We managed to grab those cheap Ryan Air tickets in the last moment. Long weekend in Berlin seemed like a great idea. This time, however, it was a different trip because we had a nine year old, who came along for her first long distance travel. Berlin is great at this time of the year – already pleasantly warm, green and blooming. Every time I come here, it looks very different. This time, the gap has been almost 10 years and the city surely changed a lot. Here is our guide – how to spend 72 hours in Berlin with a kid.
72 hours in Berlin with a kid – where to stay?
For our short stay we booked one of the cheapest places I could find on Booking – Ibis Budget Ost. Not necessarily the fanciest hotel I have ever stayed in. The room would benefit from a proper cleaning. However, it did the job just fine for the 50€ per night you can’t expect anything better, really.
What I love about Berlin (and Germany in general) is the efficient transportation system. Although our hotel was miles from city center, the tram stop was right outside the door and the S-Bahn (local metro) just a few hundred meters away. Traveling to and from the center hardly took us longer than 20-30 minutes.
3 Days in Berlin – Getting around
Before going on this trip I made an extensive research on the subject of best and cheapest public transport tickets. The options are almost endless. So here’s the deal – if you are arriving (like we did) in Schönefeld airport, grab the Berlin welcome card right away. Especially if you are traveling with children, as they get to travel for free.
This card gives you discount in 200+ museums and attractions, tours, shops, restaurants etc. If your plan is to visit any of them, the card will probably pay off. You can read about the benefits and prices here. For us, this card made sense, as we were planning on visiting some museums, the zoo and generally travel a lot by train.
On the other hand, you might be better off with renting a bike, as Berlin is very bike friendly city. Walking may be an option, too, if your hotel is centrally located and you don’t mind long walks. The city center is pretty compact with most attractions being in the 5-10 km radius.
Alexanderplatz and shopping
Our first stop after the airport was Alexanderplatz. I used to love spending time here, back in the days when I was doing internship in this great city. The place has certainly changed a lot since then and doesn’t even look like a major square anymore. To me, it has become way too commercialized with international shop chains everywhere.
We spent couple of hours exploring the shops and the huge Alexa shopping mall, which has a nice food court on the 3rd floor. I really missed German food, especially (not so German) Döner kebab! Alexanderplatz is a good point for all kinds of shopping – from expensive boutiques to quite affordable brands and even dollar stores.
As I mentioned, we had a nine year old with us this time. Of course, that means we had to organize something special and kid-friendly. Tropical Islands is a former airship hangar transformed into a huge indoor water theme park with real sand beach, water slides, palms, overnight villas and fantastic atmosphere. It seemed like a great idea and a perfect place, because it is weather independent (indoor) attraction. We booked our tickets online in advance for 36€/adult.
One thing to keep in mind, though. You can not travel to Tropical Islands with your Welcome card, as it is located outside the city (ca 60km). In order to get there, a Berlin-Brandenburg day card needs to be purchased (29€ for a group of 5 persons). You can read about our visit in one of my next posts, where I will describe everything in full detail.
Although, personally, I’m not a big fan of Zoos, we still went there because of the little one. Zoologischer Garten is a small Zoo in Western Berlin, you can see the animals in half a day and optionally go to small aquarium (nothing special compared to Sealife). What I liked about the Zoo was the fact that there were almost no fences. Animals had relatively large areas and you could see them quite close.
We all loved the petting section, where everybody could feed the animals (donkeys, sheep and goats). I was also very surprised to see pandas. Last time I had a chance to see them was in San Diego Zoo and we had to queue in line and only little time to observe these gorgeous creatures. Here, in Berlin, we could observe them without any time limit and almost no crowds.
Walking itinerary and landmarks
After visiting the Zoo and quick lunch, we took the metro to Hauptbahnhof (main train station) and walked to Reichstag (German Parliament) for quick photos. Then we visited the memorial for Soviet soldiers who died in battles for Berlin in April-May 1945. Next stop was at the holocaust memorial. After that we went through the Brandenburg Gates and walked down the Unter den Linden street all the way to Museum island.
It was important for me to pass all these historical places and landmarks and explain the little one the importance and the history behind all of this. I truly believe the young generation needs to know what happened, so it will never happen again. Although she probably forgot most of what I said, the images will hopefully stay in the memory. For the exact same reason we took her to Berlin Story bunker the next day.
Berlin Story bunker
On the last morning, before our flight, we decided to visit Berlin Story bunker – a real bunker that served as a hiding place during bombings and is now turned into museum. The exhibition was dedicated to the rise and fall of National Socialist party and it’s leaders. The museum is a collection of photos and research on the subject, rather than artifacts. The audio guide was very helpful.
We spent two hours, but if you are interested in exploring everything, you might need at least three hours. Personally, I very much enjoyed it and would love to come again, without a kid. For a little one it may have been a little disturbing. Nevertheless, I feel that she is just old enough to start learning about this part of the history.
Is 72 hours in Berlin enough?
The obvious answer is NO! Berlin is such a fascinating city, I would rather stay there every other weekend. There is always something going on, things to see and do. Sadly, it is not cheap, especially if you are traveling by public transport. I’m very happy that I had a chance to live here for 3 months, ride a bike everywhere and see the city from the inside. These were easily some of the best years of my life. Today, it is no more the same city it once was, but still worth the visit every once in a while.