10 Things To Do When Your Parents Visit You In Berlin

First of all: DON'T PANIC! Your parents will love you even if your flat is still in pre-WWII conditions and you spend the whole weekend raving instead of showing them around.
28 May ’14 by Sara Other

It’s true that Berlin doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to taking parents out, but mine seem extra stubborn. To counter their sentiments and to provide them with a proper itinerary that will convince them otherwise (crossing fingers), I’ve compiled a To-Do list of things that parents may probably enjoy. I’ve deliberately left out the typical sights, i.e. Brandenburger Tor, Siegessäule etc. Since I’m probably going to accompany them on all of these little excursions, I decided to put only stuff up that I’d like to visit myself (again). I think another trip to Brandenburger Tor would be an insult to my soul.

Also, take everything with a grain of salt. My parents may be a little different from yours. Mine definitely do not want to dive deeply into Berlin history or eat Falafel on the sidewalks in Kreuzberg (“Why do you always have to sit in the STREETS?! IN THE STREETS AT THE KIOSK?! IT IS DIRTY!”), but if that’s your family thing, by all means, go ahead and do your own list

1. Parents in Potsdam

Potsdam & Schloss Sancoussi. Parents have cars, so before we get into the discovery of Berlin, take them to Potsdam. Ease them into their arrival. Beautiful castles with elaborate history and fresh greens are always a good option for them. If they came without car, there’s always the S-Bahn (tell them funny anecdotes about the public transport system while you’re at it) or Schloss Charlottenburg as an alternative.

The bonus of going to Potsdam is that you can stop at Wannsee on the way. The bonus of going to Schloss Charlottenburg (on the weekend) is that you can pass by the Thaiwiese at Preußenpark for a lovely snack!

2. Museumsinseling

All those years and I haven’t been to the Museumsinsel. I know, shame on me. In my defense, I’ll only ever go into a museum once, so I’ve been saving the opportunity for when my parents come. But however you do it, ALWAYS CHOOSE A MUSEUM YOU WANT TO VISIT YOURSELF, lest you will suffer from the worst kind of boredom ever: boredom ALONGSIDE YOUR PARENTS IN A MOTHERFUCKING MUSEUM. Like that one time I was too young to understand the Louvre and thought I was going to die from boredom. Just… don’t.

Pro-Tipp: if you want to avoid museums (I think even my parents would want to avoid museums), go on a little shopping spree in Mitte (Hackesche Höfe, Neue Schönhauser, Weinmeisterstr. etc) and keep walking to Monbijoupark if it’s a sunny day. Have your parents relax from the money they spent on you at the Spree (Strandbar Mitte is a nice option), with a wonderful panoramic view of the Museumsinsel. Tell them it’s already under re-construction or something to avoid going in there.


3. The Lazy Boat Tour

Tours suck, period. But if I had to chose one for me and my parents, I’d go for a nice ride on the water. First of all, I generally don’t want to move (through shitty weather no less). Second, my parents tend to go into any shop they deem interesting, so this way, there’s no straying or pulling on my nerves. Besides, since they’ve seen everything before at least once, they can now have a different perspective that might add to their image of Berlin (which will result in a gazillion of iPad pictures that they can send me afterwards via Whatsapp).

4. Inside Tempelhof

We get to keep the Tempelhofer Feld, yay! But unless you can demonstrate your kite surfing skills or want your mom on a Segway (just… NO!), show them Tempelhof from the inside. Book a tour through the main building and let them stand in awe in front of impressive architecture and a contemporary, unique urban wonder. Trust me, they’ll appreciate it more than a walk over a vast field („BUT WHY AREN’T THEY BUILDING SHOPS HERE?!“). Bonus points: leave Tempelhof on the Neukölln side at sundown and sit down at Engels for coffee or tea.

Inside Tempelhof

5. The City West Splurge

First of all, introduce your parents to the new Bikini mall. It has a straight view onto the monkeys in the Zoo (Mom will like it) and your parents will not end up buying kitschy tourist souvenirs in the designer stores. Who knows, they might even get you an unaffordable present? From there on, go to KaDeWe and have them buy more stuff for you. For a minute of decadence, snack at the Austernbar in the KaDeWe food-court. Take them out for a movie at the beautiful Zoo Palast afterwards. Alternatively, eat out at Neni (in the 25Hours Hotel next to Bikini) or enjoy fancy and VERY ELEGANT drinks at Fasanen 47. If your parents are more of the rustic type, they can enjoy a Wiener Schnitzel and a beer at the Westberlin legend Diener (Diener Schnitzel, HA HA HA). Should you happen to pass by the Universität der Künste, don’t miss out on a quick lunch at Café Hardenberg.

Monkey Bar next to Neni Restaurant at 25Hours Hotel

6. Culture Shock for Conservatives

Show your parents the excessive and wild side of young Berlin! … In moderation. Take them out to eat Fatteh on Sonnenallee, have a Spritz at Ankerklause while watching multicultural fights enfold on Ko’Damm, take a walk through the Gräfekiez or the Turkish Market, get insulted at Casolare and round up your evening by watching the queer scene in the Biergarten of Südblock.


Turkish Market at Maybachufer

7. The Food Tour

I can’t recommend anything I haven’t been to, and most of the things I’ve been to were in Kreuzberg, so please add anything you think parents (generally speaking) might like in other parts of town. I’ve only recently tested Parker Bowles and can whole heartedly recommend the food. There’s always Borchardts and Grill Royal on top of the list, but going out with my family always has to leave some room for excessive arguing & I don’t want to be known as that person who tries too hard. A good alternative is La Raclette (for connosseurs) or Chez Jacques (for plenty of more room). If your parents are more of the rustic, comfortable kind and aren’t looking for a crazy culinary experience, Henne is perfect (there’s not much to chose from on the menu – literally only grilled chicken). Henne is also great to get shit faced with your parents in a cozy environment!

La Raclette

8. Urban Nature Calling

Even in a city as “dirty” as Berlin, with “so many drug dealers” and a “never-ending airport nightmare” (quoting my mother, and I’ve only included the harmless ones) there are many green and healthy options to consider taking your parents to. They’ll love playing Boule on the Kanal! That’s so sophisticated and French! Their German hearts will be overwhelmed with the romanticism! If they can’t take the masses of people, the Hundescheisse and the blunt smokers, then move on to the Gärten der Welt (remember, parents have a car). Let them run wild in the little oasis, make sure they don’t get lost in the maze though. As mentioned before, there’s always Wannsee to go to if it gets really hot, but no need to look for any other lakes; Berlin lakes will not, and I repeat, THEY WILL NOT BE ABLE TO COMPETE WITH OTHER LAKES IN GERMANY. Even Wannsee my parents would consider a puddle of mud. So beware on what you’re repping.

But then there’s no need to go that far, they came to the city to enjoy the urban life, right? Take them to Prinzessinnengarten and show them that there are indeed many ways to live healthy and fresh in Berlin. And if they need a lookout on our beautiful Berlin (that doesn’t involve other obnoxious tourists and parents waiting in line), go to the Klunkerkranich rooftop terrace. It’s much better to see the Fernsehturm on the horizon than to be inside the Fernsehturm, looking out at … nothing. (“What?! NO HIGH RISES? THIS IS NOT A CITY!”)

View from Klunkerkranich

9. Welcome to the Jungle

Here’s a twist on the urban nature itinerary: combine it to include everything. If your parents only have a limited time-span, do it like this: take a walk from Potsdamer Platz through Tiergarten and pay a visit to the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, where you’ll surely find something interesting on the program. Moving on, sit down at Café am neuen See for incredibly nice cakes and a little boat ride. Then, if your parents are interested in Bauhaus Architecture (or architecture at all), pass by Hansaviertel to show them the most beautiful Plattenbauten they’ve ever seen. Hansaviertel, by the way, is the perfect Kiez for parents. It’s pretty and it’s nothing like Berlin and yet here it is.


10. Desperate attempts that will most likely fail

In my (arguably meager) experience, parents will hate the following: Görlitzer Park. Riding the U-Bahn. Riding Fixies. Open Air Raves. Sitting at the Späti. Cleaning your WG. Alexa. I mean, everybody hates Alexa, right?

Four comments

  1. Enjoyed reading your does and don’ts for parental visits. I was born in Dresden and have been living in Berlin since 87. They once visited me while the wall was still up. Then it took nearly a decade before I could convince my folks to come and stay with us for a week. We did that more often since.

    My folks are quite laid back and enjoy the wild side as much as the combed. During those occasional visits we did the boat ride, went to Hardrockcafe (that was quite an experience considering, that they were from the East and it was in the early 90ies) strolled along Oranienstraße (less touristy then), took them to the KaDeWe which usually doesn’t fail to impress (especially the vast Food section), went to Müggelsee (good for walking and not just looking at in view spots), Landschaftspark Rudow (we live near thatone) and Prinzessinengarten. They also enjoyed the trip to Havel and Grunewaldturm, Biergartens (if your folks love wine Rüdi might be a good choice if you manage to bake Flammkuchen and are lucky enough to secure enough seats for a picknick with wines frome vinaries down south) and Gärten der Welt.
    Last time my parents visited we took the tram to Schmöckwitz (beautiful lakes there), then the ferry to the campground on the other side of the river Dahme, had some icecream there before walking all the way back to Wendenschloss, where we finished of with wine (doesn’t taste but the setting is cool) in the sunshine, facing Dahme river at the ferry canteen. (From Wendenschloss one can take a tram to S-Bahn Köpenick or the ferry (plus tram or walking) to S-Bahn Grünau. The only down-side with this lovely tour is that you’ll have to pass a nudist’s beach. ;-)
    Last but not least there is also the option of a short hike to Müggelturm (probably too run-down for YOUR parents).

  2. so true. EVERY lake in Berlin is a puddle of mud, compared to them! But Karaoke at Mauerpark always is a big hit.

Other opinions

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