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The word on everyone’s lips this summer (2020) is ‚Stay-cation‘ and it seems this will be the case for a while longer as we move into late summer and on to Fall. We would like to inspire your travel plans and show you a few ideas of what the States around Berlin have to offer!

Spreewald (Brandenburg) – Around 100km south-east of Berlin, this UNESCO world heritage site is a stunning biosphere reserve which covers almost 500 square km. Lush green forests, 200 small canals, tiny historical towns and extensive wildlife await you. The main town is called Lübbenau, from here you can explore the area on foot or even better on the water by punt or kayak. Sample the local specialities such as ‚Spreewald Gurken‘ Pickels or Kartoffeln, Quark & Leinöl – Potatoes with Quark and Linseed oil which is produced locally and considered a speciality of the region. The area is steeped in history, originally settled by the Sorbian people – of whom many locals draw their ancestry today – there is rich history and culture to discover. The Spreewald can be reached by car or train.

Caputh  (Brandenburg) – this village was once where Albert Einstein spent his summers sailing on the lake Schwielowsee. Approximately 30-40 mins drive from Berlin, this tranquil little haven is a great place for a day trip. You can take a walk around the Caputher See, visit the Einstein Haus and the 350-year-old barock pleasure palace ‚Schloss Caputh‚ once belonging to Friederich Wilhelm of Brandenburg on the banks of the Havel river. There is also a lovely bathing spot in Caputh called the ‚Seebad Caputh‚ which offers a sandy beach, refreshments for sale and beautiful atmosphere on a warm summers day.

Sächsiche Schweiz (Saxony)– this stunning area boasts dramatic views and fabulous historic sights, it is known as Saxon Switzerland. It is slightly further afield, 3 hours by car but also reachable by train. Southwards down the river Elbe from Dresden, you will find the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, high above the river valley – this area invites you to hike up to the Bastei, discover the Königstein Fortress or relax in the thermal pools in Bad Schandau. The Sächsische Schweiz is a fabulous place for a weekend trip with all the family and while you are here you can head up the river and discover all the beautiful sights Dresden has to offer!

Waren an der Müritz  (Mecklenburg Vorpommern) – If you love the tranquillity of water this is the place to visit, Waren is situated on Germanys largest lake the Müritz (117 square km) and surrounded by a further 6 lakes. Founded in the middle ages, it has a rich history and a beautiful town centre. The Müritz National Park includes large parts of the lake and is home to a large range of wildlife. Discover the area by boat, put up a tent for a weekend of camping or hike around the lakes. Waren is approximately 2 hours drive from Berlin and can also be reached by train. About the author Hi there! I’m Juli, German roots but I grew up in New Zealand and have been living in Germany since 2004. I love sharing my passion for Berlin and all it has to offer with new ‚Berliners‘ and through my work as a freelance Relocation Consultant with IRC I have the opportunity to do so.

When Christmas has passed and we have welcomed in a new year – Winter really starts to take hold in Berlin and it can be a time where people start to develop the winter blues. We want to help you to find ways to keep yourself busy and to make this time of year as enjoyable as possible.

1. Winter walks – one of the best ways to keep on top of the winter blues is to stay active and get lots of fresh air. Berlin offers lots of opportunities for nice winter walks and often in winter because the leaves are not on the trees you can see and discover things which are hidden in other months by the foliage. There are so many great parks in Berlin or walking the banks of the Spree or even a stroll down Unter-den-Linden. One tip for a nice afternoon out is a walk around the Grunewald Lake in Dahlem and then stop in for a delicious lunch at 12 Apostoli Restaurant located in the beautiful old building of the Forsthaus Paulsborn .

2. Linie 1 Grips Theater – this is a classic play about Berlin East & West. It first debuted in 1986 and has been performed more than 1800x since then, needless to say, a huge hit. The show is performed in German with English subtitles and is a must-see for anyone living in Berlin. Synopsis: A young girl runs away from her provincial hometown, and ends up at Bahnhof Zoo at 6.14 a.m., searching for her Prince Charming, a rock musician from Berlin. She gets stuck in the underground line 1, known as the Orient Express to Kreuzberg. She encounters a kaleidoscope of urban characters and their fates. Her naivety acts as a catalyst provoking contacts, actions and reactions, which otherwise would not take place. It’s a show, a drama, a musical about living and surviving in a large city, hope and adaptation, courage and self-deceit, to laugh and cry at, to dream, and to think about oneself. (source: http://www.grips-theater.de/programm/spielplan/produktion/1 )

3. Cinema – what better time than cold winter days than to see some of the latest films. The York Kino in Berlin-Schöneberg has a selection of films in the original language. They also offer literary events, live broadcasts of Ballett from Moskau or Opera from London and Queer film nights.

4. Swimming – another great way to stay on top of the winter is swimming. Berlin has various indoor pool facilities including Sauna, swim schools and aqua aerobics.

A very special wellness and sauna experience awaits at Vabali in Berlin Mitte, a Bali-style Sauna retreat which spreads over 20 000sqm, including pools & a good restaurant – please be aware that this is an adults-only facility. They also offer all types of wellness treatments from massages to facials. A great place to spend a few hours or a day!

There are also some great thermal pools in the surrounding Brandenburg if you are looking for a more relaxing weekend activity. To find your local pool check out: Berliner Bäderbetriebe and for thermal pools, we can recommend: Spreewald Therme in Burg, Saarow Therme in Bad Saarow, Stein Therme in Bad Belzig.

5. Book browsing – contrary to many predictions the book is alive and well and Berlin has some excellent book stores you can visit, browse the books, spend some time finding gems and maybe even have a great coffee. Just a few on offer are Dussmann on Friedrichstraße in Mitte, Hugendubel on the Tauentzienstraße in City West, St Georges English Bookstore in Prenzlauer Berg and Lovestory of Berlin in the Helmholzkiez.

About the author

Hi there! I’m Juli, I have german roots but I grew up in New Zealand and have been living in Germany since 2004. I love sharing my passion for Berlin and all it has to offer with new ‚Berliners‘ and through my work as a freelance Relocation Consultant with IRC I have the opportunity to do so.

The BVG (Berlin Transport) has introduced a new ticket for school children. School children now ride all forms of public transport in AB Zones for free. This also includes all children from 6 years, who do not attend school yet – you will need proof: admission notice from the school, the school assignment or the notice of default. This ticket also includes free transport of a bicycle, a dog or a child under 6 years.

The ‚Schülerticket‘ needs to be applied for, this can only be done online. You will need to get a Schülerausweis from your school office, this is proof that the child attends the school.

Order chipcard online – to order the chip card (fahrCard) simply upload the photo and current student ID I *, enter data and order directly online.

Note processing time – Until your fahrCard arrives in the post, you can use your student ID I * to ride the public transport from 1 August until 30 Nov, 2019.

(Source: https://www.bvg.de/de )



About the author

Hi there! I’m Juli, German roots but I grew up in New Zealand and have been living in Germany since 2004. I love sharing my passion for Berlin and all it has to offer with new ‚Berliners‘ and through my work as a freelance Relocation Consultant with IRC I have the opportunity to do so.



Winter clothing for children (and adults) is taken very seriously in Germany, mainly because it can be very cold and people like to enjoy the outdoors in all weather. If you are coming from climates which have mild or no winters then this will be new to you. It’s time to get your family winter ready!

Berlin can get cold in winter with temperatures dropping well below freezing and if you are lucky there can even be snow on the ground for weeks at a time. However, all buildings are well heated and therefore especially for kindergarten and school children, the so-called ‚onion look‘ otherwise known as layering is the best bet.

One piece snow suits (Schneeanzug) are a good investment for smaller children, they can dress normally underneath and pull this on when going outside and it is a good item for children to be able to put on themselves. For older children, from around 6 years old a pair of snow pants and a jacket are often more appropriate.

Tights (Strumpfhosen)- are for both boys and girls, they come in all kinds of colours and thickness. They are worn under trousers or dresses and for smaller children in KiTa children will wear them around in place of trousers when playing inside.

Bodys (Bodysuits/Onsie) – Until children are out of nappies, they wear bodysuits under their clothing. Germans like to keep the kidneys warm and these ensure the childrens backs are not exposed to the cold. This is basically a t-shirt (short of longs sleeved) which is connected by snaps at the crotch. Littlies who sleep at KiTa will most likely sleep in this item and tights for their afternoon nap.

Warm winter boots (Stiefel) – essential item for children playing outside in cold weather as gumboots, although great for keeping feet dry, they can’t keep them warm. It is worthwhile to invest in shoes which are both weatherproof and warm.

Hats, scarves, gloves (Mützen, Shal, Handschuhe) – all these items are a must-have, having a couple of each is highly recommended as they are also the items which seem to easily go missing at KiTa and school.

Slippers (Hausschuhe) – all KiTas and many schools will have children wear slippers when indoors, especially in winter to keep the spaces the children are in clean.

Rain pants (Matschhosen) – another must-have for those wet days when it is not cold enough for snow gear. KiTas and schools will require children to have a pair there at all times.

Thermals (Thermo-Unterwäsche) – for those really very chilly days, thermal underclothes are very good to have – mainly if children are playing sports outside or for playing in the snow and skiing.

All of these items can be purchased new or secondhand. There are many great secondhand stores around Berlin and it is very worthwhile especially for small children 0 – 6 years to not have to buy everything new as it is usually only worn for one winter.



About the author

Hi there! I’m Juli, German roots but I grew up in New Zealand and have been living in Germany since 2004. I love sharing my passion for Berlin and all it has to offer with new ‚Berliners‘ and through my work as a freelance Relocation Consultant with IRC I have the opportunity to do so.



One of the most important topics for a family with young children moving to Berlin is finding a kindergarten which suits their children and where they feel their children will be well looked after.

So here we have just a small overview of the most important points regarding Kindergartens in Berlin.

Kindergarten in Berlin is called ‘KiTa’ this stands for Kindertagestätte which means Children’s Daycare. Children usually attend Kita from age 2 until they are school age, this can be up to 5.5 – 6.5 years old depending what their birthdate is or even if the parents would prefer they start school a little later giving them more time to mature. There are also Kitas which include a ‘Krippe’ this is for children under 2 years, but not all Kitas provide this option.

Kita care is essentially free of charge in Berlin, you are allotted an amount of Kita care depending on the child’s age and your work situation. If it is a private Kita, then there can be extra fees. All Kitas charge 23€ a month for food & depending on what the Kita offers, there can also be extra charges for sports, arts, music. The funding comes through the application for a ‘Kitagutschein’ and this is then approved by your local authorities. The Kitagutschein needs to be applied for at least 8-10 weeks prior to Kita starting.

  • *Children under 1 year oldcan attend Kita or have a nanny (Tagesmutter) for a 4-5 hours per day. This is called half days or halbtags To receive this care, you must prove that your child requires it. You can do this by showing your work contract hours or freelance work commitments. Children living in homeless shelters or collective housing are also entitled to halbtags care.
  • *Children over 1 year oldare entitled to 5-7 free hours per day. This is called part time or teilzeit
  • *Children over 3 years oldare entitled to 7-9 free hours per day. This is called full time or ganztags

(Source *AllaboutBerlin.com)

Finding a Kita place in Berlin can be difficult and it is advisable to start looking early and to be patient with the process. The reason for the lack of spaces is due to a large growth in the population of Berlin in recent years. Kitas usually have waiting lists and the places become available around May/June for the start of the new school year end of July/August. Of course, places do become available during the year too, with a bit of luck. It is always sensible to apply to a few different Kitas in order to boost the chances of getting a place.

The winter in Berlin can be long, cold, very grey and at times the city just simply cannot seem any drearier but come late March slowly but surely the sun begins to shine, the city starts to come to life, and we become hopeful for Spring!

Spring in Berlin is beautiful, colourful, optimistic and to be thoroughly enjoyed, so here are some tips for you and your family on places to discover at this time of year.

  1. Britzergarten – 90 hectares of landscaped gardens including a 10-hectare lake at the centre, lovely at any time of year but in spring it is the perfect place to see the sea of tulips and enjoy a walk. A fantastic place to go with children. https://gruen-berlin.de/en/britzer-garten
  2. Baumblütenfest Werder (Cherry Blossom Festival) – The town of Werder is located south-west of Berlin on the Havel River and surrounded by countryside and lakes. It holds a Cherry Blossom Festival annually and this is only the precursor to the delicious cherries which it then produces a month or so later. Werder can be reached by train and is a lovely place to explore. 27.04-05.05.2019 – https://www.baumbluetenfest.com/
  3. Staudenmarkt Botanischer Garten – Perennials Market at the Botanical Gardens. Spring is the time to brighten up your living space, even if you only have a small balcony. This annual market for plants of all shapes and sizes is fun to visit. https://www.berliner-staudenmarkt.de/
  4. Berlin Zoo – the Berlin Zoo is wonderful at almost any time of year, but spring time brings the baby animals, and this means extra cuteness all around. There is also a fantastic adventure playground for children and a café for parents to sit and watch. https://www.zoo-berlin.de/en
  5. Mutter Fourage Café, Nursery and Café – This is a real gem located in Berlin-Wannsee in the very south-west of the city. It is reached by s-bahn & bus and offers a gorgeous café with indoor and outdoor seating, an art gallery and a beautiful plant nursery & flower shop. The food is vegetarian and organic. https://www.mutter-fourage.de/
  6. Bike Tour Wannsee to Potsdam – once the days are a little warmer, a bike tour along the lakes from S-Bahnhof Wannsee to Potsdam is a wonderful way to get to know the surrounding area. Take the S-bahn to Wannsee with your bike on board and then there are several options to make your way to Potsdam, for example along Königsstrasse over the Wannsee hill, past the stunning Schloß Glienecke (Summer Palace) and down to the famous ‘Bridge of Spys’ Glienicker Brücke. From the Bridge there is a beautiful view over the water to the Schloß Babelsberg and then you can carry on to where a delicious lunch is waiting for you at Garage Du Pont (http://garagedupont.de/) There is an awesome app/webpage on which you can plan bike routes and hiking trails called – https://www.komoot.de/
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