Offbeat and edgy, today’s Berlin is a fascinating mix of old and new – as famous for its markets stacked with gluhwein and stollen (and the odd bratwurst) as it’s wild nightlife.
Like much of Western Europe, Germany’s vibrant capital can be on the pricey side. But following on from our tips on how to enjoy 48 hours in London on a budget of just £48, Anna Paynton shows you how to enjoy a winter weekend in Berlin with a similarly modest bank balance…
Get Around… One of the best ways to get a feel for sprawling Berlin is a free city tour – try New Berlin Tours, which run twice daily.
The guides (working on a tip-only basis, which means the tours are generally excellent), include all the major sights for travelers, from the über cool Reichstag to a sobering Holocaust Memorial. The tour culminates with the remains of the Berlin Wall, and several buildings still bearing bullet holes from WWII.
After the tour, head to the historic Brandenburg Gate for more insight into the city’s complex and fascinating history.
Then at the end of the day, the ultra-reliable and convenient train system whisks you back to your hostel in time for a break before pounding the city streets once again. It’s easy to navigate; the U-Bahn is underground and the S-Bahn overground. Most lines run around the clock on Friday and Saturday nights – perfect for late night revelers.
Dance the Night Away… Berliners certainly know how to party; a hefty student population, combined with legendary reputation, drives a throbbing nightlife scene.
To kick start the evening, head to funky MalzCafe on the corner of Danziger Strasse and Knaackstrasse. A reasonably priced bar-cum-café, plates comes piled high with everything from pork schnitzel to fajitas, all served by medieval candlelight on dark wooden tables to a soundtrack of Arcade Fire…
Further down Knaackstrasse, hip club Alte Kantine is tucked away in a former brewery called ‘the Kulturbrauerei’. There are a number of different venues to satisfy all musical tastes here, from cheesy pop to electronic beats, and for just €5 you can dance the night away from 10pm till 6am in Alte Kantine before heading back to the hostel – via the Currywurst & Coffeeshop to sample the famous sausage mit curry sauce, of course.
Get a Good Sleep… After a long night on the town, head back to the Singer109 Hostel, which is fantastic value-for-money. Anyone expecting a run-down establishment in the heart of cold-war era East Berlin would be forgiven for thinking they’ve entered the wrong place…
An enormous atrium welcomes you with a shining black grand piano, free internet access, lounging black leather chairs and a 24-hour bar complete with pool table, foosball, darts, and Nintendo Wii. Prices start at €14.50 per person.
Berlin Brunch… A fast-developing tradition amongst the city’s fashionable set, Sunday brunch in Berlin involves a vast buffet of traditional food.
In the Kreuzberg district (on Skalitzer Strasse), Café Morgenland serves an amazing spread until 3pm for €7.50 – a great opportunity to people-watch in a very popular neighborhood spot and nurse a hangover!
More Art, History, Culture… Some of the world’s best museums can be found within Berlin’s impressive buildings, from the striking façade of the Altes Museumm with its collection of Classical Antiquities, to the Alte Nationalgalerie’s 19th Century art. Then there’s the massive structure of the Pergamonmuseum, built in the style of a Babylonian Temple to house the worldwide findings of Germany’s archaeologists.
Away from Museum Island (just south of Checkpoint Charlie), the Judisches Museum Berlin is another architectural marvel. The building’s silver fortress holds a mixture of concrete angles and lines that create an uneasy space, whilst the plight of Germany’s Jewish community is told alongside such architectural metaphors as the Holocaust Tower – a cold, dark room illuminated only by a small slit of light through which you can dimly hear the voices of the city.
End on a Party… And when evening comes about again, there’s no excuse not to spend your last night in the Prenzlauer Berg district, where bars and clubs can be found on every corner…
Guest poster Anna Paynton shares her Berlin experience. If you have a story on Berlin or tips on exploring your favorite city in 48 hours to share, why not get in touch below!