Fun + Lifestyle

Frugal or Frills: Berlin on a Little or a Lot

  • With a million visitors per year, Berlin is one of the busiest cities in the world
  • If you want to save money, try to travel when there are fewer events happening
  • Berlin is famous for its night life—you can party for very little or spend lavishly on an upscale experience

Berlin, Germany is a busy city with over 3.5 million residents and about 1 million visitors a year.

Like most cities, it offers quite a range of things to do and see at a range of price points. Whether you’re a newer lawyer looking for a more frugal trip or a seasoned partner planning a vacation with all the frills, Berlin has something to offer you.

Frugal First-Year

Travel: As Berlin has become a more popular destination for travel, the busy season has become just about year-round. The real deciding factor in finding the least expensive time to go is based on what events are happening in the city, as well as the weather at the time, so be sure to look up what might be happening before you book your flight. The months with the least events and most moderate weather are typically October and November, when there’s still a little bit of warmth from the summer but no touristy pricing.

Accommodations: Like most European cities, hostels are the way to go if you’re looking for a low-cost place to stay. Most hostels will offer an option of dorm-style living or personal room/suite depending on how much money you’re willing to spend. Two of the most recommended hostels that have a clean, safe, and stylish feel are Circus Hostel and Wallyard Berlin. They provide free wi-fi and even bikes for rent to help make your stay in Berlin comfortable and easy.

Transportation: Berlin is easily accessible by train; there is the underground U-Bahn and the aboveground S-Bahn. Both train systems are around two euros per ride. You can take them to and from the nearest airports, or if you have some extra time hop on a bus or tram line where you can get unlimited rides with a Berlin Welcome Card. If you’re feeling extra sporty, most Berliners bike; it’s a quick and easy way to see the sights and get in some exercise.

Things to do: There is plenty of exploring to do around Berlin and it doesn’t have to cost a thing! Just take a walk around and you’ll find art on the walls or entertainment in the streets. Here are some specific activities to try:

  • Take a walking tour. New Europe Tours offers a tip-only, three-hour walking tour of the city that takes you to all the important monuments, including the remainder of the Berlin Wall or the Brandenburg Gate.
  • Get a 360-degree view. With prior registration you can enter the dome of the Reichstag Building, which holds the current German parliament. There you can see a complete all-around view of Berlin for free.
  • Look at some free art. Berlin is covered with graffiti. It lines many blocks but can especially be found in large quantities in the Friedrichshain neighborhood. It is here, at the East Side Gallery, where you can see huge graffiti pieces that have been painted on the largest remaining portion of the Berlin wall.
  • Go to a park. During summer months, locals flock to the parks of Berlin for BBQs and picnics, such as the Tiergarten, one of the largest parks in Berlin. It has great areas for walking or biking and places to sit and observe the nature.

Night life: As one of the biggest cities for techno music, Berlin’s nightlife is not one to miss.  Behind the graffitied walls of many buildings in the city, you’ll find a welcoming club scene pumping with music. Berlin clubs tend to have reasonable entrance fees and rarely have the phenomenon of buying tables, so anyone can experience the nightlife for themselves without worrying about hefty prices.

  • For a beach party that rivals South Beach, head down to the Spree River. There you will find open air bars/clubs where you can enjoy the warmth of the summer air with a cheap beer in your hand.
  • For a club vibe, but little to no entry fee, stop by Dunckerclub. There is no dress code, the drinks are good, and the music is loud—all the basics you need.
  • For a movie under the stars, head to one of the open-air cinemas. Bring a picnic and relax as you watch a blockbuster or a classic. There’s a small entry fee, but it won’t break the bank.

What to eat:

  • For an on-the-go bite, try Curry and Chili for a currywurst. The combo of ketchup, Worcestershire, and curry powder that encases this classic German sausage has a bit of a kick you’ll appreciate.
  • When you’re missing American comfort food, stop by Burgermeister to enjoy their burgers and cheese fries.
  • For the necessary German Schnitzel, stop by Schneeweiss. According to Berlin Food Stories this is where you will find the number one schnitzel in the city.
  • When you need to satisfy a sweet tooth, grab a donut at Bäckerei Ladewig. The Riesenpfannkuchen is the one to get. With a jelly filling and glazed top, they’re sure to hit the spot.

 Frills for the Fancier Lawyer

Travel: Without the restraint of a budget, finding a time to come to Berlin is much easier. Summer is the peak time for tourists from all over the world. The sun is shining, kids are out of school and the city comes alive. But if you are a person who loves the coziness of the winter months, then around Christmas and New Year’s is the best time for to visit the city.

Accommodations: There are plenty of luxurious hotels to stay at right in the center of Berlin. You can sleep in the same room that once hosted Michael Jackson and even the Queen of England at the upscale Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin. If you’re planning an extended stay and would like a more at-home feel, the Gorki Apartments, which includes a full-service in their rooms, are the place for you.

Transportation: Most of Berlin is easily accessible by train or bus, but if you would prefer to travel by taxi, they are readily available, and they also use Uber. Most major credit cards are accepted.

Things to do: Berlin features a variety of museum types that showcase the range of history and culture found in this great city.

  • Museum Island. Berlin has five world-renowned museums all located on the UNESCO World Heritage site called Museum Island. They are the Altes Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie, Neues Museum, Bode-Museum, and the Pergamon Museum. These museums hold a range of art, all the way from the time of Ancient Greece up to newer works. To get the full experience, purchase a three-day pass and try to visit all thirty museums.
  • Interactive museums. Head over to the DDR museum where you can take an interactive trip through the everyday lives of those who lived under the socialist rule of the German Democratic Republic.
  • Gendarmenmarkt: This square, which sits between French and German churches, holds different events depending on the time of year. During the winter months, enjoy the Christmas market and festival. During the summer, enjoy concerts in the classic open-air festival.

Night life: Nightlife in Berlin doesn’t have to be just clubs or bars—the city offers quite a range of places and things to see after the sun goes down.

  • For an upscale club experience, head to the neighborhood of Mitte. There you can find clubs that serve fancy drinks and great vibes. Be sure to stop by Tresor; it’s such a historic club that the door from its former location is now in a museum.
  • For concerts, comedy, dance, and more, check out what’s happening at the Tipi am Kanzleramt. The prices for shows vary and the drinks and food aren’t cheap, but it’s well worth it.
  • For a good scare and tour of the city at night, hop on a Ghostwalk. You’ll be spooked while finding out some interesting facts about Berlin.
  • For more ideas of what to do at night in Berlin check out Free Tours by Foot.

 What to eat:

  • Go to Grill Royal if you’re looking for a great steak. The restaurant sits on the Spree River and offers a nice view during your meal. Just be sure to make a reservation as the restaurant gets busy.
  • For your classic West Berlin-style food, head into Cafe Einstein Stammhaus. They are known for schnitzel and apple strudel, and serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • For some history with your meal, grab a seat at Zur Letzten Instanz, Berlin’s oldest restaurant.
  • For a true fine dining experience, stop by Pauly Saal where you can sit down for a four- or five-course meal. The mainly seafood menu pairs nicely with their selection of over 600 wines.