We are traveling to Germany for a family vacation in July with two boys, ages 10 and 11. We found a great rate on the flight in and out of Berlin, so we need to structure our itinerary around this city. The problem is, we really want to go to Rothenberg, Munich, and see the 'best' castles for 10/11 y.o. boys to enjoy (i.e., dungeons, knights, mazes, medieval times in person). We don't mind the driving and have a rental car reserved for $300 for the week. Saving money on transportation opens up a lot of other possibilities for us, but the trip is really only 9 days to have fun (not including arrival and departure days).
Can someone help us fill in the following itinerary that would be geared towards kid-friendly activities? I saw something about the Fun Forest, a technology museum in Munich, etc. We are open to adventures and off the beaten path excursions, activities, and lodging.
Here's what we're working with:
Sunday- Arrive Berlin @ noon
Wednesday-- pick up rental car at 10am and head to...??
Thursday through Monday-- open
Tuesday-- return to Berlin by 4pm (to return rental car) for overnight at youth hostel
Wednesday- flight home
I found the Rhine Castles to be extremely exciting and I could certainly recommend Marksburg Castle (not far from Koblenz) as one where your boys will find lots of knights and dungeons etc. More info on my Koblenz pages here:
This castle overlooks the town of Braubach on the Rhine. Well worth the effort.
I second what @Maryimelda wrote: visit Marksburg at Rhein (=Rhine) River, and your boys will have loads of fun!
Another interesting castle is Burg Eltz, in Eifel region. That is approx. 35 km south-west of Koblenz or 45 km southwest of Marksburg. Here their website:
and here what VTer @Brendareed wrote about it:
"weekend at Burg Eltz" - Burg Eltz by brendareed
In case this castle looks familiar: it was once on the former German Deutsche Mark banknote, the biggest one :-)
Rothenburg: ok, if you really want to go there, go. But it is touristy and not really authentic because the majority of the town was rebuilt after WW II. There are a lot of alternatives, charming towns with walls around, tell me if I should recommend some :-)
And as for the technical museum in Munich: I was there but found it rather run down and less cared about. Many things aren't kept so not everything "works". But it is good.
On the other hand, I am absolutely sure that your boys - and you - will have more fun in two other technical museums:
one is in Sinsheim, that is approx. 130 km west of Rothenburg or 40 km southeast of famous Heidelberg:
and the other one is in Speyer, which is 30 km southwest of Heidelberg or 100 km south of Frankfurt:
Speyer is also a famous town of Germany, the marvellous cathedral and a very charming town. We use to say that "Italy starts here", because of the mild climate and the charming people :-)
Here is what @Maryimelda wrote about Speyer:
"Speyer on Saturday" - Speyer by Maryimelda
and here what I wrote about the town:
"Speyer - European Heritage - Bishop's Seat" - Speyer by Trekki
Oh, I just realised that I forgot to mention that most of the "big" exhibits of Munich's technical museum are not located in the museum but elsewhere. That would be planes, trains and all that.
In Sinsheim and Speyer these big ones are there and can be visited = climbing up to the Boeing for example, as it is described here, including a video:
(ok, the video is narrated in German, it describes how the plane came to Speyer).
Some more suggestions for this area:
- Burg Eltz: my recommendation access it from the "Müdener Berg" car park (not the main one)
- Rheinfels castle: the largest castle along the Rhine. In ruins but offers more adventure than the guided tours through Burg Eltz or the Marksburg
Advice: Please bring flashlights for the trenches and tunnels.
- Pfalzgrafensein: the castle on island in the Rhine. Access by ferry from Kaub.
Stay in a castle hostel. There are two options: Burg Stahleck in Bacharach or Schloss Diez
Diez is in the Lahn Valley. A tributary of the Middle Rhine. Also really nice.
The Middle Rhine Valley has quite a number of cute medieval towns. No need to add a lot of travel time to add Rothenburg. Oberwesel has e.g. an interesting town wall walk
Same with the technical museums. Berlin has its own interesting technical museum. Which has e.g. by the way the first computer on display. Albeit other displays there will be more interesting for the kids.
The Speyer one was already mentioned. Apart from this Speyer was one of the most important cities in medieval times. Speyer cathedral was the biggest church in Europe when built nearly 1000 years ago. And has more graves of German emperors than any other church in Germany.
As you'll have a car you can also visit the medieval copper mine in Fischbach.
Side note on this: at the Lower Middle Rhine Valley (between Koblenz and Bonn) there is on the east side the Siebengebirge, the Seven Mountains. Quote: "But Little Snow-White beyond the seven mountains. Is a thousand times fairer than you." Now the "dwarfs" of this fairy tale are nothing else than German medieval miners.
Going back a further millenium - Trier in the Moselle Valley was in Roman times the biggest city north of the Alps and has impressive remains from Roman times
another interesting aspect of this area: vulcanism - e.g. the highest cold water geysir in Andernach and the Maare
If you start your itinerary in Berlin, you can go on to Bautzen (there are 3 parks there: dinasaurs, miniatures and one devoted to th history of GDR). Then you can visit the grottes in Saafeld. Going further there is Legoland in Gunzburg Rottenburg ober Tauber with its Christmass museum. Here comes Munich. You can separate and do something on your way to Munich and something on your way back.
On the other hand in July as far as I know you can be at the time of Karl May Fest spiel http://www.karlmay-festspiele.de/
The boys will love it. I'm sure. And there are castles in the north of Germany as well.
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Closer to Berlin: Saxony. Try www.schloesserland-sachsen.de (English available) There are lots of castles in Saxony, Fortress Königstein, castles Rochlitz, Weesenstein, Kriebstein are really old castles, will be fun for the boys. Also, the Royal Palace in Dresden has a gorgeous collection on armoury (knights) - one of the best in the world.
The boys (and parents) can also go hiking in the National Park Saxon Switzerland (bizarre sandstone formations), ride narrow-gauge steam trains (from the vineyards in Radebeul to castle Moritzburg or from Zittau to the medieval ruins of castle/monastery Oybin), do a paddle steamer trip on the Elbe river ... and much more.
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