Family Travel Forum explores Germany by foot and wheel, taking the slow road to introduce children to this fascinating country.
Many families find the slow pace and engaging nature of hiking and biking journeys to be the most rewarding way to enjoy our planet… in addition to being the most economical! Mix Europe's stunning scenery with a new culture, wonderful cuisine, eons of history and the majesty of the Alps, and you'll understand why France, Switzerland, Germany, Italy and farther afield, Great Britain and the Czech Republic, are some top destinations for active on-the-ground vacations with all ages.
Wanderen is as native to the German psyche as wurst is to the palate, so it's no wonder that the rest of Europe has discovered where Germans have gone walking for years. Let's look at some ideas for touring Germany on-the-slow with kids.
The Black Forest, or Schwarzwald, is an ideal biking, hiking and even horseback-riding destination. With most tourist services centered in Feldberg, the region's highest ski area at 4,900 feet, families will find miles of forest trails, boating lakes, golf, hot air ballooning and other activities.
Three other towns on popular lakes — Hinterzarten, Schluchsee and Titisee-Neustadt — have joined it to promote themselves as the 'Beautiful Four.'
Families traveling from Switzerland or Austria will want to pause at Lake Constance. Here, in just two hours, you can cruise into all three countries and enjoy the alpine scenery.
Theofficial Germany website (49 (0)6975-1903) will provide you with the names of local B&Bs, traditional chalets, and guesthouses where rates start at $50/N in the busy August-September season.
During the summer, family hikers are able to walk from inn to inn with day packs only, courtesy of a local program which provides luggage transfers, rooms and breakfast.
For a very good value, consider buying the Schwarzwald Card, a sightseeing discount card which admits you to the Europa-Park theme park in Rust, the Hermann Hesse Museum and several locals spas and baths; priced at 90 euros for a family of 5, this is a steal. Contact the German National Tourist Office (212/661-7200) in NY, or visit www.schwarzwald-tourist-info.de for more resources.
Of the escorted tours, Butterfield & Robinson (866/551-9090; 416/864-1354) is a well known firm which offers a variety of very high-end, pure luxe, skillfully guided biking and walking tours. Families with children age 10+ can join B&R this summer in the Czech Republic and Austria, Switzerland or France. Toddlers age 3+ are welcomed on walks through the Italian Dolomites or on bike rides through Ireland.
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