Probably one of the best family travel activities you can find, hiking with kids is fun and challenging. Being in nature can have a positive effect on the entire family, but the exercise from hiking can encourage healthy habits in your kids. And let’s not forget the skills your children can learn from hiking in nature.
If you are a hiker, but you have never before taken your kids on your hiking adventures, we encourage you to do it. Of course, there are many concerns about making such a big leap forward, especially with young children, but most kids would be thrilled by the idea of spending a day in nature, especially if there is wildlife involved.
The first thing you should do is get rid of all expectations you might have about this trip. There will be challenges, and not everyone is going to be happy all the time. One tip for parents who want to take their kids hiking is to keep in mind that kids, especially young kids are going to break down while hiking, either from being bored, being tired, or being hungry. The most important thing to do is to address the situation by taking a lot of breaks or even carrying your child for a while.
And the biggest tip is: do not forget to bring a lot of snacks! Apart from snacks and water, which are essential, invest in good hiking shoes for yourself and your kids. Foot pain is something a lot of people ignore, but the pain can cause much severe conditions if untreated on time. The reason why proper shoes matter is because the shoes we wear is one of the major causes of foot pain.
I do hope that this will not change your mind into not hiking with your kids, because the overall experience and the family bonds that come as a result of this little adventure are more than worth it.
When hiking with kids, you have to choose the trails and treks which are kid-friendly but also flourishing with life and exploration opportunities. Here are our favorite family-friendly treks in Europe you have to visit with your kids.
The Dolomites, Italy
Kids’ brains are different and beautiful. They are constantly searching for something stimulating that will get their imagination to run wild. There isn’t a better place for that than The Dolomites in Italy. What makes the Dolomites the perfect place for family adventure is that it offers a vast network of well-mapped treks for your kids to enjoy. But as a parent, you have to be aware of your child’s imitations, be it strength or attention wise, and always follow the safety guides before taking your kids to some of the more challenging parts.
Transylvania and the Carpathian Mountains, Romania
Any child would get excited to visit the fortresses and castles that inspired the book ‘Dracula’ by Bram Stoker. Every single place you might visit on your hike through the Carpathian mountains has an eerie and gothic feel to it. It is something that your kids will love, and the architecture is guaranteed to leave a huge impression not only on them but also on you.
If you want to make your kids fall in love with hiking and exploring the nature around them, taking them to the Carpathian mountains is definitely the right choice, because the landscape is breathtaking everywhere you go, it is probably true to say that here you can find the most compelling scenes in Europe.
If the beautiful landscape is not enough to make your child fall in love with this area, the diversity of wildlife definitely will. Here you can find eagles, wolves, and even brown bears, which you can also see in their natural habitat at Liberty Bear Sanctuary. Hiking in the Carpathians is the adventure everyone will remember.
Tenerife, Canary Islands
When you tell a child that they are going to see a volcano, you will see what real happiness looks like. The entire island owes its existence to Pico del Teide, a volcano that is towering over the Atlantic ocean at a staggering 12,000 feet. Hiking to the top of this beast is a challenging endeavor, but very well worth it. From such a great height, you practically see down onto the clouds, which is something your kids will be the most excited to. The vast landscapes filled with petrified lava, either as a lava river, or sculptures look like something out of a fantasy movie.
Another great thing about Tenerife is that cheap flights and accommodation are effortless to find, which is extremely important, especially for a large family.
Pen y Fan & Corn Du, Wales
If you have never read ‘Heidi’ by Johanna Spyri or watched the movie, make it a family event, because, after the movie, your kids will be very excited about visiting Wales. Although it is not really the Swiss Alps, somehow it always reminds me of the landscapes from the movie. The hike up to the mountains has a small gradient, which is a great adventure to take your child to if this is their first hike because the effort needed to climb up is minimal.
Amalfi Coast, Italy
The picturesque view of the small villages towering over a clear blue sea will capture your kids’ attention. Amalfi Coast is one of those small gems which look as if they are out of this world.
This is the best spot if you want to mix your hiking adventure with a bit of swimming, horse riding, and eating the fine Italian cuisine, and the kids’ favorite – pizza. Missing out on the crystal sea is not an option when you come to visit the Amalfi coast, so do not forget to at least dip your fingers in the water!
Hiking with kids can be fun, but it is also a bonding experience. And who knows, maybe your kids will fall in love with hiking (this is inevitable). Being in nature has a grand effect on everyone, and especially kids. By hiking and exploring, they will learn that you can live through an adventure and not experience it in a video game.
Bio: Nemanja Marinkoff is the editor in chief @ WalkJogRun.net. You can find him on Twitter.