How to have a cheap backpacking experience or holiday in Berlin

Cheap backpacking / cheap holiday: the bar inside one of the hostels I was in - Berlin

In this post I will cover:
- How to get to Berlin for cheap
- Cheap and free accomodation
- Eating cheaply
- Free tour of Berlin
- Making some quick cash legally
- How to stay longterm
- More ways to save money whilst travelling

After travelling since January 2009 through Europe and the Middle East, I can tell you that Berlin is easily my favourite city. Not just because of the strong, unashamed, non conformist mentality and uniqueness of the people, but also because you can experience it all at bargain prices!

Cheap and free accomodation

Prices keep going up and down depending on demand, so it is difficult/pointless for me to list them. You will more likely benefit from visiting and comparing prices for yourself. The good thing about this booking site is that unlike its main competitor, it doesn't charge a US$2 booking fee on top of the 10% deposit. A nice saving in itself.

I can say however that I have stayed at Generator hostel and I enjoyed it. Only problem is it is a bit out of town, but there is a nice bar in the hostel (pic above)
which generally means it is not a problem.

The other option of course is to join Berlin group and get free accomodation!

Getting there cheaply

There are a few flight travel websites you can use, but they mostly seem to feature the main expensive airlines. 

This site called 'whichbudget' on the other hand only focuses on the discount airlines, you tell it where you want to go and it tells you only the discount airlines which go there.

Cheap food
If you are looking for a seriously cheap backpacking experience, most serious backpackers know already to cook in the hostel kitchen. Berlin is easily the discount capital of Western Europe with incredibly cheap
supermarkets like Aldi, Lidl, and my favourite - Penny Market. I
bought a loaf of bread, 2 bananas, and a 1.5 litre bottle of water, for guess how much? Try 1.4 euros! With prices like that, why would you eat out?

Speaking of eating out, there are plenty of stands in East Berlin with good sized pizzas for 2 euros.

Or if you want a true cultural experience, why not try eating at a Vokus? These are located inside artist squats and offer meals for 1-2 euros. The locations are here

Please be aware that pickpockets have recently become a serious problem in the  metro systems throughout Europe and anywhere else that is crowded. In recent years organised groups from Russia and former Soviet countries have targeted  European capitals in a very organised way.

I had a friend pick-pocketed twice in one month - losing around 1000 euros :( - a lot of his travel money! He had stored the money in the so called 'safe' travel pouches around his stomache. In the crowded train, a group of men surrounded him and as the train stopped and started they took it as an excuse to lean heavily onto him. In the midst of the distraction, his money was gone.

The second time he decided to put the money in his upper right pocket where he assumed he coudl see it at all times. This time it was a crowded bus and as he was getting off in a hurry, someone pulled it straight out of his pocket.

The only safe option seems to be to put your wallet in a backpack with 4 or more zips, preferably with locks on at least 1 of them, underneath a pile of other things in the backpack, and wearing it in front of you instead of on your back.

These people are well organised and do this as a lucrative living. Never assume they wont target you.

Free tour of Berlin
There is a company called New Europe tours which offer free 3 hour tours of Berlin everyday twice a day and also in all the major cities of Europe. How can they be free? you ask, what is the catch?

Technically it is free because the guide relies on your donations. At the end of the 3 hrs, people are asked to pay what they thought it was
worth, if you didnt enjoy it you are welcome to pay nothing.

I have been to four or five of these in different cities and they vary in quality but are generally very good or excellent.

Since Berlin is so big, there are several pick up points which can be found here

Want to stay here 6 months or longer?

Its not hard to love this city and to want more than just a short, few days fling! If you are willing to stay at least 6 months or more and are a native English speaker, why not consider teaching English to businessmen and women?

There are several schools such as the Wall Street institute, who are willing to take on native English speakers.
Generally though, you are more likely to be hired if you have or get a TEFL certificate.Some TEFL training companies also place you in a job in the country you choose for free.

Another option you may consider is working for the new europe tour
company mentioned above.

Why not make some quick cash whilst also helping to save our earth?
Find as many empty aluminium or plastic cans and take them to the nearest supermarket where you can cash them in for some decent cash. Enough to buy you a few beers or so.

More ways to save money whilst travelling