Berlin insiders' guide: Berlin on a budget


The following is part of a series of visitor guides to Berlin. See also:
Relaxing | Restaurants | Jewish Berlin | From the locals | Bars | Culture | Shopping

Europe used to be America's shopping mall. Shoes in Italy, raincoats in England, ladies wear in France and watches in Switzerland -- everything was better here, and cheaper, too. But today, the dollar has fallen so low against the euro that Germans are being advised to buy their Porsches in the U.S. and ship them home for financial reasons. What's a U.S. production executive, coming to the Berlinale on a dollar budget, to do? Have no fear, The Hollywood Reporter is here. We sent out our German correspondents to scour Berlin for the best deals in town so you can eat, drink and be merrier without busting that shrinking expense account.

Complete Berlinale coverage

Hans Wurst Vegan Cafe (website)
Duncker Strasse 2a, Prenzlauer Berg district
Totally organic, totally nonsmoking, free WiFi, great music including regular live gigs, with homemade soups and sandwiches starting at 4 euros and larger meals around 6.50 euros-8 euros. And, of course, totally vegan, because wurst is the worst. If you crave cooked flesh, the Pergamon Bistro located in Berlin's Friedrich Strasse train station is one of the best doener kebap (comparable to a gyro sandwich) places in town, with plenty of fresh salad and tasty sauces in a big fluffy pita bread. It's open until 6 a.m., so it's the place for an authentic post-rave vibe after about 3 in the morning.


Die Weinerei
Veteranen Strasse 15, Prenzlauer Berg district
You put a euro into the kitty when you come in, take a wine glass and help yourself from the food and wine bar while you sit in the shabby-chic decor and people-watch the bohemian set. When you leave, you drop whatever you think would be a reasonable price into a large vase. By the way, you won't find the name of the place on the sign -- just a wine bottle.

Junction Bar
Gneisenau Strasse 18, Kreuzberg district
Since this cellar club has live jazz music every night, the DJ doesn't start spinning the wax until 11:30 p.m. on school nights and 12:30 a.m. on weekends. But ladies dance free from Sunday to Thursday, and the gentlemen pay a mere 3 euros; weekend booty-shaking goes for 4 euros regardless of gender/gender-bending.


HUMANA (website)
Lewisham Strasse 1, Charlottenburg district
Cleverly sorting their selection not by size or style but by color, HUMANA is the address for dressing down. The stuff that's not retro enough for the arty class gets sent to Africa, and pictures of smiling, underprivileged children decorate the store.


East Side Gallery (website)
Muehlen Strasse, Friedrichshain district
The East Side Gallery is the longest stretch of Berlin Wall still standing, and at more than a mile it is one of the biggest open-air permanent art exhibits in the world. Free of charge, it starts at the Oberbaumbrucke (Oberbaum Bridge) and runs to the Ostbahnhof train station along the former border between East and West Berlin on the Spree River. The more than 100 paintings on the wall don't date from the two-Germanys era (on this, the eastern side, there was nothing but gray concrete). They are from the brief moment, shortly after unification, when Berlin was a symbol of hope for the future and world peace.