A recent Facebook post in one of the groups I follow asked "where in Berlin do you live, and why do you like it?" Well, we live in Steglitz which is located in the southwest area. There's nothing really special about it, it's not considered cool or hip and it's not exactly the kind of Berlin that I had initially imagined us living in. However, what you know about a city when you visit it as a tourist is quite different than what you know as a resident.
We spent the first year here moving between sublets in different parts of the city - Neukölln, Wilmersdorf, Prenzlauer Berg, and then ended up in Steglitz. Each area had its advantages and disadvantages, but when it came down to it we chose a green, quiet and family-friendly environment, a train ride away from what my grandma Billy used to refer to as the "hustle and bustle" of the city.
Having said that, the southwest area does have a lot to offer, especially for those who have already visited the main attractions of the city and are looking for some new activities. We have personally visited all of the following recommendations with our young kids, so naturally, they are all family-friendly. You can see them all and add them to your traveling plans here.
On a side note - if you are traveling with kids, you should also check out It's July. It's a platform that allows families to explore new destinations using local knowledge, and I was honored to be chosen as one of Berlin's community of local experts.
This is the main shopping street in the area and a hidden gem when it comes to massive shopping streets. It stretches between a few U-Bahn stations, so you could take the U9, get off at the last stop (Rathaus Steglitz) and then walk the way back to Walter Schreiber Platz station, or do it the other way around. You will find here most of the big chain stores like Uniqlo, C&A, Zara, H&M, New Yorker, Primark and many more, all in a much quieter and more relaxed atmosphere than other branches located in other parts of the city.
A few favorites of mine are Nordliebe, Depot, HEMA, Søstrene Grene and Maisons du monde, all have a variety of lifestyle and home decor goods in addition to children's departments, stationary, gifts and much more. Note that there are also three shopping malls along the street, and some stores are located inside.
If you go shopping here with young kids, make sure you give them a small break at a nice playground such as the Zirkus playground.
For coffee, breakfast or a light snack check out these terrific spots:
Lula am Markt - located a short walk (or a couple of bus stops) from the main shopping area, but it's so worth it! It's beautifully designed, the food is excellent and they serve yummy homemade pastries.
Fraulein Emily - located on a small side street, they serve wonderful coffee and food and are very kid-friendly.
Fendeicks - great coffee, great smoothies, great breakfast and great pastries.
Cafe CoCosh - if you are traveling with babies and/or toddlers you shouldn't skip this one. It's a fabulous Kinder Cafe, which means there are well-equipped play areas where the kids can play while the adults can drink their coffee in peace. The menu is of course very suitable for kids as well.
A day at the lake is one of the favorite summer activities for Berliners and there are numerous lakes around the city. The lake at Grunewald is surrounded by a beautiful forest and is easily accessible with public transportation. You can walk around the lake on a stroller-friendly and circular pathway, drink a cup of coffee at the small bistro, and, if the weather is warm enough, also enjoy the water. Note that there are many dogs in this area because dogs can walk around without a leash here, so if you're not a dog person you should probably visit another lake, such as Schlachtensee or Krume Lanke.
Those of you who live by the sea or ocean will probably not be very excited by this, but this is as close to a beach as we can get, without driving a few hours outside of Berlin. It is also very accessible with the S-Bahn (S-Bahnhof Nicholassee) and the walk from the station is really nice with greenery all around. The beach itself is perfect for families because it's equipped with all the necessary facilities, such as a snack bar, shop, bathrooms and beach tents for rent, so you can focus on enjoying a nice and relaxed day in the sun. There is also a playground on the premises but we haven't had a chance to check it out for ourselves yet. As for now, it is required to book tickets in advance through the website, and take note that Germans are planners, so you better purchase in advance if you don't want to miss your opportunity.
It is currently summer, but if you're reading this and planning a spring vacation in Berlin you shouldn't miss this beautiful avenue of cherry trees, donated to Berlin from Japan with the help of the Japanese television channel, TV Asahi, celebrating the fall of the Berlin wall. The avenue marks a pathway where a part of the wall once stood. The cherry blossom is short and lasts usually only a few short weeks during April, but it really depends on the weather. This year for example, spring came later than usual, so it blossomed in mid-May. You can get here easily with the S-Bahn, but know that there aren't any shops or cafes nearby, so it's better to bring something with you for a nice and pretty picnic.
my husband is originally from a small village in northern Israel, but I am, and probably always will be, a city gal. I do, however, love to visit the countryside and enjoy some peace and quiet from time to time. That's why I was really excited to discover this gem. It's a working organic farm in the middle of the city, easily accessible via bus or U-Bahn. There are crops, animals such as chickens, pigs, goats and horses, tractors and much more. There are comfortable walking paths around the farm and on Saturdays, you could also enjoy a small farmers market. We visited a few times and have always enjoyed it here.
strolling around the beautiful botanical garden is very relaxing and inspiring. I love getting lost in its many small pathways, walking around the lakes and noticing different plants, colors and details every time. The marvelous greenhouses have been closed due to Covid for the past year and recently reopened its doors. I was able to see them before the pandemic and they were extremely rich and interesting. You should also know that every year they hold the "Botanical night" exhibition, featuring installations with lights and music along a guided path throughout the garden. Usually, it takes place around Christmas, but this year it was rescheduled to the end of August and the beginning of September, so check out their website if you are in the area.
Berlin is extremely green and there are many wonderful parks all over the city. One of our favorites in the area is this nature reserve, located in the south area of Schöneberg. The paths follow an old railway, visitors are greeted by an old train locomotive upon entry and there are different railroad relics scattered throughout the park. Our son is a huge train fanatic, so it was a big hit. The circular paths are slightly elevated above the ground and therefore easily accessible for strollers and young kids. Artistic elements and structures are located along the pathways, making it extra fun and exciting for the little ones.
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