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The Hauptstadt has plenty to offer even the tiniest of travellers. Have you ever seen a real panda, and an ice cream truck? In Berlin, you can.
Though many travellers associate Berlin with history museums, thundering techno clubs, über-cool speakeasy bars, and other decidedly adult-friendly pleasures, the fact of the matter is you’d be hard-pressed to find a city that loves the little ones more than this one. The German capital boasts a vast network of public parks, not to mention educational attractions for the mini-jet-set.
Dating all the way back to 1844, Germany’s oldest and best-loved zoo is a must for families with children and teenagers of all ages. It also happens to rank among the most biodiverse in the entire world. Kids should be sure to pay a visit to the Nocturnal House, where bug-eyed bush babies, slow lorises and other cuddly critters of the night reside, then swing by the World of Birds, one of the finest aviaries in all of Europe, before observing gorillas, orangutans and other primates at play. Feeding times are staggered throughout the day, so it’s possible to watch both the giant panda and the playful penguins at their most active.
When it comes to kid-friendly crowd-pleasers, it’s all but impossible to top an old-fashioned petting zoo. Although this isn’t the only “children’s farm” in Berlin, it’s by far one of the most popular. For a larger selection of exotic beasts, families should pay a visit to the Berlin Zoological Garden. For a lazy Saturday afternoon, however, this free attraction in the middle of Kreuzberg is just right. Little ones can coo over all their favourite barnyard friends, including goats, sheep, ducks, chickens, pigs and donkeys.
After you’ve given your kids their requisite dose of culture for the day, reward them with a sweet treat at one of Berlin’s best ice cream shops. Owner Gabrielle Jones had the brilliant idea of placing her scoops on top of giant, super-soft cookies and making her own cones with pronounceable ingredients—butter, eggs, sugar, milk, flour and nothing else—that earn a parental stamp of approval. Kids can keep it simple with classic combos like a triple-chocolate cookie with fudge-caramel-peanut ice cream, while parents may opt for less conventional combinations such as a matcha-white chocolate or peanut butter-bacon cookie with whiskey-pecan ice cream.
Of all of Berlin’s many museums, the natural history one is a sure-fire hit with kids of all ages. The biggest highlight here is the imposing 12-metre-long skeleton of Tristan Otto, a ferocious Tyrannosaurus rex unearthed in the Hell Creek Formation in Montana in 2010. It took four years of painstaking work to restore the remains to their current condition, but the results are truly impressive. A full 170 out of roughly 300 bones are real, making this the third best-preserved T-rex specimen anywhere in the world.