Traveling to Germany? Here are some of my personal recommendations:
I’m not quite sure the best way to share recommendations of Germany. It is one of my favorite countries, where my children were born and raised for the first part of their lives, it’s where I lived twice (for a total of 8+ years), and a country I hope to return to again and again.
I will probably add more to this little section, but for now:
My old website
If you’re traveling to NordRhein-Westfalen, the landen I called home for 5 years, I suggest checking out my old website BelleNRW. It includes family-friendly things to do all over that small state. Some of my favorites include the Dreilaenderpunkt, the History Museum of the Bundesrepublik, and Gruga Park.
I don’t have many hotel recommendations, but the Courtyard Marriott in Duesseldorf was a nice home for us when we said goodbye to Germany. It was conveniently located to some of the city’s best sites, great views of the harbor (and Frank Gehry buildings), and had an exceptional staff.
Oh, and I wrote some guest posts, too. Over on Family Travel 411 you’ll find the 411 on Cologne with Kids that includes 6 individual recommendations (4 attractions, 1 hotel, and 1 restaurant). And I wrote about the town of Aachen for Chris Guillebeau’s site.
Some different recommendations for Berlin
Berlin’s simply one of my favorite cities. I’ve gone in all seasons and I love it in all seasons. Since I spent a good chunk of my college career learning about German history, Berlin and I just fit. So, what do I recommend?
A Museum Visit
Anyone between the age of 2 and 102 should enjoy the DDR Museum. It’s interactive enough for the little ones, and informative enough for the older ones. I should know, I visited with my kids and parents and both of them didn’t want to leave. It gave great insight into the DDR which is a place I think most people visiting Germany are very interested about. It’s located on Museum Island.
(You can buy your ticket in advance here.)
A Walking Tour
Berlin’s tour companies offer a variety of walking tours to highlight anything you may be interested in. I’ve been on two: Red Berlin tour and the Third Reich tour. The Red Berlin tour shared so many stories of the wall and former East Germany that I had to buy a souvenir book to try to remember them all. The Third Reich tour, which I took as the kids slept in their stroller, included a stop at the famous Hitler bunker where he committed suicide. There’s now an apartment building with a playground above ground. And, yes, my kids were awake to play with the other kids at the playground.
A Chocolate Expedition
Ritter Sport is a very popular brand of chocolate bars in Germany, but is also available in other places around the world. However, I never thought a visit to a Ritter Sport store would be something fun. In fact, when someone from Berlin Tourism suggested it, I kind of wondered if maybe Berlin was lacking in child-friendly activities. It wasn’t until I took my parents around Berlin and they learned of the store that we made our way over there. It far exceeded my expectations. Since visiting Ritter Sport, I’ve also visited some Hershey’s Chocolate World in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Even though Ritter Sport is much smaller, I think it’s a much more fun and complete experience. Find out why in a blog post I wrote on my old site: Ritter Sport Bunte Schokowelt Berlin.
The Brandenburg Gate area is home to four things I really enjoy in Berlin.
- If you’re there during Christmas it’s a great photo-op in front of the humongous Christmas tree.
- It’s just down the corner from the Bundestag, home of the German parliament which offers free tours to those who arrange in advance.
- It’s a stop for the U-Bahn (subway). The U-55 train only stops at 3 stops: the main train station, Brandenburg Gate, and the Bundestag. The whole ride takes less than a few minutes and there’s only one train to go back and forth between those stations.
- The Room of Silence is on the base of the gate. It’s a non-denominational room meant for quiet reflection within the more chaotic touristy Brandenburg Gate area. If you plan to visit, be considerate and keep children out of the room if you don’t think they can respect the silence.
Day Tours and Skip the Line Site Access
Here are some options for family-friendly day trips and some pay in advance/skip the line tickets to consider for your trip to Germany. I apologize in advance because I’m pretty sure I think everything I’ve listed is a “must do”. However, I tried to curate the options to my favorites to make this a little less intimidating. (I will be adding more soon, though.)
(These links are affiliate links.)
Hop-on/Hop-off Double Decker Bus Rides
Ok. My opinion on these hop-on/hop-off double-decker buses. Know your day. I’ve found that when I went into a hop-on/hop-off situation with the hopes of actually using that feature, it was tough. Lines to get back on were always long and I often spent more time waiting and getting frustrated that I didn’t just use public transportation. HOWEVER, when I used these functions as a tour and a way to see the city from above while listening to information provided – it was so much more enjoyable. My thing to do know is to go around one time without getting off, and then getting off if something interests me. I can then use public transport if the busses are crowded without feeling like I wasted my money. Tip two – sit in the very first row on the top deck whenever you get a chance… unless it’s raining. Tip three – do this on your first day.
More information about Berlin’s Hop-on/Hop-off Double Decker Bus.
More information about Frankfurt’s Hop-on/Hop-off Double Decker Bus.
More information about Munich’s Hop-on/Hop-off Double Decker Bus.
Neuschwanstein with optional Hohenschwangau Castle visit or bike tour
I feel like Neuschwanstein is a must for any American or Disney fan. It is the most well-known castle from King Ludwig II. (Though, I like the Herrenchiemsee that’s modeled after Versailles a lot more.) This area of Germany is also really great for King Ludwig II fans (there’s his museum and another castle he lived in therel) And it’s just a beautiful part of the country. However, it is extremely touristy and I highly recommend purchasing tickets in advance if you care to tour the castle. This is one way you can do it and this way gives you access to the other, less popular castle or a bike tour around this beautiful area. Find out more here.
Rhein River Day Cruise from Frankfurt
I feel like the Rhein River is a Germany-must. This day cruise allows you to see it from the angle it looks best, from the water. There are two cruises available, a half-day and full-day. They both start in Frankfurt and include a meal, wine tasting (for those old enough to indulge), and a stop at one of the area’s scenic cities. If you go on this cruise… take me with you. More information here.
Germany for kids, links around the web:
- My guest post on Chris Guillebeau’s site isn’t geared to kids only, but they are all family-friendly activities for a trip to Aachen.
- I wrote a guest post about Cologne with kids on the Family Travel 411.
- The World is a Book offers many stories about their families travels in Germany. Along with other attractions, she gives good tips for visiting German castles with kids.
- There are several posts on Arrows Sent Forth about Germany including a 3-day Munich itinerary and information about a bike tour through Munich with kids. She also suggests this 72-hour itinerary, as well.
- Have Baby, Will Travel shares the story from a guest blogger who visited Berlin with baby.
- Hatch Adventures has several posts about Germany with kids on their website.
- If you’re interested in learning more about both Germany and Austria with kids, check out Traveling Mel’s site.
- Thinking of road-tripping Germany? Check out this 15-day family itinerary for Europe that also includes stops in Switzerland and France.
- Hamburg is an awesome city to visit and Roadtrip with Families pinpoints some of the Hamburg’s best family attractions.
And don’t forget to check out children’s books set in Germany.