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Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf • Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg • Lichtenberg • Marzahn-Hellersdorf • Mitte • Neukölln • Pankow • Reinickendorf • Spandau • Steglitz-Zehlendorf • Tempelhof-Schöneberg • Treptow-Köpenick • Wedding
Background of this wiki
This Wiki is independent from Couchsurfing. It is related to all (formerly) uncommercial traveller websites; all these websites have a strong focus on the community between the members and aim to make real life meetings between persons that got to know in virtual reality. Global Freeloaders, Hospitality Club, Couchsurfing, BeWelcome. The Couchwiki is also connected to hitch-hiking Hitchbase and HitchWiki. The Wiki inside Couchsurfing is disabled, but other Wikis are still working Hospitality Club, BeWelcome.
Berlin is the capital of Germany. Berlin has a population of around 3,5 million people. It is estimated that annually 100 million people visit Berlin, of which roughly 10 million stay in a hotel, hostel, guesthouse, etc. Tourism is one of the pillars of the economy of the city.
Berlin has a relatively high unemployment rate. Around 12% of the people in Berlin is officially unemployed and almost 19% of the Berliner lives on social security benefits.
Berlin's Couch Situation
Berlin is a major Couchsurfing and BeWelcome city where there are events happening almost every day. Berlin is a favourite city to surf, especially around New Year's Eve and in summer. Since many people try to surf in Berlin, it can be hard to find a host. Make sure you have a filled out profile and a profile picture. Write personal requests. Hosts in Berlin are getting many copy-paste requests, so a personal one could make a difference. It's recommended to write your requests between 3 weeks and 5 days before arrival. Your chances increase if you have some references (from your local community, for example).
Stay in Berlin
Berlin Hostels and Guesthouses
Hostels cost of €5 to €65 a night, depending on the season, location and type of room.
To find hostels and reviews, try these links:
- list of hostels (non-commercial)
- Hostelworld (commercial)
- Hostelbookers (commercial)
- Hostelz (commercial)
- Hostels.com (commercial)
Hostels and Hotels per district
- Cityhostel Berlin
- One80 Hostel Berlin
- Holiday Inn Hotel Alexanderplatz
- Indigo Hotel Berlin Alexanderplatz
- PangeaPeople Hostel & Hotel Berlin
Pankow (incl. Prenzlauer Berg)
If you want to stay for a longer period of time, read the information on settling at the bottom of this article.
Getting AroundBVG Website.
Tickets for public transport can be bought at every S- and U-Bahn station from machines, at ticket offices on the main stations. Daily tickets or tickets for short rides can be bought in buses and trams as well (vending machines in trams only accept coins, also often at stations). Tickets are valid for all ways of public transport within the chosen area (A, B and C), including interchanges between different transports.
- Zone A is central Berlin (inside circle line), Zone B everything else inside Berlin's city borders, Zone C is everything outside of Berlin (eg. Schönefeld Airport and Potsdam)
- There are no tickets for single zones, but for combinations AB, BC and ABC. For most trips inside Berlin, you'll need a Zone AB ticket, but ABC when arriving at Schönefeld Airport or planning to visit Potsdam.
Short term tickets
- Short trip fare (Kurzstrecke) is valid for either 3 stops with U- or S-Bahn (changes allowed), or 6 stops with tram or bus (changes not allowed). Costs €1.70
- Single tickets (Einzelfahrschein) is valid for 2 hours. Officially you can not travel back towards the station you started, so it's a one-way ticket. Costs €2.70 (AB), €3.00 (BC) or €3.30 (ABC).
- 4-Trip-ticket (4-Fahrten-Karte) is the same as 4 single tickets, but slightly cheaper when bought in this way.
- Day ticket (Tageskarte) can be used for an entire calendar day, until 3:00am next day (note that day tickets in Berlin are not valid for 24 hours as in some other places, so don't buy in the evening!). Costs €7.00 (AB), €7.30 (BC) or €7.60 (ABC).
- Small group day ticket (Kleingruppen-Tageskarte) is a daily ticket for group of up to 5 persons. It pays itself back when traveling with 3 or more persons. Costs €17.30 (AB), €17.50 (BC) and €17.80 (ABC)
Long term tickets
- 7-Day-ticket (7-Tage-Karte VBB-Umweltkarte) is valid for an entire week. With this ticket you can travel with an additional adult or 3 children between 8:00pm end 3:00am on weekdays, all day on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. Costs €30.00 (AB), €31.10 (BC) or €37.20 (ABC).
- Monthly ticket (Monatskarte VBB-Umweltkarte) is valid for an entire month. With this ticket you can travel with an additional adult or 3 children between 8:00pm end 3:00am on weekdays, all day on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. The ticket is transferable and some people offer their monthly ticket (or the part that's left) on the internet. Costs €81.00 (AB), €82.50 (BC) or €99.90 (ABC).
- 10am Monthly ticket (10-Uhr-Karte) is a limited version of the monthly ticket. You can not take other people on the same ticket. Furthermore, you're only allowed to travel after 10:00am. Therefore the price is cheaper than the regular monthly ticket: €59.10 (AB), €60.20 (BC) or €62.50 (ABC).
Special tourist tickets
- Berlin WelcomeCard 24/48 hours, 4/5/6 days - Next to travelling, you can use this card to get discounts at touristic attractions, in restaurants and free entrance at some museums (with 3/5-day ticket). Can not be bought at ticket vending machines. Read more
- Berlin CityTourCard 48/72 hours, 4/5/6 days - Next to travelling, this card provides some discount on some touristic attractions. This ticket can also be bought at ticket vending machines. Read more
For more information on tickets and pricing: BVG Tickets
Important information on public transportation tickets
- Most of the tickets have to be validated (stamped) before use. If you forget, the fine is 60 Euro (same if you have no ticket)
- Except for Friday and Saturday night, all S-Bahn trains stop driving after approximately 1 o'clock
- Except for Friday and Saturday night, all U-Bahn trains are replaced by night buses (U1->N1; U2->N2; etc.)
- At some stations, people are selling tickets. Although they don't all look that bonafide, they resell tickets other people used. They should be still valid. If you are planning to buy those tickets, check if they are still valid. Also, it's officially forbidden to resell tickets, so you might be involved in a small crime by doing it.
From Airport to City
For the time being, Berlin has 2 major airports, 'Tegel' in the northwest and 'Schönefeld' in the southeast. They are well connected with public transport. Always make sure to check at which one you're arriving and leaving.
Schönefeld Airport (SXF)
- Schönefeld Airport is directly connected with S-Bahn. Line S9 connects the airport with the eastern and northern part of the city (for the center, change at Ostkreuz). Line S45 connects the airport with the southern part of the inner-city. Both lines pass stations located on the S-Bahn circular railway (Ringbahn), which makes it easy to travel to other parts of the city, changing trains just once.
- Express trains RE7 and RB14 bring you quickly into central locations (stopping at Ostbahnhof, Alexanderplatz, Friedrichstraße, Hauptbahnhof and Zoologischer Garten), the ticket and price is the same as S-Bahn.
- There are also buses X7 and 107 that connect you to U7 stop Rudow, which will be easier to get to some locations.
- If you are stuck there late at night or have to be there extremely early, there's bus N7 from Schönefeld and then following the U7 line all the way to Spandau.
Ticket: from Schönefeld Airport, you'll need a "Zone ABC" ticket to get to anywhere in Berlin (the ticket is valid also when changing to other S-Bahn trains, U-Bahn, Trams or Buses)
Tegel Airport (TXL)
Tegel Airport is accessible by bus. There are 2 express buses:
- Bus X9 between Tegel and 'S+U Zoologischer Garten' (for western Berlin), or change at 'S+U Jungfernheide' to S-Bahn circle line or U7.
- Bus TXL between Tegel and 'Hauptbahnhof' (main train station) and 'S+U Alexanderplatz' (for central and eastern Berlin). Best change at Hauptbahnhof to S-Bahn, the route to Alexanderplatz is slow.
- There are also 2 normal bus lines: 128 in the direction of 'U Osloer Straße' and 109 in the direction of 'S+U Zoologischer Garten'.
Ticket: from Tegel Airport, you'll need a "Zone AB" ticket to get to anywhere in Berlin (ticket is valid for the Bus and changes to S-Bahn trains, U-Bahn, Trams)
Expected price for a taxi-ride from/to the airports is between €20,00 and €35,00, depending on the start/destination location.
Public Transportation network
Underground / U-Bahn
The subway/underground in Berlin is called the U-Bahn. The U-Bahn is efficient and reliable and it covers the major areas of the city.
Most U-Bahn trains drive frequent, every 5 or 10 minutes. In the late evening and night the frequency can be reduced to one train every 15 or 20 minutes. Except for Friday- and Saturday night, the U-Bahn stops working after approximately 1:00h. All lines are then replaced by night buses, which drive every 30 minutes and follow the same route as the U-Bahn (some minor exceptions).
Stadtbahn / S-Bahn
The suburban "rapid transit" network is the S-Bahn. The main lines in the center consist of a circle line (Ringbahn, S41 clockwise, S42 counterclockwise) and the central branches from east (Ostkreuz) to west (Westkreuz) and from north (Gesundbrunnen) to south (Südkreuz), going through all the imporant central train stations (Zoologischer Garten, Hauptbahnof, Friedrichstraße, Alexanderplatz, Ostbahnhof). It connects with the U-Bahn network in many locations. The basic differences to U-Bahn (which won't matter for you in most situations) is that it's run by the German Railway company (DB) and not by the city of Berlin (BVG), and that it goes to some more remote places outside of Berlin. Tickets are always valid for both networks including Trams/Buses
The tram in Berlin is called Straßenbahn (street train), or sometimes Metrotram. The tram network especially is big in the eastern part of town. The trams drive in the 'gaps' of the U- and S-Bahn net, while crossing many of their stations on the way.
Buses normally drive in the 'gaps' of the U- and S-Bahn net. Most people only take buses if they have to go to area's that are on the outskirts of town. The exceptions are bus lines 100 and 200. These bus lines are well known for the touristic route they are following. It crosses several points of interest, and therefore used by many tourists as a cheap alternative for the sightseeing buses.
There are fixed prices for taxi's in Berlin. There's no difference between day- and night prices. The prices are calculated as follows:
- Basic price: €3,20
- Per kilometre (first 7): €1,65
- Per kilometre (after 7): €1,28
You'll pay additional if:
- you're travelling more than 4 persons: €1,50 per extra person
- the taxi has to wait for you: €25,00 per hour
- you have big luggage: €1,00
- you are paying with credit card: €1,50
- you are coming from Tegel Airport: €0,50
The common taxi companies:
Berlin is relatively easy for cycling and visiting Berlin by bicycle is a great option in Summer, especially for not-so-central locations like Tempelhofer Feld, Sowjetisches Ehrenmal etc. Advantages are that Berlin is 99% flat and there are many roads with separate bike paths. Disadvantages are that you can be surprised by the distances, very cold winters (cycling when there is snow gets to hardly possible as mostly bicycle paths are not cleared well), sometimes strong winds, and you should always be very careful to watch for cars and traffic even if you have the way of right (most accidents happen with cars/trucks turning right and not seeing you approaching on the bike lane).
If you're lucky, you can borrow a bike for free through BikeSurfBerlin and BikeSurfBerlin Group in Bewelcome.
Otherwise there are a lot of places to rent bicycles. The rental prices are unfortunately quite steep, often around 10€ per day (cheaper when renting for several days). Here's a list of all known bike-renting places, sorted alphabetically or by district
Nightlife, Dining and Entertainment
About tipping, drikning in the streets and all that:
Main Nightlife Areas
The main nightlife areas of Berlin are:
- Warschauer Straße and Simon Dach Straße - pubs and clubs
- Oranienburger Tor/Oranienburger Straße - pubs and restuarants
- Kreuzberg around Kottbusser Tor, Görlitzer Bahnhof and Schlesisches Tor - pubs, restaurants, music stages
- Schönhauser Allee and direct surrounding - pubs, restaurants, clubs
Magazines and Event listings
The following websites can help bring you up to speed on the local club scene, nightlife, concerts, festivals and shows:
- Blitzgigs (English)
- Exberliner (English)
- Zitty (German)
- Top 10 Berlin (German)
- BLN FM (German)
- Nachtagenten (German)
- Tip Berlin (German)
- (030) MAGAZINE (German)
- Squats, Punk, Hardocre, Voküs (German)
- Livegigs Berlin (German)
- Resident Advisor listings (English)
Some favourite local haunts include:
Breweries and Beer
- Eschenbräu Craft brewery with 3 differnt beers on tap. Usually one is seasonal. They also distill their own Schnaps and Whiskey. You can bring your own food. Nice beergarden in summer
- Lemke Hackescher Markt A bit touristy place. Decent German food. Good beer. Not the cheapest. There are three "Lemkes" all over the city.
- Schoppe Bräu/Brauhaus Südstern Big and with a nice beer garden. They claim to have the strongest beer in Berlin.
- Vagabund Brauerei Small brewery run by 3 Americans, mostly American style craft brews and bottled beers.
- Heidepeters Stand in the Markthalle9 in Kreuzberg, very good, very special beers on tap.
- Hops&Barley Located in the a cool party area in Friedrichshain.
- Brauhaus Rixdorf Neukolln-based brewery.
- Of course you can get beer at every Späti, but there some nice litte shops in the city where you can get the quality stuff....
- Hopfen und Malz Huge Selection of beers. Mostly from Frankonia. But also American IPAs or Belgian brews.
- Weiss Blau Bavarian Beers and specalities.
- Ambrosetti Huge verty of beers.
- Berlin Beer Shop Mostly IPA and Belgium beers but also A LOT of good wine.
- Absinth Depoth Some Bavarian beers and the BEST collection of Absinth in Berlin.
- Getränkefeinkost Good selection of German craft beers, IPAs, Belgian beers etc. in the heart of Friedrichshain
Beergardens A selection of some more central located beergardens:
- Prater Garten - The oldest 'Biergarten' of Berlin, located in Prenzlauer Berg
- Schoenbrunn in Friedrichshain
- Bierhof Rüdersdorf - in Friedrichshain, next to Berghain
- Burg am See - in Kreuzberg
- Brachvogel - in Kreuzberg
- Cafe am neuen See - in Charlottenburg, next to Tiergarten
- Der Schleusenkrug - in Charlottenburg, also close to Tiergarten
- Restaurant Schönbrunn - in Friedrichshain, Volkspark
- Dolden Mädel - Kreuzberg, next to Bergmannstr. - expensive, but they have a huge selection of craft beers (usually 15-20 different ones on tap + many more in bottles)
Berlin is well known for its clubs. There are numerous of them, with a wide range of music style, atmosphere and exclusivity. Some of the most famous ones:
- Berghain - on the border of Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain, hence the name. Known for rejecting people, long waiting cues and crazy parties.
- Kater Holzig
- White Trash
You can find many, many more clubs.
There are hundreds of restaurants in Berlin. In most districts you'll find typical restaurants with foreign food, mostly Turkish, Asian and Arabic. Meals that are often consumed are Döner and Falafel. Both meals cost between €2,00 and €4,00 depending on district and quality.
On several places you can find the typical Berlin Currywurst (curry sausage)
The following events are reoccurring every year. They are listed chronologically:
In the first weeks of February, every movie loving person in the world is looking at Berlin. During the Berlinale, movies are awarded, celebrities are visiting the city and all cinemas in the city are showing quality movies. Official website of the Berlinale.
Karneval der Kulturen
During the weekend of Ascension Day (end of May, beginning of June), the city explodes and everyone can be found on the streets to celebrate the carnival of cultures. Main event is the parade where different cultural groups perform, show dances or make music. Around it, everyone enjoys the spring weather and party until morning. Official website of Karnaval der Kulturen.
Fête de la Musique
The worldwide international music day, initiated by the French minister of culture in 1981 and since 1995 a yearly day where music is celebrated. Concerts all over town. Official website of Fête de la Musique.
Sports, Activities and the Great Outdoors
Berlin is said to be the greenest capital of Europe. There are many big parks, and many more small green areas. All parks have their own charms and every season they look different. In spring and summer, when the temperatures reach 20 degrees Celsius or more, you will see many people visiting parks to walk, run, cycle, play outdoor games and most of all sunbathing with a beer!
In and around Berlin one can find many lakes. In most of them you could swim at your own risk, but it may not always be allowed.
- Wannsee (South West)
- Tegeler See (North West)
- Weißensee (North East)
- Müggelsee (South East)
Tempelhofer Feld is a great place to practice outdoor sports like kiting, rollerskating, biking or running. The former airport is the biggest open flat area of Berlin, located centrally, and provided with good asphalt roads through and around the field.
- Magic Mountain - Gesundbrunnen
- Berta Block - Pankow
- Ostbloc - Ostkreuz
- Der Kegel - Warschauer Straße
- T-Hall Berlin - Neukölln
Ping pong map - hundreds of locations to play ping pong, both indoors and outdoors.
There are lots of language exchange options available in Berlin from one on one meetups to clubs that meet regularly in person to social networks available online at your convenience. Here are some of your options:
Free online courses
- Deutsche Welle is actually a news website, but offers some courses and tests online. The best feature: slowly spoken news in German with transcript.
- App for iPhone or Android from Goethe Institut
- Website with all background information on the German language
- Exercises from the Goethe Institut
- Exercises from Deutsch Perfekt
- Test from Deutsch Akademie
- Links from the Goethe Institut to very useful websites
- Nachrichten Leicht German news written in easy German. Includes audio read in slow German.
For one on one / tandem
- Tandem program of the Freie Universität
- Language exchange market of the Humbolt University
Groups that meet regularly
- Gaudystraße 1
- Schönhauser Allee
- Live Mocha - community of language learners that help each other
Paid language courses
- Volkshochschule (probably the cheapest one, with bigger classes)
- http://www.cosmopolilingua.de (Private one to one and small group classes, individual and intense)
- https://smartergerman.com/ - Private intense lessons, including an option to get to b1 level (Goethe Institute) in 45 - 60 days
Berlin is extremely easy to get around by public transport. You can easily visit several locations on one day.
Typical touristic attractions
The Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburger gate) is one of the most famous buildings of both Berlin and Germany. It has been build as a city gate, but is now known as a symbol of the reunion of Germany.
The Reichstag building is the former and present building for the German parliament. The burning of the building in 1933 was the direct cause of Hitler taking over all power. The building was not in use as a parliament between 1933 and 1999.
The 368 metres high TV-tower near Alexanderplatz that can be seen everywhere in the city. You can go up in the tower and look back at the city. Entrance fee is €12 for adults. There is a possibility to have diner in the rotating restaurant, but you have to make reservations. For more info, visit .
Island in the city center with many museums, mostly classical and historical art and artifacts.
1,5 kilometre long gallery of painted pieces of the Berlin Wall.
The famous checkpoint where diplomats could cross the border with the DDR.
Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer
History of the Berlin Wall, with a real life simulation of the Berlin Wall and a watchtower.
Square with 2 symmetrical churches (French and German) facing each other.
Origin of Berlin. Lots of old buildings, including the Nikolai-church, mixed with renovated buildings and typical DDR/communistic architecture.
Victory column, built after the victories in the wars against Denmark, Austria and France in the late 19th century.
Less touristic attractions
Huge and impressive memorial for the Soviet soldiers that died during World War II. Year round impressive, but extra special are the 23rd of February (day of the Red Army), 9th of May (Capitulation of Germany) and in autumn when the trees around the memorial turn red.
Huge former airfield. Built in the 1920's, extended by Nazi-Germany and used to provide West-Berlin during the Cold War. The airport closed in 2008 and was opened as a park in 2010. Over the last years, people started to fill parts of the area with small gardens.
A new video published April 2014 that really shows the vibe of Templehof! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zuh1v5qwjNU#t=53
In south-western Berlin you can find an old American listening station, built upon a man made 'mountain' out of rubbish from World War II. From the station, there's a great view over the city and the dome/ball on top of the station provides a great acoustic. Since 2012, all holes in the fences are repaired and a security guy asks €7 as an entree fee. In the weekends a guided tour is possible for €15.
Waterfall in Viktoriapark
Abandoned theme park in Plänterwald. Main attractions are a big ferry wheel, decorative dinosaurs and a roller coaster. Please note that entering the park is officially not allowed.
Built in the 30's under Nazi-regime, it hosted the famous Olympic Summer Games of 1936 and was subject of Leni Riefenstahl's movie 'Olympia'. You can either walk around it, or get a guided tour. If you are more interested, a visit to the Olympic Village could be a nice addition.
Visit an underground peoples bunker or the anti-aircraft towers in Volkspark Humboldthain. Tours organized by Berliner Unterwelten e.V.. Entrance at U-bahnhof Gesundbrunnen. The plateau of the 'Flakturmen' with a nice view of northern Berlin can be accessed for free via the park (also accessible for wheelchairs).
If you're planning to visit many museums during your stay in Berlin, you might want to buy the Museum pass. It costs €19, can be bought at any participating museum and is valid for 3 days.
If you want to see both city and museums, and you're not sure how many museums you'll be visiting, you might be interested in the Berlin Welcome Card which gives you discount on museums and free use of public transport.
- Deutsches Historisches Museum - German history
- Altes Museum - Ancient and classical art and artifacts
- Pergamommuseum - Ancient art and artifacts
- Haus am Checkpoint Charlie - Berlin Wall
- Alte Nationalgalerie - 19th century sculptures and paintings
- Neues Museum - Prehistory, early history, Egyptian and other classical artifacts
- Bode-Museum Byzantine art and sculptures
- Museum für Naturkunde
- Hamburger Bahnhof Museum
- Jüdisches Museum
- Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer
- Topographie des Terrors
- Story of Berlin
Flea markets and other famous markets
Berlin is well known for its flea markets. There are several weekly flea markets. The most famous ones:
The most famous flea market of Berlin, close to Eberswalderstraße. Has a lot of 2nd hand stalls, mixed with creative people that make jewelry, paintings, photos/cards, wallets and other stuff themselves. When the weather is right, there's a huge karaoke in the park next to the flea market. Can be very crowded, especially in spring and summer.
- Bernauer Straße 63
- Sunday 7:00-17:00h
Easy to oversee, since all stands are built around the Boxhagener square. You can take a rest on the square itself, or make a round in approximately an hour. Especially known for its records, books and posters. Other stands sell furniture and objects, but not so many clothes.
- Boxhagener Platz 1
- Sunday 10:00-18:00h
Straße des 17. Juni
Vegetable and Food Markets
Türkischer Markt am Maybachufer
Twice weekly (Tuesdays and Fridays) from 11am. This is one of the biggest weekly markets in Berlin. Fruit and vegetables are considerably cheaper than most supermarkets, including Aldi and Lidl. Also you can find many other foods items and a mixed range of household items.
Food market on Saturdays 10:00-18:00h on Boxhagener Platz
Food market in a historic market hall:
- Tuesdays 12:00-20:00h (small)
- Fridays 12:00-20:00h (big)
- Saturdays 10:00-18:00h (big)
- International Street Food Thursdays 17:00-22:00h (popular, often extremely crowded)
Travelling from Berlin
Apart from the 2 airports, several (international) trains and busses arrive at and leave from Berlin.
Most international trains arrive at and depart from Berlin Hauptbahnhof (main railway station).
- to the Netherlands (Berlin-Schiphol)
- to Poland (Berlin-Warsaw/Gdansk/Wrocław Główny)
- to Switzerland (Berlin-Basel)
- to Denmark (Berlin-Copenhagen/Arhus)
- to the Czech Republic (Berlin-Prague)
To find the best connections, or for booking tickets, you can check out the website of the [German Railway]. Booking tickets on forehand can make a huge difference in price.
(inter)regional trains depart from every major station, such as Alexanderplatz, Ostbahnhof, Spandau and Sudkreuz. There's a difference between regional trains (RB (Regionalbahn) andRE (Regionalexpress)) and inter-regional trains (IC (Intercity) and ICE (Intercity Express)). The IC's and ICE's drive much faster and over a long distance, mostly to other big cities in Germany. The RB and RE only drive short distances and stop at many smaller stations on the way.
Berlin has 2 major bus stops for international and inter-regional bus lines: ZOB in western Berlin (near S-Bahn Messe Nord/ICC and ; Ostbahnhof Bus Station in the eastern side of the city, next to S-Bahn Ostbahnhof.
Some major bus lines that will bring you abroad are:
- Eurolines - to almost any place in Europe
- Ecolines - Poland, Russia, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine
- Eclubreisen - to Ukraine
It's easy to find car sharing online. Cars travel from every city to every city. You can find rides or travellers at Mitfahrgelegenheit.de or Mitfahrzentrale.de. There's a great, cheaper alternative to Mitfahrgelegenheit: BLAH BLAH CAR and on CouchSurfing Group 1 Group 2 Group 3
Settling in Berlin
If you are planning to stay in Berlin for a longer time, the main concerns will be housing, visa (if necessary), work, health insurance and the necessary bureaucracy. Please note that all information written here are rough guidelines and tips and might be outdated or incomplete. Be aware that you might get trapped in a vicious circle: to register yourself in Berlin you need an address, to find housing you need work and for work you need to be registered.
Some websites that can be used if you're looking for flat-share(WG)/renting a flat in Berlin:
- WG-Gesucht.de (German/English) The most used website to search for accomodation/house mates
- Studenten-wg.de (German) Another website to find WG's
- Immobilo.de (German) Searches multiple websites that lists accomodations.
- Immobilienscout24 (German) For apartments, less used for flatsharing.
- WGcompany (English) Has a glossary in english with all important terms. Used for flatsharing.
- E-bay Kleinanzeigen (German) Germans offer everything on E-bay.
- Craigslist (English) Not all very reliable, but sometimes it contains a hidden treasure.
- CouchSurfing Group 1 (English) Find local CSers looking for flatmates, available sublets, etc.
- CouchSurfing Group 2 (English) Find local CSers looking for flatmates, available sublets, etc.
- ToyTown (English) Expat community.
- A Facebook Group (English/German) A good group to find housing.
- BW Accommodation group or CS Accommodation group.
- Berlin Apartment Corporations (German)
- Flat Search of Studentenwerk (German)
- WBM another corporation that builds flats
- AirBnB Apartments, Flats and Rooms for rent
Buying used items
Berlin is a hot spot for exchanging/selling/buying used items. You can find many things for sale or even for free:
- E-bay Kleinanzeigen (German) Germans offer everything on E-bay.
- Craigslist (English) Good place for all sorts of items, including bikes.
- A Facebook Group (English) People offering things for FREE only.
General information on getting a visa for Germany can be found here
Schedule an appointment ahead of time. The waiting times are not that bad, but it's always best to have an appointment.
They really don't speak English consistently so just be prepared. Bring someone with you if at all possible. Have everything you need when you go. They don't answer emails for nearly 1 month so don't bother there. You can call and ask questions, but have someone call for you who speaks German and then you might get answers.
Freelance VISA and Artist VISA
(This is written from a US citizen. Different rules may apply to you, although they may be similar). These are 2 different things. I obtained my Artist's visa while I was waiting for my Freelance visa to be approved (this will take 6-10 weeks). The Artist's visa does not allow you to work. The Freelance one does (you can list more than one profession on this visa).
List of things that you need
- Completed Form (http://www.berlin.de/formularserver/formular.php?72301)
- Letter stating your intentions, how you plan to support yourself, everthing you can think of
- Passport Copy
- 2 Biometric Photo (not smiling... these can be done in the bottom level of the office... leave an extra 10 minutes for this).
- Bank Statement (proving that you can support yourself without working)
- All Certificates
- All Diplomas
- All Transcripts
- Health Insurance (GERMAN) Proof and all documents
- German Address Registration (do NOT show up without this. You will be turned away. You must register your address)
- €50 in cash (sometimes this is more)
- Artist portfolio (this must be hard copies of your work)
- Letter from 2 prospective employers (I fought this, but it's technically required and you should have it)
Registering in Germany/Berlin - Bürgeramt
Registering your address
Fill out page 3 of this form and then go to register.
You must register your address within 2 weeks of coming to Germany and before you can do anything really.
You need to either have a rental agreement or have the main renter to sign the paper or write a letter for you.
A list of all the places you can go to register. You don't need to register in your own district.
In Germany you need to have a health insurance by law. It can be very expensive. The easiest way to become insured is to have a job. If you're an employee, the insurance is withhold from your loan (15,5%) automatically, and you can enter the 'Gesetzliche Krankenkasse' (insurance by law), where a broad variety of treatments is covered. If you earn more than €52.200 a year, or you are not an employee, you'd have to sign up for a private health insurance, which have a fixed price per month (starting at €130).
A list with 'Gesetzliche' insurances.
Some private health insurances can be found at:
Note that you need to go to an agency office to sign up. You would probably also need to be checked by a doctor before the insurance company will take you in.
If you want to apply to KSK (you must be an artist legally here, they will help you with the price of your insurance, but there are a lot of rules you must follow), you can contact this woman: Ilka Lacherbauer Medien und Künstler Beratung Ltd. Tucholskystr. 35 10117 Berlin - Mitte Fon.: +49 30 - 75 00 86 00 e-mail: [email protected] or [email protected]
(this information was gathered from forums)
- You can get great deals on SIM's at any Saturn store. They have T-Mobile SIM cards for only 5 euro and they come with 10 euro worth of call minutes for free.
- some Turkish phone shops, they sell Vodafone cards with credit for half-price (usually a card with 10 EUR credit for about 6 EUR, and one with 1 EUR credit for 60 cents), and what's best these are pre-activated and work right away, no need to fill out any stupid forms online.
- new SIM. For instance if you take an O2 one for 28.50E, you get 21E credit plus two months of freecalls to O2 (has a good subscrirption in Germany) numbers and to any landline. I think it is a great offer but something that you cannot renew; just comes with the new number.
- Aldi or Penny (yes, the discount stores) have easy prepaid cards for 15euro or something with the same amount of credit on it so you basically pay nothing for it. I don't know if they offer data as well, but the Aldi card uses ePlus networks so you can also charge your credit with ePlus prepaid cards if there is no Aldi around to buy new credit. adli 300mb 300 minutes = less 10 euro ;)
At some point you would probably need a German bank account. You would need to find the bank of your choice, apply, and identify yourself at a post office (unless you open an account in a bank physically). Choosing your bank is not the easiest thing, since there are many banks to choose from. Criteria can be:
- Monthly fee
- Costs of credit card
- Physical/online bank
- ATM-fee (sometimes you have to pay an extra fee if you use another bank's ATM)
- Welcoming bonus
- Ethics of the bank
Train stations Berlin Hbf, Alexanderplatz, Ostbahnhof, Friedrichstraße, Potsdamer Platz, Gesundbrunnen, Zoologischer Garten, Südkreuz, Spandau
Other Central Bus Staion ZOB, Tegel Airport, Schönefeld Airport,
Cost of living
In Berlin you have many choices on how to spend your money. Berlin is a relatively cheap city, although the prices raised over the years.
Below is a list of estimations of prices. The prices can differ a lot, depending on district, location, season, etc.
Renting a room: €150-€600 per month
Renting apartment: €200-€1000 per month
Restaurant: €2 - €15 for a main dish
Beer: €0,70 - €4,00 for 0,5 liter