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Best Family City Break Inspiration: The Weekend We Broke Bologna

As my kids and my parenting skills grow up and their personalities truly begin to crystallise in my mind, I find myself wishing I could revisit a couple of things and do them a little differently. At the same time I love looking back at how our love of travel has blossomed together.

Our first proper family city break was to Bologna. It was slightly ambitious and in partnership with the amazing Bologna Welcome, who were keen to show us absolutely everything. I totally overestimated what my then 4yo was capable of and ended up in tears when I had to take my youngest child, in complete overwhelmed melt down, out of a personal museum tour, leaving my Dad and daughter to finish off with the shell shocked guide.

My Dad had taken one look at the itinerary the night before we left, and told me to reorganise the museum tour, how I wish I had listened, brilliant though Museo della Storia di Bologna (Museum of the History of Bologna) is.  Looking back it was no wonder the poor child lost it, after a journey kids need to let of steam and relax. Hindsight is such a wonderful thing.

The museum is child friendly, Dad and daughter learnt lots about the history of the medieval city we were about to see, and filled us in afterwards. My then 4yo would have coped at his own pace, but was too young to cope with a tour.

But Dad scooped us all up and took me for my first Italian expresso (I’m not a coffee drinker) and bought the kids biscuits the size of their heads and I’m pleased to report it got much better from then on. My Dad quickly reminded us all of how to pace ourselves on a city break, and there is no better city to stop for foodie treats, Bologna is Italy’s foodie capital.

bologna with kids

We rode the San Luca Express, a toy train, to San Luca Church, ate the most incredible pizzas at Vito A San Luca, took an open top bus tour, found Ca’shin, an lovely playground and cafe in the hills, tasted Stefino Bio wasabi ice cream, marvelled at statues and fountains and wonky towers around Piazza Maggiore and drank red wine in more beautiful piazzas while the kids chased pigeons, ran along metres and metres of covered walkways, befriended balloon sellers and drank hot chocolates, again the size of their heads.

I began to really see things through the eyes of my kids, and do did Dad I think…

  Family City Break Inspiration: Bologna and lots more!      

Bologna has loads to offer both grown ups and kids, it is very walkable, and Italians are so forgiving of little ones, meaning my Food Scientist Dad and I could indulge our sightseeing and foodie passions. So many people took the time to chat to the kids from balloon sellers, to barmen, to waiters, train drivers, shop keepers, passers by. I have so many photos of the kids with people. This lady offered a ride on her bike when L was getting tired!


Looking back as a mum to much older kids, hindsight is a magical thing. I’ve learnt to try and see things much more from my kids perspective, rather than expecting them to keep pace with me. I can see now that new places and spaces overstimulate my youngest and his reaction is always to touch everything and leap about, so now we seek out the places first where it is okay to do that. Seeing a city through their eyes is truly magical though. Some of my favourite photos are of their hands exploring or them running through ancient architecture.

All ages need good food and drink stops which Bologna delivers. Walkable cities like Bologna, with so much for the eye to see are a gift for little legs.

Over on Space in Your Case you can read more about my top tips from this family city break. Bologna also has lots to keep children entertained, as we discovered. I also fell so in love with Bologna I went back again with a friend, that time for a much more grown up agenda of foodie appreciation.

More Family City Break Inspiration:

For more city break inspiration, why not check out these amazing city break posts from some of my family travel blogger friends:

Nell Heshram will revisit Oslo, one of her favourite cities, this summer. On her blog the Pigeon Pair and Me she’s put together a round-up of the top family-friendly museums in the Norwegian capital.
Samantha from North East Family Fun has visited Barcelona on numerous occasions with her three children and highly recommends the Catalonian capital as a fantastic city to visit with the kids. Did you know that Barcelona is one of the few cities in the world with it’s very own beach? Find out why Samantha rates Barcelona so highly and recommends as the perfect option for a family city break here.
Emma from A Bavarian Sojourn is well qualified to recommend a family trip to Munich having lived there up until recently for the past five years. This city is surprisingly child friendly, and really does have something for everyone. Explore Munich’s green spaces (look out for the surfers in the Englischer Gartens!), visit a local museum, swim in a nearby crystal clear lake, or explore the biggest science museum in the world. Emma’s list of things to do and see here goes on (and on)…
Parentshaped shares a treasure hunt in Amsterdam, for this family travel carnival, a city packed with invitations to play and new things to discover and learn as a family.
Lisa from Travel Loving Family shares her five must see sights in the capital of Madeira, Funchal. Her recommendations include a scenic cable car ride to a view point at an incredible 1,800 feet overlooking the whole island, a thrilling toboggan ride in a wicker basket and a visit to Blandy’s Wine Lodge to taste the famous Madeira wine.
With three hundred days of sunshine, six theme parks and miles and miles of golden sandy beaches, Jane Batt from Taking 5 says you should definitely consider Benidorm when planning your next family holiday. Pop over to Taking 5 and have a look at Jane’s recommendations for what to do and where to stay in Benidorm as well as her family’s top ten Benidorm activities.
Daisy over at Dais Like These Family Travel Blog shares a few ideas on how to keep kids entertained during 24 hours in Bruges, Belgium.
Ting from My Travel Monkey spent a week exploring snow covered Iceland and discovered there was so much to see and do in Reykyavik – even for young children…
If you have visited all of the bigger London icons and are looking for Alternative things to do, hop over to Like Love Do. Donna shares 10 hidden gems in London
Check out POD Travels if you’re looking to visit Berlin in the near future. Charly shares the top 30 places to visit with kids and where you can explore without them. With posts on the Berlin Wall, East Side Gallery and Wall Museum, a round up of the top Christmas markets in the city and a look at the Berlin street art scene, there’s more than enough to keep you occupied
If you are planning to visit the UK during your European break, Zena talks about why her family loved their visit to Liverpool and why it’s worth visiting if your looking for a vibrant and cultural city outside of London.
Pop over to Mums do travel to find out why Gretta Schifano and her teenage daughter think that Belfast is a great place for a family city break.
Susanna from A Modern Mother tells us the 12 reasons that families should visit Costa Barcelona.

1 Comment

  1. pigeonpairandme
    17/07/2017 / 10:27 am

    I always find city breaks with young kids to be challenging, but you’re right – it’s worth it, to see things through their eyes. Thanks for including my post x

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