Are you backpacking on a budget? Well you’ve already made the right choice by staying at PLUS! And Berlin is a relatively cheap city. But we have further good news! Berlin is one of the best cities in Europe to explore without damaging your bank balance too much:
1. East Side Gallery
This 1.3km-long part of the former Berlin Wall stretching from Warschauer Straße towards Ostbahnhof is the longest still surviving, and each section has been painted over by artists from all over the world. There are over 100 different murals, but our favourite has to be the one depicting the famous kiss between the East German President Erich Honecker and Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev (OK, we’ve outed ourselves as history geeks). And the best thing? It starts right around the corner from PLUS Berlin!
2. The Berlin Wall Memorial (Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer)
Also featuring some still-intact pieces of the Berlin Wall, this open-air exhibition on the former border strip gives you a closer look at how the wall and the “death strip” were set out. Particularly sombre is the list of names of escapees who didn’t make it to the West alive, played through a loudspeaker. http://ow.ly/4mTXC2
3. Mauerpark Fleamarket (Sundays only)
A great way to spend an hour or two on a Sunday morning, and completely free - as long as you don’t buy anything! Apart from the numerous stalls, the highlight has to be the “Bearpit Karaoke” – watch with a cold beer in your hand as willing members of the public perform in front of a mini-stadium. http://ow.ly/4mTXsd
4. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Unfortunately, Berlin, as the capital of Nazi Germany, does have a relatively recent turbulent history. This really hits home when enveloped in the midst of the huge concrete slabs that form the thought-provoking Holocaust Memorial, as it is more commonly known. For us, the fact that such a large area of Berlin’s city centre has been dedicated to this vast monument is fitting and symbolic. It goes without saying that sensible and respectful behaviour is expected here (although you’d be surprised how many people don’t respect this).
5. Brandenburg Gate
A bit obvious, but just like the Colosseum in Rome or Prague Castle, if you’re going to have a cheesy selfie taken in front of anything in Berlin it has to be the Brandenburg Gate.
Located just a short walk from the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag (the German Parliament building) is free to visit; you can hop on a guided tour of the building with some interesting surprises such as Russian graffiti dating from the conquest of Berlin by the Russian army in 1945. Of course, no trip to the Reichstag is complete without a walk up to the top of the dome, offering iconic views over the city! Make sure you book well in advance (at least 10 days) as they perform security checks on all visitors. http://ow.ly/4mTXTM
7. Visit Checkpoint Charlie
No, Charlie was not a real person – it merely refers to the phonetic description of Checkpoint C. This infamous border crossing between the US- and Soviet-occupied areas of Berlin was almost where World War 3 started, as an escalation of tensions in 1961 resulted in a standoff between US and Soviet tanks. But fortunately no shots were fired. Breathe in the history and visit Café Adler, made famous in so many Cold War spy novels.
And of course: if you’re at a loose end in the hostel, ask our amazing team for tips – they definitely have their ear to the ground when it comes to what’s going on in the city!