Guest Post by Our Family Passport: The Best Things to do in Munich in 5 Days

I have loved connecting with other traveling families via blogging and Instagram. One of the most inspirational families I’ve come across is the Smith Family from Our Family Passport. They are a multi-generational family that travels together all over the world. I just love how they make it a priority to travel together. They know a lot about keeping many different personalities and ages happy and fulfilled through their adventures. Enjoy reading below about their favorite things to do in Munich!

After first arriving in Munich or München as the Germans say (Beckham loved to try and say “München”) we immediately knew we were going to love it! It quickly turned into a favorite family European destination, and we know we will have to get back to Bavaria soon! While most people think of Munich and “Oktoberfest” as synonymous, we found it to be extremely family-friendly and we had a wonderful time participating in all of the family-oriented activities  Munich has to offer. To help with your Munich vacation planning, we put together our family-friendly itinerary for our favorite things to do in Munich in 5 days!

The Best Things to do in Munich in 5 Days

DAY 1 – ALSTADT, VIKTUALIENMARKET, MARIENPLATZ, AND THE BEST GERMAN PRETZELS 

We had a wonderful private tour by Big Hat Tours of the Altstadt (Old Town). This is a great way to get a layout and overview of the city. The starting point should be the top of the Oberammergau street and end at the super adorable and picturesque Viktualienmarkt for some Bavarian treats. On the first day of your trip, we suggest taking your time and enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of the old town. To us, it is a fairytale and there is something adorable and charming on every corner.

Our Old Town Munich Walking Tour Recommendations:

Marienplatz

Munich’s Neo-Gothic Square is home to the famous Glockenspiel. This square is DARLING! It was partially rebuilt and reconstructed after the bombing in WWII which explains the new architecture adjacent to the old. However, today this visual history adds to the charm and allure of this square. There are often street musicians and a crowd of people eager to see the clock built in 1908 chime and retell a Bavarian story at 11:00 AM and 5:00 PM every day. Honestly, the only person who was impressed by the chiming of the Glockenspiel was the 4-year-old (he thought it was the coolest haha). It may be overrated, but we think it is worth doing one time.

Frauenkirche

This cathedral is impressive in scale and the little onion-shaped domes can be seen from various points in the city. It isn’t our most favorite interior. However, the panorama from the top of the towers is fabulous! On a clear day, there is a beautiful view of the Bavarian Alps.

Hofbrauhaus

This is the beer house of all beer houses-and this is coming from people who don’t drink beer! HAHA. Historically it is steeped in importance and infamy. Vladimir Lenin was once a regular and this is where some of the first National German Workers Party (Nazi) meetings were held. Today it teems with tourists and locals alike. When you go, don’t forget to sneak back to see the lockers where the locals can clean, and lock up their own unique beer mugs. It is a classic!

Viktualienmarkt

Okay, CUTEST STREET MARKET EVER! Like, ever! And guys, the food here. Think fresh pesto, divine cheeses, and soft pretzels the size of your face. We could have wandered this market endlessly. Make sure to try the Baerlauch Pesto and don’t forget to stop at Karnoll’s Back Und Kaffeestandl and have one of their pretzels. We were told by several people that these were the best pretzels in Munich and we were not disappointed! Go early, they often sell out later in the day.

 

best pretzel in Munich

Other fantastic places to see in the Altstadt

  • Asam Church
  • Saint Peters
  • Ohel Jakob Synagogue

DAY 2 – NEUE PINAKOTHEK AND DACHAU 

This is a mood swing of a day here, but no matter what you do, Dachau is going to be heavy. So we suggest pairing the horrific remnants of the Nazi’s first concentration camp with a morning of pleasant easy going viewing of world-class 19th-century art.

Neue Pinakothek (New Picture Gallery)

Out of all of the museums in Munich, this was our favorite! If you are going to go to any museum in Munich, in our opinion, this is the best. While we enjoyed the Alte Pinakothek (Old Picture Gallery) I thought the overall works in Neue were superior. However, the Dürers in the Alte are out of this world! But, if you only have time for one museum, we would suggest the Neue.

In the Neue, there are some fantastic works by van Gogh, Degas, Turner, and a lovely gallery upstairs that was empty. We took our time and went through the whole museum.  It is definitely worth a visit!

*Note that the layout of the museum is a little confusing. It is almost organized by rectangles within rectangles. If you are not sure where you are going, ask a docent or a museum employee. In our experience, they were all very helpful and accommodating.

* Also, in almost all of the museums in Munich you have to check your bags and some of the bag checks require several euros in coins.

Dachau

There is so much information about visiting Dachau that we decided to write about it in a separate post. We cover the best way to see it, our reactions, and answer the question if you should/could take young children to Dachau. See our Parents Guide to Dachau here

DAY 3 – DAY TRIP TO THE ROMANTIC ROAD

Rothenburg de Tauber and Dinkelsbuhl

Day trip to the Romantic Road with stops at Rothenburg de Tauber and Dinkelsbuhl. You could go to the Harburg Castle as it is an easy stop combined with the two, but we would suggest skipping Harburg Castle altogether and spending more time in Rothenburg and Dinkelsbuhl.  These are two of the cutest, fairytale German towns! While both are touristy, if you get off into the back roads there are some amazing shops and sights.  I don’t think two villages could be any more picturesque. Allow time to stroll, get a snack, and enjoy the charms.

DAY 4 – NYMPHENBURG PALACE, MUNICH RESIDENZ, AND THE ODEONSPLATZ

Nymphenburg Palace

Nymphenburg Palace is a really quick taxi ride out of the main city center of Munich and it is splendid and grand. It is a great place to be able to get some background on the Bavarian kings and the history of Munich. We had read that spending a whole day there was a must and while we thought it was super cool, we were ready to leave before lunch.

Our favorite things about the palace were exploring the riding stables (this requires an additional ticket – and it is SO worth the couple extra euros), the palace grounds and gardens, the main ballroom, and the delivery room of the “mad” King Ludwig II.  You can also pay extra to visit the Porcelain Museum, but in our opinion, it was a snoozer. If we could do it again we would bypass it.

Interior of Nymphenburg Palace, one of the many things to see in Munich

Munich Residenz

Okay, so the Munich Residenz is SERIOUSLY cool but be prepared for opulent overload. Like almost on the level of Versailles, overload. We honestly didn’t have many expectations for this (I am not sure why) but totally ended up thinking it was so awesome.

This palace is the largest palace in Germany and it makes the interior of Nymphenburg Palace look … eh. Expect some crowds but once you get through the coat check and ticket area the crowds seem to thin a little. About halfway through the palace, you will have an option to take the long way through the palace or the short way. We chose the short way and still spent over 2 hours visiting the complex. So, if you have a little one with you when visiting the Residenz bring plenty of snacks and point out all of the cool details. There is a whole room made out of seashells, unexpected hidden pathways and tunnels, and some cool swords.

Munich Residenz Extras

Like Nymphenburg, you can pay extra to see additional things at the Residenz. In our opinion the additions of the Opera House and Wittelsbach Crown Jewels should not to be missed. The crown jewels are housed right in the palace and you can walk two seconds from the crown jewels to the beginning of the palace tour. To visit the Opera House you must walk about 5 minutes to it’s location in the palace complex. When we visited, there was NOBODY there!  We had the whole theater to ourselves and it was exceptionally lovely.

interior shot of the Munich Opera House

THE WITTELSBACH CROWN JEWELS

We thought the crown jewels here were more impressive than … are you ready for this… the British Crown Jewels. The diamonds weren’t actually bigger but the collection on display was really impressive and some of the pieces dated back nearly a thousand years. I usually hate audio guides but the audio guide for the crown jewels was wonderful and even Beckham loved it.

Odeonsplatz and Surrounding Area

Just a couple of steps away from the entrance to the palace is the gorgeous and picturesque Odeonsplatz square which houses the exceptional Feldherrnhalle (Field Marshall’s Hall) and the famous lions of Munich.  What was so gripping about this square was that while we were in Berlin we visited the Topography of Terror Museum and they had a huge image of a massive Nazi rally right on the Feldherrnhalle and today it is a peaceful and charming area where children and other tourists rub the feet of the lions and snap selfies.

For me, it was a strange dichotomy to see what a span of 70 years can do. This is so cheesy, but I found myself wishing that I could listen to the stories that those lions have to tell.

This area was one of my favorites in Munich. I could have wandered the streets for hours and thought the pastel facades of the buildings and the view of the onion domes of the Frauenkirche in the background made for a perfect evening.

Image of a mom and child in odeonsplatz to show best things to do in Munich

DAY 5 – NEUSCHWANSTEIN AND THE BAVARIAN ALPS

The Bavarian Alps and Neuschwanstein

By far, and I mean BY FAR, our favorite thing was visiting the Bavarian Alps! I don’t think it gets more stunning than the exterior of Neuschwanstein juxtaposed with the background of the alps, tall pines, alpine lakes and foggy clouds. This was a place that we had been dreaming about for a decade, and it totally measured up to our expectations. Even the drive there was so beautiful!  Be ready for the crowds and be prepared to fight your way onto the bridge to snap some good photos. Trust us, it’s worth it.

neuschwanstein castle in the fall foliage to show best things to do in Munich

Neuschwanstein Interior

However, that being said don’t expect too much from the interior. It is largely unfinished and the areas that are finished are strange and feel inauthentic. We anticipated it being totally over the top and kitschy, and that was exactly what it was. But, it gives a fantastic glimpse into poor Ludwig II’s life and some of the best views are from the inside of the actual castle.

TIPS FOR VISITING NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE
  • Expect crowds, just do.
  • There is a driver that comes to the base of the hill and will take you to the top for 2 euros p/person. Do it.
  • Have a ticket beforehand. If you miss your ticket time, you are out of luck.
  • Allow at least an hour before and after the tour of the castle to wander around and view the castle from different vantage points.
  • Go to the bridge adjacent from the castle – OUT OF THIS WORLD beautiful!
  • Following the conclusion of the tour, walk down to the cafeteria and go out to the balcony and you will get a stunning view of Hohenschwangau castle and the Alpsee and Swansea lakes. Most people don’t even know you can go out on the balcony and get pictures.

Other things near Neuschwanstein that should not be missed

  • Linderhof Palace (absolutely beautiful) and the grounds are SO much fun! Beckham could have played here for ages.
  • Oberammergau village
  • Hohenschwangau Castle
  • If warm weather permits visit either the Alpsee or Swansea lake

MUNICH FOR KIDS-BECKHAM’S FAVORITE EXPERIENCES 

Our little man LOVED Germany! We found it to be so kid friendly and there were so many things that captured his imagination and attention.

  • Visiting the toy shops in Rottenburg de Tauber
  • Feeding the ducks and swans at Nymphenburg Palace
  • Running and playing on the grounds of Linderhof Palace
  • Throwing sticks off the bridge at Neuschwanstein (Dude was obsessed!)
  • Rubbing the feet of the huge lions at Odeonsplatz square
  • Eating pretzels and feeding the birds at Viktualienmarkt
  • Listening to the performers at Hofbrauhaus
  • Waiting for and watching the Glockenspiel

Back shot of Nymphenburg Palace and Gardens to show a place for little kids to play

OUR MUNICH RECOMMENDATIONS

Where to Stay In Munich

We stayed at the Charles Hotel and it was family friendly, ideally located, and had wonderful amenities. It was perfect for us and our little horde. The restaurant there is also fabulous as is the indoor swimming pool and spa area.

Our Favorite Schnitzel in Munich (as recommended by Big Hat Tours)

Schnitzel, oh how I need you in my life!! The turkey schnitzel salad at Opatija is what dreams are made of. This place deserves a visit .. or two .. or three haha.

Where We Ate the Most While in Munich

Aside from the yummy restaurant at the Charles Hotel, we ate several times at L’Osteria near Karls Gate and Karlsplatz. It was Italian and I know eating Italian food in Germany seems pretty stupid, and maybe it was, but we had a little man who was dying for pizza and the food was delicious. It is also really well priced. My recommendation would be the carbonara pasta and the turkey caesar salad.

How to Get Around

We used public transportation with one of our guides and it was clean and efficient. Our German is less than stellar however and the instructions in English are almost nonexistent, so we also used taxis and found them to be reasonably priced and super easy to use. We downloaded the MyTaxi app on our phones and scheduled taxis from our phones. So easy and user-friendly!

OVERALL

Needless to say, we LOVE München and can’t wait to get back!

Don’t forget to pin this and visit Our Family Passport for the full post and more destinations!

 

Guest Post by Our Family Passport-2

 

A Little About Our Family Passport:
“We are an average family living in a crazy busy world, trying to juggle work, school, and family responsibilities. As a multi-generational family, we are always growing and changing. We have found that traveling all together with our family of 10 from the Grandparents on down to the little Grandbaby, provides a “time-out” where we can reconnect with the ones we love the most without daily interruptions or distractions. We have been to 6 continents and over 45 countries together! Our family adventures are tremendously educational and most of all, fun! It is our goal to encourage other families to take a “time out” together and go explore our amazing world!!!”
You can find them and their travel itineraries, tips, and hacks on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and of course their blog www.ourfamilypassport.com!

our-family-passport

 

Zagreb

When you find yourself dreaming of a Croatian vacation, Zagreb probably isn’t the top of your list. While it is the capital city, it is inland and removed from the beautiful beaches and islands Croatia has become known for. We found ourselves with a couple days in Zagreb during our long road trip through the Balkans. It is just a couple hours drive from Ljubljana, our first stop on our trip. Here are our favorite things to do in Zagreb!

Ride the Funicular to St. Mark’s Church

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Look at that roof!

When in Europe, there is no shortage of amazing churches. After a while, many of them can run together. But this church will stand out in your memory for its gorgeously tiled roof! The bright colors and interesting design make this church very unique-it has a look all its own. Unfortunately we were unable to tour the inside because there was an event being set up. But the outside alone is worth the trip uphill. You can walk if you want the exercise or for under $1, you can take the world’s shortest funicular ride up the hill. 

If you still want to see some more churches, check out the Cathedral of Zagreb which has a fascinating history and is still under repairs and restoration. 

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Zagreb Cathedral still under reparations.

Ivana Tkalcica

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Colorful buildings and people watching!

This street is full of charm and life. The colorful buildings and cobblestoned street are lined with bars, restaurants, and shops. This is a great place to pick up a souvenir or grab some ice cream on a hot day. We even found a little playground with the cathedral peeking out behind it. This little strip is the perfect place to sit and people watch, many of the cafes have their chairs all facing the street. You can find all different kinds of food-everything from burgers to Indian food!

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Playground with a view!

Technical Museum

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Vehicles galore at the Technical Museum!

If you’re into machines or have kids who are, the Nicola Tesla Technical Museum is the perfect place to spend the morning. Go check out their displays on trains, automobiles, boats, planes, and even rockets. Most of the descriptions were in Croatian, but it is fun to go have a look at everything regardless. There is also a planetarium and some tours are offered in english at certain times through the summer.

Parks 

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Spend some time relaxing by the fountain.

We walked through several parks in Zagreb like the park near the art museum (Fontana kraal Tomislav) and Park Zrinjevac. We were there in early summer and everything was green and in bloom. We spent time here just letting the kids run and play. We would find fruit vendors nearby and pickup a carton of cherries or strawberries to snack on. The kids would go through the whole container in one sitting! With scenery like this, it’s easy to sit down, relax, and take a break!

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For more travel inspiration on Croatia click HERE! Don’t forget to Pin this for later and follow me on Instagram!

Zagreb

 

Top 3 Things to Do in Slovenia

Slovenia was a true gem to visit. We spent a few days here last summer as the first stop on our Balkans adventure. Flying into Slovenia was exciting, we could see green mountains, castles, and beautiful churches. It truly looked like a fairy tale. Our brief time there would only reinforce those feelings. Between exploring the modern yet charming capital city, hiking river carved gorges, and relaxing at picturesque Lake Bled there’s something for everyone. Here’s our top 3 things to do in Slovenia!

Ljubljana

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Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia. It is a very clean, walkable, charming city to explore. We loved strolling through the old town admiring the candy colored buildings. In the center of the town are three bridges crossing the river. The dreamy pink Franciscan Church of the Annunciation makes a stunning backdrop. There is also a castle looking over the city. Don’t forget to visit Ljubljana’s iconic dragons at the dragon bridge. We were in Ljubljana on a Sunday when there was a flea market going on. It was full of treasures, if you’re able to drive to Ljubljana you may find something special here to take home. Tivoli Park is also a great place to spend some time. There are wide open spaces for kids to roam, gardens, playgrounds, and a lakeside cafe. 

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Vintgar Gorge

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About 45-50 minutes outside of Ljubljana is Vintgar Gorge. It is part of Triglav National Park and a beautiful place for a hike. The hike we did was an easy out and back walk along a beautiful river-carved gorge. The hike was easy enough to do with kids and toddlers. You just have to keep a close hand on them for some portions without protective rails. Once you reach the halfway point, you can stop and buy a snack and a drink from the little snack stand, sit down and enjoy the view. There are also bathrooms at this point. Then you can decide to head back, or keep hiking. We chose to head back because of time constraints but a longer hike would’ve been enjoyable too!

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Lake Bled

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Just about 10-15 minutes away from Vintgar Gorge is Lake Bled. The beautiful turquoise blue lake has a fairytale castle perched above it. Bled Castle has a wonderful view of the lake. Don’t miss their outdoor restaurant where you can dine on gourmet food while taking in the breathtaking view. You can also tour the interior of the castle, which we did not do only because we didn’t have enough time. Once you hike back down to lake level, you can wander the perimeter of the lake or hire a rowboat (or row yourself) to the island. On the island is the Assumption of Mary Church where you will have to climb up 99 steps to visit it! We walked around the lake looking for fish, checking out the shops, and enjoying some gelato.

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We loved our time in Slovenia and would love to return to explore more. Is Slovenia on your travel list? Have you been there before? I would love to hear about what others have enjoyed there!

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Batumi, Georgia

Last year we had the chance to go to Georgia a week, and were able to visit three cities Batumi, Borjomi, and Tbilisi. Now honestly speaking, I did not know much about Georgia until a couple years ago. But we had a wonderful trip there and would welcome another trip back anytime! As with most of our travels, we only barely scratched the surface and there is so much left to explore and experience there.

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Selfie street art.

Georgia is a Caucus country on the Black Sea. It neighbors Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, and Turkey. We started out our trip in the coastal town Batumi. Batumi is about a 6 hour drive from Tbilisi, the capital. Driving in Georgia is not for the faint of heart. One of the Georgian men my husband was working with told us the joke, “In Georgia you will die from 2 things: a car accident, or a Russian sniper.” [Insert wide-eyed, red-faced emoji here.]

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Batumi has such a mix of architecture; modern, European, and lingering Soviet style can all be seen here.

Upon arriving to Batumi, we checked into our hotel and were welcomed with a fabulous room. It was probably once of the nicest we’ve ever stayed in, with an almost panoramic view over the whole city. These are the perks of traveling to countries where your dollar goes far! We had some dinner and started walking around the city. It was March when we visited, and Batumi was feeling much warmer than still freezing Kyiv. We walked out to Europe Square, a square that pulls elements from other well-known European cities.

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Europe Square with a statue of Madea and the golden fleece in the center.

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Look familiar? Inspired by Prague perhaps?

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From there we went out to the beach promenade area. There is a big park that lies along the coast, full of vendors, playgrounds, and a few restaurants. We came across a man with basically some suped up power wheels and decided to let the kids go for a ride. My husband was in tears laughing at them. Neither one of them could steer it, so the guy walked around with them steering the car with a long pole. This was a few bucks well spent, we spent probably 30 minutes watching them cruise around.

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The “Georgia-mobile” was hilarious!

The next morning we walked around Nurigeli Lake. There is a zoo and dolphinarium there but I believe they were both closed when we were there. We opted for carnival rides instead. Even just walking around the city would’ve been entertainment enough. It is a great place to enjoy nice weather, parks, and the beach.

 

 

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Look Ma, no hands!

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Fun on the rides!

We had lunch at the top of the Hilton and had the restaurant to ourselves, which was nice for the kids. No worries about disturbing anyone else. And the view from the top was phenomenal. There’s also an outdoor deck for better viewing. The restaurant is also a club at night, so if you have kids and want to see the view, definitely go earlier in the day.

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Check out that view!

We didn’t have very long to stay in Batumi, about 24 hours in total. It was very quiet while we were there, this is definitely a resort town. We were there in the off season so there wasn’t a whole lot going on. I’m sure in the summer it is bustling! Even though it was short and sweet, we really enjoyed our time in Batumi!

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Dubrovnik-Walking the Wall

I think I could’ve shared about 50 more photos from this day. Seriously gorgeous views to be had all around! Our first full day in Dubrovnik, we spent the morning walking the wall that surrounds the old city. Honestly I wasn’t even sure I really wanted to do it, but I can vouch that it is a “must-do” activity. It took us a couple hours to walk the whole thing. It wasn’t too strenuous, but there are quite a bit of stairs which is something to keep in mind if you’re traveling with little ones (you’ll see why later). I think there was one place to stop and grab a drink or snack, but that’s it. So you will want to bring plenty of water, especially if you visit during the summer! And just a quick photo credit to my brother in law! We all shared photos at the end of the trip so I’m not sure which pictures are his or ours. But I’m fairly certain he took a good number of these!

I’ll just let the photos do most of the talking…

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Parenting on the go, time for a nap.

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About strollers on the wall. So, we were told there would be stairs. The guy at the ticket booth even offered to let us leave our stroller at the gate, but we thought we would bring it anyway. Mainly to give little girl a place to sleep, and to give me a break from wearing her ALL DAY. In hindsight, I might have just worn her. But at the time I was doing a lot of wearing her, carrying her etc. and this mama just wanted a break. So it can be done with a small umbrella stroller, but do not plan to bring your BOB up on the wall. Nope, not happeing.

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At this point she had fallen asleep, and we were trying to keep her that way. Thank goodness for a strong, and helpful Daddy!

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Dubrovnik is one of those cities that can truly transport you. The walls are beautifully preserved and I haven’t seen another place quite like it. It really is a charming (albeit a bit touristy) place. If we get the chance to go again, I’d love to ride the cable car up to the top of the mountain behind the city and check out that view, because I’m sure it’s pretty spectacular!

Vatican Revisited

My hubby and I had visited Rome and the Vatican on a previous trip in 2012, but it was our family’s (who was visiting from the states) first time. The best thing we did on our first trip to Rome was to wake up early to get to St. Peter’s Basilica right before opening time. IMG_0511

Getting a picture without hoards of tourists around is a big bonus to getting there early. Also, you will be able to wander the basilica without being crammed in a crowd. The crowds start arriving a couple hours after opening time. So take it from me, get there early and be done looking around before everyone else gets there! Just a quick FYI, it is free to enter the basilica but to tour the Vatican museum you need to purchase a ticket. And it is highly recommended you make a reservation online or book a guided tour to avoid waiting in extremely long lines in the hot Roman sun!

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The family decided to climb the dome. Because I tend to have issues with heights, and tiny spiraling staircases, I opted to stay down below with my daughter. I had a terrible time climbing the tower at the cathedral in Cologne. I felt sick after what seemed to be never-ending twisting stairs, and had a hard time enjoying the view. Since then, climbing towers and domes has been very low on the priority list for me. But if you don’t have the same issues, you should absolutely do it! I mean look at this view…incredible!

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Photo credit to my brother in law!

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The dome on the left is the Pantheon.

While everyone was ascending the magnificent dome on St. Peter’s, I was below trying to manage a 15 month old. If you haven’t visited St. Peter’s you should know that it is a quiet atmosphere. It is a holy place where people come to not only tour, but worship. It is really important to be respectful. I was doing my absolute best to keep my toddler happy and quiet. The last thing I needed was a crying fit. So when my daughter decided she wanted to crawl instead of walk I had 2 choices: 1) repeatedly pick her up and put her on her feet, risk crying outbursts OR 2) just let her crawl. I chose the latter.

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In case you were wondering, the floor of the basilica is not clean.

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We ended up leaving the basilca shortly after the crawling episode and waiting outside for everyone to descend. I thought that a bit more appropriate than letting her crawl all over the place. What are you gonna do? Pick your battles when traveling with a baby!

We spent the rest of the day wandering the city, more to come!