T. Rex skeletons! A video game shrine! Unexpectedly exciting Cold War memorabilia! There’s plenty to make kids go giddy in Berlin. So, don’t let the city’s bohemian rep or notorious underground club culture put you off. For parents, Berlin promises a mish-mash of fine food, subversive art and divergent architecture. For their offspring, it’s exciting, safe, and packed with anything-but-everyday attractions. Here’s our list of child-tested hotspots and offbeat favourites…
Invalidenstraße 43, 10115 Berlin
As any veteran parent will tell you: if desperate, deploy stuffed animals. It may seem like an obvious choice, but Berlin’s behemoth of a natural history museum is every inch as eye-widening and immersive as its London counterpart. Every area, from ‘Evolution in Action’ and ‘The Cosmos’ to (our favourite) the giant insect room, will fire your child’s imagination. And, trumping London’s Dippy the diplodocus (and his blue whale usurper), this museum features the skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex. The most curious exhibit, however, tells the all-too-brief story of Knut, the world’s most famous polar bear who died unexpectedly at Berlin Zoo in 2011. His taxidermied remains might well provoke a lively debate among your brood.
Karl-Marx-Allee 93a, 10243 Berlin
Video games galore and, yes, you can play them. Heaven for the fast-thumbed, the computer game museum tells the 60-year story of the video-game industry, featuring 300 exhibits of rare originals, playable classics and ultra-cool art installations. So, alongside 1951’s Nimrod and the iconic Pong, you’ll find Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Space Invaders and Tomb Raider, right through to present-day dance consoles and the latest 3D games. Depending on your propensity to addiction, you’ll need two or three hours here. It’s well connected – hop off the U-bahn at Weberwiese, just three stops from Alexanderplatz.
DDR Museum, Mitte
Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 1, 10178 Berlin
Granted, insight into life in East Germany during the Cold War might not sound like a fun day out for the children, but here’s where the DDR Museum wins: buttons. Lots of buttons. It’s also fascinating and powerful, filling young minds with facts and thoughts about everything from surveillance and mass production to rigged elections and nudist colonies. But should we worry that the museum’s commodification of socialist ideas demeans the former population of this ex-Soviet enclave? Err… Look! More buttons!
Pfaueninsel (Peacock Island), Wannsee
Schloss Pfaueninsel, Nikolskoer Weg, 14109 Berlin
Tiergarten park is the more obvious tourist choice – its zoo, play areas and gardens make it one of Europe’s finest. But well worth the effort is a day trip to the lakes and woodlands of Wannsee, part of the Unesco-listed Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin. The colourful feather in its bow is Pfaueninsel, a leafy island roamed by peacocks – all of them descendants of the ones in Frederick William III of Prussia’s ambitious menagerie. End your afternoon with lunch by Pfaueninsel Palace, a little slice of Disney-esque magic to the west of the island.
Anne Frank Museum, Mitte
Rosenthaler Str. 39, 10178 Berlin
Far smaller than Amsterdam’s Anne Frank House (you can see everything in about one hour here), this youngster-friendly museum packs an emotional punch as it retells a real-life story most children will recognise from school. It’s surprisingly hands-on, with Anne’s life and the impact of her diary exhaustively presented – making this a neat alternative if you don’t have the hours to spare for the Naturkundemuseum. Another bonus is its location – you might struggle to find it as it’s tucked away down a Mitte back alley, but the route there takes you past some of the city’s most colourful graffiti and street art – the kids will love it.
Featured image is the DDR Museum