Berlin is the poor but sexy capital in affluent Germany; the city’s affordability has made it a popular playground for artists, backpackers and savvy tech-types and hitting the highlights can easily be done on a shoestring. As the city defrosts and summer rolls in, Berlin’s cultural calendar fills up, making the months of May and June the best and cheapest time to visit the German capital.
On May 1 the open-air season kicks off in Berlin with an explosion of nihilism and debauchery—it’s the city’s infamous May Day. Thousands descend on the streets of Kreuzberg to protest and party in this eccentric open-air celebration. The month of May also signals the return of open-air events, like Freiluftkino and wild parties at many of city’s popular summer clubs.
As the Berlin open-air season kicks off, visitors who come to the city during May and June can also delight in two of the city’s popular and street festivals. Karneval der Kulturen brings Berlin’s streets to life in a four-day blaze of colour, music and day-to-night parties, with an urban festival and parade in June that celebrates the city’s diverse cultures. Fête de la Musique on June 21, also known as Worldwide Music Day, lets musicians and music lovers celebrate melody in all its forms. With free gigs all over the city, the day ensures fun for all regardless of the neighbourhood or music taste. The main attraction is at Mauerpark, where headlining acts from all over the world come to play their music.
Whether it’s hostels or hotels, Berlin always has several good and affordable accommodations available. During the peak summer months, visitors will see a slight price increase, but those who visit the city at the start of summer in early May and June will still be able to find great deals.
Catching trains everywhere is a travel cost that quickly adds up and as summer sets in, the best and cheapest way to see Berlin is by bike. Visitors can cycle by the city’s enchanting Bode Museum into Museum Island, or along Oberbaum Bridge to the East Side Gallery, soaking in the city’s history and sights on the ease of two wheels.
Germany is a country of beer lovers and as a result, the prices for beer are wonderfully cheap. While the city has plenty of brews on offer, none compare in price to the famous Sterni beer. Picking up a couple from a nearby Späti and heading to the Spree River is a cheap and beloved pastime for the locals and one visitors can enjoy in the warmer months.
Berlin is a city of diverse and cheap culinary treats—from kebabs to late night pizza joints, there is always an affordable meal in the city. In the warmer months, these options get even better as visitors can enjoy them while soaking in some sun or lazing about in one of the city’s green spaces.
Berlin has a plethora of free sites, ranging from historical memorials to open-air galleries and other cultural wonders. For those on a tight budget, hitting up the city’s top sites is best done with a free walking tour. With little chance of rain and plenty of sun, summer is the best time to join scores of tourists and wander around Berlin.