Ready to see Munich through your munchkin's eyes?
I’m not going to lie...I wasn’t expecting Munich to be quite so kid friendly. I visited the Bavarian capital years before, and remembered it as beer gardens scattered throughout the city, and an impressive selection of museums. Did that scream kids? Turns out, kids love sneaking snacks at beer gardens, and throwing on princess dresses to run through echoey hallways of curated collections. Also, the smaller historical downtown made it easy and manageable to visit with two tiny humans, and our days never felt rushed.
Visiting Munich is a must-do because this city is so unbelievably beautiful, and there's plenty of family activities available. Despite many of the original structures being destroyed during World War II, the historic cobblestone streets remain, and the rebuilt rows of buildings boast bright colors and a more modern look. This is a European city where you’ll simply just enjoy meandering the streets and watching the locals bike on by (and boy do they love to bike!).
If you’re planning to visit Munich with kids, this travel guide will cover the must-see spots, popular family-friendly hotels, and kid-approved restaurants. It’s an excellent springtime get-away, with the flowers bursting into bloom. However, Oktoberfest is a major draw in the fall, and of course, the Christmas markets make it a popular December destination as well.
For your Planning Purposes
How to get to Munich?: Munich International Airport is located 20-25 minutes from the city center. Uber and taxis are available. We hired Muenchen Flughafen Transfer, a private transfer service who had car seats already installed (70-80 euro one way). You can also take the S-Bahn (public railway) for $12/person, and it takes roughly 45 minutes. If you're coming from another European country, the Munich Main Train Station is located near downtown Marienplatz, and provides both regional and international service.
How to get around Munich: Munich is a walking and biking city. You can rent bikes at Mike’s Bike’s or scooters and e-bikes through Tier or Lime. To use Tier or Lime, it's as easy as downloading an app, and grabbing a nearby scooter/bike marked on the map. When you're finished, simply park in a designated area. Lastly, another option is to use the U-Bahn for subway service; it’s easy and very clean.
When to visit Munich: May-December is considered the high season with July-September being the warmest months. Oktoberfest happens in early fall, and December is popular for the Christmas markets. We visited during April and lucked out with warm weather, and incredible springtime blooms.
How many days to visit with kids: 3-5 days is a good amount of time to see the city with kids. If you plan on taking a day trip at some point, you’ll want to budget closer to 4 or 5 days.
What to do in Munich with Kids?
It will be easy to fill your days in Munich! Yes, there are museums and parks typical of most major metropolises, but Munich has a unique vibe and definitely puts a spin on what may seem like a "normal" city excursion -- like when your walk through the park also includes watching surfing on the Eisbach River! Here are some of the favorites:
Highlights if you're in a hurry!
- Biking through the English Garden - The English Garden (EnglischerGarten) is larger than NYC’s Central Park and filled with beer gardens, playgrounds, and picnic spots. One of our favorite ways to spend time was to bike through the gardens with the kids, stopping at different playgrounds and snacking along the way.
- Watch river surfers - I have to say, I didnt’ think my land-locked German-bound vacation would include watching surfers, but turns out...Munich has those too! Grab the kids and head into the English Garden to watch these guys and gals take on some “river waves."
- Exploring Marienplatz and the old city center - The old city-center of Munich is filled with shops and restaurants. If you head to the main square Marienplatz, at 11am, 12pm, or 5pm, you can watch the Glockenspiel performance.
- Dancing in the Residenz Munchen - This former castle is the perfect playground for little princesses. If you have a little girl just dying to wear that princess dress she brought from home, you’ll want to head here and let her dance to her heart’s content.
- Visit one of the public pools - The indoor/outdoor pool complexes are incredibly clean and very luxurious. For just a few euro, you and your family can splash around, visit the steam/sauna room, or have the little ones play in the toddler area. The popular complexes include Westbad, Nordbad, Dantebad, Michaelibad, Sudbad, and Cosimawellenbad. We chose Cosimawellenbad because it had a wave pool!
The Best Area to Stay in Munich
One of the best parts about Munich is how easy it is to walk the city. Of course if you choose to stay downtown in the historical center, all the shops and restaurants are right outside your door. Easy! If you’re looking for a more local experience outside the city-center, you'll still only be a few subway stops away. During, my first trip to Munich (without kids) we stayed in the Altstadt-Lehel section, which is the main city center. However, the second time, we opted for Schwabing; we loved the residential streets and quieter feel. Here’s some information about each neighborhood:
- Altstadt-Lehel: Alstadt Lehel refers to the main historical city center. It’s the best spot to stay for first time visitors as it’s close to many of the sites, and plenty of restaurants and shops. However, it’s the most expensive option.
- Maxvorstadt: If your heart is set on visiting the city’s many museums and art galleries, you’ll want to find accommodations in this neighborhood, near Königstplatz. It’s filled with diverse restaurants and plenty of younger people, as the university is nearby.
- Schwabing: This upscale neighborhood is filled with many restaurants and shops. It has a traditional Bavarian vibe, but is also trendy. It’s only 3 subway stops away from Marienplatz (the historical center), and just next door to the English Garden.
- Isavorstadt: This hipster neighborhood is located along the Isar River. It’s close to the city center, but not filled with tourist crowds.
- Ludwigsvorstadt: This section is where the Oktoberfest activities happen! So if you’re planning on visiting for this festival, you’ll want to stay here to be close to the action.
Luxury Family Hotels in Munich
If you’re looking for a luxury family-friendly hotel in Munich, there are plenty of options in the historical center. During this recent trip, we stayed with relatives, so while I can not vouch for all of these recommendations from personal experience, they each came highly recommended.
- Louis Hotel - This beautiful boutique hotel sits right in the city center, just steps away from Marienplatz, the Viktualienmarkt, and plenty of shops and restaurants. If you’re looking for a hotel with a prime location, this is it! I stayed here on a previous trip, and loved the hotel’s ambience, delicious restaurant, and warm hospitality. The rooms are smaller, without separate bedroom/living spaces – so it may be a better option if traveling with older kids.
- Cortiina Hotel- This is the sister property to the Louis Hotel. It has apartment-style 2 bedroom options for families and is also close to downtown.
- Charles Hotel - This Rocco Forte property is popular amongst families. There’s an indoor swimming pool, special welcome amenities for kids, interconnecting suites available, and babysitting upon request.
- Mandarin Oriental - The Mandarin Oriental is well known for its' personalized service and focus on luxury and sophistication. Upon arrival, there is a welcome gift, with complimentary kids robes. Additionally, families can reserve a special bike tour or relax on the rooftop pool. When it’s time to head to bed, the hotel offers spacious suites and interconnecting rooms.
- Maximilian Munich - Maximilian provides luxury rooms and suites, many of which come with kitchenettes. The hotel is located close to Marienplatz and the English Garden, making it easy to quickly step out and explore downtown Munich.
Where to Eat with Kids in Munich
Munich is an easy city to visit with kids, as there are plenty of family-friendly restaurants. Since the Bavarian culture is known for its heavy emphasis on meat, I was a bit curious as to how my pescatarian family would fare. Spoiler alert...we loved the food, and it’s safe to say the kids are now addicted to giant doughy pretzels. Here were some of our favorite spots to eat in Munich with kids, as well as other popular options that came highly recommended for families.
- Hofbräuhaus -This is a famous city restaurant due to both its tasty Bavarian food food and interesting historical past. It was built almost 500 years ago, and became one of the most famous taverns in the world known for its brew. The younger ones may need to skip that particular menu item, but there are plenty of kid-friendly food choices like Bavarian pretzels, spaetzle (similar to mac and cheese), and potato salad. Place your order and grab a seat in the private courtyard beer garden.
- Tambosi - Located right on the corner of Odeonsplatz, Tambosi has a beautiful view of one of the prettiest squares in Munich. They have plenty of outdoor dining, and some delicious food including the truffle linguini and bronzini with sauteed vegetables (my daughter’s favorite). Although they didn’t offer high chairs, which made dining with a 1 year old somewhat challenging, the food was quite worth it.
- Cafe Reitschule - Cafe Reitschule has some of the best pancakes I’ve ever tasted! We made reservations for Easter morning, enjoying the lively scene and scrumptious food. As an interesting aside, if you visit during the week, it's possible to view the horse paddock from your table or terrace.
- Prinz Myshkin- This restaurant was one of the first vegetarian spots in the city. It offers quite a wide variety of dishes – everything from Italian vegetarian meatballs to Caribbean salads. I loved the Rasam soup and apple strudel.
- Louis Hotel Grill Room - The Louis Hotel serves a delicious brunch spread! The kids loved the small tapas style dishes filled with beet hummus falafel, but also scarfed down the fan favorites like pancakes and waffles.
- Hamburgerei Schwabing - If you’re looking for a great burger place, this is it! They have burgers to win over every type of customer, including vegetarian and vegan options too.
- Occam Deli - This hip cafe is located in the residential section of Schwabing. The sandwiches and noodle bowls were toddler favorites.
- Cafe Dukatz - This French bakery was our “we just landed and need some great food” spot. Their fresh squeezed OJ, baked goods, and scrambled eggs were very satisfying after a long flight. They did not have high chairs available, so bring a stroller if you have a young one with you.
- Chinesischer Turm- Located in the English Garden, this beer garden is a popular one to visit with kids. You can order typical German food like Weisswurst sausage, spaetzle, pretzels, as well as small salads and french fries. There is a playground and carousel adjacent to the picnic tables. Enjoy your meal while gazing up at the Chinese-style pagoda towering over the picnic tables and grass.
- I Love Leo - The line for the frozen yogurt at I Love Leo is usually out the door. The flavorful yogurt isn't too sweet nor tart, and is the perfect dessert to grab after playing in the nearby English Garden. Plus, the kids will love choosing their own toppings.
- Viktualienmarkt- This famous farmers market is located in the historic center of Munich. It’s where you’ll find fresh fruits and veggies, homemade breads, meats, cheeses, and plenty of pretzels. If you’re on the go, you can stop here for a snack or small sandwich. There are also vendors selling crafts and beautiful flower arrangements. Given we visited during Easter, there were tons of colorful Easter eggs for sale too.
Other Popular Restaurants
These restaurants either came personally recommended or had great reviews online. We didn’t have time visit each one, but many are popular choices among families.
- Cafe Gollier- This vegetarian cafe is known for its tasty cakes and sandwiches. They also have a small playroom for kids.
- Hofbräukeller - This is one of the most famous beer gardens in town, and they offer a full playroom for kids under 8 years old.
- Dr. Drooly - Are you craving some...vegan pizza? I'm going to guess most likely not, but you should know the the line for this vegan pizza shop is always out the door. They don’t have many tables available (high tops mostly), so bring the stroller along and find a nearby bench. The pizza looked delicious and I wish I had found time to try this one.
- Nineofive - This is another highly recommended (non vegan) pizza joint with plenty of options for everyone in the group.
Tips for traveling to Munich
Whether you’ve been to Munich 20 times or it’s your inaugural trip, you’ll want to brush up on some of the German cultural customs.
- Share the road: Munich is a biking city and I highly recommend exploring the streets this way -- in fact, this was one of my favorite aspects about Munich! Just make sure to use the bike lanes, and follow the traffic lights.
- No jaywalking allowed: To my fellow New Yorkers, your jay-walking habits must disappear in Munich! Crosswalks are the way to go, and the locals follow the law.
- Should you tip?: Yes! Unlike some other European countries where it's not typical to necessarily tip because there is a living wage, German waiters are paid an hourly minimum wage, and thus DO rely on tips. It's good practice to tip 10%. Also, do not leave cash on the table - instead you're expected to "settle up" when paying the final bill.
- Everything closes on sundays (except for museums): If you need to stock up on any toiletries or food, you’ll want to do so before Sunday. While museums and some restaurants do remain open, you won’t be able to go shopping or stroll the markets. That being said, some pharmacies are open on a rotating basis for emergencies.
- Many stores don’t accept credit cards: Always have cash on you!
- The U-Bahn isn’t free - Germans are just honest: You won’t find a ticket turnstile at the subway entrance. Instead riders are expected to have purchased and scanned a ticket before heading to the subway platform. It’s not often policed, but if you’re hoping on at the airport, it's more heavily regulated.
- High chairs not always available: While I did find Munich to be family-welcoming, sometimes restaurants were not always prepared for kids with highchair options. This didn’t happen often, but on a few occasions my son and I were close and personal dining buddies.
- The Munich airport has some unique entertainment: Did you know that the Munich airport has its own brewery, an observatory deck to watch the planes, a visitors' park filled with mini golf, and a playground with toy planes and rope slides? We didn’t have time to check it out, but if you have a long layover, it's not a boring place to be.
- Asparagus in the springtime is eaten at all meals…including dessert: White asparagus is the springtime treat in Bavaria. It’s heavily featured on every menu, displayed at all the outdoor markets, and even caramelized as a dessert ingredient. As much as I love asparagus, I still opted for chocolate for a treat, but it was cool to see it on the menu as the star vegetable.
Day Trips From Munich
While there are plenty of activities to do within the city, it’s also incredibly easy to take a day trip for a change of scenery. If you’re traveling to Munich with kids, you’ll want to bookmark these destinations as options for a quick escape. You could make them each a day trip, but I’d recommend staying overnight in Achensee if you select that option.
Rumor has it this castle supposedly inspired Walt Disney’s own creation. Neuschwanstein Castle is approximately 1 hr 45 minutes from Munich and is spectacular to see in person. While the castle used to be the home of Ludwig II in the 1800’s, it is now open to the public for guided tours. Here's a few tips to keep in mind if visiting with kids:
- If you're visiting with young kids, it may be the best use of time to complete some fun and easy hikes, rather than actually entering the castle. The interior isn't particularly stroller friendly, and the best views come from the surrounding trails. I suggest walking the Marienbrucke Trail, which leads over a suspension bridge, providing unobstructed views of the charming castle.
- If you do decide to enter, note that you must have a pre-purchased timed ticket. You can buy tickets here.
- When I visited the castle before having kids, I used the company Mike’s Bike Tours and would highly recommend their excursion. It begins with a short bike ride through the valley below the castle and along the woods and lake. They do have options for child bike attachments if you'd like to hop on their tour.
- If you’d like to stay overnight, or want to see more of the area, check out the town of Füssen. There are shops, cafes, and a few hotel options.
Located at the base of the Alps, Murneau is a small German city filled with boutique shops and Bavarian restaurants. It’s a quick 45 minutes from Munich, and can easily be a day trip excursion.
This charming Austrian town lays at the base of the Alps directly on one of the largest alpine lakes. While it may appear crystal clear blue, the glacier waters make it pretty chilly to swim in – although that didn’t stop my Canadian husband from jumping in!
The main activity in Achensee is simply just to explore the outdoors. There are beautiful walking trails next to the lake, and playgrounds that have the Alps as the backdrop. In warmer months, it’s possible to take a gondola to the top of the mountains, where there are more walking trails and playgrounds for kids.
That's a Wrap
Munich is a stunningly beautiful European city filled with delicious restaurants and plenty of activities to do with kids. Your vacation will be filled with bike rides through the parks, devouring Bavaian pretzels, and exploring the cobblestone streets. Next time I visit, I have my eyes set on those Christmas time markets.
I hope this article has inspired your own family getaway to Munich, Germany. If you have any questions, or your own travel tips, please leave them in the comments below. Also, don't forget to sign up for the monthly newsletter, packed with travel tips, upcoming news, and access to FREE destination itineraries.
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