By Maxine Todd
Doing Berlin on a budget this February, I opted to stay at John’s Cosy Little Jungle Hostel for the duration of my trip. Yes, it was basic, but at €9 per night for a double room with an en suite, it was ideal. Return flights from Glasgow on easyJet cost from about £80, meaning more cash to spend on Berlin’s all-important nightlife!
There are an abundance of bars and nightclubs in the city, but one that stands out for me is Berghain, a techno club located in a former power plant, which remains open from Friday night to Monday morning. The doormen are very strict, and I was grateful not to be one of the many people turned away at the door, as Berghain ended up being one of the highlights of my trip.
Other popular nightclubs in Berlin include Watergate, Weekend and Picknick. Most of the best bars are in the Kreuzberg district in the east, such as Barbie Deinhoff’s, run by celebrity drag queen Lena Braun. Bei Schlawinchen is a cool 24-hour dive bar, while Das Hostel is an artsy but friendly local, where you’ll instantly feel welcome.
Waking up with a daily hangover requires some seriously good munchies, and during my stay I mostly ate my new favourite meal, curry wurst – basically a cut-up sausage drenched in tomato sauce and curry powder. If you’re visiting Berlin it is a MUST and can be bought from street vendors and most cafes. Restaurants worth a visit are Monsieur Vuong, a Vietnamese joint that constantly changes its menu, and Burgermeister, a converted public toilet which is now great little late night burger place. Yes, really.
It wouldn’t be a city break without shopping, and Berlin has everything you need for the ultimate experience. From modern shopping malls and luxury designer stores, to independent boutiques and antique markets, you’re sure to find something you love. The Europa Center, located on Breitscheidplatz near to the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, contains seventy retailers for a one-stop shop. The Nowkoelln Flowmarkt, open on Sundays only, sells items of vintage clothing and home goods. It runs alongside the Landwehrkanal, with a view over the water on one side and seating areas and food stalls on the other, and is a great place to find one-off pieces at low prices.
The best way to see all the sights in Berlin is by joining one of the many walking tours the city has to offer. I chose Berlin Walks’ Discover Berlin Tour, which includes the Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag Dome, the Berlin Wall, Hitler’s Bunker sight, the Holocaust Memorial and many more hotspots. It allows you to cram all the sights into four hours, which you would struggle to do yourself without the knowledgeable guide, and costs just €10. If I hadn’t been a Berlin virgin, I would have plumped for the Alternative Tour, which allows you to see the underground sights, world-famous street art and graffiti culture. Next time!
More German Gems
A hipster’s paradise, return flights from Edinburgh to Munich will set you back as little as £60 with easyJet. Famously the home of Oktoberfest beer festival, a few pints are a must, with plenty of craft beers on offer.
Again, easyJet flights to Hamburg from Edinburgh are cheap and plentiful, making it the ideal weekend destination. Like in New York, Hamburg’s former meatpacking district is a hub of bars and boutiques, while the Reeperbahn is where you’ll find all the best nightlife. Just beware that it doubles up as the city’s red light district!
The fifth-largest city in Germany is accessible by Lufthansa flight from Edinburgh from £99. With a skyline to rival Manhattan’s, it’s well worth paying the €5 fee to visit the top of the Main Tower building at S-Bahn- station Taunusanlage, purely to experience the view.