Children: Matthew and Daniel (aged 3 years and 5 months at the time of travelling)
The Bavarian Forest in Germany is not a typical destination for family holidays, but 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.
Here’s our Top 10 pick of things to do in the Bavarian Forest with kids.
1. Skiing in the Bavarian Forest
The Alps it’s not, but the Bavarian Forest is a gentler (and cheaper) option for small children wanting to learn to ski. The largest 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+ (60 Euros for three mornings tuition). In the summer, children can try their hand at summer tobogganing!
2. 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 and has 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!
3. Get on your Bike!
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 Germany to be a really child friendly country. 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.
4. 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 top of the Arber Mountain gives you fantastic views of this vast forest and children will love taking the cable car to the top of the mountain. When you get up to the top, have an apple strudel or ice cream whilst admiring the spectacular views.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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. Our family ticket only cost 14 Euros for the whole day and the cafe served decent food at good prices. There was a little shallow pool, which was great for our baby and a couple of slides which the toddler loved.
8. Hit the Rides at Bayern Park
Bayern Park is a 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 – 32 Euros for two adults and the children were free.
9. 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 playround 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.
10. Explore Munich
You can’t visit the Bavarian Forest without spending time in Munich. From the Science Museum to 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.
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About the Author:
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.