Munich and Berlin might be in the limelight with their vibrant nightlife and exciting culture, yet Hannover is a much better choice for a family trip with children. This leafy city, with its unhurried pace of life and uncrowded streets, is a safe and peaceful destination complete with child-friendly attractions and festivals. Other draws such as attractively priced modern accommodation, beautiful green spaces and excellent public transport make Hannover a great bet for your family stay.
The city is extremely easy to explore on your own. Tourists can simply follow the Red Thread, a four-kilometre line painted on the ground that connects all the major attractions throughout Hannover. Before you start touring well over 30 venues, however, you might want to single out a few that would be a suitable choice for a day out with your children. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Germany is well known for its fairytale castles and Hannover makes no exception. Situated a mere 12 miles outside the city, Marienburg was the last castle built by a Hanoverian king. Your children will be delighted by the castle. At once majestic with its mighty turrets and elegant with its beautifully decorated 140 halls, it offers plenty of space for your boys and girls to make believe they are knights and princesses.
While they play you can admire the numerous works of art and historical objects, and hear the romantic story of King George who had the castle constructed for and named after his beloved wife Marie. All year round the castle holds indoor and outdoor concerts and theatre shows for adults and children, so plan your visit ahead and you can catch a performance.
Hannover Adventure Zoo
A visit to the Hannover Zoo is a delightful experience for the whole family. A stroll around the zoo takes you through different landscapes and terrains – African groves filled with flamingos, waterfalls cascading down rocks by which big cats bask in the sun, the ruins of an Asian temple roamed by a herd of elephants.
Your family is transported to all exotic corners of the world. There are lots of activities for children but one of the highlights is a boat tour on the Zambezi. As your boat glides on the river past banks overgrown with exotic vegetation and dotted with grazing giraffes, you begin to feel as if you are truly in Africa.
On a sunny day, nothing feels better than spending time in the outdoors and looking at your kids romp about in the grass. The Herrenhausen gardens are one of Hannover’s most loved green spaces, equally popular among locals and visitors
There is a tremendous range of outdoor activities to enjoy in the gardens. In the Great Garden, laid out in an ornate Baroque style by queen Sophie, you can play hide and seek with your kids among beautiful statues, fountains, tunnels of greenery and fantastically shaped hedgehogs.
Pop into the colourful Mountain Garden, a rich botanical garden where you can admire exotic plants and a world-famous collection of orchids. You can play sports or spread a picnic blanket in the George Garden, which is a more traditional park with ponds, paths and lawns perfect for outdoor games. Don’t miss the great fountain with its water spray that reaches a height of 70 meters, a sight that will impress your entire family.
Later if you want to add an educational edge to the day pop into the rebuilt Herrenhausen palace that currently houses a history museum. Throughout the year the gardens host numerous events and fireworks competitions. The one that is a truly family-friendly event is the Small Festival in the Great Garden in July. It features music, dance, acrobatics and lots of performances by clowns.
Sea Life Aquarium
On the premises of the Herrenhausen gardens, you will find one of the best attractions for a day out with your children – the Sea Life Centre in Hannover. Several thousand marine animals from more than 150 species swim in the water tanks and aquariums – from tiny, elegant seahorses to giant sharks.
At Sea Life, you can admire the underwater animals but also teach your kids about their habitats and conservation. This is a great place to learn many curious facts, such as why sharks are harmless to humans or how octopuses decorate their abodes.
Rubber Duck Race
Thousands of rubber ducks float down the river Leine every July in what appears to be the quirkiest event in Germany. The river turns yellow with floating rubber ducks, while the men waiting in the water for the first three champions to cross the line make it all look like a rather serious affair, no less important than the Olympics.
If your kids want to take part in the race, you can buy numbered rubber ducks for only a couple of euros each on the very day of the race. Then watch them get thrown into the river from a giant net and wait with bated breath until the finish line is crossed.