Everybody had experience the desperation that emerges when your parents inform you that they will be visiting you here in Berlin, right? The endless questions like “Where should I take them?“, “How can I entertain them without taking them to bars every single night?“, “During the day, what is parents-friendly to walk around but still give them the feeling of what makes Berlin that special to you?”. But Berlin and your parents can be a good mix if you know where to take them.
I had this feeling more or less 2 months ago when my mom bought the ticket from Brazil to Germany to spend Christmas and New Years with me. She came here to spend more than 3 weeks with me since in 3 years, this was the first time visiting me. I’ll tell you several locations to take your parents that do not involve bars, clubs, parks full of drug dealers and any other trace of Berlin that you pursue when it is a friend coming to stay with you.
Berlin and your parents is for a different Berlin than the one you’ve shown to all your friends and acquaintances. We know that.
The Castles in Potsdam
According to Mrs Thais, my dear mother, this was by far her favorite day here in Berlin. We took the S-Bahn all the way to Postdam and from there to 3 castles: Neues Palais, Cecilienhof and Sanssouci.
The whole day ticket costs less the 20 euros per person and gives you the perfect time slot to enter the most famous castle over there, Sanssouci, without having to wait in line. Totally worth it! You can get this ticket right there on Potsdam Bahnhof on the Tourist Information Center. Super easy and super simple. They even help you with the public transportation telling you the numbers of the buses and where to hop off, but once you reach your destination, make sure you have checked on the timetable available in every bus stop, when is the next bus to the next castle, ok? They run a little slow in the winter time or weekends, I could not tell, but it is NOT one of those “every 5 or 10 min” buses and you gotta arrive at Sanssouci on that time, otherwise, you’ll loose your ticket.
It was so fun that we’re planning to get back there in the summer time to revisit the gardens, in the snow is pretty as hell but the summer time it is a whole new place!
To explain better what each place is, I need to make a whole post about Potsdam and this will be done soon, meanwhile I’ll present you all with some of the astonishing view, places full of interesting and historical baggage and fabulous barroque-inspired decoration of the rooms you’ll see!
Go Shopping around Berlin
You gotta remember that only my mom is here with me, and she loves to go shopping! I took her to places like Galeria Kaufhof, Kardstadt, Alexa, Primark, KDW, several Arcadens like the one in Neukölln and Prenz and several other stores around Mitte. Everything was with major discounts before Christmas and after the 25th, everything was 50~70% off! She went mad!
Plus the side that she’s Brazilian and because of that she can ask for the Global Tax Free and this saves her something between 10~20%, depending on the item.
Get your ass to those big ass stores and enjoy the happiness on your parents’ faces while they’re there! You might even score 1 or 2 (or 10) presents!
Breakfast at the top of the TV Tower
I gotta say that I’m living here in Berlin for almost 3 years and I’ve never even thought about paying to go to the Fernsehturm. And I could not be more wrong!
YES, it is crazy expensive. Everything together (table by the window, vip tickets with no waiting in the line, major breakfast) was a little less than 50€/person. YES, it is very touristy! But you must do it eventually, it is 100% worth it! YES, it is crowded. But if you book your table for the 10am (when the tv tower opens), you maybe can save a few bucks and don’t get the VIP pass that guaranties your table by the window. YES, it rotates! You can see E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G from there! (well, if the weather is great hahaha)
Here’s a quick view of what is the breakfast like and the amazing view. And please use your imagination. Imagine that it was a clear winter day and not this clouding and rainy day.
I think there was nothing more ~alien~ to my mom than the Treptower Park experience. It was her first time in real snow, the first contact with the soviet part of Berlin’s history and the first time she saw a beautiful place, in the middle of the winter, with life going on. Her idea of winter somehow was everybody inside their home, warm and cozy. Going to a park was for sure not on “acceptable things to do during winter” list.
This was my first time over there during the winter months and I have to say that somehow the memorial looks prettier. I thought that it was impossible, but the snow factor was definitely a plus on the landscape!
Walking around Berlin
This is something that I’m sure you know already, but the trick is to avoid the “ugly” and focused on what I like to call: The ~white~ neighborhoods. (and by “ugly” and “white neighborhoods” I mean: less tr00 Berlin and more OMG! I live on the magic land!). I’m talking about Charlottenburg, Mitte (on the hipster part), Prenzlauer Berg and so on.
I’m very happy living in Neukölln for 3 years and basically only hangout in Xberg, but I know that my mom would like to see more of the Charlottenburg Palace and less of Oranienstrasse, you know?
Flakturm and Berliner Unterwelten tours
Berliner Unterwelten is one of our favorite vereins here in Berlin. Their work is really full of history, culture and surprises. They have several tours in several places here in the city for an accessible price, in many languages and for every taste.
This time I took my mom to see some bunkers used by civilians in the WWII because we didn’t know that the Flakturm closes during the winter months because of bats and their right to sleep and be happy! This actually made me like Berliner Unterwelten a little bit more…and made me realize that we must check the website before showing up at Gesundbrunnen S/UBahn.
Unfortunately we can’t take pictures inside the bunkers so I’ll show you guys a little bit of the Flakturm from the outside.
And if you have no idea if what a Flakturm is, here is a brief intro: Flak towers (or in German: Flaktürme) were 8 complexes of gigantic, above-ground, anti-aircraft gun blockhouse towers constructed in the cities of Berlin, Hamburg and in Austria (in Vienna) from 1940 onwards. Berlin had 3 towers, Hamburg 2 and Vienna had the last 3. They were mainly used by the Luftwaffe to defend the cities against Allied air raids during the war. They also served as air-raid shelters for tens of thousands of people and to coordinate air defense. A fun fact about the Flak Towers in Berlin is that they were so huge and strong, that they could not destroy all 3 towers.
Only the one in the Zoo area were put to the ground, the one in Gesundbrunnen and the other one in F-Hain, they just gave up. It was impossible to destroy such a strong structure! The walls and the floors are sometimes 4m thick of pure concrete and metal. The French side and the Soviet side buried the remains after spending several kilos (sometimes tons) of dynamite for nothing.
This was some of the places my mom chose to be her favorite places here in Berlin during those days she spent with us. Besides this we took her to Poland just because it is cheap as hell to go there by bus (check out PolskiBus, free wifi and sometimes you can find tickets for 0.25€) and the best country to buy stuff and get to know another culture, and we took her to some of the museums like Pergamon and the Museum of German History, but I won’t add the museums to this list because I think it is more than obvious, right?
And do not forget to check out the Weihnachtsmärkte here in Berlin if your parents are coming for the holidays. The one in front of Charlottenburg Schloss is fantastic!
So, when your parents come to Berlin, don’t worry and follow our tips here. They will love the city!