Think about Berlin, Germany and your mind’s eye will probably conjure up pictures of military installations, somber monuments, the former Wall, and lots of other serious sites. But, during the last few decades, Berlin has done its best to become a more family-friendly destination, with plenty of attractions that’ll have little ones asking to come back for more.
Now, this may be contrary to what you’ve heard. After all, Berlin is considered quite chic and is very popular with hip young adults and single (or married) professionals. So, why would you want to bring your kids?
That’s simple. The after-the-Wall Berlin is not only a more hip and cultural place but – undoubtedly – it’s also a friendlier, more laid-back destination, and it has plenty of what visitors with children seek when searching for an ideal vacation spot that will interest and excite the entire family, from little ones to teens and adults. Below we’ve compiled a list of some of the attractions and activities we think families like yours will love. Check ‘em out.
1. Bike riding – Berlin is a wonderful place to explore by bicycle. Its size is very manageable on two wheels, it’s basically flat, and you can even do cool things like ride through the Brandenburg Gate. Of course, bicycling also allows you to stop and go as you please, which is great for younger kids who might need more breaks than you. Berliners are very bicycle- conscious so you don’t need to stress too much about safety. Rent them for a day and explore to your heart’s content!
2. Walk the Dome – Sitting at the top of the Reichstag – which was damaged heavily during World War II – is a really cool, futuristic glass dome where visitors can walk upward in circles (on ramps that were built to resemble a double helix) to reach the top. The experience is one everyone will enjoy and the view is spectacular. Note, however, that you need to secure advance reservations for the visit. You can register your guests online at the Bundestag’s website.
3. Write on the Wall – The former Berlin Wall is now just a symbol and no longer a divider, but you can certainly tell your children about what it once represented. Then take them to the Wall and show them the art, graffiti, and other writings on it…and let them add their own name or drawing. Be sure to have markers or other items on hand that can be used for their creations.
4. The Berlin Zoo – The oldest zoo in Germany, opened in 1944, the Berlin Zoological Garden is expansive, covering 84 acres and featuring about 20,000 animals, making it one of the most complete zoos in the world. For years, this zoo was best known for its two most beloved creatures – Knut the polar bear and Bao Bao the panda. Both animals past away in the last few years. Truly a must-see!
5. Legoland Discovery Centre – Situated in the Sony Centre at Potsdamer Platz, the Legoland Discovery Centre is a future architect’s dream…and adults will love it just as much. One ticket price covers everything in the expansive center from the factory tour to the 4D Cinema and everything in between. This is the kind of hands-on place everyone adores – though it’s designed for kids aged 3 to 10 – so you’ll want to allot at least 3-4 hours for your visit, maybe more. There’s a café on site it you choose to stay for lunch or dinner.
6. German Museum of Technology – This museum is especially attractive to older elementary school and middle school kids. Opened about 30 years ago, it boasts a huge collection of technical artifacts. It’s historically had a huge emphasis on rail travel but also includes aviation and maritime sections now and a smallish science center called the Spectrum, which includes lots of stuff about computers.
7. Natural History Museum – Known in German as the Museum für Naturkunde, this enticing and informative attraction boasts an amazing collection of 30 million zoological, paleontological, and mineralogical specimens, including the largest mounted dinosaur in the world as well as an example of the oldest bird species known to mankind. Allow yourself at least a full morning or afternoon to explore. Audio guides are available in English and can be quite helpful.
8. SeaLife Berlin and the AquaDom – Though much of this seems like your usual aquarium, visitors get to experience something a bit different in the AquaDom, an elevator ride that takes guests through the center of a 2,000 ton fish tank that holds some one million liters of water. You can view about 1,500 fish of nearly 100 species in the humongous tank. You’ll also find touch pools, feeding demonstrations, and other daily interactive events.