Are you moving to Germany? Will you be stationed or TDY in Grafenwoehr or Vilseck? Then you will want to check out all the things to do in the surrounding area. Luckily we’ve made this comprehensive list!
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While living in Germany, it’s a great time to really explore what’s nearby. Grafenwoehr, and Vilseck, are located in Northern Bavaria, which means they are very close to all kinds of fantastic things to do with your favorite people like your kids and family and sometimes even your dog.
The towns also border the Czech Republic, which is so close that you can easily do day trips into our neighboring country. Many people think about going to Prague, but there are a few smaller cities that are worth a quick trip as well.
If you plan on doing lots of travel while you’re stationed here, check out these books you might be interested in:
Everyone is a little different when it comes to how far you can drive and do in one day. I’m one of those that loves to wake up early to get where I’m going, but many of these places are close enough that you can even start after lunch.
Planning-wise, a little goes a long way. You’ll find that the little villages, as well as larger cities, have plenty to offer. You can wander, find a quirky little museum, eat in a new restaurant, or walk some of the many thousands of trails that Germany maintains. So keeping the agenda loose and adding in little things you find along the way will just make the experience that much richer.
It’s also important to be completely flexible as well. One time I was heading to a city just to sightsee and on the way saw a sign for a medieval festival with jousting. We pulled over right away because we just had to go. We had a fantastic time but never did make it to our original destination. No big deal; we went another time!
Here are some travel tips to take into consideration:
If you want to enter a building, like a museum or castle, call ahead to make sure they are open.
Take snacks and water with you, so you don’t have to rely on stores or restaurants. Remember, German restaurants often close in the afternoon for a few hours before dinner service.
What to Expect in This Article
What we’ve done is listed the places and things you can do that are within a couple hours drive from Graf. Some would say you can go further than we mention in this article, say to Munich. However, we think Munich is better as a weekend trip, so that’s where we have put it, so you can take your time and really enjoy yourselves.
The map shows a radius of 150 kilometers, but as we know that could take anywhere from an hour and a half to much longer, depending on “staus” (traffic jams) or how large the road is or current weather.
These are all places we’ve been, so we’ve put in what we think is important to do, plus a great place to eat lunch. You can always eat cheaper or eat ethnic foods, but since we’re traveling around Germany, we always like to try the local fare and that’s what we recommend you do as well, unless you are social distancing. In that case, a good old picnic works everytime.
The list also links to full articles on the subject, so if one of the places strikes your fancy, click on the “Read More” to start planning your day trip.
On our list we have included three things to do across the border in Czechia, because hey, Czech is so close.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a must-visit destination in Germany for plenty of reasons. This quaint, medieval, walled city offers a unique blend of history and culture, which is best experienced by walking the Ramparts and visiting the Medieval Crime Museum.
Tourists can also experience a festive spirit when visiting the Kathe Wohlfahrt Store and Christmas Museum, or catch the intriguing Nightwatchman’s Tour. What's more, each season in Rothenburg presents distinctive charms, with a particularly whimsical atmosphere during winter when the enchanting Christmas market is held.
Why go? Rothenburg is the most charming and fun medieval town to visit. In summer, when the flower boxes are full, you can't get a prettier photo. Then again, in winter with the Christmas market, it's just magical.
Is it a good place to take the kids? Yes, this city is especially fun for kids with its ramparts you can walk, the quirky and fun museums, and some great food.
Drive from Graf: About 2 hours each way. There are some fantastic places to spend the night, but it's definitely doable as a day trip, especially if family is visiting.
Nuremberg is a city that effortlessly blends historical richness with modern vitality. In one day, you can explore a medieval Castle that stands as a testament to the city's ancient past and enjoy a charming Old Town.
The city promotes an active cultural scene, boasting museums like the Albrecht Durer House and the Nazi Documentation Center. Families can visit the Playmobil Fun Park for a fun day out and indulge in some hearty Franconian cuisine and world-famous gingerbread or lebkuchen.
Why go? Nuremberg has it all. It's got a great castle, great art, and another fantastic Christmas market. It's so close and so fun. You might find yourself going quite often.
Is it a good place to take the kids? Yes, all kids will enjoy the castle, festivals, and food. For the World War II places, older kids will really get a good look into Nazi Germany. It is quite the history lesson, an interesting one.
Located right outside of Nuremberg, Playmobil Fun Park offers an amazingly fun and immersive play experience for kids. There are so many different activities to choose from, both indoors and outdoors so weather is not really a factor.
You might even want to consider getting a family pass so you can visit again and again. All in all, Playmobil FunPark is the perfect place for families to have a blast without breaking the bank!
Why go? Playmobil is amazing! As a teacher, I couldn't believe all the outdoor thinking activities. You should definitely visit when it's warm enough to wear bathing suits and get wet. The kids will love it. However, when it gets cold, and the outside stuff closes down, you can still visit the big building which is always fun as well.
Is it a good place to take the kids? Yes, a million times yes! I can't wait to take more friends and family to the Playmobil park. I love it and so does everyone I take.
Drive from Graf: About 1 and 1/2 hours. Close enough to go often!
Regensburg, a World Heritage city nestled in Bavaria, is a must-visit for its rich history, distinctive culture, and exquisite cuisine. Its architecture and quaint Old Town is truly awe-inspiring. Cafés highlighting local fare, with warm, inviting outdoor seating add to the city's charm. The city's beauty is such that it ranks amongst Germany's most picturesque cities.
Why go? Regensburg is a quieter city, but it has an amazing cathedral and fantastic Christmas markets.
Is it a good place to take the kids? It's a great place to walk through the old town, and kids will love all the Christmas Markets!
Drive from Graf: Just a tad over 1 hour, well worth going for a walk downtown and having lunch.
Visiting Weltenburg Abbey offers a really fun day out. The key attraction is the Weltenburg Brewery, one of the oldest monastic breweries in the world, which hosts a vast beer garden for visitors to enjoy their centuries-old brews. The abbey is also home to a cathedral, museum, and shops.
One of the best parts of the visit is taking the breathtaking journey to Weltenburg via a boat cruise through the Danube gorge. It is a memorable experience in itself. A day to Weltenburg will find you enjoying a meal or merely sipping beer in the autumn sunshine. Either way, you will definitely enjoy the scenic beauty of the abbey and its surrounding area.
Why go? There's nothing better than a boat ride through some gorgeous scenery to end up at an abbey that serves amazing beer!
Is it a good place to take the kids? The kids will love the boat ride and wandering around the monastery. Unfortunately, they won't be able to try the beer, but the pretzels are always a hit!
Drive from Graf: 1.5 hours to Kehlheim to catch the boat.
Mespelbrunn Castle, while not one of Germany's largest, is a charming day trip. Its whimsical tower, attributed to being the inspiration for the fairy tale Rapunzel is one of the main reasons to visit, and then you can take a tour within its inside learning all about the stories of the family and a bit about general German history.
The castle premises offer stunning photographic opportunities, from its beautiful architecture to the serene chapel on a hill. The castle's location makes it an excellent pit-stop, wedged effortlessly between larger attractions and World Heritage sites along Autobahn 3.
Why go? Often called Rapunzel's castle, Mespelbrunn is a real fairy tale.
Is it a good place to take the kids? Yes, for sure! This is a small site, easily walkable and fun. For the tour, the adults might want to leave the kids outside. It can get a little long on the ears.
Drive from Graf: This is quite a drive for one day- 3 hours, but if you're up to it, it's worth it. You can also combine it with Wurzburg or Frankfurt and make a weekend out of it.
Situated in the gorgeous city of Würzburg, the Residenz, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is known for its gardens, baroque Hofkirche, and enchanting frescoes by the Venetian artist Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.
Highlights include the vestibule, large enough for horse-drawn carriages, and the staircase ceiling fresco depicting the known continents, with Tiepolo's signature hidden in a corner. A trip to this palace is definitely worth visiting for its rich history.
Why go? Wurzburg is a UNESCO world heritage city. The Residence is a breath-taking palace, and when you are done with it, you can visit the castle and go downtown. It's all great! It's also got a great Christmas market.
Is it a good place to take the kids? The castle, Old Town, Roman Bridge, there's so much the kids will like. If they like artsy museums I'd take them to the Residenz as well, but if not...just skip it.
Visiting the Kuchlbauer Tower is an unreal but totally fun experience. The tour of this combination of brewery and art museum is led by cutesy and Disney-esque dwarves. It takes you through the whole brewing process and of course, drops you at the end right in the beer garden where you can imbibe and eat to your heart's content.
The tower itself was designed by the renowned artist and ecologist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. It is nothing short of a visual feast for your eyes. The use of vibrant colors, curved lines, and bold architectural features is constructed with natural elements.
The tower's playful, unconventional design has the power to evoke joy and curiosity. This one-of-a-kind brewery tour in Abensberg, easily accessible from Munich, is a must-visit destination for lovers of art, beer, and unique architectural experiences.
Why go? If you like quirky and non-traditional things...you are going to love the Kuchlbauer Tower, its creator - Friedrich Hundertwasser and his art, and some really good beer.
Is it a good place to take the kids? The kids will love the tower, and looking at the quirky art. The beer garden gives them an opportunity for some good food and still be able to run around freely. I think they will enjoy it. We took three small children and they loved it.
Flossenburg Concentration Camp, visited anytime, but especially on a cold, wintry day, provides a deeply moving and memorable experience. The well-maintained site, freely open for exploration, is hauntingly informative and educational. A great place to learn more about World War II in Germany.
Key areas include the administrative center, parade grounds, Jewish memorial, church, guard towers, and crematorium.
Why go? Flossenburg is a lesson into World War II's history as a concentration camp that makes you feel a bit somber, but you will leave having learned a lot so its worth it. To clear your mind, afterward, you can also take a short hike around the old castle ruins.
Is it a good place to take the kids? Older kids only, I would say. Smaller kids won't understand it, and there's a lot of learning to do.
Modlareuth, a town once divided in half by the fallout of World War II, is a relatively unknown site that is a great day trip. Its transformation from a split community, marked by a concrete wall, to a place of remembrance, is educational and even fun.
A key event was the wall's fall in 1989. Today, Modlareuth houses an open-air museum, the Deutsche-Deutsches Museum. Visitors can explore Cold War artifacts, deadly barriers, and escape strategies, as well as a collection of vehicles from the era.
Why go? When you go to Moedlareuth, you are really seeing a smaller version of the Berlin wall. Here, one town was split apart for years. Brother on one side of the fence separated from the other. It's a fascinating place to walk around for an hour or two. Take anyone who is even a teensy bit a history buff.
Is it a good place to take the kids? This is a small town and museum. I think kids would enjoy it.
An expedition to the Luisenburg Rock Labyrinth is a outdoor journey back in time, tracing a path through geological history while simultaneously offering a fun, energetic outdoor activity.
This approximately 1.5-hour hike, which can be extended into a full-day excursion, presents a breathtaking view from the highest point and a return via the red trail that showcases towering rock formations.
Why go? Talk about quirky! This garden and short hike is a gorgeous way to get outdoors and just have a good afternoon. The rocks and foliage are beautiful, and it's great for taking photos.
Is it a good place to take the kids? Absolutely! This park is a great hike, but there are so many rocks to climb and and little cracks and passageways to explore. They'll want to go back again and again.
Open-air museums in Germany offer an engaging, educational, and fun learning experience for families with children of all ages. They host interactive demonstrations and affordable classes that transport you back in time, giving you a taste of life in the country's past. The museums cater to young families with amenities like wagons for easy transportation, and spaces for picnics and play.
Why go? German open air museums are superbly done. Most of them hold demonstrations on weekends showing how things were done in the past; like how to make candles or bread. It's a great way to get the kids outside and moving and enjoying the German countryside.
Karlovy Vary is a serene town in the Czech Republic known for its healing hot springs. Visitors drink these warm waters, rich in minerals, known to alleviate a variety of chronic ailments. This charming town, with its quiet paths, spa hotels, and excellent cuisine, is a great place to visit for a day or even overnight.
Why go? Karlovy Vary is a town that kings and queens have visited. It is famous for its healing waters. We tried them, but even if you don't want to try the mineral waters, it's a gorgeous town with fantastic restaurants and plenty of spas.
Is it a good place to take the kids? I think of Karlovy Vary as more of an escape without the kids. Taking the waters is a unique and different experience to say the least. The town is known for its spa hotels, the most famous being the Grandhotel Pupp. Trust me, for this trip, make it a romantic getaway with your loved one or a girl's trip. No kids allowed.
The Pilsener Urquell Brewery tour offers a comprehensive and fun journey through the brewing process. Visitors can explore the museum, the bottling plant, and even climb down into the historic caves. As part of the tour, guests have the unique opportunity to sample a special, unfiltered pilsner brewed exclusively for the tour and served straight from wooden casks. Additionally, the onsite restaurant offers delicious meals paired with the brewery's beers.
Why go? Pilsen is a great little Czech city with a zoo, some museums, and our favorite the Pilsen Beer Factory. Take the tour!
Is it a good place to take the kids? The kids will love the zoo, but the brewery tour might not be right for them.
Czech Beer spas are a unique and refreshing experience, combining traditional spa practices with the flavors of Czech brewing. If you love beer or great baths, visiting a beer bath hould definitely be your bucket list when visiting the country.
Why go? It doesn't take long after arriving in Graf that you start to hear about the beer baths. Our favorite one is in Pilsen, and we've gone plenty of times. We love it!
Is it a good place to take the kids? Again, leave the kids at home. This one is for adults only!
Drive from Graf: Just under 2 hours.
Traveling around Bavaria and Czechia is a blast. There are so many castles, animal parks, outdoor museums, and quaint dorfs and villages, that you can easily keep busy for the next three or more years! Enjoy.
Author Bio:Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.