Berlin’s mixture of glamour and grit has thousands flocking to the city each year. Drawn in by the vibrant culture, techno-driven parties, diverse culinary scene and plethora of sights, tourists have plenty to delight in. Dubbed ‘poor but sexy’, it’s the budget traveller’s dream, and if you know the right spots to hit it’s possible to enjoy all Berlin has to offer on a shoestring.
Staying in Kreuzberg will put you within walking distance of some of the city’s best sights, clubs and cheap eats. For 24 hours on a budget, it’s the best neighbourhood to base yourself in. Cheap accommodation isn’t hard to find in this kiez, with a range of budget hostels on offer. With rooms starting at 10€ ($11.70) a night, Hostel X-Berg will put you in the heart of Kreuzberg, close to the area’s nightlife. Alternatively, if you’d rather save your money for beer, there are a number of local CouchSurfing hosts spread around Berlin who will accommodate guests for free.
Once settled in the city, it’s time to start exploring the sights. Berlin has numerous free experiences on offer, as well as a variety of free walking tours leaving from Alexanderplatz and Brandenburg Tor. However, if you prefer to see the sights solo, almost all of the city’s memorial sites and regional museums and a few historical museums have free admission.
To get the most out of the city’s free museums, head to Berlin’s Mitte district, which will cost you 2.80€ ($3.30) on the train. Here, you can explore Germany’s history and its symbol for democracy for free, crossing Topography of Terror, the Jewish Memorial and, as long as you register in advance, the Reichstag Dome off your list. If you happen to be in the area on a Tuesday you can also head over to the Berliner Philharmoniker to enjoy a classical lunchtime concert for free. Or, on Sundays, visitors can experience another style of free musical delights in the area, from buskers and karaoke sessions at Mauerpark flea market.
If you still haven’t got your cultural fix, then you can purchase the Berlin Museum Pass for 29€ ($34.25) or 14.50€ ($17.10) for students. The pass lasts for three days, but to get the most out of your money head to UNESCO World Heritage Site, Museum Island and explore the Bode-Museum, Old (Altes) and New (Neues) Museums, the National Gallery and the Pergamon, saving you 23€ ($27).
After soaking in the cultural sights of Mitte, it’s time to head back to Kreuzberg, to explore Berlin’s largest open-air gallery, and longest stretch of the Berlin Wall, East Side Gallery. Visitors can walk along the wall for free, picking up a beer from a nearby Späti, that will cost anywhere from 70 cents to 3€ ($0.80-3.50).
Now, back in Kreuzberg, it’s time for some cheap eats. The area has plenty on offer, but it’s hard to pass up what the neighbourhood is famous for – Döner kebabs. While Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap is considered the best in the area, the long wait times can be tedious, so for something more convenient head to Doyum Grillhaus and pick up a kebab for 4€ ($4.70).
Having enjoyed Berlin’s unique cultural and culinary delights, it’s time to head out and experience its famed nightlife. Exploring Berlin’s nightlife doesn’t have to break the bank. In Kreuzberg, there are a number of cheap bars that serve large beers for 3.50€ ($4.10). Or, to drink cheaply and like the locals, check out some Kreuzberg pubs known as ‘kneipe’. One favourite is Trinkteufel, which literally translates to drinking devil. This lively pub has live music, a great local atmosphere and cheap beers. Visitors can drink cheaper here, before heading to one of Berlin’s many clubs, which all have entry fees that range from 10-20€ ($11.80-23.60) and 25-30€ ($29.50-34.45) on special club nights.