When we went to Berlin for a winter weekend last January, I was amazed by how easy it was to do Berlin on a budget. I had done Berlin on a budget inter-railing years ago, but I wasn’t expecting this trip to be so affordable.
We stayed in Berlin for three nights last January, in a very nice hotel, the Winters Hotel Checkpoint Charlie, and spent under €350.
This included EVERYTHING – I’m talking flights, accommodation, food and activities. I’ve even rounded up a great deal to include more meals, as we grabbed sandwiches instead of hot dinners on more than one occasion.
So, how did a great weekend in to Berlin cost me under €350? And more importantly, how can you do Berlin on a budget too?
Here’s the breakdown:
Aer Lingus from Dublin to Berlin €50
Ryanair from Berlin to Dublin €55
The reason we went with two different airlines was to get more time in Berlin. The Aer Lingus flight had me arrive in Berlin on Friday morning, at about 10.30 am. The Ryanair flight left Berlin at 6pm on Monday. We booked these flights about three weeks in advance, when there was no sale on.
Berlin on a budget extra tip:
Monitor your flights to find a great deal. If you are travelling to Berlin (or anywhere else) and you have flexibility, then check for the cheapest dates to fly. If you are planning this trip in advance, keep an eye out for upcoming sales. If we had waited until, say, the January sales with Aer Lingus, our flights could have been cheaper! We didn’t check in any luggage either, which presented a challenge trying to pack enough warm clothes for the Berlin winter!
We were originally going to stay somewhere with Airbnb, as we fancied staying in a neighbourhood that we could see ourselves living in, but in the end, we had a few lined up, and no decisions made.
Then I looked at lastminute.com and found that there were some really nice and centrally located hotels for almost the same price. We stayed at the Winters Berlin Mitte The Wall, Checkpoint Charlie. The deal was €199 for three nights, and in a spur of the moment, I upgraded to the ‘comfort room’ for an extra €26 to the total price. I’m not sure what the difference in the rooms were, but our room was really nice. I was really surprised at how close our hotel was to Checkpoint Charlie, and at how gorgeous it was. I think it was definitely the right decision, as it made the trip feel more like a real holiday. Plus, after I got caught out in the rain for a couple of hours, it was very comforting to come back to a beautiful room and make use of the power shower.
So, for €225 between us, we had three night’s accommodation in a very nice and central hotel. That worked out at €37.50 per night each, or €112 for three nights each. If I hadn’t gone for the €25 upgrade, it would have been €33 each per night. The cost of a private hostel room was more expensive than the hotel, and Airbnb was about the same.
This trip was our Christmas presents to each other, and we hadn’t been away in a while, so it was definitely worth it for us to spend that much on a hotel. For any other broke wanderlusters, this is a great idea for boyfriend/girlfriend gifts!
Berlin on a Budget Extra Tip:
Couchsurf, stay in a dorm (there’s loads of really cool ones in Berlin), or go for an Airbnb that’s just a room rather than a whole place!)
Once you land in Berlin, you get a train to the city centre. This cost €3.50.
I definitely recommend the Berlin Welcome Card. Visit Berlin kindly provided me with one for my stay, and it was extremely convenient. We took an awful lot of public transport while we were there. I love the Berlin public transport system. It’s so convenient, and so efficient!
It was great to just hop on and off the variety of transport options around the city, and it was pretty priceless as we were in Berlin for such a short time, and had too much to see. We also did a lot of walking, but the metro is great for cutting across the city.
You can get one for 48 hours and up to six days. The cost is from €19.50, which I think is a good deal. Our cards cost €26.
Next time I’m in Berlin I’ll definitely purchase one, as it gives great freedom for getting around the city.
Berlin on a Budget Extra Tip:
Walk! Sorry it’s not a groundbreaking tip, but walking allows you to see so much. Berlin in January is pretty cold, but if you wrap up you will be just fine.
This was where Berlin got weirdly cheap. I am a food fanatic, so I was really surprised the way it worked out. We found ourselves grabbing sandwiches and snacks instead of dinners, so I’ve had to add a lot to what we actually spent to make the Berlin budget more accurate.
I got caught in a major downpour while exploring. It was so wet that there was water trickling down my back (despite my many layers!) and my boots were squelching. So much so, that by the time I got back to a street where there were cafes, I knew that I was way too wet and cold to sit in a cafe with wet clothes. This was tragic, as I was dreaming of whiling away the time people watching and drinking amazing coffee.
Instead, I went to a supermarket, picked up some Kinder, crisps, beer and a small bottle of prosecco, all for only €7.50, and headed back to dry off. I was so cold that I had to run back out to the nearest place on the corner, where I got a coffee (€4 – It was Starbucks) and a roll and water (€4) from a shop to bring back with me.
Sean’s flight was delayed, so by the time he joined me, it was close to 9 pm. We went back out, but there was nothing open nearby, so we went to the supermarket and bought a few drinks, brie, crackers, chocolate and more crisps, for €12.
This was very out of the ordinary, but it saved us a great deal of money. The supermarkets in Berlin are really cheap. And so is the alcohol!
I almost ran down the road to get a good coffee in West Berlin, a place I had eyed up the day before. Not only did it look like it served good coffee, it also sells magazines and stuff, heaven!
I was only thinking of getting my hit, but we also had to eat, so we each got a delicious sandwich to have with our coffee. It was made with that lovely pumpernickel bread and was a great way to start the day. Two cappuccinos and two sandwiches came to €12.60
We did the Alternative Berlin Street Art Tour and Graffiti Workshop that day. While on the tour, we got a coffee and sweet pastry from a Turkish cafe. It was really cheap, like less than €4.
After our tour, we were famished. We were planning on going out for dinner, but were so weak with the hunger, we couldn’t wait. So we spent a while roaming around the train station, unable to decide what to get. In the end, I couldn’t resist a falafel and chips. They came with a drink for €6.50.
Day three was all about the brunch! And a beautiful brunch it was. We went to Morgenland in Kreuzberg, one of many great brunch spots in Berlin. This cost us €11.50 each, the brunch was €9.90 and we also got coffee.
We had fresh juice and great a middle eastern style spread, with fresh fruit, meats, bread, eggs and more.
We ate at about 12, and were full for hours after.
We got a late lunch and a coffee later on, which filled us up for ages.
I can’t remember what we ate that night, but I think it could have been something snacky, like fries or a burger?
On our last day in Berlin, we did lots of walking around. We drank coffee on the move, and had rolls, pastry and coffee in Kamps cafe, I believe they’re a chain. A roll cost €3.59 a cappuccino was €2.29.
In Berlin, a lot of what you can see is free. There’s the Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Wall, The East Side Gallery, the Jewish Memorial, Hitler’s Bunker, well, kind of.
Then there’s all that amazing street art and people watching to enjoy.
We went on the Street Art Tour, which cost €15.
We also visited Asis’s Panorama, a brilliant experience, which cost €10.
The Stasi prison, Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial was so good, and cost €5.
Berlin on a Budget Breakdown
Flights – €105 each
Accommodation – €112 each
Transport – €30 approx each
Food – €20-30 per day, depending on whether you eat in restaurants for dinner.
We spent about €60 on food altogether. This is obviously less than normal, because we didn’t end up eating dinner out, so I have estimated €100 altogether to account for this!
Activities – €20
Total spent (including all flights, transport, three nights accommodation, food, alcohol and activities) = €370
As you can see, it is really easy to do Berlin on a budget, especially if you live somewhere that can take advantage of cheap flights from Ryanair and others.