If you are looking for a popular digital nomad city in the center of Europe, you will very likely consider Berlin as a potential option. And there are many reasons why expats, freelancers, entrepreneurs, and travelers love the German capital. This digital nomad guide to Berlin will show you why this city is so popular and how you can make the best out of your stay.
General Facts about Berlin
I’ve lived in Berlin a few times over the past 10 years. I have friends here plus my family doesn’t live too far away either. So it is a great place for me to take a break from full-time travel life.
Let’s quickly look at a few facts about the city:
- Population: 3,748,148 (the second-largest city in the European Union according to the population after London)
- Area: 891.1 km2 (344.1 sq mi)
- Internationality: Almost 50% of all residents under the age of 15 are either of foreign nationality or have one of their parents immigrated to Germany after 1955.
- Religion: About 15% are members of the Evangelical Church, 9% belong to Roman Catholic Church, & approx. 11% are Muslims.
- Bear symbol: The coat of arms of Berlin is a black bear on a white shield. That’s why you will see the bear symbol all over the city used as a kind of mascot.
- Berlin is city and state at the same time (one of Germany’s 16 states).
- Mentality: Berlin is a very down-to-earth, open-minded city. No matter what your thing is, you’ll find your place here. Artists, business owners, nerds, punks, clubbers, goths, greenies – you will find your peer group. Just be you.
Best time for Digital Nomads in Berlin
My personal opinion: Come in summer!
Summer in Berlin is great. It is usually somewhere between 20 and 28°C. So nice and warm but not too hot or humid. It’s sunny and doesn’t rain too often (for German conditions). Occasionally, temperatures can go up to 35°C but that’s not every year.
There are also many outdoor activities and tons of festivals and events during the summer months. Absolutely zero chance you will get bored!
I find the winter months in Berlin rather depressing. It is not super cold, usually around 0-5°C. That also means that you don’t get much snow here. So it’s not as romantic as you might imagine a central European winter (you’ll definitely find that in Southern Germany, though!). However, it is often cloudy, grey, wet, and dark. So you wouldn’t want to spend much time outside of your bed.
The only great time to come in winter would probably be just before Christmas to stroll through all of the lovely Christmas markets and get all the delicious treats.
How to get in & around Berlin
Being more or less in the middle of Central Europe, Berlin is easily accessible from all directions. That also makes it a great base to explore the rest of Europe as you can get extremely cheap flights, trains, and buses to many exciting countries.
Getting in and out of Berlin
Update November 2020: There are two international airports:
Construction for BER started in 2006 and the plan was to open in 2011. However, there were many delays and cost overruns. They finally finished everything and the airport was officially opened in November 2020. This new airport is located right next to SXF airport in Berlin Schönefeld (in the south of Berlin). SXF now serves as an additional terminal for the new and main airport BER.
The old and very popular airport TXL Tegel airport (in the north of Berlin) was closed with the opening of the bigger airport BER.
Both airports, BER and SXF, can easily be reached via public transport. Check out the Berlin public transport website BVG to search for connections.
You can also catch many (international) trains at the central train station, located right in the middle of the city.
For a couple of years now, there are also long-distance buses, leaving from the bus station ZOB (Zentraler Omnibusbahnhof) in Charlottenburg. Here you can get very cheap buses to many places in Germany and in neighboring European countries, e.g. Poland, Austria, or France.
Getting Around Berlin
Berlin is huge! Although you could theoretically walk everywhere, it would take you forever. So check out your options of getting around:
Public transport takes you everywhere in Berlin. The network of S-Bahn, U-Bahn, tram, and buses is very extensive and they usually departure every 5-10 minutes (depending on the time of the day). Make sure you bookmark the route map.
The inner city center is zone A & B. Here are some prices in that area:
Monthly ticket: EUR 81
7-day ticket: EUR 30
Day ticket: EUR 7
Single trip: EUR 2,80
Extra tip: If you buy a paper ticket from one of the ticket vending machines at the stations or from the bus driver, you NEED to validate it before you enter the trains (or right after entering the bus or tram) using the little stamp machines located next to the ticket vending machines and in the buses and trams! If you don’t and you get caught, you have to pay the fine of EUR 60.
If you are a digital nomad and stay in Berlin for a few weeks or months, you can also get the free BVG app and buy your ticket online.
Taxi, Uber & BerlKönig
There are taxis all over the city so it shouldn’t be too hard to localize one. If you want to check the prizes, you can get an estimation with this Taxi Fare Calculator tool.
A cheaper alternative might be Uber, which is also very commonly used in Berlin. You probably know the app, so I don’t need to explain much here.
A third alternative (and brand new on the transport market) is a service called BerlKönig. This is a ride-sharing service that is even cheaper than Uber and environmentally friendlier since you share your ride with others who head in the same direction. That’s why it can sometimes take a few minutes to get a ride but it’s an affordable and fun way to get around. Use the app to book the service.
Please note that the service doesn’t operate in every district of Berlin yet, only in the eastern parts.
Car & Scooter sharing
If you have an international driver’s license with you, you could also use one of the many car or scooter sharing services in Berlin. You download the app, register with your details and license and can then locate the next vehicle to cruise around town. Here are the most popular services:
- DriveNow (BMW & Mini)
- Car2Go (Smart & Mercedes)
- WeShare (Volkswagen – electric car-sharing)
- Emmy (electric scooters)
- Coup (electric scooters)
Renting Bikes & Scooters
No driver’s license? No worries! There are also plenty of bike-, e-bike- and scooter-sharing services in Berlin:
- Deezer nextbike (bikes)
- Donkey Bike (bikes)
- LIDL Bike (bikes – corporation between Lidl and Deutsche Bahn)
- Lime (electric scooters – remember to drive on bike lanes whenever available!)
- JUMP (electric bikes and electric scooters)
Extra tip: If you are staying for a while and want to buy a bike, there are 2 bike flea markets every month in Berlin. One in Moabit, the other one in Kreuzberg.
Where to live as a Digital Nomad in Berlin?
As mentioned before, Berlin is huge and ever-growing. So finding a place to live is not always that easy.
Best districts for Digital Nomads
There are 12 districts of Berlin and they vary greatly in terms of vibe and mentality – which doesn’t make it easier to choose, I know. Since there are so many, I will introduce the ones that I think are best for digital nomads or expats:
Mitte is more or less in the center of Berlin, right next to Berlins biggest park – Tiergarten. This place is jam-packed with sights. Here you can find the central train station, Alexanderplatz, tons of museums, the opera house, Brandenburger Tor, and so many more famous attractions.
This is a rather posh area with many cafes, restaurants, and shops. There is no way you’ll get bored here – but you also have to deal with countless tourists everywhere.
Prenzlauer Berg is still close to the main attractions but quieter. It’s a charming district that is particularly popular with families (some people joke that it’s the “baby stroller poking district”). But you also find popular Mauerpark here, which is where young folks hang out on lazy summer days to have a picnic and beer in the sun or stroll through the flea market.
You will also find some quirky shops, independent boutiques, and lovely restaurants. The only downside: Rental prices can be very expensive since it’s such a popular area.
Probably my favorite district of Berlin. You will find plenty of cool bars and ethnic restaurants. It’s got a bit of a bohemian vibe and urban buzz to it. Everything is edgy but creative, youthful, yet cultivated. It’s a more laid-back area with not too many tourists but still centrally.
Volkspark is great to hang out during the summer months. Southern Friedrichshain (close to Kreuzberg) might have the highest density of clubs in the city. Popular East Side Gallery is just around the corner. Plus, rental prices are still affordable.
Kreuzberg is Berlin’s hipster hotspot with a big international creative scene. This is where the cool kids hang around to avoid mainstream offerings. Although it’s culturally diverse, you will find that the Turkish community has a big impact. This means you will find many places selling traditional Turkish foods, markets, and shisha bars.
There are many individual and alternative coffee houses and bars. You will find places for shared urban gardening, backyard flats, and ateliers. What might appear as a run-down corner to you, is a cool and hipster place for Kreuzberger folks.
How to find places to live in Berlin?
You can pretty much use all of the usual ways to find accommodation as a digital nomad. That is:
- Using Housesitting services to get free accommodation
- Booking.com for a few nights in a hotel
- Facebook groups, e.g. Temporary Flat Rental Berlin or Berliner Wohnungsbörse
- Airbnb (Note: There used to be an “Airbnb Ban” in Berlin due to housing shortage. The ban is canceled now but landlords are still very restricted in subletting their places).
You can also check out these places to see if you can find accommodation:
- WG Gesucht – Here you can find mainly flatshares but also temporary and long-term apartments.
- eBay Kleinanzeigen – The German Craigslist. You can find everything on there, including apartments. Since it’s like Craigslist, be careful of weirdos.
- Immobilienscout24 – Mostly unfurnished, long-term apartments and houses.
- Wunderflats – Furnished, short & long-term apartments.
- City-Wohnen – Brokers, furnished, short & long-term apartments.
Extra tip 1: Deposits are very common in Germany. It’s usually 1-2, sometimes even 3 months’ rents.
Extra tip 2: Since 1 June 2015 there are no commission fees for the tenants allowed anymore. So if you want to book with a broker and he or she tries to charge you for the placement service, run away!
Extra tip 3: If you want to rent long-term, keep in mind that the period of notice for these agreements often is 3 months. So terminate your contract early enough.
How much is the accommodation in Berlin?
Berlin is probably still one of the cheapest capitals in central Europe. However, prices for accommodation increased a lot during the past years.
In my experience it can be slightly cheaper: I had a furnished 2-bedroom apartment for USD 720 (Friedrichshain), a furnished studio for USD 600 (Schöneberg) and an unfurnished studio for USD 780 (Moabit/Mitte).
A shared apartment in Mitte can be found for about USD 550.
If you are willing to stay a bit outside of the Berlin center, you can definitely get it cheaper.
One note on the compulsory registration process in Germany: If you are a digital nomad or expat and want to stay more than 3 months in Germany, you are no longer considered a tourist. Therefore, you NEED to register your residence (in German it’s “Anmeldung” and you need an “Anmeldebescheiningung”).
The process behind it is rather simple: Within 14 days after moving into your new apartment, you need to book an appointment with any Bürgeramt in your city and register your new address. You need to bring your ID, confirmation from your landlord, and this form.
Extra tip: Be aware that you might also be eligible for taxes as soon as you are not a tourist anymore (depending on your visa and job).
Best places to work as a Digital Nomad in Berlin
Working spaces. Very important for digital nomads. Luckily, there are plenty of freelancers and remote workers in Berlin, so there are also plenty of options to work from.
Coworking Spaces in Berlin
According to Coworking Guide, there are at least 70 coworking spaces in Berlin! Hallelujah!
I’m pretty sure there is the right location for everyone here. Just to give you some of the classics and my favorites:
I love this place! It’s huge! AHOY! has several floors and wide-open, bright working spaces. Here you can find all you need: conference rooms, flex desks, comfy chill-out areas, kitchens, lockers, swings, a coffee bar, and so much more. Prices start from EUR 150 a month and EUR 15 a day.
WeWork has an unbelievable number of 8 (!) coworking spaces in Berlin alone. I have been working from the one in Sony Center/Potsdamer Platz and loved it. There are classy, creative and unique design elements and you can overlook beautiful Tiergarten. You will find conference rooms, phone booths, and complimentary coffee, tea, and water in the kitchen. Prices start from EUR 200 per month.
In betahaus it’s all about community. Once a week you come together for breakfast to meet and connect. There is a monthly happy hour event called betabeer, where you grab a beer with other members of the community. On top of that, there are tons of other events on a daily basis, such as yoga or consultancy sessions. You can get a free day pass for trial and monthly memberships start from EUR 99.
Since we’re talking about betahaus, you can find two excellent betahaus coworking spaces in Barcelona and Sofia, too!
There are 3 locations of St Oberholz in Berlin by now. If you are looking for something smaller, classier – this is the place to be. You get all of the typical coworking amenities, such as private offices, team rooms, conference rooms, telephone booths, and kitchen. Prices are EUR 4 per hour, EUR 15 per day or EUR 99 for a monthly membership. You can also work from the café downstairs without a membership. But be aware that the drinks and snacks are rather expensive.
Coworking Cafes in Berlin
If you don’t feel like working from a coworking space, you can also find a nice café to work from in Berlin. Check out an extensive list with the best places at Workfrom. My personal favorites are:
The Digital Eatery
The Digital Eatery is located at the ground floor of Microsoft Berlin, hence many visitors come to this place. There are free workshops, WIFI, electrical outlets, technical support, and you get to test the newest tech stuff, e.g. HoloLens. Great concept! You find food options like salads, sandwiches, or cakes.
Another laptop-friendly place in Berlin is Aprilkind, located in Friedrichshain. You get free WIFI, a cozy atmosphere, delicious breakfast and many other food options, good coffee, and reasonable prices. A wonderful place to get a few hours’ of work done.
A classic amongst digital nomads in Berlin. Hallesches Haus is located in Kreuzberg and very popular for freelancers. It’s basically a general store, lunchroom and event space in one location. You can pretty much sit, work and eat here all day. But on busy days, laptops are forbidden between 12 and 3 pm to make room for lunch guests, which is fair enough.
The Michelberger Hotel is located right at the Warschauer station in Friedrichshain. The ground floor café is very big so there is plenty of space for you to grab your laptop and get your work done. It’s open to hotel guests and visitors alike. There is also a restaurant inside. You can get snacks, and in summer you can enjoy working in the lovely courtyard.
Best ways to socialize as a Digital Nomad in Berlin
As I’ve mentioned before, Berlin is a digital nomad hub. But since the city is so big, how do you meet your fellow nomads and connect? Here are the best options to meet like-minded people:
As said before, there are more than 70 coworking spaces in Berlin. Many of them offer communal events, too, for members and sometimes even for visitors. Plenty of opportunities to make friends.
If you have been following me for a while you know that I love Meetups. You will find a group of like-minded people in every city with this great platform. Simply register for free and look for whatever you are interested in:
- Interest groups, e.g. Yoga in Berlin, or Vegan Get-Together,
- Business groups, e.g. Tech StartUp Berlin or Berlin Entrepreneurs,
- Socializing groups, e.g. Berlin LGBT Club or Berlin Social Activities,
- Nomad or Expat groups, e.g. Remote Work or Berlin Expat Meetup
Freelance Friday is a Meetup group, too. Once a month freelancers, remote workers, entrepreneurs, and other creative minds come together to connect and work. You meet at changing coworking spaces, spend an hour or so in the morning to chat and get to know each other and then spend the day working. This also means you can explore some of the best coworking spaces of Berlin for FREE. Double win!
InterNations is a great platform to meet other internationals or locals with global minds. They are in 420 cities worldwide, Berlin being one of them. You can register for free but need to upgrade to take advantage of all of the services, e.g. chatting with others or participating in one of the many events they organize in Berlin.
The classic. No matter where in the world you are, there are Facebook groups to connect with like-minded people. In Berlin, you can check out groups like Digital Nomads Berlin, ask in general Digital Nomad groups, like Female Digital Nomads, if anyone is currently in Berlin and wants to hang out or look for interest- or business-related groups, such as Tech & Startup Events Berlin, to connect with others.
For more ideas on how to make friends as a digital nomad, check out the linked list to give you many inspirations.
Best places to eat in Berlin
Since Berlin is so international, you will find pretty much any cuisine from around the world here (and sooo many vegan options – it’s literally vegan paradise!) That means there are thousands of food options in Berlin and I can impossibly give you a proper insight. That’s why I’m only listing the must-do classics in Berlin:
- Markthalle Neun: A very popular market hall located in Kreuzberg with many different food vendors and shops. Get delicious food, great wine and enjoy occasional community events.
- Thaipark: Fancy some Asian food? The food you can get in the popular Thaipark might be the most authentic Thai food you can get in Germany. It’s located in Wilmersdorf and open during the summer months so you can grab your favorite Thai street food and eat it while chilling in the sun.
- Mustafa’s Kebap: Legend has, the (Turkish) Döner Kebap was invented in Berlin. True or not, you need to have one. Berlin without Döner is not complete. Although you can get them at every corner, Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap in Kreuzberg is probably the most popular one with people lining up here day and night.
- Curry 36: Another classic in Berlin: Currywurst. Again, you can get them from anywhere but one of the most famous places is Curry 36. They have 4 locations all over Berlin and even offer a vegan Currywurst!
Let’s have a look at all of the other important things you need to know as a digital nomad in Berlin.
If you are a digital nomad and are going to stay for a few weeks or months only, you don’t necessarily have to learn German. Most Germans (especially the younger Generations) can speak English. Plus, there are so many internationals in Berlin, you will find all kinds of languages here. I’ve even been to cafés in this city where waiters speak English only.
The only times when German might be needed is when it comes to official paperwork stuff, like signing a long-term tenancy agreement or registering your residency. I believe that many of the forms and contracts are in German without English versions.
Being a digital nomad in Berlin you obviously need to have internet. Before you move in somewhere, make sure the internet is included. If your new temporary place does not have internet available, you could set it up yourself. This will usually be around EUR 20-30 per month for a 16Mbits/s connection with unlimited data.
But be aware: Setting it up can easily take up a couple of weeks and most providers only offer 12- or 24-months contracts. Not very nomad-friendly. So try to find a place where it’s connected already.
As for the mobile internet: If your phone is unlocked, get a local SIM card. There are many providers to choose from. Please note that you have to provide an address and your passport ID to get your pre-paid card registered. You don’t need to be registered at the address, though. Your hotel would work, too.
The three major telco providers, Vodafone, Telecom and O2, have many pre-paid SIM card options. However, resellers like Aldi Talk or Blau Surf, can be cheaper. Here you can get 2 GB for EUR 7.99. You can also buy this card and recharge vouchers at any Aldi store, which makes it very easy.
Extra tip: If you are only going to stay for a few days and want to explore other countries in Europe, too, you might be better off with a global hotspot, such as Skyroam.
This device doesn’t need local SIM cards but works from almost any country in the world without changing any settings – super easy and hassle-free. This hotspot can give secure and fast WIFI to up to 10 devices, such as smartphones, tablets or laptops.
In my experience, Berlin is safe. I go out and use public transport or walk home after dark all the time and have never experienced any difficulties. There’s also a big LGBT community in Berlin and people are very open. Especially during the day, you shouldn’t experience any safety issues.
But it is true, that Berlin is not as safe as it used to be. The quickly growing number of population and the multiculturalism brings its challenges. As in most big cities in the world, you have to be careful with things like pickpocketing in public transport or getting your drink spiked in clubs and bars.
A few places are commonly known as popular spots for drug dealers and trouble makers, such as Görlitzer Park, Kottbusser Tor, Nollendorfplatz, or Warschauer Brücke. During the day, these places are absolutely fine. But I wouldn’t feel very comfortable walking there as a girl alone in the middle of the night. When in doubt, better take a cab.
This is something even Germans complain about: Many places in Berlin don’t accept payments with debit or credit cards. Cash only! Maybe it’s because these places desperately try to stay alternative or avoid the mainstream, maybe because they don’t want to pay any fees for card reading devices – who knows. But make sure you always bring some cash with you when going to a small café or restaurant.
Apart from that, you will find ATMs all over town. Some supermarkets, such as Rewe or Penny, also offer cash withdrawal services: If you buy something for at least 10 or 20 Euro and pay with your debit card, you can withdrawal money from your account and get the cash from the cashier.
Yes, Berlin is very popular for its clubbing scene. It’s ever-changing and ever-growing. Although you will find clubs for literally any music genre, techno and electro are particularly popular. Many of these are located in Mitte, Kreuzberg, and Friedrichshain.
They are also notorious for a very strict door policy. So be prepared for being denied because the bouncer doesn’t like the way you laugh.
This list will give you a selection of popular clubs in Berlin playing electronic music. Just to give you an impression, here are some of the most popular ones:
aka The Church of Techno. Berghain is one of the most famous clubs worldwide. The best DJs blast their best tunes on the best sound system every Friday until Monday morning. Located in an abandoned power plant this massive temple is a world on its own. The unique energy surely gives you a once in a lifetime experience.
But be aware: Since everyone wants to get it, the door is extremely harsh. Don’t come in big groups, don’t wear your best clothes, don’t be overly excited, don’t take photos like a tourist. Stay discrete.
Yes, KitKat is very popular and yes, it is a sex club. But not in terms of a swinger club. You can also just dance all night and that’s it. Just enjoy the vibe and music, peace, and love. But be prepared to see weird fetishes, bizarre outfits, and, obviously, people making out and having sex right next to you. Another once in a lifetime experience.
The door is not as strict here as in Berghain but only if you are willing to show skin. You won’t be able to get in wearing long jeans and a shirt. Now it’s time for your fancy underwear!
Yet another techno temple. And probably the biggest and most respected one. Tresor is, similar to Berghain, located in an abandoned power plant which means this place is huge. There are several dance floors and a massive outside area. Friendly ravers dance the night (or weekend) away to the finest techno in amazing acoustics.
The door policy is similar to Berghain. Try to be as Berlin as possible (means: be a hipster). It also doesn’t hurt to bring someone who speaks German as they are not too crazy about having the place full of selfie-taking tourists.
Just in case you don’t feel like electronic music, Hafenbar in Mitte is something totally different and might be a good option. This is probably the oldest bar in Berlin, playing fun and casual party music. Be aware: Fridays are German Schlager only! International music is played on Saturday, so is karaoke. Dress code is rather casual and the door is by far not as strict as in other locations.
Berlin for Digital Nomads and Expats – Are you ready?
Oh boy, that digital nomad guide to Berlin got a bit longer than expected. So in case you are still with me – well done! ;) I hope this article helps you a bit plan and organize your stay in the popular digital nomad hub. I’m sure you will enjoy your stay in this bustling, international, yet down-to-earth city. It’s a great experience spending a summer in Berlin that you surely won’t regret!
If you liked this guide and are looking for more similar ones, check out my digital nomad guide to Valencia, Spain!
In case you have any questions left, feel free to ask anytime! Or have you ever been to Berlin? What are your thoughts on the city?