The most intriguing allure of the German capital, Berlin, may be that it is so different from the rest of the country. For many, the city stands as almost an island in the nation, culturally set apart from not only the German ethos but also unlike any other place in Europe.
If you wish to explore the alternative heartbeat of the city, here are some tips.
The Street Art Capital of Europe
Booking in to any of the city’s modern youth hostels makes an excellent starting point. The alternative culture of Berlin is but one facet of this complex metropolis. The best hostels capture a more mainstream ethos and the budget experience need not be a compromise on quality, yet they will set you right in the centre of a thriving hub of alternative living. On the surface, this aspect is perhaps best exemplified through the street art. From Kreuzberg to Alexanderplatz, there is no shortage of buskers, street-performers, galleries and independent artists’ studios closeted away in niches or on display in squares. Few cities in Europe can match this commitment to alternative expression, and the best establishments pride themselves on creating a truly immersive experience for the visitor.
A Performance Tour
One of the great benefits of staying in one of the youth hostels in Berlin is the connections you can forge. Often staffed by locals who are part of the network of alternative social groups of the city, they are a wealth of information just waiting to be tapped into. For example, many hostels run alternative tours or offer free entry into niche bars and performance spaces. You can discover hidden pockets of art, comedy, music, dance and philosophical discussion, with a distinct underground flavour, that you might not easily stumble across on your own.
Like other European capital cities, Berlin draws young people in droves for its eclectic nightlife. Thousands of travellers come every month to experience the bars, restaurants, theatres, music halls, and clubs that have infiltrated so many city streets and suburban enclaves. Knowing where to go and what special events are on can be hard for a tourist, but the youth hostels offer an easy and safe base to delve in to the most innovative and niche nightlife scenes in the world.
An alternative to the alternative
A key to the appeal of alternative culture anywhere is its ability to shape-shift. Ideas and trends are forever being challenged, renewed, and recycled and many people seek to find an alternative to the prevalent alternative culture! Berlin has a breathtaking array of evolving cultures to explore on the doorstep of the excellent youth hostels, and from permaculture tours to clandestine candle-lit book clubs, there’s enough to keep you busy for weeks.