With the weather getting warmer and thoughts of vacation on everyone’s mind, we’re in the mood to explore! If Europe is on your bucket list for exploring, then it’s your lucky day! While most people may think that Europe is mainly just big historic cities and stuffy museums, that’s not the case. Europe is filled with spectacular nature, as diverse in each individual country as the culture and language, which makes it the perfect place for hiking! Today, Belgian mom of two and outdoor adventurer, Tine of Kids del Mundo, is here sharing the best hikes for kids in Central Europe (Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg). We hope this post will inspire you to add some of these hikes to your next Central European vacation! 

Best hikes with kids in Europe

Exploring Central Europe with kids

What do you think of when you envision Central Europe? Many people automatically think of historical cities, large cathedrals, museums, and galleries. However, Europe is so much more than just city trips in crowded places.

Europe is filled with countries that all have very diverse backgrounds. It is so easy to go country-hopping across a few countries on a trip to Central Europe. You can go by train, by plane, by car, or even by bike! Each country is rich in nature, food, culture, language, and history. And because it is all so easily accessible, it makes Europe the ideal destination for your next vacation with kids.

Let’s introduce you to four countries you can combine during a two-week stay without taking the plane from one country to another: Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Each of these countries has its own distinct personality. 

Best hikes with kids

Best hiking trails in Central Europe for kids

Central Europe is also home to some spectacular natural areas filled with great hiking opportunities, many of which are perfect for children. With rolling pastures, dense forests, snow-capped mountains, and alpine lakes, this is a region that begs to be explored.

Central Europe’s vast network of trails offers something for every family, no matter what your hiking level or childrens’ ages. If you are seeking a unique outdoor experience, then follow along on a trip through the less touristic place in Central Western Europe. Here are a few of our favorite hikes and trails in Central Europe: 

Our family of four, known as Kids del Mundo, lives in Belgium, very central in Europe. We love exploring our country. We’ve always loved finding new places within our country and have spent years (particularly during the pandemic) exploring all that Belgium has to offer kids.

We’ll start our tour of the best hikes for kids in Central Europe here in Belgium. Next, we’ll cross borders to discover other mind-blowing trails on the west side of Central Europe. After reading this post, you will know why these Western-European countries are perfect to visit with kids.

Hiking with kids

1. Best hikes for kids in Belgium

Belgium is the fifth smallest country in the European Union. You may be most familiar with the large metropolitan cities of Brussels or Bruges, but did you know there are so many wonderful and kid-friendly nature hiking trails in Belgium?

The country of Belgium is an expert in combining outdoor adventure with art and culture. Interesting to know, Belgium has three different languages and regions:

  • Flanders – Dutch
  • Wallonia – French
  • East Cantons – German

Not bad for such a tiny country. You can imagine the rich history Belgium has. Are you ready to be amazed by these fun places? Your kids will thank you later!

best hikes with kids in europe

Kid-friendly art hikes in Bosland

Bosland is a multi-municipal project in the province of Limburg, Flanders, where children have the lead. With more than 5000 hectares of forests, this place is filled with wonderful hikes and kid-friendly adventures. Bosland is located in the province of Limburg, a perfect starting point for visiting other regions in Belgium. If you want to experience Limburg in a unique way, you can book a stay in the Tears Alley (Tranendreef). Sleeping in a tent hanging in the trees is a fantastic way of experiencing this magnificent area.

Butterflies in Cat Forest (Kattenbos)

The most impressive woodland of all we found is in the Kattenbos (Cat Forest). Within Cat Forest, not only will you find yourself surrounded by the most beautiful nature, but as you explore the woods, the evolution of a butterfly is shown in statues and art.

Created by environmental artist Will Beckers, kids can hike and get a step-by-step art explanation of how an egg transforms into caterpillar, then into a chrysalis, and then into a butterfly. The sculptures are not there only to admire, but to play on! All of the pieces in this interactive art installation are made for kids to climb, jump, and swing on! 

This hike is about 2.2km long, which is perfect for even the tiniest ones. Of course, the butterfly process is not the only reason why to go to Cat Forest. Further along, you will come across the windmill of Leyssen and learn more about the history of this region.

You can do several other hiking trails through the heathlands and the pine trees. Every trail is well indicated with different colors and easy to find through the amazing landscape. And if you happen to go at the end of August and the first half of September, the forest turns the color purple for the heath blooming! It’s spectacular!  


The Sahara in Belgium

In Bosland, you will also find the Lommelse Sahara, an area in Lommel, not too far from the Cat Forest. Again, environmental artist Will Beckers created sculptures for this fun kid-friendly area. This time he didn’t build sustainable metal animals, but he made constructions out of natural material, usually found in the same woods.

The highlight in the woodlands of the Sahara, is the 30-meter-high watchtower in the center of the domain. It takes 144 steps to reach the top, but it is well worth the effort! The view from top is magnificent. On a clear day, the panorama will stretch out to 25 km. This location is not a coincidence. From this point on top, the view reaches the entire area of Bosland. A unique location.

With little ones, we recommend hiking the blue trail, which is 3,1 km. On this hiking trail, kids can play on two interactive art installations close to the watchtower. Not too far from the parking lot (and hidden in the woods), the masterpieces of Will Becker are waiting to be discovered. If you have older kids, there are longer trails, such as the red trail (2 km), which received the award of Best Hiking Trail in Belgium.

Giants in De Schorre (Belgium) 

Our absolute favorite hike in Flanders is the “giants hike” of Thomas Dambo. We just love how the trolls are hidden in the forest of De Schorre in Boom (Tree), where each and every year, the famous dance festival Tomorrowland takes place. You’ve probably heard of the giants designed by Thomas Dambo. You might even have seen them in other cities and countries spread all over the world (e.g. Copenhagen, Chicago, Miami, Mandurah, and Puerto Rico). 

What is so fun about finding giants with kids? In De Schorre, seven giants are well-hidden deep within the forest, and there is no indication of where they might be. This means you will have to go in between the trees to seek them out, making it such a fun adventure for kids. Kids can look for the giants following a path, but also check in between the trees and leave the paved path.

To access one of the giants, you even have to make quite a climb! Kids (and adults) can climb on and around the giants and enjoy the most beautiful views in the forest.The first time we went, we spent quite a bit of time outside and didn’t even find all the trolls! But honestly, we didn’t need a reason to return one more time. Each and every season, this forest looks different, making it a place you can return to again and again and never get tired of exploring! 

There is also a fun barefoot trail in between the giants. And if the little ones have a bit of energy left at the end, they can also have fun on the outdoor playground while exiting the forest. De Schorre is one of the most beautiful hiking trails in Central Europe and one not to miss! This adventure can be easily combined with a stop in Antwerp, making it the perfect combination of nature and history!

best hikes with kids

Waterfalls on the trail of de la Hoegne

If you are looking for the most gorgeous pristine nature, you will find it in the Belgian Ardennes. This area is filled with picturesque tiny European villages, and gorgeous rivers meandering through the lush and dense forests. This area will amaze you day after day. The hike of La Hoegne, which is the name of the river, is unique because the trail will lead you over the river via bridges and passages. 

The trail starts at the parking lot at the beginning of the promenade. Because there is no bridge to the parking lot, you have to pass through the river to park. Kids love it! Don’t worry; usually, the water isn’t too deep, and you can pass with the car.

At the start of the trail, the river is at its widest. Follow along the signs (white with blue cross), which you can’t miss. The hike is beautiful and kid-friendly. And because hiking with kids always requires snacks and food, somewhere in the middle of the trail, you will reach an open space in the forest where you can sit for a picnic. At this location, you can choose a hike of 10km or 12km. This is well indicated.

When you reach this point, it also means you’re close to the peak of the valley. It looks like you stepped into a fairytale. Our girls still talk about this hike and how beautiful it was. However, note that because of all the tiny bridges and roots popping out everywhere, it is definitely not suitable for buggies or strollers. 

Best hikes with kids in Europe

A few more kid-friendly hikes in Belgium

If you are seeking more fun hikes with kids in Belgium, you should check:

  • Hoogstraten: Wortel Colony, De Mosten & Aschputten, The Strawberry tour
  • The Music Forest in Ronse
  • Terhills National Park in Maasmechelen
  • Hoge Venen in the so called Hoge Venen-Eifel Nature Park

2. Best hikes for kids in the Netherlands (Holland)

When you are in Belgium, you can easily hop over to the Netherlands. From different points of Belgium, you might even cross the border and back again while out exploring. The two countries are very linked and intertwined. The Netherlands are located between Denmark, Germany, and Belgium. The country’s city population density is very high which makes it the second most dense country in Europe (after Malta). However, outside of the cities, the Netherlands have beautiful wide open plains and plenty of nature to explore! The landscape of Holland (as we call the Netherlands), is just extraordinary.

Let me guide you to two of the most amazing areas in Holland…

Texel – West Frisian Islands

The West Frisian Islands (Waddeneilanden in Dutch) is a group of small islands on the North Coast of the Netherlands at the Wadden Sea. This region has been placed on the Unesco World Heritage List. Typical for the West Frisian Islands are the wide open meadows filled with wide open beaches and red lighthouses. Not only is the landscape truly remarkable, but the nutrient-rich sea attracts fish, and marine mammals and is a popular stopover for migratory birds.  The largest island of the West Frisian Islands is Texel. 

Texel is a perfect nature-filled place to spend holidays with kids. You can go island-hopping, seal-watching, bird-spotting, and hike through the diverse landscapes. The first thing that is already unique and unforgettable about this adventure is the way to Texel. With the car, you drive right onto the ferry and take it out to the island. The excitement the kids experience while making the line at the port of Den Helder is incredible.

Once you’re on the island, there are a couple of must-see attractions. One of those are the Dunes of Texel National Park. This park has a variety of nature going from pine trees to sand dunes at the beach. With such an incredible and diverse landscape, your kids will never get bored! The hiking trails for kids in the enormous dunes are superb! 

Also, be sure to be on the lookout for seals on the beaches of the island. You can spot seals on the island year-round. If you miss the seals on the beach, like us, you can also visit Ecomare, a shelter with only one mission: nurturing and caring for wounded seals. 

Best hikes with kids in Europe

Biking in the Netherlands and Texel sheep

Did you know Dutch people are born on bikes? Well, not really, but it sure seems that way! Bikes are so integrated into their culture that you’ll inevitably feel the need to get on a bike when you’re in Holland. So, instead of hiking from one side of the island to the other, consider riding a bike so that you can really take in the nature around you and discover all the little villages along the way.

Texel is also known for its sheep. Yes, you have read that right…sheep! They are everywhere and beloved by the people on the island. Plan on visiting a sheep farm with your little ones while you’re there. And don’t forget the beautiful lighthouse of De Cocksdorp! It’s a classic beautiful red one that you can still visit! A stay on Texel will be one to remember!

Best hikes with kids

Mast Forest (Mastbos)

North Brabant covers four national parks of the Netherlands (Loonse and Drunense Dunes, The Biesbosch, the Big Peel, and Border Park De Zoom-Kalmthoutse Heide), with a wide range of nature and biodiversity. They are all worth visiting. This region has so much nature, history, and culture. 

Close to Breda, you will find one of the most diverse woodlands in Holland. In the Mast Forest, kids can run freely, go gnome-seeking, build camps, climb trees, and so much more. When our girls were little, we introduced them to hiking via the wonderful paths in the Mast Forest, so this forest has a special place in our hearts.

A magical gnome tour takes you through the forest. For one and a half hours, your little ones will run, climb and seek! With a bit of storytelling, this will be a day never to forget. But there’s more than gnomes. You have the wooden paths through the fields, follow the river the Mark, walk next the Galder Lake, a summer hotspot for families. But you can also stop at the nature playground Bouverijen. Building camps, climbing wooden logs and climbing over the water is such a fun activity for kids. 

The Netherlands have so much more to offer, but these two spots are a great way to start exploring nature in Holland! 

Best hikes with kids

More Dutch hikes

If you are seeking more fun hikes with kids in the Netherlands, check out the following locations: 

  • National Park the Veluwe
  • Biesbosch in South-Brabant
  • Utrechtse Heuvelrug
  • Oranjezon in Zeeland
  • Nature Monuments in Leikeven

Hiking with kids

3. Best hikes for kids in Germany

The Netherlands and Belgium border with Germany, so why not take advantage and combine all of these countries into one amazing trip?! One region we would definitely recommend that you visit with kids is the South Eifel region. Not only do you have beautiful nature and the most amazing hiking trails, but this area is so close to other amazing locations that it makes exploring easy for families. 

Best hikes with kids

Destinature Dorf

When we were exploring the area, the biggest (and most pleasant) hidden gem we found was the amazing hiking trails in Ernzen. When discovered this area a bit by accident when we were planning a visit to Müllerthal in Luxembourg. Seeking an authentic stay close to nature, we booked a stay in Germany, only minutes away from the Luxembourg border, in Destinature Dorf in Ernzen. Destinature Dorf is a nature village with the most powerful mission: sustainable tourism, using only natural and sustainable materials to build sophistically designed huts and tents connecting you with nature. This recently opened Nature Village has everything we needed as a nature-loving family.

Here’s a little secret. When you stay in Destinature Dorf in Ernzen, you can access another wonder of nature, Felsenweiher. There’s a set of stairs that leads you straight to the natural rock pond. We didn’t know this on our first visit, so one more reason to go back!

Devils Canyon in Südeifel

During our stay, we discovered some of the most beautiful places we have ever seen. This area guarantees an unforgettable holiday with your kids. If you want to score points, you can start off with the Teufelsschlucht Dinosaur Park in Ernzen. Just five minutes away from Destinature Dorf, you get to this incredible park, surrounded by nature. Next to the Dinosaur Park is the entrance of one of the most beautiful hikes for kids in Germany.

When you’re in the area, make your first stop at the Visitors Centre. That is where you will get more info on the different kinds of trails. We choose the shortest one, as our kids were very little at the time. In total, the hike was 1.8 km, but it takes over 2 hours to finish. It was magical! We found ourselves in a real-life fairy tale. The beautiful colors of the falling leaves, contrasting against the bright green of the moss, were mesmerizing! The trail took us to a canyon deep down the rocks. The view at the end of the gorge is breathtaking. The girls forgot about their tiredness and ran around enjoying the beauty of the site. Definitely, the Devil’s Canyon is a must when you are in Südeifel!

Best hikes in Europe

More kid-friendly hikes in Germany

If you are seeking more fun hikes with kids in Germany, you check out the following locations:

  • Schwarzwald in Germany
  • German Alpes
  • Fairytales Tour via Edersee
  • Vineyards in the Eifel Region
  • Berchtesgaden in Beieren 

Best hikes with kids in Europe

4. Best hikes for kids in Luxembourg

Believe it or not, only a couple of minutes away from Devil’s Canyon (above), you will venture into another country and find the famous Müllerthal Trail in Luxembourg. This trail highlights nature in its purest form! 

Schiessentümpel Waterfall on the Müllerthal Trail 

The Schiessentümpel Waterfall on the famous Müllerthal Trail in Luxembourg had been on our hiking bucket list for years! This romantic waterfall is the hotspot of Müllerthal. At 500 m from the waterfall, you can find small parking lot. There are two ways to get to the waterfall by foot. You can follow the sidewalk, which is less adventurous. Or, you can follow the trail close to the rocks. We recommend planning your visit to the waterfall very early in the morning, or late in the afternoon. This touristy hotspot can get quite busy.

From the waterfall, you will see signs for different trails that you can take to explore the area. All of them are well indicated. The most popular trail for families with kids is trail B2. To start this trail, we recommend parking in Berdorf, close to the Tourist Centre. From there, you easily get to the first canyon. When you go along the trail, you eventually will arrive at the highest point of the trail where you have an amazing view.

Via Kalktüfquell to Schwartze Ernz

If you go the other way, it will lead you to one of the most beautiful places. From the Schiessentumpel waterfall, we followed trail W7, a hike of 10km. We didn’t finish it completely and went straight to the Kalktüfquell, a source with clear water.

From the source, you get to the beautiful decking paths of the Schwartse Ernz. Get ready for a beautiful walk between the rock formations. But don’t stop there! Next, head to the castles of Beaufort, about 15 mins from the hiking sites. There are so many treasures to visit in this area. 

If you prefer to stay in less touristic place than Müllerthall, then look into staying at the Nature Hotel Destinature in Germany. It’s only a 20-minute drive, and you will be quiet, and relaxed while connected with nature!

More Luxemburg hikes for kids

If you are seeking more fun hikes with kids in Luxemburg, you should check out the following hikes:

  • Hallerbach Trail with the castle of Beaufort 
  • Obersauer starting in Esch-sur-Sûre
  • Hiking along the River of Clerve 
  • Vianden at the river the Our

Hiking four European countries in one trip

We hope this post has inspired you to consider adding a few hiking trails to your next Central European vacation. Of course, you can always explore Europe in the classic way by hopping from city to city, but we highly recommend getting off the beaten path (or onto another kind of beaten path) and adding some nature to your trip! Each of these places are a bit less known and will give you an unforgettable holiday outdoors, connecting with your family and nature. 

Best hikes in BelgiumHave you ever been hiking in Europe?

About the author

Tine is a natural-born adventurer from Belgium. She met her husband while working and living in the Dominican Republic. Nine years ago, they moved to Europe and are still exploring European grounds. Her happy place is wherever her 2 girls are, but she spices up life by discovering unknown places, planning new adventures, and going outdoors as much as possible. She loves seeing life through the eyes of her little ones, which lifted it to a completely different dimension. Their family goal is to travel the world, living a location-independent lifestyle. The family is now working on a couple of projects to make this dream happen! In the meantime, they keep on exploring, and Tine keeps on writing and inspiring other families to explore just like them. 

You can find more from Tine online in the following locations:
Instagram: @kidsdelmundo
RWMC posts: Tine Voeten
Website: www.kidsdelmundo.com