For all its trappings as Europe’s most hipster party capital, Berlin with a baby is a lot of fun, and the city is easily one of Europe’s most family-friendly destinations. Well-ordered Berlin has a great array of family attractions, plus comprehensive public transport and a kid-friendly atmosphere, meaning there’s always plenty of fun things to do in Berlin with a baby. Even better, queues are often much shorter than other major European cities (I’m looking at you, Paris!), so parents have it relatively easy in the German capital. This is especially true with babies, with Germans being wonderfully understanding of the difficulties of traveling with the little ones, and there are family things to do in Berlin.
Getting to/from Berlin
Traveling to Berlin by Train
Speaking of transport, Berlin is well connected to other major European cities. If you’re traveling by land from anywhere in mainland Europe, the best value option is a night train. For around 30 euros, you can catch an overnighter from nearby cities like Budapest, Vienna, Zurich or Amsterdam. Bear in mind that these routes are extremely popular with the backpacking crowd, so book ahead if you can. Long distance trains also connect Berlin to the east, with regular services to Moscow, Warsaw and Kiev. For even further destinations, the once-weekly Sibirjak goes all the way to Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.
Traveling to Berlin by Airplane
If you’re traveling by air, odds are you’ll end up passing through Berlin’s main airport, Tegel. Again, public transport is a big help here, with the S-Bahn bus line regularly running from the terminal to Alexanderplatz in around 45 minutes. Taxis are also available, and have official set prices.
Traveling to Berlin by Bus
There are many buses connecting Berlin with other nearby European capital cities. Flixbus and Berlinlinienbus are among the most popular and cheapest, but there are others. Buses are the cheapest way of traveling around Europe, but it’s not ideal if you’re traveling with a baby or as a family.
Traveling to Berlin by Private Car Shuttle
During this trip I discovered a company and service I had never heard about before: onedaytrip.com. The company provides private car transportation between European cities, picking you up at the departing location and dropping you off at your new accommodation, something like a “cross-border Uber”. We used it to travel from Prague to Berlin and then from Berlin to Poznan, both were fantastic experiences. While the rates may not make much sense if you’re traveling solo, they certainly do if you’re a family or a small group of people that can fit in the car. Another added bonus is that you can request stopovers along the way at a very low cost if there’s a place or city you want to explore. The drivers will act as guides and showed you around. On the way to Berlin we stopped in Dresden, and on the way to Poznan we stopped to check largest statue of Jesus in the world (167 ft), which you can find in the small town of Swiebodzin.
Accommodation in Berlin
Now that I travel with a baby there is one thing that has changed: how I search for accommodation. Before having a kid a good room in a hotel was enough; if it was fancy cool, if not, that's OK too. I'm also an avid backpacker and you have no idea of the places I've slept in!
With a baby though, there's two things I always look for now: space and, if possible, a separate bedroom. It's because of this that more often than no I try to stay in an apartment, although a hotel with a separate bedroom will work just as well. We stayed at the Miniloft Apartment Hotel in Mitte which was great, though you may also want to consider renting an apartment via AirBnb.
Visiting Berlin With Kids: Quick Tips
Before getting into the attractions, it’s worth noting a few general rules of thumb for when it comes to Berlin for kids. Most restaurants are totally baby friendly, especially around popular areas like Prenzlauer Berg, Mitte and Friedrischshain. However, one problem you might encounter is smoking. Despite efforts by local authorities, it’s not uncommon to see Germans flouting their anti-smoking laws for restaurants, and even staff are often happy to turn a blind eye. So, make sure you go for a restaurant that’s clearly non-smoking. On the other hand, Germans are just as permissive of public breast feeding as they are of smoking around food. It’s completely legal, and you shouldn’t have any problems breast feeding in a restaurant – or pretty much anywhere in Berlin.
In terms of essentials like diapers and other basic needs, you shouldn’t have any problem finding everything you need around Berlin. If you’re coming from the U.S., prices of some items can be notably cheaper in Germany. However, generally while traveling it’s usually a good idea to bring a small stockpile of everything you think you’ll need from home. Sometimes babies can react to new products in odd and unexpected ways, so it’s worth having something they’re used to close at hand.
Another important note is that transport is very, very kid friendly. There are special tickets for tourists looking to get the most out of their public transport, with options for kids. The hop on, hop off buses are particularly useful. Finally, for emergency diaper changes, don’t fret. Like breast feeding, Germans are very chilled with diaper changing, and you really don’t have to worry too much. Even in the open, passerby’s won’t even bat an eyelid. However, if you’d rather a changing table, then keep an eye out for stores like Karstadt. Also, the Kinder Cafes are a common sight across the city, and are a bit of an oasis for parents.
Anyway, let’s look at a few of the best attractions for traveling to Berlin with a baby or little kids.
Things to See and Do in Berlin With a Baby
Now that we’ve established that Berlin has plenty for kids, let’s talk about how you can make sure you see the city’s best highlights for grown-ups with- with your baby. Berlin is bursting at the seams with history, and there’s no better place to start than Pariser Platz, the heart of the city.
The square is dominated by the symbol of Berlin, the 18th Century Brandenburg Gate. Built during the climax of Prussian power, the gate is today often considered a symbol of Europe’s modern unity.
The nearby Reichstag building (government building) is also worth a look. The building is open to the public thanks to a staunch policy of transparency, so take advantage of the free lift ride to the dome at the top for some astounding views of the city (you need to sign up online with plenty of time ahead).
From symbols of transparency and unity, it’s now time to catch a glimpse of the darker side of Germany’s long history. There’s no better place to start your journey back in time than Checkpoint Charlie. Today an overcrowded tourist trap, this was once the main thoroughfare through the iron curtain. Make sure to take the Wall by the Spree, an easy stroll along remaining sections of the wall that run through the Freidrichshain-Kreuzberg districts.
East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery is also worth a stop for its preserved sections of walls covered in graffiti. The graffiti can be funny, thought provoking and occasionally disturbing.
Holocaust Memorial and Topography of Terror
The next stop on your trip down memory lane is the mandatory Holocaust Memorial. This gigantic field of 2711 stelae is a haunting reminder of the sheer scale and brutality of The Holocaust, and will remain etched into your mind long after you leave. Yet to really gain an insight into the nightmare that was Nazi Germany, you must dedicate some time to the grueling Topography of Terror. This museum painstakingly depicts everything from the inner workings of the Nazi regime to its impact on the lives of ordinary Germans. Take the self-guided walking tour for extra terror.
Finally, your descent into the lowest point of modern European history ends at Sachsenhausen, the preserved remains of one of the earliest concentration camps built in Germany proper. Some of the (ahem) highlights include an execution trench where prisoners were mowed down by gunfire, or hanged en masse. There’s also one of the infamous gas chambers, and a crematorium. Finish your WWII journey at the Soviet War Memorial, a massive monument marking the final battle of the conflict in Europe.
Consider investing in a Berlin Welcome Card. For just 20 euros, you get unlimited free public transport #visitBerlin
Getting Around Berlin
Most of these sites can be scooped up in one fell swoop with a free guided tour, which will also teach you lots more than your self guided visit. Regular tour groups leave from just in front of Brandenburg Gate. Paid tours are also available, and tend to throw in a few extra bells and whistles, but why pay more? We opted for the freewalkingtours.com as after trying them once we were hooked . Great quality, terrific guides, and you definitely learned a lot. In Krakow we did one with another company and did not like it. Original Berlin Walks is a favorite, while Berlinwalks is also a well established name. For any destinations not covered in a tour, consider investing in a Berlin Welcome Card. For just 20 euros, you get unlimited free public transport around Berlin, including the popular hop-on, hop-off tourist buses. It also offers discounts on entry to many of the city’s big tourist attractions.
Family Things to Do in Berlin
Germany's capital city has no lack of entertainment for families traveling with kids. If this is your case make sure you see what you must see as an adult, but also allow some time for the younger ones to have some care free time. In any case what they like is, in many cases, an interesting Berlin attraction you will enjoy too.
Kollwitzplatz should be the first stop for any family passing through Berlin. Located in Prenzlauer Berg, it’s pretty much just a giant collection of somewhat linked playgrounds. Most of the playgrounds have their own themes, and there’s a plenty of games around like ping pong. Not all the playgrounds are suitable for all ages, but there’s definitely something for everyone here. The ideal time to visit is on Saturday or Wednesday, when the nearly Okomarkt farmers market is in full force. Okomarkt specializes in organic food, and there are free samples abounds. At the very least, it’ll keep the kids from getting too peckish. Speaking of snacks, Kollwitzplatz is ringed by ice-cream parlors and restaurants aimed squarely at the elbow-pulling ankle-biter market. In other words, this is the place to eat if you have kids in tow. To reach Kollwitzplatz, take metro line U2 to Senefelder Platz. It’s just a short walk from the plaza to Kollwitzplatz.
A predictable pick, perhaps, but a good one nonetheless for anyone heading to Berlin with a baby. Zoos never fail to impress kids of all ages, and Berlin Zoo is among the best anywhere in Europe. The oldest zoo in Germany, it also boasts the largest number of different animal species of any zoo in the world. One of the big highlights is the relatively new hippo aquarium, where you can see these massive animals moving around in the water. There’s also a larger, more comprehensive aquarium on site, though it costs a little extra. To reach the zoo, just head to the Zoologischer Garten metro stop, which can be reached via lines U2,U12, U9, S5, S7, S75 and S9. Come early, because this is definitely one of the best things to do with kids in Berlin.
Museums are usually a terrible place to take kids, but Berlin’s Natural History Museum (Naturkundemuseum) is one hell of an exception. More aimed at pre-teens than anyone else, the museum is a celebration of some of the coolest animals to ever walk the planet. The star attractions are the original T-Rex skeleton and the well-preserved body of Knut the polar bear. Another good museum is the Deutsches Technisches, which has some neat displays showing off the best of German ingenuity throughout the modern era. Little boys in particular will love the old trains and boats, not to mention the planes suspended from the ceiling.
Anne Frank Museum
For adults, the Holocaust Museum is pretty much mandatory for all visitors to Berlin. However, it’s a gut-wrenching experience, and don’t expect to come out feeling great about … well, anything. Some parents may view the museum as a unique educational opportunity for their kids, while others may find it a little too much. If you’d rather not expose your little ones to the raw horror of the worst of humanity, the more mild Anne Frank Museum is a great alternative that’s just as educational. It’s located in the heart of Mitte, and easily accessible.
Kinderbauernhof auf dem Görlitzer
If you’re still wondering what to do with kids in Berlin, how about getting outdoors for a while? Located in Görlitzer Park, Kreuzberg, this petting zoo is popular among locals, and even toddlers love getting up close to the farm animals. It’s nothing spectacular, but little ones will love it, and it’s almost mandatory for anyone heading to Berlin with a baby. There are a handful of other similar petting zoos around Berlin, including the nearby Pankow’s Pinke Panke. Both the Kinderbauernhof auf dem Görlitzer and Pankow’s Pinke Panke have central locations that are easily accessible.
In terms of things to do for kids in Berlin, the Tiergarten is another big ticket item. Stretching over 600 acres, the park has paddle boats, walking trails and more. In the south-eastern corner you’ll find a gargantuan playground, which is perfect for kids of all ages. The centerpiece of the park is the Siegessäule (Victory column), which offers some good views of the city below. In winter, the park becomes a massive ice skating area.
No, this isn’t a museum dedicated to the popular Dance Dance Revolution arcade game. It’s actually a fascinating, hands-on look into life in the former German Democratic Republic (aka, East Germany). The museum takes an apolitical, no nonsense look at communist state, and does well to illustrate modern Germany’s awkward relationship with the GDR. For adults who carefully read through the museum’s exhibitions, it plays out like a black comedy in the vein of the film Brazil, depicting life under the GDR as a nonsensical bureaucratic labyrinth that was as quaint as it was disturbing. This nuance might not seem ideal for kids, but the museum is so tactile that it works. Kids are free to rummage through drawers to find hidden Stasi documents, and other curious little tidbits. It all feels like you’re exploring a hidden society; peeking behind the Iron Curtain to see the secrets within. Given the subject matter is surprisingly light-hearted, and extremely well designed. Plus, the on-site restaurant is pretty good. It’s designed to look like a luxury East Berlin hotel, and serves up traditional fare like smoked pork with potatoes and sauerkraut. The menu itself offers a few dry jokes in the typical German humor, but the food is top notch.
Legoland Discovery Center
If bittersweet, sardonic odes to the former communist bloc aren’t quite your thing, then how about Lego? Yup, Lego might be a Danish invention, but Berlin’s Discovery Center is definitely one of the best things to do for kids in Berlin. With over 5 million bricks to toy with, the center literally offers hours of fun. If your kids are Lego addicts, you might want to set aside a solid half day for this one. For the most part, the center is just an endless playground packed with Lego, Lego and more Lego. Tickets are a little cheaper in the morning, but in late afternoon the crowds quiet down, and give your little ones more free reign. Whatever time you visit though, you’ll find so much stuff to do. There’s a 4D cinema that’s a lot of fun even for adults, and the ninja laser challenge is a must. The factory tour is also quite colorful, and kids get some free Lego out of it. Bear in mind though that this is exclusively for families. Adults aren’t allowed to enter unless accompanied by a child, except on scheduled grown up nights. Also, the food is a little pricey, and pretty unimpressive. Eat elsewhere if you can.
Fassbender & Rausch
Speaking of food, Berlin might be better known for beer, but there’s actually a good amount of food that kids will enjoy. Germans have a bit of a sweet tooth, with donuts being particularly popular. Cream-filled Berliners are a must, and readily available all over town. Make a beeline for any bakery, and you’re sure to find something good. However, the best place to sate your (or your kid’s) sugar craving is Fassbender & Rausch. Claiming to be the world’s largest chocolate store, it feels like a trip to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Adults and kids alike will be impressed by the chocolate displays. Ever wanted to see what Brandenburg Gate would look like if it was made entirely of chocolate? Well look no further. Don’t forget to go upstairs and see the master chocolatier in action. So if you’re struggling to find anything to do in Berlin for kids, this place is pretty much essential.
Berlin Food Tour
If you’re still hungry after a trip to Fassbender & Rausch, consider taking the Berlin Food Tour. Tours are available in both German and English, and kids pay half price. The tour combines all the best of Berlin’s culinary scene, from sauerkraut to pastries. The only one big downside is the length. The tour lasts most of the day, which is great bang for your buck, but not ideal for little ones. If your kid won’t handle an all-day food crawl, then consider sitting this one out. There are many restaurants throughout the city, and while we enjoyed many I'd like to recommend the restaurant at Savoy Hotel which had been recommended to us.
A good alternative for getting away from the hustle and bustle, Pfaueninsel (Peacock Island) is a laid back set of gardens surrounding a 17th century castle. Kids will love the castle, while adults will enjoy the art and other historic sites in the area. If you’re wondering: yes, there are peacocks, and lots of them. They roam freely, and are adorable.
Situated on the site of the Berlin Wall, the forest of Grunewald is another good place to stretch your legs. The trails are perfect for strollers, and on weekends this place is overrun by families. Come during the week though, and you’ll be treated to a tranquil experience meandering through the woods and watching the birds. There’s not much in terms of solid attractions, it’s just a nice break from the city. However, there are a few neat sites around Grunewald. History buffs should check out the memorial of the Slavic Prince Jaczo, who according to legend converted to Christianity here.
River Spree Boat Tour
Tired of walking? Consider talking a boat tour down the River Spree. Starting at Museum Island, the tours last around an hour, and offer great views of the city in a laid back atmosphere. It’s quite relaxing, and they do a good hot chocolate. It’s a perfect end-of-day activity for sleepy little ones, but not ideal for any kids on a chocolate high.
Before arriving to Berlin I had done some research and learned that Germany's capital city is actually one of the cheapest capitals in all Europe. This doesn't mean that it is particularly affordable, but its prices are very different from those you find in Rome, London, Paris or Oslo for example.
Good hotels start at around 100 EUR and the Berlin Welcome Card gets all the public transportation for a day for 20 EUR. Baby products are not particularly expensive (in fact we found diapers to be slightly cheaper than in Mexico) and you can eat in many restaurants a main dish plus a drink for under 10 EUR. If you want something simple Kebabs will set you back just around 6 EUR.
Visiting Berlin with a baby does make a lot of sense. Getting around is very easy (you can walk to most of the attractions you'll visit, food is good and affordable, and the city is clean and well organized. There are many attractions as well if you plan on visiting Berlin with kids who'll need some time of their own, and while there's plenty of history and architecture to absorb adults will enjoy all it has to offer...including the food! As for the character of Berliners we found a bit of everything: from super friendly waiters to somewhat dull pedestrians. We were there for four days and while we could have spent more time I visiting even more attractions I feel we covered a good deal of what I wanted to see as a tourist. It is one of the city's in Europe you must visit if you can!