24 Hours in Berlin… On a Budget 😉
I recently got the opportunity to visit Berlin, Germany with a friend. This city is cool, hip, and happenin’. There are tons of young people as there’s a huge Uni presence and there are also a ton of English speakers. (I imagine it might be quite hard to learn German here). The place is riddled with history but simultaneously manages to be quite modern–and there’s loads of stuff to do.
My friend and I are both au pairs so we were exploring the best of Berlin for less. We rented an Air BnB in a quiet part of Neukölln, a very trendy, hipster area of Berlin. We didn’t have a whole lot of time there but we still managed to do a lot… and all on a budget.
Wondering how to squeeze the most out of your time in Berlin while still enjoying it? Check out what I did.
Activity 1: Free Tour
First things first, we decided to do a free guided tour in order to get the history of the place. Free tours are always good because they’re a way to see the city (for free- heyo!), learn about the history of the place, and give you some inspiration for what to do the rest of your trip. The tour guides are also always awesome and well-qualified, and usually locals so you can always ask them for suggestions for food, museums, things to do, etc.
So after some quick coffee and a snack from Leuchtstoff, which was down the road from our Air Bnb, we headed out for our free tour. You can find these in several cities just by googling “free tour” and then the name of the city you are visiting.
My friend and I used NEXT City Tours because the tour was three hours long and started at 11 a.m. We figured three hours would cover everything we needed to know and 11 a.m. was a good start time as we didn’t have to wake up so early that we would be tired for the rest of the day, but would still have most of the day ahead of us to continue our trip. With this, we had a very nice tour which included most of the major Berlin historical sites like the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Cathedral, Checkpoint Charlie, Hitler’s former office (which is now a Chinese restaurant) and much more! NEXT City Tours also features a free alternative city tour, free third reich tour, and free cold war tour.
Activity 2: Lunch
For lunch we headed to Vöner, which houses faux-meat kebabs and other meat-free delights. As a vegetarian, I don’t get to try a lot of typical German and Austrian dishes like schnitzel, so we decided to check out the vegetarian equivalents. I had a vegetarian curry-wurst which is typically a hot pork sausage with a spicy curry ketchup on it. The vegetarian one was quite good so I imagine the real deal is as well, for my carnivorous friends. (Unfortunately I’ve lost the picture of my delicious veggie curry-wurst… curse you Snapchat). We also were able to stop on the tour for a coffee and a Berliner, a German pastry that’s like a donut filled with icing or jam. Yum yum!
Activity 3: Street Art
Feeling sufficiently satisfied with getting some historical knowledge, we decided to check out the more modern side of Berlin and do a little personal street art tour. Berlin is decked out with super impressive art all over the city. My parents saw my pictures and were like, “wow that’s a lot of vandalism,” and I had to clarify “uhm, it’s not vandalism, it’s street art.” We got off at the Frankfurter Tor U-bahn stop and wandered around Friedrichshain aimlessly seeking it. After this trip, we realized there were a lot of other street art areas that we missed out on but we still feel we got to see some good ones.
Activity 4: Tempelhofer Feld
I highly recommend going here if you take a trip to Berlin! It’s an old abandoned airport that was turned into a park. Cyclists use the runways as bike paths and there’s kids playing, dogs fetching, and a huge community garden. We mostly just wandered around and took pictures but I imagine if you live here it would definitely be a cool place to spend some weekend afternoons!
Activity 5: Dinner:
Now that our touristy selves were fulfilled it was time for some food! We looked up some places near Neukölln and found Al Andalos, a Lebanese place that had some great reviews. After seeing that some reviews said the portion sizes were huge, we decided to split the one-person vegetarian platter as well as the two sandwich combo (which was PLENTY of food) for a total of, wait for it … 7 euro. That certainly fit in with our au pair budget and our growing teenage boy appetites.
Activity 6: Wine
Die Weinerie is a wine buffet. That’s right, you pay 2.50 euro for a glass and then drink as much as you want of all different types of wine. There’s also a small food buffet in the back. At the end, you’re expected to make a donation according to what you think is appropriate for how much you ate and drank. Don’t think you can just not pay, there are people standing there whom you give your glasses to and it’s just awkward if you mooch and don’t pay. Also it’s mean. As former servers, my friend and I probably overpaid, but I would definitely say this is a good option for anyone on a budget. The atmosphere is also very cozy and cute. I imagined if this existed at home in my University town it would get quite ratchet/rowdy as all the college kids would be like FREE WINE! But here it was in Berlin, a spot for a bunch of classy friends gathered for wine and conversation. It was enjoyable.
Rooftop Bar- Klunkerkranich
As the German name is a bit of a mouthful, we lovingly nick-named this place Klunkerklanker. It’s a super cool rooftop bar on top of a parking garage and it has a beautiful view of Berlin. We went there on a Monday and it was HOPPIN’. We could barely find a seat. Nevertheless, the atmosphere was really chill. There’s a 3 Euro cover charge which isn’t so bad and then we payed 2.50 for a shot of gin and 4 for a beer, so prices were definitely within our budget!
I hope my 24 hours in Berlin help you to plan yours. It really is a lovely city and I would love to go there again. One word of advice– buy your public transport passes! It’s a huge city so you will certainly need to use public transport during your stay. At one point we realized we had forgotten to buy a metro pass (since we were so used to just using our year-cards in Vienna) so we bought one at our connecting metro stop and then were checked on the next train! Fines are 60 euros in Germany, so just a heads up!
If you also happen to go on a Tuesday or Saturday, consider checking out the Turkish Market at Maybachufer, 10999 Berlin. We were able to swing by it on our way out of the city and it has tons of food and awesome live music!
Best of luck. Travel on, my friends!