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How to survive flying with a toddler.

When you started a family and began to travel with your baby you probably felt a but smug about the fact that you’ve done it. Hurrah, you’ve managed to conquer flying with a baby. (If you are yet to do this see our tips for the first time flying with a baby). Flying with a toddler changes the way you travel once again! It is probably only with hindsight that you can look back and realise how easy life was then in comparison to travelling with a toddler.

This article has been the one that has been most requested so here goes. Here are the Mini Travel Tribe’s tips on how to survive flying with a toddler.

*This post may contain some affiliate links. If you click through and buy something I may be receive a small commission.  This does not affect the price that you pay for the product. I only ever recommend products that we have tried and tested and really enjoyed using*

Choose your flight time

This isn’t always possible as you may be restricted by the scheduling of your chosen airline. However if you do have options think carefully about what time of day you choose to fly. Having an over-tired, cranky toddler with you will change the whole flight experience!

I took a 3 hour flight at 4pm with C aged 20 months. She had been at nursery for most of the day with no nap and it was an awful flight. I was literally counting down the seconds for the entire journey! It meant that for the whole of our trip away I was then dreading our flight home. The flight home was at 11 in the morning and was a completely different experience. She sat and played, snacked and then nodded off as we landed home.

Which bag to use?

We have tried various options of bags when flying with a toddler. Particularly with a slightly older toddler (2-3 year olds) we have found a Trunki really useful. The children generally love being pulled along on them or pulling them along themselves. It has been a life saver for us when we had long walks between connecting flights, where you don’t usually get your stroller back.

I think they make great birthday/ Christmas present ideas. They come in all sorts of designs so you should be able to find one that your toddler will like.

If not using a Trunki we have used a smallish backpack as a carry-on. This means that your hands are kept free for manhandling wriggly toddlers when needs be! For me the most important factors are choosing a bag that is easy to carry and easy to get into to find everything you need while on the flight.

Packing for the plane when flying with a toddler

So you have chosen your bag, but what to put in it? Here is our packing list:

  • New toys. Toys that are new to a child always entertain them for much longer than things that they have been playing with for almost every day of their little lives. Nip to the pound shop before your flight and pick up a few small new toys to keep your toddler entertained. When choosing new toys consider size. Too big will take up precious baggage space and too small will easily get lost. Things with lots of parts aren’t a particularly good idea either as they will most likely end up all over the floor at some point.
  • SNACKS. Everyone with toddlers know that you need all the snacks! My carry-on bag is usually half full of snacks. I try and ration them to start with but just keep bringing more out as soon as he starts to get restless. You will know best what your toddler likes. Too much sugar probably isn’t the best idea as then you will end up with a sugar-fuelled toddler on the plane. I usually pack some sandwiches, breadsticks, fruit- bananas, grapes (cut in half in a little Tupperware tub), apples, blueberries, cucumber sticks, crisps or I like veggie straws as a (slightly) healthier version. Go with things that you know your toddler will eat as the last thing you want is the food just being thrown around the plane!
  • Stickers. 

Most toddlers love stickers. You can get sticker books pretty cheaply but they are often finished in no time. Reusable sticker books make great value as they last a lot longer. Often you can stick them on the back of the seat in front too or on the tray table which is obviously more fun than just sticking them in a book!

We discovered these when our eldest was a toddler and they can easily entertain for ages. The great thing is that by the time they have finished colouring the whole book the first page is usually dry and ready to start again! Try to remember to fill the pen with water before you get on the plane so you are ready to go.

  • Books. M, our middle child, has always loved books and at any age would sit and listen to stories for a long time. As a toddler this was one of the best ways to get her to sit still on a plane. We always have a few favourite books in the bag to pull out. Interactive books with flaps etc are usually the best for fidgety toddlers.
  • Wipes/ nappies. I usually have a pouch with nappies and wipes in to make it easy to grab for any nappy changes. I then have a separate pack of wipes handy that I leave within easy reach throughout the flight. With the amount of snacks my toddler eats I feel like I am constantly needing wipes!
  • Drinks bottle / cup. It’s really important to stay hydrated when flying so make sure your toddler has a cup/ bottle to drink from throughout the flight. Non-spill options work well!
  • Tablet/ headphones. We all know that lots of screen time isn’t good for anyone. In particular there has been research to suggest that toddlers shouldn’t really be having any screen time at all. Generally as a family we try not to use screens to entertain our kids. Flights are the one exception! To be honest watching a tablet has never been the best form of entertainment for our children as toddlers.  But if it buys even 10 minutes of sitting still quietly then it is worth having one available. If you do have a tablet your toddler will also need some headphones to be able to listen to it on. B’s face was a picture on a recent flight when he used his headphones for the first time. Pure amazement at where the sound was coming from!

We really like these JVC headphones and now have the same ones in three different colours!

Toddler wearing headphones on an aeroplane.
A moment of piece while they enjoy watching the tablet with their headphones.

At the airport

We have usually travelled with a stroller and kept it with us until we get to the gate. It is handy for carrying the bags if the toddler is walking! If you do have a stroller you will be given the option to check it in when you drop your bags or keep it with you.

When you go through security you will be asked to take your child out of the stroller for it to be scanned. I try to be as organised as possible and have everything ready to go in the boxes before I unstrap the toddler from the stroller. It means that I can contain him and not worry about him running off while going through the always stressful ordeal of getting through security.

Once through security I usually let the toddler run around a bit and let off some steam. He loves the travelators and many airports have play areas for children. There is a great free soft play facility at Heathrow Terminal 5 which we have used a few times now.

If you don’t plan on taking a stroller or want to check it in when you first arrive at the airport you may find it useful to bring a sling.  A sling is great for freeing up hands to carry the other luggage/ keep hold of other small children! You often don’t get strollers back until the luggage carousel at your destination, which can be quite a trek from the plane. Depending on the age of your toddler you may end up with very achey arms from carrying them around by the time you get there.

Making use of the trunk on the long walk through the airport.

Boarding the plane

Many families like to get on the plane first and get settled. When flying with a toddler my principal is always to minimise the amount of time spent on the aeroplane! On larger aircraft you can easily be on the plane for an extra 30-45 minutes if you get on first versus hanging around and being one of the last on.

Again this comes down to personal preference. When you do get on, make sure you have items close at hand that you are likely to need. I usually keep a bag under the seat in front rather than in the locker, meaning that I can easily get to snacks/ entertainment for the toddler.

If your toddler is over 2 years they will have their own seat. This means a lot more space for the whole family and the bag full of toddler toys/snacks can go in front of their chair rather than by your feet!

Entertaining your toddler on the plane

This is usually the hardest part of flying with a toddler and the part that most parents worry about the most. Toddlers aren’t well know for sitting quietly for hours at a time! Here is a list of entertainment ideas that we have used many times over the years to help us to survive flying with a toddler.

  • Looking out of the window. Particularly at take off and landing, chatting about what you can see out of the window can entertain for a while. It can also help to distract any toddlers that might be nervous of flying.
  • Games/ toys. I usually try and bring out the activities one at a time. Play with it until they are getting bored and then pull out the next thing.
  • ALL THE SNACKS! These are usually interspersed between each activity.
  • Tablet- I usually download a few programmes onto the iPad. Most toddlers will not maintain concentration for a film so shorter programmes work better usually. The current favourite in our household is Peppa Pig. You will know what it going to hold your child’s attention best.
  • A walk around the plane. When the toddler gets really fidgety we know that it is time to go for a walk around the plane.

Flying with a toddler is rarely going to be easy but I hope some of our ideas help to smooth the way a little bit. Enjoy your flight and holiday! Let us know if you have any other top tips to share.

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Tips for first time flying with a baby

Travelling with a baby for the first time can be a daunting prospect. However with a bit of planning you will hopefully find that your first time flying with a baby could be easier than you thought. Babies are pretty portable and have quite simple needs. It’s actually much easier than flying with a toddler! We also have a great article on how to survive flying with a toddler for when you get to that stage.

All three of our children took their first flights when they were between four and six months old. I think this is a really good age for the first time flying with a baby. Hopefully baby is a bit more settled but is not yet on the move!  M’s first flight was a 12 hour overnight flight to South Africa at four months old!

Mum and baby on an aeroplane
B enjoying his first flight aged 5 months.

Here are the Mini Travel tribe’s top tips to help make your first time flying with a baby as stress free as possible.

Booking your flight

On most airlines these days you have to pay extra to choose your seats. However some airlines will let you choose your seat for free if you have an infant. Check with the airline when you book to find out.

Infants (under 2 years) usually travel for free (or a small fixed price per flight) if they sit on your knee. If you prefer you do have the option of buying a seat for your baby and using a car seat. If you are thinking of doing this you should check which types of car seats are permitted on your airline. Some airlines only allow forward facing car seats so this option is only really then useful for older babies/ toddlers.

If it is a long haul flight you will want to book the bulk head seats to get a bassinet for your baby. Check with the airline for the age/ weight guides for their bassinets. There is a good round up of the policies of major airlines here. We did a 12 hour overnight flight with M in a bassinet when she was 4 months old and it was the best flight with an infant that we have ever done! To her the bassinet was the same as her bed at home. I took her familiar infant sleeping bag with me and she slept for most of the flight! The people next to me were very pleasantly surprised I think!

Baby sleeping in bassinet on aeroplane
M in bed on the plane.

In contrast we also did a 10 hour overnight flight when she was 20 months and we didn’t get a bassinet. With no seat of her own she was trying to sleep on me (I was also 6 months pregnant at the time!) which led to not much sleep for either of us!

Packing for the plane

Depending on how long your flight is, packing for the plane does not have to be too different to your everyday baby bag. It is a careful balance between having your essentials with you and not having a bag that is packed so full you can’t carry it!

My carry-on essentials with a baby are:

  • Nappies/ wipes/ change mat.  I tend to have these together in a pouch that I can just grab at nappy change time.
  • Full change of clothes for baby. If you have quite a sicky baby you might want more than one depending on the length of your flight.
  • Formula and bottles if baby is bottle fed. We have taken the ready made formula cartons through security and it isn’t usually a problem. When you are loading everything on the conveyor belt security will take it for it’s own separate scan. We have also taken tubs of formula powder and boiled water in the bottle, again they just scan the bottle separately. We have even taken cups of drinking water in a sippy cup through security and it has been fine.
  • Snacks and baby food (if baby is past weaning).
  • Dummy, if baby uses one.
  • Muslin / burp cloths. M was constantly bringing back up half of her milk feeds so there were always at least two of these in our change bag! They are also handy for a cover up for breastfeeding, or a lightweight blanket.
  • Baby toys. Depending on the age of your baby you might want 2-3 toys to entertain them with. Choose toys that you know they enjoy although the rest of the flight won’t appreciate particularly noisy toys! We found fabric books worked well. All three of ours also all loved the ‘winkel’ which is a great quiet rattle/ teether toy.  The Tupperware tubs that snacks had been packed in often got played with more than any of the toys we took though!

At the airport

With a baby you are allowed two pieces of baby equipment on nearly all airlines. For us this was usually a pram/ push chair and then either a car seat or travel cot.   This depended on where we were staying and how we were planning to move around. Obviously if you aren’t going to need these items don’t take them! The fewer items you have to carry around with you the better when you have a baby in tow!

When you check in you can choose to depart with your pram there and then or keep it until you board the plane. We usually keep ours with us, it’s a place to hang the change bag and store unworn coats/ jumpers! I know plenty of others that prefer to get rid of them and then use a sling to carry baby around the airport- it’s personal preference.

Even when we have taken the pram to the gate we usually take a sling with us on the plane. You often don’t get your pram back at the other end until the luggage carousel. In some airports this can be quite a while and depending on the size of your baby you may have a very achey arm by then! Having a sling for baby while getting on and off the plane also keeps your hands free to carry bags.

Baby and child looking out of aeroplane window
Big sister C looking out of plane window with baby M.

Boarding the plane

Many airlines offer priority boarding for families, this may come at a price for budget airlines. Some people like to be first on the plane to get settled. We have always preferred to be one of the last on the plane. It just means less time to be sat on the plane at the end of the day!

We usually try and do a nappy change just before we get on the flight as well. Aeroplane toilets aren’t known for their roominess and the change tables are quite cramped . Inevitably we then often get a series of nappy explosions on the plane but you might get lucky and not need to change a nappy on the flight (depending on how long it is).

As an infant your baby will be sat on your knee. The air host/ hostess will bring you an infant seat belt and life vest while still on the tarmac. Let the cabin crew know that it is your first time flying with a baby and they will generally be super helpful. They will show you how to use the seat belt if you’re not sure but it basically loops through your belt and then fastens around baby.

Mini Travel Tribe’s top 5 tips for a smooth flight:

  1. I always tried to breastfeed mine during take off and landing. This has a few benefits. It keeps them quiet and settled for a while.  The sucking action should help to prevent little ear problems (we never had any probs with any of ours as babies). Also you may get the added bonus of them dropping off to sleep for a while! If you’re not breastfeeding a bottle or a dummy would work in the same way.
  2. Snack followed by drink followed by snack! If past the weaning stage a never-ending supply of healthy snacks is always a good option! If baby is not yet weaned you may find that they want more milk feeds than usual – it is much easier to get dehydrated in the air.
  3. When baby starts to get a bit unsettled a walk down the aisle for a change of scene can be a life saver. I like standing at the back of the plane and looking out of the window with baby. It was the way that we usually got ours to sleep, none of our three have ever been much good at just falling to sleep on our knee.
  4. Babies generally love people so make use of your fellow passengers to entertain them! When walking down the aisle of the plane ours all loved looking at all the people they passed.  It is also highly likely that at least one or two people will engage with them and further entertain them for a while. This also works with allowing them to look over the back of your seat at the people behind you. 
  5. My biggest tip is try to relax. Babies are really good at picking up on cues from their parents so if you are stressed they will be too.  If baby is crying for a bit don’t worry about what anyone else on the flight is thinking. Remember that most people in life are genuinely really nice and sympathetic so won’t mind a baby making a bit of noise on a flight. If there are people that get annoyed (this is rare- in fact I have yet to experience it) ignore them and don’t let them get to you. Life is too short!
Mum with three young children on an aeroplane
Everyone wants to sit on Mummy’s knee

Enjoy your baby’s first flight experience!

Our first time flying with a baby was a four hour flight to Istanbul when C was five months old. She was brilliant on that flight and we were really looked after by the cabin crew. It is different to flying pre-children. Not so much time to read your book, although still doable if your baby has a nap! I admit we have had testing flights. Although this has mostly been once there were other children in the mix. The picture above is me  with three small children all competing to sit on Mummy’s knee. Husband was there too but none of them were too interested in sitting on his knee unfortunately!

If it is your first time flying with a baby try to enjoy it! It is a big milestone in their little life and exciting for all of you.  I love that travelling as a family I get to enjoy our destination through my children’s eyes too. What do you like most about family travel? I hope you have found some of  these tips useful. Let us know if you have any of your own to add.

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Family days out in Yorkshire: Brimham Rocks

I have memories of visiting Brimham Rocks as a child and absolutely loving it. The mini travel tribe made it there recently and it got a massive thumbs up from everybody. If you are looking for family days out in Yorkshire this is a great option.

What to expect

Brimham Rocks is an amazing collection of rock formations which have been sculpted by wind, rain and ice over the years. The area in Nidderdale, north of Harrogate is managed by the National Trust. It is a giant natural playground for kids big and small. For the first ten minutes that we were there C was running around like crazy shouting “this is awesome”!

Child jumping off rock at Brimham rocks
C in her element

There are paths leading through the rock formations, although we made plenty of detours! Most of the time was spent exploring the rocks for places to climb and jump. I do admit that Brimham rocks with a toddler isn’t the most relaxing experience! Obviously B wanted to go everywhere that his sisters went and he needed to be kept under close watch.

There are places where you can walk out onto flat, cliff-like rocks to get beautiful views out over the Yorkshire dales. We did manage to get the children to sit still for more than 2 seconds here!  The rock was plenty big enough for them to take in the view without being too close to the edge.

Children admiring the view from Brimham rocks
Taking in the view

Getting there

The best way to get there is by car and park in the National Trust car park. This is free for National Trust members or £6 for non-members. Be aware that the car park machine does not take cards. There is often a NT member of staff there so you can do as we did and pay them by card. We always come unstuck with not having cash with us- you’ll find out about another instance further down the page!.

When you get there

We managed to pick up a map from the National Trust stall in the car park. There are 2 main routes from the car park up towards the visitor centre (around 0.5 mile walk). One of these is on a road-like path that is suitable for pushchairs, although you may miss some of the rock formations on this. The other path is more winding and has some steps near the beginning. You can’t really go too far wrong – as long as you keep heading in the same general direction you will arrive at the visitor centre.

Facilities

Once you have walked through the rocks you arrive at the visitor centre and kiosk. You can buy snacks and ice creams from here. There is also a picnic area with plenty of picnic tables although we opted to use our picnic blanket on the grass in a scenic spot.

View of Brimham rocks and picnic area
Picnic area next to the visitor centre

The visitor centre has a nice shop and upstairs is a display about the formation of the rocks which I found quite interesting but the children less so! There are also nice views from the upstairs windows over the rocks and the surrounding countryside. There are signs to tell you what you are looking at and allegedly you can see all the way to York Minster.

In the visitor centre you can also pick up leaflets with routes for short walks. There is a moorland walk, a woodland walk and the rocks walk. None of these are very long so most children would be able to manage them. We opted for the shortest, ‘rocks walk’, which was pretty much the route we had taken from the car park and back. If your children are anything like ours, walking any distance may be tricky as they are just too busy playing on the rocks!

Child standing on rocks
Enjoying the rocks!

Brimham rocks practicalities with kids

  • This is a natural environment not a structured playground with barriers so you do need to keep a close eye on your kids! I think Husband found it quite stressful making sure none of them were about to fall from a big drop!
  • When we were there an ice cream van was in the car park. It was cash only so don’t do what we did and promise your kids ice cream on the walk back to the car only to discover you have no cash to pay for it! We were saved by the kindness of strangers. Having heard what was going on and one of the kids crying uncontrollably, a very generous family in the car park insisted on giving us money to be able to buy ice creams. If that family  is reading this we (and especially the kids!) were super grateful. We will definitely pay this kindness on to someone else in some way.
  • As mentioned earlier, most of the area is accessible for prams and pushchairs. If you are at Brimham rocks with a toddler or a baby but also have older kids that are wanting to scramble on the rocks, a baby carrier may be handy so you can explore the rocks easier. Luckily B is old enough now to not need the pushchair all the time, and was definitely not going to miss out on all the climbing!

So Brimham rocks did not disappoint from my childhood memories of it! I imagine I would have been just like C at that point running, jumping and climbing everywhere. To be honest as an adult I was just as keen to do this too! If you are looking for other family days out in Yorkshire or are heading for a holiday in North Yorkshire check out our post on Thorp Perrow arboretum. Where do you go for your favourite family day out? Let us know any ideas for our next adventure!

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Exploring Mallorca with kids

Mallorca has been a favourite holiday destination of many Brits for years. Whether it’s the party crowd heading to Magaluf or families heading to numerous family friendly beaches and resorts around the island. Never one to follow the mainstream holiday crowd we had never been to Mallorca until this year. Now we know why it is so popular and what we have been missing – a stunningly beautiful island! We spent a week staying in a lovely villa in the north of the island. Here is the Mini Travel Tribe guide to exploring Mallorca with kids.

Pollença

We stayed in a villa just outside the old town of Pollença. This is a beautiful old town just a few miles inland from the coastal Port de Pollença. The town is full of lovely winding streets and small Plaças with nice restaurants to enjoy. Just don’t drive into the centre of the old town like we accidentally did one day! That trip ended in a local calling the police to come and remove a car.  It was parked where it shouldn’t have been in a narrow street meaning we couldn’t get through the gap! Luckily (for him really!) the car owner arrived before the police did and unapologetically moved his car so we could get through. Nobody batted an eyelid so it seemed like it is probably quite a common occurrence.

Children looking at view of Pollenca in Mallorca
Stunning view of Pollenca and the surrounding countryside from the top of the Calvari steps

Tips for Pollença with kids:

  • Have a meal in the main square (Plaça Major). There are some lovely restaurants and it is so atmospheric. The lovely thing is that the children can play while you eat/drink, making it a much more relaxed experience.
  • Climb the Calvari steps. There are 365 steps, one for each day of the year, leaving from Plaça Seglars to el Calvari chapel. Although it is a lot of steps, they are not steep and so even B’s little legs (aged 2 at the time) managed them. At the top you can have a look in the lovely chapel. Our girls loved this, although not sure if that was mostly because it was nice and cool after the hot climb up the steps. If you go towards your right when you get to the top of the steps there is also a lookout over the valley. It is a spectacular view. You will also find a small cafe next door to the chapel. We managed to get one of the few outdoor tables where the kids enjoyed an ice lolly and us adults had freshly-squeezed orange juice.

Children walking down the Calvari steps in Pollenca, Mallorca.
Walking back down the Calvari steps

Beaches: Mallorca is blessed with an abundance of beaches perfect for children. The closest ones to Pollença are Cala Sant Vincenç and Port de Pollença but you wouldn’t have to go much further to discover many more.

Children looking out to sea at Cala Sant Vicenc beach in Mallorca.

The gorgeous outlook at Cala Sant Vicenc

  • Cala Sant Vicenç is a couple of small coves with beautiful sand and some small beach bars/ cafes near by. There were quite big waves when we were there so it wasn’t ideal swimming for little ones. They did enjoy playing in the waves though and the sand was perfect for sand castles.
  • Port de Pollença beach is a narrow bay and is much more sheltered so calmer water for little ones to play in. There are plenty of shops and restaurants here and a couple of small play areas dotted along the beach too.

Alcudia

Around 12km south east of Pollença is the prime holiday spot of Alcudia. This is made up of the port and beach area (which is where most of the hotels are) and the old town which is slightly inland. We didn’t visit the port area (although I have heard great things about some of the beaches here) but went into the old town of Alcudia early one evening for a stroll and dinner.

Like Pollença it is a beautiful old town, also brimming with winding streets which transport you to atmospheric Plaças. Pavement cafes and restaurants are plentiful and we enjoyed super tasty paella while the girls got their fill of mussels (their favourite holiday food).

Before dinner we had a quick look in the beautiful Church of Sant Jaume d’Alcudia. We then climbed up the medieval ramparts, which gave a great view of the town from above and out to the bay of Pollença. I believe that sometimes you can walk all the way around the walls but part of it was closed when we were there so we just walked a small section. For the girls this was probably long enough for them to enjoy the view without getting bored. The toddler was asleep in his pushchair being minded by Grandma and Grandad while we were up there. We were grateful for this as the fences weren’t particularly substantial and it would have been a much less relaxing experience if we had been constantly worrying about him throwing himself over the side!

Children on ramparts of Alcudia old town in Mallorca

Enjoying the views from the ramparts of the old town Alcudia

Tops Tips:

  • If you are driving like we were, there is a large free car park just south of the old town.
  • There are steep steps to get up on the ramparts, not suitable for a pushchair so if you have a baby or toddler it would be worth having a carrier. As mentioned above the fencing isn’t particularly toddler proof so they will need to be kept close if not carried.

Palma

We had a great day exploring Palma. There is a beautiful old town capped by the jaw-dropping cathedral. We also loved the aquarium. Read all about what we got up to in Palma in our separate post here.

Serra de Tramuntana – taking the scenic route from Pollença to Sóller.

The edge of these mountains can be seen looming to the north west of Pollença. They are a UNESCO world heritage site (my husband’s motivation to explore them!) and are stunningly beautiful. The mountains stretch right along the north west coast and are a magnet for cyclists and walkers. Having young children with us we didn’t attempt any hikes and instead opted for a scenic drive with stop offs for photos along the way. 

Views of Serra de Tramuntana to sea.

Views to the sea from Serra de Tramuntana

The scenic drive from Pollença to Sóller was a 55km journey but probably took us about 1 hour 20 minutes of actual driving. We took the motorway back at the end of the day which was much quicker! It was quite a lot of driving for the children but we managed to keep them entertained and stopped along the way. The Ma-10 road passes Lluc monastery, which could be a really interesting stop (we didn’t have time). I was slightly concerned about what the road would be like as our hire car was more like a mini bus and the fiasco of driving through Pollença old town was still haunting me!

The road is winding and quite narrow but it is a main road so there are no single track parts. You do have to concentrate, which was a shame as it meant not being able to take in the stunning views so well. And the views really are stunning! In my opinion the first part of the drive was the most beautiful, although there was a gorgeous view point just before the final descent into Sóller.

Views of the Mallorcan mountains

Views of the Mallorcan mountains.

Sóller

Sóller is a lovely town in the valley between the mountains and the sea in north west Mallorca. Lots of people arrive here by the vintage train from Palma. I had heard lots of good reviews about this trip but since we weren’t staying in Palma we decided to drive there instead. We had a lovely lunch in the main square, Plaça Constitució and then got the vintage tram to the coastal Port de Sóller.

Tram driving past a church in the main square of Soller

The trams drive past the church in the main square of Soller.

The tram ride was probably B’s favourite part of the whole holiday! If you are in Mallorca with kids, I’m sure they will love it too. It takes around 30 minutes each way winding slowly through orange groves until you reach the port. We had to forcibly remove the toddler from the tram on both journeys as he was enjoying it so much!

Child on tram driving past orange groves

Enjoying the tram and its views.

Once at the Port there is a nice small beach and restaurants around a pretty harbour. The children enjoyed looking at the fish in the harbour- there were lots swimming around by the jetty.

Beach and mountains at Port de Soller

Port de Soller

Tips for Sóller with kids

  • Enjoy lunch in the main square. It is a beautiful square full of pavement cafes and the trams come through every half hour. This was very exciting for the children and built the anticipation for having our own ride on it.
  • The tram leaves from next to the train station, just a 2 minute walk from the main square.
  • The tram is cash only so make sure you have money with you. You can’t buy tickets in advance- just pay when you are on the tram. You can find more information about the tram and train from Palma here
  • There are lots of other tram stops but it tended to fill up at the station. I would advise getting on here as it could be tricky to squeeze on further down the line.

There are plenty of things that we didn’t get around to doing while we were in Mallorca. We will definitely be back at some point to explore some more of this beautiful island. One of the things we didn’t have time for was a trip on the Cap de Formentor. It was on my “to do” list so I definitely want to make it there next time! What else did we miss? Do you have any other top tips for Mallorca with kids?

A Day in Palma de Mallorca with kids

It was the first day of our family holiday in Mallorca and the weather forecast was rain and cloud all day. Instead of letting the weather dampen our holiday we instead decided to use the day to explore Palma, the capital of Mallorca. I had fancied visiting this city anyway having heard good reports of how nice it was so this was the perfect opportunity. Here is the Mini Travel Tribe guide to the top 3 family friendly things to do in Palma de Mallorca.

  1. Palma Aquarium
Awe and wonder in Palma Aquarium

We don’t often go to Aquariums but I have to say that we all thought this one was really impressive. It isn’t cheap but we had picked up a map at the airport that had a token on for €5 off each for up to 5 people. When we arrived there was a big queue to get in (everybody obviously had the same idea on a cloudy day!). Husband jumped out of the car to get in the queue while I found somewhere to park, which worked well as by the time we got to him we only had another 5 minutes before we were at the front. The Aquarium is quite close to the beach and the airport, about 10 minute drive South of the centre of Palma. Parking proved a bit tricky too! There are a couple of free car parks very close which were all completely full. We just managed to get a space in an underground car park, next door to the Aquarium- it wasn’t expensive and there was €3 discount if you showed your aquarium ticket.

Once inside there is a set route to follow with different zones including Mediterranean, tropical seas, the jungle and big blue. Most of the tanks were big and even the toddler could see into all of them without any lifting required as they were floor to ceiling or the smaller ones had steps so little legs could get some help up!

There are also a couple of cafes and play areas. The children loved the large pirate ship that was in the gardens area outside. There was a separate smaller playground for young children too and a small splash park if it’s hot. When we were there a man was doing free face painting too.

B wasn’t sure about having his face painted until he saw his big sisters have theirs done.

There is also an indoor soft play area, which we didn’t visit, we had already been in the aquarium for over 3 hours by this point and we wanted to see more of Palma. We managed to get the children past without them noticing it!

There were other options that you could pay extra to do in the Aquarium, an aqua dome and a shark vision boat. These sounded fun but we didn’t pay for them so I can’t comment on what they are like. I think our favourite section was the ‘big blue’ one. This is a huge tank which has sharks, rays and loads of different fish in it. Apparently at nearly 9m deep it is the deepest shark tank in Europe. What was great is that you could view it from all sorts of different levels and angles. This is the tank that you go over in the glass-bottomed shark vision boat.

Top Tips:

  • Pick up a map at the airport with the vouchers in. If there are more than 5 of you in your party get more than one as each voucher is for 5 people.
  • If you don’t have a voucher you can book tickets online in advance meaning that you don’t have to queue for as long to get in.
  • The cafe inside had a large queue where we were there. If we went back I would take a packed lunch instead- there is lots of seating outside next to the play areas.

2. Palma Cathedral

Inside the beautiful Palma Cathedral

Whether you like churches or not Palma cathedral is pretty impressive. You can’t miss it if you are driving past the port as it is visible from quite a distance. From the outside it is a stunning gothic building. We approached it from the water, which gave great views while we then climbed the steps to get to the cathedral. We were disappointed at first as when we arrived it was closed! However we called in later on our way back to the car after dinner to find it open and a service on. Quietly, we sat at the back for a little while to admire the fabulous building and enjoy the beautiful choral music that was part of the service. Check out those amazing stained glass windows.

Top Tips:

  • For a great view of the outside of the cathedral there is a bar called ‘the Guinness bar’ (not very Spanish sounding I know!) in the Parc de la Mar which overlooks the cathedral. The children had amazing ice cream while we had a drink there. There was also space for the children to play after they had finished their ice creams while we finished our drinks.
  • Check opening times if you are going in the afternoon, it closes earlier on Saturdays and Sundays.
  • There is a nice little playground down the first set of steps behind the cathedral that young children will enjoy to let off some steam.

3. Palma old town

The girls exploring the winding alley ways of Palma old town

If you go to the cathedral you are already at the edge of the old town. It is a beautiful, atmospheric place to wander through the narrow winding streets and get lost in. The children loved exploring all the alleyways and we stopped for dinner in one of the small Plaças that we passed. We wandered all the way to the Plaça Major (main square) but were quite disappointed with it. In my opinion many of the other smaller squares were much prettier

General Practicalities:

  • If arriving by car like we were there are many underground car parks. We managed to park in one that brought us out right in the Parc de la Mar, next to the cathedral.

If you have longer in Palma I have heard really good reports about the vintage train to Sóller. We weren’t staying particularly close to Palma so we drove to Sóller for our visit there instead- read our other blog post about exploring Mallorca with kids.exploring Mallorca with kids.

What were your highlights of Palma de Mallorca? Anything that you recommend we do next time?

Family friendly accommodation in Southern Italy

If you’re like us it is always really helpful to have good recommendations of great accommodation that is well set up for families. In August 2018 the Mini Travel Tribe had a fantastic week on the Gargano peninsula in southern Italy. Read about what we got up to in the area here.  

We stayed at the brilliant Agriturismo I Tesori del Sud near Vieste. If you are looking for family friendly accommodation in Italy your can’t go too far wrong here.

I just wanted to make it clear that I wasn’t paid to write this review. I have written it simply because I thought this place was just so perfect for a family holiday that I wanted to let you know about it. Tesori del Sud is a small holiday resort near Vieste. It comprises a small collection of apartments and villas set amongst olive and fruit trees. The apartment and villas sleep between 2 and 6 people and all have large private gardens. Cots and high chairs are available, if you let them know in advance they will have them waiting for you when you arrive.

What we loved about it was that it gave a great balance between the privacy of a holiday house or apartment rental but with hotel-like facilities thrown in; pool, restaurant etc.

We stayed in the largest villa available which had 2 bedrooms, a double and a twin. It also had a sofa-bed in the living area (which we didn’t use), so can sleep up to 6. We had two bathrooms, one en-suite and a house bathroom. Both of these had showers rather than a bath. At the time M (then just about to turn 4) wasn’t keen on showers, so we got inventive! The shower cubicles were really big so the children all got in together and sat on the floor while I gently doused them with the shower. It worked brilliantly and they all ended up having a lot of fun, they even looked forward to shower time!

Other than the bedrooms and bathrooms there was a living area with a sofa, TV, table and chairs and kitchenette. The whole place wasn’t big but had everything we needed and was spotlessly clean. The air-con was also much appreciated when we were there in August!

Enjoying a BBQ dinner in our private garden.

Outside each villa has a covered verandah with table and chairs. There is also a large private garden which is enclosed with hedges and had a couple of sun beds to relax on. There was a BBQ out here too which we used on a couple of occasions. We thought this whole outdoor space was amazing with kids as they had their own private garden that they could play in while us adults relaxed with a drink.

One of the children’s favourite games was hunting for lizards in the garden (there were plenty around) and taking photos of them. It was also lovely to sit out here later in the evening and relax with a glass of wine once the children were in bed. We even had a local fox that visited us most evenings!

No cars are allowed next to the villas or within the site. There are parking spaces distributed around the edge of the site so that wherever your villa is you don’t have too far to get to your car. I thought this was really well done as it meant that you couldn’t really see any cars at all while wandering around.

Showing the quiet, traffic free paths at Tesori del Sud.
Wandering the traffic-free paths.

The whole resort is small. We were probably at the furthest point from the swimming pool and restaurant and it was only a short walk. What really made this agriturismo so good for families though were the other facilities within the site:

Swimmming Pool

There is a fantastic swimming pool which is perfect for young children. The large shallow area was perfect for M to practise her swimming in (she was just gaining her confidence at this point and didn’t like being out of her depth). The deeper end of the pool is great for older children and adults. There is a also a separate whirlpool area which everyone enjoyed and the 2 year old loved the tap that ran into this.

The amazing family friendly pool in our Italy accommodation.
We often had the pool to ourselves!

There were plenty of sunbeds around the pool as well as lots of greenery and parasols which made it really pleasant. It was never particularly busy. The busiest part of the day was usually around 5-6pm when the heat of the day was subsiding a bit and people were rising from their siestas!

Restaurant

Next to the swimming pool is the lovely restaurant. In the evening, the tables were placed right next to the pool and it was a beautiful setting. You could opt for breakfast included in your room rate and have a buffet breakfast here every day but we had our own breakfast at our villa.

The restaurant is then open all day for drinks and for food at lunch and dinner time. We ate here a lot – the food was really delicious and not expensive! Plenty of pasta dishes, yummy pizzas and some gorgeous seafood. M became quite obsessed with mussels during this holiday and was very disappointed at any restaurant that didn’t have them. Luckily for her the restaurant here did and they were really good!

M became addicted to the delicious mussels!

On some evenings there was entertainment on by the pool, we saw a singer and a children’s entertainer.

Playgrounds

There are 2 playgrounds for children to choose from. One is probably mostly suited to slightly older children and is the other end of the pool to the restaurant. The best one for us (and a real blessing for parents with toddlers and young children) is right next to the restaurant. It is aimed at younger children and has swings, a small slide, play houses and ride on toys among other things. It was fantastic to be able to sit having a drink before or after dinner while the children played here.

WiFi

There is WiFi available in the restaurant and depending on how close you are to the restaurant you may be able to access this in your villa too. We were quite far away from the restaurant and had a very faint WiFi signal.

Washing

There are washing machines available to use free of charge. With young children it is always handy to be able to get some washing done!

Location

Tesori del Sud is located about 10 minute drive from the charming town of Vieste and its surrounding beaches. The nearest main airport is Bari, which is about 2.5 hour drive away. The last section of the drive once you are on the Gargano peninsular has some stunning coastal views. We combined our week here with a week staying further south in Puglia and exploring the beautiful towns of Salento and the Valle d’Itria.

For more information and to book you can visit the Tesori del Sud website:

https://www.itesoridelsud.it/en/

If you decide to go, I would love to know what you think. I hope you love it as much as we did!

Puglia – around Bari and Gargano Peninsula

We loved our family holiday in Puglia, southern Italy last year. The first week we spent time in The Salento area and the Valle d’Itria. Read about our adventures in these areas here.

There were a couple of places that we visited on our way to and from Bari that I wanted to share.

Polignano a Mare

Cala Porto beach overlooked by the old town.

It was our very first day in Puglia that we stopped off here for lunch. It made a great impression and is a place I would definitely recommend visiting either in passing like we did or for longer. The walled old town juts out over the cliffs, looking down over small beaches and caves. Very pretty, and we had my favourite pasta of the whole trip for lunch here in a small restaurant in the old town. Enter the old town via Porta Vecchia, and get lost in the small winding streets- we did! It’s not big, so even if you do get a bit lost you will soon find yourself back somewhere familiar. There are a few lovely viewpoints looking out along the coast and down onto the small beach next to town.

Views of Polignano a Mare from one of the viewpoints.

Top Tips:

  • If you are in a car, like we were, follow the signs for the car park above town then head downhill into town or to the beach. There was lots of on street parking but it was very busy when we were there so you had to be early or lucky to get one of those spots!
  • By the Porta Vecchia (entrance to the old town) there was a little piazza with a couple of restaurants and a small merry go round for the children.
  • Make sure you go to the viewpoints that are signposted in the old town.
  • Have lunch or a coffee in the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II. Its a beautiful spot and the children can play in the square while you keep an eye on them.

Castel del Monte

The perfectly Octagonal Castel del Monte

While journeying from the Valle d’Itria up to the Gargano peninsular we detoured to see this unique castle. It’s a UNESCO world heritage site, so Husband was keen to go as he likes to tick these off the list in each country/ area we travel to!

The castle is visible from a distance away while driving towards it, which built up the excitement for the children. Being on top of a hill also meant that there were gorgeous views of the surrounding countryside from inside. It was a very toddler-friendly place to visit as there was nothing that B could break or knock over! On entering through the shop you come to a central courtyard from where you can go up into the castle. There wasn’t lots to look at inside, the most interesting feature being the perfectly octagonal shape of the castle itself and the amazing views from every direction. If you are in the area it is definitely worth a visit but I’m not sure I would recommend travelling a long distance to go here.

Practicalities:

  • We drove to the castle, which is probably the easiest way to get here. Note however that there is only disabled parking at the castle itself. There is a car park about 1km down the road which when we were there charged €5. They also then run a minibus all the way up to the hill to the castle for €1 per person. We saved money on the minibus by walking- well Husband dropped the children and I at the closest point that you could drive. This was still a good 10 minute walk uphill but it was a pleasant walk through the trees and for us it was quite nice after being in the car for a while. Husband parked the car and then walked all the way up to meet us. As it was downhill the children all managed the walk all the way back down to the car (B was in the pushchair)
  • Food- when we were there they were building a restaurant right next to the castle which should be finished by now. Unfortunately for us it wasn’t when we were there and it was lunchtime! Next to the car park was a large cafeteria style restaurant, which didn’t look great from the outside. Inside it seemed as if it was geared towards tour groups with large tables set up in a cavernous room, but the food was delicious.
  • Pushchairs aren’t allowed inside the castle. We just parked ours outside and B walked (well ran mostly!) around inside. If you have babies or smaller toddlers you might find a sling useful.

Promontorio del Gargano (Gargano Peninsula)

A viewpoint of Arco di San Felice, on the road south from Vieste

We spent a week on the Gargano peninsula, staying at the fabulous Agriturismo Tesori del Sud. We thought that this was the perfect family-friendly accomodation, read our review here.here.

If Puglia is the heel of Italy’s boot, Gargano is the spur! When we first started researching our Puglia trip and I read about this area it was instantly top of my list of places that I wanted to visit. The whole area is a national park (the only one in Puglia). It is very different from the rest of Puglia that we saw- much wilder and greener. The coastline is stunning, with white cliffs and beautiful beaches. Although still busy (it was August), we found the beaches here much quieter than in Salento and the Valle d’Itria where we had spent the first half of our holiday. The interior is mostly forest and along the coast are some lovely fishing towns.

Italy is renowned for fantastic food and being by the coast we has some amazing seafood here. The children are rather partial to mussels and M began to insist that every restaurant that we went to had mussels on the menu!

Vieste

Looking out at the old town of Vieste.

The town closest to our accommodation was Vieste. As with most Italian towns that we visited on this trip we found the best time to visit was late afternoon/ early evening when the heat was subsiding a bit and the early evening light left everything in a gorgeous pinky hue. Shops/ restaurants re-open after siesta and the streets become alive with locals and tourists alike. In Vieste there was a street market on most evenings in the centre of town from 8pm.

Wandering through the old town, you can find lovely little bars overlooking the cliffs to have a drink and plenty of restaurants and shops selling all kinds of souvenirs.

Gelato looking out to sea on the promenade.

There are lots of opportunities for boat trips from Vieste to see the caves along the coast, which I thought sounded great. Unfortunately for us they were mostly around 3 hours long, which would have been too much for the toddler so we didn’t take one.

Top Tips:

  • Be careful where you park in town if you are going to be there for the evening as a lot of the roadside parking was only available until 8pm when it was cleared for the market.
  • There are lots of steps in the old town so it is not very stroller friendly, a sling would probably be handy if you have a baby or young toddler.

Beaches

There are plenty of beaches to choose from all along the Gargano coast. Many of these have lido sections where you pay for sunbeds and parasols, often with parking. If you don’t want to go to one of the lidos parking can be more of an issue! Our favourite beach was Spiaggia Di Baia San Felice, about 15 minute drive south of Vieste. Unfortunately you can’t quite see the famous arch from the beach, but it is a lovely cove which is perfect for young children. There is a lido section which you can pay for and includes parking. There was a bit of on street parking if you get there early enough or like we did you can negotiate to pay just for the parking- we paid €5 I think. There was a small coffee bar too.

B loved playing in the shallow sea.

On the beach, the water is shallow for a long way- perfect for children to play in. We even went on an adventure, wading through the shallows to another small beach, which the children all thought was very exciting!

Peschici

Like Vieste, Peschici is another town with windy alleyways and side streets perched on top of the cliffs. We just called in one day for a wander and lunch so didn’t see as much of it as we did Vieste, but it seemed smaller.

It was hot when we were in Peschici, so a shop selling slushies was a welcome relief to all of us!

There are boat trips from here also and beaches just outside the town.

Forest Umbra

The ‘forest of shadows’ is the interior of the Gargano and was like another world compared with the hot, busy coast! It’s a national park and another UNESCO world heritage site. We drove up windy roads in the cool trees and parked at the visitor centre. There is a small shop here and a ‘nature centre’ (which we didn’t go in). You can buy food from the shop to feed to the deer- this was one of the reasons we headed here! The deer are in a separate part of the forest, through a fence, so not quite the wildness I was expecting! However the children still really enjoyed feeding them and for the smaller children the fence was probably a good thing!

C loved hand feeding the deer, the others preferred to throw it for them!

At the visitor centre you can buy maps of various walking routes through the forest. With young children we drove back down the road slightly from the visitor centre and did a lovely short walk around a small lake. The lake was signposted from the car park and the path was very easy to follow so we didn’t need a map. At a slow pace it took us about an hour and we then had our picnic sat by the lake.

The girls admiring Umbra lake, if you look carefully you can just spot turtles on the other end of the log.

It’s a beautiful setting and we spotted lots of little turtles both sat on logs by the edge of the water and swimming in the water by our picnic spot. There were plenty of fish too who enjoyed eating the crumbs left over from our lunch. The children thought it was fantastic watching the fish thrashing around in the shallows to get to our food!

Feeding the fish.

On the way back to the car we passed a few lovely stalls selling local produce. We ended up buying olive oil and honey. As we were leaving the heavens opened and there was a sudden downpour. We had noticed that the stall holders had started covering things up and packing away- obviously aware of what was to come! The greenery gives a clue that it probably rains quite a bit more here than on the coast. When we got back to our accommodation near the coast everything was dry as bone, it obviously hadn’t rained there at all.

Top Tips:

  • Make sure you bring a picnic, we loved eating by the lake but we also saw loads of other picnic spots as we drove through the forest.
  • It is a few degrees cooler higher up in the forest than down on the coast and is more likely to rain, so just make sure you are prepared for that. For us in the height of summer the cooler temperatures were welcome.

I absolutely loved our whole trip to Puglia- fantastic food, beautiful towns and beaches. Gargano was probably my favourite part of the trip and a place I wouldn’t hesitate to go back to. Have you been to Puglia and if so where was your favourite?

A family holiday in Puglia, Southern Italy- Salento and Valle d’Itria

Last summer we had a fabulous family holiday in Puglia. Puglia (Apulia) is a region of southern Italy- the heel of the boot on the map. We had heard positive reports about the area and managed to get a good deal on flights to Bari, which is the main airport of the area. After a lot of research we decided on 3 centres for our 2 week holiday. We had 3 nights in the southern Salento region, staying in Lecce, 4 nights in the Valle d’Itria, staying just outside Ostuni. The second week we stayed on the Gargano peninsular at the fantastic Tesori del Sud.  You can read about our adventures there in a separate post here.

In my opinion you can’t go too far wrong with kids in Italy. The Italians love children, so cater for them really well, and which kids don’t like pizza and pasta!? Although ours ate more mussels than pasta! The great thing about the puglia region was that it had all these advantages and yet was a lot cheaper than many other areas of Italy. A coffee was €1 pretty much everywhere and €1.50 for a cappuccino.

We hired a car for the duration of our stay, which made getting around easy. When driving in Puglia there are lots of small windy country lanes, which are very pretty but aren’t always the quickest route. Beware of blindly following the sat nav (which we did on occasion) and ending up on a really slow route- not always the best choice when you have children in the car that are eager to arrive!

Salento

Lecce

Lecce is apparently known as the ‘Florence of the South’ and it really is a beautiful city- probably my favourite of the trip. We loved simply wandering through the winding streets of the old town (much of it is pedestrianised) and happening across pretty squares and churches. We found the best time of day to do this was in the evening when the whole place came to life with street vendors and street entertainment. M was particularly enthralled by ‘the sand man’ making art from different coloured sand. We had to drag her away and then had to go back to look for him every time we were nearby!

The Giardini Pubblico (public gardens) behind the Basilica di Santa Croce had a couple of nice playgrounds which the children enjoyed as a break from looking at historic buildings and churches!

While based in Lecce we also did day trips to a couple of other nice towns in the area:

Otranto

We drove from Lecce to Otranto on the south east coast. Otranto old town is a small ancient walled town set on the cliffs. Small winding streets were mostly pedestrianised although we did see the occasional car trying to negotiate some of them- locals only I think as in one instance there was only about an inch spare on either side of the small car! Just outside the old walled town there were restaurants along the sea front which were a lovely place for our morning coffee/ milk shake.

Castro

From Otranto we drove south along the beautiful wild coast to Castro. I would definitely recommend this drive as it was really beautiful. We arrived in Castro at siesta time which was a bit of a mistake as not much was open! There is a marina, which we didn’t go to so can’t comment on and the old town is uphill on top of the cliffs. The main Piazza has stunning sea views and we managed to find the one place in town that seemed to be open to have a late lunch here. It was a nice town but a bit of a ghost town when we were there and so lacking any atmosphere- our fault probably for getting there at the wrong time!

Gallipoli

On a different day we drove to Gallipoli on the west coast of the Salento peninsula. We headed there late afternoon and went to the beach at Baia Verde, just south of town. Once we eventually found somewhere to park we arrived on what was a beautiful beach but was quite possibly the most crowded beach I have ever been to in my life! It was a Sunday afternoon in August, so with hindsight not the best day to go. We did manage to acquire a small area of sand to flop our towels down on and the children didn’t seem to particularly mind having so many people around them while they were making their sandcastles.

After the beach we headed into the town of Gallipoli. The new town is on the mainland and the old town is over a bridge on a small island. It reminded me of a smaller version of Lecce, by the sea. Lots of beautiful buildings and small alleyways to wander through. Lots of shops selling souvenirs and restaurants. We managed to find a nice restaurant for dinner which was on the edge of the old town looking out to sea. Being west facing we were also treated to a spectacular sunset.

The Salento peninsular has some beautiful towns but is very flat. We enjoyed our three days there and were then ready to move on to the hills of the Valle D’Itria.

Valle d’Itria

This area is apparently the most popular with tourists. It is really beautiful- rolling hills, and picturesque towns. We stayed at a small group of holiday homes sharing a pool, just outside Ostuni. We had four days there where we combined relaxing by the pool at our holiday home, a trip to the beach and discovering the pretty towns of the area.

Ostuni

Being our closest town we did go into Ostuni a few times. As with Lecce, we most enjoyed being in town in the evening, when the temperatures were cooler and there was plenty of life in the Centro Storico (old town). If you go here don’t miss wandering up the steep streets to the cathedral, it is really worth it! We had dinner here in the main square and also an amazing lunch of grilled Octopus in a small cafe one day- enjoying the air conditioning. We hadn’t realised when we went in what a specialist restaurant it was- there was no written menu and when we asked what they had it was grilled octopus or octopus panini. Luckily the children love seafood and they enjoyed sharing an octopus while us parents had gorgeous octopus panini.

Locorotondo

This is a lovely little town, set on top of a hill. As with all the towns in this area, the old town area was pretty with a lovely cathedral. We loved the Villa Comunale, a public garden at the edge of the old town with beautiful views across the valley.

Views across the valley from Villa Comunale in Locorotondo

Alberobello

Probably the most touristy and busiest place that we went on this whole trip was Alberobello. It’s a UNESCO world heritage sight (which always inspires Husband to go to places!) and despite the crowds is definitely worth a visit. Throughout this area of Puglia you can spot a few ‘trulli’ dotted around. These are small beehive shaped homes, and the ‘zona dei trulli’ in Alberbello apparently has around 1500 of them! It is really fascinating to wander through the area. Most of them are now small tourist shops and restaurants. Some are still people’s homes and there were a few that you could have a look inside for a small fee. The children were fascinated by the ‘gnome houses’!

Monte Beach

Being a peninsular, wherever you are in this part of Puglia you aren’t too far from a beach. After the crowded beach experience that we had down near Gallipoli I did a bit of google research to try and work out which of the local beaches to try. We opted for Monte beach, which turned out to be a good choice. It was busy, which we expected on any beach being peak season. Despite this we were able to get a decent space and the children had room to play. The sea was crystal clear and shallow for a long way so the children enjoyed playing in the sea, paddling, swimming and splashing in the shallows. If you want a Puglian beach with small children I would recommend Monte as the sea was just so safe for them.

As with most Italian beaches that we saw, there was a lido area where you could pay to have a parasol and sunbeds. There was also plenty of other space to just put down your towel or your own beach chairs. There is plenty of free parking space there too (if you are early enough) but also paid parking which had some shade.

Monte beach was only around 10 minutes from where we were staying in Ostuni. There are loads of other beaches in the area that we didn’t try, so whichever part of Puglia you are staying in I’m sure you will be able to find some beautiful beaches.

We think that Puglia with children is a fantastic holiday destination with something for everyone. Beautiful beaches, fantastic scenery, cultural sights and of course delicious Italian food!

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Copenhagen on a budget

Copenhagen is a beautiful family friendly city but like the rest of Denmark it is not the most affordable of destinations for many travellers. Read about our tips for things to do on a family city break to Copenhagen here.

Here are a few ideas of how to minimise your costs while still enjoying all that this great city has to offer.

Book an apartment rather than a hotel

We stayed in a fantastic airbnb apartment. There are many ways in which this saved us money. Firstly it was much cheaper than a hotel room would have been. It also allowed us to prepare our own food, saving money on not having to eat out all of the time. With a toddler that can’t sit still for more than five minutes there were other advantages to eating at the apartment for us!

Our apartment was really well stocked with food basics and there was a mini-market just across the road where we picked up more supplies. We noticed plenty of supermarkets and mini-markets all over the city so wherever you are staying you shouldn’t be far from one . We then prepared all of our breakfasts in the apartment and some of our evening meals. We had picnic lunches on most days with food we packed up at the apartment or bought in mini-market shops. In these small shops you could get pizza by the slice and other great lunch/ snack foods.

Think about the location of your apartment- the closer you are to the centre, the more expensive it will most likely be. On the other hand you might offset the additional costs by being able to walk to most places rather than paying for public transport or taxis. If you are thinking about getting a Copenhagen Card (see below) you will get public transport included so having to hop on a bus might not be an additional expense.

Enjoy the many free parks

If, like us, you have small children in tow, then they will always be grateful of a runaround in a park as a break from sightseeing. Many parks have fantastic playgrounds and some will just have open spaces to run around in and enjoy a picnic. They are also often a great place to people watch and get a taste for how the locals live. We enjoyed the Kongens Have (King’s Garden) in Nørreport but there are plenty of parks in the city, discover what is close to where you are staying.

The local outdoor space to where we were staying in Nørrebro was actually a cemetery- Assistens Kirkegård! It is as much of a park/garden as it is a cemetery and was a lovely place to wander around. Although there is obviously no playground for the children, ours did enjoy wandering around looking at the gravestones and trying to spot the most famous residents.

One of the most famous residents at Assistens Kirkegård

Take in a free city view

You don’t have to pay to get great views over Copenhagen. Entry to Tarnet tower, the tallest tower in the city at Christiansborg Slot is free. Well worth it. (More information on this in my other Copenhagen post here).

Head to a market for lunch

We headed to Torvehallerne KBH in Nørreport for lunch one day. It is a fantastic place to wander around (although you will want to keep small children close to you as it was busy when we were there). There are market stalls selling every kind of food you can think of and plenty of picnic benches just outside to sit down at to enjoy your purchases. Some stalls also had their own stools to sit at too.

We enjoyed the best ice cream of the trip here. It was so good, there was no way that B was going to share his and had a huge toddler meltdown when Husband took a bite of it!

Get a Copenhagen Card

If you plan on visiting lots of the attractions this can be a really good deal. It covers public transport as well as 87 attractions in and around Copenhagen. There are 24, 48 and 72 hour options. Children under 10 are free with an adult that has a Copenhagen card. The website lists all the attractions that it covers and even has a handy calculator to work out how much money you will save with the card compared to paying for each attraction individually.

https://copenhagencard.com

Walk or bike around

Copenhagen is very flat and many of the main attractions are reasonably close to one another. I love walking around a city as not only does it get those steps in but it allows you to see corners of the city that would otherwise be missed if you were zooming through on a bus or train. Even with M’s tiny legs we managed to walk around a lot (until the moaning got too much).

If you want to get around a bit quicker, hiring a bike is another inexpensive way to get around. There are bike hire shops everywhere and the whole city is completely set up for cyclists.

If you want to go to Copenhagen these are just a few ways that you could stretch the budget further. I’m sure there are many more free/ cheaper attractions that I don’t know of. Did you discover any budget gems in Copenhagen?

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A City break in Copenhagen with 3 children…

Copenhagen is a city that I had fancied going to for quite a while and had heard good things about what a child-friendly city break destination it is. We managed to get reasonable flights last May for the 5 of us and so it was booked. We booked an airbnb in the Nørrebro area which was walkable to most of the main sights but was also well linked with buses for when little legs were tired after a day of sightseeing.

Here are our top ideas for things to do in Copenhagen with young children (at the time ours were 1,3,6).

Tivoli Gardens

This is probably one of Copenagen’s most famous attractions and is a great place to go with or without children. There is loads to see and do there so you will probably need the best part of a day. Like most things in Copenhagen it’s not cheap so you want to feel like you make the most of your ticket! There are lots of rides to suit visitors of any age. There are also beautiful gardens (the clue is in the name!) as well as parades and regular shows. Particularly over the summer there are regular concerts on at the weekend which are included in your entrance ticket. On Saturday nights there’s a firework display throughout the summer, although at 23:45 it is a bit late for the smallest travellers!

Candy floss bigger than your head!

There were plenty of rides that the toddler was able to go on, but what he enjoyed most was the amazing playground in the Rasmus Klump area (to be honest children of all ages will love this). Even better it is free with the entrance ticket. There are lots of family friendly facilities in this area and a little theatre which has toddler friendly shows on throughout the day. The shows were all in Danish but our kids didn’t seem to mind this!

  • Top tip: Work out at the beginning of your visit how many rides you think you might go on to try and get the best ride ticket options for you. The ride tickets are additional to the entrance fee and there are various options. You can buy unlimited ride wrist bands and also individual ride tickets. In the end we opted for one co-rider ticket for the 6 year old and then just bought individual ride tickets for everyone else. The co-rider wrist band worked well for us- it is for children aged 1-7 and means that they can take one accompanying adult on each ride. This meant that either Husband or I could go on the rides with her without needing a wrist band each.

Nyhavn

Nyhavn- New Harbour

This is the picture I had in mind when I visualised Copenhagen. It is basically one street around a canal, but it was one of the prettiest streets you will see anywhere, and is a must-see for anyone visiting Copenhagen with children. Full of colourful buildings, small cafes/ bars and boats. One end of Nyhavn leads towards the main square (Kongens Nytorv- King’s Square). When we were there most of the square was being dug up for new metro lines but even then there was still plenty of life, and space for the kids to run around and let off some steam.

Nyhavn is also a jumping on point for many of the boat tours.

Canal Tour

M enjoying our canal tour.

There are loads of options for canal tours from Nyhavn, and also from other points around the city. Some of them are hop-on and hop-off and some you just stay on. We opted for one that we stayed on. It was an hour in length, which was the perfect amount of time to see Copenhagen from the water without the children getting fed up. We all loved this trip as there was plenty to see along the way and a commentary to let you know where we were and what we were looking at. It’s a really good way to get your bearings and might show you other places that you then want to go back and see properly. Our boat had seats both inside and outside. We went straight to the outside seats- much better for seeing what was around us. Half way through the tour though everyone rushed in as the heavens opened! Luckily it was only a shower so we were soon back outside in the sunshine.

There are a few different companies offering canal tours. We just turned up on the day and got straight on but you can book tickets online or from the kiosk in advance if you don’t want to risk a big queue or lots of hanging around.

Amalienborg Slot/ Marmorkirken

Close to Nyhavn is the Royal quarter which includes the current Queen’s home, Amalienborg slot. Like most children, our girls are intrigued by anything that involves queens, palaces and castles so we went to have a look. We managed to time it right and got there for the changing of the guard, which was fab.

Changing of the guard at Amalienborg Slot.

There were no real barriers, so we were really up close to the soldiers and the kids loved marching around the palace square re-enacting the whole scene afterwards. We didn’t go into the palace (parts of it are open to visitors though), but seeing it from the outside was impressive.

Top Tip: Changing of the guards at Amalienborg Slot is at 12:00 every day.

Just down the road from Amalienborg is Marmorkirken (Marble Church) which has a dome said to be inspired by St Peter’s in Rome. It certainly was very impressive.

The dome in Marmorkirken, inspired by St Peter’s in Rome.

Top Tip: We didn’t do it but you can pay to go up the dome of Marmorkirken for views of the city.

Christiansborg Slot Tower

We did want to go somewhere with a view of the city though so we went for the free option! The island of Slotsholmen is where all the main Government buildings are. Christiansborg Slot is a palace and is also used as a government building for the Houses of Parliament and the Prime Ministers office among other things. The city’s tallest tower is also here and free to go up! We tried to get there not long after it opened to avoid huge queues (which worked) and then got the lift to the top. There were lots of cordons set up so it obviously does get very busy so probably best to get there for when it opens to avoid a big queue.

Views from the top of the tallest tower in Copenhagen.

The views were definitely worth it and the children loved seeing the city from above. There is a restaurant up the tower too, if your budget can stretch to it!

Top Tips: Pushchairs aren’t allowed up the tower, so if you have a young child you may want to bring a baby carrier. We did have our pushchair with us which we were able to leave at the bottom of the lift and the toddler was able to walk/ be carried while we went up.

Check the website for up to date opening times so you can time your visit to avoid queues. https://taarnet.dk/taarnet/?lang=en

Rosenborg Slot / Kongens Have (King’s Gardens)

Rosenborg Slot and the King’s Gardens are next door to each other in the Nørreport area of the city. We walked there from Nyhavn, which was just about ok for M’s little legs (the toddler was in the pushchair). If you are travelling from further afield in the city or just don’t fancy the walk, there are plenty of buses that go straight past.

We had a picnic for lunch in the King’s Gardens, which is apparently the oldest park in the city. There are free puppet shows here too in July/ August, but we were a bit early in the season for that. It is a beautiful park and we enjoyed wandering around then picnicking. We also found a small but lovely playground which the children really enjoyed.

Walking over the moat to Rosenborg Slot and B enjoying the playground in King’s gardens.

After our picnic and a play in the park we moved on to next-door Rosenborg Slot. This was the summer home for the Danish royals but has been a museum for some time now. We all enjoyed wandering around the castle but the highlight for the girls was going into the treasury in the basement where the Danish Crown Jewels are kept.

C admiring the Danish Crown Jewels.

Top tip: You can book your tickets for Rosenborg online in advance (we just did it the morning we were going) meaning that you then don’t have to queue and can just show the ticket on your phone.

Copenhagen with children- practicalities

Staying in an airbnb apartment was great for this trip as it meant that we could have breakfast there and we even cooked our own dinner there one night. With children this was great for saving money and also meant that they weren’t having to sit still in restaurants all the time (The toddler was at a particularly tricky age for this!). The airbnb we stayed in also had a travel cot, high chair and loads of toys for the children- some days it was a struggle to get them to leave the apartment! This meant we didn’t have to pack as much and any time that we were in the apartment they were happily entertained.

Getting around

Copenhagen is very flat which is a massive advantage when trying to get little legs to do some walking. It was also very pushchair friendly which always makes things easier! If your children are slightly older it would be great to hire a bike to get around. There are plenty of bike hire places all over, some of which also hire trailers for young children to sit in. The bike lanes are very busy though so children would need to be pretty confident riders. When not walking we got around on the bus and the underground which were both very easy to navigate.

Overall we certainly weren’t disappointed with Copenhagen. We had 4 days there and kept busy without rushing around too much. There are plenty of other sights and activities that we didn’t get around to- so always chance for a return visit…Copenhagen is a fab destination for a city break with toddlers or children of any age.

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