How to do Berlin on a student budget

Gravity-defying cows to a burger joint bathroom

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So, we're only three weeks into the academic year and already we have replaced blood with caffeine, the gym with chain smoking and pleasant autumnal pastimes with stress, anxiety and chronic fear of the year ahead. It's not easy being a student and despite only having just started, I already feel like I need a holiday.

For some the word 'holiday' may recall Gabrielle's 'Out of Reach' as (like me) their Santander Student account falls further and further into the depths of minus money until the next sacred loan day.

BUT, DO NOT FEAR. There is hope for you yet.

Berlin, Europe's most trendy city right now, is steeped in history and home to hipsters, foodies and ravers alike. But whilst this is all fabulous, the best part undeniably is, that it is so damn cheap (or, can be).

You'll be happy to know that whilst procrastinating for my own degree work, I have compiled a list of tips/destinations for a budget holiday to one of the coolest capitals in the world.


Try and book your AirBnb as far in advance as possible to avoid soaring costs and if you share a flat with other travellers it will bring the price down considerably. Neukölln and Kreuzberg are the hotspots of the city (lots of men with beards and topknots, graffiti cafe's and abandoned buildings masquerading as cocktail bars) but Neukölln is the cheaper of the two as it is slightly further away from the centre. This leads me to…


I paid 32 Euros (with Donkey Republic) which allowed me to use a bike for five days and it was the best decision of the trip. Berlin's cycle routes are nothing less than perfect and drivers actually treat you as if you were a car, unlike in the UK. The bike came with a holder for my phone on the front, I just typed my destination into google maps and voilá. Not only do you save money on public transport, but it is the best way to see the city and end up in places you weren't planning on going to.

If you are worried about fitness – don't be. Berlin is essentially all flat so it isn't particularly strenuous. If I could do it, you can. My diet at that point consisted of deep fried cheese, cigarettes and copious amounts of alcohol…SO:


Obviously, Berlin has a plethora of clubs, pubs and bars to get absolutely sloshed in but if you really are trying to count the pennies, buy your alcohol at the supermarket and drink it outside. Public drinking is legal in Berlin (and Germany in general) so knock yourself out in one of the gorgeous parks. I know Berlin is the place for beer but I was finding bottles of wine for €2.50 in Lidl.


You are spoilt with parks, community, and botanical gardens (all of which are free).

Treptower Park: This one is worth a mention because it hosts an eerie abandoned amusement park. It is also fairly scenic with the River Spree running right through it, making it the perfect destination for a run, cycle or boat ride. Check out the Russian memorial whilst you are there too.

Mauer Park: Probably my favourite of the parks. Go on a Sunday and you will be greeted by a huge flee market, selling anything from political posters to smelly Grandad jackets that will make your hipster heart skip a beat. Around 4pm an open air karaoke starts in the amphitheatre-an absolute must! I would again advise buying your alcohol beforehand to avoid getting ripped off by the guys selling it there. Sit back, relax and enjoy drunken internationals singing Britney Spears.

Tempelhof field: Another must-see, Tempelhof field is an abandoned Nazi airport. As well as peering into this creepy window of history, I would strongly recommend pedalling at top speed down the runway on your Donkey Republic bike. Who needs ecstasy to have fun.

Moritzplatz Community Gardens (Prinzessinnengärten): This organic space is located in the diverse city quarter of Kreuzberg. The formally empty and unused wasteland was transformed into a fruit and vegetable plot in 2009 by volunteers. There is a cafe and bar on the site which sells food and drink made from the garden's produce and is a great place to chill on a sunny day.


Brandonburg Gate and The Reichstag: Go and suck up the city by seeing these monsters of history. Initially a symbol of a segregated city, and now one of unity, Bradonburg Gate is an impressive sight, particularly at night when its all lit up (also, totally makes for a new profile pic). The Reichstag is only across the street as well, so I'd kill both cultural birds with one stone.

East Side Gallery: This is a former section of the Berlin Wall which stands as a memorial. Since the fall, artists have transformed its ruin into an art peace with messages of politics, unity and love. (There is also a giant Pickle Rick).

Checkpoint Charlie: Slight anti-climax not gonna lie, but if mass crowds of Americans taking photos and overly priced souvenirs are your thing then give it a go.

Topography of Terror: This is genuinely a really informative museum and the displays are engaging and creative. It does what it says on the tin, and chronicles the horrible series of events that defined Nazi Germany. Its built on the site of the old SS headquarters.

The Holocaust Memorial: This unusual memorial has never been explained and Peter Eisennman (the architect) has always refused to. I think it's important to see, it is a humbling experience to say the least.

Otto Weidt Museum and Haus Schwarzenberg, Street Art Alley: So while you bitch about having six contact hours a week, whilst playing your tenth game of Fifa, amongst empty pizza boxes, and VKs, just remember that there was a man who dedicated his life to saving blind Jewish refugees during Hitler's reign. Outside this museum, which is Otto Weidt's old house, is street art alley with some political pieces by famous artists.

The Return of the Cows: It's not often you get to see giant cows walking up the side of a pre-war Berlin apartment. Well, thanks to Sergei Dott's public art installation 'Return of the Cows' you can. Dott's cows (or kühe) can be found on Dietrich-Bonhoeffer Strasse and 18 Kollwitz Strasse in Prenzlauerberg.

Weissensee Abandoned Children's Hospital: Prepare to be haunted to your very soul. This early twentieth century building survived two world wars, the cold war and several years of German reunification. Today, the building stands covered in artists graffiti and is frequently used by homeless people as a place to sleep. Don't be put off by the large metal fence surrounding the property, there are holes around with safe ways in. It is an old and decaying building and will therefore not be completely hazard-free.

Most of the paid museums will also give you a good student discount if you fancy splashing out a little more.


Burgermeister: Delicious and cheap burgers. But what really makes this place unique is its location inside an old train loo and lets be honest, we all love a subverted space in the twenty first century.

Monsterkabinett: If you've given up smoking and now need to find something else completely useless and bad for your health to spend a tenner on. Look no further. The less I explain about this the better. Just, go. You'll come out a new person.

Badeschiff: Seeing as the River Spree smells, looks like and is piss, it is unsafe to take a dip. But, we are in Germany and they have an answer to everything, so, behold, a swimming pool BUILT ON the river. You get to enjoy it as if you were in it and avoid contracting water-borne diseases at the same time. Everyone's a winner.

Klunkerkranich: The ultimate rooftop garden. This club, beach, bar is one of my highlights of the trip. Located on top of a car park in Neukölln, this venue gives overwhelming views of the city and is a great place to sit and watch the sunset with a beer in hand.

SO, TAKE THE SPONTANEOUS TRIP AWAY. We're here for a good time, not a long time.