Hello. We will be visiting Berlin in May 2012 with 4 adults. Have been to other areas of Germany, but never Berlin. Does anyone know of a reliable website to search for apartment rentals? Recommended area to stay in while in Berlin? We won't be renting a car, instead relying on Trains/Buses/Metro/Taxi to get around. Would it be better to rent an apartment or to stay in a hotel? We're 4 adults, 2 of us in our late 40's and 2 in the early 20's. Thank you.
I would definitely recommend an apartment. I use vrbo.com and homeaway.com to find apartments. I haven't been to Berlin yet, so can't suggest what area for you to stay in.
Personally would rent apartment. We usually use VRBO and have not had a problem, but have not been to Berlin but many other places and not been disappointed. We enjoy apartments to all relax in, have tea, etc. and be together rather than a hotel. We also found it much cheaper than hotel.
I'd recommend an apartment. Transportation is easily accessible from any area you stay in, but I would recommend staying in Prenzlauer Berg, as it is quiet but close to restaurants and bars. Kreuzberg & Friedrichshain's nightlife would attract the younger set, while Charlottenburg and Schonefeld tend to be a bit sedate.
In May/June, I rented an apartment (the "Capri") for a week from Berlin Habitat (berlinhabitat.com) and was very pleased with it. The owner was very easy to do business with. He did not require a damage deposit and the deposit could be paid by Paypal. He also had an option to pay the remaining balance by credit card. I really liked the area (near Rosenthaler Platz) which had many small cafes and shops. It was only about a 15 minute walk to Hackescher Markt and also close to the Museum Insel. I'm not sure if he has any apartments for four, but he does have several studio apartments that are in the same building. The apartment was very simple (Ikea furniture), but it had everything one would need for a vacation rental and was very clean. I found the apartment based on tripadvisor reviews and I posted a review of the apartment myself after my stay so you might read through the Berlin Habitat reviews on tripadvisor. I've also seen numerous postings about the Circus Apartments and they always seem to be highly rated (www.circus-berlin.de/apartments.html). I looked into them for my stay, but they were all booked up and considerably more expensive than the apartment that I rented through Berlin Habitat.
Thanks everyone. I've taken a look at the Circus, it does look interesting, haven't gone to the other sights yet. My concern is getting ripped off by renting from an owner.
We thought about renting an apartment when we were in Berlin this past summer (we had 3 adults and 2 children with us). The problem we had with the apartment rentals we could find in Berlin was that they were out of the main city central, or in fringe areas. We ended up staying at the Mercure Checkpoint Charlie (http://www.mercure.com/gb/hotel-3120-mercure-hotel-residenz-berlin-checkpoint-charlie/index.shtml). It was quite nice, not too expensive, and had us in an area where everything we wanted to see was within walking distance (or a short train/bus ride away). We had to book 2 rooms (they didn't have a 5-person room), but both rooms were HUGE!
I think VRBO is safe way to go.
Agree with all the other posts. Try VRBO. We've rented apartments throughout Europe (including Berlin) and the US with 100% success. That said, there are apartments listed that I would not rent based on "feelings" related to stated information (lack of recent reviews, location, etc.) I always google additional information on listed properties as well as owners if possible. Regarding locations, I agree with the descriptions of the areas around the Circus and the Mercure. We have stayed in the Charlottenburg and Tiergarten areas (both times with a 50ish adult and late teens/early 20 year olds). In Charlottenburg, we stayed near Savignyplatz which I think is more like the Circus location even though another poster said Charlottenburg was more "sedate". I prefer the Tiergarten location which (imo) is more residential, but allows you to feel as if you live in the area. The transit system in Berlin is wonderful (very extensive, reasonably priced, easy to use). So, I think you need to decide if you prefer to be walking distance to a more active nightlife or want to stay in a place which is a bit quieter. I wouldn't sweat the decision too much, because I don't really think you can go wrong either way. I would encourage you to find an apartment for a 10 day stay. I think you'll appreciate being able to eat some meals "at home".
Compared to Kreuzberg, Prenzlauer Berg and Rosenthaler Platz (this place I checked out since the old Prussian cemetery is there behind the graffiti laced red brick wall), I would say Berlin-Charlottenburg, specifically Savignyplatz, is "sedate" if not more bourgeois in character. As long as you're close to one of the lateral west-east S-Bahn lines, getting around is no problem.
Thanks all. We're not interested in nightlife at all, but would like to be in the best area for touring the main sights, in a safe area that is close to places to eat, markets and transportation. I was reading online to stay away from the eastern suburbs of Berlin, as there have been assaults on people outside of synagogues by skinheads. Does anyone know anything about this? I even read not to take a train through the eastern suburbs of Berlin, if the train makes stops. I'll have to try and find what I read, copy and paste it here. I read the attacks were by "skinheads". Thanks.
Hi, Which eastern suburbs...Lichtenberg, Köpenick, Karlshorst, etc? Americans don't go beyond Alexanderplatz, or Berlin-Ostbahnhof at the vey most. Getting out to the "eastern suburbs" is pretty far from the sights in Mitte, even farther if you're leaving from Bahnhof Zoo in Charlottenburg. I did this once solo in July from its eastern terminus on the S-7 at Ahrensfelde to Zoo, took 45 mins. at night. Why would you be traveling out that way, esp at night? Between Ostbahnhof to Berlin Charlottenburg on the east-west lateral is a huge area. You ask about any experience going to the "eastern suburbs"...mostly by day on the S-Bahn, U-Bahn, or regional train (RB)...no problems, nothing out of the ordinary, even a couple of times at night. Cannot give any apt recommendations. When I stay in Berlin, 2 nights or two weeks, I stay in a typical Berlin Pension in Charlottenburg.
The attack I read about was in the Schöneberg district of Berlin. A Rabbi and his daughter were attacked. He was wearing traditional Jewish headcovering. I also read that Prenzlauer Berg can be dodgy at night, as well as Litchenberg, the Ostkreuz area, Marzahn/Hellersdorf and Pankow. My family history is German, so of course this is rather upsetting to read/hear about the attacks. I've visited other areas of Germany, Frankfurt, Nuremberg, Munich, Heidelberg, Regensburg, Berchtesgaden, and never experienced or saw any crime. Felt safer in those places then I did in Atlanta! But I also want to be safe and know the areas to stay in, and areas to stay out of. I also did read one shouldn't travel on the S-Bahn late in the evening. Wondering why Berlin has/is experiencing this type of crime and if other Germany cities are also experiencing the same type of crime but it's not spoken/published? Thanks.
I think the only way Prenzlauer Berg can be "dodgy" is if you are dodging strollers and carriages on the sidewalk. Really. It's the Park Slope of Berlin.
Those crimes may have been reported because crime like that is such a rarity there. Stop worrying. You are at a much higher risk of getting pickpocketed than anything else, and if that is a problem, wear a moneybelt.
Hi, I'm assuming you know the attack (in Schöneberg) took place in the West, not in the "eastern suburbs." Still. your point is well taken. But would you have cause to ride the S-Bahn "late in the evening," esp. in Lichtenberg (I was there at night once in 2003) and Ostkreuz (just passed through it once at night) unless to transfer S-Bahn lines or RB trains. Haven't been to either Marzahn or Pankow. Do plan on going to these districts, even at night? I agree with Emily, wear the money belt for the extra sense of security. Using the subway in any big city in Germany, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Berlin you may be run into, shall we say, unsavory characters, depending on the line, area, time of night, etc. But what are the chances? As you say it's a lot safer than doing it in Atlanta. A lot of people use the S-Bahn late at night, tourists, locals getting off work, etc. Stations have video cameras and say so...videoüberwacht.
You can use the excellent and trustworthy airbandb.com to find apartments in Berlin. I just stayed four nights at the excellent Five Lofts in Kreuzberg run by Martina Siegmann. I had a huge apartment, I could have danced like Fred in the place. Quiet, warm and safe in a fun neighborhood. If I had not been alone, and if I were part of a group of four, I would have paid less than $20 per night for my apartment.