Splash into summer
When the sun shines, Kinderbad Marzahn is a great place to bring the kids, because the landscaped pool is specially designed for fun, smaller children and families. The 60cm-deep waters are overseen by lifeguards. (Max Hermann-Strasse 7, 12687 Berlin, www.berlinerbaeder.de).
Tiptoe through the tulips
The Britzer Garden bustles with excited children doing exciting things. There are themed plots and gardens and throughout the seasons there are waves of stunning, colourful blooms to create a magical natural wonderland. Look out for special events and enjoy the playgrounds all year round. (Sangerhauser Weg 1, 12349 Berlin, gruen-berlin.de/britzer-garten).
Build new worlds
At the Labyrinth Kindermuseum the kids are busy building a new city within their own city. In an exhibition so popular that it’s been extended into 2017, the museum encourages creative young minds to design, construct and think about city living and how we might improve the places we live in for the future. Construction helmets included! (Osloer Strasse 12, 13359 Berlin, www.labyrinth-kindermuseum.de).
Keep it crafty
The MACHMit! children’s museum is a lively place waiting to inspire young minds. Through play, children can explore social and scientific concepts in a fun way, and learn more about the world around them through arts and crafts activities. There are flea markets for kids to sell and buy each other’s unwanted/most wanted gear, one for under-12s and one for teens. The museum also has the most chic indoor play frame you’ll ever find, too – in east London it would pass as a designer apartment. (Senefelderstrasse 5, 10437 Berlin, www.machmitmuseum.de).
Feel the hothouse heat
The Botanischer Volkspark is a wonderful city space for exploring nature, complete with twentieth-century garden art, forests and meadows. Wander around the ponds and seek out the sculptures. (Blankenfelde-Pankow, Blankenfelder Chaussee 5, 13159 Berlin, gruen-berlin.de/volkspark-pankow).
Spy on the past
It really wasn’t so long ago, yet the days when Berlin was divided feel centuries behind us. The Cold War touched the lives of most families here and visitors from around the world are still curious about this unique postwar period, which is perhaps why the DDR Museum is one of the city’s most popular attractions. Get a flavour for life under the watch of the Stasi, when the Wall dominated the landscape and when everyday life was very different for East and West Germans. (Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse 1, 10178 Berlin, www.ddr-museum.de).
The Pergamonmuseum is home to Berlin’s most stunning collection of Greek and Roman art. With displays including amazing pieces of original architecture, it gives a vivid sense of life over 2,000 years ago, on a scale to rival London’s British Museum. (Bodestrasse, 10178 Berlin, www.smb.museum.).
Share a vision for living
Whether you live in Berlin or you’re just visiting, sooner or later a trip to the Bauhaus Museum is a must, and that also goes for the kids. Explore the Bauhaus-Archiv collection of the art, furniture and architecture that shaped the Bauhaus movement into one of the most exciting visions for twentieth-century living, and a lasting influence on designers across the world. Loved by design students, the museum’s focus on living and lifestyle makes it fascinating, and often amusing, for young visitors, too. (Klingelhöferstrasse 14, 10785 Berlin, www.bauhaus.de.).
Find your inner painter
Berlin’s KunstHalle is one of the most dynamic spaces to see modern art in Germany, and because it celebrates the contemporary, it’s a great place to share bold new ideas with your children. In fact, children often relate better to modern art than old masterpieces, so go along soon – their programme of exhibitions for this year is really exciting. (Unter den Linden 13-15, 10117 Berlin, www.deutsche-bank-kunsthalle.de).
Have a whale of a time
There are river cruises and then there’s the MS Moby Dick – a fabulous huge silver and black beast of a vessel designed to look like a depiction of Herman Melville’s beast of the deep. On a hot day, hop on board and chill out as you cruise back and forth across the Havel and Wannsee. (Puschkinallee 15, 12435 Berlin.)
Walk through history
The beautiful Märkisches Museum on the bank of the River Spree is a cultural treasure trove tracing Berlin’s heritage. The permanent exhibition Here is Berlin is a walk-through gallery where you pass through sets built to reflect the streets of the city at different periods through the ages. (Am Köllnischen Park 5, 10179 Berlin, www.en.stadtmuseum.de).
Get wet, wet, wet
The Stuttgarter Platz Splash Fountain is, understandably, one of Berlin’s busiest spots on the hottest days of the year. But this free and easy water feature, so handy for the shops, is the ideal place to let the kids cool off once you’ve got your chores done. Ten steel sprays shower the paving with water as children dare each other to get completely soaked! (Stuttgarter Platz, 10627 Berlin.)
Have an adventure in art
The Gemäldegalerie houses one of the most incredible art collections in Berlin. With works from the thirteenth to eighteenth centuries and featuring some of the world’s most prized masterpieces, the dazzling paintings enthrall even the youngest visitors. (Matthäikirchplatz, 10785 Berlin, www.smb.museum).
Slip and slide away
The summer pool on the Insulaner in Steglitz, with its long slides and 5m-high diving tower, has lots to keep older children busy on a hot sunny day – or even a grey, wet one (kids never care about the weather once they’re in the water). It can get busy, and the Prinzenbad in Kreuzberg can be a useful alternative, but there’s plenty of space here, even when it’s crowded. (Munsterdamm 80, 12169 Berlin, www.berlinerbaeder.de).
Feel the flower power
The Gardens of the World Centre of International Landscape Art is Berlin’s answer to Kew Gardens. There are lots of different garden styles here – Chinese, Japanese, Balinese and European. Get the kids to guess which ‘country’ you’re in as you move from one style to another, and show them how the different cultures all place nature at the heart of their expressions of peace, prosperity and happiness. (Eisenacher Strasse 99, 12685 Berlin, gruen-berlin.de).
Discover more fun activities
Chill out at the pool
Ernst-Thälmann Park is a former coal gas plant that was completely overhauled when the machines were switched off in 1981. A few years later the park was opened, with the intention of offering something for everyone, including housing, plenty of green space for playing in, and a fabulous swimming pool. (Lilli-Henoch-Strasse 20, 10405 Berlin, www.berlinerbaeder.de).
Go where the wild things are
Berlin Zoo has a busy conservation programme, so it’s the place to encounter many endangered species, all carefully looked after in as natural setting as possible. Of course the kids’ favourites like elephants, giraffes, seals, lions and polar bears are there too. (Hardenbergplatz 8, 10787 Berlin, www.zoo-berlin.de/en).
Make a personal cultural connection
The Daniel Libeskind-designed Jewish Museum Berlin welcomes one and all, not only to trace German-Jewish history against the backdrop of the Holocaust but also to celebrate cultural creativity, heritage and achievement. There are art installations, a permanent historical exhibition and a series of temporary exhibitions. (Lindenstrasse 9-14, 10969 Berlin, www.jmberlin.de).
Let the kids run free
The Buerger Park in Berlin-Pankow is set on the vast former grounds of a stately home. It’s been one of Berlin’s best-loved parks for over 100 years. There are playground areas as well as lots of routes for walking if you want to give the kids a serious runaround, as well as a children’s farm. (Wilhelm-Kuhr-Strasse 9, 10439 Berlin, www. buergerpark-pankow.de).
Head for the beach
The Strandbad Jungfernheide is a lakeside haven with golden sands and great facilities to bring the beach life to the city. There are lots of watersports to enjoy, including water-skiing, so pack a picnic and your swimmies, and enjoy. (Jungfernheideweg 60, 13629 Berlin, www.strandbad-jungfernheide.de).
Pack your trunks and take a dive
If the heat is on, cool off with a day splashing about and improving your kids’ swimming strokes at the brilliant Stadbad Lankwitz indoor pool. (Leonorenstr. 39, 12247 Berlin, www.schwimmbadcheck.de).
Inspire an organic generation
At the Dahlem Estate and Museum (Domäne Dahlem), you get a vivid sense of the history of agriculture and how our eating habits have changed over the last 150 years. It’s not just about the ‘field to plate’ ethos that informs some of Berlin’s hippest restaurants, but about understanding farming and fostering a respect for food culture that’s much more eco-focused. (Königin-Luise-Strasse 49, 14195 Berlin, www.domaene-dahlem.de).
Take off for fun on the runway
The Templehof Field is a former airfield that’s been adopted as a vast park and outdoor sports space that’s much loved by the locals. Take your skates, bike or skateboard to whizz along the old runway, watch the kite surfers or just pack a picnic and a ball for a kickabout. (Columbiadamm 10, 12101 Berlin, gruen-berlin.de).
Enter a piece of living history
On the site of a medieval village, Düppel Historic Village (Museumsdorf Düppel) recreates a picture of life as it was lived hundreds of years ago, based on archaeological finds and research. The result is a busy place that brings the past excitingly to life for children of all ages. Open weekends and public holidays, March to October. (Clauertstrasse 11, 14163 Berlin, www.dueppel.de).
Offer the kids a fresh perspective
You might wonder why children need to go to a Youth Museum (Jugend Museum) – don’t they already know all about being young? But this dynamic thinking-space is a place for children and young people to see themselves being represented and celebrated. They also get a chance to grapple with social concepts in an intelligent way, and on their own level. There’s lots for families to explore in its changing exhibitions. (Hauptstrasse 40, 10827 Berlin, www.jugendmuseum.de).
Be a woodland ranger
At the Berlin Forest Museum (Berliner Waldmuseum mit Waldschule Grunewald) there’s a real sense of educating visitors young and old, so if you’re a family of nature lovers, get along and improve your woodlander skills. See if you can recognise different bird songs and identify woodland scents as you learn about the forest’s ecosystem. (Königsweg 4/Jagen 57, 14193 Berlin, www.waldmuseum-waldschule.de).
Get your skates on
With its east park and west park, Park am Gleisdreieck is a lovely green space to let the kids run about in, just so long as they keep an eye out for the joggers. Take a picnic and watch the beach volleyball players if you don’t have the energy to get busy with a ball yourself. (Möckernstrasse 26, 10963 Berlin, gruen-berlin.de/gleisdreieck).
Spend a day out of this world
If your children like to use up all your foil to make astronaut costumes for their dress-up games, take them on a visit to the Archenhold Sternwarte Observatory. Find out about the observatory’s Treptow Giant Telescope (the largest moveable refracting telescope in the world) and how it helps the team who work here explore the known universe – and discover a few mind-blowing facts for yourselves. (Alt-Treptow 1, 12435 Berlin, www.sdtb.de).
Inspire your little scientists
With over 150 interactive exhibits, the Science Center Spectrum is a place where children should be seen AND heard. Through hands-on games, children can get to grips with scientific concepts like the senses, energy and technology, without having to wade through school books. (Möckernstrasse 26/Trebbiner Strasse 9, 10963 Berlin, www.sdtb.de).
Get to know the city
The Story of Berlin is a colourful and vibrant museum that explores the history of the city, going back centuries to grand battles of old and right up to modern times with the end of the East-West divide. Take a virtual walk down the interactive Time Tunnel and check out the great high-tech features throughout the 23 themed rooms. (Kurfürstendamm 207-208, inside Kudamm Karree, 10719 Berlin, www.story-of-berlin.de).
Dive into the blue
See over 5,000 underwater creatures as you go around the vast Sea Life Berlin aquarium. In fact, you can feel as well as see – the interactive rockpool zone allows you to hold crabs and touch the starfish. And make sure you catch the new exhibition Jurassic Seas, which offers a vivid, sometimes scary picture of what life was like in the oceans many millions of years ago. (Spandauer Str 3, 10178 Berlin, 01806 66 69 01 01, www.visitsealife.com).
Be inspired to invent
The massive propellered aeroplane that sits on the roof at the German Museum of Technology (Deutsches Technikmuseum) gives you your first taste of the scale and splendour of what you’ll see here. With massive galleries dedicated to aerospace, navigation, rail, road and the history of photography, there’s lots to fascinate curious young minds. (Trebbiner Str 9, 10963 Berlin, 030 90 25 40, www.sdtb.de).
Hang out with the stars
The Natural History Museum (Museum für Naturkunde) invites children and adults to get closer to the planet we live on. The museum does extensive research work, and as a result, the exhibition galleries are full of fascinating finds and displays. Discover more about evolution, geology and the world of the dinosaurs, including a stunning T Rex skeleton. (Invalidenstr 43, 10115 Berlin, 030 20 93 85 91, www.naturkundemuseum.berlin).
The Berlin State Museums is a collection of museums located in clusters around the city, offering a wide range of historical and cultural experiences. Berlin-Mitte (Museum Island) is its busiest hub, but for something a little different, head for the museums at Dahlem. They’re full of wonderful cultural artefacts to fire the imagination. (Various locations, www.smb.museum).
Eat, drink and be playful
Nothing could be better, for parents of restless kids, than to find a brilliant play centre with lots for children to do – and that also serves a really good coffee. Kiezkind Kindercafe has indoor and outdoor spaces with toys and books, plus excellent changing facilities, free wi-fi and a great café area. Perfect. (Auf dem Helmholtzplatz 1, 10437 Berlin, www.mein-kiezkind.de)
Nurture their eye for art
The Hamburger Bahnhof art gallery is a transformed railway station – hence the huge amount of space for kids to be set free in. Far from being a hushed and serious grown-ups-only space, each of its rooms reveals incredible contemporary paintings, photography and scultpures – showing children that art doesn’t just mean just one thing, it can be whatever your imagination creates. (Invalidenstrase 50-51, 10557 Berlin, www.smb.museum).
Enter a haven for child play
With its gardens, pools, park and playgrounds, there’s lots for children and families to enjoy before they even discover the workshops at FEZ Berlin. Everything here is designed to be as accessible as possible to all, and courses, exhibitions and drop-in sessions are focused on encouraging children to learn more about their world through play and hands-on activities. (Str zum FEZ 2, 12459 Berlin, fez-berlin.de).
Have a morning of ‘let’s pretend’
The Das Spielzimmer play centre is a wonderland of imaginative play, including a games room with dress-up costumes, activity tables for painting and making music, and space for mums and dads to sit back and chill out. You’ll probably be here for a while, so it’s good to know there’s a great café, too. (Schliemannstraße 37, 10437 Berlin, 030 44 03 76 35, www.das-spielzimmer.net).
Get busy with Lego
Legoland Discovery Centre probably needs little introduction, but if you haven’t been before, don’t be put off by its massive size. There’s something for everyone, from the Miniland model village for toddlers to explore, to the thrill rides suitable for eight to 12-year-olds. There’s also a new 4D movie included in the entry price. (Potsdamer Str 4, 10785 Berlin, www.legolanddiscoverycentre.de).
Seek out a funky playground
The Wasseturm Prenzlauer Berg is a stunning sight, built in the days when even a water tower looked like a castle. Despite its brief, dark history as a concentration camp, the tower is now swanky apartments, and the centrepiece in a beautiful park where everyone is welcome. There’s a great playground here, too, with funky equipment like little diggers for the sand. (Knaackstrase 23, 10405 Berlin).