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It’s no secret that Berliners take a deep breath on Sundays. Shops are closed and traffic dissipates, making the already laid-back city feel completely chilled out. Capture the spirit by heading to a hip hood where part of the Berlin Wall once stood (at the Mitte-Prenzlauer Berg-Wedding border, near the U-bahn stop Bernauer Str.). Hipsters, students, and young families crowd the café-lined drags of Kastanienallee and Oderberger Strasse to indulge in leisurely breakfasts, followed by a twirl through a flea market or two. (If you won’t be around on Sunday, you can replicate this routine sans flea markets during the week.)
Let’s do breakfast!
Berlin-style breakfast is a jackpot for Cheapos, especially on weekends, when cafés roll out all-you-can-eat buffets. Laden with German breakfast basics—cheese, cold cuts, vegetables, fruit, jam, butter, hard-boiled eggs, and crusty rolls—the best spots offer extras like Sekt (sparkling wine), exotic fruit, and homemade spreads. Coffee, tea, and the Berlin favorite, Milchcafé (coffee with milk), usually aren’t inclusive.
We recommend showing up before 11 AM, when the buffet is freshest, the staff is alert, and the crowds are thin. (Most spots serve breakfast from 10 AM to 3 PM) Once you’ve occupied a table, take your time—read a newspaper, people watch, and make plenty of trips to the buffet. Do it right and you won’t be hungry until dinner.
Where to go?
The cozy neighborhood favorite Schwarze Pumpe (Choriner Str. 76, one block east of Kastanienallee) is a Cheapo hit. For €4.90, you can graze the basic but high-quality buffet with great scrambled eggs. Order a Milchcafé, load your plate, and have a seat in the rustic-cozy interior or on the tree-shaded sidewalk. (Breakfast à la carte is available the rest of the week.)
Vegetarians, leftists, and budget travelers are also fans of the vegan-friendly buffet (available Friday and Saturday from 11 AM to 2 PM) at the grungy café-bar-collective Morgenrot (Kastanienallee, 85). A colorful spread laid out on the bar in this dingy, art-filled space features tofu cream cheese and fruit-studded yoghurt. In keeping with its leftist mission, the café asks for €4¬–8, depending on your income.
If you prefer breakfast à la carte, try the Kiezkantine (Oderberger Str. 50). Operated by a non-profit organization for the mentally challenged, this homey place is beloved for its bargain breakfast. Ample enough for two hungry travelers, the Grosses Frühstück (big breakfast), a composition of cheese, ham, salami, fruit, hard-boiled eggs, vegetables, warm rolls, and seed-studded bread, is only €4.20 (students pay a reduced rate of €3.30). Gourmet it isn’t, but filling it is.
Snap up a flea market bargain
Walk off breakfast while exploring two of the city’s best flea markets, which get going around 11 AM. The Mauerpark Flohmarkt (Bernauer Str. 63-64, at the western end of Oderberger Str.), a maze of stalls next to a scrubby park that once bordered the Berlin Wall, is well stocked with chic and cheap souvenirs hand-crafted by local designers. Look for photographs of Berlin, silk-screened T-shirts, glass bead jewelry, and trendy clothing. Pick through the junkier stands to find retro teapots, vintage leather purses, and LPs.
Afterwards, stroll south on Wolliner Strasse to reach the Flohmarkt am Arkonaplatz (Arkonaplatz). It’s small, but the items on display in this picturesque square are more valuable—and more expensive. Expect vintage sunglasses and retro vases in groovy shades.
Check out the Wall
Cap off your tour with a stop at the admission-free Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer (Berlin Wall Memorial, Bernauer Str. 111), which is hidden five blocks east of Arkonaplatz (take Anklamer Str., then make a right onto Acker Str.) Study an original stretch of the Berlin Wall up close and from the top of a lookout tower across the street.
From there, pick up a tram on Bernauer Strasse or walk west to the Nordbahnhof S-bahn station to continue your Berlin adventures.