Travelling alone is something everybody should do at least once in their lives. Free to do what you want, when you want, you are not bound by the tastes or, indeed, energy levels of family or friends, so the world (or, in this case, Berlin) really is your oyster. You don’t have the safety net of familiar faces to fall back on, so you are more likely to strike up interesting conversations and venture beyond your comfort zone when it comes to interacting with strangers. And, as an exciting metropolis full of world-famous museums and breathtaking buildings, Berlin is a great place for a solo adventure.
If you’re heading to Berlin alone, your instinct may be to hide yourself away in a hotel room, but, although this may be the most comfortable option, you should also consider a bed & breakfast or hostel. Staying in a bed & breakfast puts you in direct contact with local Berliners, who can give you insider tips on the best things to see and do in the city. After all, to really experience somewhere, you have to meet its people, so staying with Berliners is probably the easiest route to local interaction.
Staying in a hostel makes it virtually impossible not to meet people. Hostels may be a difficult option for you if you value a high thread count and fluffy bathrobes in your room, but you get to meet an incredible mix of travellers, some of whom may also be travelling alone. Make plans for the evening if you don’t want to eat alone, and you could find yourself sharing some great nights out or fun days sightseeing with new friends.
One of the biggest fears people have about travelling alone is dining solo in the evenings. It’s really nothing to get stressed about, though. Berlin is full of wonderful restaurants, so don’t sit in your room chewing bratwurst sandwiches just because you won’t venture out unaccompanied. Theodor Tucher (nicknamed “Tucher am Tor” because of its location between the Brandenburg Gate and Unter den Linden) its one of Berlin’s finest restaurants, and it caters for solo diners in its library. If your budget does not stretch that far, try Manngo, on Mulackstrasse. Writers and artists tend to gather around areas like Prenzlauer Berg, where restaurants are full of solo artists, many writing or sketching, so you could always bring a notebook with you as a prop to avoid feeling awkward.
Berlin is a really big city. Make life easy for yourself and rent a bike to get around parts of the city you might otherwise have missed. The Fat Tire bike hire shop in Alexanderplatz (at the foot of the TV tower) runs various themed cycling tours, and you can also rent bikes independently from about €10 per day. Although locks are included in the rental, helmets usually are not, but, given the number and quality of cycle lanes in Berlin, that’s not surprising. (If a road is marked as a cycle lane in Berlin, that’s what it is, so never walk or stand on one). Recommended cycling routes include via the Brandenburg gate down Strasse des 17. Juni to Charlottenburg, or via the Brandenburg gate and right toward the Reichstag and along the riverside in the direction of Charlottenburg.
If you’re nervous about walking around alone, make sure your valuables are hidden and any bags you carry have cut-proof straps. Walk purposefully – and enjoy! Make time to see the graffiti-covered East-side remnants of the iconic Berlin Wall, which divided the city between 1961 until 1989, and the famous crossing point Checkpoint Charlie. Older monuments from Berlin’s history include the Reichstag, with its panoramic views, the stunning Brandenburg Gate, and the impressive Berlin Cathedral. For the best views of the city, climb the 368-metre tall Berliner Fernsehturm, the fourth-highest structure in Europe. And do make time for the flea markets – and the infamous nightlife.
License: Creative Commons
License: Creative Commons image source
License: Creative Commons image source
Aoife O’Carroll is a staff writer for Nova Car Hire, a convenient website for arranging car rental in 26,000 locations worldwide, including car hire in Berlin.