Berlin may be best known as the capital of all things cool, but the cultural city is a brilliant place to take kids. Public transport is easy, and it’s full of family-friendly restaurants, parks, playgrounds and attractions that are anything but boring.
With Playtime Berlin fast approaching, we asked Nicki Johanson, one of our favourite Berlin-based influencers to share the places that she loves taking her little ones in the city. The mama-of-three is known for her beautiful Instagram feed, sharing colourful snaps from her home. If you don’t follow her, check out her account here >
If you’re visiting Berlin for Playtime and taking your family along, read Nicki’s Berlin guide below…
My kids love Asian food. Spring rolls are one of their absolute favourite dishes. If you ask my girls who makes the best spring rolls in Berlin, they would answer... Mama Bann. The right name of the Vietnamese Tapas restaurant is ‘Mamas Banh’ and it's only opened recently. Not far away from our home it’s become one of the family's favourites. All the tapas are fresh and handmade, even the pasta. The ‘Mi Kho’, a vegetarian pasta salad with a soya-chilli-lemon dressing is so delicious that I could eat it every day.
Close to the Zoologischen Garten (zoo) is one of our favourite roof top restaurants - it's called Neni Berlin. The girls love to go there especially because of the wonderful view. They can be outside on the incredible terrace and look down directly on the animals in the zoo below the building. It's always nice to eat there for us parents because the kids have much to see that they don’t get bored.
Berlin has a lot of really nice playgrounds. You will find them in any quarter, though in some of the quarters you might have the feeling that they are at every single corner. A lot of them have themes like ‘fairy tale’ or ‘Indian city’ and are often very well designed. They invite kids to climb, jump, swing and much more. Most of the places have nice sitting areas as well. Buying a coffee to go before entering a playground, sitting down, and enjoying to watch our youngest daughter exploring the nice playing surrounding – this is something I really enjoy. My two other girls don’t get thrilled by playgrounds anymore – they are too old. They prefer to go to some of the ‘climbing mountains’ for example in the Volkspark Friedrichshain or near by the Mauerpark.
One of my favourite shops for kid’s fashion is called Fräulein Singer, you will find it in the Bötzowviertel in Prenzlauer Berg. The lovely owner Susan Diegler sews adorable things for kids like pants, dresses and skirts. I really love the colourful style of her clothes. Beside shelf-made clothes she offers a great variation of other kids brands and lovely clothes for women as well. I really appreciate that she doesn’t just focus on small kids sizes, you can find even something nice for your teens.
Just on the other side of the street to Fräulein Singer, has newly opened a tiny little shop with great children's stuff. There you can find accessories from one of my favorite brands BLAFRE. If I need a present for a newborn or for a birthday party I will go to the ‘Fuchswecker’ on the Bötzowstraße or ‘Die Schatzinsel’ on the Marienburger Straße. Here you can find nice little gifts, stuff for play like Schleich animals and even nice decorations for kid’s rooms like lamps etc.
Sightseeing by the Spree. (DOLLY dress from The bonnie mob)
It's always nice to take the kids out into one of the parks here in Berlin. We like to take a blanket and some picnic food, for example go to the Tiergarten and sit down nearby the River Spree watching the sightseeing boats passing by. After this we usually continue to the little lake close to the Cafe am Neuen See, hire a rowboat and just enjoy the silence on the water. In the wintertime when it’s too cold for this, we can hop on one of the boats, sit down and relax by watching all the sights passing by like Berliner Dom, Reichstag, Bode Museum etc.
The Soviet war Memorial in Treptower Park
SIGHT SEE & LEARN
When our children were little they loved visiting one of the castles. Charlottenburger Schloss is quite central, very nice from the inside and the park is great to take a walk in. In the Treptower Park you will find a vast Soviet War Memorial. The kids are usually not really interested in the history behind it but they are quite impressed of the hugeness of the monument and really like to go there. I think one advantage of this place is that it’s not as crowded like all the other memorials and historic places in Berlin. Of course there are a couple of museums to visit, which are also interesting for children. The Naturkunde museum is always a good place to go. With the huge dinosaur skeleton in the entrance hall you can be sure that your kids will get excited. I recommend visiting the museum in the Kulturbrauerei (Prenzlauer Berg). It presents the permanent exhibition 'Everyday life in the GDR'. The exhibition shows the intentions of the GDR regime and it gives lots of insight about living in the former GDR (East Germany) with objects and movies.
For teenagers I recommend a visit of the Field Station Teufelsberg, a former NSA listening station that is slowly crumbling away. My two youngest girls think it’s a quite scary place but my teen was really fascinated by this place where every available surface is covered with graffiti.
The Field Station Teufelsberg
If you have a few days more in Berlin I recommend leaving the city for a day trip to the Spreewald. It is a unique and beautiful landscape where the river Spree meanders in thousands of small waterways through meadows and forest. All of my three girls enjoyed the guided boat tour on the traditional barges through the overwhelming nature. There is a nice museum village in Lehde where the kids could see how people lived in this area in former times and it’s absolutely worth a visit. Another nice trip I can definitely recommend is to visit Berlitz Heilstätten, a huge former lung patients sanatorium built in the beginning of the 20th century. It has not been in use for a long time and even the buildings there are crumbling away. My children like to go the new treetop pathway where they have stunning view all over the area and where they can look down on some of the old buildings. It’s really fascinating to see how a real forest has developed on the roof of one of the ruins over the past 60 years.
The museum village in Lehde
The new treetop pathway
With thanks to Nicki Johanson @siglinchen X