on baggage to 100 mL (3.4 US Fl Oz) containers, carried in a transparent, zip-lock plastic bag no larger than 1L (33.8 US Oz). Exceptions are made where you are travelling with an infant and the amount of liquid will be reasonably required to feed the baby during the flight. See our tips on Air Travel for more information.
Dozens of budget airlines allow very cheap travel around Europe, often much cheaper than the train or even bus fares for the same journey. The cheapest flights are offered by low cost airlines such as Air Berlin, Germanwings, EasyJet, Tuifly, Ryanair and WizzAir. All of these flights should be booked on the internet well in advance in order to gain a price advantage. If you are booking a with a low budget airline, remember that it may not be as comfortable journey as with a full price ticket if you have a baby or toddler. Many of the low budget airlines are no frills meaning you may need to carry your stroller down a number of steps to the runway etc. You should also make sure where the airport is located, since some low cost airlines name very small airports by the next major city, even if the distance is up to two hours drive by bus (eg Ryanair and Wizz Air’s Frankfurt-Hahn, which is not Frankfurt/Main International). This could increase your journey time which is an important factor to take into account when travelling with younger kids.
Europe by Train
Trains (especially in Western Europe) are fast, efficient and cost-competitive with flying. High-speed trains in Italy, Germany, France and Spain and the cross-border Eurostar and Thalys services speed along at up to 320km/h (200mph) and, when taking into account travel time to the airport and back, are often faster than taking a plane.
If you choose to travel by train, packing light is essential. Train stations don’t always have elevators nor do they have luggage carts and the entry on and off trains can be a stressful scramble, particularly if you have a pram or stroller with you.Most trains will have a space to stow strollers and luggage and will also have baby changing facilities in one or more of the wash rooms.
Try to buy your tickets in advance if possible as tickets bought on the spot can be expensive, although there are good discounts available if you book in advance. In particular, the Inter Rail (for Europeans) and Eurail (for everybody else) passes offer good value if you plan on travelling extensively around Europe (or even a single region). Beware, however, that it is necessary to make reservations for all high speed trains in many countries and the number of seats for rail pass holders is very limited.
Europe by Bus
Many of the buses in Europe offer very comfortable seating with internet connections, reclining seats, etc at very low rates. Bus travel is generally advantageous for shorter trips, especially those on short notice. Bus travel with an infant can be very relaxing, however if you are travelling with a toddler or young child it may be difficult if they do not want to sit still for long. Also, bear in mind there are no changing facilities on board although you will be able to stow your stroller under the bus.
Driving in Europe with Kids
Driving can be an enjoyable way to travel in Europe with kids and allows you to travel with a lot more luggage. Many airlines allow you to take two large pieces of equipment for babies including travel cots, car seats and other items so if you do have a car, you will be able to bring more. Many European countries have companies that rent baby equipment. This is a great option if you do not want to bring a large amount from home. Remember to pre book a car seat unless you are bringing your own to ensure availability and check the seat before you leave the rental agency to ensure that it has not been damaged.
The ease of driving on the continent varies greatly and roads can get extremely busy during holidays and vacations (see our destination guides for more information). If possible avoid driving in large cities such as London, Paris, Rome, Athens and Barcelona as they can be congested, with confusing one way systems, restricted zones, narrow streets and expensive parking. Also, make sure you drive on the left hand side in the UK and Ireland and on the right in all other European countries.
Europe by Boat
The Disney Cruise Line offers cruises around Europe on luxurious liners which have kids clubs, kids foods and loads of child friendly activities and entertainment. There are a number of European routes such as Northern Europe, The Mediterranean, The Norwegian Fjords and the British Isles.
There are a considerable number of car ferries from Ireland to both Britain and France. There are also numerous services to Denmark, the Benelux and even across the Bay of Biscay to Spain. Further south there is a weekly service from Portimão to the Canary Islands via the remote volcanic Madeira island.
In the Mediterranean Sea a large number of ferries operate between Spain, Italy and Southern France. And across the Italian peninsular ferries also ply across the Adriatic sea to Croatia and Greece, with Bari as the main terminal (out of many).
The Baltic sea has several lines running between the major cities (for example Gdansk, Stockholm, Helsinki, Tallinn, Riga etc). Most ships are very large, and parallel Caribbean cruise liners in size and in service.The Black Sea also has several ferries plying across it’s waters, Poti, Istanbul and Sevastopol are the main ports.
There are also various ferries on the larger lakes and for crossing rivers. Furthermore, there are several regularly running cruise-lines on the larger rivers like the Rhine (such as Christmas market cruises), Danube and the Volga. Accommodations range from very basic to extremely luxurious depending upon the company and class of travel selected. Another famous line is the Hurtigruten cruise-ferries which sails all along Norway’s amazing coastline and fjords.