Have you ever heard of Münster? Okay, European History 101: The city of Münster in Germany is best known for the Peace of Münster, a treaty between the Dutch Republic and Spain signed in 1648. The treaty ended both the Eighty Years’ War as well as the Thirty Years’ War (how many wars could you fight really??). In Münsters’ city hall you can still visit the room where this treaty was actually signed. For you who are not into history: we discovered Münster to be a great family friendly place to spend a couple of days of shopping and sightseeing. Here we go!
There are 500,000 bicycles in Münster
250,000 people live in the city of Münster of which 60,000 are students (so we were told), which makes Münster a lively place for sure! Bikes are the most popular way to get around. It looks like Holland exported their love for bikes to Münster: they are everywhere and I mean really everywhere! (I read the city owns 500,000 bicyles and is actually named Germany’s bicylce capital)!
You can rent bikes at the RadStation at Berliner Platz (in front of the Central Station). Within the city you have ample of places to store your bike at RadStation dependances. But hey, act like a local and just park wherever you want!
The historical city center (Altstadt or old town) is easy to explore in one day and it covers almost all of Münster’s important sights. The old town is encircled by the Promenade, a lovely green belt with bike and walking paths. The Promenade replaced the old medieval walls in the late 1700s and it surely is the best way to move from one part of the city to the next.
The old town carries some beautiful pieces of architecture: the Dom (or St Paulus Cathedral), the Prinzipalmarket with its arcaded buildings and the old Rathaus (city hall) with its Friedenssaal (Peace room) where the peace treaty was signed.
Don’t forget to visit the Castle, just outside the western edge of the old town. There is also a route called Sculptures of Münster, but don’t worry as you will probably find them yourselves when you stroll the city. It was quite busy when we were in town, but that might have been caused also by all the activities: weekly market, Wine Festival (Weinfest), a children’s day at the museum and numerous bachelor parties (looked like everybody was getting married soon). They sure like to party in Germany!
Münster has never been a city of heavy industries. It’s main activity was trade, of which you can still get a glimpse in the old city harbor (the Hafen). This place has been partly renovated (one side of the harbor) and is now home to the KreativKai, a restored warehouse district with bars, restaurants and trendy businesses. I honestly found this one of the most relaxing places in town.
Münster with kids
Münster is great for shopping. Mom and Dad can spend lots of money while enjoying the historical architecture. At the Prinzipalmarkt the shops are situated under beautiful arcades, almost romantic.
But not all kids like shopping, so we went to the AaSee which is actually a big lake just next to the city center. It’s great for renting small boats or paddle boats (we even watched kids attending sailing lessons) and from 5pm on, the surrounding parks are a place where many gather to play or even have a barbecue (somehow it feels like NYC’s Central Park, but in a miniature European way).
Following the advice of our hotel, we paid the local Allwetter Zoo a visit on Sunday. Really, it’s been a very long time since I enjoyed a zoo like this. It was just great! Kids could feed vegetables to the elephants (they ate right out of your hand!) and even fish to the pinguins!
If you don’t have bikes or a car, hop on the water bus Solaaris that takes you from the city’s end of the AaSee to the entrance of the Zoo on the other side.
The Mövenpick hotel
Our residence for the weekend was the Mövenpick hotel, also a well-known brand for its ice cream and chocolate delicacies. This Swiss company started with their own hotels back in the 60s and currently run about 70 hotels worldwide.
The hotel in Münster recently celebrated their 30year anniversary and is still going strong. We arrived on Friday evening and enjoyed a tasty Swiss buffet (nice for a change when others only offer an Italian or another regular buffet) and couldn’t get enough of the (branded) chocolate, ice cream and dairy desserts….
Mövenpick is all about gastronomy and hospitality, something you really notice when you stay there. People recognize you and continuously pay attention. Honestly, it’s high-quality service.
Kids Stay Free
The staff at the Mövenpick hotel paid a lot of attention to the kids. We stayed at Mövenpick making use of their summer deal “Kids Stay Free”. This offered some great advantages…..
“Mom, Dad, we have our own room!!”, they were shouting when we were shown our double room with connecting doors. “We also have our own bathroom!” Their own large bed and own bathroom with kids shampoo and crocodile shaped soap….great…but even more for us parents I can tell you: relaxing in our room on our own. We were welcomed with a large plate of Mövenpick chocolate delicacies that, honestly, were gone in a couple of minutes. Sorry, that’s how our kids behave…
Our kids felt even more special when they got their yellow T-shirts with the text “When you read this, you have to treat me an ice-cream.” They could wear this T-shirt, walk into the restaurant and the Mövenpick employees just gave them one, two or even three scoops of the real Mövenpick ice-cream. How cool is that!
We had breakfast on the terrace outside while the kids had fun in the adjacent outdoor playground. All the kids toys offered by the hotel to keep them entertained where not really necessary (but thanks anyway).
Sometimes two days feels like a complete vacation….
We have been invited by Mövenpick to stay at their hotel and explore the city of Münster. All opinions expressed in this post are, as always, our own.