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By guest writer and Bayern resident, Naomi Kaye Honova

How to Hike with Kids in Germany

These are the need-to-knows when going hiking with little ones.

One of the really special things about living in Bavaria is the fantastic access to hiking. Our family lives in Munich and even within an hour of the city limits, we’ve got mountains, lakes and forest trails all in easy access with public transport, bikes or the car. All over the region, you’ll find plenty of fantastic hiking opportunities, whether in the Allgau or near the Bayerischer Wald.

When you hike with babies and kids in tow, the hiking experience can look a little different from what you might previously be used to with adult-only hiking trips. This mini guide will lay out what to expect and prepare for when you’re planning your hiking excursion.

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The top tips

Tip #1: Set realistic expectations

Whether you’re hiking with a baby, a preschooler or a school-aged kid, hiking - especially through Bavaria - with little ones, you need to reset some of your “pre-kid” hiking goals and expectations.

If you’re used to a lot of free-rock climbing, tiny paths and suspension bridges, that might have to be crossed off the list if you’ve got a baby in a carrier. Or perhaps you’ve got a preschooler, you may have to stick to much shorter hikes than you’re used to as little legs get tired very quickly. Grade schoolers can often do much longer and challenging hikes if they’re used to hiking.

Pro tip: go hiking with other families who have kids of a similar age to yours, as they themselves will have a buddy and thus may do better in terms of complaining and motivation!

Tip #2: Be prepared

Gear: Sun protection is critical when you are hiking, especially in mountains like the Alps or along lake shores. Don’t forget sun hats, sunscreen and possibly UV-protection clothing.

Swimsuits are good to bring along if there’s a chance for a dip!

Bug spray, anti-itch cream and a tick kit are also important items for summer hikes. Bavaria has some of the highest rates of tick-borne diseases in Europe, so you may also want to consider the FSME vaccine for your child.

If you’re hiking during colder times of year, gear up (and even in summer), it’s not a bad idea to have some rain jacket or layers handy, and make sure to have proper footwear, kids and adults alike. Open-toed sandals or regular sneakers aren’t generally a good idea for hikes, unless you’re doing something like a flat stroll around a lake.

Snacks, food and enough water for everyone are critical. You definitely don’t want you or your kids getting dehydrated en route, and snacks can be a good motivator for kids, especially if you include a treat or two.

Pro tip: extras for babies and toddlers

Hiking backpacks are certainly an option and popular with many hiking families, as they store gear and many also provide sun protection with a canopy. They prop up standing on the ground, so it’s easy to stick a child in. The only drawbacks are that they are quite heavy, even the most lightweight of models, and can’t really be easily folded up and stored away for transit. Some families, like ours, prefer a regular soft carrier for either front or back carrying, while the other parent carries a backpack with gear. You’ll also need to pack diapers, wipes, some bags to dispose of them in (or a wet bag for cloth diapers), and any feeding supplies specific to your infant like bottles. If you’re formula feeding just consider that it will not likely be possible to warm the bottle en route, so either bring an insulated thermos with warm water along or perhaps opt for pre-made formula for the hike.

Pro tip: extras for older kids

Pack some fun accessories - your little ones might enjoy their own pair of binoculars for birdwatching, or a small magnifying glass to check out insects and plants.

Tip #3: Aim for food

A highlight of hiking with kids in Bavaria are the Almhutte, as they are ideal “destinations” on a hike. These huts are scattered throughout the Alps and pre-Alps, and nearly all of them offer some kind of food and drink, often made using locally-sourced ingredients. Many young children have been known to be motivated to go a bit further on a hike by the promise of a cold Apfelschorle or slice of homemade cake!

Pro tip: Some Almhutte offer overnight lodging, but these are very popular and need to be booked in advance.

Resources to help you find the best hikes

There are plenty of excellent resources for hiking with kids in Bavaria; many books have been written on the subject. Your local travel shop or bookstore in Germany will stock maps and travel guides as well or can order them in for you.

On social media sites like Facebook, you can connect with other hiking families, such as BergMamis and Wandern mit Kindern.

The DAV (Deutscher Alpenverein) is also a great resource for family hikes and it can make sense to become members of the organisation if you think you are and your family will be hiking and camping frequently around Bavaria.

Accessing hikes in Bavaria

You can get to trailheads around Bavaria either by taking a train or bus, driving to trailheads that have parking lots, or in some cases, biking to the trailhead (depending on your starting destination, or taking a bike on the train and then biking from the station).

Regional trains like the BRB tend to go to stops with good hike access points, but you’ll want to research beforehand. During the summer season, there are sometimes special hiking buses as well. If you’re driving, just clarify beforehand that there are places to park near the trailhead so you don’t find yourself wandering around with the kids for hours before you even can access the starting point. And just be prepared for traffic on the way back if it’s a beautiful day for hiking.

Pro tip: Especially exciting for kids are cable cars, such as those at Wendelstein or Wallberg.


Thank you so much for sharing, Naomi!

Naomi Kaye Honova is originally from the US, but has made Germany her home for the past decade with her husband and young children. Naomi has a background in writing, history, dance and social work and is passionate about travel, being in nature and delicious food and drink. She is a freelance writer and educator and lives in Bavaria.

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