Before we lived in Germany, it wouldn’t have been at the top of my kid friendly destination list. Or any other list, come to that. I didn’t know much about Germany at all, and had bought into some of the (sometimes false, but sometimes hilariously accurate) stereotypes about German culture. Well, what do you know, after six-ish years living in and exploring Germany with my family , I’m happy to admit: I was wrong. Very wrong. It would be days of posts for me to recommend specific destinations to visit with kids in Germany but there are some experiences that exist just about everywhere that will make for happy times with younger travellers.
Visit a Castle.
A crumbling ruin, a grand old schloss or a mighty burg, castles are everywhere in Germany. If you’re wondering the difference, think of a burg as a castle and a schloss more along the lines of a stately home.Many are open to the public and often feature child friendly activities and interactive exhibits inside, and wide open space out. And almost always a nice cafe featuring for kaffe und kuchen afterwards. Soak up the history and let imaginations run wild.
Barefoot trails. Not really a thing in the UK, but a firm part of the German wellness culture. Abandon socks and shoes to go barefoot over various surfaces, warm and cold, wet and dry. Great fun and surprisingly soothing. Barefoot trails are usually located within some sort of park so a great low-budget, laid back option. Our local Barefoot walk is located lakeside with a small animal park. I posted about it last summer, find the post here.
Discover German Chocolate
Switzerland or Belgium might be famed for chocolate offerings, but Germany can hold its own on this one. Explore the history and culture of chocolate at the Chocolate Museum in Cologne, design your own sweet creation in the Schokowelt of Berlin or drop into a branch of German store Hussel to pick up a little something to take home.
Swimming in Germany is designed to be quite the experience. Think bubble pools, free form pools, flumes, play areas, poolside catering and lush vegetation. There is usually a lane swim pool too, in case you actually do just want to swim. In summer, visit the outdoor pool or ‘freibad’. Generally a basic pool/slide/diving board set up but lots of fun and a good place to spend the day when the temperature hits the thirties. For the ultimate German swimming experience, visit Tropical Islands and swim in an indoor rainforest complete with its own village, wildlife and hot air balloon rides. All housed in a dome that was built to house an airship, within day trip distance of Berlin.
Seek out the Stories.
Germany was home to the Brothers Grimm and is a land of stories. Visit any town on the scenic Fairy Tale Trail or Deutsche Marchen Strasse and you’ll find the settings that inspired the stories. See half-timbered houses, winding streets in medieval towns, imposing castles and dense woodlands. The Schwalm region was the setting for Little Red Riding Hood, Trendleburg inspiration for the tale of Rapunzel and Hamelin famously the town where the Pied Piper led away the children. All the destinations on the route have their own attractions and events based around the tales, pick one or make a road trip of the whole route.
Meet the Mascots
Many German cities have their own mascots and spotting them can be a great distraction for younger travellers. Berlin has its famous Welcome Bears, Dortmund is lined with colourful winged Rhinos, Hameln is home to a trail of bronze rats. You’ll fit in a surprising amount of sightseeing under the guise of finding the next friend. The key to happy travels with kids is to given them a mission and keep them fed and watered. Bringing me to my next point…
Pit Stop at the Bakery
Inexpensive, family friendly and you’ll find them everywhere. Drop in for a sit down breakfast, hot chocolate with a croissant to go or a pre-dinner snack. Most places will also have free wifi and free toilet/baby change facilities (not always easy to find in Germany, expect to pay around 50c to spend a penny). My local place has also started selling small bottles of Prosecco and whilst this isn’t directly for the children, it does make for a happy me. Happy mother, happy kids?
The Eis Cafe.
Something else you’ll find everywhere, although in smaller towns they may close for the winter break, roughly between Christmas and Easter. This is the place to come and relax with a drink and see just how creative it is possible to be with ice cream flavours and presentation. Kids options usually come with added sweets, syrups and little toys.Great fun and budget friendly. Just be prepared for possible post visit sugar induced craziness.
Visit the Animals
Whatever age you are, there is something lovely about spending time with animals. Germany is home to the Tier Park, a sort of low-key, low-cost zoo. Tier parks usually have a range of animals, from those you’d find on the farm ,to the more exotic like big cats and camels. I didn’t think when I moved to Germany that, under an hours drive from home, I’d be hand feeding camels (bit wet but they are surprisingly gentle) but there you go. Every Tier park I’ve visited also has a walk through goat enclosure, expect to be mobbed for food and come out a bit grubby. Many tier parks are free, some make a small charge.
If you’ve a bit more time on your hands and want to make a day of it, most major cities in Germany have their own zoo usually featuring indoor and outdoor attractions and the chance to get hands on in interactive or walk through enclosures. Munster All Weather zoo is a favourite for us, we also recently enjoyed a visit to the historic Leipzig Zoo- highly recommended!
If you have any travel tips, ideas or inspiration when it comes to travelling as a family, I’d love to hear them. Lets chat in the comments.