The best 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

Most (German) parents remember Berlin as an exile for outlaws, punks and prostitutes because it IS an exile for outlaws, punks and prostitutes. But obviously, you want them to believe that you’re safe, responsible and living an adult life out here on your own. So what to do? You can’t take them to a sex party and show them all the queer people you fell in love with, right?

Don’t panic, darling. I’ve prepared the perfect guide for you. 1

Parents love castles, so castles they shall visit

Ease your parents into the dirt and grime of Berlin. Take them immediately to Potsdam, the boring neighbor city. The castle of Sanssouci is beautiful and can be combined with boat trips across the Havel or an excursion to the Pfaueninsel (where there’s also a castle, albeit an old one).

If y’all too lazy and want to pretend Berlin is pretty, you shall let them see Schloss Charlottenburg. The entrance might be hilariously expensive but that’s why your parents are paying.

Schloss Charlottenburg, Pfaueninsel

Take your parents to a museum that you’ve always wanted to visit

Look. If you’re taking your parents to a museum, then you will be stuck with your parents in a museum, so choose wisely.

In the summertime, Haus am Waldsee is a great option for a little bit of contemporary art and lounging in the garden area. Mothers and fathers love eating cake and drinking coffee in a sophisticated setting, even if they don’t get the post-modern art. A newer addition to the contemporary art scene (including a gorgeous café in an old industrial brewery) is the KINDL Zentrum, perfect for when it’s raining and you’re based in Neukölln.

You could also take them to the Boros Collection, but if your folks are dusty farmers like mine and show no interest whatsoever in contemporary art, maybe it’s time to get the flak out and take them to the Natural History museum. I mean, it’s dinosaurs. Everybody gets dinosaurs.

If you’re lazy and you know it, rent a boat

If you’d like to simply sit around and get wasted while your parents take 2,5 terrabyte of tourist pictures, you should opt for a boat tour across the Spree and the Landwehrkanal. The tours are usually on a daily schedule; some of them last around 2 hours, others up to 4. It’s a nice change of perspective for yourself and you won’t have to be dragged into every boutique store (or, in case of my mother, may she rest in peace, fucking PRIMARK) or pose at every landmark for awkward family pictures taken by amateur strangers.

Let your parents take you out to a fine dining establishment

While some parents can be swayed with a classic Köfte sandwich after visiting the theater, most would like to be wined and dined properly, then generously pay the bill. This is your chance to try Berlins finest restaurants without having to sacrifice your daily coke budget!

My favorite restaurants for an upscale (but not ridiculously expensive) experience are Panama, Horvath and Cecconi’s. For a more cozy but high quality dinner, take them to Goldener Hahn, Jolesch or Einstein Unter den Linden, which is conveniently located in the middle of the otherwise desolated ‘Upper East Side’ of Berlin.

For a very special treat and a one-of-a-kind dining experience, your foodie parents will definitely love CODA, the first and only dessert bar in Berlin.

Take your parents on a walk through the bougie side of Berlin

Your parents love Paris, Barcelona, London and New York, but they hate Berlin because all you’ve ever showed them was the bunkers and the graffitis. Look baby, your folks don’t give a fuck about riots, revolutions and raves, so get over it and show them the bougie side of the city.

Become a flaneur, take them for a spin on Kastanienallee, Kollwitzplatz and Akazienkiez in Prenzlauer Berg. They’ll love the little boutiques and handicraft shops, the local manufacturers and the loving detail of the Altbau architecture.

Take them to the heart of German politics, the Bundestag

Combine politics, sightseeing, architecture and coffee with this “all in one” package deal. A trip to the Reichstag might be on everyone’s number 1 tourist list and doesn’t exactly count as a secret tip, but let’s be honest, your parents actually like this kind of stuff. There’s contemporary modern art, a ton of history, modern politics and a nice little rooftop café.

Come prepared by booking a tour beforehand, as the queues can get pretty shitty and are usually full of high schoolers. Actually, I do have a secret tip: try to book a guided tour through the Bundestag, as you’ll be able to spontaneously (meaning 1 or 2 days notice) visit & skip the queues.

Your dad likes beer, so let him drink all of it at the BRLO Biergarten

An orderly park, a little bit of food and plenty of beer: The new BRLO Biergarten in Gleisdreickpark will make your dad’s dreams come true. If he’s ever wanted to try a good old Pale Ale (not from the Späti, from the brewer) while sitting in a post-industrial park, then this is the place to be.

The BRLO Brewhouse is cool, but not too cool for parents. In my experience, old people don’t like Görlitzer Park, and Tiergarten is often too big and too remote to be really relaxing. Gleisdreieck Park makes for a great alternative. The Brewhouse is a great addition and not yet as crowded as Haus am Neuen See or other popular park locations.

  1.  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 create your own list.

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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