We stayed in Berlin for 10 nights in early October. The city itself isn't the most beautiful in Europe due the destruction caused by the second world war but what it doesn't have in beautiful buildings it makes up for in everything else. Berlin is culture heavy and an intense historical and educational experience if you explore it right.
As a whole I found it to be a pretty intimidating city... people from Berlin are automatically cooler than anyone else in the world and I found them to be a little 'cold' (literally) but also in an unfriendly sense (not everyone obviously but the general population) particularly around the region we were staying which was full of hipsters. People will look you up and down in the street making a judgement of you based on how you're dressed. (This stressed me out a little seeing as I pretty much had one outfit that I had been wearing for weeks and it wasn't anything special.) Even though it was only mid autumn it was extremely cold and we didn't have any warm clothing as we had just been travelling through summer. This wasn't really a big issue as we were able to find a more than ample amount of second hand clothing to keep us warm in Berlin's amazing flea markets and op shops. Although we had fun I definitely think we could have seen and done more with our time. When i'm older ill return fresh and excited, rather than exhausted (and with more than one pair of pants) and hopefully experience this city in further depth.
Getting around Berlin
The transport network in Berlin is one of the best in Europe. Across a metro, train, tram and bus network that runs throughout the day and into the early hours; there always seems to be an option to get you from point A to point B, regardless of how early in the morning you want to start your sightseeing, or how late at night you come home (or leave) to go out. Day tickets cost around 7 euro not that we ever bought them... Be careful on the trains though as there are regular ticket checkers (you should be fine on the trams). We walked most places although Berlin is a massive city so we had to use transport to get home at the end of the day. The main transport hub is Alexanderplatz and from there you can pretty much get anywhere. Berlin would also be great for bike riding as the city is almost completely flat and has long straight streets! There are bike hire shops everywhere and some airbnbs even include them in their price :) there is also a new website called Bikesurf.org which enables you to rent a bike during your stay from locals, sometimes for free, but mostly for a small donation. It’s a great way of putting money into the pockets of other people who might be saving for travels of their own!
What to eat
As for food, Berlin has a huge array of supermarkets and as we had a kitchen (and we were staying 2 minutes from an Aldi) we cooked most of our food ourselves. There is a massive Turkish population in Berlin so there are kebab shops everywhere. Currywurst are also cheap (albeit a little gross) we had amazing Vietnamese on the first night we arrived just around the corner from where we were staying. We both got pho for 6 euro a bowl :) We went to a cafe called Shakespeare and Sons like a billion times because they had the best bagels and chai lattes!!
As one of Europe’s central hubs for international traffic, Berlin is incredible easy to get into with heaps of airlines offering competitively priced flights to Berlin Tegel Airport, new bus routes opening up with companies like Meinfernbus, and trains along the Deutsche Bahn that are highly reliable with typical German precision for time keeping. We flew into Berlin with Ryanair from Dublin. We had to book our flight 4 days before we arrived because Ebbs booked our original flights for the wrong month, luckily we only lost $100 each including the accommodation we had to cancel. From memory the flights cost around $70 each but would be cheaper if booked a little further in advance :)
We caught a bus to Prague from one of Berlin's many bus stations. We booked the bus online with Meinfernbus about a week in advance and it cost around 12 euros. The trip was only 4 hours :)
Cheap transport options into Berlin vary depending on the departing location, but there are regular sales and cheap flights to be found on skyscanner.
Cheap options are available for every budget and group size as there is a broad selection of cheap hostels, hotels and apartments to choose from due to the size of the city. Berlin is home to one of the biggest selection of airbnbs in the world and we booked our accommodation only a week in advance and had a fantastic, spacious apartment to ourselves for $50 a night. We stayed in Friedrichshain which was a super awesome location, really close to heaps of fantastic restaurants and markets as well as home to some of the best techno clubs. It was also well connected to the cities transport system with the tram and the train within a 5 minute walk from our apartment. Keep in mind that Berlin is a MASSIVE city and the suburb you stay in will likely shape your time there (they are all very different). A lot of people stay in Mitte which is essentially just the city center but I really preferred staying in a suburb just outside the city.
The vast majority of Berlin’s more notable postcard picture attractions are easily walk-able and can be seen in a few hours. In less than an hour you can walk a path past Potsdamer Platz, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, on towards Museum Island, Alexanderplatz and the TV Tower.
Most of the better attractions and museums do come with a entry fee and some of them can be pretty expensive. If you have a student card, entrance prices are reduced significantly so it's worth getting one of those before you leave (you don't even need to be a student just under 26).
There are also free walking tours for those who like to have a guide at hand to explain the history of the city as you walk around Berlin. As normal they are free to join but you tip your guide at the end (usually 5 euros). There is also a huge amount of street art scattered around the streets of Berlin so if your stuck on something to do merely walking the streets is pretty exciting!
Obviously you have to see the East Side Gallery in Kreuzberg but I personally found it a little underwhelming it was only a ten minute walk from where we were staying so we had to walk past it several times.
My favorite techno clubs were Tresor and Chalet. Chalet was particularly cool because it was in an abandoned mansion (hence the name Chalet) however the music was better at Tresor. Sisyphos is quite a big club in a old factory, its really nice in the evening/at sunset and has a big open air space but it also hosts bigger parties late at night. Golden Gate is a really tiny club hidden under a train stop in Mitte that has been famed for its gritty atmosphere and committed crowds. If you are a dire techno fan then Thursdays here are for you!!
The night doesn't really start until 1am so Ebbs and I would go to bed at 6 and get up to go out at 2. The clubs here are quite 'exclusive' and they wont let you in if you stand out or are behaving obnoxiously or sometimes just because they don't like the look of you. Tourists are also looked down on so try not to talk too much in the cue and wear black because it'll help you blend in.
If you like flea markets there are heaps of them on a Sunday in the Friedrichshain area (which is where we stayed and where most of the clubs are) the markets are pretty much in every park so just look on your maps and walk around we found like 5 within a couple of minutes of each other and the stuff they sold was pretty cool. Also if you're into second hand Clothes (we were especially cause we needed winter clothes and couldn't afford anything else) there is the biggest and best thrift store ever in Friedrichshain called Humana. I am still dreaming about it....It's 6 stories high and everything is fabulous and cheap. We went there everyday for at least an hour because of how massive it was. The only thing stopping me from literally buying everything was my baggage limit (which was the most frustrated I have ever been)
Templhof airport which is where the famous Berlin Airlift took place is no abandoned and is a super fun place for a picnic and some bike riding along the runway.
There is also spree park which is an abandoned theme park on the outskirts of the city. Its guarded by a few security guards but pretty easy to get in as long as you don't make heaps of noise.