April 21, 2024

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How to visit Berlin with kids

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This article was produced by National Geographic Traveller (UK).

It’s not hard to spot Berlin’s family-friendliness in kid-orientated cafes and the city’s well-maintained, imaginatively themed playgrounds. Parks and woodlands provide plentiful picnicking opportunities and, in hot weather, lakes offer sunbathing, standup pad or some ankle-deep splashing about. And despite the name, beer gardens are a failsafe option for simple snacks and a space to run around.   

Berlin’s neighbourhoods are very walkable and its public transport network efficient and cheap. Its wide, flat streets, bike lanes and family-friendly cycle hire make two wheels a great way to get around while taking in the city’s impressive sights, which make Berlin a memorable family destination.

What to do in Berlin with kids

Toddlers: A popular neighbourhood with young families, Prenzlauer Berg has playgrounds, parks and pretty streets lined with shops selling kids’ clothes and toys, and family-friendly cafes. The MACHmit! Museum, an educational playspace set in a converted church, offers interactive exhibits, including an old printing press, a hall of mirrors and a dressing-up box.

For the musically inclined, the Frank Gehry-designed concert hall at the Barenboim-Said Academy hosts morning concerts for babies under 12 months and afternoon concerts for one- to five-year-olds. 

Located in Berlin’s centre and surrounded by sights such as the Brandenburg Gate, Tiergarten is a wonderful spot for walking, picnicking or kicking a ball about in the grass. Wander through the woods, spotting various cultural sights and memorials. Of the park’s six playgrounds, the one close to Thomas-Dehler-Strasse is best equipped for toddlers.

MACHmit! Museum is an educational playspace set in a converted church.

Photograph by Eva von Schirach

Children under 10: The 30-acre Park am Gleisdreieck offers outdoor activities for all ages, including a ‘nature experience room’, where kids over six are encouraged to get to know animals and plants, or play hide-and-seek.

With its huge wooden ‘Noah’s Ark’ and 150 accompanying animal sculptures made from recycled everyday items, ANOHA, the Children’s World of the Jewish Museum Berlin, is an interactive space for discovery and play. Under-10s can get stuck into projects at various activity stations, such as constructing a floatable ark.

UNESCO World Heritage site Museum Island holds five world-class museums, which are all full of wonder and free of charge for children, while the interactive DeJa Vu Museum will provide hours of fun with a thunderstorm room, plasma ball and an interactive sandbox that displays three-dimensional maps.

Tweens and teenagers: With a Douglas C-47B Skytrain aircraft suspended above its entrance and highlights including a hall full of vintage locomotives and a simulator that lets future sea captains steer their ship into port, the vast Deutsches Technikmuseum will absorb transport and technology fans for hours.

For those ready to learn about the darkest chapter of German history, the Topography of Terror museum, located on the site of the former SS and Gestapo headquarters, documents the crimes they committed across Europe. Checkpoint Charlie is a few minutes’ walk away; the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe can be reached in around 20 minutes on foot.

To experience a little of Berlin’s alternative side, watch locals and tourists belt out their favourite tunes at Bearpit Karaoke, held on Sunday afternoons at the outdoor amphitheatre at Mauerpark. Wander through Kreuzberg and across the doubledecker Oberbaum Bridge to Friedrichshain to spot some of the city’s best known street art.

 At ANOHA, the Children’s World of the Jewish Museum Berlin, under-10s can get stuck into projects at various activity stations.

Photograph by Yves Sucksdorff

Where to eat in Berlin with kids

Toddlers: Highchairs, changing facilities and kids’ menus are available at many restaurants, but ‘kindercafés’ such as Prenzlauer Berg’s Kindercafé Spielzimmer, with its indoor playground complete with ball pit, are designed specifically with small children in mind. A more grown-up afternoon can be spent at Klunkerkranich, a bohemian rooftop cultural space with an urban garden, panoramic views and a sandpit. Park-adjacent Café Blume offers an outdoor terrace, an indoor slide and breakfast buffets on weekends.

Children under 10: At the southern end of the Tiergarten, beer garden Café am Neuen See serves up a lakeside brunch that includes waffles and pancakes. There’s a sandpit, lots of space to run around in and you can even rent a boat. After the DDR Museum, head to Katchi Ice Cream in Hackescher Markt for ice cream sandwiches, sundaes or German summer favourite spaghettieis (an ice cream dish made to resemble spaghetti). For traditional, hearty Berlin food, spend a cosy evening at Kreuzberg’s Max & Moritz.

Tweens and teenagers: Pick up sandwiches, pretzels and cinnamon rolls at the Eberstrasse branch of Zeit für Brot on your way to Bearpit Karaoke; if it’s hot, there’s great ice cream at nearby Hokey Pokey. The diverse offerings at historic Kreuzberg market hall Markthalle Neun will resolve any disagreements over what to eat for lunch. Grab Berlin’s most famous burger and fries from the Burgermeister at Schlesisches Tor. Close to the Oberbaum Bridge, it’s housed in a former public toilet.

Where to stay in Berlin with kids

Toddlers: Home to some of Berlin’s best-known attractions, Mitte is a great, central neighbourhood to use as a base. On a quiet street off Rosenthaler Platz, Circus Apartments can provide everything from highchairs to a babysitting service and electric cargo bike rental. In west Berlin, 25Hours Bikini Berlin’s eclectically decorated large and extra-large rooms offer plenty of space for families, and the ‘jungle’ rooms that overlook Berlin Zoo.

Children under 10: Charming Prenzlauer Berg is a family-friendly neighbourhood full of cafes, restaurants and playgrounds, and has great public transport links. The serviced Brilliant Apartments are spacious and well-equipped, some with their own washing machines, and are located just around the corner from an organic supermarket. In a convenient central location, the Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz has family rooms with double sofas or fold-out wall beds, plus kids’ menus and colouring activities in the hotel restaurant.

Tweens and teenagers: Multicultural Neukölln is one of the city’s hippest neighbourhoods and remains a great option for a less touristy Berlin experience. Earn cool points by putting teens up in a retro caravan at the Hüttenpalast, an indoor camping hotel in a former vacuum cleaner factory. For large families or those travelling together, Numa’s Kater location, a listed building in Friedrichshain, has apartments for up to nine guests. 

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