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Travelling with children

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Children and Germany are a good match. This is an orderly, safe country with an indulgent attitude towards youngsters. It is the land of familiar fairy tales, such as the Pied Piper of Hamlyn (Hameln), which revels in traditional folk festivals. Its hills are dotted with castles steeped in gory legends and there are plenty of activities – and theme parks – to entertain young thrill-seekers. Concession rates or free entry are standard practice, the main problem being that the definition of child for discounts varies enormously – you’re safe to assume under-12s count; under-16s often do; under-18s sometimes do.

Public transport provides discounts for children under 16, while the under-4s travel free of charge. Group rail tickets also provide good value. All major car rental companies can provide child seats on request for around €5 a day. Motorway service centres have baby-changing facilities.

All but luxury hotels are child-friendly. Most can rustle up a cot and many have family rooms with a double bed and two singles, or can provide an extra bed for a small charge. Larger hotels may allow children to go free, otherwise the standard discount is thirty percent. Farmstays are an option worth considering – endless space to romp around and often with activities such as cycling and riding included.

Cafés and standard restaurants are relaxed about kids and menus offer few challenges. High-end restaurants are a different matter, particularly in cities, and especially at dinner. High-end places in the country tend to be more relaxed but double-check. Baby-changing facilities are common in public toilets; discreet breast-feeding is acceptable in public.

Concessions are standard practice for sights, tours and travel passes – again, expect around 30–50 percent discount. The best science museums offer interactive exhibits and most large cities have a zoo; see zoo-infos.de for a full list.

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