A Major Anniversary Makes Berlin a Must-Visit 2014 Budget Destination

by  Karen Gardiner | Dec 9, 2013
Berlin city skyline
Berlin city skyline / bluejayphoto/iStock

Get ready for another one of those anniversaries that might make you feel really old. November 9, 2014 will mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Once you've overcome this shock, start researching cheap tickets on low-cost carrier Air Berlin because a series of special events and exhibitions are about to take place throughout the city.

As well as being Europe's fastest growing tourism city, Berlin is a great overall budget destination where tourist activities tend to cost less than in other European cities. A hop-on-hop-off sightseeing bus ticket will cost you $23 in Berlin, for example, compared to $40 in Barcelona.  If you are planning to travel around the city and visit a lot of museums, you might also consider the Berlin Welcome Card, which covers transportation, museum entry, and discount vouchers. The card starts at $25 for 48-hours.

The year of anniversary festivities will culminate on the weekend of November 9 with a symbolic installation of illuminated, helium-filled balloons lining seven-and-a-half miles of the former inner-city border. In clear weather, the light installation should be visible from space. In the run-up to the anniversary event, you can commemorate the fall of the wall by visiting the city's numerous memorials and museums, or by taking a specially themed tour.

At the Berlin Wall Memorial on Bernauer Strasse, you can view a piece of the wall; while at the DDR Museum, you can see displays of furnishings and home accessories from the period, and experience life in the former East Germany through a series of interactive exhibits. The Wall Museum, which is located at the infamous Checkpoint Charlie, displays original artifacts of the many inventive escape methods used by East Germans during the period. Included are escape cars, hot air balloons, homemade mini-submarines, and hollow surfboards. While there, you can visit the Black Box at Checkpoint Charlie for more information and images of the checkpoint.

Guided bicycle tours that follow the trail of the wall, and stop off at notable sights along the way, include Berlin on Bike’s “Riding along the Berlin Wall” and Fat Tire’s "Berlin Wall and Cold War” tour. A quirkier option for those who really want to dive into the historical experience is a self-driven tour through the city's eastern side in an original Trabant.

You can extend the theme even as far as your lodgings by staying at the Ostel Design Hostel. The budget hotel is housed in an original DDR 'Platten' (pre-fab) building furnished with original Communist-era knick-knacks and portraits of former Party leaders. Despite having "hostel" in its name, all accommodations are in single or double rooms (though the cheapest have shared bathrooms) and start at $35 per night.

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