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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!

Our full guide to Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower – is it a big hit with children?

Our full guide to Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower – is it a big hit with children?

For amazing views of Portsmouth, take your children to the top of the Emirates Spinnaker Tower 

What is it?

The 170-metre tall Emirates Spinnaker Tower offers panoramic views around Portsmouth harbour, The Solent and the Isle of Wight.

It’s the city’s most prominent landscape and can be seen from 23 miles away.

The tower was a millennium project but wasn’t opened until 2005. Portsmouth residents voted for the design – the Spinnaker sail shape reflecting the city’s maritime heritage.

Where is it?

The Spinnaker Tower is on the waterfront in Portsmouth, in the middle of the Gunwharf Quays shopping and leisure complex. You can’t miss it!

An aerial shot of Emirates Spinnaker Tower

Spinnaker Tower

What did we think?

This gives spectacular views and is a great experience for children. It’s only a quick trip but there is an animated video and quiz sheet to keep youngsters entertained, as well as two cafes.

What exactly is there to do?

*An animated video at the start.

*A lift which takes you up 100 metres to the main viewing level in 30 seconds – travelling at 4 metres per second.

A glass floor on the viewing platform at Spinnaker Tower

*The main viewing platform has a 350 degree view out of the windows. There is a Sky Walk on this level – a glass floor section in the middle of the room to walk over, which is good fun for those who don’t mind heights.

The glass floor with a view down from Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth

The glass floor

*Also on the main level, for £4 per person you can have a go at a virtual reality game called Altitude for aged nine and over, which makes you feel like you are navigating your way around the outside of the tower with the harbour below.

*On the next floor up there is a small cafe called The Clouds, with a great view, which serves cakes and drinks.

*Above that, on the top floor, is the Sky Garden – this level is open to the elements and has deck chairs and a green artificial grass floor.

*There is another bigger cafe on the ground floor with much more choice.

Also available for the adventurous:

*Abseiling 100 metres down the side of the tower.

*The Drop – jump from a platform 25 metres high (weekends only).

Our top tips 

*Don’t skip the animated video before the lift as it is good for children and tells the story of Portsmouth.

*If your child is upset by the height, there isn’t much need to take them up the stairs to levels 2 and 3. The main level is bigger and the stairs can get busy.

*Book in advance for cheaper entry and also check out special events during the school holidays such as character visits.

Don’t miss our review of a family holiday to Portsmouth by clicking here!

Emirates Spinnaker Tower information

Food: Drinks and cakes on the second floor cafe 105 metres up and a bigger cafe on the ground floor.

Opening hours: Daily 10am to 5.30pm.

Cost: Family ticket £35 on the day. Adult entry £11.50, children (aged four to 15) £8.50. Under-fours free. A ticket is valid all day and booking online saves 10 per cent.

Best for: All ages

Time needed: 45 minutes.

Access and restrictions: The first two viewing levels (the main floor and the cafe) are available via a lift to wheelchair users. There are three disabled toilets on site.

Address: Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth, PO1 3TT. There is a large car park at Gunwharf Quays.

(Main picture credit: Stefan and Sara Venter)