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 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.



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

Thinking about a visit to Germany with kids? From castles to Christmas markets, I've got your covered with loads of great places to visit and things to do.

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, Schloss Heidelberg.

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 – 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.

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 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.


PS – Need help with packing for Germany? I’ve got you covered for packing for your Germany trip in spring or summer.

19 thoughts on “Visit Germany with kids”

  1. 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

  2. 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.

    1. 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. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

    1. 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.

  6. 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!

    1. 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.

  7. Pingback: Munich with kids: Beyond Oktoberfest - Babies With Backpacks

  8. Hi, i just got to know about fairy tale route and fell in love instantly. been surfing around n found your blog. i read that visiting germany in november is a bit bleak due to the whether n not recommended but i saw in your post, u mention november. i wld like to plan vacation in germany with my kids. so is november a good choice? btw i’m from malaysia 🙂 luv ur post

    1. Hi Sarah!

      Yes, the parts of the Fairy Tale Route I’ve seen are lovely, and it’s fun following these trails. In terms of a November visit, personally I think it’s not THAT bad, it’s wintery but not that cold – this year we’ve had a freakish autumn and the temperature is just dropping below 20º now! The thing to keep in mind is that a few of the castles on the route will be closed, for instance Burg Eltz closes at the end of October for the winter. The towns also have outdoor festivals and things, and all that happens only in the spring and summer months. However! If you visit in the last half of November, you will catch the opening of the Christmas markets, and that is a very magical time to visit Germany. Most markets are opening around 26 November this year. Personally I find January and February the bleakest time here.

      If you do come at the beginning of November, look out for Martenstag parades, they are good fun for kids. Children make a lantern to carry, and they parade through the streets in the evening singing songs, usually led by a man dressed up as a Roman soldier on a horse. At the end there’s a little play telling the story of St Martin, and then the kids get a gingerbread man (more like bread than a cookie, FYI!). Everyone is welcome to walk in these processions, and cheap paper lantern kits are available in shops all over the place.

      Have a wonderful time whenever you come to visit Germany!

  9. Dakota Rhodes

    Hello, I loved your post. I used to live in Gieblestsdt and attended school in Wuerzburg. I haven’t been back since but have long since wanted to. I am seriously considering bringing my kids – ( ages 26, 21, 18 & 5) this December right around Christmas. I’m excited and wanting to do so much with them.. suggestions?

    1. I’d pick a city to make your homebase and then plan some day trips. Pretty much all towns have Christmas markets, so I think you’ll have fun nearly anywhere. I’d definitely go for a smaller town, hotels or holiday apartments are much cheaper. Maybe Freiburg, Wiesbaden, Trier, even Stuttgart. The trains are so easy, as you know, it makes getting around really easy. Christmas markets open the last week in November and all close on Christmas Eve. In France they sometimes stay open a bit longer. Viel Spaß!

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