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10 Cities for Once-in-a-Lifetime Trips with Babies or Toddlers

posted: 04/14/15
by: Katherine Martinko
Toronto skyline; Michael Gil, Flickr Creative Commons
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The Toronto skyline
Michael Gil, Flickr Creative Commons

Travelling with babies and toddlers is totally doable. Small kids are amazingly flexible and happy to globetrot with parents who are craving an adventure. For inspiration, check out our list of top international cities for unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime trips that are all very baby-friendly. Start packing, and happy travels!

Toronto, Ontario

Toronto is a vibrant multi-cultural city that is easy to explore on foot while pushing a stroller. The sidewalks are wide and clean, there are plenty of green parks and playgrounds, and fabulous ethnic food abounds everywhere you go. Toddlers will love visiting Riverdale Farm, a real working farm in the downtown core, and running along the boardwalk in the Beach. Take them to see the CN Tower's puzzling glass floor, wander through Kensington on one of its monthly pedestrian-only Sundays, and listen to buskers near the St Lawrence Market. Parent shoppers will love the trendy baby boutiques along Queen Street.

Zagreb, Croatia

Croatia's capital city has a lot of hidden gems to explore with little ones. For a European city, the streets are surprisingly easy to navigate with a stroller; there are few cobblestones, except in the historic centre. Zagreb is famous for its café culture and the streets, especially Tkalciceva, are lined with comfy wicker loveseats and chairs for enjoying a "kafica". It's easy to pull up a stroller and relax while watching the very well-dressed Croatians, who, by the way, love babies and shower them with attention. 

Florence, Italy

Out of the big three - Florence, Venice, and Rome - I'd say this is the easiest Italian city to navigate with little kids. The streets have paved sidewalks that make pushing a stroller very easy. While you might not be able to manage visiting the famous Uffizi or Accademia art galleries this time round, there is plenty to see and do in the streets: gelato, buskers, clowns, mimes, and carousels. When you crave some greenery, head to the Boboli Gardens where there's lots of space to burn off energy and a spectacular view of the city.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Brazil is one of those rare countries that lives up to all its stereotypes. Yes, the city is full of pounding samba beats and thong bikinis , but if you're looking for tropical and relaxed, it doesn't get much better than this. Little kids will love the beach culture, where you rent a chair and umbrella for the morning and get served chilled coconuts, grilled cheese on a stick, and shrimp without ever getting up. Toddlers will love the train ride to Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) and the cable car to spectacular Pão de Açucar (Sugarloaf Mountain). Brazilians are warm people who always make a big fuss over babies. It's not unusual to see babies in restaurants and even bars late at night.

Reykjavik, Iceland

You've got to love any city that has gigantic murals featuring breastfeeding women and a café with a sign reading, "Go ahead and breastfeed; we like both babies and boobs." Clearly, this is a city comfortable with babies and the many challenges that go along with infancy. The Blue Lagoon geothermal hot pools are a wonderful spot for babies to soak and play in the silica mud while parents relax. Reykjavik's centre is easy to navigate with a stroller and, along with other Scandinavian cities, is famous for its rows of bundled-up babies left to sleep outside cafés while parents visit indoors. Winter, however, is not a good time to visit.

Singapore

This city is clean, almost sterile, and very safe, which can be a refreshing change when traveling with babies and toddlers. Despite being located in Asia, the official language is English, making it easy to get around. Transit is extremely easy to use; taxis are easy to hail, taxi stands are well-organized, and the subway system straightforward. Interestingly, expats make up a quarter of the city's population, so it is a true multicultural mecca, with fabulous street food, colorful ethnic quarters, and spicy hawkers' markets.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

The consensus seems to be that Dubai is a fantastic place to visit with small kids. Not only will your flight likely be great on luxurious Air Emirates, but taxis even offer free car seats for trips to the airport. From skating rinks with penguin pals and double-bladed skates for shaky toddlers to an underwater zoo complete with glass-bottomed boats and sharks, it is full of over-the-top adventures. The souks (markets) of Old Dubai are not good for a stroller, so take along a baby carrier. 

Quebec City, Canada

With its narrow cobblestoned streets, old city walls, quaint inns, rich history, and musical French language, this city feels more like old-world Europe than North America. French-Canadian culture is very child-oriented -- they used to have famously huge families -- and many restaurants feature a blue and white breastfeeding-friendly decal, so you'll always find a place to nurse. Despite the cobblestones, most streets have a smooth, stroller-friendly sidewalk. The Plains of Abraham, together with some fabulous historical exhibits, offer a large, grassy space for toddlers to burn off energy. Street performers, musicians, and crêperies galore will entertain everyone in the family.

Paris, France

Recommended by some as the best place to go if you're considering a family trip to Europe, Paris works well for kids for a number of reasons. The streets are flat, there are parks and street performers everywhere, and public transit is good. Toddlers will like the long elevator ride to the top of the Eiffel Tower, or be mesmerized by acrobats at the old-fashioned Cirque d'Hiver. Luxembourg Gardens has a carousel, marionette shows, and toy sailboats. If the weather is warm, outdoor dining and cafés are a good place to hang out and people-watch, while masking any emotional breakdowns.

Sydney, Australia

Depending on where you live, Sydney could be a pretty long trek, but it's a fantastic place to visit with small children. Babies will love the beaches; Bondi is the most famous, but check out Nielsen Park, Balmoral, or Bronte for a calmer, more child-friendly outing. All have great public changing facilities - a big help with kids. When they tire of splashing, head to the Koala Park Sanctuary to pet the animals, or the Aquarium. Streets are easy to walk with a stroller.