We are considering going to Berlin in late December, possibly leaving on Dec. 26 and returning on Jan. 2, 2014. We are a family of four, which include two teenage girls, 15 and 17. Is this a good time to visit Berlin? Any recommendations on what to do and where to stay would be great. Thank you!
That's exactly what we did with our teens! Be aware that Berlin will be quite cold at that time of year but there are a lot of great indoor attractions. Also, the city gets busy for New Years Eve celebrations. The party with a million + people at Brandenburg Gate is definitely special. Just make sure you book your accommodation ASAP as lots of people will go to Berlin for NYE.
New Years Eve celebrations in Berlin are great. It's pure mayhem; your kids will love it! Search for "Berlin silvester" on Youtube. This is how it looked on Oberbaumbrücke last year (copy and paste):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKQxA1dOj_k If this looks scary to you I recommend not to go to Brandenburg Gate. It will be very crowded, there will be fireworks everywhere... above you, beside you, beneath you, and it can get dangerous. Alexanderplatz for example is a bit quieter, or any of the residencial quarters.
Our experience at Brandenburg Gate wasn't quite as chaotic. There's quite a strong police presence at this stretch and DIY fireworks were restricted to specific places. However, the roads leading there were quite a different story ... Maybe we got a "quieter" party with only a million people or so as the cold and heavy snow kept some of the rowdier crowd away ... We came back the next morning for our tour of the Reichstag (a must-see!). By noon on January 1 the streets were very well cleaned. I was impressed! Found just a single bottle of "Rotkaeppchen" lying lonlely in the snow ;-)