What to do with kids
We have spent extended stays over multiple years in Berlin, and I can’t think of a better place to take elementary and middle school kids. Here are enough places to keep you busy for many weeks or months! You must visit in the spring or summer, it’s magical.
Berlin Zoo This zoo is worth visiting just for the playground. If you’re in Berlin longer than a week, your kids are going to want to go twice. It’s just that good.
Update from August 2017 – the ship is gone, but has been replaced with a structure that’s creative and lots of fun. Here’s a photo:
Kadewe The 5th floor is something else – every kind of food you can imagine. My kids loved picking out chocolates from the amazing choices at the counters there. Also, check out the pens on the 4th floor. You’ll never find another selection like this and you can test them out!
Domäne Dahlem – the kids liked this place since it had farm animals, a store, and great walking trails. A surprisingly large working farm inside the city of Berlin. Check the calendar, it has many good special events for children throughout the year, especially at Christmas time.
Botanical Gardens – My kids loved this place at ages 6 and 10!
Charlottenburg Palace – we didn’t go inside, but the palace gardens are great for biking and there’s a playground at the very back of the property.
Farmers’ markets (concentrated on south side of Berlin where we stayed) – the one at Lichterfelde Ost is easy to reach on the S25. One of my favorites is the Kollwitzmarkt in Prenzlauer Berg. Here’s an excellent list in English of farm and flea markets throughout the city. Prenzlauer Berg farmer’s market on Saturdays is one of our favorites for eating, shopping, playing at the park. We first learned about Fräulein Kimchi there – the restaurant has opened and closed a few times. But they do markets and catering and if you check their site you can find out where they’re selling. Super nice guys and crazy delicious food (especially the pancake). Here’s a list of markets on the south side of the city too.
Turkish market Tues and Thurs near Hermanplatz, opens at 11am
Museum fur Naturkunde – This is a very well done Natural History Museum in Berlin. You can spend a couple of hours here. They have added descriptions in English, which made it much more enjoyable for my kids this year. It cost 9 Euro for the 3 of us to enter.
Playgrounds – Berlin parks have the best playscapes I’ve seen anywhere in the world. There’s on on the block between Wartburgstraße, Gothaer Straße and Apostel-Paulus-Straße that doesn’t show up on google maps. Don’t miss this one – the kids call it the Rock Wall playground. Some awesome climbing can be done here, and there’s a great pizza shop, Dolce Vita, close by.
Gemeindewäldchen Zehlendorf playground plus some delicious German food at Zehlendorfer Hof
Older kids (10 and up)
Gemäldegalerie – Kids have to like art museums to enjoy this or speak German (there’s an audiotour for kids in German only), but the Siglo de Oro exhibit was incredible. Even when there is no special exhibit, the art collection will impress even your toughest audience. Be ready to explain lots of religious references! Kids enter free, and it’s 14 Euro for adult tickets. Includes entry to other museums on the same day. The whole family enjoyed the English audio tour (intended for adult visitors), so that’s an option (free with ticket purchase).
Berlin Philharmoniker – there are very few children who go, but for music lovers this is a must. Tickets up in high seats are very reasonable and still very good.
Jewish Museum and Memorial to the Holocaust
Botanical Gardens – this is excellent!
Gedächtniskirche (Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial) – a bombed out church from World War II that was left mostly in it’s destroyed state.
Egyptian Museum (Neues)
Cathedral – amazing audiotour for older kids
Flohmarkt Arkonaplatz – Sunday flea market, my favorite we visited. Nice and small.
Dining with kids in Berlin:
Some dining options at farmer’s market that’s delicious and easy and usually near a playground (above).
Breakfast and Brunch – Germans do hearty breakfast so well. Try these places from Stil in Berlin – I’ve never been disappointed in a recommendation from this site. What we typically do for breakfast most days is store amazing yogurt (get the full fat at any store – plain Andescher is our fave), add frozen blueberries, muesli and a drizzle of honey. (This is why you need a place with a tiny kitchen when traveling). Also, I can almost guarantee you’ll find a minimum of 3 excellent bakeries within a 7 min walk, wherever you’re staying. Our favorite is BioBackhaus (get the franzbrötchen in the mornings). Bakeries are also a great place to buy fresh pre-made sandwiches, even in the train stations. Really easy time saver when traveling.
5 markets for food, dining and picnics – these are all excellent. Don’t miss Thai Park if you like Thai food! If you make it to Marheineke Markthalle, try Bio Buffet Burgers or Galettes at La Normandie.
Engelbecken Witzlebenstraße 31 14057 Berlin – This is a lovely restaurant with a small playground across the street and a large park nearby. There is also an English version of the menu online if you get there and can’t manage the German one.
Good writeup from Serious Eats about Berlin’s Asian food restaurants. Tian Fu was recommended by a friend from Shanghai for their very inexpensive lunch buffet. We went many times for lunch (and it’s packed at dinner). Lon-Men’s Noodle House has chili oil wontons that are worth a visit – also inexpensive.
Madang Korean do not miss the pancake. Everything we had was excellent and the patio was great for 2 kids.
Yarok (Syrian) – delicious, in Mitte
Dada Falafel – don’t go at peak times…but do go. Get everything. Take it to go to the nearest park and everyone will be happy. Don’t miss the rolled up spinach things!
Literaturhaus – This is an adult spot, but pre-teens and teenagers will love it to. Sophisticated patio dining. Breakfast and lunch are reasonably priced for how fancy it feels. Delicious food!
Market and Street food – and all 5 recommendations on this blog. Be sure to visit Marheineke Markthalle, Jones Ice Cream and the Turkish Market. Here’s a detailed list of instructions for getting the best food at Thai Park.
Parkcafe Berlin Fehrbellinerplatz 8 10707 Berlin – very reasonable lunches and when the weather is nice, the Biergarten is lovely. English menu on the website.
Frau Lüske Kaffeehaus – a little pricy for Berlin, but delicious and all-organic breakfast, lunch and dinner with a playground right across the street. Cash only.
Currywurst! Anywhere you can find it.
If you find yourself in Berlin so long that you need a burger, try Tommi’s Burger Joint.
Unser Feines Restaurant – Excellent schnitzel (we’ve had lots). Fancy, but not too fancy for kids, especially outside on the patio.Walk down to Frau Luske for ice cream after (or get it inside at the ice cream bar). Super friendly waitstaff. Only downside is it’s a little out of the way, but the X11 bus drops you off right out front.
Maria & Josef – I’ve had 4 or 5 meals here. For some reason it doesn’t get great online reviews, but we like this place a lot, as do locals we met in the area. Recommended: any of the dishes with sausages, and the pretzels! The outdoor Biergarten is perfect on a nice day, and it’s right on top of the Lichterfelde West station. Eiskimo is a popular ice cream shop just around the corner, and the patio is constantly filled with families as it is on the website.
Feuerbach Cafe (Schöneberg) – we have been here many times for brunch. Prices are reasonable, people are friendly, and they serve yummy food with a large variety.
Bistro Grillhaus Chausseestr. 110 10115 Berlin – I’ve eaten so much döner in Berlin and tested this spot 2 years in a row. I like it better than a lot of the highly recommended spots. The guys who work there are really nice to us too. Get döner here – no guarantees on the rest of the menu.
Confiserie Reichert – We’ve been here so many times. The bread, chocolates, cakes and other desserts are beautiful. It’s always full of old ladies having dessert and tea together, which I just love! Locations all over the city, but we most frequently visited the store at Schloßstraße 96, 12163 Berlin.
Ice cream is everywhere. One of our favorites but also most expensive is Jones in Schöneberg.
We just go for the waffle cone, really, or if you want ice cream on a cookie. Other favorites: Süßfein in Mitte, Eis Schober on the very south end of Wilmersdorfer Str., and Rosa Canina (many locations). But if you want ice cream in Berlin, just google map “eis” and check reviews – I guarantee there’s one a few blocks away from where you’re standing. Eiscafe in Lichterfelde Süd is a great spot if you find yourself way south.
Lankwitz Stadtbad This is an amazing, warm indoor pool complex with a slide
Freibad Kiebitzberge It’s like a country club and don’t miss the food! You have to be brave to survive the cultural differences at German pools. Rule #1) Bring pool shoes and DO NOT wear your street shoes beyond the designated spot to change them. This is our favorite outdoor pool in the city even though it’s a little chilly and harder to reach.
Here’s guide to swimming all over the world, managed by its users!
There’s no reason for me to redo bike rentals, since Berlin for All the Family already has an amazing page with all the details. This is the most bikeable city I’ve ever visited.
Where to Stay
Finding an apartment is more challenging since short term rentals were banned last year. You can try searching for a Ferienwohnung (such as this site owned by Homeaway) since Germans have for a long time rented apartments short term. You should use local sites though, they isn’t much on Airbnb. With kids I’d choose Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg or Schöneberg. If you really want the full German experience, my daughter attended the Käthe-Kruse-Grundschule for 2 weeks and begged to go back. It seems like not as many people speak English in the outlying areas of the city, so this is a good area to learn German (since you have to!)
You do not need a car in Berlin, and the s-bahn and u-bahn are easy to use. Buses are clean and safe – everyone uses them. It will help if you find your nearest stations and where you’ll be going using this map.
Need a haircut in Berlin? Try Hoshi Coupe. A friend there recommended it and said she’s been going for a while and never has had a bad haircut. Here’s another review from Stil in Berlin (also a great English site for all things Berlin).
Here’s another guide to Berlin with kids from The Guardian I found that is thorough and would keep you busy for many weeks.
If you run out of books, try Dussman – it has a whole English language bookstore behind the main bookstore. Here’s the children’s section: