Bavaria

Why a weekend in Salzburg is the Perfect Getaway

Do you live in Bavaria? Have you been to Salzburg, Austria? If not, WHY NOT?! Salzburg was our favorite weekend trip so far! Read on to find out why!

SALZBURG

  1. The size. If you’ve only got a few days, Salzburg is the perfect city to check out. The old town is small enough that you can explore all the major points of interest in a couple days without rushing, having to take public transportation, or walking too far for your kids’ little legs. We drove down after school let out on a Friday and were able to see everything on our list by 3pm the next day, leaving us enough time to make the drive home before dark.
  2. Location, location, location! Salzburg was only about 3.5 hours from where we live in Germany. On the way down our GPS took us on back roads and the drive was beautiful. *Note* make sure to set your GPS to avoid highways on the way back! We didn’t and traffic on the highway was terrible (and not as scenic). The city itself is gorgeous with an awesome mountain/cliff that you walk through to get into the old town, a scenic river, lovely streets and shops and they speak German – not that I’m fluent in German AT ALL, but I at least have learned how to order food and ask where the toilet is, which is more than I can do in any other language besides English.
  3. It’s so musical. Do you like Mozart? Do you like the Sound of Music? Of DoADearcourse you do! You can check out Mozart’s birth place, take a picture with his statue and even get a Mozart chocolate Easter Bunny (if you’re willing to pay €27 and are there at Easter time)! Sound of Music fans can check out the gardens at Mirabell Palace & Gardens where the famous Von Trap children jumped up and down steps singing “Do, Re, Mi”. My kids loved running through the tunnels of leaves in the gardens and seeing the unicorn statues. If you’re a die-hard Sound of Music fan you can pay to do a whole tour where they’ll show you more filming locations used in the Sound of Music. We just enjoyed the free gardens because, hey, they’re free, and we had other stuff we wanted to check out that day.
  4. There was fun stuff for kids. Did you know Salzburg is home to one of the best preserved medieval castles? You can see it resting atop its giant hill from the old town. We decided to head toward it and see if there was a way to easily get to the top. As it turns out, you buy a ticket for a rail car ride (which is relatively inexpensive and stroller friendly!) that takes you up to the top. Our boys loved the ride up almost as much as they loved exploring the old castle and looking down at the city below. We also went to the Salzburg Spielzeugmuseum (toy museum) which our boys thought was awesome. To me it seemed less museum more play-center, which was actually great for our family. It’s totally interactive with giant build-it-yourself marble runs, train sets you can play with, dolls and stuffed animals to play house with and even a slide to take you from the 3rd to 2nd floor (because who needs an elevator?)! In addition to these activities, just walking around was fun for the kids because of the street performers, horse-drawn carriages and the opportunity to eat delicious würst at every corner.
  5. No hidden costs. We made sure that the hotel we booked had parking included and was within walking distance of the old town. That way once we got there we were able to just leave our car in the hotel parking and not have to worry about transportation costs. This seems simple enough, but in other cities (I’m looking at you Zurich!) we’ve experienced hotels which “included” parking at a cost of $25/day that they didn’t mention in the booking. Also, we didn’t have to pay to get into places like gardens or cathedrals. Souvenirs were reasonably priced as were tickets to attractions like the palace and toy museum. Food was very affordable, especially if you eat from the street vendors.  Also, with Salzburg being right on the German border, if you are part of the Esso program that the military provides you have plenty of opportunities to get your gas in Germany to save some money on your drive.

So that’s it in a nutshell! We loved everything about Salzburg! It’s a got all the conveniences of a major city yet with a small-town, friendly atmosphere that you and your family are sure to enjoy.

Why you should go to Salzburg if you have a free weekend

Have you been to Salzburg? What was your favorite thing about this city? Comment below! If you need help planning your trip to Salzburg, check out my free 4 day weekend planner!

 



10 family activities for under €10 near Hohenfels

Exploring Europe is awesome, but often times it can be time consuming and expensive to plan and take exotic trips with your family. Sometimes all you have is an afternoon to kill and a few bucks in your pocket. From numerous Google searches I know that it can be hard to find something to do nearby when you don’t even know the language or what to look for online. I’ve done the “work” for you and checked out all kinds of cool places with my family just so I can share them with you (I know, it’s a hard job but someone’s gotta do it)! Here’s a list of fun stuff for you and your kids to check out near Hohenfels all for under €10 per person!

P.S. If you’re looking for more fun things to do without going too far check out my post on Boring Sundays in Bavaria10 Family Friendly Things to do near Hohenfels

  1. Explore a cave in Velburg

The entrance to this cave is located in the Erlebinswelt Velburg complex which has a high Caveropes course, ATV tours of the forest, a biergarten and hiking trails. All of these things look pretty awesome and if you have older kids, be sure to check them out, but with little ones and a small budget you’re probably better off sticking with the cave. You have to buy tickets at the booth for a guided tour as you are not allowed in on your own but it’s only €4 for adults and €2,50 for kids ages 3-15. We ended up going on a tour with a group from a nursing home which actually was nice because they all seemed to find our children endearing rather than annoying. The cave is nice and cool so this is a good activity for those hot summer days!

  1. Check out a monument to victory over Napoleon and a medieval castle near Regensburg

Befreiungshalle Kelheim (Kelheim Hall of Liberation) was built by King Ludwig I to commemorate both the victorious battles against Napoleon and the unification of all the German races. Check out the giant limestone and marble statues and enjoy the view of Bavaria. Nearby is Burg Prunn which is a medieval castle which dates back to the year 1037! The castle has interactive exhibits so you can truly get an idea of what it was like to live in the middle ages. Buy a combination ticket and see both in one afternoon for €7,50 (or use your Bavarian Castle Pass and get in free like I talk about in this post).

  1. Go to a Chocolate factory

Chocolate? Check. Coffee? Check. Gummy bear cave? Check. Animatronic elephants? Check. I love it when a place is less than 20 minutes from my home and easy to find – like, you literally can see it from the highway easy to find. This little chocolate factory is fun for younger children and the only cost you’ll incur is that of the delicious chocolate you will WildLifeParkinevitably buy.

  1. Play at the Free Wildlife Park

This place is only 30 minutes from Hohenfels, is open all the time and is free! They have deer, pigs, donkeys, sheep, a lake with waterfowl of all kinds, nature trails and an awesome playground. Plus, they have an automatic animal food pellet dispenser so you can feed the animals for 50 cents. Read more about it in this post by MilliGFunk!

  1. Step back in time with the Open Air Museum

This is an outdoor museum set up like an old-timey farming village where you can experience what it was like to be a farmer, beekeeper, black smith and many other things. Sundays you can buy bread that’s baked in their antique oven, they hold special historical and cultural events throughout the year and of course they’ve got a playground too. Only €12 for a family day pass.

  1. Go to a fest

If you want to experience Bavaria in all its glory (think beer and lederhosen) then you need to check out some fests. Everybody knows about Oktoberfest in Munich, but throughout the summer and early fall almost every town in Bavaria has some type of Volksfest. Click on the “Go to a fest” link above which has all the major fests in Bavaria listed alphabetically by town.

  1. Fossil hunting and museum

I don’t know about you, but my boys absolutely love dinosaurs. Bring out your inner paleontologist by checking out this fossil museum. Buy the combo ticket and rent some chisels and shovels (combo ticket and tool rental comes out to less than €5/person!) and start excavating the nearby dig site. You can take the fossils you find home with you too. Super cool!

  1. Take a guided city tour Amberg or Regensburg

Take a tour of a city you think you’re familiar with and you’ll be surprised how much you can learn! Walking tours are a great way to get some exercise and discover hidden secrets nearby. Amberg and Regensburg tourist information offices both offer guided tours in English. Amberg’s is only €9 for a whole family! Regensburg is not as cheap at €16 for the family ticket but they also offer special kids tours in English if you have a group of kids (perhaps a scout troop or playgroup) that look pretty cool.

  1. See Walhalla & take a trip to Ikea

Perched on a hill overlooking the Danube is a giant memorial modelled after the Parthenon IkeaIceCreamand named after the home of Viking gods. Inside it is filled with busts of famous Germans. It only costs €4 for adults to go in and look around. Staying outside and taking in the spectacular views is free. Walhalla is basically just one big room so it probably won’t take you more than 30 minutes to see the whole thing. Why not go ahead and take the 12 minute drive to Ikea afterward to grab yourselves some 50 cent ice cream cones? Is this just an excuse to go to Ikea? Maybe. “Honey what did you and the kids do today?” “We went and saw an architectural masterpiece/treasure-trove of German culture and history and went to Ikea”

  1. Give glass blowing a try

I haven’t been to the Joska glass center yet but really want to check it out! Apparently Bavaria is famous for glass making. There are driving tours of eastern Bavaria that take you through numerous towns renowned for their glass making abilities. This place is one of the stops on the glass route that looked the most interactive and kid-friendly. It has a huge kid’s play area, restaurants, shops and – wait for it – you can blow your own works of glass to take home with you!

Phew! That list should keep you occupied for a while! Let me know if you’ve tried glass blowing and how it is or if you have any other things you would add to the list in the comments below! Don’t forget to share this with your friends on Facebook and save it on Pinterest for later!



Boring Sundays in Bavaria

Special Day (1)When we first moved to Hohenfels we quickly learned that everything seems to be closed on Sundays. All malls, grocery stores and local shops completely shut down. The commissary and PX were open on the Army post, but those get old real quick and soon we were left looking for other places to go on a Sunday after church. So to help everybody out, here are some kid-friendly ideas:

  1. Bavarian castle pass

This has been a lifesaver. You order the pass online and they mail it to you within about a week (use your German address if you have one to get it quickly). The pass comes with the card you show to get in castles for free and a booklet that gives a little bit of information on all the castles covered by the pass (prices, opening hours, history, etc.) and a map of where the castles are. The family pass costs €65 for a year of free castle seeing. It covers famous castles like Neuschwanstein and the Residenz in Munich, but there are tons of other castles, palaces and gardens all over Bavaria as well. Almost all of the castles are open on Sunday and many of them have tours in English.

  1. Museumsdb_museum

Most museums in Bavaria are open on Sunday and take Monday or Tuesday as their rest
day. Most of them are also free for children, which is really nice. There are so many museums in Munich and Nuremberg and they all have English options on their websites and can be found easily in a Google search, so I won’t list them here. So far our favorite was the DB train museum in Nuremberg. Museums are also great options for the 75% of the year when it is cold and snowy/rainy.

  1. Water parks

I know what you’re thinking: “but Deb, it’s Germany. Sure water parks are great when it’s warm, but how often does THAT happen in Bavaria?” Well, hold on to your socks, because I’m about to knock them off. These are indoor water parks! Woah! Almost every big city has one. The one we go to in Nuremberg has huge water slides, a wave pool, kiddie play area, restaurant, lap pool and hot tubs. Plus it’s Bavaria so of course they serve beer. It’s a great way to get your kids’ energy out any Sunday of the year.

  1. Wölpiland

This is an awesome indoor playground in Neumarkt. Tons of inflatable bouncy houses, slides, a ball pit, and a coffee/snack station. Our 2-year old and 5-year old absolutely love this place.

  1. Playmobil FunParkPlaymobil_Funpark

You could spend all day at this place. It’s basically a collection of different themed playgrounds. There’s a dinosaur world, pirate world, Noah’s ark, and all kinds of other things. They also have an indoor playground and areas where kids can play with just about every Playmobil figure ever invented. There are a few restaurants on site and there is also a water spray park if you go when it is warm enough outside to use it.

  1. Wald Wipfel Weg

This place is great for young children! There is a 30-meter-high path to walk above the WaldWipfelWegBavarian Forest and see some great views, a nature trail, playground, rock wall, cave of optical illusions, llamas, kangaroos, alpacas, an upside down house and lovely restaurant and snack bar. Nearby are some places where you can take some slides down the mountains, which would be great for older kids. This place was also stroller friendly and affordable at only 7 Euros 50 cents for adults and free for kids under 7 (which all of ours are).

  1. Hiking

If you are short on cash just go for a walk! There are so many cool nature and historical sites to see in Bavaria! Enjoy the forest paths or take a hike up to some castle ruins.

Hopefully this short list keeps you busy for a while. Please feel free to share your ideas for a boring Sunday in Bavaria in the comments section below!