A budget guide to Berlin
January 1, 1970
by Alissa Eva
Berlin is best known for its clubs and its insane nightlife. Also, Berlin is completely different from the stereotype you might have about Germany and the Germans. It is best described as a creative and innovative city where people are best described as hard-working, artistic, strong and individualistic. Berlin has got something for everyone. It has many museums, a captivating history, street art everywhere and great music. No wonder that millions of tourists visit every year. If you want to avoid being squashed and do not want to pay twice as much for your beer as Berliners do, please pay close attention.
An alternative to expensive hotels
There are many ways to travel to Berlin. There are even more ways to stay in Berlin. The city offers a great deal in hotels, hostels, and Airbnb. For this trip, I tried something not many people do, but definitely worth considering: camping. There are several campgrounds around the city. A group of friends and I chose Hotel and City Camping Sud, which has the same owner as the north camping alternative. The price is around 10 euros per night, which is a pretty cheap option in Berlin. The campground is next to a river and has an easy-going and relaxed atmosphere. It also has a bar with a tiny beach attached to it and a small shop to get your breakfast. From the camping, there is a bus once every hour that takes you to the Wannsee station. From there you can take the S-Bahn to basically everywhere in the city. The downside is getting back from the city as buses only start running at 5 in the morning. On the other hand, if you decide to go out and party in the city you probably won’t be heading back before that. The next morning you wake up in your tent and you will experience a true festival feeling. Just play some music and pour a glass of wine by the lake to make your hangover disappear. When playing your cards right, camping definitely makes your trip a budget one!
Explore the city’s offbeat lifestyle and (beach) bars
Of course, you won’t be hanging out by your tent all the time. Berlin is a city worth exploring, especially during the summer. The whole of Berlin is covered with outdoor activities such as food- and music festivals. So, without paying the expensive fee of an organized festival, you can explore the everyday hangouts that give you a similar experience. Some places though, are a little bit more special than others. For example, Berlin has a number of city beaches. These hip places are a very good option to have a drink at the end of the day. My favorite was the Holzmarkt beach bar. It is a little market with many food stands, wine bars and a little beach near the Spree river. If you want to go there during the busiest hours of the day, no problem. Even on a Saturday afternoon, you will easily find a spot here. Get a wine from the wine shop owned by a very friendly man, who will definitely offer you a glass of cognac with your bottle of rose. The prices are not too bad either, a whole bottle will cost you around 18-25 euros. For food, there is a variety of options, such as Falafel and Pizza.
Trumpery and talent
Another place you definitely don’t want to miss is Mauerpark. Here some of the old Berlin wall still remains. On Sundays, the park is packed with tourists and Berliners looking for true vintage treasures. There is a big flea market where various salespersons sell anything from old records to clothing and trumpery. In between shopping you can get a cold beer or some food from one of the many shops and cafés in the market. One thing though, when visiting the park, do not miss the big amphitheater, because they host their famous karaoke every Sunday. Even if you do not dare to perform yourself, you can enjoy Berliners and foreigners sing as if they were in the shower. Besides, the atmosphere is amazing and everyone is clapping and singing along with the acts. If this has not convinced you yet, it is completely free of charge.
Taste of Kultur
After you had enough of karaoke Sunday in Mauerpark, you can sit down for a drink at the nearby Kulturbrauerei. Regardless of the season, there is always something happening. In winter time there is a big Christmas market, in the summer they organize festivals. Besides that, it is a historical site where they used to brew Bavaria beer. Now, the warehouse buildings house many artists and creatives. The old industrial style in Berlin can still be found in this place. You will find bars, coffee places and food trucks with foods ranging from German sausages to Iranian tapas.
Wining and Dining
Night time might be the best moment to experience Berlin. It seems the hard work ethics during the day come out at night in the many clubs this city is rich. Yet, the night starts with a good dinner to sustain during the hours of dancing. However, restaurants and clubs are spread out over the city. If you do not fancy moving around too much, spend your night in the Kreuzberg-Friedrichshain area. For dinner go to Freischwimmer, a restaurant that offers riverside dining at a reasonable price. A main dish will cost you around 11 – 25 euros and you have vegetarian and vegan options as well. Dishes come either from the kitchen or from the barbeque. They also serve a nice Prosecco for 18 euros per bottle. Make a reservation though, there might be a line queuing up once you arrive. Even if you do not have a reservation, you will have a table within half an hour.
Spätkauf, Sternberg and East Berlin Clubs
After dinner, you are in walking distance of several good clubs. While you are dining you can see club de Visionaire on the opposite side of the river. Another place that is right around the corner is IPSE. It is housed inside an old warehouse and is operated all year round by the same team as Freischwimmer. They host parties on weekends and special holidays, such as Herrentag. Many clubs have large outdoor areas to relax, but some have DJ’s playing outside too. Other great clubs nearby are Chalet, Sisyphos and Salon zur Wilde Renate. Note that most clubs will play mostly techno or at least some variation of high tempo electronic music. Some have a strict door policy, some do not even bother. Note that you have to pay an entrance fee for almost every club, so choose wisely. If you have enough Sternberg (German beer) from a cheap liquor store called “Spätkauf” on the way, you do not need to worry about buying drinks inside. One thing is for sure, you will not be going home early!