Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Berlin, Germany

Location: Berlin, Germany

Time Frame: June, 3 nights and 4 days....October, 2 nights and 3 days


Type. We stayed in a hostel hotel near Postdamer Platz called Apartement Haus am Postdamer Platz on both of these trips.  One stay was in a three bed room the other in a two bed room.  Both trips were kid free.

Cost. The three bedded room cost 77 euro a night and the two bed room cost us 55 euro a night.

Amenities. This hotel has a 1 star rating for a reason.  It is very spartan, but had a bathroom with shower, two/three twin beds, a table and chairs, and small kitchenette with stove top, refrigerator, and kettle.

Other. The hotel did have a small parking lot for guests with a first come/first serve policy.  We paid 5 euro a night for parking (on our trip in October).

Kid Friendly Rating: This hotel is not particularly geared toward families or children, and as we didn't have children on either trip, I can't give an honest rating here.


Driving. We drove from our home in central Germany for the second trip in October, and it took us around 6 hours. Driving in the area was normal for a large city, and traffic was fairly heavy.  The hotel did offer parking. For sightseeing around the town, we used walking and public transport.

Public Transportation. There are plenty  of buses and the subway in Berlin (it has very good public transport), and there are a variety of day and multi-day passes you can purchase for access to the transportation network.

Walking. Walking is very easy in Berlin, and can be a great way to explore a lot of the neighborhoods in the area.


We ate breakfast in our hotel, having bought some breakfast foods a local market.  Lunch was usually at some type of fast food place, and dinner was out on the town or made back at the hotel.

Fast Food. Berlin is a very metropolitan city and is home to many of those restaurants which we know and love (McDonalds, Burger King, etc). They also have several that are more cultural. They also have a healthy supply of Kebab stands (yummy), Crepe stands, and other European style fast food options. We didn't have a problem finding places to eat (other than making up our minds).

Sit Down. There were a large variety of sit down restaurants ranging from casual cafes to upper crust fancy places. The one we did go to was quite good (we had the Curry Wurst meal) called Jedermann's (Unter Den Linden 12, 10117 Berlin-Mitte).


The Brandenburg Gate

Times: Open daily, year round.  May be closed on the days surrounding October 3, which is the unification anniversary for Germany.

Costs:  Free Admission

Comments: A towering monument that once marked the division of Berlin.  View the towering gates from both the East and West sides of the border, and admire the sculpture, which managed to survive the ravages of war.

Monument to Soviet Soldiers

Times: Open daily, year round.

Costs: Free admisison.

Comments:  While the Soviets were (and are) unpopular in Berlin, this monument is reminder that not only Berliners and Westerners died the struggle for Germany.  You can see the names of the Soviet Soldiers who died, and still see some of the relics (in form of a few tanks) of the Soviet occupation of East Berlin.

Charlottenburg Palace

Old Palace
April - October
Tuesday - Sunday, 10 am - 6 pm

November - March
Tuesday - Sunday, 10 am - 5 pm
Closed Mondays
Guided tour or audio guide

New Wing
April - October
Wednesday - Monday, 10 am - 6 pm

November - March
Wednesday - Monday, 10 am - 5 pm
Closed Tuesdays
Audio guide tour

Last admission 30 minutes before closing.

Old Palace
10 EUR / reduced rate 7 EUR | incl. guided tour or audio guide

New Wing
6 EUR / reduced rate 5 EUR | incl. audio guide

Photo Permit: 3 EUR
Valid for one day in all the palaces.
Only for private use. Not for publication.
Flash and tripods are not allowed.

Comments: This is a gorgeous palace and huge gardens.  It was severely damaged during the war, but the Old Palace is still mostly the same.  I would recommend skipping the new wing, as it was not reconstructed to it's original standard and is mainly an art exhibition. 
Berlin Zoo

1. January - 20. March: 9.00 - 17.00 (Last Admission: 16.30 Uhr)
21. March - 3. October: 9.00 - 19.00 (Last Admission: 18.00 Uhr)
4. October - 30. December: 9.00 - 17.00 (Last Admission: 16.30 Uhr)
24. December: 9.00 - 14.00 
31. December: 9.00 - 17.00


Day Ticket       Zoo    Zoo & Aquarium
Adult             13,00€    20,00 €
Concessions             10,00 €    15,00 €
Child (5 -15)             6,50 €    10,00 €

Comments: This is home to Knute, the world's most famous polar bear.  Take the kids for a fun break and let them explore the animals.
Unter den Linden

Times: Accessible at all times

Costs: No Cost

Comments: This is one of the main boulevards in Berlin.  Once a royal parade route, it is wide and offers a view from the victory column to the Bradenburg Gate.  Take a walk under the Linden trees and enjoy the outdoors.

Holocaust Memorial

Field of Stelae open at all times

Information Centre April to September: Tue - Sun 10 - 8 p.m.
(last admission 7:15)
October to March: Tue - Sun 10 - 7 p.m.
(last admission 6:15)
Special opening on October 3rd, 2011

Costs: Admission is free.

Comments: This is definitely a moving tribute to the millions of lives lost during the Holocaust.  While the outside memorial is fine for small children (as long as you feel comfortable answering questions about what it is), I wouldn't recommend the information centre for your small ones.  This period of history is important to remember, but difficult to explain to young children.  Use your best judgement when taking your young ones.

Victory Column

Monday, 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Tuesday to Sunday and Bank Holidays
09:00 am to 6:00 pm

Costs: Viewing the monument is free, if you would like to climb the steps to the top, it will cost a few euro.

Comments: Since you will likely want to walk down Unter den Linden, why not start at the Victory column.  With it's guilded top, it is hard to miss.

Postdamer Platz

Times: Open daily, year round

Costs: Free Admission

Comments: You can view one of the most fortified areas of divided Berlin.  Now a bustling are of transport and commerce, you can follow the outline of the Berlin wall (marked in the pavement) and see preserved sections of the wall on exhibit in the Platz.  There is also a large metro station below your feet!

Pergamon Museum

10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.

10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Costs: 10 Euro, discounted admission for 5 Euro

Comments: One place I really wanted to see, as it is home to the gates of Babyon.  Lines are very long, especially when special exhibitions are going one.  Our first trip, the gates of Babylon were not available for viewing, and the second trip was a special exhibition on Babylon and the lines were HOURS long.

Berlin Wall Monument and Documentation Center

April - October
Tuesday - Sunday 9:30am – 7pm
November - March
Tuesday - Sunday 9:30am – 6pm

                     Ghost Stations Exhibition
The exhibition "Border Stations and Ghost Stations in Divided Berlin" can be viewed during the hours of operation of the Nordbahnhof S-Bahn station.

The Open-Air Exhibition
The memorial grounds on the former border strip is open all year round.

Costs: Free admission.

Comments:  This is located at the narrowest point of the border, and a place where many made their escape to freedom.  The memorial consists of a section of the Berlin wall still intact and preserved as it was during it's use.  You can view the wall segment from both sides and peek through the cracks at no-man's land.  The documentation center provides a variety of exhibits about the wall and life in divided Berlin.  You can also get a bird's eye view of the wall from the observation deck.
Topography of Terror

Open daily
10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Closed on Dec 24th, 31st, Jan 1st

Costs: Free admission

Comments:  While this exhibit is very moving and informative, it is not a place for young children.  There are many photos that are graphic and disturbing.  You can view what is left of the Gestapo prison, see the bullet holes left in the surrounding buildings from the war, and learn more about the reign of terror that gripped Germany.

Checkpoint Charlie

Times: Always accessible.

Costs: Free admission

Comments: This is one of the best places to see in Berlin.  Perhaps the most famous border crossing in the world, there is still a small shack that marks the crossing.  A large sign still stands on the street corner, one side in English the other in Russian.  You can also view remenants of the Berlin Wall around the intersection and read the posted stories of those who dared to make the crossing to freedom.  Have your photo taken with one of the many period actors who make a quick buck at the crossing.

Mauermuseum-Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie

Times: Open every day of the year from 9:00 until 22:00 

School and university students
Pupil up to 10 years accompanied by adults
Children up to 6 years free
Groups of adults (from 20 persons)
EUR p.P.
School classes
EUR p.P.

Comments: If you are interested in seeing the history of one of the most famous border crossings this is the place.  It has a huge exhibition of "escape", ranging from vehicles to disguises.

Potsdam Sanssouci

April 1 - October 31: Tuesday - Sunday, 9am - 5pm
November 1 - March 31: Tuesday - Sunday, 9am - 4pm

Costs: 8.00 Euro (reduced ticket 5.00 Euro)

Comments: A world heritage site, this amazing palace and gardens has limited access (around 2000 people a day maximum).  It is said to be an all day adventure, so pack a picnic and enjoy.


Times: Open daily, year round.

Costs: Free

Comments: This large park in central Berlin is home to miles of trails, ponds, and plenty of shade.  Take a picnic, enjoy the trees and birds.


Times: Open daily, year round.

Costs: free admission to the quarter, but there are plenty of shops to peruse.

Comments: This is the old quarter of Berlin, dating from the 13th century.  You can see the old church, the garlic house, and many old and historic buildings.  You can also take time to peruse the shops and have a bite to eat at one of the cafes.

Reichstag - Bundestag

The dome and the roof terrace will be closed all day on 24 December, and from 16.00 hrs on 31 December. In addition, the dome will be closed to visitors from 28 March to 1 April, from 11 to 15 July, from 25 to 29 July and from 10 to 14 October to allow cleaning and maintenance work to be carried out.

Costs: Admission is free, but prebooking is now required.

Comments: This is a must see if you are in Berlin.  Home to Germany's Parliament, the huge glass dome and roof terrace not only allow stunning views of the city, but also provide some interesting history of Germany's government. 
Berlin Wall Trail

Times: Open daily, year round.

Costs: Free

Comments: This nearly 160 km trail takes you along the path of the former border between East and West Berlin.  It is mainly for hiking, walking and biking.


When you travel with little ones, bathrooms are an important thing to be able to find. Europeans are generally not big on public restrooms.

Availability: Public restrooms can be found, but are scattered and not always easy to find. Your best bet is to make sure to make use of restrooms offered in the restaurants, museums, and other attractions that you visit. Most of the major attractions have restrooms.

Public/Private: Most available restrooms are actually going to be in some type of business, whether it is a restaurant or attraction.

Cost: Costs for restrooms can run from free to around 1 euro per person. Occassionally bathroom attendants will allow an adult to take a child into the restroom and only charge for one person (I did this with my kids, and even when I took both potty trained children, I usually only had to pay for me).

Nearby Amenities

Laundry: We didn't notice any laundry facilties near our hotel, but scattered around the city we did see some laundry facilities. Ask your hotel where the best facilities are located.

Groceries: There was a small grocery store near our hotel, and many more located near (or in) train stations throughout the city.


This was an amazing trip (both times..first with girlfriends and then with my hubby).  There is so much to see that one trip may not be enough.  There is plenty to do in Berlin, and so much history.  Take time to look for the path of the Berlin wall, marked out on the streets and sidewalks with bricks and metal medallions. 

Trip Highlights

-Checkpoint Charlie
-Berlin Wall Memorial

Overall Rating

Berlin is definitely a 5 star must see location.

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