Wander or Bust: Berlin, Germany Is Almost Too Cool For You

by Adeleke McMillan

Wander or Bust is an Elite Daily travel series that follows young women all over the globe to record their journeys as they experience the thrill of the far-flung and unknown.

They'll track their budgets, where they stay, where they eat and drink, and where they took that amazing Instagram that got them ~maximum exposure.~ The internet is full of travel advice, but none from women just like you. Read on for the tips no one else gives you, and when in doubt, get on the plane.

Here's Adeleke McMillan's Wander Or Bust guide to Berlin, Germany.

My Name: Adeleke McMillan

What I Do: I’m living and studying abroad in Toulouse, France

Where I Live: New York City

Where I Went: Berlin, Germany

How Long I Stayed: 7 days, 6 nights

My Spending Style: My spending style is definitely tightly monitored. I try to spend the least amount of money possible when I travel.

Where I Got My Recommendations:

I received most of my recommendations from friends or people I’d met while I was in Berlin.

Exchange Rate At Time Of Travel: $1 USD = €.84 EUR

What That Looks Like IRL: $50 USD = €42 EUR

Preferred Payment Method: Cash, mostly.

Phone Bill: I have a French phone plan that allows me gives me unlimited calls to the U.S. and Europe for $24 a month.

Mode of Transport: Airplane

I took a Ryanair flight from Toulouse to Berlin. Otherwise I would have paid around $700 for a flight from New York to Germany.

Price: $32

Extra Costs: The train to and from the Berlin Schoenefeld airport was $4.

Transport Total: $36

Courtesy of Adeleke McMillan

Accommodation: Couchsurfing

I used Couchsurfing to find a place to stay for the week. Couchsurfing is a platform that allows you to either host travelers or find lodging around the world. It’s entirely free, but paying the verification fee is encouraged for the upkeep of the site.

Location: My Couchsurfing apartment was located in a trendy neighborhood called Kreuzberg.

It was near a restaurant, aptly named the Kreuzburger: Oranienstraße 190, 10999 Berlin, Germany

Price: $0

Extra Costs: No

Would I Recommend It To Someone Else: Yes, I would definitely recommend Couchsurfing!

Accommodation Total: $0

Breakfast-Lunch Cost: $2-3/day

I mostly cooked at home; otherwise these meals would range from $10 to $30 depending on the type of eater/spender you are.

Dinner Cost: $4-5/day.

I mostly ate dinner at home but when I did eat out I would buy kebab, curry, and other cheap street food. If you were to eat out in sit-down or fancier establishments, you could easily spend $30 to $40.

Average Total Cost: $8/day

Tip Situation: Generally, tipping in Berlin isn’t an unspoken rule like it is in some other cities. If you really like the service where you are, throw in 1 to 3 extra euros if for a nice restaurant, and a couple extra cents if you’re at a bar or a kiosk (think kebab, bakeries, etc.). There is usually a tip jar available at those places, but you can also tell the cashier to keep the change when you pay.

Food Situation:

Like a lot of other cities in Europe, dining out adds up. People mostly eat at home and eat out occasionally. As for dinner times, they weren’t exceedingly late or early (7 to 9 p.m.). As an American living with Germans, I didn’t find anything different about when, what, and how they ate.

Courtesy of Adeleke McMillan

Favorite Restaurant: Rüyam Gemüse Kebab

This was the best kebab I’ve ever eaten in my life.

Location: Hauptstraße 133, 10827 Berlin

Price: For a vegetarian Doner kebab, I paid $4.

The quality and quantity of the kebab was amazing in proportion to its price. The bread was fresh, the sauces were extremely flavorful and the vegetables were juicy and tender. The melange of cheese, veggies, potatoes, and sauces produced an explosion of flavor in my mouth from the first to the very last bite. The experience was pretty overwhelming. 10/10 would return.

Food Total: $48

Nightlife Situation:

Berlin is all about clubbing and techno. On the weekends, some clubs will stay open non-stop from Friday until Monday. Berliners love to party hard. I was invited to clubs at 2 PM on a Sunday afternoon. On my way to a club, I met some girls who had stayed at the club from 2 p.m. to 3 a.m..

What People Wear Out:

Going out in Berlin has nothing to do with dressing up and showing off. Here, Berliners wear what they want and what they can dance in. I’ve seen girls clubbing with glitter on their faces and fishnet stockings and others in jeans and a t-shirt. Showing off your personal style and originality is key.

Average Cost Of A Pint: The average cost is anywhere between 50 cents and $5.

Extra Cost To Know About:

Sometimes, if you pay to enter a club open non-stop all weekend, you can’t re-enter free of charge. There is a small fee (usually 5 euros, $6) to change your stamp each night you return.

Last Call: They never close! You can party non-stop from Friday to Monday.

Average Total Cost Of A Night Out:

I usually spent about $18. I would have an apero with friends and then head to the club. If you go to a club that’s open non-stop all weekend, you can return to the same club several times without paying, as long as your stamp is still visible.

Cheapest Bar I'd Actually Go Back To:

Monkey Bar. It’s not necessarily the cheapest bar in Berlin, but the views of Berlin and the design of the bar make it a place that I definitely would return to. From the window of this rooftop bar, you have a clear view of a church that was destroyed by a bomb during World War II and was never reconstructed.

Courtesy of Adeleke McMillan

Going Out Total: $18

What I Spent A Lot On That Was Totally Worth It:

My metro ticket! If you’re staying in Berlin for a week or more, I strongly advise buying a unlimited weekly ticket for the metro, train and bus. It costs $36 for zone A and B and it’s completely worth it. As they say in Berlin, nothing is close. I would definitely recommend investing in a ticket.

Courtesy of Adeleke McMillan

What I Spent A Lot On That Was Totally Not Worth It:

I payed $4 for water. In Berlin, it’s illegal to serve tap water in restaurants. I didn’t know before arriving, so when I ordered a “glass of water” at a Moroccan restaurant, I assumed it would be free. When the bill arrived, I realized I was charged $4 for the water. It definitely wasn’t my finest moment, considering that my meal was only $8. I guess I'll learn from my mistakes.

What I Spent Little Or No Money On That Was Awesome:

The German Bundestag is Germany’s House of Parliament. They have sign ups every day to visit the building’s dome and rooftop terrace free of charge. It was one of the best things I did on my trip. I had to wait on a 45 minute line in order to sign up, but it was definitely worth it. The views of Berlin are amazing, and they provide you with free audio guides that walk you the history of the dome and some of the history of Berlin.

Courtesy of Adeleke McMillan

Favorite Thing I Did, Regardless Of Cost:

It’s easy to forget about how much of Berlin is being rebuilt by the photos I saw of the city on the internet. However, once I arrived I realized that the city is still under heavy construction to this day. Abandoned buildings are loitered around the city. Some of my favorite memories from my trip to Berlin included exploring an abandoned metal factory.

Hidden Gem I Found:

Hidden gems can be found all throughout the city. Berlin is covered from head to toe in graffiti and street art. I took a free walking tour with Alternative Berlin, and learned about the different graffiti and street art projects that can be found around the city. One of the most popular methods of these artists is to use paper to make cutouts and images. Because the paper is glued to the wall, it peels off and disappears naturally. Today, if you walk around Berlin you can look for El Bocho’s Little Lucy and her cat, SOBR’s, “It’s Time to Dance,” or other images from anonymous artists.

Courtesy of Adeleke McMillan

The Photo I Took That Got The Most Attention:

Courtesy of Adeleke McMillan

Excursions/Extras Total: $36

General Shopping: $0

Souvenirs: I didn’t buy any souvenirs.

Courtesy of Adeleke McMillan

Souvenirs/Shopping Total: $0

Best Berlin Hack:

Have a general plan of where you’ll go each day. There is no real city center in Berlin, so if you don’t plan your trip properly, you could spend a big portion of it in transit. If you tackle specific neighborhoods in Berlin each day, you’ll see more and feel a lot more accomplished.

I made so many amazing memories on my trip, but by far the most unforgettable one would be going out to dance techno in Berlin. I didn’t even go to a club, instead I danced in some type of community center. No one was taking photos to record their night, no one was fighting, no one seemed to care if others were looking at them. The experience was almost spiritual. Everyone was there for the music.

Advice For Anyone Traveling Alone:

Mix with the locals! Because your traveling alone, you can meet more people. I used platforms like Couchsurfing and Facebook to meet up with people living in Berlin.

Total Trip Cost: $132, including my flight and lodging.

Worth It? Berlin is definitely a must-see, but not in the way most think. There’s so much more to this city than the Brandenburg Gate and the East Side Gallery. Most tourist spots here will tell you about Old Berlin. However, if you want to really experience the city, it’s important to experience New Berlin too.

New Berlin is all about counterculture: graffiti, techno, street art, squats, community houses, the influx of new cultures brought along by refugees and immigrants, and more. A lot of these places prohibit photos to keep their sacredness and authenticity. So tourists please, put the camera down for a second during your trip and get a taste of the real Berlin.