WHAT TO DO WITH KIDS
Think of Munich and images of lederhosen and Oktoberfest spring to mind, because Bavarians really do wear those short leather trousers and drink a lot of beer. It’s an easy place to take kids and full of interesting and quirky activities to tick off at a leisurely pace, including climbing onto the roof of the Olympic stadium. Food wise, it couldn’t be better with the option of a sausage for breakfast, lunch and dinner – a winning result for any child. Budding football stars can get within striking distance of Bayern Munich’s football players and for Disney princess wannabes there are fairytale castles set amid pine forests within easy reach of the city.
If there’s one thing the Germans are known for (apart from their sausages), it is technology and engineering (think BMW for a start) and the world’s largest museum of this kind is found on an island in the Isar River. Most exhibits are interactive with plenty of opportunity for curious kids to push buttons and pull levers and highlights include a reconstruction of Galileo’s workshop; World War II’s Enigma encoding machine; steam engines and planes (including an original made by the Wright Brothers) to clamber in to; and the Zeiss Planetarium with 5,000 stars. There’s also the Kids’ Kingdom for three- to eight-year olds, a space reserved for little ones to go on their own journey of discovery
A family ticket at Deutsches Museum costs £15; children under six years are free.
Englischer Garten & Beer Garden Crawl
In Germany’s largest urban park – often the scene for impromptu student music festivals and parties – with its 922 acres of wild flowered meadows, there’s always something going on. During summer months, the pathways are packed with cyclists, roller-skaters and joggers. Climb to the top of the Monopteros – an unexpected Greek temple – for views over the city. Then go on a gentle beer garden crawl, starting at Seehaus, with views over the Kleinhesseloher See, a picturesque lake in the middle of the park where you can rent pedalos and boats. Then head to Hirshau, next to an enclosed playground, ending up in lovely Zum Aumeister, which has an adventure playground shaded by chestnut trees. A gentle warning: on hot days Münchners love to get naked to sunbathe, a practice that is both legal and socially acceptable!
This idealised vision of a knight’s castle, built in 1869, is the reclusive (some say slightly bonkers) King Ludwig II’s most famous castle, inspired by Wagner’s operas. The pink-hued palace was the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle and it is impossibly romantic, especially when viewed from afar with its Gothic spires soaring from the pine-clad hills. The 90-minute drive there is lovely, through rolling hills that inspire songs from The Sound of Music. Although the interior tour is satisfyingly medieval and lavish, the castle is best viewed from a rowboat on Lake Alpsee.
Adult tickets at Schloss Neuschwanstein cost £11; children under 18 go free. Rowboats can be hired from the Alpsee Boathouse. Open May to October, 10am-7pm. Visits to the interior of the castle are by guided tour only.
Bayern Munich Football Club
It’s a bit of a local secret but the training ground of one of the world’s finest football teams is open to the public during the clubs training sessions. It’s an inspiring opportunity for any footy-crazy kid to get within a few metres of world-class players, such as legendary goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and rising star Kingsley Coman. The training session lasts for around 90-minutes and then the players hotfoot it over to the fans. It’s worth popping in to the official store, just outside the grounds, to buy a T-shirt or ball for the players to sign. In typical German style, everything is wonderfully organised and there’s a lovely café and terrace.
The Bayern Munich training grounds are on Sabener Strasse 51-57, Munich 81547. Call 0044 (0) 89 699310, for the latest training schedules. Entry is free.
It’s easy to while away a whole day at Olympia Park, built for the 1972 Olympic Games. The tent-shaped Olympic Stadium is an architectural wonder and thrill-seekers can book to climb its tensile roof during summer months, then whizz down Munich’s newest tourist attraction, the Flying Fox zip wire. Elsewhere, there’s an artificial lake with row boats, landscape hills to run up and roll down, an ice-skating rink, a sealife centre with more than 4,000 weird and wonderful sea creatures, tennis courts, an indoor cycle track and beach volleyball, all of which are open to the public.
Tickets for Olympia Park stadium roof climbs and Flying Fox zip wire cost £65 for adults and £56 for children (minimum age 10).
WHERE TO EAT
This is the site of the original Hofbräuhaus brewery, established 1589, and it is wonderfully atmospheric with its huge vaulted ceilings fluttering with Bavarian flags. It can accommodate up to 1,300, and there is fierce competition to be allowed to keep a personal beer steiner (glass) inside. The menu is extensive with no end of sausage combinations, washed down with mugs of dark frothy beer. Main courses average at £9.
Restaurant 181, Olympic Tower
This is a great fun lunchtime or evening option as a high-speed lift whizzes diners up to the 181m high revolving restaurant, where on really clear days you can see the Alps. Food is of the bistro variety with mains such as artichoke ravioli and Wiener Schnitzel, and there are daily children’s specials.
Reservations at Restaurant 181 are recommended.
Main courses start from £13.
Mozart used to pop in here – Munich’s oldest café – for an apple strudel, and it oozes charm. There are outdoor patios but it’s inside, amid the smell of brewed coffee and the chintzy armchairs, that you get a real taste of the baroque era. Lunchtime toasties are good but it’s the hot chocolate with cream, strudels and ice creams that are the biggest draw.
WHERE TO SLEEP
Novotel Munich City
The Novotel Munich City makes a huge effort to attract families with adjoining rooms, free breakfast and late check out on a Sunday. It also prepares a guide to family activities in the city. Rooms are modern, there’s an inside pool and it’s within easy walking distance of the Englischer Garten and Hofbrauhaus.
Double rooms, based on two adults and two children sharing, start at £86 per room, including breakfast.
Aloft is a new funky hotel next to Munich’s Central Station, close to the historic centre. There are interconnecting double and twin rooms, all furnished in bright and breezy designs. Loft rooms are spacious and perfect for families. There’s a very hip 24-hour self-service café, a grab-and-go concept stocked with breakfast items, sandwiches and snacks.
Rooms start at £110.
TIP: It may be miles from the ocean but Munich is the birthplace of river surfing. You can see the surfers in action on the Eisbach River, where people bring picnics to sit and watch the exhilarating sport. Enter in the Englischer Garten, near the Haus der Kunst.
Family Traveller Holidays offers three nights at the four-star Eurostars Grand Central Hotel with breakfast during the February half term 2020, including return flights and transfers, from £1,199 per family (based on two adults and two children under 12).
Call 020 3859 1654 or visit book online via Family Traveller Holidays.
British Airways flies direct from London Heathrow. Fares start at £84 return from Heathrow.
It is a 45-minute drive from the airport to the city centre. The S-Bahn train, which has regular services every 20 minutes, takes you there in 35 minutes. An Airport-City-Day-Ticket is available as a family ticket and costs £20 for up to five people. Car rental is also a good option.
Find out more
Munich Travel has plenty more sightseeing, dining and shopping suggestions, as well as all the latest events and tips.