Two days in Berlin with kids: from history to Lego play areas, this is our family friendly itinerary for a trip to Berlin for all ages.
We are just back from a family weekend in Berlin and wow, what an amazing weekend it has been!
We planned 2 days in the city as an add-on to a work trip to Hamburg and because of the last minute nature of the trip, I had little expectations. I knew Berlin would be amazing (I had been many times before, the last with Mr M as a toddler) but things worked out in such a way I would be alone with the kids in the city, something not always conducive to the most relaxing sightseeing!
However, it all went amazingly well. I made a plan for the weekend, allowed for the many changes the kids would inevitably demand and went with the flow.
It ended up being great and so I now feel like sharing our itinerary so if you have 2 days in Berlin with kids, you can hopefully get inspired!
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Arrival and settling in
We arrived to Berlin Hauptbanhof on a sunny afternoon, at about 6. We had boarded the train earlier in Hamburg and as we stepped out we were welcomed by a glorious Berlin summer evening, with the city bathing in golden, end of the day light.
Berlin Hauptbanhof is a sight in itself but my first worry on arrival was figuring out how to get hold of a Berlin card and I head little attention for my surroundings.
In Hamburg, we had the Hamburg card, which allowed us to get on an off any public transport we wanted, and I was keen in getting the same in Berlin. Not having to worry about fares and rummaging through my bag each time we got on a bus was so handy!
Luck was on my side and I quickly spotted the Berlin visitors information center, just beside the main entrance to the station.
There, I invested 19 euro in a 2 day city pass, got hold of a city map and immediately felt much better prepared!
After taking in the sight of the Reichstag, beside the station, we got on the tram and checked into our hotel.
Our hotel in Berlin was called Calma and it was a nice, 3 star hotel on a side street in Mitte. The hotel is lovely and we had a large family room but the best thing about the place is the location: close to both trams and metro station and surrounded by restaurants and eateries.
It was a convenient base for us and we quickly went out again for dinner. Out choice fell onto the Italian around the corner, which for 4.50 euro (yes, really!) served us lovely pizza, pasta and, for me , great chilled German beer.
If you want to check out our hotel, you can find it on booking.com here make sure you ask for a room overlooking the yard rather than the road as it can get noisy!
2 days in Berlin with kids: itinerary
Weekend in Berlin day 1: sightseeing
Our first full day in Berlin saw me determined to do some sightseeing and so, after a quick breakfast in the bakery in front of the hotel, we went to our first destination.
The Pergamon museum
I visited the Pergamon museums for the first time many years ago and it is one of the most impressive museums I have ever seen. The star of the show here is the altar that gives the name to the museum itself but there is a lot more to see. To name just the most eye catching pieces, the museum also has a reconstruction of the Isthar gate to Babylon and the huge market gate of Miletus, reconstructed in all its splendour.
On the day of our visit the altar room was closed (It is under restaurant for a few more years) so I had managed expectations telling the kids all about Babylon, its impressive gate and civilization.
I have always loved ancient civilizations and, as we entered the museum, my soul was filled with joy and awe: it brought me back to my college years spent studying classics and made surface that very special emotion that creeps on me whenever in front of larger than life beauty.
To be fully honest with you, the kids were not as impressed. I thought the massive lions depicted in colourful tiles would pique their interest but it just wasn’t meant to be. They did listen to my explanations and had some fun with the many winged lions and peculiar creatures carved in stone now adorning the museum. However, if I was to say the museum itself was a hit, I would be lying.
The Pergamon museum is very much a stop for grown ups and they only regained a somewhat decent mood when left running wild in the yard outside it!
After the museum we took it easy in front of Berliner dom, about 1 minute down the road from the museum island. Here, we sat on the grass, played with the fountain and listened to the street performer strumming his guitars with the notes of stairway to heaven. The kids enjoyed the stop and even if we didn’t enter the Dom itself, I loved looking at its imposing size and elaborate facade.
Brandeburger tor and hot dogs
Our third stop of the day was the Brandeburger tor. The gate is iconic and something I wanted to show the kids as a recognizable symbol of Berlin and it turned to much better an attraction that I had anticipated.
As well as the gate itself, we found here a stand with hot-dogs and juice, Starbucks (which was mostly useful because of free access to their toilets!) and one more street performer that kept the kids entertainer for ages with massive soap bubbles!
I posted a photo of him on Instagram and a friend commented she remembers a similar act from years ago. While I can’t guarantee you’ll get bubbles, I do think there is a good chance especially considering how popular a spot this is for shows of various sorts.
Memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe
After the bubbles I decided to tackle a difficult stop and brought the kids to the memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe.
The memorial is an outdoor space just beside the Brandeburger Tor and the American embassy and I thought long and hard before going. I wanted to see it and I wanted to take the opportunity of a visit to Berlin to tell the kids a little bit about the holocaust and the war, but at the same time I didn’t want to scare them or make them see disturbing scenes that would stay with them without keys to elaborate them.
In the end, especially because of the heartbreaking stories coming from migrant families across the globe, I decided I wanted to try tackle the topic and the memorial turned out to be a good place to do so.
The monument itself is a series of grey columns of different heights forming parallel rows across a wide space, in the middle of Berlin. An information centre (closed when we visited) tells the story and the symbolism of the place but the memorial is powerful and thought provoking even if you don’t know much about its design.
Before we went,I explained to the kids what the monument was commemorating and made sure they would get the importance of the place. I am not sure they fully did but at least partially I think it did sink in: the place would be a dream to play hide and sick but the kids did not even hint at doing that and I caught them walking along the narrow lanes between the columns in silence.
I couldn’t get out of them what it was they were thinking, but it told me they felt that the place was one for introspection rather than play.
After the memorial we switched gear entirely and made our way to the only kids attraction of the day: the lego discovery centre near Potzdamer Platz.
Potzdamer platz is a short stroll away from the Brandeburger Tor and the memorial and it is in itself a sight to behold. Built over the wasteland that was the area around the wall, now the square is surrounded by beautiful futuristic buildings, overlooking a massive metro stop and the remains of part of the wall.
The juxtaposition of the wall remains and new buildings epitomizes what Berlin is about: a city that doesn’t want to forget its history but that is not afraid of the new and welcomes change.
Lego Discovery Centre
Beside Potzdamer platz there is a large shopping centre with shops, cinema and café and what turned out to be one of the highlights of the kids’ trip: Berlin’s Lego discovery centre
The Lego centre is a large indoor Lego play area. Here you have several ‘stations’ where kids can try their hand at many Lego builds (buildings, vehicles on wheels, free builds etc) and several additional attractions inspired by the Lego characters.
My daughter was overly fond of a Ninjago game where you have to pass a room with infrared alarms (mission impossible style) while my son spent hours building cars and making them roll down elaborate car racing tacks. They both also loved the slide and (small) climbing frames and eyed attentively the kids food on offer at the local restaurant!
The star of the show for me was the reconstruction of Berlin in Lego bricks, which reenacts the fall of the Berlin wall!
We left Lego discovery late in the afternoon and after one more pizza in our favourite Italian place, we went home for some well deserved rest.
Berlin family weekend day 2
Day 2 in Berlin was a special day for us as it was the day when my Mr M turned 8!
He was in charge of deciding what to do during the day and he was given the choice to either go to the natural history museum or the zoo.
He picked the zoo but this is when the plan had to stay flexible: little Ms E did not take well not to be able to decide ‘anything’ and demanded to pick a placer herself. I caved in and decided to give this a go, depending on how feasible her request was.
It turned out to be a great decision: she picked a pretty random place on the map and this turned out to be no less than the East Side Gallery, the longest stretch now remaining of the Berlin wall!
East side gallery
We decided to go there first and it was a great stop.
Even just crossing Berlin by train allowed us to glimpse at places we would have otherwise missed and the wall itself was truly incredible to see. The stretch surviving is now entirely covered by street art, all of it inspired by the place and the events evoked by the wall. It was a great opportunity to talk to the kids a little more about walls, their intentions and their reality
The second and main stop of the day was the zoo, the famous Tiergarden zoological gardens. Berlin zoo is well known and indeed it is a pleasure to visit.
They have very many species of animals here, some as special as pandas (they live in a gorgeous Chinese garden and are super cute) and it is a space truly well organised. The kids can watch the animals, listen to zookeepers talks and play at the several playgrounds. They can even get up close and personal with the animals in the little petting farm.
It was a great day: we had lunch here and ended up spending most of the day at the climbing frames, which my kids simply could not have enough of.
Check point Charlie
As evening approached, I made one last stop: check point charlie.
The kids were very taken by it (I presume because of the name which is indeed catchy) but to be honest, I was overwhelmed by the tackiness of it.
The check point itself is very interesting and it would be powerful too but it is very much a tourist attraction now, rather then a memorial or memento. It is full of souvenir shops and selfie opportunities and while still worth seeing, I did feel it was a wasted learning opportunity for us.
After this last stop we headed to our last dinner in Berlin.
We went to a Bavarian place near check point Charlie that was advertised as equipped with kids menus and a play area but sadly it was not the case anymore. The pace had changed ownership and the kids entertainment was kind of gone.
However, we still managed to have a good time: we caught a table outside, a generous portion of schnitzel and fries and said goodnight to Berlin in style, ready to catch an early flight the following day.
While 2 days in Berlin are not enough to even scratch the surface, we were happy with our weekend and highly recommend a stop in this city to families with kids of all ages.
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