Berlin has been a hotspot on the European backpacker route for decades, and for years it’s held the title as the continent’s ‘capital of cool’. But just what is it that makes Berlin such an epic destination for backpackers? Aside from affordable prices and central hostels, Berlin is packed with incredible free things to do and an unrivalled nightlife scene. Whether you’re into hipster hangouts, local food, learning a little history or getting to know the city like a local, Berlin is the city for every kind of backpacker to feel right at home. Check out these 10 things that make Berlin such a cool city for travellers on a budget.
Looking for hostels in Berlin? Check out The Mitte Hostel
Whether you’re in Berlin in the height of summer or the depths of winter, as long as it’s not raining, an afternoon in a beer garden is a must. Enjoy a local German beer while you hang out with German locals in one of the coolest beer gardens in Berlin (or ‘biergartens’ as they call it). At all times of the year, Berlin’s outdoor beer bars are a great place to hangout on a chilled out afternoon, buzzing with the city’s locals and visitors making the most of some of the best beer in Europe.
Prater, Zollpackhof and Cafe Am Neuen See are just a few of the best biergartens in the city where you’ll be guaranteed a good atmosphere. With beer being one of the cheapest things to drink in the city, it’s lucky you’re in good hands!
Mauerpark on a Sunday
If you’re heading to Berlin, you have got to make sure you’re there on a Sunday for the full local experience. Mauerpark on a Sunday is one of the best things about Berlin, especially for young people and backpackers. The vibe is insane! Crowds of people flock to the park - which at any other time of the week is pretty quiet - to soak up the electric atmosphere. You’ll find a giant flea market, street performers and musicians, but the very best thing? The Sunday Bearpit Karaoke. Take a seat in the enormous amphitheatre to sing along and listen, or if you’re up for it then take part!
For the history buffs amongst you, Berlin has got to have a spot on your bucket list. Fun fact: Berlin has more than rainy days than museums, which means you’ll never be short of things to discover about the city. Berlin’s had a tough past, making it through World War II as pretty much a pile of rubbish, followed by the Cold War and the construction of the Berlin Wall.
Now, you can see the original Berlin Wall in person, and learn all you need to know about it by visiting the Berlin Wall Memorial and the East Side Gallery. Visit the Topography of Terror or the Jewish Museum and find out more about Berlin’s World War II history.
So many free things to do
We’re backpackers, and we’re on a budget, so free things to do on a city break (especially in Europe) are a real lifesaver. Berlin has some incredible free sites and museums such as the Brandenburg Gate, East Side Gallery, the Topography of Terror and the Holocaust Memorial. However if you tag along on a free walking tour, you can tick off all the major sites in just a couple of hours and get the most out of it by being shown around by a knowledgeable tour guide.
Jump into one of Berlin’s beachy lakes on a hot day, or visit a couple of old, abandoned sites like the abandoned amusement park, Spreepark, or the former spy tower of Teufelsberg. The city has its fair share of amazing - if slightly creepy - abandoned places that if you’re not too scared to visit, are seriously cool.
Check out the 15 Free Things to do in Berlin
Berlin is bursting with culture, and when it comes to the city’s food scene it’s no different. Whatever cuisine you fancy eating, you’ll be able to find somewhere in Berlin. Plus there are plenty of cheap eats! Fried chicken, Vietnamese pho, tasty pizza, burgers... The city’s got it all. But don’t leave before you get a taste of Berlin’s own famous dishes, mainly currywurst or German doner kebabs. You’ll be able to find delicious, cheap currywurst all over the city, but if you’re after a decent kebab then make Mustafa’s Gemuese Kebab your top food priority!
All night parties
People come from all over the world to get the Berlin party experience. Try your luck at getting into the most exclusive club in Europe, Berghain, or scout out one of Berlin’s secret dives for an epic all night party. Where there’s a big open space going spare, you can be guaranteed that someone in the city will turn it into yet another insane clubbing venue.
Love house and techno music? That’s Berlin’s speciality. The city is home to some of the world’s best DJs so if you’re planning a trip there already, keep an eye out for some big performances.
Berlin’s got so many good bars, but the coolest have got to be those with an open top on a summer’s day. The buzzing summer atmosphere and drinks flowing from afternoon until night, there’s no reason not to love the open air bars in Berlin. Party under the sky to some of the best DJs in the city. A few of our top picks are ELSE, Klunkerkranich, IPSE and Yaam (for more chilled, day drinking vibes).
Insane Photo opportunities
You might be more into seeing the sites than getting the local experience, and that’s awesome. Bring your camera because Berlin is stuffed with photo opportunities. Make sure you visit the East Side Gallery to check out the colourful artwork, head up the Victory Column for incredible views, the Oberbaum Bridge for edgy photos and pretty much every historical site. You’ll never run out of things to photograph when you’re in Berlin.
It’s Europe’s hipster capital
Get away from the tourist crowds and hang with the locals in Berlin’s more hipster spots. The city has so many flea markets that you’ll easily find one that’s off the tourist track. Plus it’s vegan scene is booming, with loads of vegan cafes and restaurants popping up in recent years. Listen to alternative live music, dance to up-and-coming DJs and drink in the city’s underground bars by night. Did you know you can even dance in a phone booth? Yep, they’re the world’s smallest ‘discos’ and it’s not just music in a phone booth, you can expect dry ice, a disco ball and strobe lights. You can’t get more hipster than that.
St Christopher’s is right in the centre
The best thing about hostels? Cheap prices and awesome location, and at our new The Mitte Hostel you could not be based in a better spot. With Museum Island just a 5 minute walk away, and sites like Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie just a few stops on public transport, getting around the city is seriously quick and easy. It’s also the ideal place for backpackers to meet and make friends for life, with a buzzing bar attached and a rooftop for chilling in the day.