It’s flight sale time, and what better time to escape to the best city in Europe, (really-its won loads of awards) Berlin.
Below find our super-skint but want to escape itinerary, where you’ll only have to pay for food and drink…and anything you buy when shopping.
Holocaust Memorial and museum: there is a difficult and convoluted History that Germany can’t escape from, and rightly so, in the last 20 years it is something that they have come to recognise and memorialise in their own way. Walk down to the Holocaust Memorial (Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas) just by the Brandenburg Gate, and have a wander around. The blocks there have no set meaning and are there for each person to take how they wish, just be careful, the ground is perfectly uneven. If you arrive early enough, make time to queue for the free museum underground – it gives great detail to the Holocaust and shows some amazing histories and testimonies.
There are loads of places to eat and drink around the Brandenburg gate but it is VERY touristy and therefore more pricey. If you’re looking for chains then head somewhere like Burgermeister or if you’re headed over to Kreuzberg for the night we ate Berlin’s best ramen at Cocolo Ramen, where they do only 7 ramen but all done to perfection and perfect for travellers on a budget. If you’ve eaten loads and don’t fancy anything more than chips then you MUST head to Mr Tom’s for chips. Seriously the best chips outside of, well, anywhere.
Club: clubbing is notoriously difficult in Berlin, dress down and be casual. It’s also expensive, so here are a couple of bars and ways round the pricey super-clubs.
8mm is a super-cool dive bar – cheap drinks and a really cool atmosphere, and somewhere that they show trashy films up on the wall too! Dr Pongs is also cool, ababy-size ping-pong bar- a little like Bounce if you’ve ever been there in London, but with less Shoreditch-types.
Another option would be to head to Cassiopia which is a really cool urban area in the day time too. It’s not a bar, but it’s a huge area with loads of bars and clubs all opening out into one main area – the bands and themes change every night (keep a look out on their website), and if you’re looking for a rock club that isn’t all dog chains and thrash metal then there’s one here for you too.
Coffee: If like Tim, you’re a coffee aficionado, then there are a number of places you can head. One is The Barn which has worldwide award winning coffee; the other is Happy Barista (a little further out) which is amazing and possibly even better than the Barn!
This is a must-do BUT you have to book it in advance on the Reichstag website. If you have time to, do it before you go – you’ll need to put your details in as there is security to go through – it is their working Parliament building after all. Here’s a sneaky tip! If it’s full then book in to the restaurant or cafe for coffee as this gives you access to the Dome tour too! The dome and inner parts of the building, built by Norman Foster (of London Gherkin building fame), and the tour gives you a free audio guide that you walk up and down the dome’s walkways with amazing views hearing about the history of the city.
East Side gallery:
If you’ve got time, and are interested in the Cold War/Berlin Wall episode of Germany’s history, head up to the East Side Gallery. This is not the paid entry small art gallery, it’s about a mile or so’s stretch of the Berlin Wall, decorated with past and present political art from Europe and the world, including the famous Fraternal Kiss painting between Brezhnev and Honecker…and a LOT of Trump bashing.
If you fancy it, Berlin is amazing for vintage shops, and some of the best include places like Colours.
If you fancy some German Mexican then the best place to go in Berlin, and one that’s really good value for money, head to Ta Cabron Taqueria. If it’s bloody great burgers you want then head to one of the two The Bird restaurants. I’m not sure how to explain how great the burgers are but they’re good enough to make a hangover cry.
Another bunch of bar recommendations – all the same sort of price but at least you’re paying for something different (and Instagram-able). Fitcher’s Vogel is a cool bar full of enchanted art work and Berlin locals, but they only take cash! Madame Claude’s is an awesome little bar which used to be a brothel, and all the furniture is glued to the ceiling! White Trash is a kitschy-cool bar that also has food and they often have live bands and DJs playing pretty much all night, even Sundays. If you’re looking for bigger clubs, without going out to Watergate and Berghain, Kater Blau has a playground in the middle of the club. Club de Visionaire is a beautiful bar by the river that is only open during the summer season, and although it’s not a club, club rules to get in still apply, and the hours make it feel like a club.
Topography of terror: WARNING THIS INVOLVES A LOT OF READING. Another free museum about the rise and fall of the Nazis and the justice that was served after the war. It starts outside and then leads inside. You could spend hours here, but I suggest scanning each part for the main information and one story from each section, it means you will make it to the end and still have space in your brain.
Free walking tour: being one of the largest cities in Europe, Berlin is another city that has a great deal of tourists and so has some great free walking tours. There are a large number of companies that provide them – 2-3 hour tours of the whole of the city, and you tip at the end what you can afford if you want to. We always go with Sandemans from previous fantastic experiences and their quality reputation.
Mauer Park and flea market: If you’ve got any energy left, then the best place to head if it isn’t raining on a Sunday is to Mauer Park. The flea market around the outskirts is like a giant car boot sale, and you never know what you might find…normally nothing in our case but it’s always worth a look. Head to the amphitheatre, where you will find a long-lasting Sunday tradition, from about 3pm. Joe rolls in with his battery powered karaoke machine to the bear-pit, and in pour thousands of spectators, many of whom join in. Even Tim, long-term hater of karaoke enjoyed it, the buzz, the atmosphere and the jollity of it is a great end to a fab weekend before you have to head back to Blighty.
Have you been to Berlin and think we’ve missed something off the list? Are there any other cities you’d like to see an itinerary for on a shoe string? Let us know in the comments below.
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