Before moving from the Mediterranean weather of sunny Israel to Berlin, one of my main concerns was the cold weather. I remember taking our dog Louie for a walk in our neighborhood just outside Tel Aviv, during what was a typical Israeli winter evening, and worrying about how I would adjust to the European snowy and frozen days. 4 years and 3 winters later, I can say that it’s not that bad. Yes, the winter here is long. Yes, I find myself enjoying every tiny bit of sunshine that I can get during the colder months. And yes, exploring the city with kids during the wintertime can be very uncomfortable. Just getting dressed to get outside the door, when all four of us have to put on our winter gear, can be exhausting. And don’t even get me started on pushing the stroller around town after it snowed.
Having said that, a city like Berlin has a lot to offer families who wish to visit during winter. The true locals don't believe in bad weather, only bad clothing, and can spend a day out on the playground or the forest, even when it's extremely cold. We are not there yet, and after an hour or so we need to warm ourselves up and run inside. Luckily for us, since the winter is very long, there are many indoor activities to choose from.
Here are a few of our favorites, all are listed in this Google Maps list as well:
A children's museum in Prenzlauer Berg with temporary exhibitions on different themes and a permanent indoor play area on the second floor. We were there twice for two different exhibitions and really enjoyed it. There are also craft tables with relevant materials and lots of areas to explore. If you visit, don't miss the amazing pastries next door at Cookies and Co.
Most of you are probably familiar with this Insta-ready attraction with different backdrops for exploring, playing, and of course - photographing. It's a bit pricey, but suitable for different ages. We went there with a baby, a toddler, young kids, pre-teens and adults, and we all liked the experience, and got some great family photos from it.
That being said, an hour or so was enough for us, so it's possible to combine it with something else. You could easily take a hop-on-hop-off bus from there, explore the beautiful Tiergarten if the weather is nice, go shopping at the Mall of Berlin, visit the museum of musical instruments if you're up for something more educational, and/or grab a burger at Burgermeister.
Walking distance from Hauptbahnhof and by the lovely Spree river is the Futurium museum, which explores the future from different angles, such as climate, housing, technology, food and innovation. The building is amazing and very accessible, and the exhibition is very interactive and could appeal to different ages. On the top floor, there is a restaurant and a balcony overlooking the city. Oh, and it's free! If you are here, you could check out what is showcased at the Hamburger Bahnhof museum or visit the Museum für Naturkunde.
A children's museum with a permanent exhibition on all aspects of food - how it is grown and made, how it reaches our plates, shopping, cooking and eating, while discussing topics like environment, healthy eating, distribution and much more, all in a very child-friendly and interactive way. It is far from the city center but easily reachable using public transportation (S2 - S-Bahn station Lichtenrade).
Two large museums, located side by side. Entry to both is possible with one ticket per person. The museum of technology is all about the development of different vehicles, such as trains, airplanes and ships, and types of machinery like textiles, print and computers.
Its next-door neighbor, the Science Center Spectrum is devoted to science with different experiments on sound, vision, gravity, electricity and more. It is smaller but more interactive, and I imagine that most kids would love it. If you need a break between the two, and the weather is not too cold or stormy, you could visit the enjoyable Park am Gleisdreieck and its many playgrounds, green areas, skatepark and street-art views.
Another great duo for a fun family-friendly activity for every weather. The zoo is very large and offers a few indoor areas that would allow you to escape bad weather, such as hippo bay, the empire of the hunters, the home of the monkeys and more. There are also amazing playgrounds that could offer the kids some excitement in between animal-spottings.
The Aquarium is right next door and is entirely indoors. There is a large area at the edge of the first floor where the kids can run (or crawl) around and it’s always my kids’ personal favorite.
One of Berlin’s most famous sites is the glass dome above the 19th-century building, which functions as the home of the German Parliament. The Dome was designed by the British architect Sir Norman Foster in 1994 and is made out of steel and glass. Spiral ramps lead the visitors up to an amazing view of the city, and kids (mine at least) love running up and down the pathways. It is a very impressive building and the visit is completely free, though you do need to book your tickets in advance.
Yet another children’s museum, even though it’s not as impressive as others that I mentioned here, it still offers some nice and interesting indoor time with the kids. Definitely better than a crowded indoor playground. The exhibition takes place in a large industrial building and focuses on ecological themes such as protecting the environment, climate change and animal kingdoms. If you made it all the way there, consider visiting the children’s farm Pinke-Panke, I haven’t visited it yet personally, but heard that it’s really charming and well worth a visit. The farm is outdoors though, so take that under consideration.
There are quite a few cute ones around the city, most of which I haven’t gotten around to visiting myself. The concept is very simple - you can have a cup of coffee, with a piece of cake or a bite to eat, while the kids are playing in the play areas. Amazing, right? The menus and facilities are naturally very accommodating for young kids and babies. The quality of the food and drinks, as well as the variety of toys and activities, vary from one cafe to the other. One cafe that I highly recommend (and have even mentioned in a previous post) is Cafe CoCosh in Steglitz. The food and drinks are great, lots of toys and activities for babies and toddlers, and the owners are super nice and accomodating. You need to go out of the city center for it, but there are great shopping opportunities and playgrounds in the area.
Other well-known cafes are - Kindercafé Wunderland, Mini Me Kindercafé, Kreuzzwerg and Kindercafé Spielzimmer.
If you are visiting between November and December, then you should definitely grab a good coat and all your winter accessories to visit one of the Christmas markets. There are many all over the city, some are more family-friendly than others and offer rides and different attractions, while others are organized around a theme like medieval, arts and crafts, local artists, etc.
You can find a list of Berlin's markets here. A few of the best-known markets are Gendarmenmarkt, Schloss Charlottenburg, Alt Spandau, Rotes Rathaus and RAW Friedrichshain. You should try to come early before they get too crowded.
If you want some more holiday vibes, the KaDeWe and Ku’damm offer one of the best locations for some sparkling holiday decorations.
Kaden Kugelbahn Café - A cafe that allows kids (and adults) to construct ball tracks using wooden blocks, I haven't visited yet but heard great things.
Anoha - the children's section of the Jewish museum, it's supposed to be amazing but it's very difficult to get tickets (entry is free but tickets need to be reserved in advance).
Naturkundes museum - we visited once, two years ago. It's going through some renovations at the moment, so make sure to check the website to see what is currently offered.
Museum for Communication - we had a great time here, but that was before the pandemic and I can't be certain that things are still exactly as they were.
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