Summer Travel

Why Bavaria, Germany is a Dream Destination for Families

This is a guest post by Sonja Key, the travel blogger behind To Europe With Kids. She is mom to a daughter and son, and her family of four loves exploring Europe together. Sonja enjoys planning and researching their trips, and is enthusiastic about sharing tips, finds, and little-known destinations in Europe that appeal to families. This list of things to do is fantastic … thank you, Sonja!

Things to Do in Bavaria
Stunning alpine scenery is found throughout Bavaria. Photo by Dmitry Eliuseev

The archetypical things you picture when you think of Germany — lederhosen, castles, the Alps, beer, Maypoles and folk festivals — are all found in the beautiful fairytale region of southern Bavaria, the largest and oldest federal-state in Germany. Historical buildings and stunning landscapes, plus friendly rural and city folk, make this a great family travel destination.

Let’s start with food, since many of us are challenged with adorable but picky little eaters. Bavarian culture practically revolves around eating and drinking, and their food is hearty, mild-tasting and appealing. Giant, soft, warm pretzels are sold in most delis and bakeries. Food stalls in every city offer bratwurst on a roll, and if a bratwurst is too foreign for your little one ask for a “wienerwurst” instead. It’s a fair substitute for a hot dog, and healthier than the ones we eat at home. And if all else fails, there’s always Nutella spread on toast.

In our travels to Bavaria, we have found a number of towns with particularly kid-friendly activities and sites, all of them with enough gorgeous scenery to please the grownups as well.

Things to Do in Bavaria with Kids
Neuschwanstein Castle. Photo by Virtuoso

Best Things to Do in Bavaria with Kids

Castle Touring

King Ludwig of Bavaria built three magnificent castles during his brief life, and all three are spectacular to visit. Neuschwanstein Castle, Ludwig’s gem, is a must-see for most visitors to Bavaria, but with very young children it can be challenging. There are long lines to buy tickets, to board transportation to the castle, and to begin the tour. The tour is about 45 minutes long. It’s a grand palace, with unobstructed views and Kodak moments galore, but worth considering whether the little ones will endure.

Depending on the ages of your children, you might choose to visit Linderhof Castle or Herrenchiemsee Castle instead. They are smaller and the guided tours are not as lengthy. Also, they both have expansive gardens with water fountains, and so might be more attractive to a family with toddlers or preschoolers.

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Linderhof Castle, near the charming town of Oberammergau, is a small, ornate palace with sprawling grounds, set in a forest. Tours of the interior are available in English. The palace gardens are decorated with cascading marble steps, fountains, Moorish pavilions, water basins, gazebos, sculptures and a temple. But the most surprising feature in the garden is the completely artificial and underground Venus Grotto that King Ludwig built, where he liked to be rowed around the underground lake in his golden swan boat. Visitors may enter the cavern and kids are always fascinated by this crazy king’s secret lair.

Herrenchiemsee Castle’s biggest attraction for children is that it’s located on an island in the middle of a lake, so getting there is half the fun. The castle is large and impressive, but Ludwig only managed to finish 20 rooms inside, which are available to tour. Like Linderhof, the palace grounds are exquisite.

Things to Do in Bavaria
Take a cable car to the Zugspitze for unbelievable views in every direction. Photo by Elmar Bajora

Garmisch-Partenkirchen

The tourist resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen is remembered for being the site of past Winter Olympic games, so if your family likes to ski, Garmisch is the place. It is a delightful Bavarian village with painted chalets, surrounded by mountains. A super-fun summer activity for the whole family is a ride on the Rodelbahn, a fast, winding, wheeled sled ride down the mountain on a paved bobsled course. It’s reasonably priced and a good time for everyone.

From Garmisch-Partenkirchen you can also take a cogwheel train or cable car to the top of the Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany. The trip is worth it for the stunning views of Austria, Italy, Switzerland and Germany. A fabulous thing to do in Garmisch is to hike the Partnachklamm, a gorge carved deep between steep limestone walls by a raging river, but it is unsafe for children under 13 or 14. Mittenwald (described below) offers a more suitable hike with similar scenery.

Things to Do in Bavaria with Kids
Mittenwald is one of Bavaria’s most charming villages. Photo by Arkadiy Istomin

Mittenwald

Mittenwald, on the Austrian border, is often noted as one of the most charming villages in Germany. Picturesque, mostly traffic free, and historical, the town is beautifully decorated with elaborately frescoed paintings on the exteriors of churches, buildings and homes. A special adventure in Mittenwald, especially if your children are too young to hike the Partnachklamm, is the Geisterklamm, or Spirit Gorge.

The trails through this dramatic gorge are designed for children and guarded with chain-link fences, even across bridges. The ancient cliffs, swirling water and cascading waterfalls are spectacular. Depending on the ages and endurance of your children, you can choose the shorter walk that begins in Mittenwald, or a longer walk accessible from Leutasch, Austria.

Scenic little villages are everywhere in mountainous Bavaria. Don’t miss Grainau, a town awarded the “Kinderland” title for its availability of childcare and special menus for children in its “Kinderland” restaurants. Oberammergau, known for its once-a-decade production of the Passion Plays, is home to dozens of woodcarver shops. Your travels through Germany are not complete without a visit to this unforgettable region.

Relevant Links:

Browse all family-friendly accommodations and activities in Germany on Ciao Bambino

Bavaria at its best: Bachmair Weissach Hotel

Schloss Elmau cultural hideaway and luxury spa in the Bavarian Alps

72 hours in Munich with kids

 

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4 Comments
  • I TOTALLY want to do the summer sledding! I may have to bribe my kids and my husband to join me though!! I’m the only roller coaster rider in my family, it can be a bit lonely. lol Its so nice to see all the small kid friendly things to do up there. Really looking forward to our trip.

  • Bavaria is a kid-friendly destination!!! Germany’s highest mountain provides sledding from June to September, if there is a sufficient snow cover. There is a sledding hill on the eternal ice available in the summer for all who love to feel the wind in their face. It is a good place for adults and children’s. And Mittenwald is a fantastic place is the newly designed and reopened Violin Making Museum with its outstanding collection of instruments. We have been there 2 times, making so much fun there.

  • We love Garmisch but have only been there in the winter for a family ski trip…would love to get back for some summertime fun and hiking. By the way, the area between the summer sledding area and the Olympic ski jump is fabulous for winter time sledding. The Olympic skating rink is also a fun family spot in the winter. Great post!

  • Bavaria is definitively a kid-friendly destination! We were there last August with the kids (3 and 5) and the whole family fully enjoyed this region.
    As a French mum, I found the Bavarian restaurants especially kid-friendly (…there are still some work to do here from our restaurant owners to match this…even if most things looks so easy to implement: kid menus, high chairs, coloring available, …hopefully mindset is changing here…). 🙂

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