Berlin Family Adventure: A Complete Guide for the Ultimate Trip

Discovering Berlin with Kids

After our first urban family vacation in London last Passover, my teenager decided he prefers only city vacations! It seems he got tired of all the nature I’ve been immersing him in for 13 years 🙂

For his 13th birthday, indeed a Bar Mitzvah, he chose an urban and surprising destination – Berlin!

So, what can you do in Berlin with children and teenagers? A lot!! Berlin proved to be an amazing destination for families, filled with attractions, urban nature, markets, trendy and cool neighborhoods, street music and performances, and we even found active and sporty activities like biking in the park, canoeing on the Spree River, and more.

This was a second visit for me and Yair. We visited Berlin about twenty years ago as young students on behalf of the Technion. I will include photos from that previous visit throughout the post.

This is also the birthplace of my dear grandfather, Fritz Klemann, my mother’s father. My grandfather emigrated to Israel shortly before World War II broke out and founded Kibbutz Ein Gev near the Sea of Galilee

Berlin with Kids and Teenagers - The Guide to a Family Trip in Berlin

  • Arrival from the airport: It’s very easy to get to the city from the airport using the S9 train, which is part of the city’s transportation network. The train reaches central locations in Berlin such as Zoologischer Garten and Alexanderplatz.
  • Accommodation: When I started looking for suitable accommodation for us, I realized that Berlin doesn’t really have a center. There are several central areas. The two most central areas are Mitte, which is essentially the center of East Berlin, and Kudamm (Kurfürstendamm), the center of West Berlin. When we visited Berlin twenty years ago, we stayed in the Mitte area at the famous Alexanderplatz, which belonged to East Berlin. This time, we chose the Kudamm area. After reunification, Kudamm remained the bourgeois area of Berlin. It is abundant with good restaurants and interesting bars, hotels, shops, and malls. It is adjacent to the large Tiergarten park and the famous zoo. Of course, it is well-served by convenient public transportation, including subway and overground trains, as well as a train station from which you can head to destinations outside Berlin. We found it very pleasant to start and end our day in Kudamm. We chose the Crowne Plaza Berlin City Centre hotel in Kudamm.

Further Top Recommendations for Staying in Berlin

מלון מצוין בלב הקודאם

מלון דירות מהמם המתאים מאד למשפחות. במרכז איזור הבילויים. 

ממקום על רחוב הקניות המפורסם Friedrichstrasse ברובע מיטה.

Transportation: Public transportation in Berlin is amazing. It consists of overground trains (S), underground trains (U), ferries (F), trams, and buses (M). You can purchase a single, daily, weekly, or monthly ticket. The city is mapped into zones: A, B, C. During your visit, you will mostly be in zones A and B, so a ticket that covers just those is sufficient. For arrival from the airport, you need to buy a ticket that also covers zone C. For trips outside Berlin to places like Potsdam and the famous Spreewald, you also need to purchase a ticket that includes zone C.

Anyone over the age of 14 must have a ticket. Children aged 6-14 are eligible for a discount on some types of tickets, and in some cases, they can travel for free when accompanied by an adult (for example, with a daily ticket). If you have purchased a weekly ticket for zones A and B and one day wish to travel to zone C, you can buy a one-time supplement – an extension ticket.

A Family Trip to Berlin: Parks, Museums and Attractions Not to Miss, Tips and Recommendations for the Perfect Vacation.

Day 1 - Berlin's Center - Unter den Linden. We're off!

We started our day with a VR attraction called TimeRide, which is very suitable for a trip with children in Berlin. This attraction illustrates what life was like in the shadow of the Wall during the Cold War. Using a stationary bus, participants wear virtual reality glasses and embark on a thirty-year virtual journey back in time.

This is an experiential journey that allows you to experience a virtual tourist bus ride, transporting you from the free and open world of the West to the communist and closed East. During the tour, you’ll get a close look at the daily lives of East German residents and be impressed by the stark and fascinating changes between the two parts of the city.

Close to TimeRide is the famous Checkpoint Charlie. This was actually a guard post that serves as a landmark for the border between East and West Berlin.

Near Checkpoint Charlie, there’s an interesting museum:

THE WALL – asisi Panorama – The stunning display of the Berlin Wall is located exactly at the point where the Berlin Wall once divided the city into two. Today, with the help of innovative and advanced technologies, the exhibit invites visitors to walk through a time tunnel and overlook life during the era of the Wall, before it fell and the city was reunited. This is a unique opportunity to experience and understand the tension and hope that characterized this period in history.

We headed north towards Friedrichstraße, whose northern continuation is one of Berlin’s cultural and shopping centers, and proceeded to the sweet highlight of the day, the Rausch Schokoladenhaus store. This is the most worthwhile and famous chocolate shop in Berlin. The store features a huge praline counter and chocolate sculptures of all the famous places like the Brandenburg Gate, the TV Tower, and more. It’s a must to stock up on pralines for the walk (ours were gone within minutes…).

We left the chocolate shop with our spirits high, heading towards Gendarmenmarkt square. In this charming and beautiful square, you’ll find two twin churches: the French Cathedral and the German Cathedral.

Near the square is another famous chocolate shop – Ritter Sport Bunte Schokowelt Berlin. This flagship store of the well-known chocolate brand features demonstration workshops, games, and the opportunity to create your own chocolate bars. In our opinion, it’s not as impressive as Rausch Schokoladenhaus, but it’s worth a short visit.

Unter den Linden

From there, we continued to the famous Unter den Linden boulevard. On our way, we passed another very famous square – Bebelplatz. Around the square are grand and famous buildings. However, nothing can erase what happened here in May 1933. In this square, over twenty thousand books by Jewish, communist, and homosexual authors, considered inferior, corrupt, and worthy of destruction by the Nazi regime according to racial theory, one of the milestones in the rise of the Nazi regime and the implementation of its racial doctrine, were burned. In memory of the event, a memorial created by Israeli artist Micha Ullman in 1995 was erected. The memorial is essentially an underground empty library. The library exhibit can be seen through a transparent floor in the center of the square.

כיכר בבל ברלין ילדים בני נוער מסלול

The Unter den Linden boulevard, which crosses the center of Berlin, began its journey in the 16th century as a carriage path to the hunting fields in Tiergarten. Many years later, in 1647, lime trees were planted along it, symbolizing its status as the city’s main boulevard. The boulevard connects the Brandenburg Gate with Museum Island.

On Unter den Linden boulevard, you’ll find another attraction that is very suitable for teenagers and children, especially boys. The Volkswagen Empire – DRIVE. Volkswagen Group Forum. It is essentially a giant Volkswagen car store, which also includes a simulator that allows for a driving experience.

We continued walking along the boulevard until we reached the Brandenburg Gate. Adjacent to the Brandenburg Gate is one of the most famous attractions – Madame Tussauds Berlin, the German branch of the famous chain of wax museums with locations around the world. In the museum, you can have fun with over 120 different wax figures of local and international celebrities and public figures. Honestly, the museum positively surprised me! I usually have an aversion to attractions of this kind. The teenager really wanted to visit here after I managed to avoid it during our trip to London. It turned out to be an especially enjoyable and fun hour!

Brandenburger Tor

The Madame Tussauds Museum is located right at the Brandenburg Gate. By this point, we were already feeling tired. The sun was pleasant, and we decided to rest in the square, basking in the warming sun. The square at the Brandenburg Gate is always full of action: street performances, jugglers, music, and mainly joy.

Some nostalgic photos from the past:

Right next to the Brandenburg Gate is also the Holocaust Memorial. The memorial was established in 2005, directly opposite the United States Embassy building in Berlin. During the Nazi regime, this was the location of Hitler’s chancellery. The memorial consists of 2,711 concrete slabs of varying heights.

From there, we continued on foot south to Potsdamer Platz in order to take the subway to one of the coolest places in Berlin – the Markthalle Neun food market.

Right next to Potsdamer Platz is an excellent museum that, unfortunately, we didn’t manage to visit – the Spy Museum. The museum presents the world of espionage through advanced multimedia and interactive displays. It is particularly suitable for teenagers rather than younger children. You can also find a laser maze there, just like in the movies.

The Markthalle Neun Food Market - An Experience for the Whole Family

At the Markthalle Neun food market, you can enjoy numerous stalls offering delicious and intriguing dishes. The dishes come to the market from the city’s coolest restaurants and are sold in more affordable and accessible versions. We spent about two hours at the market, eating, drinking, having dessert, and returned to the hotel full and satisfied.

The market is located in one of Berlin’s most picturesque and trendy neighborhoods – Kreuzberg. In general, Berlin has many cool and rejuvenating areas and picturesque neighborhoods. We visited several of them during the rest of the vacation.

Day 2 - A Fun Day with Kids and Teenagers in North Mitte, the Hackesche Höfe Courtyard Complex, the Jewish Quarter, and for the Finale - Berlin Dungeon

We started our second day with a visit to Berlin Cathedral, a magnificent 19th-century cathedral featuring an organ with 7,269 pipes, royal tombs, and a dome offering a panoramic view of the city. Tickets for entry: here

Photos of then and now.

Hackesche Höfe and the Jewish Quarter - One of Berlin's Trendiest Neighborhoods

We continued to the Hackesche area. This area was home to a Jewish population until World War II and today is one of Berlin’s trendiest neighborhoods. Here, you can find picturesque alleys, galleries, and inner courtyards filled with beautiful shops and unique cafes.

One of the special places in the neighborhood is Hackesche Höfe – the complex of courtyards. Today, it serves as a center for art, galleries, cafes, and graffiti. It is actually composed of eight courtyards that were built in the early twentieth century and were primarily inhabited by Jews. Later, the owner was forced to sell the complex because he was Jewish, and only in the 1990s were the rights restored to his heirs.

Today, the atmosphere is trendy and cool, everything is colorful, and the galleries are charming.

Before the war, the Hackesche (Hackesche Höfe) area was a very important Jewish district. In 1991, a memorial was placed in the quarter by the German artist Gunter Demnig – Stolpersteine, or “Stumbling Stones.” This is not a standard memorial. Throughout the quarter, golden paving stones are embedded, inscribed with the names of Jews who lived in the houses, their birth dates, and a note on their fate during the Holocaust.

Here is also located the New Synagogue – Neue Synagoge Berlin.

We continued wandering through the Jewish Quarter and arrived at another courtyard complex, less famous – Heckmann-Höfe (Heckmann Courtyards). The atmosphere here is more serene and tranquil. The courtyards are filled with small shops, galleries, and even a candy factory.

By this point, we were really hungry. The neighborhood is full of galleries and charming cafes. We chose a vegetarian cafe called FACTORY GIRL Restaurant – a special place!

Berlin with Kids: The Most Recommended Family Attractions Near Berliner Dom Cathedral

The afternoon arrived, and we were on our way to the day’s attraction – the Berlin Dungeon. We returned through the beautiful streets to the area of the Berlin Cathedral, where the Berlin Dungeon is located :-). The Dungeon is essentially a one-hour horror show that presents the dark history of Berlin. During the tour, visitors pass through various underground rooms. In each room, actors await to scare the audience, sometimes involving them, all with appropriate decor and music. A very cool attraction for teenagers. Less recommended for small children. Advance booking is required!!

In the cathedral area, there are two more nice museums that we didn’t manage to visit.

DDR Museum (East Germany Museum) – A museum that displays daily life in Germany before reunification with interactive exhibitions.

Another charming museum is the Illuseum Berlin, an interactive gallery featuring educational games, holograms, optical illusions, and a vortex tunnel.

The AquaDom Berlin & Sea Life Berlin is also located in the cathedral area and is highly recommended for a visit! Here, you can closely encounter 5,000 marine creatures in their natural environment. At the heart of the aquarium is the AquaDom, a cylindrical transparent aquarium that is 25 meters tall.

After the Dungeon adventure, we decided to head back to the hotel, but not before stopping by the famous Lindt store in Kudamm.

Day 3 - Family Favorites: Self-Guided Canoe Tour on the Spree River, Exploring Friedrichshain and Discovering the Computer Games Museum.

After two days of walking around the city, we started the day with an active activity. Canoeing on the Spree River. The eastern part of the Spree flows near Treptower Park, a particularly green area. We rented the canoe from Bootsverleih-Kreuzberg company.

Along the way, we stopped at an island in the middle of the river, at a beer garden. We drank and snacked.

If you don’t feel like exerting yourself, you can always join an organized boat tour on the Spree River. The tour departs from the dock near Museum Island.

After the cruise, we walked towards the Friedrichshain neighborhood. We crossed the river via the famous Oberbaum Bridge, a two-tier bridge inaugurated in 1896 that spans the Spree River and featured in the movie “Run Lola Run”. We continued on foot to the neighborhood. Friedrichshain is another trendy, rejuvenating area, filled with interesting graffiti. On Saturdays, a particularly worthwhile farmers’ market is held in the central square. The square is surrounded by cafes, restaurants, and bars.

Right next to the Oberbaum Bridge is one of the famous galleries – the East Side Gallery. It is essentially a preserved graffiti created by 118 artists that covers a part of the Berlin Wall and commemorates its fall.

Adjacent to the gallery is The Wall Museum. This is essentially a multimedia exhibition that displays the history of the Berlin Wall, with segments from news broadcasts and filmed interviews.

We’re on our way to the vibrant Saturday market of the Friedrichshain neighborhood, passing by local graffiti, galleries, and charming pop-up shops. It’s a trendy neighborhood with a cool vibe.

The afternoon arrived, and with it, the chosen daily attraction – the Computer Games Museum! How could we not, with two teenage boys.

The Computer Games Museum opened in 2011 with rare games, classic games that are still operational, and art related to gaming. You can experience computer games throughout history, from the oldest to the present day!

The only downside is that the place is not air-conditioned in the summer…

Day 4: Tiergarten Bike Adventure, Mauerpark Flea Market, and Blue Man Group Finale!

Tiergarten: The Grand Green Heart of Berlin

Sunday, most shops are closed but there’s still plenty to do in Berlin! Interesting markets, street performances, and vast green spaces – like Tiergarten Park, where locals come to relax and unwind. We chose to go for a family bike ride in the park. There are plenty of bike rental stations in Berlin. We rented bikes from our hotel, Crowne Plaza Berlin City Centre.

We rode from Kudamm through the park to the Victory Column. The Victory Column is a 67-meter-tall golden pillar commemorating the victory in the Prussian-Danish war, with a viewing platform overlooking the cityscapes.

Some nostalgic photos of the Victory Column…

Explore the Iconic Reichstag Building: A Symbol of German History - Reichstagsgebäude

We glided through the park’s magical trails, surrounded by lush greenery, vibrant blooms, and the gentle sound of water.

Our journey led us to the iconic Brandenburg Gate, and nearby, the majestic Reichstag Building, home to the German parliament. Constructed in the 19th century, the Reichstag boasts a Neo-Renaissance architecture, crowned with a glass dome by Norman Foster that provides a panoramic 360-degree view of Berlin.

Visiting the interior is a must-do! Although we explored it back in 2004, we chose to forgo it on this family outing.

Admission is complimentary, but it’s essential to reserve tickets ahead of time. Here.

Sharing some throwback photos from our visit two decades ago.

We continued our bike journey, heading back into the serene park after passing through the Brandenburg Gate. We meandered through manicured gardens flanked by tranquil lakes, all enveloped in a peaceful and pastoral ambiance.

Cycling is ideal even on warm days, thanks to the ample shade provided throughout the park.

Explore the Charm of Berlin: Mauerpark Flea Market Highlights

After the bike ride, the teenagers decided to stay and relax at the hotel, heading down to the pool.

We opted to travel to the other side of the city to Mauerpark. On Sundays, in the Prenzlauer Berg area, Mauerpark hosts a massive flea market. It’s the coolest market in the city! Featuring stalls with clothes, books, records, posters, used CDs, vintage bicycles, 50s furniture, and items from the communist era. The place is dotted with numerous food stalls, including vegan and vegetarian options, bars, and cafes. Additionally, you can enjoy the beautiful atmosphere of street performances, music, and more.

If you’re interested in participating in a graffiti workshop, Mauerpark offers such a workshop where you can try your hand at graffiti painting on a section of the Berlin Wall. Among other things, you’ll learn about graffiti culture and even have your creation documented and photographed by a professional photographer.

Blue Man Group Berlin Show

After soaking up some of the atmosphere, we hurried back to the hotel to pick up the teenagers for the Blue Man Group show. Blue Man Group is a stunningly beautiful performance featuring three blue artists who deliver a humorous and mesmerizing show, accompanied by a band. The show engages the audience with funny interactions, dazzling lighting, music, and plenty of pyrotechnics.

הופעת בלו מן ברלין משפחות מתבגרים

Day 5 - Tropical Islands: An Exotic Escape Near Berlin

Tropical Islands Water Park: Dive into Berlin's Exotic Aquatic Adventure

An hour’s train ride from Berlin is the Tropical Islands water park, designed as a tropical island with tropical vegetation and even animals, all housed under a transparent dome.

The journey to the park is by a train that is not included in Berlin’s public transportation network, outside zones A, B, C.

The park is fantastic for children and teenagers. You’ll find slides of all levels and types, lazy rivers, a mini-golf area, restaurants, and there’s even an option to stay overnight. We spent an entire day here.

Getting there: Take the RE2 train from any of Berlin’s central stations to the Brand Tropical Islands station. A shuttle bus from the water park awaits at the station. A ten-minute ride and you’re at the park. There’s really no need to rent a car for this day.

Day 6: Final Vacation Day - Exploring Nikolaiviertel, Alexanderplatz, and a Shopping Spree

On our last vacation day, we opted for a relaxed day with some shopping. We woke up to an especially hot day. It’s important to note that Berlin’s public transportation isn’t built for such days! The buses lack air conditioning, and the trains don’t always have it running.

We set out towards Alexanderplatz. Alexanderplatz is a central square in what used to be East Berlin. In the early 20th century, large department stores were built around it, turning it into a bustling traffic hub and the vibrant center of the city.

After Germany’s reunification and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the square became a popular shopping area featuring fashion stores, the large electronics store Saturn, and a branch of the budget clothing chain Primark. The square hosts many events, including Christmas markets and fairs.

Alexanderplatz is a major transportation hub in Berlin, with a train station for leaving the city, making staying in the Alexanderplatz area very convenient for getting around.

We took a bus towards the square and got off a stop early to visit another beautiful and trendy neighborhood – the Nikolaiviertel. Nikolaiviertel stretches over the area where Berlin was founded and began to develop in the 12th and 13th centuries. It is paved with narrow, picturesque pedestrian streets filled with traditional German restaurants and souvenir shops.

From Nikolaiviertel, we directly headed to Alexanderplatz. The square is vast, with a pedestrian street full of brand stores at its center. Around it are several famous shopping malls.

In Alexanderplatz, you can also find Berlin’s miniature city. This is essentially an interactive exhibition with fascinating special effects and projections that present Berlin in miniature form. Here, you can see all the buildings you’ve encountered during your visit to Berlin, but in a smaller scale.

In the center of the square stands the TV Tower. The tower features a famous observation deck offering panoramic views of all of Berlin. Long lines stretch at its entrance, especially in the summer. It’s recommended to purchase tickets in advance and skip the line.

Another famous observation point is located at Potsdamer Platz, Panoramapunkt Berlin. Ascend to the 24th floor in Europe’s fastest elevator to a height of 100 meters! At the top, you’ll find an exhibition on the history of Potsdamer Platz.

After a tiring round of shopping, we returned to the hotel to prepare for the flight back home.

Summary

Our delightful family vacation has drawn to a close.

We uncovered a breathtaking Berlin, perfect for a family getaway with teenagers. The city boasts an array of museums appealing to all family members, numerous attractions, and active pursuits like cycling, rope parks, canoe and kayak rides, and more. We stumbled upon quaint and stylish neighborhoods, along with numerous vibrant and evolving areas that are a pleasure to explore. Not to mention, Berlin is home to a variety of captivating markets: from food, fruits, and vegetables to flea markets and souvenirs, all set against a backdrop of lively ambiance.

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