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The best family-friendly things to do in Munich

The best family-friendly things to do in Munich

All the best attractions in Munich

Munich in Germany, capital of the state of Bavaria, is a fantastic city for children.

We found loads to do when we visited as part of our Interrail adventure (it took just an hour to get here by train from Nuremberg).

It’s the country’s third biggest city and is attractive and salubrious – there is an almost film-set feel about it.

Loads get around by bicycle, but transport options are plenty, you can use trams, underground trains and electric scooters. 

Here are some of the highlights of Munich, known in Germany as München:

Surfing on the Eisbach river

One of the most memorable parts of our trip to Munich was watching surfers.

It’s 200 miles from the sea but professional surfers have been flocking here for some of the best river surfing in the world for more than 40 years.

Crowds of spectators watch as they take it in turns to ride waves that surge from under a bridge.

It’s fascinating to see how long they last before plunging into the water and being whipped downstream. Then the next one gets straight on for their turn.

It happens on the edge of a park, the English Garden.

Surfing on Eisbach river in Munich, Germany

The English Garden park.

The surfing takes place on the edge of this popular park.

The Eisbach river flows through it, creating a lazy river effect which people can paddle and swim in.

We were there when temperatures were 25C temperatures and dozens were using it to cool off.

Thousands of mainly younger people were enjoying the warm weather in this huge open space and the atmosphere was amazing.

Lots of people around the city were enjoying sport socially and here there are lots of volleyball nets that people were making use of while others sunbathed or danced.

The English Garden park in Munich
The English Garden park in Munich

Bayern Munich FC Stadium

A visit to the Allianz Arena – the home of Bayern Munich – is a must for football fans. It’s especially popular now that Harry Kane, the England captain, is playing there.

The arena is quite a way out of the town centre.

It’s a 20-minute underground train ride to the stop of Fröttmaning (marked with a football sign). Then, quite a long walk from the station to the ground – at least 15 minutes.

When you reach the statue of German football legend Gerd Muller, you’re nearly there.

You can book tickets in advance for a one-hour guided tour plus museum visit.

Or you can just have an arena view and museum experience like we did.

The arena view ticket gives you access to the lower tier stand at one end of the stadium.

It’s possible to sit in any seat in the stand and see the pitch, I would advise going right down to the side of the pitch as you can stand directly behind the goal and also you get to experience the scale of the stadium, which seats 75,000 people.

We were interested in the scores of stickers which visitors from different clubs have stuck around the stand. You can see clubs from all sorts of countries represented.

In the museum, you can learn about the entire history of FC Bayern Munchen dating back more than a century. Information boards are in German and English, all videos have English subtitles.

Children will likely be most interested in the more modern successes.

There’s an area dedicated to the Treble in 2013 with videos, cardboard cutouts of key moments you can pose with and a chance to stand next to the trophies – including the European Cup.

It’s a very smart, clean and fresh museum. There are sections dedicated to legendary players like Franz Beckenbauer with information and videos about their careers.

There are also areas dedicated to the basketball team and the women’s football team.

Near the end of the museum are cardboard cutouts of the current side, including Harry Kane.

You can stand with them as part of the team line-up for a photo.

As is always the way, you have to exit via the club shop, which you can visit for free if you don’t want to experience anything else at the stadium.

We were there for about 60-90 minutes to do the arena view and the museum.

The tour would also give you access to the side of the pitch, the dugout and other areas inside the stadium.

But nobody is allowed to actually go on the pitch!

FC Bayern Museum and Arena Tour

Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany, home of Bayern Munich FC Stadium
Allianz Arena

Hofbrauhaus

Munich’s most famous beer hall and restaurant is a landmark attraction.

It has been at its present site since the 1500s and is absolutely huge, spread over three floors.

If the weather’s good, like it was when we visited, you can sit in the beer garden or on a terrace overlooking it.

The garden is lovely with old chestnut trees, planted centuries ago to shade the space and keep the beer – not the people – cool.

It attracts plenty of tourists with bands playing traditional German music most afternoons and evenings.

But it’s also a regular pub for locals, with the most reliable visitors getting their own mug to drink out of, which they keep inside a padlocked cabinet.

Only the owner can access their mug and has only to raise its lid to have it topped up with beer by the staff.

You’ll see many Germans in traditional lederhosen enjoying social club meet-ups here.

The building has been central to all aspects of German life. Political parties, including the Nazis, met in the beer hall.

On the third floor is the room where Hitler spoke at one of the party’s first meetings in the 1920s.

The food is traditional German, so plenty of meat and potatoes.

There isn’t a children’s menu and the portions are large but there’s roast chicken, baked potatoes and, of course, plenty of sausages.

Although it’s a big beer drinking location, there were plenty of families there when we visited at around 7pm.

You can reserve a table in advance or turn up and grab a bench on the ground floor.

Hofbräuhaus Munich

Hofbrauhaus beer tavern in Munich
Hofbrauhaus beer tavern

Marienplatz

A good starting point on a visit to Munich is the large public square Marienplatz (English: Mary’s Square).

It is the social centre of city life here and has been throughout history since 1158.

Here you will find the New City Hall, the Old City Hall and the Fiscgbrunnen (fish fountain).

Events take place here including the Christkindlmarkt (Christmas Market), a summer festival and the FC Bayern cultural festival on May 1.

New City Hall overlooking Marienplatz
New City Hall overlooking Marienplatz

New City Hall

Looking over the square is New City Hall.

For a birds eye view of the Marienplatz, you can book a tour of the City Hall and check out the balcony, famous for celebrations of FC Bayern Munich.

You can also see the reading room of the law library, which reminds people of Hogwarts.

Below the viewing platform is the Rathaus-Glockenspiel – a large mechanical clock with life-size characters which re-enact scenes from Munich’s history.

The Glockenspiel is the largest in Europe with 43 bells.

Crowds gather below to watch and film as the figures dance daily at 11 am and 12 pm. Between March and October it also happens at 5pm.

Rathaus-Glockenspiel
Rathaus-Glockenspiel

Alter Peter

Nearby is the Church of St Peter.

The tower here gives great views over the Old Town.

Unlike the New City Hall, there is no lift and there are over 300 steps to climb!

Once you finally reach the top, the ledge to stand on feels very narrow if heights aren’t your thing. Although it is fenced and perfectly safe.

Tip: you access the tower from a door on the outside of the church, next to a ticket booth. We wandered around the church for a while without knowing how to get up.

The view from the church tower of St Peter in Munich
The view from the church tower

Viktualienmarkt

Not far away is this famous food market, which has run daily since 1807 except for Sundays and holidays.

It is ideal for a snack in between sightseeing or enjoy a drink in the popular beer garden.

There are also souvenirs to buy here.

Viktualienmarkt – the famous food market in Munich

TimeRide

This VR attraction offers tours around Munich. Participants wearing headsets can experience how places looked hundreds or even thousands of years ago.

There’s also a VR experience you can do at the TimeRide building, which we tried out.

A friendly host takes you into an old library and so begins the story of King Ludwig II. You watch an animated video coming out of a book telling the history of Bavaria before trying to find a secret door into the next room.

Once you’ve found the door, you get your VR headset and experience a journey through 7,000 years of Bavarian history.

The experience sees you fly through time to great moments in the area’s past, finishing with a visit to King Ludwig at Neuchwanstein Castle.

TimeRide Munich

Neuchwanstein Castle

It’s a day trip from Munich to this famous castle, designed by Ludwig II and supposedly the inspiration for Disneyland’s castles.

There are plenty of tours available or it’s a two to three hour train journey and then a walk.

Munich Cards

One option to make transport easy is to get a Munich card.

It offers free public transport on trams, buses, Ubahn (underground) and Sbahn trains for a set period of time.

It also gives you discounted access to some museums, tours and restaurants.

You don’t save a huge amount with the discounts so it’s only a must if you are going to be travelling a lot on public transport or- visiting a number of museums.

There’s a more expensive card which does give free access to attractions. Always best to weigh up how many you’re going to visit to see if the card is worth buying.

Have you been to Munich? Let us know if we have missed out your favourite attraction?

Are you interested in an Interrail trip, check out our full guide: Interrail – our guide and top tips for travelling around Europe by train

If you would like to hear more about this journey, here is our full day-by-day diary: Interrailing with children – a diary of our adventures on trains travelling around Europe

Related article: Brussels with children – family-friendly activities in this beautiful Belgium city

Related article: Things to do in Nuremberg with children – the best family activities

Related video: We travelled to Munich on an Interrail train adventure, see our video here!

A family break in St Albans with our children proves a great mixture of old and new

A family break in St Albans with our children proves a great mixture of old and new

We explore the family-friendly attractions in the city of St Albans and eat at the oldest pub in Britain

As we climb up and up, twist after twist, turn after turn, the staircase gets narrower and narrower.

The top of the Clock Tower is a particularly tight squeeze, its 600-year-old roof can only take a few visitors at a time – but the view at the summit of the 93 steps is well worth it.

Stretching in front of us is St Albans – a city where the ancient and the modern sit side-by-side.

For example, the Clock Tower was built in 1405, but on the street below, people queue up outside Darlish, the UK’s first Persian ice cream parlour, whose speciality is a deliciously sweet baklava ice cream sandwich.

The city’s park contains both a modern splash pool and Roman remains. And pubs which played host to Oliver Cromwell now serve the latest culinary trends.

And that theme of ancient and modern is clear at our first stop, St Albans Museum and Gallery.

St Albans Museum and Gallery

St Albans Museum and Gallery

St Albans Museum and Gallery

Refurbished in 2018, the city’s main museum contains 2,000 years of history over three floors. Children are given an activity pack and trail to follow around.

You can visit the underground cells which used to be the city’s prison and then climb up into the former courtroom.

While your little ones pretend to be a judge or a villain in the dock, pensioners merrily sip away at cups of tea and tuck into slices of cake.

Our little magistrate sentences her big brother to life imprisonment

Upstairs there are more displays of the city’s history and on site is a tasty cafe. You can eat in the old courtroom or on the market square as we did, tucking into large sandwiches, varied salads and a wide range of excellent cakes.

Information: St Albans Museum and Gallery, Town Hall, St Peter’s St, St Albans AL1 3DH, open daily 10am to 5pm, 11am to 5pm on Sundays. Entry free.

St Albans Market

It is worth visiting on market day – Wednesdays and Saturdays between 8.30am and 4.30pm – if you can. There has apparently been a market in the city since the 9th century. 1,100 years on and the stalls are packed, stretching along the high street. You can buy everything from toys, to handbags, to Pakistani or Indonesian street food. It is a vibrant, colourful sight with more than 160 stalls.

Market day in St Albans, our view from the Clock Tower

Market day in St Albans, our view from the Clock Tower

Clock Tower

At the bottom end of the market and high street is the Clock Tower. The stairs to the top do get very narrow but it is fun to climb and you are rewarded with views across Hertfordshire and even London on a clear day. The friendly volunteers at the bottom of the tower let children help ring the city’s 600-year-old bell, which has been clanging away since the Wars of the Roses.

St Albans Clock Tower

The Clock Tower

Information: Clock Tower, High St, St Albans AL3 4EL. opening times vary. Entry £1 adults, children free. This is the only surviving medieval town belfry in England.

St Albans Cathedral

Even older than the clock tower is the building which dominates this city. St Albans Cathedral, known locally as The Abbey, is named after Alban, Britain’s first saint.

St Alban's Cathedral

St Albans Cathedral

It is a huge building and entry is free. Children can get an activity pack from the new welcome centre, which has a shop, cafe and toilets. The pack contains 12 questions taking you around the cathedral, encouraging youngsters to explore the whole site.

The quiz also explains to them some of the history of this building and the story of how Alban became St Alban and met a grizzly end at the hands of the Romans.

There are also tree trails to explore the cathedral’s gardens, which takes around 45 minutes to complete.

On certain heritage open days there are also graffiti trails where children can hunt for clues on the various etchings visitors have drawn into the stone around the cathedral.

All the trails cost £2 per child and include a badge when successfully completed.

Some churches can feel a little stuffy and unwelcoming to children but this felt like a site where little ones were actively welcomed.

Information: St Albans Cathedral, St Albans AL1 1B, open daily, entry free.

Verulamium Park

Verulamium Park in St Albans

Verulamium Park

A short walk down the hill from the cathedral brings you to Verulamium Park, a former Roman site.

It is named after the Roman city of Verulamium on which it stands. And there are Roman remains dotted around its 100 acres. It was full of families when we visited, there is lots of space to run around, you can stroll by the lake, feed the ducks and climb trees. There is also a playground, fairly new splash park open during the summer, football goals, cafe and indoor swimming pool.

Verulamium Museum next to the park grounds has artefacts, which explore everyday life in Roman Britain.

Information: Verulamium Park, St Peter’s Street, St Albans, UK.

Eating Out

St Albans has a wealth of options for eating out with almost every conceivable chain restaurant having an outlet around the city centre. We took a chance on something slightly different. Ye Olde Fighting Cocks is officially Britain’s oldest pub, the octagonal building dates back to the 11th century.

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks is officially Britain’s oldest pub

Britain’s oldest pub

It is well situated near the entrance to Verulamium Park and has a beer garden. Inside, the low ceilings and timber beams make the pub feel medieval. Fortunately, the food is most definitely modern. There are four children’s options (£8 each) including pasta, burgers and sausages. The quality was high, as were the adult meals.

The pub becomes less family-friendly the later into the evening it gets so I would suggest trying it for lunch or an early dinner.

Information: Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, 16 Abbey Mill Ln, St Albans, AL3 4HE.

As we stroll back from the pub where Oliver Cromwell once stayed the night, the beautiful cathedral is lit up and it’s easy to see why this is a city is a great place to introduce children to our country’s history.

Where we stayed – St Michael’s Manor

St Michael's Manor hotel in St Albans

St Michael’s Manor

Our hotel, St Michael’s Manor, is next to the park and has a lovely garden of its own – five acres to explore and its own lake.

The hotel’s original building dates from 1500, which practically makes it a modern development in St Albans.

This luxury hotel has excellent family rooms – our suite had two televisions and a huge bathroom.

Our hotel room at St Michael's Mount

Our hotel room, Sycamore

Breakfast is in a beautiful orangery-style restaurant.

It’s well-situated with lots of parking spaces, so we could walk to and from the city centre, read our full hotel review with pictures and video here: Review: St Michael’s Manor Hotel in St Albans

This was also the perfect base from which to visit Harry Potter Studios the next day – read our review of that here: The full guide to Harry Potter Studio Tour London with must-read tips and family review

Information: St Michael’s Manor Hotel, Fishpool Street, St Albans, AL3 4RY.

Breakfast at Lakeside Restaurant

Breakfast St Michael’s Manor

Disclaimer – Our hotel, food and attractions were provided to us in exchange for this review. All views are our own.