We recently returned from a family city break to Berlin, and discovered that Berlin has a huge amount to offer families, even if you are travelling with very young children. We visited with a four year old and a two year old. There is so much to do with the family, but here are our absolute highlights:
For free city views
The historic Reichstag Building in Berlin has a large glass dome which can be climbed for 360-degree views across Berlin. It is free to visit the dome, although a visit must be booked in advance. You can find details on how to book here - Registering to visit the dome of the Reichstag building (in English) - and I would definitely recommend a visit. It's an easy sloped walk, fully pushchair accessible, and for older children and adults there is a free audio guide sharing facts about the building and the sights that you can see.
Reichstag Building Berlin
To get close to some exotic animals
The Berlin Zoological Garden opened in 1844 and is famous worldwide. It's compact, ideal for children that can't walk too far, and you can get very close to the animals which include all the zoo favourites like elephants, giraffes, lions and apes. There is also an Aquarium as part of the zoo complex, and combined tickets are available.
For indoor construction fun
The Legoland Discovery Centre is located in the Sony Centre in Potsdamer Platz. It covers two floors and is packed full of Lego attractions, as well as plenty of Lego for the children to play with. It's worth planning a visit for a less busy time as I would imagine that it would get very crowded - we visited mid-afternoon during the week and it wasn't too bad. Our favourite parts were the Factory Tour - where you can learn about how Lego is made and children can receive their own Lego souvenir brick - and the Duplo building area. There are a couple of small rides, some soft play areas, and lots and lots of Lego for the children to play with, build with and race with. We also spent a lot of time exploring Miniland - seeing the most important and famous buildings in Berlin constructed in Lego, including a little re-enactment of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Legoland Discovery Centre Berlin
For some historical background
The Brandenburg Gate, a former city gate of Berlin, is a world famous symbol for the city. You can take the U-Bahn close by and walk under the gate, continuing along Under den Linden, a leafy boulevard with plenty of historical sites along its route.
When visiting Berlin, you can't avoid being reminded of the Berlin Wall, as well as some of the darker times in German history. It's up to parents to decide how well their children will understand and cope with some of this, but I think that it's important that even younger children are aware of some of the history about the places that they are visiting. The Berlin Wall Memorial contains a long stretch of the Berlin Wall with the preserved ground behind it and is a free outdoor museum, aimed at making the history of Germany's division comprehensible to visitors.
You can also visit Checkpoint Charlie, the best known Berlin crossing point between East and West Berlin, and there is plenty of information here about attempts to cross the wall in a free open air exhibition.
Berlin Wall Memorial
For whole family play and exploration
We loved the afternoon that we spent at the Labyrinth Kindermuseum, and you can find a full report of our visit here - Labyrinth Kindermuseum Berlin. It's an absolutely wonderful place to visit with young children, and a great way to enjoy playing and exploring alongside your children.
Labyrinth Kindermuseum Berlin
To test your willpower
Since spending some time living in Germany I have been a huge fan of the German chocolate bar Ritter Sport, so we couldn't miss a visit to Ritter Sport Chocoworld - the Rittersport flagship store. You can learn a little bit about the history of the bars and how they are made, and even order your own customised bar of chocolate. We enjoyed browsing the shelves for new bars to try, and Harry had fun making up a pick and mix bag of miniature bars.
Ritter Sport Chocoworld Berlin
For miniature railway enthusiasts
LOXX Miniatur Welten is a huge indoor model railway, with miniature replications of many of the famous Berlin historical and modern sights. We enjoyed it here so much that I wrote about it in more detail here - LOXX Miniatur Welten. Definitely worth a visit, children will be enthralled and it's also a great introduction to the city.
LOXX Miniatur Welten Berlin
For hands on science play
The Deutsches Technikmuseum (Museum of Technology) is spread across several buildings. The main museum is very interesting, with lots of exhibits including trains and planes. If you have younger children though I would recommend heading straight to the Spectrum building which is packed full of interactive experiments which children will love, even those too small to fully appreciate the science behind them.
Travelling around Berlin with small children is very easy. The public transport system is quick and efficient, and never seemed too busy. All the railway stations are well provided with lifts, in many cases taking you directly down to the platform. Children aged up to 6 travel for free.
Visit Berlin kindly provided us with a Berlin Welcome Card for the duration of our visit. The Welcome Card allows you unlimited use of the public transport system in Berlin as well as generous discounts on many of the main attractions, including all the paid attractions mentioned above, and I would definitely recommend it.
What did we miss? I'd love to see you share your suggestions in the comments!
Disclosure - We paid for our trip to Berlin ourselves, but as well as a Welcome Card we were also provided with complimentary admission to some of the above attractions (LOXX Miniatur Welten Berlin, Labyrinth Kindermuseum, Berlin Zoo, Technikmuseum)