Germany may not be your first thought when you think of a family European holiday. But trust us, Germany is awesome for families. Here are the best German cities for families.
Berlin is one of the most kid-friendly cities in Europe, full of culture and history, people from all over the world, sprawling parks, and tasty food. Add an excellent network of public transport that makes it easy to navigate, and you have a recipe for a great family holiday.
Take the kids to Checkpoint Charlie, the border crossing between former East Berlin and West Berlin where they can see the iconic warning signs and visit the Checkpoint Charlie Museum, to learn about the significance of the Berlin Wall and the many daring escape attempts by East Germans. The East Side Gallery is a 1.3km-long section of the Berlin Wall, alongside the river, that has become an outdoor art gallery with incredible artworks all along it. It’s a great place to show children how big the wall was, and how it divided people before it was torn down.
There is some amazing architecture to explore, both old and new. Head to the fascinating roof terrace and dome of the stunning Reichstag Building, dating back to the German Empire and housing the lower house of Germany’s national parliament. Walk through The Brandenburg Gate, a world famous 18th-century neoclassical monument in Berlin, or head to the top of Berlin’s Fernsehturm (TV Tower), which at 365-metres high is the tallest building in Berlin, for incredible views over the city.
As you explore, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for Berlin’s bears. The symbol of the city since early in the 20th century, statues and images of bears can be found on many of the old buildings and parks of Berlin.
For something completely different, around 60 kilometres from Berlin you’ll find Tropical Islands Resort. A tropical theme park the size of eight football pitches is located in a hangar at the former Brand-Briesen Airfield. Here the kids can explore the world’s biggest indoor rainforest, splash and play on beaches and lagoons, or take on Germany’s highest water slide tower, which at a vertigo-inducing 27 metres, is definitely one for the adrenalin junkies.
Full of world-class museums and sprawling parks, Munich, a city synonymous with Oktoberfest, is also full of kid-friendly beer gardens, most of which have playgrounds and plenty of sausages, pretzels, and apple strudel to keep them occupied while you enjoy a beer.
Beyond beer drinking, there’s plenty to see and do. Visit the crown jewels of Bavaria in the Treasury of the Residenz palace, relive classic German fairytales like Snow White, Hänsel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood at Freizeitpark Märchenwald (The Fairytale Forest) and take a boat ride around the pretty Englischer Garten (English Garden).
Exploring Germany’s biggest and most hands-on technology museum, the Deutsches Museum (German Museum) where there is a whole section dedicated to curious children. The BMW Museum is an automobile museum of BMW history located near the Olympiapark and Bavaria Filmstadt is a fascinating working movie studio where you can take a guided tour of the film sets, catch a stunt show or ride a 4D motion simulator.
Older kids might prefer to raft along Munich’s Isar River on old rafts made from logs tied together with cables. The tradition of rafting while listening to live raft music and eating Bavarian delicacies, dates back to the 12th century.
And if you should visit in the northern winter, every member of the family will enjoy the delights of Munich’s sparkling Christmas markets.
With loads of indoor and outdoor parks, museums and more, Stuggart is a great city for families.
The only zoological-botanical garden in Europe, the must-visit Zoologisch-botanischer Garten Wilhelma (Wilhelma Zoo & Botanical Garden) is home to more than 9,000 animals of almost 1000 species and some 7000 species and varieties of plants.
Car lovers will love Stuggart! The modern automobile and motorcycle were invented in Stuttgart in the late 1800’s so rev head or not, it’s a great place for automotive history. The Mercedes museum is the only museum in the world that can document a continuous timeline of 125 years of auto industry history and the Porsche Museum has an interactive area just for children.
For something a little different head to the Schweinemuseum (Pig Museum) where you’ll find more than 50,000 pig themed exhibits from around the world. Be enchanted by unforgettable melodies, gorgeous settings and breathtaking staging at Si-Centrum, or immerse yourself in your kids’ favourite games, ingeniously converted to large format, at Ravensburger Children’s World.
For action and adventure, Tripsdrill Theme Park takes visitors back in time to 1880 with more than 100 themed attractions, including heart thumping thrill rides and a wildlife park. When it comes to time to relax, immerse yourself in this curative water of Stuttgart’s mineral spas. There are three mineral baths in Stuttgart but families may prefer Das Leuze Mineral Spa because of the kids friendly Kinderland, a special zone for children. There’s also Fildorado, a family-friendly water park with indoor and outdoor pools, thermal baths, saunas, massage therapy, aqua classes and more.
The Harbour city of Hamburg is the third largest port in the world, after London and New York, and it has loads for kids to see and explore. Swashbuckling types might like to visit museum ship Rickmer Rickmers. Or enjoy a city tour along the through the idyllic green canals around the Inner Alster and Outer Alster, and experience Hamburg from a different perspective. Of an evening, light projections on the city’s buildings, bridges and canals further transforms the city and lend a magical atmosphere.
Animal lovers should head to the famous Tierpark Hagenbeck in Stellingeny. The zoo, which began in 1863 with a private animal collection, is now home to more than 15,000 animals, an amazing variety of botanical species, protected views, open-air enclosures and numerous cultural monuments.
The kids will also love Miniatur Wunderland, the largest model railway in the world. The 13,000 square meter railway has 13-kilometres of miniature tracks connecting different countries and continents. Computer-controlled trains, cars, cruise ships and planes are accompanied by 300,000 lights, 215,000 trees and more than 3,000 miniature buildings all recreated in astonishing detail. Check out their Facebook page here.
Foodie families can make an early start with breakfast at the Hamburg Fischmarkt, which even at 5am has a bustling atmosphere, great seafood and is fascinating for the whole family. If you prefer to sleep in, head to the Spice Museum – the only one of its kind in the world – set in an old storehouse where your kids can see, smell, and taste their way through 500 years of exotic spices.