The Bavarian Forest in Germany is not a typical destination for family holidays, but it is a great choice for active families who like exploring the great outdoors.
Just a two-hour drive from Munich Airport, the forest offers loads of attractions for families with young children such as cycling, treetop walks, forest playgrounds and even exploring the Czech Republic.
It’s an area that is often overlooked by families but really there is so much to do in Bavaria with kids. Here are our top 10 activities for exploring the region for families.
Updated for 2020
Guest Post and photos by: Jo Addison, founder of KiddieHolidays.co.uk
The Bavarian Forest (Bayerischer Wald) lies in southeast Germany on the border with the Czech Republic. Combined with the Bohemian Forest on the Czech side, the woodland forms the largest continuous wooded area in Europe. It’s a beautiful area with rolling hills, dense forest, bucolic valleys and tree-covered peaks. Despite it’s good looks, however, the region remains relatively undiscovered by foreign visitors.
Our tip? Go now before everyone else discovers how family friendly Bavaria really is.
If you’re looking for other mountain destinations for a summer holiday then why not try Morzine in the French Alps? For more ideas on travelling in Germany for kids, take a look at our list of things to do in Berlin with kids.
Things to do in the Bavarian Forest
1. Cycling in the Bavarian Forest
The Bavarian Forest has miles and miles of cycle paths, so get out on your bike and explore it on two wheels.
There are loads of places to hire bikes (including children’s bikes and tag alongs) and the area is really geared up for cyclists. We had a wonderful day riding around the forest before stopping at a ‘Woodcutters’ cottage for a spot of lunch and a play at the playground.
We found Southern Germany with kids to be really friendly. All of the places we went to had adventure playgrounds and most of them had a separate playground for younger children. The playgrounds were all well maintained, clean and had plenty of seating for parents to sit on whilst supervising.
2. Climb a mountain
The Bavarian Forest, together with the adjoining Bohemian Forest in the Czech Republic, make up the largest area of protected nature in Europe.
The Großer Arber, the Arber Mountain, is the highest peak in the Bavarian Forest. A trip to the top affords fantastic views of this vast forest. Children will love taking the cable car to the top of the mountain – not least for the apple strudel or ice cream you can order at the summit!
3. Go Swimming
Not in the sea, but in the Osserbad leisure complex at Lam. With four indoor pools and three outdoor pools overlooking the mountains this is a great family day out.
There was a little shallow pool, which was great for our baby and a couple of slides which the toddler loved. There’s also a cafe that served decent food at good prices.
4. Go on a tree top walk
The Baumwipfelpfad tree top walk is the longest tree top walk in the world. Children will love walking high above the tree tops and seeing what they can spot in the forest below them. They will also love playing on the rope bridges, swinging brides, trapezes and balance beams.
The highlight of the treetop walk is the 44m tree tower where you can get fantastic views over the Bavarian and Bohemian Forests. The wooden walkways are fully accessible for buggies as well.
5. Spend the day at the Arbersee Lake
The Arbersee Lake is a beautiful mountain lake surrounded by woodland and steep sides. This lake is very popular with German visitors and rightly so. It’s the perfect place to spend a relaxing day hiring a pedalo boat, playing in the playground and enjoying a picnic.
6. Explore Munich
You can’t visit the Bavarian Forest without spending time in Munich. From the Science Museum and the zoo to the Sea Life Centre, Munich is a great city for children to explore. It can be visited easily from the Bavarian Forest so why not incorporate a trip to the city into your holiday.
7. Hit the Rides at Bayern Park
Bayern Park is a kid friendly theme park near Munich. This theme park is not as large as say Alton Towers, but is perfect for children aged 3 – 6 years old.
My 3-year-old was 95cm high when we visited and there were over 20 rides he could go on. The trampolines, road train, mini roller coaster, paddle boats on the lake and the playground were great hits. If he had been 5cm taller he would have been able to go on the summer toboggans, log flume and some ‘scarier’ roller coasters.
Like most things in Germany, Bayern Park was very reasonably priced.
This post has more ideas on great theme parks in Europe for kids.
8. Visit the parks and playgrounds
My children are happy anywhere where there is a good playground and the Bavarian Forest is home to loads of outdoor spaces guaranteed to satisfy even the pickiest of playground aficionados.
Animal lovers will love the National Park centres at Ludwigsthal and Neuschoenau, which have large animal enclosures with indigenous animals including lynxes, wolves, horses and more.
The forest playground at Spiegelau is great too. This 50-hectare site in the middle of the forest has playgrounds, a nature trail and a meadow with BBQ facilities. There is a circular path (suitable for pushchairs) which takes about an hour to walk round.
Another park worth visiting is the Wildlife Park Poing. Located just outside of Munich, the park is home to animals native to the Bavarian forest.
9. Go skiing in the Bavarian Forest
The Alps it’s not, but the Bavarian Forest is a gentler (and cheaper) option for a family ski holiday.
The tallest mountain in the Bavarian Forest is called the Arber and stands at 1465m. This is one of Germany’s most famous skiing resorts and offers reasonably priced ski school for children aged 3+. In the summer, children can try their hand at summer tobogganing!
10. Visit Prague and the Czech Republic
We stayed in the pretty mountain village of Bayerisch Eisenstein, which is on the border of the Czech Republic. It’s home to the only the train station in Europe which borders two countries!
The beautiful city of Prague is only a two-hour drive from parts of the Bavarian Forest so it is easily accessible for a day trip or to stay overnight. Kids will love climbing towers, going on boat trips and visiting the Zoo in Prague.
You can also explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Cesky Krumlow from your base in the Bavarian Forest. The Czech Republic also has the highest density of castles of any country in Europe, and Cesky Krumlow has lots of narrow streets wrapped around a river and a very unusual castle. Parents will also like a trip to Plzen – the home of Pilsner beer!
[author] [author_info]Jo Addison lives in God’s Own Country (Yorkshire!) in the UK. She loves getting out and about with her two boys aged 5 and 2 and discovering exciting places to visit with young children. She is the founder of KiddieHolidays.co.uk, a website designed to inspire and advise parents about holidays and days out for babies and toddlers.[/author_info] [/author]
43 thoughts on “10 things to do in Bavaria with kids!”
I think that you all had a great time and your children look totally happy in the Bavarian forest.
Thanks! – Jo
Great tips! Although I don’t have children yet I believe an active holiday would be the best option to spend time with your family: camping, cycling, hiking, swimming or kayaking. And I guess you can do all these things in the Alps!
You certainly can! The Bavarian Forest is all about being active – in beautiful surroundings! – Jo
Good tips! I wouldn’t think the Bavarian forest for kids, either. Taking a bike ride and getting to the top of a mountain would be such fun, especially with lookouts like that over the valley!
The views were incredible! The kids were more interested in the cable car ride and ice cream at the top though – Jo
Great tips, even for adults! I’m heading that way this Winter, so it’s a super interesting read. Your kiddos are super cute <3
Thanks! I imagine Winter in the Bavarian Forest would be beautiful – enjoy! – Jo
This is a great list even for those of us without children! It looks like such an amazing place to visit!
I would recommend the Bavarian Forest for anyone – there is so much to do and see and there is lots we didn’t have time to explore. If we’d had more time I would have loved to venture into Austria, explore more of the Czech Republic and also German towns such as Passau. – Jo
Kudos to you for taking them on the adventure! Bavaria does look very pretty and with much to see
Thanks! – Jo
Can adults go tabogging?! Looks like an idilic setting for couple travel too. Very romantic.
Yes I think adults can go tobogganing as well – I’d love to try that! It would be a great place to go as a couple too – there are loads of woodland walks to enjoy and lots of little restaurants to try out too. – Jo
Bavaria is an amazing part of Germany, I’m glad to see little ones enjoy it just as much as the adults.
Thanks – they definitely loved it as much as we did! They love playgrounds so they loved exploring the forest playgrounds and also the treetop walk. Bayern Park theme park was another highlight for them as well – the 3 year old went on his first rollercoaster! – Jo
Bavaria is awesome! We’ve driven through many times as a family when moving to Austria and only recently I went back to discover more. There is so much to see and the Germans are generally such friendly people, I can see how going there with kids is just perfect!
Hi – thank you for your comment! I agree that the Germans are really friendly people – even though we don’t speak German, we communicated through lots of smiles, laughs and gesturing! I would say Bavaria is the perfect destination for families who like being outdoors and getting a little bit off the beaten track. – Jo
I love everything about this beautiful region of Germany. Reading your post makes me want to plan a return trip next summer!
I think we will be planning a return trip too! – Jo
Looks like such a beautiful place! i would love the tree-top walk but would leave Hubby on the ground! It sounds like such a good location to be when you can day trip to the Czech Republic!
It’s in a great location to be able to explore the Czech Republic too. The Czech Republic is very different to Germany so it’s great to have the opportunity to explore 2 countries in one trip! – Jo
Bayern Park looks so fun for little ones!
It sure is – and very reasonably priced too! – Jo
Gorgeous pictures! We had only been to Black Forest in Germany and really enjoyed it. The kids and both of us would love it here!
The Black Forest is another part of Germany we’d like to visit. I’ve heard a lot of good things about it and how it is great for kids – will check it out! – Jo
This isn’t a part of the world I’d thought of visiting but I’m tempted now. I particularly like the idea of that tree top wak.
I don’t think it’s too well known Danielle but that’s part of its charm!. The Tree Top walk was great – you could see for miles from the top right over into the Czech Republic too. The boys loved it. – Jo
Anywhere we can bike is great. The air looks so fresh in the Bavarian Forest. I would love to visit with my tween daughter and husband sometime soon.
There are loads of cycling trails in the Bavarian Forest – I would definitely recommend it for cyclists. There are also loads of great restaurants too for refueling after a long ride:) – Jo
This looks fab! We had a short glimpse of Bavarian forest life when we went to the Bavarian Alps near Salzburg and the border with Germany (Lake Konigsee and Berchtesgaden). I’d love to see more of the area.
I’d love to explore the Bavarian Alps too – we didn’t get to go there on this trip. I will check out the Lake Konigsee and Berchtesgaden areas as I’d love to explore Salzburg and Austria too – thanks for the tip! – Jo
What a great list! I was happy to see we did a few of these activities a couple of years ago including going on to Prague afterwards. We loved the Bavarian region. This is a wonderful variety of activities.
nice to see my homeland on this site.
Yes, it is a wonderful place where families with children can spent wonderful holidays.
Come in and find out and have a nice time here at the Bavarian forest – one of the most famous place in Bavaria
Thank you so much for your comment! I’m so pleased that you found the post and that you agree!! We’re definitely keen to visit the Bavarian Forest with our kids now 🙂 – Katja
I also stayed in Bayerisch Eisenstein and it’s such a great place to visit for all ages. The tree top walk is so much fun!
Visit Zirndorf, close to Neuremburg, home of PlayMobil. Along with a mini theme park, the shops in town have almost lifesize versions of the shops themes…jeweler, dentist, baker, etc. Itse a magical town for kids.
Thanks for these excellent additions!!
This is a brilliant list of things to do. I’ve read a few posts about Bavaria and each time I learn something new!
Thank you so much! This was a guest post for us and we also think it’s great 🙂
Very useful and interesting read. We visited Munich and Fussen (near Neuschwanstein) last year, but haven’t explored this part of Bavaria. It looks great!
Hi, have only just came across your review of the Bavarian Forest and looks fab. Where is the best area to stay and any reccomendations for hotels and apartments (have 2 8yr olds)? Can you get the train to Prague instead of driving? If you don’t hire a car can you easily get around to the places you mentioned? Thanks
Hi Helen, thanks so much for commenting. This was a great guest post for us by Jo from KiddieHolidays.co.uk so your best bet is to get in touch with her. Thanks again!
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