Let’s be honest, It’s summer already (luckily). Time for festival and summer tours.
If you live in Italy, Southern or Eastern Europe, you may know the pain of not seeing your city or country in the tour dates. You may have even thought “11th gig in Paris and no Greece yet?”
Yes, some cities get picked more often than others because:
it’s easier for artists to get deals there
it’s easier for fans to get there
There is one city always among the top 5 bands choices for european tours.
Want a hint? Just recently Arctic Monkeys debuted their album live. During a gig in Berlin.
There are tons of other artists that stop in Berlin: Morissey, Passenger, Guns N’ Roses, Haim, Alma, Queen, Nine Inch Nails, Santana, Bishop Briggs, Dua Lipa, Justin Timberlake, Camilla Cabello… and the list goes on with every possible music genre.
Thousand of fans every year migrate for around 36 hours to the German Capital to perform their music rituals.
But Berlin is not a cheap city. How to make a quick visit worth your money and effort?
How to get there
For a Gig in the Berlin, this capital is one of the best connected in Europe. Not only flights, buses routes and trains but also cruises. Plenty of options. From eastern countries the cheapest way is the bus, from the western side of Europe sometimes flights are more convenient.
To German neighbours I would recommend the bus anyway as it is cheaper and allows you to sleep during the trip at night, saving on your stay. Tickets can cost as much as 5€. At the moment the countries connected by bus to Germany include France, Italy, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Slovenia, Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia, Romania, Ukraine and Serbia.
To get discounted fares on the local transport take with you students cards and other valid IDs. Don’t be too optimistic when calculating the number of times you are going to move: a missed night bus can cost you from 25 to 45 euros in taxi (or uber) within the city center borders.
Try to switch buses only at big stations. Berlin is not the definition of safe. If you happen to feel threatened or uneasy, you can wait in one of the fast foods usually located only near bigger stops.
Where to stay
First of all I don’t recommend Hostels, in more than 10 trips not one of my friends or I found a decent one, they are usually overpriced, dirty or even cold.
If you need to take a shower and rest, book a 2 or 3 stars hotel, the standard will be much higher and the price won’t differentiate from hostels.
The best budget option for me was the Prinz Regent Hotel. I chose it for a gig in Berlin, more precisely one day of Lollapalooza Festival. Two beds, very clean room, all standard facilities available also in the bathroom, lift useful if you have a heavy luggage.
For a decent stay you have to pay around 30-45€. Anything that costs less can be a total waste of money, be careful.
If you want to check the hotels with rates lower than usual, you can use my page on Trvl. Booking there allows you to pay less and gain back part of the rate, a win-win.
You can eventually sleep in the bus and wait at the Central Station to go back, if the departure is in a couple of hours. If you can endure this type of adventure, you will save around 50€ in total!
For the last formula, I recommend bringing with you a blanket (stations can be freezing even in summer), a small cushion and basic hygienic product useful after a sweaty gig in Berlin. In the case you need to store your luggage, use the luggage room in the central station or in the Airport (which is also a bus stop). The last one is just a bit more expensive but offers more place where to sit or nap and is overall safer.
A gig in Berlin means also moving around the city hungry. If your concert is on saturday or sunday, prepare yourself to see the vast majority of shops and restaurants (including fast foods) closed. You may find some open Subways but I don’t recommend relying on that as the price are not the definition of convenient.
Markets also are not the cheapest (especially if you come from a non euro country) and not everyone has gluten-free or other products for us intolerant people.
As for any budget travel I recommend simply bringing food from home, it saves you time, money and nerves. In 99% of the cases you won’t be able to bring it to the gig venue so better just leave it in the hotel or in your luggage room.
If you prefer to travel spontaneously and have more time, you can ask on Facebook or on the Berlin forum where the most convenient shops for lactose, gluten, sugar, ecc intolerant people are located.
There isn’t one gold formula on how to travel cheap as it depends on our needs. Some of us may resist without a proper sleep until they are back home, some of us can’t eat certain types of food, others don’t need to eat at all or don’t want to spend too much. I prefer to stay in a Hotel, travel by bus and bring my own food.
The above are all information that (I hope) will help you pick the most important options for you, calculate their price and avoid everything that is a needless expense.
Remember to write down the emergency numbers useful during a gig in Berlin and have an amazing time!