Hello, I am back and ready to share tips on the colossal cultural hub that is Berlin. I spent a week in this amazing city, and through exploring I gained some knowledge on Germany’s spectacular capital that I am bursting to share. If you’re questioning whether to visit this major world city, do it! The first thing I noticed is that there is a spark of something special in the air. Berlin overflows with history, diversity, and art. The richness of these qualities seep from every corner of the city. I also noticed that the cost of goods is cheaper than most other places I’ve been in Europe. There are so many unique activities to do and such interesting history to uncover that the week I spent here flew by.
We flew from Lux –> Amsterdam –> Berlin on a Sunday for ~€130. That next Saturday we took a 10 hour train back from Berlin –> Lux with two changes in between for ~€50. I’d recommend flying because it is more time efficient and easier overall, but the train ride back wasn’t too bad either (especially if you have a good book to read!). There are also direct flights from Lux to Berlin but only on certain days.
Get a Berlin Welcome Card Pass! Ours cost €49 for the week and we were able to take all forms of public transportation (train, bus, tram) throughout Berlin. They don’t ask you to show any pass when you get on the transportation but every once in a while a worker will go around asking for people’s passes, and it is a HEFTY fine if you cannot produce one. So be smart and get this pass!
Google Maps is the best way to navigate public transportation in a big city like Berlin, and they recently added a feature where you can pin spots you want to visit so you can see their relation to each other on one map. This makes it easier to hit everything you want to do without wasting time of traveling back and forth. Search the place you want to visit, click save to list, create a new list and title it Berlin, then click done. If you scroll out to the Berlin area now all of those places will be pinned in relation to one another.
There are SO many cool things to choose from, but I’ve narrowed it down to a top four (unique) things for you to do in Berlin.
The first is a trip to the Charlottenburg Palace ~30 minute bus ride outside central Berlin. This is an old Prussian palace with Baroque and rococo lavish decoration and over 35 grand rooms to explore. Imagining the extravagant balls that must have been held in this palace was an absolute dream. My friends and I were in awe of the decoration. We toured the old palace for a student price of €8 that included an in depth audioguide in English.
Next up is a bike day around the city. We rented bikes from Berlin on Bikes and got an extremely enthusiastic, hilarious tour guide to take us around the city for a full day. Highlights of this were the East Side Gallery (an AMAZING display of mural artwork on the remains of the Berlin Wall), Brandenburg gate, beautiful parks like the massive Tiergarten park, the Holocaust Memorial, and of course more artwork on the sides of buildings and in every nook and cranny imaginable. Seeing the city from a bicycle made me feel more like a local and we also we covered SO MUCH ground on bikes that we would have never been able to do in person. Highly recommend!
If you’re looking to support small businesses and see where the local hipsters spend their time, visit Bikini Berlin: The Concept Shopping Mall. I was amazed at the intricacy of the pop-up stores and sustainable fashion stands. It was so fun to stroll around this beautifully curated space and find handcrafted, one-of-a-kind jewelry and gifts. Bonus: it is right next to the Berlin zoo and there are windows to peek into the monkey exhibits!
Finally, perhaps the most unique thing I’ve done in my entire life: Baum & Zeit site. This place is ~45 minute train ride from central Berlin, but boy is it worth it! Baum & Zeit is a treetop pathway park that runs through the grounds and ruins of an abandoned 19th-century sanatorium. The concept sounds insane, but we took a tour of the old hospital where they treated those with tuberculosis and it was so interesting! The hospital is now covered in art and graffiti, but that adds a layer to its fascinating history. We then climbed up to the treetops and saw the most magnificent view of the surrounding German forests. There are food stands and a fairy garden on its ground as well, topping this place off to be magical beyond all reason. It was €11 for a student’s pass, and there are discounted prices for families as well. DO THIS IF YOU CAN!!
Berlin’s cuisine is just as diverse as the rest of the city, and I have some awesome recommendations that don’t break the bank.
First up is Anjoy, a delicious Vietnamese restaurant in the Pankow borough of Berlin. I got chicken stir fry and the sticky banana dessert for less than €20. The low lighting and pleasing aesthetic + delicious authentic Vietnamese food made for an amazing experience that I’d recommend to anyone.
If you’re looking for a fun German meal go to the Bavarian restaurant Hofbrau Munchen. Sure it’s a little touristy but I had the best beer of my life there and the dining experience was great fun. You eat on these long picnic-like tables and the decorations are out of a German fairytale! The beer garden outside is just as enchanting. This is a good place to go in a larger group. I had schnitzel and a few beers for €22.
My last recommendation is an amazing Italian restaurant near the Bikini Berlin shopping mall called L’Osteria. I split delicious pesto pasta and a funghi pizza for €14. The rustic interior and friendly service made this place a must-try!
That’s it: my guide to Berlin on a Budget! I hoped I’ve given you the inspiration and motivation to book a flight or train or bus to get your butt to Berlin. It is a city rich with culture and history that you must see in your lifetime. Follow @city_savvy_lux to keep up with my adventures and learn more tips abroad.