8 Places to Visit in Europe Before You Have Kids

There are two ways to visit Europe, the first is with kids and although that seems overwhelming at first, this continent is actually quite kid-friendly. The second way to travel this beautiful continent is without kids, before you have them, and when you have all the time in the world. Whether you want to visit Europe to party, for a romantic getaway or to have the experience of a lifetime, there are hundreds of cities to do just that. These 8 places in particular though deserve a visit before you have kids. Think long strolls on the beach, the Eiffel tower at night and getting up close and personal with celebrities.

8. Paris, France

Known as one of the most romantic cities on the planet, there is no better time to visit Paris than before you have kids. It is truly a city where you want to embrace the clichés, whether you are strolling the streets hand in hand or taking a sunset boat ride down the Seine. Visit the Eiffel tower in the day and again at night when the lights are twinkling and it’s picture perfect. Take your time wandering through the amazing museums and ancient historic sites. Sip coffee at a sidewalk café and people watch for hours, or hole up in tiny boutique hotels where no children are allowed. Dine at five star restaurants, meander through the cobblestone streets and find romance in this city of love. Only then will you truly appreciate just how special it is.

Paris romance

7. Barcelona, Spain

Spain’s second largest city deserves two visits, one before you have kids and one with the kids in tow. There are so many things to see and do in this colorful city that is a mix of modern design and old-world charm. Visitors sans-kids will spend hours wandering through the outdoor European markets, window shopping and strolling through ancient city walls and stone corridors. The nightlife is alive in this city and whether you are looking for a vintage concert hall or the rapid rhythms of flamenco, you will find it here. The city’s wild side comes out in the wee mornings as party-goers hit the clubs sometimes as late (or as early) as 3am. Sun-drenched beaches beckon visitors to their shores, to hike, jog or simply swim in the deep blue waters. As you wind your way through hidden squares, fountains, and palaces along the Mediterranean; it will become abundantly clear why you got here before you had kids.

National museum Barcelona, Spain

6. Munich, Germany

Germany’s unofficial southern capital flourishes throughout the year, but especially during the summer and Oktoberfest. Oktoberfest is definitely the most famous celebration in Munich and everyone should plan on heading here once in there lifetime to celebrate, preferably without kids. This 16-day festival involves consuming a large quantity of Oktoberfest beer along with a mixture of attractions. Visitors will be privy to amusement rides, side stalls and games, traditional food, parties, parades and a slew of traditional Bavarian gear. If you are visiting the city outside of Oktoberfest time, make sure to take in the world-class art galleries and museums, churches, palaces and castles, and impressive parks.

Jazzmany / Shutterstock.com
Jazzmany / Shutterstock.com

5. Mykonos, Greece

It’s the party place in Greece, perfect for those looking to get one last shin dig in before having kids. It is here where you will find a mix of holidaymakers, cruise-ship crowds and fashionistas, all coming together for one great party. This whitewashed paradise is in the heart of the Cyclades and visitors should be prepared for beach bars, loud dance clubs and lots of people. If you want to explore the quieter side of this party island, head to Delos- a small uninhabited island that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its impressive archaeological sites. Or head to one of the many museums that dot this island. Little Venice and The Windmills is a popular spot to watch the sunset and grab a cocktail at one of the many outdoor bars/cafes.

Mykonos, Greece

4. Cilento, Italy

The Cilento coast is absolutely beautiful with its small bays, dramatic cliffs and seaside villages, and has this stuck-in-time feeling. It is one of the lesser-known areas in Italy and you won’t find throngs of tourists or really any kid-friendly activities, thus why visiting here before you have kids is the best choice. If you are after romantic isolation, head inland to the Cilento National Park where you will find incredible hiking trails and mountain inns that serve delicious wines and some of the best fresh mozzarella you will ever taste in your life. Famed for its orchids, streams and towering waterfalls, there is no shortage of beauty that will surround you in this park. The park also has a colorful history that is worth exploring while in the region.

Cilento, Italy

3. Monaco

This former Portuguese colony has grown to be one of the top gambling destinations in the world and if you want a vacation packed with glitz and glam before you have kids, this is the perfect destination. If you have deep pockets there is only one way to spend your money here and that is at the Grand Casino where you will gamble alongside the rich and famous, where the dress code is strict and the entry fees are high. Other than gambling though, Monaco offers its fair share of things to see including Monaco-Ville, a medieval village made up of pedestrian streets, century homes and picturesque buildings. There are a slew of exotic gardens to be found here, along with an art gallery, opera house and the Prince’s car collection. This is not a budget destination and thus is best done before kids, and at a time when you have some extra money to spend.

Monaco grand casino

2. Cannes, France

It was once a small fishing village but is has turned into a glamorous and equally expensive seaside town in France, considered to be one of the social hubs of Europe. When this town shines the brightest though is in May as it plays host to the Cannes Film Festival, drawing the rich and famous to its shores from all over the world. Fans flock here to see actors, celebrities and directors on the famous steps of the Palais des Festivals at the end of La Croisette. If you prefer to visit the rest of the year, there are plenty of things to see and do. Walk the narrow winding streets of Old town where the view from the castle ruins at the top is excellent, or head to one of the beaches to soak up the sun. Dine at one of the local restaurants serving up regional fresh produce sourced directly from the markets.

Cannes, France

1. Berlin, Germany

Move over New York City, Berlin is the city that truly never sleeps; a city full of Germans who love nothing more than a good time. This is a great city to visit before having kids, as it is full of iconic sites, sky bars, chic restaurants, boutique hotels and a party that literally never stops. It is here where you can take in top international performers at theaters or concert and opera stages. Berlin is a city full of museums, artists and a colorful history, where modern architecture and historical buildings meet. There is an endless amount of shopping, parks to explore, open-air cinemas, beach bars, forests and more here. The relaxed vibe of this city will enthrall you, suck you in and make you never want to leave. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Berlin Germany party night

8 Things to See and Do in Southern France

Southern France is so much more than the French Riviera, Cannes, luxury hotels, and glamorous parties on opulent yachts–not that any of that isn’t enjoyable, but to the average traveler, maybe not be so attainable. The south of France doles out surprises in spades, with plenty of small towns filled with historical landmarks, tiny villages offering authentic French charm, and French food that would send sparks through any Foodie’s palate. From Van Gogh to plummeting canyons, here are 8 ways to stay entertained in Southern France.

8. Southern French Food

The South of France is characterized by delicious, traditional dishes infused with flavors and the products of their own environment. Mediterranean influences abound across most southern French cuisine with fertile earth producing nutrient-rich, fresh, and tasty fruits and vegetables, savory herbs, and Provencale’s most important ingredient: olive oil. Seafood dishes abound, from moules frites to sea salted grilled sardines and waterfront raw bars with rows upon rows of options. Bouillabaisse, the most famous dish filled with a half-dozen varieties of fish, is also delectable. In the colder months, the aromas of thick and hearty bean, duck, and sausage stew–called cassoulet–is mouth-watering and impossible to ignore along with wine-soaked sliced potatoes (tartiflette) layered in cheese and lardon and baked to perfection. Vegetarians won’t go hungry either, with the likes of tasty regional dishes including Ratatouille, Nicoise Salad, and the flavors of sauces and pastes like Pissaladiere and Pistou.

Nicoise Salad

7. Off the Beaten Path

In Southern France, like most popular tourist destinations, it can feel like you’re on a never-ending circuit of attractions along with half the world. Just a little research goes a long way if you’re hoping to get off the well trodden path and visit some out-of-the-way attractions and destinations. The beautiful canals of Sète are France’s Little Venice and Montpellier University, the first university and oldest in France, is where famous intellect Nostrodamus began his career. And don’t miss the “Balcony of the Côte d’Azur”: trek along Grande Randonnée hiking trail for sublime views of the Côte d’Azur and Mediterranean waters so crystalline they’re arguably more beautiful than any Caribbean paradise–definitely the most dramatic stretch of water in France. Within Camaragues, you’ll witness mountains greeting sky, and the celebrated ancient breed of white horses, pink flamingos, and black bulls inside a protected UNESCO biosphere reserve.

Photoprofi30 / Shutterstock.com
Photoprofi30 / Shutterstock.com

6. Néo Bistros

France has always been known for delectable cuisine, world-renowned chefs, and incredible restaurants, from tiny eateries to large, luxury dining venues. There’s no doubt it’s a country filled with the stuff made of Foodie’s dreams. The latest catch-phrase in French dining is “néo‑bistro,” a phrase referring to smaller, more casual venues guided by big-name chefs. Tight-knit spaces are vied for by locals hoping for a taste of the city’s newest and hottest culinary hot spots. But don’t expect anything over-the-top; the name of the game is casual and relaxed but the twist is entirely creative: dishes created by the world’s masters of food and celebrated for their low-key dishes rather than jaw-dropping cuisine at some of the country’s most prosperous restaurants. These understated eateries (mostly) offer an atmosphere that’s unpretentious and a menu that’s affordable while still providing top-notch dishes and some of France’s most celebrated wines.

joeborg / Shutterstock.com
joeborg / Shutterstock.com

5. Arles

Arles isn’t exactly Southern France’s best-kept secret but it is a place to avoid the crowds and explore a city laced with Roman history. The Roman Forum and Theatre and stunning Amphitheater reveal grand architectural feats; a broad, winding river adds attractive landscape; dazzling 17th century estates add more to ponder; Arles’ contemporary museums and labyrinthine streets are for delving into at whatever pace you like–Arles is a southern gift worth discovering.  Art enthusiasts enjoy the Van Gogh history: Arles is where the “Studio in the South” fostered a union between Paul Gauguin and Van Gogh–some of Van Gogh’s most famous pieces were painted in Arles. Arles boasts so many attractions it’s easy to spend an entire vacation exploring it. There’s the Musee Reattu with some of Picasso’s finest work and Espace Van Gogh where Van Gogh stayed following the “incident” with his ear–it’s now filled with galleries and gardens. Arles is also a great base for exploring nearby areas like intriguing Camarague.

Colleseum Arles France

4. Uzes

The charming town of Uzes in Southern France north of Nimes boasts pretty, narrow streets lined with 17th century buildings and small shops, most which finish at Place aux Herbes, the center of town enriched with plenty of great restaurants and several pretty fountains. One very obvious point about Uzes is residents love art and in a big way–this won’t be much of a surprise to anyone who has toured the region since art is a big component of life–but nonetheless it’s a great facet of Uzes’, bringing about some lively art exhibitions infused with special events, food, and music. Uzes’s bustling Wednesday and Saturday market, 17th century Cathedral of Saint Theodorit, and medieval-era Duke’s Castle are more attractions perfect for exploring over a day or two. The abundance of stone used in the old buildings, walls, pathways, and roads give Uzes a fairy-tale look and unbeatable charm.

Elena Dijour / Shutterstock.com
Elena Dijour / Shutterstock.com

3. St Tropez

St Tropez is one of the glitziest, most glamorous, and sunniest southern resorts in Southern France and it does attract the world’s most elite figures but can still be enjoyed without a Hollywood star’s bank account. St Tropez is much like many Mediterranean seaside villages: there’s quaint streets, a sweeping central square, and busy La Ponche harbour that itself is like a living movie set. To soak in the prestige of St Tropez, hit the main shopping avenues where brand names abound and upscale restaurants line the streets–if you’re after authenticity, wander the narrow alleys and side streets, find scampering fish mongers packing up fresh fare in morning markets, spy traditional butcher shops with tantalizing choices, and explore small shops offering mostly affordable souvenirs. When in St Tropez, the stunning beaches are a must, and the perfect way to keep your wallet in check and your mood in tune.

St Tropez France

2. Sommieres

The broad River Vidourle flowing through the small, scenic town of Sommieres is a great place to delve into one of Southern France’s most endearing destinations. Set between Montpellier and Nimes (both equally enchanting, nearby destinations), Sommieres is a town with ancient roots stemming back to the Romans and highlighted by pretty, narrow streets and a versed Roman bridge–a central focal point and picturesque location. Located on the river’s east bank, the bridge gives way to Tour de l’Horloge–the official entrance to town–displaying a 17th century clock tower, paves the route to exploring the old ruins of the once-beguiling castle the town evolved around and is also the passage to busy market squares and plenty of restaurants and bars. A wine tour is another distinct possibility as Sommieres flanks the wine growing region of Vaunage, where extensive vineyards offer tours and tastings throughout the year.

Sommieres

1. Gorges du Verdon

Northwest of Cannes and Nice is Parc Naturel Regional de du Vernon, home to Gorges du Vernon, more than a little reminiscent of Arizona’s Grand Canyon. The nearly 2,300-foot drop is one of the most dramatic features in the south, set within the stunning countryside of Provence, and paints long-lasting memories of natural beauty. Easily explored in a day, Gorge du Verdon’s location near both the French Riviera and the Alps is excellent with abounding options for touring and sightseeing and a bounty of colors sweeping through lavender fields, ripe vineyards, and cozy villages. Canoeing and kayaking on the adjacent river, hiking through the gorge, and scaling the limestone walls are just a few activities to try out. Technical climbing is extremely popular, with more than 1,400 routes featuring pillars, cracks, and continuous walls ranging from 65 to more than 1,300 feet.

Gorges du Verdon France