Visit Germany with kids

Visit Germany with kids

There’s so much to do here with kids, and as we live here now, we’ve been doing loads of exploring. I’ll keep updating this page as we discover more about our new home country.

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Who could resist this candy stall at a magical German Christmas market?

Who could resist this candy stall at a magical German Christmas market?

When to visit Germany with kids

Germany is a huge country, so you’ve got things to do at any time of year really. It gets very hot down in the southwest, so you’ll find quite nice temperatures down there in the spring. For summertime, German schoolchildren have either August or July off (they rotate it through the different areas of the country, so about half the kids will have that month off at any given time), and the smaller towns just don’t seem to be jampacked. Trier, even at peak tourist season, was half empty. Plan a visit in early December or late November (check when Advent begins) for the German Christmas markets, and you will not be disappointed. It’s absolutely magical.

The huge brezeln are a big hit with kids.

The huge brezeln are a big hit with kids.

Where to go in Germany with kids

We live in southern Germany, so most of our exploring has been down this way. I’ve collected the best things to see in Heidelberg with kids, what to do in Munich, and days trips to take from Frankfurt. If you’re keen on history, the beautiful Rothenburg ob der Tauber is breathtaking, the old Roman Gaul capital of Trier is surprising, and the Black Forest Open Air Museum is magical. And of course our very own Heidelberg (with it’s famous castle), I’ve even got a GPS-enabled walking tour for you!

Also, playgrounds are everywhere, and they are, on the whole, terrific. If you’re looking for one nearby, search ‘spielplatz’, and you’ll find one. It’s a lifesaver when you’re travelling with small people who get ants in their pants. Which is all of them, really.

My son in front of the Elector’s Palace in Trier, with the Roman Imperial Throne Room behind it to the left.

The breathtaking Burg Hohenzollern

The breathtaking Burg Hohenzollern

Where to see castles in Germany

There are so many castles. I’ve even made you a list of the best castles to see in Germany that aren’t the super touristy Neuschwanstein. Our very favourite, Burg Eltz near Trier (pictured at the top), is hard to match for fairy tale atmosphere (definitely take the tour inside!). Burg Hohenzollern near Stuttgart is a bit of a new build in the grand scheme of castles, but it’s hard to beat photos from across the valley – and my Burg Hohenzollern post gives you all the details on how to get to the best photo vantage point. Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our own local castle, Heidelberger Schloss.

The dramatic market square in Mainz.

The dramatic market square in Mainz.

Should we rent a car or take the train in Germany?

This entirely depends on what you’d like to do. The public transport system is excellent, and clean fast trains run to nearly every mid-sized town in Germany. If you need an overview, The Man in Seat 61 is the best site. However, it isn’t cheap to buy tickets at the last minute. Definitely check out the special tickets you can get for specific regions. Look for ‘Sparpreis’ which means saver fares. The Deutsche Bahn site is really helpful, you can navigate most of it in English. If you sign up for an account, you can get alerts for special deals. Here’s a link to saver fares in English to get you started:
Saver fare for as little as EUR 29,90.


Or you can book your specific route or ticket right here, in English:






There are also some cool routes you can take through the countryside, like the Black Forest High Road, the Fairy Tale Route, and the Romantic Road. You can only do these with a car, though you could always just pick a few spots on the route to visit as well. If you’d like to see a specific out of the way castle, they often have bus tours leaving from nearby cities, or you could take one of the popular hop-on, hop-off Rhine boat cruises. The plus side of renting a car, is checking out little places along the way like Ulm or Mainz.

My son jumping for joy at Ibis Styles hotel in Aachen. It might have had something to do with the make-your-own pancake machine downstairs.

My son jumping for joy at Ibis Styles hotel in Aachen. It might have had something to do with the make-your-own pancake machine downstairs.

Hotels to stay in with kids in Germany

I’m not an Airbnb person, so I would skip that in favour of looking for holiday apartments, or Ferienwohnung in Germany. These are often incredibly affordable, particularly in smaller towns and cities. I recommend using Fewo Direkt (it’s in German, so use Chrome with the Google Translate plugin if you don’t speak the language) to find anything from a cozy apartment on a farm in Bavaria to a historic house in a town on the Wine Road in the Rhineland.

If you’re leaning more towards a hotel in a bigger city, let me mention our favourite hotel chain in Germany, Ibis. They are clean, modern and kid-friendly, and whenever I’m not sure or only need a quick stopover on a road trip, I check Ibis first. If there isn’t an Ibis near, I go with the cutest Gasthaus I can find, often they will have a restaurant on the ground floor, and handy triple and quadruple rooms as the buildings are not a standard size. They often have breakfast included in their rates, and you can have dinner right there too. I’ve had many good experiences at these Gasthäuser, they will often make your little person something special if you ask, too. The best place to find them is on Booking.com as everyone seems to use it here in Germany, just check for a restaurant on site.

If you’re thinking about planning a trip to Germany with kids, you should follow me on Instagram. Lots of castles, pretty buildings, and things I find in the grocery store over on IG Stories.

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15 Comments

  1. 13 February 2018 / 6:18 am

    LOVED reading this post! Although I do not have kids I feel like this gave me great insight on what to look forward to on my Germany travels! I am traveling to Germany next month with my husband and best friend and will come back and check out your blog for more insight on Germany. I think it is super cool that you live there! –Wendy with @lovinglybold

    • erinehm
      Author
      13 February 2018 / 8:10 am

      Oh great! I’m sure you’ll have a great time. Feel free to drop me a note if you have questions.

  2. 14 February 2018 / 3:41 pm

    We loved exploring northern Germany, but have yet to venture south or hit any of the big cities with our little ones. I agree that there is a lot to see in Germany and so many beautiful castles.

    • erinehm
      Author
      14 February 2018 / 6:06 pm

      Southern Germany is very beautiful, and well worth a visit. So much to see down here! It’s been nearly two years and I still have loads of things on my list.

  3. 15 February 2018 / 2:29 pm

    Love Burg Eltz and Hohenzollern! Missed that amazing look out viewpoint though of Burg Hohenzollern! Next time! I also lived in Heidelberg for a year in college! I live in Regensburg at the moment! #FarawayFiles

  4. 15 February 2018 / 4:33 pm

    What a great resource! I can’t wait for our next trip to Germany!

  5. 16 February 2018 / 9:45 pm

    I would love to visit Burg Eltz, such a fairytale place. Am hoping to take my kids to Germany next year so I’ll be popping back to your site for a spot of research! #FarawayFiles

    • erinehm
      Author
      22 February 2018 / 9:58 am

      Oh I’m glad it’s helped! Burg Eltz is so worth the trek, it’s really magical.

  6. 17 February 2018 / 4:14 am

    Interesting that the country does a rotational system for summer holiday – smart idea. I think my family would love to visit Germany just for all of its castles alone :). #farawayfiles

  7. Clare Thomson
    19 February 2018 / 3:28 pm

    What a useful overview of visiting Germany with children, Erin. I’ve wanted to do the Fairy Tale Route with mine for ages – we’d love to explore some of the castles and forests that inspired the Brothers Grimm. #FarawayFiles

    • erinehm
      Author
      22 February 2018 / 9:59 am

      Thanks Clare! Yes, I’m looking forward to exploring more of that route too, it’s definitely one to do in the summer as there’s lots of festivals on.

  8. 22 February 2018 / 9:56 am

    We have only explored Northern Germany as it’s easiest to get to from Copenhagen, need to venture a little further south, haven’t been past Berlin and Hamburg. But we did love both of those. Berlin was amazing and especially loved by our teens! Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles. Cheers from your Northern neighbor!

    • erinehm
      Author
      22 February 2018 / 10:01 am

      Thanks for stopping by Erin! Yes, it’s really worth exploring down south, it’s quite different. Let me know if you pass through Heidelberg.

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