Travel tips for Berlin
Berlin is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city with so much history and culture to experience. We have learned a few useful things on our travels that can help save you money, save you time and make your trip more enjoyable the next time you visit Berlin.
Berlin is not “Germany”
- At least not according to the rest of the country. Germany is actually made up of a number of ancient countries, unified into one Germany. They all have their own distinct cultures and traditions.
- If you are looking for traditional wooden houses, beer halls, lashings of German meat and traditional costumes, you should probably visit Munich. Berlin is a city of dark history, street art and a vibrant nightlife.
- In Berlin, cycling is very much the preferred method of transport. Cyclists have right of way, so do not to walk in the cycle lanes on the edge of footpaths.
- Berlin has an excellent underground train system and a tram system operates in the old “East”.
- Both international and domestic flights can be caught at Tegel, Schonefeld or Brandenburg airports – depending upon your carrier. All are comparatively small airports, so getting through customs is much quicker than say London or Munich.
- The Berlin Welcome Card can be purchased online and provides unlimited public transport in and around Berlin as well as up to 50 per cent discount on major attractions
- Buses to other German cities run from Funkturm (central station). Booking online, we were able to easily travel from Berlin to Dresden, Prague and onto Munich with a few night’s stopover in each.
- Trains run from Hauptbahnhof station. Deutsche Bahn provide rail services to most major centres. An interrail pass can be booked online and can save you up to 15 per cent on fares.
- Unlike London, a booked shuttle to the airport is so cheap it may not be worth the hassle of catching the train. We went from Neukolin to Tegel for 30 euro including tip.
- English is widely spoken in Berlin and other major cities, however if you are planning to visit some of the more rural towns, it is worth learning a little German.
- The Euro is the currency in Germany.
- Credit cards are NOT widely accepted outside major hotels.
- Debit cards and travel cards are accepted and ATMs are readily available in the major centres. If you are visiting a smaller town, it would be worthwhile to carry a little extra cash
Food and drink
- Berlin is very multi-cultural, so you will find an endless variety of cuisines to choose from. There are so many places you can get cheap food and drink in Berlin
- Currywurst from one of the markets is something you must try once.
- Most bars and pubs don’t sell food, so you will need to visit a restaurant first if you are planning a night out.
- Beer is available in most shops. During our trips, Ian has brought a beer from the chemist, the post office and the supermarket. Just because he could.
- The legal drinking age is 16. If you are travelling with a teenager, it is worth having a discussion before you leave.
- Purchasing a Berlin Pass online before you go will give you free entry to a number of attractions as well as free public transport. Compare it to the Welcome Card to see which gives you the best value for your trip.
- A visit to the top of the Reichstag building is a must. It is free, but you do have to book at least 24 hours prior.
- Book onto a walking tour – you will discover lots of interesting things you may otherwise overlook.
- Free public toilets are not readily available. Carry some coin in case you need to “spend a penny”