Courtney and I spent a hilarious weekend seven years ago (pre-children) at the October Fest in Munich. It was great fun: there was a lot of beer, schnapps, bretzels, German sausages, sleeping and card playing involved. I don’t think we had ever seen so many people our age in lederhosen and dirndls. It was definitely not the kind of weekend you would have with kids.
I am pretty sure that a weekend in Munich now would be very, very different, but potentially as much fun — it is a beautiful city, very traditional but also very happening. For some local insight on what Munich has to offer for kids, Mitali, a stay-at-home mom living in Munich, has very kindly given us her tips and recommendations on what to do in the capital of Bavaria. She is a mother of two (son Nilay 6 years, daughter Nalini 7 months) and the proud owner of a crazy dog, Greta. She loves travelling and has lived all around the world, but, in the end, has always enjoyed coming home to Munich. She has some great ideas of what to do in Munich!
SEE AND PLAY:
Schloss Nymphenburg – This is a beautiful castle close to Munich’s city center. It is located within an amazing park, so if you don’t want to visit the inside of the castle, it is still worth the trip to walk around the wonderful gardens. If the weather is warm, go to Prinzengarten located close to the left entrance, where the kids can play in a little creek.
Right next to Schloss Nymphenburg is the museum Mensch und Natur. This is a great interactive museum for children with quizzes, dinosaurs and varying exhibitions. In front of the castle begins the Nymphenburg canal. In summer many people take a walk along the water, go jogging or cycling. In winter the canal is frozen and you can go ice skating or try out bavarian curling. You can rent skates in all sizes for a small fee and little booths sell hot wine and punch for children to warm you up. If you walk towards the end of the canal, away from the castle, make sure to stop at Gruenwaldpark, a small park with a nice playground.
Tierpark Hellabrunn – Tierpark Hellabrunn is Munich’s zoo. Apart from all the wonderful animals you can see, it offers a huge and very creative playground, a petting zoo and pony riding for kids. Unfortunately it gets very crowded during the weekend.
The zoo is located right next to the Isar, so if the weather permits, take a walk at the Flaucher, which is what this part of the Isar is called. People hang out here in summer, bring picnics, barbeque and sunbath. The vibrant atmosphere in the evenings is enjoyed by all.
Olympiapark – The Olympiapark are the old olympic grounds of Munich. There is a huge area with a big public bath, the former soccer stadium, an ice skating rink and a lake. Climb the big hill for an awesome view or to fly kites. For an even more amazing view go up the olympic tower where there is a moving restaurant! (Definately a great spot for a romantic dinner with your loved one! Go at sun set.)
In summer, an alternative festival called Tollwood is held at the Olympiapark, offering food from all over the world, concerts and crafts. Munich’s Sealife is also located at the park and is worth a visit. You can see sharks, sea turtles and other amazing creatures of the sea. For car lovers BMW Welt is right across the street. Especially little and big boys will enjoy the world of BMW and the museum inside the very modern building.
Marienplatz – The Marienplatz Square the centre of Munich. The impressive new town hall is located there and you can see Munich’s famous tourist attraction, the Glockenspiel. Every day at 11am and 12pm this chiming clock recounts a royal wedding, jousting tournament and ritualisitc dance – all important in Munich´s history.
You can then walk to a church called Alter Peter (Old Pete) to climb its many stairs to the top of the church tower for an amazing view of the city. Close by is the toy museum which shows old timey toys and dolls.
If you are hungry, the Viktualienmarkt is a must. It is a huge daily market (open except sundays) selling fruit, veggies, meat, cheese, fish, bratwurst, the best falafel in town and lots more. There is also a nice beergarden located in the middle.
From there, walk along Reichenbachstrasse towards the Gärtnerplatz to get to my favourite part of town: the Glockenbachviertel.
Situated close to the river Isar it offers charming little cafes and stylish shops. Look out for a bench at Gärtnerplatz that is mine, really actually mine! My husband and me sat on this bench on our first date and since then have gone back there many times. He proposed to me on this bench and I gave it to him for our wedding day. It carries a little golden sign with both our names and our wedding date.
Deutsches Museum – You can spend a whole day at the Deutsches Museum (German Museum). A large part of the basement is a childrens museum, where kids can play with water (bring rain boots and a second set of clothes), do experiments, climb into a giant guitar or play piano and sit on a real fire truck. There is an artifical mine you can visit, which I loved as a kid and have taken my son many times. You can see real ships, climb into a cockpit of a plane and see so many other interesting things. It really is an amazing place for kids and adults alike. Don´t forget to check out the museum shop, which sells awesome stuff.
Englischer Garten – The English Garden is one of the world’s largest urban public parks, larger than New York´s Central Park. It is called “English Garden” to refer to the style of of informal landscape gardening which used to be popular in the United Kingdom.
There is a standing wave where you can watch surfers do their tricks.
You can visit the two beautiful beergardens, the “Chinesischer Turm” (Chinese Tower) and the “Seehaus” (House at the lake) and enjoy typical Bavarian food, music and a wonderful atmosphere. It is perfect for relaxing and sunbathing (in some parts, naked sunbathing has been allowed since the 1960s and is still enjoyed by many) and to cool off you can even hop into one of many little arms of the Isar running through the park.
Don’t forget to stop by next door at the wonderful chocolate shop, called Goetterspeise. They sell heavenly chocolates, truffles, amazing cakes, macaroons and in summer home made ice cream. You can sit out front on small tables and tiny benches and stools (perfect for kids), enjoy a hot chocolate, home made ice tea or coffee and enjoy the pretty neighbourhood.
Cafe Freistunde – Another great little cafe in this part of town is Cafe Freistunde.They have a playroom for kids, offer delicious coffee and cake, pretzels and kids cappucinos and you can also have a coffee to go to take to the wonderful playground opposite the cafe. The river Isar also isn’t far away to go explore with a coffee and pretzel in hand.
Aroma Kaffeebar – This is a beautiful cafe and store offering delicious coffee, paninis, home made cakes and croissants, muesli, rice pudding and other wonderful dishes. The food is always arranged in the loveliest way with flowers and other cute additions and the vibe there is very laid back.
Cafe Netzwerk – This café is located in the “Center for Natural Birth”. The cafe is a project where women (mostly migrants) can find work after having kids. They offer breakfast and lunch from Monday to Thursday between 9am and 2.30 pm. The friendly ladies serve amazing vegetable soup and other hearty dishes. Babies are able to sleep in one of the many baby beds that can be placed next to your table and older kids can sit in the offered highchairs. You will find no tourists there as this is a spot that is only known by locals….until now
Hirschgarten – Hirschgarten (Deergarden in English) is a huge park located about 15 minutes by tram from Munich Central Station. It offeres a couple of great playgrounds, soccer fields, a water playground, in winter you can go sledding there and as the name suggests there are deers that can be watched and fed. There is a huge beergarden there, where you can either bring your own food and sit at one of its many tables or you can buy great beergarden food there like pretzels, radish, the typical bavarian cheese spread called Obadzda, grilled fish on a stick and of course bavarian beer served in the typical big glasses. If the weather isn´t good enough to sit outside there is also a bavarian restaurant.
Hans im Glück – Hans im Glück has a very creative interiour where the tables are actually build around tiny trees. The have a small shelve with kids toys and they offer food most children like: burgers and fries. Hans im Glück has beef burgers and veggie burgers and offer a great variety of fillings, like burgers with hummus spread, or an Italian burger with antipasti. You can also order salads and desserts and sit inside and outside.
Le Florida – Located in Maxvorstadt this restaurant and bar is great for the start of a night out without your little ones. You can enjoy yummy fusion food and cocktails and listen to some great tunes. The crowed consists mostly of students as this restaurant is located close to the university of munich. Other bars are close by.
Pardi – Pardi is a Turkish restaurant that is always crowded, so make sure to book a table in advance, especially if you want to go in the evening. In summer you can sit outside on their lovely terrace, blankets and heaters allow you to enjoy even a cooler night outside. Inside, Pardi is a stylish place with a fire place and a bar. The food is delicious turkish food. I can recommend the mixed cold and warm entrees and the salad with grilled goats cheese. Children are always welcome and are greeted warmly by the staff!
Rasselfisch – Rasselfisch sells basically all a family needs for their kids. From stylish strollers, to bike chairs for kids, baby carriers, bags, dishes, furniture, toys…This stylish store offers a wide variety of wonderful, individual and well designed things for babies, children and their parents. Check out the website!
Thierchen – Thierchen is a small shop selling handmade baby and childrens clothes, blankets and pillows. The clothes are very indivdual and creative. They sell little t-shirts with hand embroiderd pretzels on them which make great souvenirs to bring home from your trip to Munich. The shop is located in Hans-Sachs-Strasse close to “Kaiser Otto” and “Goetterspeise”. Unfortunately the shop doesn’t have a website.
Kinderzimmer – These are really two shops. One sells furniture for babies and older kids and one offers a wonderful selection of toys, stuffed animals and childrens books. One can get lost in there for hours looking at toy trains, beautiful dolls, individual kids costumes and other gorgeous things.
Lily und Milou – Lily and Milou sells up market, stylish baby and kids clothes, Barbapapa toys and books, wonderfull dolls from Blabla Kids and Anne-Claire Petit, diaper bags and other beautiful things for kids and their mamas.
Nia Pret a Porter and Nia Chaussure – Those two shops are heaven. Leave the kids with your partner or travel partner for two hours and enjoy shopping there. Nia Pret a Porter offers mostly French brands like Sessun and American Vintage. The girls who work there are geniuses in combining clothes and accessories and can help with all your fashion needs. It is my go-to shop for almost anything. The only downside is, that it isn’t cheap and one can never leave without spending way to much on their gorgoues pieces.
Same goes for Nia Chaussure which offers beautiful shoes from Bensimon, dico Copenhagen, Dolfie, Sessun and others and also sells amazing bags and the softest scarves.
Can you tell that I love love love those stores and I am NOT getting payed to say that at all!!!!!!
Leselotte – Leselotte is Munich´s greatest bookstore for kids. They only sell German childrens books but even if you cannot speak German you might want to take a peak at their great selection. The staff can recommend the best book for every age and they also offer a lot of picture books for the smallest ones and a great little selection of toys.
Servus Heimat – Servus Heimat, located in the city center, offers a wide range of really stylish souvenirs from Munich. You can buy shirts for adults and kids, snow globes, key chains, books, diaries and more. Definately go there, if you want to bring something home that isn’t as tacky as the usual tourist stuff.