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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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.
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 or day trips from Stuttgart. 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.
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, Schloss Heidelberg.
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 – for instance there are special tickets for each German state over the weekend for bargain prices if you only take regional trains. 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 by train 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.
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.