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GERMANY: Low prices make Berlin backpacker paradise

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Standing on relatively solid ground in the midst of the European debt crisis is Germany, with Chancellor Angela Merkel gearing up for elections later in 2013. But though the country’s finances remain strong, supporting European debt-ridden neighbors like Greece and Spain, both the German capital and several other cities can be bargains for visitors.

Getting there is easy, too. Interrail train travels have long been a cheap means of transportation for backpackers in Europe, and with plenty of lodging possibilities around like hostels and “zimmers”, rooms for rent, it’s quite easy to get by on a narrow budget. For visitors short on time, the hefty row of budget airlines make getting around within Europe easy and quick. Not the least for visitors from the UK, with numerous cheap flights to Germany and a bunch of handy home-based facilities surrounding are travel industry available, such as the parking service Parking4Less.com and others.

 

Abandoned buildings on expensive land in central Berlin.

Abandoned buildings on expensive land in central Berlin.

True, real estate prices, for example, have increased in Berlin during the last few years, forcing a group of artists last year, the press reported, to abandon the empty graffiti-bombarded housing complex in central Berlin that they had occupied for decades, living out their dream of an alternative lifestyle.

But the German capital, however unlikely it may seem, is still a cheap place to visit. Compared to most other metropolises, the cost of living here is dramatically lower, according to price comparison website Numbeo. Updated in December 2012, the price index for restaurants in Berlin stands at 69.27 (100 = average), groceries run at 78, and the index for renting costs hovers at extremely low 27.54.

Using this attractive cost level, and with the European economic crisis looming on the horizon, 2013 should be a good year for backpackers who want to explore German cities and attractions.

And there are loads to see. A few examples:

 

Berlin, of course, offers endless rows of sights and entertainments. Featuring a vivid club scene, some of Europe’s best restaurants and museums, alongside with interesting architecture and world class shopping, it’s virtually impossible to get bored here. The city’s Holocaust Memorial and the Sachsenhausen Nazi death camp just outside Berlin constitute some of Berlin’s more somber attractions, reminiscing of a darker days.

Part of the Berin Mauer.

Part of the Berin Mauer.

Also, don’t miss Checkpoint Charlie and Brandenburger Tor, remains from the era of the Berlin Mauer, pieces of which can still be fund in some parts of Berlin.

Brandenburger_Tor

Brandenburger Tor in Berlin, once the mark of a divided city.

Checkpoint-Charlie-Berin

Checkpoint Charlie, the classic gateway between East and West, in central Berlin. Low prices make Berlin backpacker paradise.

 

Venturing outside the capital, Dresden in former eastern Germany features a dramatic, re-built cathedral and multiple other sights. Prices are generally still lower in east compared to west.

Dresden-Germany

Dresden, eastern part of Germany.

 

With a large red-light district as its main claim to fame, Hamburg in northern Germany is actually a nice place to visit. The city holds lots of clubs and features nice settings with water and canals in its central parts. The gigantic harbor is a sort of attraction, too.

Hamburg-harbor-Germany

Mega-ships load here in Hamburg.

 

If you bring kids on your trip, the Tropical Island beach resort, built on dry land inside a huge former airship hangar in northern Germany, can be a fine getaway from the daily hassle. Not the cheapest of holidays, though, and if you are on a tight budget, just to enter the funny place and have a look might be enough.

Inside the Tropical Island resort in northern Germany.

Inside the Tropical Island resort in northern Germany.

 

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