Best 2-Week Itinerary in Germany with Kids

Hohenzollern Castle near Stuttgart. Photo by scaliger/Adobe Stock

As one of the largest countries in Europe, Germany can feel daunting when you start to plan a family trip there. From the dense and mountainous Black Forest to Bavaria, where the iconic Neuschwanstein Castle sits — not to mention the complicated history of World War II —there’s a lot to wrap your head around. CB! Family Travel Advisor Katie Stewart, who lives in Stuttgart with her family, recommends choosing a few cities and highlights to focus on rather than trying to cover all of Germany with kids in one visit.

Best Itinerary for Germany with Kids
Berlin, Germany’s capital and the starting point for our suggested itinerary, is an enticing blend of past and present. Photo by JFL Photography/Adobe Stock

“Germany is a huge country,” Katie notes. “There’s this idea that you can hop on a train and be anywhere in a few hours, but Berlin to Munich is a seven-hour train journey, requiring an entire day of travel.” She recommends starting in Berlin and working your way south gradually, with stops in Nuremberg and Stuttgart along the way, in order to take in a good portion of the country for an introductory family trip that still allows ample time in each destination.

While many families, especially with older children and teens, will want to engage with some of Germany’s recent history at sites such as the Berlin Wall and concentration camps near Nuremberg, Katie emphasizes the importance of being sensitive and respectful, as that past is still very much alive for many Germans.

Below is our suggested two-week itinerary that serves as a good introduction to the country.

Best Itinerary in Germany with Kids
CB! Family Travel Advisor Katie Stewart and her kids at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate. Photo courtesy of Katie Stewart

Top Places to Visit in Germany with Kids

Berlin

Start your trip in the edgy, cosmopolitan capital, which requires a flight connection from most U.S. cities, but it’s worth it to put you and your family in the northern part of the country. Though a car is not needed in Berlin itself, Stewart recommends self-driving (Germans drive on the same side of the road as Americans) to take day trips and explore beyond city limits as you work your way south toward Nuremberg, Stuttgart and Munich.

Spend four nights in Berlin (the country’s most populous city with close to 4 million residents), taking in this eclectic melting pot of a city, which boasts historic sites along with a fantastic art and food scene. The past and present mingle here with iconic landmarks sitting along modern industrial buildings. A few must-sees include the Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Wall, the Reichstag Dome and the Neues Museum, home to Egyptian queen Nefertiti’s bust. Two others to consider are the new Children’s World at the Jewish Museum, which tells the story of Noah’s Ark using 150 creatively made animals, and the Espionage Museum.

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Berlin on Bike offers affordable, customizable tours that incorporate street art. Younger kids will love the Berlin Zoo, the largest in all of Europe. Base yourself in the city’s family-friendly and charming Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood. Or consider a hotel near the zoo for views of the animals from your room, Katie suggests. She and other members of our Advisor team can help you find just the right fit, often with exclusive perks and amenities to boot; reach out for more information.

Best Itinerary in Germany with Kids
The scenic Pegnitz River runs through Nuremberg. Photo by Val Thoermer/Adobe Stock

Nuremberg

From Berlin, drive south to Nuremberg, a charming medieval town dominated by its imperial castle-cum-fortress. The city is also known as the site of the Nuremberg trials, where Nazis were tried after World War II for carrying out war crimes and atrocities. Spend three days in the area, and if your kids are old enough, consider day trips to visit a few concentration camps that now serve as memorial sites, such as Dachau and Flossenbürg. Note: Experiencing these can be very difficult even for adults; use your judgment as to what is appropriate for your family.

Also accessible from Nuremberg, along what’s known as the Romantic Road, are Rothenburg and Dinkelsbühl, quintessential medieval towns lined with semi-timbered homes and quaint churches. Both towns, along with Nuremberg, also boast lovely Christmas markets during the winter season.

Best Itinerary in Germany with Kids
Hohenzollern Castle near Stuttgart. Photo by scaliger/Adobe Stock

Stuttgart

Next, head southwest for three nights in Stuttgart, considered a manufacturing hub for the country and the cradle of the automobile. The impressive glass-clad Mercedes-Benz Museum, offering a comprehensive history of the automobile company with 160 vehicles and guided tours for families, is a must. The Kessler winery, Germany’s oldest producer of sparkling wines, is about a 20-minute drive from Stuttgart in nearby Esslingen. For castle enthusiasts, Hohenzollern Castle, one of the most magnificent castles in Germany, is roughly an hour’s drive away.

If you plan to travel in fall, Stuttgart’s Oktoberfest, known as Cannstatter Volksfest, is exceptionally family-friendly, essentially a fun carnival with rides and games. “My kids love it,” Katie says. And while the Black Forest covers a large area (2,320 square miles), it’s also possible to access a portion of the verdant, mountainous forest — including Triberg’s waterfalls, the highest in the country — on a daylong excursion from Stuttgart.

Best Itinerary for Germany with Kids
Munich’s expansive English Garden is a wonderful, central green space for kids to run and play. Photo by Mikhail Markovskiy/Adobe Stock

Munich/Bavaria

Finish in Germany’s largest state, Bavaria, spending four nights in Munich, an Old-World city with sprawling squares, churches and palaces. Its central square, Marienplatz, is home to the famous Glockenspiel, a clock dating back to 1908 with 43 bells and 32 figures that move as part of a show several times a day. The famed Hofbräuhaus beer hall is also nearby, and while it’s a draw for tourists, it is also frequented by locals. While in Munich, a tour of the open-air food market, the Viktualienmarkt, is also a must, Katie adds. Assemble a picnic to enjoy at the onsite biergarten (don’t forget the giant soft pretzels, a kid-friendly favorite!).

Munich’s largest park, the English Garden, makes for an idyllic spot to ride bikes or lounge amid open fields; it also has playground facilities and a biergarten with a small soccer pitch. And don’t miss the Deutsches Museum, the world’s largest museum of science and technology, with tons of hands-on exhibits that delight kids.

TIP: Bavaria has its own distinct culture, and many locals identify as Bavarian over German. You’ll often be greeted with “Gruss Gott” (“Greet God”) rather than “Hallo” or “Guten Tag” as throughout most of Germany — a lingering tradition from the region’s heavily Catholic roots.

Best Itinerary in Germany with Kids
Germany’s highest peak, the Zugspitze, is an easy day trip from Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Photo by Kurt Rabe/Adobe Stock

End your Germany adventure with a day trip to the fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle, commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria in 1868, in the Bavarian Alps. Reach the castle by bus, horse carriage or walking, based on your family’s abilities and interest (note that advance tickets are required to visit the inside). For younger children, a fantastic park at the bottom of the hill is a great place to stretch legs and play. Fun fact: the cliffside castle is believed to have been the inspiration for Disney’s Cinderella Castle.

If outdoor pursuits are more your family’s passion, Katie suggests basing yourself in Garmisch-Partenkirchen instead of Munich for the last few days. In addition to nearly 200 miles of hiking trails, it offers access to the Zugspitze, the highest mountain peak in Germany, via cable car. During summer, don’t miss the local sommerrodelbahn — this twisting, turning luge ride will thrill adults as well as kids. Garmisch-Partenkirchen is within easy reach of Neuschwanstein as well.

Best Itinerary in Germany with Kids
High-speed Deutsche Bahn trains connect Germany’s cities efficiently. Photo by aapsky/Adobe Stock

General Tips for Traveling in Germany with Kids

  • Self-driving is quite easy in Germany and you’ll want a car for day trips from the big cities into nearby areas. However, parking can be a challenge, so make sure your hotel offers parking or seek out a parking garage nearby.
  • If you aren’t comfortable driving, Germany’s rail network, Deutsche Bahn, is efficient and simple to navigate. Kids under 5 are free; children up to 14 travel free of charge with an accompanying person who is at least 15. Be prepared to prove their age if asked for tickets.
  • You can easily reach all four major cities described above via high speed ICE trains, but day trips into small towns or rural areas take longer. One workaround is to hire a driver for sites that are convoluted to reach by rail.
  • Booking a longer-distance train? Look for family sections, called “Familienbereich” on most ICE trains. They book extremely fast, so reserve at least three months out.
  • The family section is not the same as the “Kleinkinderabteil,” a dedicated compartment for families with young kids. It is an enclosed, small area that includes about eight seats with a door that closes. Many families opt to purchase all eight seats to make the car private.  Otherwise, you can expect another family/couple to be in the compartment with you.
  • When traveling by train, it helps to pack light, as there are no porters to help you get luggage on and off and you could have a tight transfer that requires hurrying to another track to catch your connection. Many tracks are connected by stairs with only one (often slow) elevator available, so strollers are not easy to use.
  • With a car, you can bring more, but remember that cars in Europe are smaller. You probably won’t be able to fit more than two kids in the back seat with boosters or carseats, and trunk space will be limited.
  • When it comes to German food, big cities offer a plethora of choices for all diets. In smaller towns, it can be a little trickier, but in general, you’ll find enough options to satisfy everyone. French fries almost always have a dedicated fryer, making them free of allergen cross-contamination. Bakeries are also typically a great bet for fresh bread, sandwiches and pastries.
  • Finding baby food and formula for kids with allergies can be tricky, so make sure to research brands before your arrival, especially if lactose is an issue.
  • Restaurant meals can be slow-paced, and orders do not necessarily arrive at your table at the same time — challenging with little ones. On the plus side, many restaurants have play areas for kids.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask where changing tables (“Wickelraum”) are – they often have their own room.
  • As in much of Europe, drinking rules are more relaxed in Germany; adolescents as young as 14 are legally allowed to drink with a parent or guardian present.

Relevant Links:

Browse all family-friendly accommodations and things to do in Germany with kids

72 hours in Berlin with kids

Why Bavaria, Germany, is a dream destination for families

Essential tips for visiting Germany’s Neuschwanstein Castle

72 hours in Munich with kids

A teen-friendly taste of Germany on a Vantage Travel river cruise

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