Munich, on the banks of the Isar river and just north of the majestic Alps, is the capital of Bavaria. The city is home to centuries-old buildings and numerous museums. Known for its annual Oktoberfest celebration , it is not only a fascinating destination in itself but can provide as a base for travelers wishing to explore Germany’s romantic road routes. For families that have not yet discovered the Bavarian gem, here are our top five spots to explore with kids.
The Olympiapark München and BMW Museum
The Olympiapark München was constructed for the 1972 summer Olympics. The park is now a venue for cultural, social and religious events, and visitors are always welcome. While at the park travelers can scurry over to the Olympic Tower and take the 190-meter climb to the observation deck. Then, they can enjoy lunch in the revolving restaurant.
The BMW Museum right next to the park is a car fanatic’s paradise. Visitors can get their kicks by gawking at the packed showrooms or by joining the eighty minutes long guided tour. Kids can also design their own vehicle in the junior campus workshop as well as watch some Hollywood style motorbike stunts on selected dates.
The Englischer Garten, or English Garden, is one of the largest urban public parks in all of Europe. The garden stretches from center city to the North Eastern city limits. Apart from its comfortable bikeways and lake, the area boasts several “beer gardens.”
Travelers wishing to explore beyond the lake will find the Japanese Tea House. The teahouse was a gift presented to Bavaria from Soshitsu Sen during the 1972 summer Olympics. They will also find Monopteros, a small Greek-style temple. Finally, visitors can view the city skyline from the Chinese Tower, modeled after the Great Pagoda of the Royal Botanical Gardens in London.
Marienplatz (Mary’s Square)
Marienplatz is Munich’s main square and has been so since 1158. Initially, the Marienplatz held markets and tournaments for locals to come shop or enjoy. The landmarks to see are Mary’s column and the Rathaus-Glockenspiel clock.
The Mariensaule, or Mary’s Column, was erected in 1638 in celebration of the end of the Swedish occupation during the thirty-year war. A golden statue of the Virgin Mary standing on a crescent moon tops the column, representing the queen of heaven. At each corner of the Mariensaule,stands a statue of a Putto or cherub as well as a statue of different beasts fighting, symbolizing the overcoming adversities such as war, pestilence, hunger, and heresy.
The Rathaus-Glockenspiel is a clock made up of two towers. Every day at 11 am it chimes and re-enacts two stories from the sixteenth century. The top half presents the story of Duke Wilhelm the fifth’s marriage to Renata of Lorraine, the second half tells the story of the Schafflertanz (the Coopers dance). The Schafflertanz myth says that in 1517 (year of the plague) coopers danced in the streets to bring fresh and new vitality to the nervous locals. The Coopers’ dance came to symbolize perseverance and loyalty to authority through difficult times. The dance is now a tradition performed once every seven years; the next performance is to be held in 2019.
The Deutsches Museum
The Deutsches Museum is the world’s largest museum of science and technology. Oskar Von Miller founded the museum in 1903, designing it on an island. The name may suggest that the museum showcased German advances. However, in truth, the name expressed the importance of science and technology to the German people.
Once in the museum, travelers will discover wonders from all around the globe. The venue offers a plethora of interactive displays, live demonstrations, and experiments. The building is vast and has many different levels and fields to explore.
Children will enjoy the Kids Kingdom Exhibition designed specifically for children ages three to eight. There are over 1,000 exhibits for the kids to touch, play, and learn from such as a power machine, wave-bouncing weir, building blocks, and even a giant guitar.
Ferdinand Maria and Henriette Adelaide of Savoy, a prince-electoral couple, commissioned Nymphenburg Palace in 1664. It is a Baroque palace and the former summer home of the old rulers of Bavaria.
This castle consists of a large villa with two wings of packed royal rooms decorated in the baroque style. Along with the Queen’s bedroom and King’s chamber, there is a unique gallery of portraits of girls commissioned by Bavaria’s King.
Kids and adults will love the Marstallmuseum Hall with royal coaches, which includes Ludwig II’s fairytale-like carriage fitted with oil lanterns. The manicured park behind the palace is perfect for antsy kids to run around, feed the swans, or picnic on the grass by the large lake.
Dachau Concentration Camp
Established in 1933, this camp was Nazi Germany’s first concentration camp. Created to hold political prisoners, the camp later became a model for later concentration camps as a “school of violence” for the SS men. 200,000 people from all over Europe passed through its doors, and over 40,000 of them died there.
After its liberation, the government turned the camp into a memorial in 1965. The main exhibit holds the “path of prisoners” where visitors walk the victim’s path from coming to camp, their life in the camp, and their journey to either death or liberation.
Autism Travel Tips:
- The Deutsches Museum can get overwhelming, so it is best for parents to prioritize what they want to see.Parents need to be aware most signage is in German making it challenging for English speakers.
- The Dachau Concentration Camp features intense content. It is also a place to pay respects. Parents should prepare children by informing them what this site means and how they should behave.
- The Englischer Garden is the best place to take active kids.
- Many of these attractions, such as the Olympiapark and Nymphenburg Palace, require a lot of walking. Parents should pack comfortable, closed toe shoes for the family.