Europe with Teens

I am considering taking my three teens to Europe in April to meet their sibling who is studying abroad. I can’t see us spending a week going from one tourist destination to another. Any suggestions for a slightly different type of European vacation?

The skiing should still be pretty decent in April after the amount of snow the Alps has had. Or for a different kind of vacation what about renting a canal boat and traveling around the south of France? There are also cruises on the Danube or Rhine (though I wouldn’t rent a boat on either) and island hopping on the local Greek ferries is another fun thing to do and the weather is nicer (don’t miss Crete and Santorini). Though I do like sightseeing in southern Spain (Córdoba, Seville and especially Granada) at that time of year, you can rent an apartment and travel between them by car or train. Tuscany is also a good place to rent a villa and travel around.

Where is the sibling? “Europe” is a big place.


Pick one city and hang out there for the week. Some possibilities: Berlin, Munich, Paris, Amsterdam.

Get an apartment or house – we have used VRBO and Homeaway. You have a base, can make meals, and then people can do things during the day sight seeing.

Agree with those who have suggested picking a city and renting an apartment for the week. And don’t discount the fun of doing the touristy stuff. We spent a week in New York City last summer and a week in Rome the summer before and in both cities had a great time taking public transportation to see the sights during the day, taking a break in the late afternoon and then going out to a neighborhood restaurant at night. Once you pick the city ask each teen to pick somewhere they would like to go or someplace they want to see. You can see a lot of fun things just kicking around a city. One of our favorite vacation memories is going to the zoo in Amsterdam and seeing a raccoon. Our kids loved that the critter that runs around our neighborhood at night was considered exotic enough to be in a zoo on another continent.

We loved Barcelona. I could even recommend a location / apartment -

The city is great. Lots of history and even a beach area. Also l think some nice daytrips you could take (though we did not have time with just our 4 night stay).

We are headed back to Garmisch (German Bavarian Alps) in April for the fifth time this April. Fly into Munich, and then rent a car to drive to Garmisch. (or take the train). Use Garmisch or Munich as a base for the week, and drive/take the wonderful mass transit system for day trips. Garmisch is right next to the Zugspitz, the tallest mountain in Germany. You can take the tram to the top and ski, or have lunch. You can drive to Austria. There are a number of castles in the area. Dachau Concentration Camp is not far from the Munich airport. The city of Munich is worth spending a full day or two.

The first time we went, we took two of our three kids, one in high school, and one in middle school. We have since taken all three of them and their significant others in various combinations.

When our kids were teens we found it best to do one city at a time. On different trips we spent a week in London, Paris, and Rome.

We did the same last year when our D was studying abroad in Europe. We (myself, DH, teen son) flew into a nearby city/countrywith the most affordable flights, stayed overnight, did some sightseeing, took the train to her city the next afternoon. We stayed in a VRBO apartment near her, which was great. Then we spent the next few days with her showing us around, it happened to be a national holiday in her country so she had time off school and there were some fun things going on. Then we took the train back to the first city and saw a little more before heading home. We also caught a symphony and an opera during the trip for evening activities,

Berlin is an amazing city that you could easily spend a week in. Another suggestion could be going up the Rhine from Basel to Koblenz or preferably Cologne. Apart from the natural beauty there is a lot to see in the villages and towns on the way, from castles to cathedrals.

I haven’t been on a river cruise but friends did and wife said she thought it was pretty boring. We aren’t young but everyone was much older on the cruise.

I took my teens to France for 10 days. We split the time between Paris and Nice - Nice was a jumping point for day trips. It worked out well for us that way. We also stayed at an airbnb in both cities.

Air BNB works well in Europe for week-long visits. FYI

If you head to Garmisch, you can spend a day trip going to Neuschwanstein (Ludwigs castle). It’s about an hour from Garmisch. Salzburg is another great place to visit if your in Bavaria.

We have done Europe twice with teens and good experience both times. We did air B&B or other short term rentals, which were great in order to have down time, do laundry, and be able to have the flexibility of eating in.

At that time of year, I second southern Spain - some combination of Cordoba/Granada/Cádiz/Seville could easily be pieced together with a rental car. It would also be easy to spend a full week in either Barcelona or Madrid.

Near Germany, I can recommend for a week: Munich or Berlin (numerous side trips from both are easily doable), Vienna, Salzburg, or Prague. Given that your kid is doing study abroad in Germany, I think there would be value added in having him/her serve as tour guide and translator, and get some pride in doing so.

I also agree with the suggestion of having your teens research activities once your itinerary is fixed. In Berlin, my kids particularly enjoyed the socialism era museum. Can’t remember the name but it was very interactive and lots of fun.


Were in Germany? If Southern Germany, you’d be close to Austria and Switzerland. Northern or Eastern, you could do Poland, The Czech Republic. Way Northern Germany, you could do Denmark. And Western, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands. Germany is very central. Also, lots to see and do in Germany itself!

Wonderful suggestions.