As the summer travel season reaches its halfway point, we are finally starting to see some more reasonable fares to Europe. This happens every year since people who are most excited about a summer trip across the Atlantic are willing to pay more, and those who wait around aren’t willing to pay as much.
One bit of good news that is shining through is that cheap flights to Berlin during the month of August are appearing. You might not call $744 round-trip between New York and Berlin “cheap” exactly, but compare that to over $1,000 for flights in June and it looks pretty good.
One of the reasons why these affordable flights to Berlin are nice, even if they are leaving from Dallas, Miami, Boston, or Chicago, is that Berlin is a fantastic bargain compared to other large and important cities in the region. So compared to, say, London or Paris, the whole trip will be much cheaper even if the airfare itself costs a bit more.
This huge German city has been overlooked by travelers for decades now, likely due at least in part to the German’s reputation for being stiff and workmanlike. While some of that reputation is deserved, Berlin is actually far more freewheeling than just about anywhere in the region. There’s a large artistic community there with an anything goes ethos which really sets it apart from other German cities.
Hotels in parts of Berlin tend to be quite cheap so it’s worth discussing the geography of it for a moment. Up until 1989, the Berlin Wall divided the Communist East Berlin from the slightly larger capitalist West Berlin. Not surprisingly, West Berlin was far more posh and it contained almost all the nicest hotels.
Today, more than 20 years after reunification, East Berlin is still quite different from West Berlin, and most of the more interesting cheaper hotels are located there. Look in the Kreuzberg or Mitte districts for very nice hotels that start around US$60 per night. Hostels in these districts run only around US$20 per night for a bed, including a breakfast buffet, which is about half what you’d pay in Paris or London.
There are certainly a number of interesting sights throughout Berlin, including the newly refurbished Reichstag building and the nearby Brandenburg Gate, but honestly the most fascinating thing about a visit is to observe how these cultures are now mixing. Extremely cheap rents shortly after the Wall came down meant that shops, restaurants, and clubs opened up all over the eastern part of the city and they didn’t need to earn much each month to keep the lights on.
Things have changed a bit, but Berlin has also been attracting creative people from all over the world to mix in with the locals so there’s a renaissance underway that you won’t find anywhere else.
Food and drinks are quite cheap by European standards as well, so if you can get a good deal on a flight then it’s possible to have a wonderful holiday in Berlin on a far lower budget than you’d imagine.