Those about to sightsee, we salute you! Exploring Rome with kids in tow can require a gladiatorial effort - particularly if you include the Vatican. However, few cities can match its potential for a stimulating history lesson laced with grandeur, gore and gelato. The most dedicated Game Boy addicts will be hard pressed not the be wowed by the Colosseum and amused by the costumed gladiators outside. More child-centred options include Explora (Via Flaminia 82,, a children's museum geared towards under 12s, and the Planetario (, with its programme of star-gazing. Older children will be fascinated by the macabre scenes at Santa Maria della Concezione, where the skeletons of over 4,000 monks decorate four subterranean chapels.

· Albergo Cesari hotel (0039 0667 49701, in a quiet street between the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain, family rooms from €225.


There's so much hype about Berlin's nightlife, it's easy to forget it's one of the best European cities for kids. A few ideas for starters: Kindercity, which opened last year, is a 6,000sq metre play and learning centre (; the Legoland Discovery Centre at Potsdamer Platz has medieval castles, industrial landscapes and Berlin in miniature (; the AquaDom & Sea Life Centre holds around 4,000 creatures of the deep (; at Magic Mountain you can learn how to climb (; then there are the numerous adventure playgrounds, skateboard parks, city beaches and puppet and theatre shows (the Galli theatre in the Mitte District is
bi-lingual, You'll barely have time to sleep or eat, but if you do, head to April, a restaurant with a play area; for a coffee break, Double Eye in the Schoneberg district serves free kids' cappuccinos when you order coffee.

· The Ellington Hotel (Nürnberger Strasse 50-55, 0049 (0)30 6831-50, has family rooms from €185 B&B inc entrance to Berlin Zoo or Sea Life Center.

New York

Children are rarely impressed by shops (with the possible exception of FAO Schwarz) so intersperse your spending spree with some of these child-centred attractions: the New Victory Theater (, 229 West 42nd Street; tickets $12.50-$35) stages plays and musicals exclusively for family audiences. An elevator ride to the 80th floor of the Empire State Building is a sure-fire hit, but try the flight simulator on the second floor too (the Observatory and Skyride package costs $41.61 for adults and $28.07 for kids). For a new twist on the usual Statue of Liberty cruise, hop on The Beast, a 30-minute speedboat ride through New York Harbour. Reopening in May, it departs from Pier 83 (, adults $18, under 12s $12, minimum height 40"). Dinosaur fanatics should head for the American Museum of Natural History, while aspiring Spielbergs can make movies at the Museum of the Moving Image.

· Manhattan apartments from £93 per day from


Of Stockholm's 14 islands, Djurgården has the most family attractions, ranging from the "time capsule" of Skansen (, where historic buildings and costumed staff recreate traditional life, to Junibacken ( where kids can explore the world of storybook heroine Pippi Longstocking. The city's biggest drawcard for families, however, is the Stockholm archipelago (an easy ferry ride away) with its beaches, watersports and holiday houses.

· Family hotels from Dkr695 (£57) per room at


Paris may be the city for lovers - ignore them (they're probably having a miserable time anyhow) and adjust your sights. An eight-year-old won't think the Eiffel Tower is too touristy - they'll think it's a brilliant way to spend an hour or two. Other child-friendly highlights include sailing boats and the Ferris Wheel in the Tuileries gardens, pulling faces at Notre dame's gargoyles and tinkering with the interactive exhibits at Parc de la Villette.

· Hotel Therese is a 5-minute walk from the Louvre and welcomes children. Cots and babysitting available on request and deluxe rooms can accommodate extra beds. From €150,


Another city where coverage tends to focus on the obvious adult attractions when there are numerous child-friendly ones. Canals, locks, bridges, teeny houses (the smallest is as wide as the doorway) can all be explored by bike. The Science Museum Nemo ( is good for a rainy day; in summer make use of its roof-top chill-out area with palm trees, a sandpit and a waterfall or head to one of the beaches, such as Bloemendaal, an easy train ride away.

· For older children a house boat is a fun alternative to a hotel - has a selection. If the prospect of keeping a watchful eye on them 24/7 gives you the jitters, the Stayokay hostel in the Vondelpark caters to families on a budget.


Liverpool is this year's City of (whisper it) Culture - and there's plenty for kids. The Walker Art Gallery's Big Art for Little Artists is a children's gallery with jigsaws, spot the cartoon character and computer games ( Underwater Street ( is a hands-on discovery centre for two to 10-year-olds, with themed zones, including an art area and Physical Zone. If the sun shines, there's always the ferry across the Mersey where you can embarrass your children mercilessly by singing the song loudly. For lunch try the Olive Press on Castle St or Ego on Hope Street - both have high-chairs and kids' menus.

· has lists of serviced apartments from £65 per night, the best-value option for families.

Cairo, Aswan and Luxor

School-age children who have covered Ancient Egypt in the classroom will be captivated by this trio of Nile Valley cities - just make sure you avoid the summer meltdown by visiting during spring or autumn. In Cairo, divide your time between the Pyramids and the Egyptian Museum, where the Royal Mummy Room contains the grizzly remains of ancient queens and pharaohs. Next, take the overnight sleeper train to Aswan, where you can ride camels in the desert before hopping on a Nile cruiser or felucca for the voyage north to Luxor. Infant Indianas and Little Lara Crofts can decipher the hieroglyphics in the tombs of the Valley of the Kings, while the Great Hypostyle Hall at Karnak is crying out for a game of hide and seek.

· Families Worldwide (0845 051 4567, offers a 9-day tour from £899 per adult and £849 per child (minimum age five) including flights, accommodation and some meals.

Brussels and Bruges

Easy to get to, easy to navigate once you're there and chock-full of cartoon characters and chocolate, boring old Brussels is actually a child's paradise. Visit the Smurf exhibition at the Comic Strip Museum (opening on June 10), then stroll around Paris, London and Venice at Mini Europe and watch a delicious demonstration at the Museum of Chocolate. The less-sweet-toothed can hop on the train to Bruges for the Museum of the Chip (yes, a whole museum dedicated to the art of the Belgium frîte), opening in May. By which point they should be thoroughly exhausted and fit to burst.

· Stay at Hotel NH Arenberg
( Rooms from €72.50 (£59). Your Eurostar ticket allows onward travel from Brussels to any destination in Belgium (under 4s travel free, under 12s £50, youth fare, 12-26 starts at £49, adult from £59).


Valencia is the sort of place you pick for yourselves hoping you'll happen upon a few child-friendly attractions when you get there. The reality is they soon get bored of looking at fish stalls and the boats keep them interested for 10 minutes max. Now there's a bona fide children's attraction, the Bioparc Valencia (, a conservation project, with more than 4,000 animals from 250 species.

· Open daily 10am-6pm midweek and to 7pm weekends (up to 9pm in the summer months). Tickets cost €20 for adults and €15 for children. Stay at three-star Petit Palace Germanias ( in the city centre, family rooms for up to four from €96 per night.

The GuardianTramp

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