From 5 to 105 – it doesn’t matter how old you are, as long as you have a youthful spirit. The next few destinations may be labeled for children, but we know that we can pretend to be chaperons and play like back in the day…
The following destinations do not include popular amusement parks, such as Disneyland or Prater, but rather attractions for children, located around Europe, which may be less famous but are equally fun.
Here they are:
Museum of Illusions
Location: Barcelona, Spain
This is not a museum - it is a game. The recently opened Museum of Illusions, in Barcelona, encourages its visitors to take photos inside of the paintings, explore different funny faces, to be creative, while changing the point of view. Anyone can climb up on Titanic’s deck, find themselves among huge toys, feel like a pirate, have a snack at the Last Supper, along with characters from Disney movies, or survive a zombie apocalypse.
Location: Hamburg, Germany
Miniature wonderland is a true masterpiece of the human imagination – the largest model train in the world. More than 13 km of rails, with around 1000 model trains travelling along them. The route includes cities, mountains, and fjords. Miniature models of Hamburg, the Austrian Alps, Switzerland, Italy, France, Scandinavia, America. Over 200 000 figurines are walking around, peeking through windows, running, or simply relaxing, on some of the 3600 bridges and buildings. There is special lighting, the rivers actually flow, and in the sea, every 30 minutes, tides are simulated. Every destination has savored dozens of stories, and the visitors can create their own fairytales, by using buttons to navigate the trains, cars, and ships.
The Middle-earth Museum
Location: Jenins, Switzerland
At the end of a quiet street, in the small town of Jenins (about an hour North-West of Zurich), is a small wooden sign with the word “Museum”. This is the only clue to something extraordinary, waiting around the corner. We are talking about an old stone and brick building, covered in climbing vines, with a round green oak door, and round windows. This is the entrance to the Greisinger Museum – the first in the world, dedicated to the fictional world of Tolkien – Middle-earth. Two underground levels really do transport you into another world. The ceilings are only 150 cm above the floors – after all, hobbits are short creatures. Picture a room, filled with roughly-crafted wooden chairs, randomly spread around a fireplace. Beside them, on a large wooden desk, is a pile of maps, portraying Middle-earth. Or the Gondor room, with winding stairs…Or a 13-meter tall balrog…
The Salt Mine Salina Turda
Location: Turda, Romania
Going down Salina Turda in Romania, is like travelling to the center of the Earth. After a walk through the gallery at the entrance, whose walls are covered in salt crystals (it is indeed salt, you don’t have to lick it to make sure – we already did that!), follows a string of galleries, who seem taken out of a storybook. A few levels, and hundreds of stairs belowground, you will find a succession of galleries, the largest of which has been turned into an amazing amusement park. In its center is a huge Ferris wheel, but you can also play mini-golf, table tennis, bowling, billiards, and there is a kids’ playground. Go 13 more levels underground, and you’ll find the boat lake. You can reach an island in the center of the lake, through a mind-bending bridge, and test your underground rowing skills. Or you can simply look up at the tiny ants above you – the people, who are peeking down from the balcony of the level above.
Madurodam – a Miniature Model of the Netherlands
Location: The Hague, Netherlands
Have you ever wondered what your weight looks like, in cheese? Even if you have never considered weighing yourself by the cheese system, you can do so on the way, while exploring miniature models of houses, Gothic gable roof cathedrals, dams and canals from all over the Netherlands. You can do all of this in half a day, and you don’t even need Aladdin’s Magic Carpet. Madurodam is a wonderland, where in the span of mere hours, in the outdoors, you can see everything that makes the Netherlands so special. Whatever makes you exclaim “Oh, this is so Dutch!”, will be spread at your feet, in miniature size. It’s a hybrid between and outdoor museum and an amusement park. And it isn’t just for children. Anyone, with a shred of curiosity, will find something new to learn.
Follow in the Footsteps of the Town Musicians of Bremen
Location: Bremen, Germany
Did you know that rubbing the feet of the donkey brings you luck? Of course we mean the feet of the donkey, which is a part of the sculpture of the Town Musician of Bremen, in front of the town hall building in Bremen. If you rub the donkey’s feet with both hands, you’ll have one wish granted. The locals like to joke that if you only rub them with one hand, it would be nothing more than two donkeys shaking hands.
The donkey, the dog, the kitten, and the rooster from the book “Town Musicians of Bremen”, by Brothers Grimm, are honorary citizens of Bremen, and their statues is visited by over 40 million tourists every year. What is more, this is also the starting point of the famous German Fairy Tale Route – over 60 towns and castles, relevant to Brothers Grimm, their lives and work.
Hellenic Children’s Museum
Location: Athens, Greece
This is a cultural hub, geared mainly towards children. With the help of a virtual tour, ultramodern interactive displays and reenactments, children will learn plenty of new things about the world of Hellenists, science, and the modern world. A family ticket (for two adults and two children), for a virtual reality performance, costs 18 euros.
Puy du Fou Amusement Park
There is one amusement park that has reached incredible heights in its ability to entertain both children and adults. Its name is Puy du Fou, which literally translates to “Hill of the Funny”. Puy du Fou is the second most popular amusement park in France, and offers a journey through both space and time. Children are simultaneously learning about the past and having fun. You can take a walk around the Gallo-Roman stadiums, a Medieval town, a village from the beginning of last century, with old shops and street organs, you can see a magical evening spectacle…