Germany or Italy with Kids?

Old Feb 14th, 2020, 07:55 AM
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Germany or Italy with Kids?

Hi all! I'm in the very early stages of planning our next family trip for this November (Thanksgiving week). We're trying to decide between Germany (Munich and Bavaria) Italy (Rome and either Florence or Venice).

We will be traveling with our three kids, who will be 9, nearly 7, and 2.5 at the time. Last year we went to London and Paris over spring break, and it was such a hit that my older two have repeatedly chosen another European trip over Disney when asked (quite a feat because they LOVE Disney).

My older two love history, and are good sports in museums. In fact, my kindergartener still talks about seeing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. They also don't mind walking (and walking, and walking), which is a bonus. A good bakery helps keep them on side, too 😉.

Not sure if this is relevant, but we would fly from Toronto and have approximately 10 days, not including travel.
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Given all that, I'm turning to the experts. Where would you choose between the two destinations?

Last edited by Danielle811; Feb 14th, 2020 at 08:52 AM.
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 08:40 AM
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Based on the brief description of your kids, I would pick Rome and Venice. The order would depend on your flight options. Venice would probably involve a connection, and a flight departing from Venice could be painfully early in the morning, so you might want to put it first.
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 10:03 AM
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Christmas markets may be open throughout Bavaria over your visit if that could sway your decision. And with the markets comes plenty of Kinderpünsch (nonalcoholic punch) and museums for the little ones to beat the cold, along with all the other great Christmas market foods. Salzburg (the cable car to Untersberg could wow) and Innsbruck (the Tirolean Zoo on top of the mountain might be a hit) can be a day trip from Munich, too.

For Italy, I would visit Rome and Florence. With a toddler in Venice you'll have to keep one on them constantly because of the canals, and there are lots and lots of steps to climb up and down. Plus, Venice is like Vienna to me: they're both fabulous places to visit, just not with young children.
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 11:40 AM
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Both are amazing. I’d say Italy gets my vote just because of weather. I went to Central Europe last November. I don’t think it’s a great time to take kids, and I’d save Bavaria for summer time. And I love the Christmas stuff.

Rome would be great with kids. ’m torn on the others. Maybe Florence. My vote would be Venice if it weren’t for the youngest. I don’t think I’d enjoy taking a toddler there.

have the older ones studied Pompeii in school? I was fascinated with it as a kid, so Naples might be an option.
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 12:08 PM
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We have always traveled with our kids, so it is nice to see another family do the same thing. We have been to all the locations you mention.

Ours were 5 and 8 when we went to Rome, Florence and Venice. Great ages for this, but a 2.5 yr old, depending on the child of course, may be more difficult in Venice for the reasons already mentioned above. Germany would be great for the Christmas markets.

Being from Toronto, the weather in Germany shouldn't bother you at all.

If I were you, I would have to do a coin toss to decide, seriously. Either option would be wonderful, IMO/IME.
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 02:01 PM
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Since they like cities, Rome seems like a great fit.
Throwing out another idea though. Have you considered Barcelona? I am looking for a first trip to Europe for our 10 year old GD and I think we have settled on Barcelona. The Netherlands and Belgium is also absolutely wonderful for kids, but nicer in Spring and Summer.
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 03:38 PM
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If you go to Germany you might consider making a stop at Legoland Deutschland, which is at Günzburg near Ulm, or Europa Park, which is in the Black Forest. Our daughter went to Legoland in Potsdamer Platz (Berlin) as a little girl and loved it. However, that one is indoors and is opened year round. These others depend a little on the time of year you are there, because Legoland Deutschland is only open till Nov 8, and Europa Park's summer season is only open till Nov 8 but the winter season opens Nov 28.

Christmas markets generally open in the last week of November (and even different markets in the one city start at different dates, so do your homework), so I think you might just get there for the beginning of the markets. A marvellous experience for everyone - don't miss the giant gingerbread hearts, the hot sugared almonds, the Glühwein or the amaretto hot chocolate (for the grown-ups ), the Nutella crepes. There are also usually rides for the kids and nativity scenes. Nuremberg is an enormous market which is very famous and would fit into your scope, but every city has at least one market, while big places like Munich have half a dozen.

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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 04:48 PM
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Another vote for Italy. We gave our grandkids three choices for a family reunion trip to Europe. Italy was the unanimous choice.
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 04:49 PM
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Thank you all! We've been leaning towards Italy, but the issue of Venice and a toddler is giving me pause. She spent most of our last trip strapped in an Ergo carrier, but not sure she'll be quite as willing by November.

I thought we would be slightly early for Christmas markets. If that's an option, that may sway my preference!

​I'm happy we're on the right track! Now to make some decisions, ha!
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 07:59 PM
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German Christmas markets open around the Advent. The Advent is the weekend after the US Thanksgiving this year. But if you are coming from Toronto, do I presume when you say "Thanksgiving," you are referring to the Canadian Thanksgiving which is October 12 this year? If this is the case, yes, it is too early. Googling "German Christmas Market opening dates" shows November 25 as the known early start date this year.
I have visited Italy around that time. It is a good time to avoid the crowd.
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Old Feb 14th, 2020, 11:05 PM
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The OP did say November in her initial post, but worth clarifying!

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Old Feb 15th, 2020, 03:03 AM
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Originally Posted by greg View Post
German Christmas markets open around the Advent. The Advent is the weekend after the US Thanksgiving this year. But if you are coming from Toronto, do I presume when you say "Thanksgiving," you are referring to the Canadian Thanksgiving which is October 12 this year? If this is the case, yes, it is too early. Googling "German Christmas Market opening dates" shows November 25 as the known early start date this year.
I have visited Italy around that time. It is a good time to avoid the crowd.
We will be traveling the week of American Thanksgiving. We're from Western NY, but Toronto tends to be the easiest (and cheapest) airport for international travel. Thank you, though, for clarifying!
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Old Feb 15th, 2020, 08:30 AM
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For a few days, I don't think it's too difficult to keep an eye on a toddler in Venice. It would help to have a lightweight stroller that you can carry, child and all, over the bridges, which are not very large bridges. I think your older children would really be bowled over by Venice. The weather can be a bit damp in November, so I wouldn't plan on staying very long there. Rome is also a great place to bring children, and November is a good time to visit, because the crowds will be thinned out. We go to Rome with my granddaughter nearly every year, and have been doing so since she was 1 1/2. She loves Rome. Her favorite museum is Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, one of the four sites of the National Roman Museum. It has a lot of classical statues, and she likes ancient mythology. It also has a lot of ancient Roman household objects, and even a mummy of a little girl buried in Rome, with her doll, in Egyptian fashion. (Maybe the family had recently immigrated. The rest of them were buried Roman style in the family tomb.)

There are lots of interesting museums in Rome, and my granddaughter has enjoyed all of them. At the Vatican Museums, she really enjoyed the Egyptian Collection (mythology again) more than the Sistine Chapel.

Italians really love children. It's the most child-friendly nation I've ever seen. Any restaurant will be happy to prepare a special meal for a toddler or baby.
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Old Feb 15th, 2020, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by bvlenci View Post
For a few days, I don't think it's too difficult to keep an eye on a toddler in Venice. It would help to have a lightweight stroller that you can carry, child and all, over the bridges, which are not very large bridges.
Thank you for this perspective! Venice is near the top of my husband's list, and when I was relaying some of the concerns from earlier in the thread, he was pretty disappointed. It's good to know it would be doable, even with a stroller.
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Old Feb 15th, 2020, 01:40 PM
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Those stairs in Venice aren't very high and some of the busier bridges have ramps. So not so much to worry about.

I love Venice. See it before it sinks.




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Old Feb 15th, 2020, 02:09 PM
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I visited Venice twice with babies in a stroller. Getting up and over the bridges and avoiding the canals wasn't a picnic, but it wasn't any harder than trying to cross the street in Rome.
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Old Feb 15th, 2020, 03:02 PM
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Venice's Rialto Bridge has about 55 steps on each side. 😁
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Old Feb 16th, 2020, 02:10 AM
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Originally Posted by SusanP View Post
Venice's Rialto Bridge has about 55 steps on each side. 😁
I've never crossed the Rialto Bridge, and don't see any requirement to do so. You can tell everyone you saw it without crossing it.
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Old Feb 16th, 2020, 02:30 AM
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<<Venice's Rialto Bridge has about 55 steps on each side. 😁>>

And most days all 110 of them are occupied by tourists with selfie sticks. You can just take another bridge.
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Old Feb 16th, 2020, 08:25 AM
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You're right, of course. Just pointing out that not ALL bridges only have a few steps. 😀
I stayed on the San Marco side of the bridge and found myself crossing the Rialto a couple of times to reach a restaurant that I really liked.
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