Berlin is the capital, but absolutely not a typical city, for Germany. You can read this Berlin travel blog, among others, and not fully appreciate how big, how diverse, and how absolutely intimidating — and fun! — Berlin can be.
In this German capital, 170 museums stand side by side with modern skyscrapers, while some barefoot people with crazy hairstyles and clothes hang out in hipster areas just a block away. Classy restaurants with haute cuisine also coexist with kinky nightclubs organizing wild parties, while punks in leather clothes hang out in subways.
As a big and very diverse and free city, travelers to Berlin can have a strong reaction to it. In just a few days, you will either love it or loathe it.
Indeed, Berlin can be overwhelming. If you’re traveling solo to Germany soon, check out these solo travel tips for Berlin to give you an idea of what it’s like to travel alone in this German capital.
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Arriving in Berlin
It is very easy to travel to Berlin from its airports, as both of them are located within the metro area of the city. So, you can just take metro for a regular price (about €3) and quickly get to the city center.
Schoenefeld airport is located in the southern part of the city, and it may take you about 30-40 minutes to get to the famous attractions of Berlin.
With trains RE7 and RB14, you can get to the city center without changes. Other options are changing to S1 metro from RB14 or changing to S26 from RE7.
Berlin is a big city and Google Maps have already added city transportation planning option for it, so you can check the most convenient route upon arrival (you can also download an offline map there).
The other Berlin airport is Tegel. It is located in the city, and you can take the TXL bus to get to Branderburg Gates in just half an hour.
Where to Stay in Berlin
Aleah tried to use Couchsurfing in Berlin, but despite her numerous positive references and knowledge of how to pitch for a free stay, she couldn’t get a host. She finally succeeded by using another site, Hospitality Club.
If you don’t want the hassle of looking for a free couch, no worries. There are a lot of cheap accommodations in Berlin, including hostels. Here are the best ones for a solo traveler to stay in.
Happy Go Lucky Hotel + Hostel
Happy Go Lucky Hotel + Hostel in Berlin is located in a nice international area in Charlottenburg, just next to the metro station. They don’t have that many facilities, but you will find all you need anyway. They offer breakfast, the common area has several vending machines with coffee, sweets, and they also sell traditional local beer.
Walk around the area and explore some local bars and restaurants. They are not very expensive, and have a really nice atmosphere. Check for discounted rates here.
ONE80° Hostel Berlin
ONE80° Hostel Berlin is a modern hostel located just next to Alexanderplatz, so you will be able to explore Berlin without wasting too much time and money on transportation.
The hostel has a bar and a large common area. They also organize different games, city tours, and pub crawls (or an outside organization).
A&O Berlin Mitte
This hostel is a part of an international chain, so they even have several locations in Berlin, specifically in Friedrichshain, Hauptbahnhof, and Kolumbus. A&O Berlin Mitte is close to the river and hipster areas, but you can pick another one with a more central location.
Surprisingly, it has bad reviews (around 6/10), but you’ll definitely enjoy your stay there. It has several vending machines, a pool table, some other games, a bar and a great breakfast.
10 Things to Do in Berlin
Berlin is a large city, but it is very convenient to explore its main attractions. You can have a nice 3-4 hour walk in the city center and see most of the typical sights of this German capital.
1. Enjoy the museums on Museum Island
Berlin has about 170 museums, and the most important ones are located on the Museum Island along with a beautiful Gothic cathedral. Regular entry prices for museums are about €6-10, while children until the age of 18 can enter for free.
One of the best museums in the area is the Pergamon Museum. It has reconstructions of historically significant buildings like the fantastic Ishtar Gate of Babylon, the very impressive Pergamon Altar, and the Market Gate of Miletus. Unfortunately, it remains closed until 2019 for renovations. Check out this Berlin travel blog later on for updates!
2. Stroll around Alexanderplatz
Alexanderplatz used to be the main square in East Berlin, and is still an important part of the city often featured in Hollywood movies. It is hard to say that it’s nice, but visiting Alexanderplatz is a must for every solo traveler visiting Berlin.
There are several large shops here, department stores, and the Alexa shopping center located nearby.
3. Have a selfie at Brandenburg Gate
The Brandenburg Gate is one of the most well-recognized attractions in Berlin.
It was constructed between 1788 and 1791 and was often used to held important events. Now, it is the only city gate left in Berlin, making it a very touristic place where every traveler wants to take a picture.
4. Check out Gendarmenmarkt
Another nice place to visit in Berlin whether alone or with someone, is Gendarmenmarkt with two beautiful churches of two different religions on the opposite sides of the square symbolizing the unity in diversity.
About a month before Christmas, you can visit perhaps the most beautiful Christmas Market in Berlin here.
5. Learn the history of Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie was one of the main checkpoints in the city during the time when Germany was separated into Eastern and Western. There was a lot of control on both sides, and the soldiers standing on the border were always ready for the Cold War to get “warmer.”
Despite its bleak history, you can now take a picture with smiling soldiers standing there with American flags and even get a souvenir stamp about crossing the border of Western Germany.
6. Go inside the Reichstag
The Reichstag is the German parliament building with a glass dome designed by the famous architect Norman Foster.
You can visit the dome for free if you make a reservation. Usually, to get there, you need to book your visit about 2 weeks before you arrive. Definitely worth it, though.
7. Check out the art at East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery is an almost one mile-long mile part of the Easter Berlin Wall that became an open-air museum of street art.
The most famous artwork here is called The Kiss, showing Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and East Germany President Erich Honecker engaged in a passionate making out session.
Many paintings in the place are very symbolic; however, there are some as well that are just nice or funny. This place is one of the main attractions that tourists visit in Berlin.
8. Stroll around Potsdamer Platz
While Alexanderplatz was the center of East Berlin, Potsdamer Platz was the main square in the Western part of the city.
You can see the difference now. While Alexanderplatz looks a bit dirty and chaotic, Potzdamer mainly has large skyscrapers with offices of international companies, and expensive cars of the bank and company managers.
9. Relax at Berlin’s parks
Berlin has lots of gorgeous parks. If you visit the city in the summer, you should definitely spend some time there.
One of the nicest ones is Treptow Park with huge monuments of Soviet Soldiers, stalls with international food on the riverbank, and a nice island, perfect to relax after a tiring day.
Mauerpark, on the other hand, hosts a flea market every Sunday. Literally meaning “Wall Park,” it used to be part of the Berlin Wall and its Death Strip. Nowadays, it’s a very popular place for concerts and other events, and what remains of the Berlin Wall is used by street artists.
10. See a different Berlin at Warschauerstrasse
If you want to see a different Berlin, you should visit Warschauerstrasse. It has lots of unusual places, bars, cafes, and especially “unique” people that you won’t see almost anywhere else in the world.
There are also some techno clubs in the area (Berlin is famous for techno) organizing underground parties, and almost nobody knows how you should look to make the bouncer let you in.
Solo Travel Tips in Berlin
The best solo travel tip for Berlin is using Couchsurfing Hangouts (download the app) to meet locals and other solo travelers from around the world. Looking for hosts can be challenging, but meeting up other travelers is easy enough.
In general, Berlin is a safe city, but as a solo traveler, you should avoid certain areas, specially the eastern part at night. As a general rule, avoid walking alone on empty streets and going far from the city center at night.
(Aleah stayed in the eastern part of Berlin. One night, when she was going back to her host’s place, a guy stopped her in the subway, wanting to “get to know her.” Read more about Aleah’s Encounter in Berlin.)
Hostels recommended above are great for meeting people, so chat up some fellow travelers in your room or at the dining area so you’ll have a buddy to go around with in Berlin.
Walking tours and pub crawls are great ways to meet people, too. After a fun night/city tour, you can explore the city together.
Some hostels in Berlin are very cheap, so it does attract some unsavory people. Make sure to bring a good padlock and secure your belongings always.
Best of all, have fun! Berlin is a very friendly and international city sheltering people from all over the world. While it comes across very strongly for other people, it always welcomes solo travelers.
Have you been to Berlin? Share your experiences in the comments below.