City retreats for familiesYou can still get away from it all in the heart of the city
A city retreat for the family might at first sound like an oxymoron. Today’s cities are large and vibrant places, with so much going on in every street that they can become really quite intense. But many cities also have a quieter and lesser-known side; a side where things slow down and where we can relax whilst enjoying the amenities of the modern world at a slower pace. A retreat doesn’t have to be in the countryside: many of the destinations below have green spaces where you'll feel a million miles away from the rest of the world.
Travelling with the whole family, kids in tow, can sometimes feel like real work, so you'll want to find a retreat where the family can let loose and the kids can run around (and tire themselves out!), whilst still having enough to keep the grownups entertained. Kids will love a city retreat: you can keep them entertained with a great range of activities both indoor and outdoor. So why wait? Read on for some of our favourite family retreats in the city, and start planning your break today.
Quiet city retreats for the family
Family city retreats in Athens
Athens is one of Europe’s most relaxed cities, and with its green suburbs, it's perfect for a city retreat. The lush botanical gardens make a wonderful escape from the city, where you can take time to stroll through and visit Lycabettus hill with its panoramic views out to Piraeus. From the steps of the Parthenon to the shores of Attica, there is plenty for a family to do; there are miles of quieter areas away from the main attractions to get some peace. There are also excellent state museums and attractions including the Agoras, and on Sunday’s during the winter (and on Bank holidays) the museums are free. Year-round, however, a single cheap ticket can get you into all the main attractions. But Athens remains an outdoor city:when the sun is out, you should take the 30 minute trip to the beach at Attica.
Family city retreats in Paris
Whether for couples, families or even the solo traveller, Paris is an enduring destination. When we think of a family holiday to Paris, Disney land immediately comes to mind; but Paris has some wonderful quiet corners where you can relax with the family and retreat from the busy city centre. Looking around Paris, you can find quiet spots at the place Dauphine, or wander the back streets of Montmartre. Like many European cities, Paris has some wonderful green spaces from the large to the small: the small but perfect Square du Vert or Jardin Tino Rossi are particularly great spots for a sunny afternoon.
Family city retreats in Barcelona
Barcelona is one of those great benchmark cities, which so many others look to as a leading capital in culture, art and history. If travelling with older children, there are some great galleries and museums to explore such as the Picasso or Catalan Art museums. Whatever the age of your brood, however, they will enjoy a visit to the stunning Museu del Temple Expiatori de La Sagrada Familia: the famous church, which is yet to be completed. If you'd like to retreat from the main city centre, head to the Parc Guell. Designed by Gaudi, it's a great spot to enjoy panoramic views of the city. And for real relaxation, there are two main family-friendly beaches at Barceloneta and Icaria.
Family city retreats in Prague
Prague is like a fairy-tale brought to life. Its old world charm creates a magical atmosphere which kids are sure to love. From its Baroque churches and palaces to its Gothic castles, children will be enthralled by how much it feels like a movie. For a reasonable price, you and your family can tour both the Karlestan and Prague castles; each of which will easily fill a day, though do check opening times before visiting. Prague is a very child-friendly city:: virtually the entire centre is traffic-free and there are cafes on every corner. Though it is ever increasing in popularity, Prague is still a destination which is easy on the pocket for those travelling with the family.
Family city retreats in New York
The Big Apple might not seem like a place to take a city retreat, with its bright lights and bustling avenues. But New York has a quieter side to it, and one which more people should try to explore. Get away from the hustle and bustle with an escape to the famous central park, and you'll join hundreds of locals trying to catch some rays on the grass. New York is, of course, brimming with world-class attractions, from the shows of Broadway to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but for more quiet activities you should take a trip to the New York Botanical Gardens or visit St Patricks Cathedral.
City retreats can offer a new way to see a familiar place, or a great way to explore somewhere new. Even if it's a city you've visited before, you might not have seen its quiet side: revisiting can often prove a pleasantly surprising experience, particularly when you find what’s on offer just a short walk away from the main streets.