What is better for students than a city that does free sightseeing tours and absolutely crazy night life? Last summer I took a trip to the German city and had one of the best breaks of my life.
Berlin is one of the easiest places to navigate round due to its great transport system, so nowhere is too far to get to. There is also a huge amount to do and see, no matter what your interests. First stop: the Zoo and Aquarium. You don’t have to be a kid at heart to enjoy this super cheap zoo (and it’s huge). Next off you can take a free guided tour around the city from Brandenburg Gate. A huge hit with tourists, the friendly guides (usually backpackers themselves) show you around all the historical must-sees and only for a small tip! You will see everywhere worth seeing- the Cathedral, Holocaust Memorial, the Reichstag and of course the Berlin Wall, which you can later navigate back to yourself if you want to check out the inside. Another golden place you mustn’t miss is the graffiti covered Kunst Tacheles. A truly iconic abandoned shopping centre full of aspiring artists (most squatting there) selling and showing their incredible art. Unfortunately whenever someone visits they hear of its plan to be demolished soon, so who knows how much longer it has left.
Night life in Berlin is incredible. Never have I been somewhere with such a varied selection of bars. Highly recommended is The Alternative Bar Crawl. This left from our hostel in Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz and went to places you never would have found by yourself, including a bar owned by Rammstein, an absinth bar (if you’re lucky a local might even show you how to do it properly, but don’t expect to be very sober afterwards) and my favourite was Dr Pongs, a bar in the middle of a run-down street. It’s bordered up but inside holds the liveliest environment. You loan out a ping pong bat for 5€ and everyone plays around-the-world all at the same time!
Berlin is one of those places you can just grab a map and explore. Definitely a city worth heading for.
To many, especially students, Amsterdam is most notably associated with its very laid-back coffee shop culture and its infamous yet sinister red light district. Of course to some this is the focal part of the attraction, yet, as a student who has travelled there four times this year, I genuinely believe that as creative, innovative young people who have thirst for new experiences; we should step into the unknown and explore the many hidden secrets that Amsterdam has to offer.
For a start, the best and most enjoyable way to travel around Amsterdam is definitely by bike. Proximities decrease in a geographical yet physical type of time space compression, in which we are able to divulge deeper into different areas of Amsterdam in a much shorter period time.
However almost disappointingly, many of those who do visit Amsterdam tend to stay in the lovely – but rather commercialized Central area. Yet by travelling a few miles out of the core into the suburbs, a contrasting type of Amsterdam can be discovered. De Pijp is an area outside of the centre that has even more to offer than the hustle and bustle of the inner core. Walking through the market and indulging in the different types of stalls that De Pijp market has to offer was a surprisingly refreshing experience after a morning in the Centre.
For me, one of the best aspects about travelling to Amsterdam so frequently is the sense of exploration. Knowing that with the access of a bike, different journeys and adventures are so easily accessible due to Amsterdam’s rather flat topography. Allowing yourself to get lost and experiencing different areas can lead to the most wonderful discoveries. Obviously, for the first time Amsterdam explorer there are some necessities that need to be conquered- canal tours, museum visits (Van Gough in particular), trips to Vondel Park and so on. But, for returning visitors, exploring that little further out can have some very fun and eclectic outcomes.
Jessica Osborne Lax
Barcelona. Tapas, Paella, Sangria and Fiestas. Sound good? There’s more. Capital of Catalonia and the second biggest city in Spain, Barcelona is a vast playground for the student traveller. It is also perfect for someone on a budget as the city itself is beautiful and affordable.
Known as one of the capital cities of modernism, the architecture is amazing. I will say one word, Gaudi. Walking around the streets of Barcelona you cannot fail to stumble across some of his amazing work and it’s so unusual that you can just stand in the street and check it out without having to pay to go in!
Once you get right into the city, there are lots of things to do that don’t stretch a budget but still give you a full flavour of Barcelona. Las Ramblas is the heaving market street where you can buy anything from pet turtles to fresh produce. Walk down the open street and check out the entertainers, then head into the undercover food terrace to grab something to eat. Once the hustle and bustle gets too much, visit Parc de Ciutadella nearby for amazing fountains, plenty of grass for essential sunbathing and even a giant mammoth statue as a perfect photo opportunity.
For those of you looking for a bit more culture fear not, you don’t have to crack out the big bucks to add a bit of sophistication to your travels. In the Jaume I metro area the Picasso Museum is tucked away, and for under 25’s the concession is a mere 6€. The exhibit shows Picasso from the beginning and guides you all the way through to his most iconic works. While you’re in the area, check out the Gothic Quarter for some more architecture and good souvenir shops for all your touristy tack!
Nightlife is simple; go wherever you hear music and people! There are a lot of places off Las Ramblas but be careful as there are a lot of pickpockets around because it gets so busy. When going down some of the smaller roads, make sure not to make too much noise as the locals do like to surprise rowdy tourists with buckets of water over the balconies, just for fun! If you’re staying in a hostel definitely go on the pub crawl if you can because it’s a good place to start to work out where is good.
These are really only just a few things to do in Barcelona, it really is a city to be explored so make sure you get your cringey tourist map and taste a bit of Catalonia!