Can you visit Berlin in one day and with a toddler in tow?
If I were to give tips about the best way to visit a city as rich in culture and history as Berlin, I would say you should take you time and devote to it at the very least a good few days. This is particularly true if you are in the company of a little person, with little person needs and wishes, often incompatible with a plan of pure and simple sight seeing.
But if 24 hours is all you have in Berlin, you should definitely embrace the opportunity and make the most of it.
We did this a couple of years ago. At the time, my son was only one and a half and I was 6 months pregnant: this meant that we had to take frequent breaks to give little and no so little legs a bit of rest, but we had a wonderful time and saw more than we expected.
Seeing Berlin with a toddler is definitely possible and surprisingly easy.
Looking for more ideas for a city break with kids? Have a look here
Berlin with a toddler: when to go
We went to Berlin in late October and we got a beautiful sunny day, with clear sky and mild temperatures. We were lucky, but the weather in Berlin is not always as mild, that time of the year: if you go in autumn, you will be rewarded with beautiful foliage, but you should definitely pack warm clothes. We had winter shoes and coats and we used the stroller sleeping bag to keep The Bear warm: especially not walking much, he would have definitely gotten cold, even in the sun.
With only 24 hours in Berlin, we thought a bus tour was our best option. I had been to Berlin before, but it was my husband’s first time and he really wanted to cover as much terrain as possible to get an idea of different areas and different city vibes.
What to do in Berlin with a toddler
A tour on public bus n. 100
Berlin has many hop on hop off bus tours to choose from, but the most budget friendly way to see the city, a part from walking, is to take public bus n. 100. This bus is very special: its route was created after the reunification of Germany as the first route connecting East and West Berlin – it links very many (if not all) the main attractions that Berlin has to offer and it does it at a price that is kind on the pockets: all you need is a public transport day ticket or a Berlin welcome card and you can hop on and off all day!
If you have a child, but even if you don’t, the best seat is the one at the top front: number 100 is a double decker yellow bus and the view from the front seat is guaranteed.
We were staying near the Tiergarten so we first headed East with the idea of working our way back during the course of the day. This, I believe, was a good idea: thanks to that wonderful bus, we were able to see many sights including:
The main crossing point between West and East Berlin during the cold war, checkpoint Charlie is disturbing and fascinating, even now that is surrounded by tacky restaurants and souvenir shops. You can even get a curry, under a sign in the shape of a sausage – not something previous generations would have expected, I am sure!
The significance of the place was lost on our son, but the area is full of coffee houses and the pavements are buggy friendly, which meant it was possible for us to visit the checkpoint site without making the visit frustrating for the Bear.
We stopped for a sandwich and while he munched away in his stroller, we were able to read the informative panels leading up to the checkpoint.
The wall, reminiscent of Berlin past but also a memento of how current the horror of war, all wars, still are.
The museum island
Berlin’s famous museum island is now listed as a UNESCO world heritage site and is indeed a truly impressive place. It hosts five museums, built between 1824 and 1930: their collections trace the development of civilizations throughout the ages and their architecture wants to show the evolution of approaches to museum design over the course of the 20th century. The island is impressive in itself but the real treasures are of course inside its museum buildings. My personal favourite, and one that also is easily enjoyable by a child, is the Pergamon museum: the impressive altar and the incredible gates to Babylon are a sight to behold and will impress all ages.
The Brandenburger Tor and the Reichstag
After a long walk along Unter den Linden and a detour to the beautiful Gendarmenmarkt, we got to The Brandenburger Tor and the Reichstag.
This turned out to be one of our son’s favourite stops: one of the local cafes’ had a chalk board menu outside and the Bear made it into a very exciting tunnel. He spent 20 minutes running in and out of it: he had the best time and I was even able to sit down and enjoy a hot chocolate!
This just goes to shows: entertaining toddlers in a city is sometimes easier than expected.
After this long tour, we hopped again on the bus and got all the way back to the terminus. There, we spotted one more of Berlin’s landmarks: the zoo. The zoo is the oldest in Germany and hosts an impressive number of animal species. I have very mixed feelings about zoos, but really wanted to see its famous entrance: it is, indeed, very impressive and right inside the zoo you will find a cute petting farm with goats and donkeys kids are sure to love.
Practical info for visiting Berlin with a toddler
Taxis and toddlers: in Berlin car seats for children are compulsory in taxis, so if you flag a cab you might have to wait for one equipped with a car seat. We didn’t have problems finding them, but sometimes it did mean a slightly longer wait.
Berlin with a buggy or stroller: we found Berlin to be overall accessible with buggies. Nearly all of the buses have ramps and so do many metro station – accessibility maps are available and can be downloaded before arrival. Find info here
Food: You will not starve in Berlin! The city is full of cafes, take outs and restaurants to suit absolutely all taste. We found all places really welcoming to families with children and from pizza to sausages to Japanese food, we were absolutely spoilt for choice. Just one word of warning, about food in Berlin: the portions are VERY generous so don’t get carried away when ordering unless you are really hungry!
Child-friendly cafes: we were very lucky with the weather, but Berlin in winter can be cold and rainy and in that case addresses of child-friendly cafes can come in handy. Here are some addresses suggested by a local mum: they do look fabulous.
http://www.mein-kiezkind.de/ which offers snacks and toys for both outside and inside games and
http://www.cafe-ballon-berlin.de/#galerie which looks like a children’s paradise!
Have you been to Berlin with a toddler? What was your favourite part?
See our day on this Travelabulous map!