I visited Berlin on an extreme budget. There’s so much to see, so much I want to do and eat, I thought on the plane ride down to Berlin from Copenhagen. How can I pull this off? I managed to spend around $195 during the 60 hours that I was there. I spent the most on my hostel, which could have easily been cut to a third of the price if I had done it differently. However, I still ate traditional food, saw a large majority of the memorials and monuments, and still got to experience an “underground rave.”
How did I do it? A whole lot of walking and a whole lot of street food.
I stayed at St. Christopher’s Inn, a hostel in the Mitte area. It was one of the best hostels I’ve ever stayed in. There’s a huge bar on the first floor, which was extremely crowded both Friday and Saturday night (don’t worry, you can’t hear anything in your room). The rooms are clean; the beds are a bigger version of a twin. My biggest expense was the hostel, though, which was $115 each (there were two of us) for two nights. We did this solely for convenience. There were only two of us, and we also did not want to worry about our luggage (I usually stay in hostels of 8+ people). There are definitely cheaper ways of doing this, considering we stayed in a private double room. There are other choices, such as a 12 or 16 bed dorms, which can be anywhere between 14 and 20 euros.
Walk around or rent a bike. We walked everywhere. We took the metro once to get to the bus stop that was taking us back to Copenhagen. We walked from the Mitte area all the way to the East Side Gallery, back around to the Holocaust Memorial, and back to our hostel. We mapped out that we had walked 8 miles that day. It’s great exercise, and we saw a lot more of Berlin than we would have if we had been underground in between destinations.
Fat Tire Bike Tour: at 24 euros a person, which is about $30, I saw and learned so much about the history of Berlin. I highly recommend anyone coming to Berlin to do this tour. We did the “all in one tour,” which took us to places like Hitler’s Bunker, sections of the Berlin Wall, Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Checkpoint Charlie, Museum Island (home to five of Berlin’s most famous museums), Bebelplatz (location of the Book Burning in 1933), Reichstag, the Soviet War Memorial, Victory Column, Luftwaffe Ministry (the former headquarters of the Nazi Luftwaffe Ministry, now the main building of Germany’s Finance Ministry), Watchtower, and Brandenburg Gate. Towards the later half of the tour, we stopped at a beer garden in the middle of Berlin’s massive city park, Tiergarten (I got a pretzel, white sausage, and beer for 8.50 euros, about $10). Thanks to the advice from my tour leader, I learned that at Checkpoint Charlie, which was one of the crossing points between the East and West side, now has fake guards standing next to a guard house, who offer to “stamp your passport”, but don’t do it- it invalidates your passport!
Although Berlin is quite large, there are a few more places to check out that I did not mention from the Fat Tire Bike Tour.
Topography of Terror: This is located on the site during the Nazi Regime, where Gestapo and SS were the headquarters. It is a large exhibition, both indoors and outdoors. It’s an incredible and heart-wrenching memorial. Inside is a time line of the Nazi Regime, before and after. There are pictures and numbers as well of who was killed. If you are in Berlin, do not miss this site.
Eating at restaurants may set you back over $20. If you want to save money and get a taste of the local food at the same time, eat at street vendors and stay away from the touristy area, such as the main shopping street Unter den Linden.
Curryworst: The first day I was there, I was on the hunt for curryworst. I found a place called “Curry Mitte”, where I indulged in curryworst and fries for 3.60 euros, about $4-5.
Döner: For the next few days I ate mostly döner (where, the entire time, I was telling myself, you’ll go running in just a few days, don’t worry...), which I got at random stands in the Mitte area for about 3 euros each (~$4). It’s Turkish. A dönar is a delicious pita stuffed with tomatoes, onions, lettuce, chicken (it’s similar to schwarma).
Yaam: If you head to the East Side Gallery (or I should say, when you head to the East Side Gallery), there’s a small little beach community called Yaam, where they have a bunch of food stands and a little area with sand and lawn chairs next to a river. It’s a beautiful spot and easy to miss. Yaams holds live concerts too, and is even kid-friendly with the kiddie area. I bought “Sweet Mama” for 6 euros (~$7) from one of the stands, which was chicken on a kebab, plantains, rice, and tomato, chili, and coconut sauce- absolutely delicious!
If you’re looking for a typical night out in Berlin, then a visit to some of their most famous clubs and underground raves is a necessity. One of the biggest clubs, Berghain, is extremely difficult to get into. From what I’ve heard, the bouncer looks at you and then decides if he wants to let you in or not- which is why people try over, and over, and over again. One of the best times to get on line where you’ll have the best chance of getting into the club is at 7 a.m. (Yes, 7 am). I didn’t make it to Berghain, but I did make it to Tresor. It was 13 euros to enter, and something I had never experienced in my life (another post on this soon). Tresor is an abandoned department store and was born in the 90s.
Overview of exactly how much I spent:
St. Christopher’s Inn, $115.00
Fat Tire Bike Tour: $29.34
(Pretty much every single memorial/monument is free to see)
Sweet mama: $7.34
Pretzel with white sausage and a beer: $10.40
Bus to my hostel: $3.42
Metro to the bus station: $3.55