Friday, 6 September 2013

Frugal City Guide: Berlin

I love Berlin. It's definitely my favourite city in Europe, I love the cool art vibe, bar scene, concrete jungle streets with graffitied artwork on the side of buildings...I've been many times and mostly on a budget. Here are my tips on what to do:

1. Free Berlin Walking Tour by New Berlin Tours
   This is my NUMBER ONE recommendation in Berlin. It's 4 hours   
   long, with a break in the middle and I have done the Classic 
   Free Tour 3 times and loved it every time. You just tip at the 
   end if you enjoyed it (which they make sure you do, as their   
   tips are their earnings!). I learnt so much from this tour, and 
   it's so fascinating as so much of the history is so recent - and 
   they even show you important stuff like the window from which 
   Michael Jackson dangled his baby! All of these below sights are 
   covered in the tour:

Holocaust memorial
Berliner Dom

Brandenburg Gate
2. My favourite building is the Berliner Dom, and the views from 
   the dome are great (even if not partuclar pretty):

Berlin relics and graffiti
3. The Holocaust Memorial (or Memorial To The Murdered Jews of 
   Europe) is a really astounding sight. The free tour takes you 
   through and discusses at lengths all of its different meanings 
   and concepts, however, there is also an exhibition underneath 
   which is really interesting.

4. The Reichstag is a must-see. Climb the Norman Foster designed 
   Cupola and you can see right down into parliament (a purposeful 
   design, allowing all governments to be transparent in their 
   dealings). It's free but there's a big queue - register online 
   before you go.

5.  Berlin Wall Eastside Gallery - this is the longest stretch of 
    the Berlin Wall and Artists have been commissioned to design 
    a section of the wall, it's fascinating just to walk along and 
    appreciate the art as well as think about what it was like to 
    live behind these walls (it's about a mile long).

6. Check-point Charlie for some cheesy photos.
7. Oranienburgerstrasse - in the trendy 'Mitte' district, this is 
   great in the evening, and where most of the bars and clubs are 
   as well as lots of old derelict buildings now used for galleries 
   and exhibitions. We stumbled upon many galleries simply by 

Where To Eat:
  • Dada Falafel -there is a huge Turkish community in Berlin and it shows in their food. This is a hole in the wall place with possibly the best falafels I've tasted...
  • Pan Asia - I had sushi here in the summer, we ate outside and it was delicious.

  • Weinerei - amazingly brilliant winebar where you pay €2 for a glass and the pay what you want at the end...dependent on whether you had a nice night!
  • Tiergarten Quelle - this was our FAVOURITE place in Berlin - it's underneath a railway arch and very dingy but VERY German - selling beer by the litre and the LARGEST plate of meat you've ever seen for €9 - all served with traditional mash and hearty vegetables. Great atmosphere, a bit like an old beerhall. And great value.

Want to live like a local whilst out there? We know about Air BnB but have you tried One Fine Stay? Our Travel Editor at Red Magazine swears byt it and claims it's the next notch up to Air BnB, offering a chicer, more concierge-like service. Worth a visit...


  1. Love Berlin and love this guide!
    Another tip which lets you beat the queues at The Reichstag is to book a table at the restaurant at the top (you can usually book a table just a few days in advance). When you arrive just go to the front of the line and say you have a restaurant reservation and they will direct you straight up to the top! We had a fabulous breakfast with brilliant views of the city and then explored The Reichstag from the top down!

    1. Such a great idea! Must try this next time! xx

  2. I just got back from Berlin on Monday after my 5th or 6th visit there (but my boyfriend's first time). I was worried to see your guide (as I might have missed some great things), but I'm glad to seen I've hit quite a few of those spots. LOVE the free walking tour—have also done it 3 or 4 times as well! It's always so great to get a refresher on the city's fascinating history. We also signed up for the free tour of the Reichstag/Bundestag and it was really cool. We got to sit in the press area of the parliament hall and of course went up to the Dome.

    Went to Weinerei for the first time on this trip! Just FYI though, the 2 Euro wine special doesn't start till 8. We got there a bit early and ended up getting a (very reasonably priced) bottle of wine to start. Definitely a great spot—I love Prenzlauer Berg. Would also recommend Pratergarten which is a giant beer garden (supposedly the oldest), and the many cafes with sidewalk seating in Prenzlauer Berg (such as Cafe Liebling). If you're willing to splurge one night—Gugelhof people! It never disappoints. Oh, and EastSeven hostel is really great—and they have private rooms.

    1. Good to know about Weinerei...I went to one the first time years ago (our tour guide from the day tour took us out in the evening too, as we got on so well!) but can't remember it's was a lot 'grittier' but v good. I've heard lots about Pratergarten - must go next time. I stayed in 'Heart of Gold' hostel which is based on 'Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy!! It's quite basic and again, has private rooms. So nice not having to always book an expensive place, as you're hardly ever in your room, anyway!

  3. Replies
    1. Tokyo is my next one! Are you going soon? Will try and do it before...

  4. going in April for 16 nights - just Tokyo (maybe some day trips too) do no rush! x

  5. Not heard of One Fine Stay but I've used Way to Stay before and thought they were great. Berlin is on my list of places to visit!


  6. Thanks for the great tips - we had a wonderful week-end in Berlin (13th-15th September) and enjoyed the "free" walking tour as well as a visit to the Reichstag, the Holocaust Memorial and various other places. Such a vibrant fun city with heaps of history. Am already making a list of what I want to see on the next visit! Thanks for your input!


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