Planning a trip to Berlin on a shoestring? Here are a couple of handy hints and useful tips for making your travel money work that little bit harder for you in the city…
This will probably take up most of your travel budget so make sure you research some cheap Berlin hotels to ensure you are getting the best deal and value for money. Some ways to save money on accommodation in Berlin:
Book a dorm room: Hostels and even some hotels offer shared rooms with beds from as little as €10 per person, per night.
Compromise on location: Berlin has a great and cheap transport network so opting to stay a little out of the centre might bring the price down. Just make sure you are close to an S-Bahn or U-Bahn station for easy access to the rest of the city.
Stay midweek: Weekend prices are generally more expensive than, say, Mondays-Wednesdays.
Check out the freebies: Find out what is included in the price of your hotel or hostel. For example, at the Meininger Hotel Berlin Mitte rooms are available for as little as €12pppn and this includes a free city tour and free Wi-Fi access.
This is wurst territory so if you are really struggling to scrape together enough for a meal, hit one of the street vendors, called imbiss. These sell hearty German currywurst – sliced or chopped up sausage in a tomato curry sauce – for about €5. Claiming to be one of the oldest currywurst stands in the city, Konnopke’s in Prezlauerberg is located under the U-Eberwalder Strasse station. Or you could try Witty’s (Wittenbergplatz) if you prefer your ingredients organic and your chips thin-cut.
Berlin has a large Turkish community and therefor a thriving Turkish market which is located next to the canal just off from Kottbusserdam Bridge. Here you can pick up fresh fruit, veg and bread for a picnic or munch on steaming corn that women boil in large pans which you can enjoy as you wander around the market.
For a sit-down affair, Henne (Leuschnerdamm 25 ) may only offer half roast chickens but it’s all about the traditional sides that make this a charming and traditional German eatery. Choose from kraut, potato salad or bouletten washed down with a wholesome German brew from as little as €8.
There are a number of pay-what-you-want bars in Berlin the most popular is Weinerei (three locations around Prenzlauer Berg area including Perlin at Griebenowstrasse 5, Fra Rosa at Zionskirchstrasse 40 and Forum at Fehrbelliner Strasse 57). All are cute and cosy establishments with lounging sofas and charming staff who will also rustle up food on request. The idea is you rent a glass then help yourself to refills of Spanish Tempranillo, chilled Reisling, prosecco and many more. The pay-as-you-like system only operates after 8pm.
Even in the top clubs, drinks are surprisingly reasonable. Expect a double spirit and a mixer to set you back about €5.
Top 5 Free Things to Do
There are a surprising number of free things to do in Berlin. Just imagine, you could walk about all day and not spend a cent! Or at least, mix and match you costlier activities with a few freebies
- Climb the spectacular Reichstag. The spiralling walkway to the top of Germany’s parliament building won’t cost you a thing. And you’ll be treated to 360-degree views of the city.
- If it’s not your first trip to Berlin, or you have already seen the main sights, why not join the Alternative Berlin tour company. Guides will show you around the Berlin subculture of artist squats, Europe’s largest indoor skate park, vintage clothing warehouses, daytime raves and flea markets. Tours meet at Alexanderplatz TV Tower next to Starbucks every day at 11am and 1pm for a free 3-hour tour, although tipping the guide is encouraged.
- Walk through the Holocaust memorial. Pay your respects at the sobering site – just one block from the Reichstag – that is dedicated to the millions of Jews murdered in Europe.
- Stroll through Tiergarten. Whether the sun is shining or the snow is laid thick, Tiergarten is a favourite leafy spot in the centre of Berlin. Weeping willows drape into elegant lakes and, complete with a traditional beer garden, it’s the perfect picnic spot.
- Rummage around in Mauer Park. There is a weekly flea market held on Sundays with vendors selling everything from vintage bicycles, records and souvenirs. Warm up with a cup of gluhwein as you wander around.
The BVG website is available in English and has fare information, maps and a journey planner.
They offer a number of different travel cards such as the Berlin CityTourCard which offers unlimited travel for either 48 hours (€15.90), 72 hours (€21.90) or 5 days (€28.90) as well as a few discounts on Berlin attractions.
Alternatively you can buy a day ticket (€6.30) or pay for each single journey (€2.30). They even offer a handy short-trip fare if you are only travelling as far as three tube stops or 6 bus stops (€1.40).