City Spotlight: Berlin

Berlin is one of the cheapest capital cities in Western Europe so is the perfect place for the interrailer on a shoestring. You can eat cheap, sleep cheap and – most importantly – drink cheap. It’s also boasts some of the best nightlife in the world.

The German capital will keep you busy so you should stay here for 3 nights or more. It’s a fascinating city to explore as much of the history remains, shaping it into a very vibrant and liberal capital city. It is also very spread out with the size of the city being nine times (!) larger than Paris but a much lower population density. It also doesn’t really have a centre due to it being divided for so long, so there are lots of mini-centres all across the city. Many of which take a fair amount of time to reach, so you will need to spend a good chunk of time in Berlin to see everything you want to. But the great thing is, the public transport is excellent: underground systems, trams, buses, bikes and more…

It’s obvious the city is still rebuilding after the fall of the wall. The former East Berlin is under constant construction. There’s an extraordinary mix of architecture with beautiful pre-war buildings that managed to survive, boxy concrete Communist-era buildings and the more modern and funky architecture that has gone up in recent years.

It is the perfect city for the museum lover. Berlin has so many. In the Mitte district, there is even the Museum Island, home to five world-renowned museums, and is itself a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some of the museums in Berlin you can explore include: Jewish Museum, Currywurst Museum, Topography of Terror, DDR Museum.

While not a museum as such, a must-see attraction is the Reichstag. This is the German parliament building, topped with a spectacular modern glass dome. But, you must pre-book or you won’t get in (for security reasons). You do this here.

The East Side Gallery is also a necessary stop. It’s an open-air gallery featuring graffiti that has been preserved on the longest remaining part of the Berlin Wall. Go to the Oberbaum, which is just above the gallery, at sunset and you’ll get a stunning view across the River Spree.

During the daytime the best views over the city can be had from the Berliner Dom, which is both better and cheaper than the TV Tower. Make sure to take your student card with you, as there’s a discounted price to climb up to the dome and get panoramic views of the sprawling city. Be sure to take a look inside the cathedral, too, as it is one of the most stunning cathedrals in the whole of Europe.

There are many areas in Berlin to explore and there really is so much to do. Be sure to check out Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain to see the more energetic and liberal parts of the city with great bars, cafés and boutiques in amongst the walls and walls of street art.

You’ve probably heard of Berlin’s nightlife scene. It has some of the world’s best clubs, many of which you are no doubt already familiar with. Berghain is perhaps the most infamous, due to its strict door policy but there are so many incredible clubs and great bars to choose from that you’ll struggle to have a bad night out. Your hostel is likely to run a bar crawl, which is a fantastic way of discovering bars and meeting new people and usually ends up in a nightclub.

Soak in the history, soak in the culture, soak in the nightlife. And enjoy!

Where to eat? Bürgermeister. Possibly the best burgers in Berlin. It’s housed under a tram line in a former public toilet in Kreuzberg.

Where to drink? Soooo many options. There are loads of cool bars in Warschaueur and Kreuzberg. For something a bit different try Dr. Pong. The concept is everyone dons a drink in one hand and a ping pong bat in the other. There’s one table tennis table and everyone hits in a round robin format, chasing around the table to get to the ball in time.

Where to sleep? Odyssey Hostel. It’s in a cool area, great social space to meet new people and walking distance from a number of top nightclubs.

Is there a free walking tour? Yes! The Original Berlin Free Walking Tour

Header image credit: Matúš Benian