Berlin on a budget: 9 travel hacks to save on your trip
Ordinarily, the capitals of wealthy Western European nations aren't the best places to save money. As the capital of Germany, the economic powerhouse of the European Union, and one of the richest countries in the world, you may not expect Berlin to be a great budget travel destination. After all, the curse of major cities is that everything costs more.
However, you might be surprised. Although Berlin isn't cheap compared to budget locations in, for example, Southeast Asia or South America, it does have some good and cheap places to enjoy when you visit. If saving money is a priority, there are lots of ways to do that in Berlin, from taking advantage of free tours to using Google flights to find cheap flights to Berlin Tegel airport.
Who doesn't want to save money when they visit Berlin? This article is designed to provide you with travel tips that can help you save money while visiting one of Europe's most fascinating cities. And the first and most important tip is to make sure you drop off your unneeded bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Berlin. Traveling light will make it much easier to get around and take advantage of these travel tips.
Cheap places to stay in Berlin
Thanks in part to its history as a divided city, Berlin is very much a city of neighborhoods. Finding the best place to stay in Berlin will depend in part on your personal taste as much as it does on your budget.
For that reason, the normal advice for finding cheap accommodation in a major city isn't as applicable in Berlin as it might be. Ordinarily, a good tactic is to find a place further from the city center and use public transport to get around. But Berlin's central district, or Mitte, is certainly not the only place you want to visit while in town.
However, other budget travel advice holds true here as it does in other places. Booking accommodation in the off-season, such as spring or fall, will invariably save you some money on your accommodation. Additionally, if you can find accommodation that gives you facilities to make your own meals, you can save money that way, too.
This quirky place to stay close to the center of Berlin is a great option for those looking to save money and for anyone with a sense of fun. They operate a hostel, a regular hotel, and even a selection of apartments, so they have accommodations to suit every budget.
In the height of the Berlin summer tourist season, a bed in a dorm here will cost you only €35. A single room with a shared bathroom is €78, and a double room with a private bathroom is €124. On the other end of the scale, a one-bedroom apartment with a balcony is €277, but it does give you the opportunity to make your own food which can be a great money-saving option.
The hostel is blessed with a wonderful central location within walking distance of Museum Island and is right by the Rosenthalerplatz U-Bahn stop, making it easy to get just about anywhere in Berlin you want to go from here. Additionally, this hostel is home to Berlin's famous David Hasselhoff Museum, so it arguably belongs on the list of things to do as well.
Centro Park Hotel
Located way on the south side of the city, this hotel isn't exactly central, but in Berlin, that's not always a problem. Situated in the Neukoln neighborhood, a center of immigration and increasingly a place where Berlin comes to enjoy vibrant nightlife, this hotel is ideally located if you want access to cheap food and a budget-friendly hotel room that lets you save money without missing out on what Berlin has to offer.
All rooms come with a minibar, TV, and free Wi-Fi. There are also studio rooms that offer a small kitchenette to make your own food. Basic rooms here can go as low as €30 a night in the off-season, and even in the summer, you can get a decent place to stay for around €70 a night.
This three-star hotel is also centrally located with great access to Berlin Mitte and the subway system. A standard room comes with either a king-size bed or two twin beds and costs €112 a night in the summer season. They also offer on-site bike rentals and the possibility of upgrading to an apartment room for €18 a night extra.
Cheap things to do in Berlin
Berlin is absolutely packed with great things to do. History buffs will be in heaven here, especially those with an interest in 20th-century history, as few cities on earth shaped that turbulent century more than Berlin did. But there's more to Berlin than just the relics of the first and second world wars. The city is also home to some truly outstanding museums, including the famous institutions on the city's Museum Island that will take you on a journey around the history of human civilization. There are also iconic art galleries, great shopping, and fantastic places to eat.
With so much to do, it can seem all too easy to blow your budget on the many attractions of Berlin. But a little research can make saving money much easier. Check out some of these top attractions that won't break the bank.
Brandenburg Gate: Undoubtedly one of the most iconic structures in Berlin, the Brandenburg Gate was also one of the few to survive the ravages of World War II. Built in the 18th century, this gate was witness to military parades by the various powers that occupied Berlin during the 20th century, from Nazis to Soviets to Allied forces. And now, it's the perfect place to get a photo and immerse yourself in the history of the city.
Visit the Reichstag: Still the seat of the German parliament to this day, the Reichstag is one of the most important buildings not just in Berlin but in all of Europe. If you take the time to book ahead, you can visit the iconic glass dome on top of the historic building or even take a free tour. You'll learn more about the workings of the modern German parliament and also get to see graffiti left by Soviet soldiers who occupied the building at the end of the war.
East Side Gallery: For decades, Berlin was divided by the Berlin Wall, which physically separated the Soviet and Western worlds. Much of the wall was demolished in 1989 after the unification of Germany, but some stretches of the wall still remain and can be visited to this day. One of the most striking sections is the part known as the East Side Gallery, where local and internationally renowned graffiti artists use the remaining stretch of wall of the campus for their often politically-themed artwork. This is a popular destination to take a free walking tour so you can soak up the history and culture of this ever-changing city.
Cheap places to eat in Berlin
The best street food in Berlin provides a reliable way to save money and experience some of the tastiest food the city has to offer at the same time. You'll find that many of Berlin's most creative chefs operate food trucks and other street food outlets, so there's always something new to try. Alternatively, if you want more of a sit-down meal, that's certainly possible. Berlin is home to a great variety of cuisine from around the world, so you can try lots of different things without spending a lot of money. Give some of these restaurants a try on your next visit.
This self-serve Lebanese restaurant isn't serving up the most groundbreaking cuisine, but it is well-known to locals as one of the best places for cheap food in Berlin. Located in Neukoln, where many of Berlin's top street food and cheap restaurants can be found, this is a popular place to try a bunch of different things. A falafel and halloumi cheese plate costs €6.50 and is a standout on the menu.
Also located in Neukoln, this Chinese restaurant is just as legendary with thrifty diners in the German capital. Filling steam buns or bao cost only €4.50, or you can splurge on eight dumplings, both vegetarian and meat filled, for six euros. That includes your choice of sauce, making this a very affordable option for those who love Chinese food.
Every Friday, Preußenpark becomes one of the best places in Berlin for street food as the park transforms itself into a foreign corner of Thailand. Chefs from the local Thai community gather here to serve up the dishes of the nation, and the food is not only authentic and delicious, but it's also quite cheap. Incredible dishes like pad Thai cost six euros or less, and it's worth making your way to the park just to soak up the unique atmosphere of this immigrant enclave.
Cheap bars in Berlin
Berlin has been a center of counterculture for decades, and the city is still home to some famous dive bars and other cheap places to get a drink. Partying in Berlin can be surprisingly affordable when you take advantage of these cheap bars.
Tiny, dark, and as cool as they come, this bar is a great venue for live music and cheap drinks that has become rightfully recognized by Berliners. Although no one would accuse this place of being fancy, it does have some surprisingly creative cocktail selections, and you won't pay more than six euros for most of them.
With a name that translates into English as larks and owls, this place certainly doesn't feel like a dive bar. In fact, it's as much of a coffee shop as it is a bar, with bare brick walls and charmingly mismatched furniture that just begs for you to sink into it.
The home of two-euro shots and glasses of wine for less than four euros, Misfit is perhaps best known for its raucous beer garden. The ideal place to be seen in Berlin during the summer months, this outdoor area is perfect for sinking a few pints of cheap but delicious German beer and watching the world go by.
Bonus budget tips for Berlin
- Use public transport: Berlin has an extensive public transport network, including buses, trams, and trains, that is efficient and affordable. Consider purchasing a day or weekly ticket to save money on transportation costs.
- Avoid foreign transaction fees: Many banks charge foreign transaction fees when you use your credit or debit card abroad. To avoid these fees, consider using a prepaid travel card or a credit card with no foreign transaction fees.
- Make free phone calls: If you need to make phone calls while in Berlin, consider using apps such as WhatsApp or Skype that simplify making free phone calls over the internet. This can be a great way to stay in touch with family and friends without incurring expensive roaming charges.
- Look for free activities: Berlin is full of free activities, including museums, parks, and historical sites. Check online for free events and activities in the city.
- Consider travel insurance: While it may seem like an unnecessary expense, travel insurance can save you money in the long run if something unexpected happens during your trip. Look for a policy that covers medical expenses, trip cancellations, and lost or stolen belongings.
In short, you won't run out of things to do in Berlin, even if you're trying to save money. Free walking tours can help you see more of what the German capital has to offer, and many of the city's top attractions are free to visit. Plus, with some very affordable options for hotels, restaurants, and bars, you don't need to spend lots to have a lot of fun here.
Take advantage of the free things to do in Berlin, and don't forget to leave your bags behind at a Bounce luggage storage in the city. The lighter you travel, the easier it will be to have a fun and affordable trip.