People have been raving about Berlin to me ever since I started this blog 2 years ago. "A city like no other", "the creative capital of Europe", "artistic city full of hipsters cafes", "one hell of a party" are a few words they described Berlin. The more I hear about Berlin the more I was both skeptical and intrigued so when I was in Europe, I decided that I would spend at least a week there and see what all the fuzz was about. Now I know why people love this place so much.
Berlin is a city that appeals to all types of people. No matter if you are an adventurer, a music-lover, or a gamer, Berlin has you covered. If you haven't noticed, I am kind of a "hipster" myself and in this article, I will cover most things that I think you, the rebel, the one who doesn't follow trends, will enjoy so expect many of these places not to be listed elsewhere but here.
Germany Travel Video
Where to Stay in Berlin
Jetpak Alternative Berlin is one of the coolest hostel I've stayed in Germany. It is located in the stylish alternative zone of Kreuzberg, a few minutes walk away from the East Side Gallery. As you walked into the building you will find that everyone is super friendly both the staff and the people this place attracts. The reason behind this is that the hostel is catering to independent backpackers and will not allow big groups to ruin the friendly atmosphere.. which I think is an awesome idea!
The bed and the facilities are pretty good but what had me hooked was the free breakfast and coffee in the morning and it's not the crappy coffee typical hostels like to serve, but real fresh coffee brewed by the staff straight from the brewing machine. To top all that, the WIFI is blazingly fast. It really was that amazing.
Note: Do book in advance because this place can be fully booked fast especially on Friday.
How to Get to Berlin
The best way to get here is to fly directly to Berlin or one of Germany's hub cities like Frankfurt and take a bus from there. I would recommend you browse through Skyscanner or Momondo to find all the cheap flights from where you live to Germany and compare them so that you can find the one best fit for your itinerary.
There are many trains operated by Deutsche Bahn (DB) that ends in Berlin but I would suggest a bus since there are plenty of them going toward Berlin and the price is much more affordable than the train.
For bus, I would recommend FlixBus where you can easily book a ticket online from their website. Most buses will drop you off at Berlin Central bus station and from there, you can walk a bit north and catch the U-Banh metro at the U Kaiserdamm station.
How to Get Around Berlin
In the central area where the Brandenburg gate is located, you can simply walk around and you will be able to cover most of the attractions in the area such as the DDR museum or the Reichstag but if you plan to follow my guide, I would suggest you buy a one day pass for the U-Bahn so you can cover more areas faster. Don't try to free-load, it's not worth it when you got caught (50 Euros penalty).
Traveling here, on average, will cost you more than traveling in most countries out there. You can expect to spend around 45 - 65 USD per day per person with food, accommodation and transportation.
Keep in mind that this is just a suggested daily budget based on my style of traveling, which is leaning more toward the budget side of things. If you want to stick to this budget, expect to sleep in dorms, eat out only a few times, and be comfortable using the cheapest and most convenient way of transportation, which often times involves walking.
If you are looking for a travel insurance to go along with your trip to Germany, I would recommend WorldNomads.com, which is what I use to look for a travel insurance that fits my kind of adventure. They have a simple and flexible search system that allowed me to find the right insurance for the right amount of time at an affordable price in seconds. If you need a travel insurance, give WorldNomads.com a try.
12 Hipster Things to Do in Berlin
1. Shop at the Hipster-friendly Kastanienalle Street
This was recommended to me by my trusted German hipster I know and it did not disappoint. Along this street, you will find all sort of really hip restaurants and cafes where you can chill among the locals or you can walk and shop around for rare vintage or cheap handmade items you will not find else where.
The location of the street is shown above.
2. Go to Mauerpark on Sunday in the summer
Hundreds of Berliners come out every clear Sunday in the summer to hang out with their close ones in this park. You can spend almost a whole day in this park alone. You can either shop in the amazing vintage flea market or enjoy all the live performances played by independent artists from around the world.
This place is what an energetic city should feel like! I fall in love with Berlin right away after I saw how active the city was at the park.
Definitely one of the most liveliest city I've seen and that was coming from me, a person who prefers nature more than a city.
The location of the park is shown above.
3. Attend an electronic concert at the Urban Spree
Urban Spree is a half bar, half artist playground located by the Spree river where you can find all kinds of concerts and creative events you can attend. Check out their event schedule so you can plan your trip accordingly.
I discovered Vessels, an awesome electronic band from England because of their concert at the Urban Spree. Now it has become my favorite band of all time!
The location of this subculture haven is shown above
4. Morning stroll around the Wasserturm Prenzlauer Berg
Wasserturm is Berlin's oldest water tower completed in 1877 and was no longer in use after 1952. The surrounding area has been converted into an elevated park with the view of the water tower and the city. You can even see the TV tower from here. In the morning, this place provides many great opportunities for photographers to capture the quiet perspective of Berlin.
The location of the water tower is shown above.
5. Chill at Cafes and Restaurants by the Flutgraben Canal
The floating cafes and restaurants along the calm Flutgraben canal is so peaceful, you might forget that you are currently in central Berlin.
I went there to try out the famous White Trash Fast Food restaurant. The food was exceptional and the vibe is relaxed with a bit of an attitude.
The location of the canal and the White Trash Fast Food are shown above.
6. Learn the History of Games at the Computer Game Museum
If you are a nerd but still cool like me (haha, no shame here) you may want to drop by at the computer game museum. The museum showcased a collection of console games from the past up to this generation. You will be able to see the ancient game consoles from the infamous Virtual Boy to Commodore 64 here. They also allow you to play old games from the past like the Arcade Ms. Pac-man and Space Invaders. They even challenge you to finish Ms. Pac-man with a giant joystick! If you are a gamer, this place is your heaven.
The location is shown above.
7. Admire the Graffiti at the East Side Gallery
Only a few minutes away from the hostel, this place is a perfect spot for a morning stroll. The famous street arts that you may have seen circulating the inter web, like the kissing politicians graffiti, are mostly here.
Although there's not much history to read here (we will get to that in a bit), you will find plenty of photo opportunities on one of the many colorful graffiti along this open air gallery.
8. Sunset at the Brandenburg Gate
The famous landmark of Berlin, the Brandenburg gate was once located in the no man’s land behind the Berlin Wall that divides the nation in the 80s. It was then reopen after the fall of Berlin Wall and has become one of the most popular attraction since.
I know this is a touristy place but when you see it while the sun set behind the gate turning the sky purple, it will be worth it.
9. Enjoy the Architecture of the Berlin Cathedral
The cathedral itself is beautiful but what attracts me is the Lustgarten garden in front of it where you can picnic and enjoy your currywurst while being surrounded by historical buildings such as the cathedral and the museum.
It is also centrally located which is why I decided to check this place out before heading to the next place in the list.. the DDR museum.
10. Learn the history at the DDR museum
After seeing the church, drop by at the DDR museum to learn more about East Germany under DDR reign. I have always wonder what it would be like to live in East Germany when it was run by the communist party DDR and this museum have all the answers I needed. The museum showcased many aspects of what it was like to live in East Germany from being eavesdropped by the government with their intelligent surveillance program to to the movement that destroyed the wall eventually. If you are a history buff, this is the place for you.
11. Be terrified by the Topography of Terror
This free entry museum is dedicated to showing the cruelty of the Nazi party, mainly focusing on Himmler and his plan of extermination. I was both touched and terrified by the content of this museum. It really opens my eyes to the capability of what "intelligence" race or humans can do to each other.
One of the reason why I respect Germany and its people is that they don't hide their mistakes. When a country goes through dark times, usually they would try to cover it up and buried the history, but the Germans shows their vulnerability to the world front and center and proof that they have learned from their mistakes.
12. Learn more about the Berlin wall at Charlie's checkpoint
Another place to learn about the history of the divided Germany or more specifically how the Berlin wall played a role in the German history is at the Charlie's checkpoint. Along the wall around the checkpoint you will be able to read about how the wall came to be, the accounts of the attempted escapes and who Charlie was exactly. For a history buff, this place is a no brainer.
Digital Nomad Friendly Cafe
There is so many options here but my favorite cafe would be the Bonanza Coffee House near Mauerpark. Their Flat White is the bomb. The space was also very cozy and clean with power outlets and fast internet available for you digital nomads to use. They also do ocassionally hold a coffee brewing workshop inside so it may get a bit crowded but that is part of the entertainment for me. All in all, I worked from here several times when I was in Berlin and I have nothing but praise for this place.
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by BucketListly where we will follow our founder, Pete Rojwongsuriya around the world as he singlehandedly travel alone and experience different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.
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