With everything from the East Side Gallery to free karaoke concerts, Berlin on a budget guarantees a good time. The beer, bratwurst and beautiful sights of Berlin are all only a 2-hour flight away, and with direct flights from East Midlands Airport for as little as £20, there really is no excuse not to go.
You would be forgiven for thinking that Berlin has been exclusively built to cater for cheap travel, because there are so many tricks and cheats that can help keep the costs down. As soon as you touch the tarmac, buy yourself a 72-hour Berlin Welcome Card and treasure it with your life. This card will cover you for all metro and bus journeys and gives you a 50% discount for the 200 sights and attractions that charge admission.
Even some of the most iconic tourist attractions are always free, or if you are a bit savvy, can catch for free on certain days. If you’re seeking to satisfy your cultural cravings then head to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Museum Island, on a Thursday night, when all five iconic museums are free from 6-10 pm.
If Antique and Byzantine art is too old school and you would rather see some modern masterpieces, look no further than the East Side Gallery, Berlin’s unique, and free, open-air memorial to the Cold War. The gallery is a collection of more than 100 works of art, painted along the remaining length of the Berlin Wall which represent the optimism of the 1990s in a mix of political satire and psychedelic paintings.
One of the most iconic graffiti paintings, ‘My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love’, depicts Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker kissing, and has come to represent modern Berlin. If you only visit one gallery during your time in Berlin, make this the one.
If music is more your thing then every Tuesday, at exactly 1 pm, those in the know flock to see the world-renowned Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra play for free in their lunchtime chamber music concerts. Seats can cost upwards of €200 on a normal night, so it’s an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in the musical heart of Berlin.
If your music taste is less classical and more cheesy then look no further than the Mauerpark’s famous amphitheatre on a Sunday afternoon for outdoor karaoke. Anyone is allowed to take to the stage, grab the mic, and sing to their heart’s content in front of thousands.
“The indoor market plays host to dozens of international street food stalls which will overwhelm you with the choice”
Another Berlin attraction that is both a must-see, and free, is the Reichstag Dome. The roof terrace, rooftop restaurant, and Dome are all free to visit, but require advanced online registration in order to reserve a place. The process is somewhat tiresome but it’s definitely worth it for the uninterrupted 360-degrees view of Berlin. From the top, you can see the whole cityscape: Berlin’s popular inner-city park, the Tiergarten, the Holocaust Memorial, and an almost bird’s eye view of the Brandenburg Gate. At Christmas, you may just be able to make out the lights of the Gendarmenmarkt square, which hosts Berlin’s famous Christmas markets.
If you’re looking for an all-year round market alternative, then look no further than Markthalle Neun in the hipster hub of Kreuzberg. This neighbourhood is known for its lively atmosphere and a whole host of independent shops, bars, and restaurants. Markthalle Neun is all of these things and more. The indoor market plays host to dozens of international street food stalls which will overwhelm you with the choice. It’s free to look around but you will need a lot of self-control to stop yourself buying half of the market.
Once suitably stuffed, head to Clash, an unpretentious and energetic dive bar on the other side of Kreuzberg. Berlin is known as the cool kid on the block and the bars are no different. Unlike so many other up-and-coming places, you won’t have to break the bank to have a drink because the pints cost as little as €2.50. The inexpensive drinks draw in a local and lively crowd that will make you feel like a local yourself. The bar slowly becomes both rowdier and smokier as the night goes on and by 2 am you could mistake it for a club, but if you really want to dance then shimmy your way to Crack Bellmer. It is one of the few nightclubs in Berlin with free entry and although it may not be Berghain, you’re still guaranteed to have a good time.
Featured image courtesy of ‘Reinhard Link’ via Flickr.
Article images courtesy of Alice Avis and Rodrigo Paredes
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