Berlin, our love! A city that’s permanently unfinished, always halfway to become something other than it is now… a place where young people from alternative subcultures and new parents from all over Europe mix together!
Berlin is our third home — after Warsaw where we live and Helsinki where we grew up.
Below we present our top 10 recommendations for parents with children. We are not good tourists — we don’t like crowds and we hate queueing — so we recommend lesser known but more authentic places. Read on!
Our top place is Berlin. No Berlin visit is complete without (at least) one visit at Torstrasse 134 in Mitte. A place we have been going on about so much that we have run into our friends from Poland there who had followed our recommendation (hi Agata and Kuba!).
Dudu is a sushi bar meets Vietnamese fusion kitchen. This might not sound that exciting but trust us — you will eat your best Pho in Dudu, as well as amazing tuna-balls, and other Japanese delicacies that will rival everything you’ve ever tasted. On top of that, Dudu is famous for its cocktails! We particularly want to recommend Moscow Mule, Dudu Mule (currants!) and other seasonal mules (eg. Mexican Mezcal Mule most recently).
Dudu is generally a casual, relaxed place, but in the evening it’s packed to the brim. Most seating spaces are at the big communal tables in the heated garden.
If you fail to find a table in Dudu, go to Prenzlauer Berg. PBerg is an old East Berlin district which after the fall of the Wall went through a sudden revival and is now one of the most sought-after residential locations — especially among European expats moving to Berlin.
It’s a very kids-friendly district, repeatedly year-after-year hitting the top 5 most “fertile” regions of EU.
Next to Waserturm you’ll also find a small park, a playground and one the very man kids clothing butiques on PBerg.
We are sorry to say our hometown, Warsaw, is a concrete jungle when compared to the green Berlin, where the ample plane trees provide shade and oxygen. The main part of the German capital is dotted with parks of various sizes, available to everyone, where it’s perfectly fine to spread a blanket, bring a picnic and have a glass of wine.
One particular feature of Berlin parks are their playgrounds — each park would have at least one, and often a few, competing with each other in style and a range of attractions. For kids this is heaven on earth and they can easily spend an entire afternoon in one of those.
Most playgrounds feature wooden elements, water installations, and kiddy zip lines to move between platforms like Indiana Jones. There are also sand-moving machines and trampolines built into the ground.
Of all Berlin playgrounds there is one that deserves a special mention — the Kolle 37 (Kollwitzstr. 35, Prenzlauer Berg). Kolle is an experimental park and playground where adults… are not allowed! (We did experience this first-hand when told off by a six-year-old from Brooklyn “Parents not allowed! Go away!”)
Kolle is a place for builders. The rules are simple; every child, upon entering, gets a hammer, a saw and 20 nails. There are wooden planks everywhere that can be made into houses, platforms or installations. In the middle of the park there is a campfire where kids can roast marshmallows.
And just to be clear — we are talking about real tools and nails, the kind you can you buy in a DIY store. The kind you can bruise your thumb with or hurt your head. Basically, Kolle is the place that does away with all the principles of ‘safe child-rearing’.
If you think you’re chilled parents, we guarantee you that a visit in the Kolle Park (especially with a small child that is at the younger end of allowed age bracket) will make you question that and test your mental endurance.
Of course, Bruno was in heaven (Sonia was too young to enter — the rules say the child must be at least six). We don’t know exactly what he did inside and how he communicated with others, not speaking neither English nor German, but even after three hours he was absolutely not ready to leave. Please note: footwear must cover toes; sandals are forbidden for quite obvious reasons.
(The pictures were taken during a rare ‘open day’ where parents are allowed in).
The Germans know how to create amazing museums suited for a young audience and Berlin is a good example of that. Here the guidebooks usually mention the Pergamon Museum with a breath-taking antiquity collection. However, we would like to recommend a less crowded Neuses Musuem with a permanent Egyptian exhibition that is simply unmissable.
Continuing the cultural exploration, we recommend the Dali museum at Postdamer Platz. The collection of Dali’s drawings illustrating the evolution of his art is particularly impressive.
Some time ago we wrote about Munich Museum of Technology. The Berlin one is similarly flawed — visitors can’t enter the vehicles or touch anything. However, it features a very interesting section on the first computers and the evolution of video games. There is also a whole floor dedicated to photography. All in all, we recommend it.
Natural History Museum in Berlin is located in Mitte (near the underground station by the same name. Inside you will find dinosaur bones, insects, animals and minerals. The latter ones made a particular impression on Bruno (he’s in the ‘Minecraft’ phase if that means anything to you). Other than that, there are lots gadgets, such as 3D Glasses for movie projections.
The Museum mascot is Bobby, a gorilla from 1920s, whose stuffed body is displayed towards the exit. Bobby can also be seen in other parts of Berlin — for example there is a Bobby statue in Berlin Zoo.
Interestingly, there is also a gigantic walk-in freezer as big as a cinema right in the middle of the museum. It’s filled with all kinds of life forms preserved in jars of formaldehyde. This we would recommend only for the non-squeamish ones (and probably adult).
After such a dose of culture it’s time to return to eating! Our first breakfast recommendation is ABC Alan’s Breakfast Club, yet another place in Prenzlauer Berg. Run by Alan, an Australian who moved to Berlin and feels so at home here now that his English is sometimes hard to understand.
The restaurant specialty is intensely red, heavenly tasting pickled salmon, prepared by the owner himself. The rest of the menu is also worth trying — scrumptious toasties, sandwiches with carefully selected avocados and fresh juices.
And to wrap things up something a bit more traditional. Many years ago our friend Max took us to Felix Austria for the first time. Max, like many Germans from the south, has a complicated German identity. He was born in Austria, identifies as Bavarian and lives in Kreuzberg in Berlin.
And this is what you can expect from Felix Austria — a Viennese café taken over by Berlin bohemians who found their home in Kreuzberg.
It’s impossible to include all the fantastic places in Berlin in just one post. Below you will find some additional recommendations: