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Planning 2 Week Trip Starting in Berlin

Hello,

I have a friend in Berlin where I've studied abroad before whose place I can stay at for free. I've got two weeks of vacation time I can use for this trip and am trying to taste a couple of other cities. I enjoy Berlin and was thinking I could fly in and of there with some train trips in between (saving money the nights I stay there). I've had a couple of ideas to possibly take a train to Amsterdam and then hit Cologne and another west German city. I know I could also stop somewhere in the north of Germany between them possibly Hamburg. Or I've thought about going down into the south possibly stopping in Prague and going into Austria.

Any advice or insight into either of these ideas would be much appreciated. I'd be traveling from Berlin alone and am a young person interested in sight seeing during the day, but am looking forward to experiencing some fun night life.

Thank you,
Kurt

Posted by
10 posts

I realize this is a very open ended question. I'll get some more of an idea of what I want to do and repost.

Thanks

Posted by
15622 posts

I think I would east or west. Hang in Berlin for week and perhaps make a few day trips, Dresden, Eisenach. Then either Hamburg, Cologne, Amsterdam or Prague, Vienna. In either case, fly home from your last stop, Amsterdam or Vienna.

Posted by
10 posts

Thanks Sam! I think I am leaning towards heading west. I've been to Prague before and haven't been to Vienna unfortunately, but think that'd be better for another trip.

Do you have any experience in Cologne or Hamburg? I've been reading up a ton on Amsterdam and already have a good idea on Berlin.

I know Hamburg is mainly an industrial city and can be kind of tough (is this true?). I also have mainly only heard it's known for the redlight district.

In regards to Cologne, I've mainly just seen pictures of great architecture and the famous Cathedral. Any input on Cologne?

Thanks,
Kurt

Posted by
14016 posts

I'd look at the German train website bahn.de and see what the travel times are to the places you are considering. You can get prices for journeys that originate in Germany, but only timetables for others. For instance, you could train from Berlin to Cologne in about 4.5 hours for as little as €50, then to Amsterdam in about 2.5 hours for €29. To get these low-price fares, you have to buy the tickets (usually they can't be changed or refunded) when they go on sale 120 days in advance. Only a small percentage of the tickets for each journey are offered, then there are others, still lower than the full fare and still with significant restrictions - but not as many. That's great if you are willing to commit to an itinerary 4 months in advance. Once you see the full-price tickets, you may be ready to nail down your plans!

Day trips by train may not be good value. Dresden is a 2 hour ride and the cheapest tickets (4 months ahead) are €19. So it's almost €40 for a day, with about 6 hours of travel time (you have to get to/from the Berlin and the Dresden train stations). If you stay in dorm rooms in youth hostels, you'll see more and possible not spend any more. Plus you will have the opportunity to hook up with other people for sightseeing and for night life. Use the Hostelworld website to find hostels and read some of the reviews to get an idea if you would want to use them.

Use a map and plan your stops in a line (like Berlin - Hamburg - Cologne - Amsterdam) and then check open-jaw airfares to Berlin and then home from your last stop.

Posted by
15622 posts

OK, my Cologne tip.

Papa Joe's Biersalon in the Altstadt. There is a huge collection of antique musical automatons that are in working order. The center piece is a creation of Papa Joe himself and his sons. Two animatronic mannequins that play an actual accordion and tuba. Their names are Tuennes & Schael, and they are the Laurel and Hardy of Cologne. The playlist is on a post by the bar and only takes a 1 euro coin for a play. Here they are doing "Beer Barrel Polka". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwdPLNt6RRo
They also do contemporary hits like "Black Magic Woman" and lots of Beatles tunes. Papa Joe and his son also do an "Otto Reutter" tribute show to one of the famous cabaret singers from Berlin in the 20's. Papa Joe plays the piano, his brother the drums and one of his sons is the singer. Don't miss if they are doing it while you are there. Papa Joe also owns the nearby "Jazz Lokal" Jazz club that gets contemporary Jazz groups.

Cologne has its own unique culture and is worth getting to know.

Posted by
10 posts

Thank you Sam. That looks very interesting. I hope to experience the great culture!

Thank you Chani. I just checked and it looks like I could make it from Berlin to Hamburg to Cologne to Amsterdam for 113 Euros! I am also hoping to meet people. I've usually been with family or the only other time studying when in Europe so I'd like to meet some others during the journey. Have you been or stayed at any of the hostels in these cities?

Posted by
14016 posts

No I haven't stayed at the hostels there. But I would start with Hostelworld - the descriptions and reviews are pretty comprehensive. I think there's another big site for hostels too - try googling.

Since you're going to buy your train tickets well in advance, it's a good idea to reserve accommodations too. Before using a big site to book, check the hostels you are interested in. Sometimes the individual websites are cheaper or have special offers (like free dinner with a 3-night stay). The reservations are usually cancellable until a few days before arrival, and you only pay when you get there. You can also ask around. Most people at a hostel have stayed at others. You could even drop by one or two while you're in Berlin.

You could also go to the Lonely Planet forums - Thorntree. They are more focused on the backpacking/hosteling (younger) crowd.

Posted by
12135 posts

Hi,

Which ever direction from Berlin you decide, north towards Greifswald or Rostock, east/southeast towards Frankfurt an der Oder or Görlitz, or northwest towards Hamburg, straight west to Hannover to Köln and the Rhine, you will have plenty of opportunities to view historical sites, museums, etc., depending on how deep/intense your historical interest/priority is. A good number of cities/towns are well recommended, some I would simply lay off of...unless.

I suggest taking the train esp if you're going west from Berlin towards the Elbe and Hannover, see that Brandenburg countryside, the same applies going east towards the Oder.

Posted by
1 posts

I would advice you to take your time after every arrival. Give yourself some space. Do not get driven by plan at any rate. Be driven by your feeling and impressions. If you feel like staying while longer, in Cologne for example, stay. Make sure the time you spend on your trip is quality time and do not miss out on a surprising challenges simply because you planned to move. And I'm not sure if you're familiar with their insurance program for foreign folks. Travelling alone you may want to make sure you're insured all the way through your trip http://www.covomo.com

Posted by
12135 posts

Hi,

About your question on the hostels: I stayed at the HI hostel in Dresden located on Maternistraße, very good food there. ca. 15 mins from the Dresden Hbf. That time I decided to get a private room instead of sharing a dorm with 5 others, no complaints. It's a big building, used to be a barracks, then it fixed up, refurbished, makes for a very pleasant stay.

I don't recommend staying at HI hostels, since I don't want to run into school groups. In Berlin are tons of various private hostels. The most central HI hostel in Berlin is on Kluckstraße (western side), very close to the Resistance Museum, signs point the way, if you want to see that for a couple of hours.