Well, we survived! More than that, we had a great time. Our weekend was designed around a wedding, seeing friends and celebrating a birthday, so we weren’t focused on just seeing the sights, but I do think we got a good feel of the city, and got to see a great deal too.
So here’s my breakdown of our weekend, including our accommodation, the area we stayed in, playgrounds and outdoor swimming pools, local bars and restaurants, child-designed entertainment, and how we fit the sightseeing in with our two boys.
We stayed in the Circus Apartments in Prenzlauerberg. We had a beautifully designed, generously proportioned apartment in this well-serviced building. There is change afoot in Berlin at the moment regarding short-term lets. I don’t know enough about the background to comment, other than to say that being able to rent a self-catering space is fairly essential to city travel with kids. It’s so important to have a chilled and private place to retreat to. In our case we welcomed the escape from the extreme heat we experienced that weekend, being able to feed the kids breakfast without us all getting up and out of a hotel room, and enjoying the delights of a takeaway whilst the children slept. I wish Circus the best for the future, and hope that Berlin finds a solution that serves the locals without limiting the choice for tourists.
2. The area
The area, Prenzlauerberg, that we stayed in, was recommended by our friends who live in Berlin. They live close by so we knew that meeting up with them would be easy. They also said it was family-friendly, they were right, and that it was easy to get around from, they were right about that too. If you’re familiar with London, I would compare it to Stoke Newington. It has a definite urban feel, with all the transport links that you could ever want, an enviable range of restaurants and cafes to choose from and great parks and playgrounds. Our apartment was at the Rosenthalerplatz end of Chorinerstrasse, just around the corner from Weinbergsweg which is full to bursting with eateries. From borscht to yum cha, burritos to schnitzels, you’re spoilt for choice. And not forgetting ice cream. Our favourite gelateria by far was Giorgio Lombardi. We ate in, we ate out, and we picked up takeaway tubs for our apartment!
From borscht to yum cha, burritos to schnitzels, you’re spoilt for choice.
On our last night we chose to use one of the many delivery apps available to have food delivered to our apartment. We don’t live in an urban area, so this was something of a treat for us. We chose to go with Korean burgers from Chilees on Chorinerstrasse, and it didn’t disappoint – and yes, that is a black burger bun you can see in the picture. It’s their Wasabi Burger and it was fantastic.
3. Keeping the kids happy
Other blogs have raved about the excellence of playgrounds in Berlin. We visited two nearby, and both provided plenty of entertainment for our two. It was extremely hot when we were in the city, so we didn’t stay in the sunnier places for too long. Our local park, Volkspark am Weinbergsweg, had swings attached to many of the trees in the main park, as well as a large, exciting playground.
To escape the heat, and give the kids some exercise we headed down to the Kinderbad Monbijou. Unsurprisingly it was very busy that weekend, but provided relief from the sweaty heat, and was near some great bars and restaurants on the Spree river near
the Hackescher Markt that we also took advantage of. While we went to our friends wedding, the grandparents took the boys to Legoland Discovery Centre. We got a very detailed report the next morning from the boys who raved about the dragon, the 4D cinema, Harry Potter, building, soft play….and apparently there was more there that they didn’t do! Worth every penny I think!
4. Seeing the sights with the kids
We took a two-pronged approach to sightseeing with our boys, also taking the heat into account. On our first full day we took an hour long boat tour on the Spree. This ticked off some key buildings, museums, parliament buildings, and also gave us a sense of how the city grew up around the river.
On our last day it was much cooler, so we set ourselves a few key targets, namely the Fernsehturm, Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag and Checkpoint Charlie, the boys had their scooters, we had our day ticket to cover the transport, and we set off. By a combination of trams, U-bahn, S-bahn, bus and foot (with scooters) by covered it all, and along the way enjoyed the views from the top of the tower, the bubble-man outside the Reichstag and a wurst-snack from a street vendor.
5. On reflection
This trip has really opened us up to the possibility of planning more city breaks with the kids. We only spent a few days in Berlin, and much of it was taken up with seeing friends, or escaping the heat, so we barely scratched the surface of what Berlin has to offer. What we did see, do and eat we loved and we would love to go back. But before we do, we’re going to pick another city to explore, because city adventures with the kids are addictive and we love trying new things! So where next? Stockholm, Barcelona or Budapest? What are your top tips?