Can you believe, until last month I had never been to Germany? It isn’t somewhere that has been on my radar before for some reason, yet after visiting Berlin, I am yearning to see more. Here’s some of the budget friendly highlights that I would recommend if you are visiting.
Checkpoint Charlie was one of the main crossing points between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. As you can imagine, it is now a tourist attraction but you can also see sections of the, now demolished Berlin Wall, as part of the free information that lines the street for you to read.
The Brandenburg Gate is one of the most iconic buildings in Germany so it is a no brainer that it be included here. It has been at the centre of some massive historical events and is now a symbol of unity and peace in Europe. Luckily it is also within walking distance of the next three must see sites, so it is easy to pop over and see it in all its beauty.
The Reichstag Building is the main parliament building for Germany, with an impressive glass dome at the top which you can visit. The visit is free and there is an excellent audio guide included at no charge, the only thing is you need to book well ahead of time to get a timeslot, but it is definitely worth it! The views across the whole of Berlin are stunning and the audio guide also tells you exactly what you are looking at, as well as the political information about the country and the building itself.
The guide meanders you around the outside of the dome, climbing to the top whilst circling the mirrored centre, which looks down into the main office where policy is formed. The top is open air, which helps to cool or warm the building naturally. There is also a bar at the top, if you fancy a quick drink.
For even more spectacular views, and incredible cocktails, a trip up the TV Tower is mandatory. Whilst it isn’t free, you can get a great discount with the Welcome Berlin card. This also includes free travel on public transport, including to the airport which pretty much pays for the card in itself. We hopped on and off the U Bahn to all these sites with ease, it was well worth it.
Anyway, the cocktails at the top of the TV Tower are surprisingly reasonable yet incredibly tasty! As someone with a fear of heights, it helped settle my nerves about being 207 metres above the ground.
My favourite free site of the trip was the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Another free exhibition (although donations are welcome), there are the large stones of differing heights to wander through. The information centre underneath the memorial holds the names of over 3 million jews who were murdered during the holocaust, and harrowing insights into some of the families. Most people know a little about the holocaust, but the information I learned here will stay with me forever, a truly harrowing yet insightful place.
Berlin Zoo is ridiculously affordable compared to our zoos! They have the most species of any zoo in the world including the new arrival of two very cute pandas. The majority of the zoo is open air so you feel closer to the animals and they are less caged than in other places I have visited.
For a few extra euros, you can also visit the Aquarium with its jelly fish, crocodiles and tropical fish. The building itself is worth the visit, look at that stained glass! I got this gorgeous Dorothy Perkins dress from Love The Sales before I travelled and it really worked for the transition from tourist attraction to bar.
Facing the side entrance to the Zoo is the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. The church was partly demolished during World War 2 and hasn’t been renovated, so it will stay as a lasting reminder of the war and the effects of war. You can also go inside and see the effects the bombing had in more detail and there are regular tours.
Next to the church is the Bikini Shopping Mall which houses, predominantly independent stores. I enjoyed a fresh juice from Funk You and also bought loads of tiny cute stamps for my new bullet journal in there. Bikini is also next to the luxurious 25 Hour Hotel which is home to Monkey Bar, the rooftop cocktail extravaganza overlooking the Zoo with beautiful views around Berlin.
A little trip out from the centre is Friedrichshain with its bright and colourful graffiti, and the Fountain of Fairytales. There are sculptures of your favourite characters from Cinderella to Snow White, the stairs on each side reminded me of the scene from The Sound of Music when the Von Tramp children sing ‘Do Re Mi’.
It may not be budget friendly but if you are already in this area, the Fairytale bar named after the fountain is a must visit. Butterflies escape from your menu, drinks are served in stiletto heels and the whole place feels like it has fallen down the rabbit hole. The perfect speakeasy.
Lastly, if you are looking for somewhere basic yet central to stay, I would recommend the Best Western Spittelmarkt. It is right next to the Spittelmarkt U Bahn and is comfortable, clean and quiet. The wifi is free but breakfast expensive, yet Cappuccino opposite does a cracking traditional breakfast that you simply must try.
Where would you add as a tip for budget friendly Berlin? Please let me know in the comments for my next trip.
In collaboration with Visit Berlin and Berlin Zoo.