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From beer-brewing monks in fairy tale towns to lederhosen and dirndl-wearing beer hall servers, Bavaria is the source of many a German stereotype (giant pretzels included). While castle hopping and beer guzzling may appeal more to mom & dad than the kids, there are plenty of suitable things to do in Bavaria with kids, making it a pleasantly kid-friendly region to travel.
Bavaria is the largest state in Germany, encompassing a fifth of the country’s land. It lies in the southeastern corner, bordering Switzerland, Austria, and Czech Republic. Although high-tech and modern, Bavaria is in many ways Germany’s most traditional state. That is why it appealed to us most and we chose to include it on our two-month European trip with our kids.
The capital of Bavaria, Munich, abounds with things to do with kids, while the more compact towns with their cobblestone pedestrian streets make for easier sightseeing with little ones. Add to that the castle that inspired the Disney one, gorgeous lakes, skiing opportunities, and child-friendly traditional German cuisine, and you have the makings of a perfect holiday in Germany with kids!
Because we only visited Munich, Regensburg, and Bamberg with our children, I have enlisted the help of a few Germany travel experts to contribute sections below on towns and areas of Bavaria that we didn’t make it to, including how to visit Neuschwanstein Castle, the Romantic Road, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Garmisch, Lake Konigssee, and Nuremberg with kids.
Munich with Kids
As the third largest city in Germany (and 12th largest in the European Union), it only makes sense that Bavaria’s capital, Munich, has loads of family-friendly attractions and activities. It is also likely that you will start and/or end your Bavaria trip here (Munich was our first stop in Bavaria after we visited Salzburg and Innsbruck in Austria with our kids).
We spent three full days (four nights) in Munich, and it was barely enough time to scratch the surface of all this city has to offer. On our first day, we covered the main attractions of Munich in the core city area, which is centered on Marienplatz, the main square. There we saw the 32 miniature characters on the Glockenspiel dance around (it happens daily at 11:00, 12:00, and 17:00) on the incredible façade of the New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus).
We also took in the enormous cathedral Frauenkirche, shopped for treats at Viktualienmarkt, and dined at Hofbräuhaus München, the most famous beer hall in all of Bavaria. There the kids enjoyed the lively atmosphere, live traditional music, and delicious German pancakes.
Day two we devoted to Munich’s Hellabrunn Zoo, one of the best we’ve ever been to, with very natural animal enclosures. On day three we took in the enormous Deutsches Museum, which focuses on technology. The museum features a young children’s section plus over a dozen exhibits pertaining to different types of technology (medicine, aviation, astronomy, and mining, to name a few). We spent the better part of a day there, and didn’t even cover the whole thing!
On our final day, we explored expansive Englischer Garten (English Garden), one of the largest urban parks in the world. The park includes multiple playgrounds, a Greek temple and Chinese tower, a beer garden, and a river where locals surf, even in early winter when we visited!
One tip we would share is that even though the city is very big, it is super easy to get around by public transportation, and all you have to do is use GoogleMaps to figure out how to get from point A to point B. Getting around does require a fair bit of walking, though, so don’t plan more than one big activity per day.
This was a first for us as a family, but we actually stayed in a hostel in Munich! The city was one of the most expensive on our trip, so we did so to cut our accommodation expenses. We stayed in a private room at The 4You Munich (see prices / read reviews), which was conveniently located right by the main train station. It wasn’t much different than staying in a normal hotel, we had our own bathroom, there was no noise at night, there was a decent buffet breakfast included, and we got one free beer per person per night (and juice for the kids). Not too bad at all! There are also many great Airbnb apartments in Munich, or see here to find the best hotels in Munich.
Looking back on our trip to Bavaria with kids, my wife and I especially loved the smaller towns that we visited, but there’s no denying the Munich was the clear winner when it came to sheer number of child-specific activities and places to visit.
If you’re not sure how to plan your time in Munich with children, let an expert do it for you on a custom-designed Family Day in Munich tour. Kids under 12 are free!
Neuschwanstein Castle with Kids
Contributed by Dandt Cal of Travels in Germany
Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the most well-known and visited places in Germany. It has become one of the symbols of travel and tourism in Germany in marketing magazine and the beautiful exterior shots of the castle are one of the first things that come to mind when someone hears the words “castle” and/or “Germany.” Long considered to be an inspiration for Cinderella’s Castle, Neuschwanstein is a great palace to visit with families.
It is simple enough to reach Neuschwanstein Castle by car from Munich or other nearby cities, for example as one one of the many day trip possibilities from Stuttgart in southwest Germany. When you arrive, there is a large tourist area set up below the castle. Parking facilities, restaurants, shops, the ticket office as well as other stores and buildings—everything set up for a great visit. There are several restaurants serving local fare, but some are overpriced.
However, you can find Bavarian brat in a few of the smaller shops and it is a fantastic way to try the local food at a fraction of the cost. Kids usually love it too, but make sure to ask for no mustard on it for them, as it can be spicy.
Visiting Neuschwanstein Castle with kids is relatively simple. We have visited it a few times, with a baby and a 5-year-old. There are several options for getting up to the castle: walking up the hill, taking a carriage ride, or taking a bus.
With kids, the bus is the simplest and easiest, especially when the weather is questionable. It takes you up to an area where you can choose to go to the bridge (see below) for a view or continue to the castle. Bringing a stroller is fine for the exterior, however, strollers are not allowed inside. Therefore having a child carrier is a good idea for young ones.
You can bring strollers all the way up to just before the entry, where you can leave it on the inside in a designated area. There are also lockers available to store things like diaper bags and backpacks.
Inside, it is necessary to walk, especially on stairs, where it is best to pick up small children, and areas that are roped off are off limits, so keeping an eye on the little ones is a must.
Outside of the castle you embark on a 15-minute hike to Queen Mary’s Bridge for the best views of the castle. There are a limited number of people allowed on the bridge at any time. When you do go with your children, be sure to hold their hands, as a mom, it’s a bit of a steep drop down and I know some younger kids like to climb to see over the edges.
You can get some fantastic pictures with your kids from this bridge, so it’s definitely worth the energy to get up there with them if you can!
Romantic Road (including Rothenburg) with Kids
Contributed by Victoria J. Yore of Follow Me Away
The Romantic Road in Germany is the ideal venue if you’re looking to do a road trip in Bavaria with kids. It spans 220 miles between Füssen (near Neuschwanstein Castle, in southern Bavaria) to Würzburg in northern Bavaria, spanning both Bavaria and parts of Baden-Württemberg state. This is a wonderful introductory road trip to do with children as you will visit many fantastic castles and fairytale towns all within a relatively short period of time.
This means that kids aren’t confined to the car for long periods of time and can get out and explore with ease. Driving the Romantic Road is perfect for children of all ages; if you are heading out with smaller children who want to run and play, you may want to only hit a few sites in one day so that you minimize the time in the car and maximize outdoor fun. If your kids are great with road trips, you will be able to hit more sights faster, but be careful not to speed through the drive or else you may miss many hidden gems!
An obvious first stop on the Romantic Road with kids is Neuschwanstein Castle (see above entry). While this may be the best castle to see along the Romantic Road, another essential stop is Rothenburg ob der Tauber, often considered one of the most beautiful towns in Bavaria.
First, what kid doesn’t love a village that looks like a Gingerbread House?! Speaking of Gingerbread, kid-friendly activities in Rothenburg include visiting the Christmas Museum and the various Christmas stores in town. There are tons of sweets to tempt the kids, not to mention you can see snow in town if you’re lucky enough and visiting in winter!
After climbing 360 steps to the top of the Town Hall in Rothenburg ob der Tauber (for a small fee), you are greeted with a sweeping view of the town. The climb is manageable with older kids and the viewing platform is safe. Be aware that there is a short ladder to climb straight up at the end, so make sure that your children are comfortable climbing ladders and that you are comfortable letting them! The entrance onto the platform is narrow so any baby-carriers or backpacks will be too big to fit through.
The Romantic Road is one of the most memorable things to do on a family trip to Bavaria, and you really won’t regret planning a vacation to this unbelievably cute region of the country!
Garmisch with Kids
Contributed by Lindsey Bybee of Abroad Wife
Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a Bavarian mountain town near the border with Austria. It sits at the base of the German Alps and looks up at Germany’s highest peak, the Zugspitze. Garmisch is very family-friendly and is enjoyable in any season. It makes for a great day or weekend trip from Munich and is a great place to enjoy the outdoors with kids in Bavaria.
We have visited Garmisch three times with our children, in 3 different seasons. The first time was in fall when our daughter was 18 months old, the second time in winter with a 3-year-old and an 18-month-old, and the third in summer when our kids were 5 and 3.
Garmisch is a year-round destination that offers different activities and experiences depending on when you go. In the winter you can ski from the Zugspitze down to the bottom. Or if your kids aren’t skiers, you can rent toboggans at the top of the mountain for a few euros and do some sledding.
Going to the top of the Zugspitze is something every visitor to Garmisch should do. There are two ways up, the train and the cable car. Make sure to check the weather before you head up though! You’ll want to make sure it is a clear day so you can see the view from the top. Tickets up the mountain are pricey but purchasing a family ticket may save you some money and children under six are free.
Near the bottom of the Zugspitze cable car lies the Eibsee, a gorgeous alpine lake. The lake is surrounded by a five-mile-long hiking path that is easy enough for beginners. The views of the blue water up against the mountains are breathtaking. You can walk around the lake at any time of year, but if you visit in summer you can also spend time swimming or stand-up paddleboarding.
See here for some of the best hotels in the Garmisch-Partenkirchen area.
Another can’t-miss activity is the Partnach Gorge hike. The gorge is cut by a rushing ice-blue river and the hiking path takes you right on the edge of it. A baby carrier or hiking backpack is best for babies and toddlers on this one.
Our family loves Garmisch and even though we have already been multiple times, I know we will go back again. There are really so many things to enjoy here and in the nearby areas; see my more detailed post on things to do around Garmisch!
Lake Königssee with Kids
Contributed by Soumya Gayatri of Stories by Soumya
There are a few gems that you should not miss when visiting Bavaria. Lake Königssee is one of them. A picturesque alpine lake nestled deep within Berchtesgaden National Park, Lake Königssee is just the perfect place to relax and rewind after some busy days in Munich or Salzburg (which is right across the border in Austria).
There are also many things to do in Berchtesgaden, a small, picturesque town that most people pass through to get to the national park.
Königssee is a great family destination. It has tons of things to interest kids and adults alike. We visited with our six-year-old and had an amazing time exploring all the natural beauty Lake Königssee had to offer.
We started off with a boat tour on the lake and glided past epic mountains. The most exciting bit was when the oarsman blew on his harmonica and music came bouncing right back from those steep mountain walls.
My son’s face lit up with joy as he listened to those echoes. On the way, we stopped at the pretty, onion-domed Church of Saint Bartholomä (St Bartholomew’s Church), went for a quick hike, ran around, and played in the verdant green space that surrounded the church. Not to forget, we tasted some of the freshest fish in Germany here. Then we headed to Salet, the last stop on the ferry, and enjoyed some gorgeous views of the Bavarian Alps.
A good time to visit Lake Königssee is between April and October when the weather is at its best. It is bright and sunny during the day and it is easy to see sparkly reflections of the mountains and the church on the cleanest lake of Germany. The ferry goes all the way to Salet only during this time. Evenings can get a little chilly, even in summer. Light jackets should be good for everyone.
Considered one of the best places to visit in Bavaria, Lake Königssee is easily done as a day trip from Salzburg or even from Munich. You can drive or use public transport. If you are taking the train, make sure you get off at the Berchtesgaden Hbf and then take a bus to Königssee.
Nuremberg with Kids
Contributed by Jenny Lynn of TraveLynn Family
A city often associated with its dark history and the War trials, Nuremberg (Nürnberg) is a city steeped in elegance and charm, boasting medieval architecture, numerous museums, and characterful beer cellars. Initially, Bavaria’s second largest city may not stand out as an obvious place to visit with kids. So you may be surprised to read that it’s actually a fantastic stop for families. We visited when our boys were 3 and 5 years old.
Nuremberg’s old town is compact, with lots of pedestrianised streets. It’s therefore relatively easy for little ones to get around, and also rather flat if you wish to take a buggy. For venturing further afield, the public transport is efficient and affordable and kids will love riding the trams and the metro.
Start your visit with a stroll around the old town and make your way to the impressive Imperial Castle, which boasts stunning rooftop views over the city (although our boys spent most of the time climbing the boulders at the front).
Then head over to the DB Railway Museum. The train models are fascinating, but the real fun is on the very top floor where there are train carriages to scoot around on, a dress-up area, wooden track making, an electric ride-along train, and much more. The Toy Museum is another good inside activity for kids as, not surprisingly, there is a whole area devoted to playing with toys.
An absolute must for families is the Playmobil Fun Park (book your tickets online here), offering various play worlds including a Farm, Police Station, Dinosaur Land, and a Knight’s Castle. There’s also an extensive water play area and sand sludge section for cooling down on hot summer days. As we visited during the winter, only the glass HOB-Center was open. This is a huge Playmobile entertainment centre with lots of Playmobil toys to play with, a large climbing area, and lots of cafés.
If you plan to do a lot of sightseeing in Nuremberg, then you may want to consider getting a Nuremberg Card.
Regensburg with Kids
Back to me again, and thank you if you’ve read this far! So, if you prefer small towns to big cities, then both Regensburg and Bamberg (see next entry below) are great alternatives to staying in Munich or Nuremberg. Regensburg is roughly halfway between Munich and Nuremberg, so it can also make for a decent stopover between the two if you have more time, while Bamberg is short drive or train ride north of Nuremberg. Regensburg could also be done as a day trip from Munich.
Regensburg’s entire medieval Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While we didn’t find anything specifically kid-related to do there, we loved taking a stroll through the Old Town, visiting Regensburg Cathedral (St. Peter’s Cathedral, said to be the most impressive Gothic cathedral in all of Bavaria), and walking across the Old Stone Bridge (Steinerne Brücke).
The Regensburg Old Town streets are incredibly charming, from super tall, narrow residences to the lovely Old Town Hall. The kids also enjoyed spending time in some great toy and Christmas-themed shops.
We only spent one night in Regensburg and found that to be enough to admire the Old Town. To make things easy, we stayed at Star Inn Hotel (see prices / read reviews), a fairly typical hotel, but very new, comfortable, reasonably priced, and right beside the Regensburg train station. Here are other great hotels and Airbnbs in Regensburg.
Bamberg with Kids
Bamberg is another smaller town, located 60 kilometers north of Nuremberg, and the furthest north we’ll go in this article. Like Regensburg, its Old City is UNESCO-listed; in fact, the Bamberg Old City is one of the largest preserved Old Cities in all of Europe. You may want to consider trying a Bamberg walking tour to fully appreciate everything this gem of a town has to offer.
Even though the weather was terrible when we visited Bamberg, we couldn’t but be smitten by its charm; it was my personal favorite place in all of Bavaria. Of all the cute buildings of town, none is cuter than Altes Rathaus, or Old Town Hall, which is built on a bridge and hovers precariously over a branch of the Regnitz river.
I can’t deny that the reason Bamberg was even on my radar was that it is the homeland of a very special beer: smoked beer. At Schlenkerla, a local institution, this smoky brew has been made in the same way for hundreds of years. Visiting the Schlenkerla beer hall was something of a pilgrimage for me, as I love this beer, but most people I know who’ve tried it don’t like it. Many actually compare the taste to campfire smoke or even bacon.
Schlenkerla is far from the only brewery in town; there are more than 50 of them, said to be the highest concentration in all of Bavaria! Besides beer and the incredible Old City architecture, the town is also filled with beautiful public artworks; you’re bound to stumble upon at least a few while exploring.
In Bamberg we stayed in this great Airbnb, an apartment in a very old, local building in a quiet neighborhood. It felt like staying in my German grandparents’ home! The location was great, and they even had a stack of board games for the kids. Here are other good Airbnbs and hotels in Bamberg!
So that pretty much sums up our recommendations for visiting Bavaria, Germany with kids. Now it’s time to start planning your next family holiday! If you’ve got any questions, feel free to comment below!
We never travel without a good guidebook (and activity books for kids)! Here are some recommended ones: