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11 Best Places to Visit in Europe with Outdoor Kids

A mom and her young daughter hike in Europe together.

Are you looking for the best places to visit in Europe with outdoor kids? You’re in the right spot! Our vibrant community of Explorer Families worldwide has shared their favorite places in Europe to go with outdoorsy, nature-loving kids, from the active volcanoes of Iceland to the sun-kissed beaches of Italy. Each of our top picks for the best European destinations for adventure families features a wide array of outdoor activities, guaranteeing smiles and endless excitement for every family member. Whether you are hoping to sail, ski, or snorkel, there is a destination on this list waiting for you and your kids. Dive into our guide to discover not only where to go in Europe with outdoor kids but also the exciting activities waiting for you. Get ready for unforgettable family adventures!

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A young boy hikes in Ireland.
Photo Courtesy: Erica Bennett

Ireland is renowned for its stunning natural landscapes, which provide a picturesque backdrop to one of the best European destinations for family vacations. An outdoor haven for families, there are plenty of fun activities, from hiking and cycling to seal watching and water activities. Additionally, families love Ireland for its rich cultural heritage, friendly locals, and quaint villages.

Start your visit with the Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk. This rugged coastal path offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean for all ages. Up for more hiking? Head to the enchanting Wicklow Mountain National Park. Here, there are nine trails to choose from featuring historic sights, verdant hills, and waterfalls. Then, Connemara National Park is famed for its epic hiking trails (like family-friendly Diamond Hill) and the chance to see a wild herd of Connemara ponies roaming free. Alternatively, Killarney National Park is beloved for its rugged mountainous trails. This includes McGillycuddy’s Reeks, the highest mountain range in Ireland! The delicate combination of mountains, lakes, woodlands, and waterfalls will truly make you believe in the lore of giants and fairies. 

If you’re looking for an island adventure, exploring the Aran Islands with kids can’t be beaten. As one of the best places to visit in Europe with outdoor kids, Ireland’s abundance of national parks, picturesque lakes, and ancient ruins quickly captivates the hearts of nature-loving families.


A mom and her young daughter hike together in Scotland.
Photo Courtesy: Antonia Grant

Did you know that Scotland is one of the few countries in Europe where you can go wild camping? That is only one of the many reasons that make Scotland one of the best outdoor trips in Europe for families! Showcasing spectacular scenery across the country, Scotland is adored for its mountains, lochs, and coastal areas. Not to mention, families also enjoy discovering castle ruins, the potential for wildlife encounters, and the vast and untamed nature of the country.

Cycling and mountain biking trails are also available across the highlands and lowlands. Plus, the lochs provide excellent kayaking, swimming, sailing, and more opportunities. Start your visit in the Highlands. Here, hiking treks are as abundant as the many castles and ruins that dot the countryside. In particular, families love Cairngorms National Park (just a short train ride or drive from Inverness). Nearby, you can also see Scotland’s cherished wild cats and other creatures at the Highland Wildlife Park. Then, Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park is a hidden gem featuring rolling hills, wildlife (like deer and otters), and, of course, the beautiful waters of the loch. Then, adventurous families will also find opportunities to go climbing and abseiling. As one of the best places to travel with kids in Europe, the opportunities are truly endless.

Of course, you can’t mention outdoor adventure in Scotland without talking about the Isle of Skye. Its epic scenery, coastal cliffs, the Cuillin mountain range, and Fairy Pools waterfalls are just a few things that draw people to this island. Be sure to save one day for hiking the Old Man of Storr. This iconic hike is a must for anyone visiting the Isle of Skye. No wonder people consider Scotland to be one of the best European destinations for families!


A family enjoys a scenic hike in Norway.
Photo Courtesy: Ali Em Kay

Next on our list of the best places to visit in Europe with outdoor kids is Norway! Families love this Scandinavian country for its family-friendly hiking and mountain biking trails, the chance to view the northern lights, and the unique opportunity to explore beautiful fjords. Norway’s pristine nature, mixed with a vibrant cultural heritage and outdoor festivals, make it a top pick for many families seeking European adventure travel with kids.

Outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking, canoeing, and mountain biking are available across Norway. If you’re looking for a low-key trek, start in Østmarka (near Oslo). Here, hiking is available all year round, while summer visitors can also enjoy lovely biking trails and swimming areas. For a classic experience amongst the fjords, Stavanger and Ålesund both offer a great home base for families. Here, charter a fjord boat tour to explore by water and find plenty of hiking trails for all skill levels nearby. Alternatively, if your kids dream of hiking across glaciers, guided tours are available in several locations, including the Folgefonna glacier. Wildlife enthusiasts can also book a safari across Vesterålen, in Northern Norway, to see majestic creatures like sperm whales, moose, musk ox, puffins, and more.

Then, those interested in climbing parks and via ferratas will find routes and challenges for all levels across Norway. Via Ferrata Loen in Nordfjord is an excellent option for guided tours and first-timers (recommended age 12+). Finally, those looking for a unique experience can try their luck at surfing! Rogaland, in the southwest, is a great place to start. You’ll find excellent conditions for surfing and water kitting all year round here. With so many adventures and activities, it is no wonder parents often choose Norway when looking for places in Europe to visit with outdoorsy kids!


A young girl walks along a beach in Italy.
Photo Courtesy: Antonia Grant

Italy offers some of the most diverse landscapes in Europe. From the majestic mountain peaks of the Dolomites to the beautiful beaches of Puglia, Italy is certainly one of the best places in Europe to travel with kids. Activities like canyoning, skiing, hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and swimming are all available. Families also choose Italy for its mouthwatering cuisine, warm hospitality, and opportunities to enjoy history and art across the country.

You can't go wrong with Italy when planning your European family vacations around outdoor adventures! Every season offers unique opportunities to explore and enjoy the country’s treasured landscapes. In the winter, ski down thrilling slopes in the Turin Alps in northern Italy. Summer visitors can also embark on mountain adventures across northern Italy, including family-friendly via ferrata adventures. Guides can lead families through diverse routes from Tuscany to the Dolomites. Italy also offers several distinctly beautiful treks for hikers from the mountains to the sea. In particular, families enjoy hiking in Piedmont and Cortina d'Ampezzo. Then, climbers and hikers alike appreciate the many opportunities to explore the area around the active volcano Stromboli, on the island of Sicily!

Looking for water adventures? Italy is renowned for its northern lakes, like Lake Como and Lake Garda. Lake Garda, in particular, is a draw for many families due to its crystal-clear water and opportunities for canyoneering. Then, the cozy cove beaches of Puglia are a must for those looking to swim, sail, and kitesurf. On the Mediterranean side, Calabria offers sweeping, pristine beaches, as well as more active adventures like parasailing, snorkeling, and windsurfing. If you’re wondering where to go in Europe with outdoor kids that offers everything you need for an adventurous trip, Italy should be at the top of your list!


A family hikes together in Plitvice Lakes National Park.
Photo Courtesy: Ali Em Kay

Game of Thrones fans are familiar with just how powerful the outdoor spaces of Croatia can be, as much of the show was filmed near Dubrovnik and Split. For families, Croatia offers a world of adventure, including epic waterfalls, underground caves, tons of water sports like sailing and kayaking, rock climbing, and much more. In addition to being one of the best outdoor European vacations with kids, families also adore Croatia for its historic old towns, Mediterranean fare, and friendly locals.

If your family is interested in adventure sports, Croatia is calling! Not only can you find places to go kayaking, hiking, and mountain biking, but Croatia also offers rafting, canyoning, caving, and even skydiving. Planning to explore the depths of Croatia’s stunning caves? Families tend to find Biserujka Cave in Krk and Festinsko Kraljevstvo in Zminj to be safe and enjoyable with kids of all ages. Festinsko Kraljevstvo even offers a nearby children’s park, mini farm, and dining. The country’s spectacular national parks are a huge draw for travelers. Start with Plitvice Lakes National Park, where you can hike and kayak. Then, swim amongst the waterfalls at Krka National Park. Looking to conquer a mountain? Mljet National Park is your next stop!

Water adventures along the coastal areas and islands, including swimming, snorkeling, sailing, and other fun watersports. Perhaps one of the most exciting ways to explore Croatia and its islands is by chartering a sailboat or small yacht. A captained vessel can take you across the area, allowing you to spend your nights floating at sea and your days exploring the best of Croatia! With so many unique opportunities, no wonder Croatia is one of Europe's best places to visit with outdoor kids.


A family hikes together in Switzerland.
Photo Courtesy: Ali Em Kay

It’s no secret that Switzerland is one of the best places to visit in Europe with outdoor kids, especially for skiers! Winter visitors are treated to a snowy wonderland filled with ice skating on frozen lakes, tobogganing, and glacial treks. Off the slopes and throughout the seasons, families can see Switzerland’s peaceful countryside by hiking, cycling, rafting, and swimming. Not only can you explore under the watchful gaze of the iconic Matterhorn, but Switzerland also features a rich cultural heritage, kid-friendly museums, delicious alpine cuisine, and scenic train rides.

Looking for a thrill? Many mountains across the country have alpine coasters (or toboggan runs). Kids will love racing down the track in their own car (controlling the speed with hand brakes). The longest track is located in Prädischer - a whopping 3 km long! Then, hiking families will delight in the many themed trails across Switzerland. Toggenburg Tone Trail is a favorite with kids, featuring 20+ musical installations along the route. If you’re interested in trying a via ferreta, families tend to prefer the Brunnistöckli Via Ferrata near Brunni Engelberg. It is ideal for beginners and those wanting to experience the trek with children. Then, when you need a low-key moment with your family, many mountain resorts offer alpine playgrounds that will leave your kids speechless. 

When you’re not exploring the many cycling and hiking trails, take a dip in an alpine lake! Kids will enjoy splashing about, while parents can enjoy the breathtaking views! Those traveling with older kids and teens (typically age 10+) can also explore the country’s waterways by raft. In southeastern Switzerland, the Vorderrhein River is a popular place to go rafting. As one of the best places to travel with kids in Europe, you won’t hear “I’m bored” on this trip!


A scenic view of a seaside cave in Iceland.

Outdoor families love Iceland! Prized as one of the best European destinations for families, Iceland is primed for adventure. Featuring otherworldly landscapes, cascading waterfalls, volcanoes, and glaciers, Iceland offers an exhilarating escape for families. In fact, adventure abounds in every season, from hiking and whale watching to seeking the northern lights and exploring ice caves. In addition to the outdoor adventures here, families also appreciate Iceland for its folklore, thermal pools, and charming villages.

Starting in Reykjavík, take kids to see the animals at the Reykjavík Park and Zoo. Here, you will encounter Icelandic farm animals, arctic foxes, birds, and reindeer. When you’re ready to explore further afield, head to the LAVA Centre to learn about volcanoes and track earthquake activity across Iceland. Interested in hiking? Consider Snaefellsjokull National Park, where the sub-glacial volcano is the main attraction. Families here enjoy the Djupalonssandur, Moduvor, Skardsvik, and Ondverdarnes trails. Landmannaluagar, in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve, is another popular place for hiking. And, of course, you can’t miss the iconic Skógafoss Waterfall. Then, families also love touring the Golden Circle, which includes stops at places like Thingvellir National Park, Geysir, and Gullfoss Waterfall. Finally, Iceland has no shortage of other phenomenal outdoor spaces to explore, including Reynisfjara Beach (Black Sand Beach), Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, and the Blue Lagoon

When traveling to Iceland, note that many activities (like the northern lights and wildlife spotting) are seasonal. If you want to see something specific, plan your trip accordingly. Likewise, many tours and activities (like hiking across glaciers and near volcanoes) have age restrictions. Ensure your children meet the age requirements before booking. Planning these two key pieces ahead of time will allow you to enjoy visiting one of the best outdoor European vacations with kids even more!


A family with kids hikes along a mountain trail in Slovenia.
Photo Courtesy: Ali Em Kay

Families are drawn to outdoor adventures in Slovenia due to its lake activities, biking trails, cave tours, and unique topography. This makes Slovenia an appealing destination for nature-loving enthusiasts of all ages! In addition to picturesque landscapes, Slovenia also appeals to families because of its charming villages and alpine resorts. To top it off, Slovenia offers a family-centered culture and budget-friendly option for those seeking the best places to travel with kids in Europe.

Those wondering where to go in Europe to camp with outdoor kids can head to Kamp Kolpa. Located on the Kolpa River near the border with Croatia, this campsite provides a delightful mix of outdoor adventures (including swimming, hiking, and canoeing) and nearby dining. Other family-friendly lake days can be found at Lake Bled or Lake Bohinj. Lake Bohinj is located within Triglav National Park, offering tons of hiking opportunities for all skill levels. This includes mountain treks, trails within the valley, and even some themed trails! Looking for caves to explore with kids? You’ll be spoiled for choice with options from Postojna Cave and the Škocjan Caves to Snežna Jama (the Snow Cave).

After exploring the heights of Slovenia’s mountains and the depths of its caves, you will quickly understand why Slovenia is the birthplace of so many fairy tales! It offers a truly breathtaking landscape for families to explore together, whether by trail or by water!


A canoe along a lakeshore in the wilderness of Finland.

Regarding outdoor family European vacations, it’s hard to beat the adventures, scenery, and saunas offered in Finland. Families can go cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, visit Santa, and witness the enchanting northern lights in the winter. Meanwhile, summer visitors can enjoy hiking, biking, and canoeing under the endless daylight of the Finnish summer (lovingly referred to as the Midnight Sun). Beyond the untouched natural lands here, Finland also allows families to slow down and connect.

Helsinki, Lapland, and Naantali offer the best home base for families exploring this Nordic paradise. Meanwhile, ski families are drawn to Levi for its diverse and numerous children’s slopes. In fact, it’s the largest ski resort in Finland. Winter travelers also delight in the magic of Lapland. Trees weigh heavy under snow here, while the northern lights dance across the sky. Winter activities also include snowmobiling, dog sledding, reindeer sledding, and snowshoe hiking. Of course, visiting Santa in Rovaniemi will also be an enchanting experience.

Then, in the summer, there are still plenty of amazing things to do in Finland, from picture-perfect lakes to thrilling mountain biking trails. Inland lakes are ideal for fishing, canoeing, swimming, and spending lazy days on the water. And, who can forget the 41 national parks dotting the Finnish wilderness? Less than an hour from Helsinki, Nuuksio National Park is a popular option with families for its cozy nature center and relatively flat trails. Other family favorite trails include those in Riisitunturi National Park, Urho Kekkonen National Park, Vallisaari Island, and Teijo National Park. Many national parks also offer hike-in Huts (some of which are free) for families seeking a unique, overnight trekking experience. Undoubtedly, Finland is one of the best places to visit in Europe with outdoor kids!

The Faroe Islands

A scenic seaside view in The Faroe Islands.

Perhaps one of the most challenging places to get to on this list of the best outdoor European vacations with kids, the Faroe Islands are well worth the time it takes to get there! This remote archipelago, located between Iceland and Norway, is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages. From hiking and bird watching to kayaking, the rugged lands of the Faroe Islands are packed with excitement and adventure. The low tourism numbers, rich Viking heritage, and fresh seafood also appeal to families.

Picture this: steep cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and fjords. Can you imagine a more perfect backdrop for an adventurous vacation with kids? From beginner hikers to skilled trekkers, the Faroe Islands showcases a wide range of trails that cater to all levels and experiences. Start by hiking to Kallur Lighthouse, an iconic landmark. Across the many trails, families can explore coastal paths, ascend rugged mountains, and enjoy panoramic views (ideal for budding photographers!). Cycling is another popular way for families to explore the islands. Bikes with children’s carriers are allowed. That, paired with low-volume traffic, means you get most of the views to yourself, while your kids enjoy the ride too!

For a truly unique experience, book a guided horseback riding experience on Streymoy Island. Then, in the summer, families can take a rib-boat tour to Hestur Island, home to the world’s largest sea cave! Those interested in seeing waterfalls cascading into the sea will love adding Gásadalur and the Múlafossur Waterfall to their itinerary. Finally, Mykines, one of the smaller islands, is an excellent option for families hoping to see puffins in the summer. Regarding European adventure travel with kids, the Faroe Islands are hard to beat!


A rocky, seaside beach in Montenegro at sunset.

An enticing and budget-friendly destination for families, Montenegro is also a hidden gem amongst the best outdoor trips in Europe for families! This small country, tucked along the Dalmatian Coast (north of Albania), is packed with outdoorsy adventures for all ages. Montenegro offers stunning coastal views, awe-inspiring national parks, and rugged mountains. This means families can spend their days camping, hiking, swimming, kayaking, and rock climbing - just to name a few things! Additionally, families also love the medieval castles, welcoming locals, and rich cultural heritage.

One of the best places to explore with nature-loving kids is Durmitor National Park. And, due to the cozy size of Montenegro, it’s the perfect day trip from almost anywhere in the country! Within the national park, you can go hiking, zip-lining, rafting down the Tara River, and burn off any extra energy at the adventure park. Black Lake offers a fantastic (and short) trail for families with young kids. Lake Biograd in Biogradska Gora National Park is another preferred place for kid-friendly hiking. For more serious hiking in one of the best places to visit in Europe with outdoor kids, consider hiring a guide through the local Mountaineering Association.

Next, the Bay of Kotor is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its scenic fjord-like landscapes and medieval towns. The crystal-clear waters and dramatic mountain range beckon adventurers of all ages. Just a few minutes walk from Kotor’s main gate, Kotor Beach is lovely for a day lounging in the sand and surf! Ready for more water adventures? Skadar Lake, shared with Albania, offers families the chance to explore the largest lake in the Balkans! Here, boating, birdwatching, and visiting traditional fishing villages around the lake are popular activities with kids.


Keep Exploring The Best Places to Visit in Europe with Outdoor Kids!

A mom and her young daughter explore a stream in Scotland.

Now that you know our thoughts on the best places to visit in Europe with outdoor kids, we hope you’ve decided where to go! Undoubtedly, there are tons of European adventure travel options for families with kids. From Norway to Montenegro, these fantastic outdoor spaces in Europe are waiting to be explored by kids of all ages. You truly can’t go wrong with whichever country (or countries!) you choose to visit this year. Enjoy Europe with your nature-loving kids!

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