Many Berliners treat clubbing almost as a second job, so, for tourists, going to night clubs is a great way to experience the city's latest music, trends, and fashion on full display. Since clubs come and go almost overnight, it's hard to make specific recommendations, but if you pick up a copy of the English-language Ex-Berliner, you'll find listings for the latest hot spots.
Trip planning:While in other major European capitals you may struggle to find affordable accommodations that aren't either shabby or on the outskirts of town, Berlin has quality, good-value hotels across the price spectrum. For luxury, try the sleek Swissotel Berlin on the Kurfurstendamm (the 5th Avenue of Berlin), the number two best-value hotel in the world according to a Budget Travel-TripAdvisor study. Rates in August start around 124 euros per night. Nearby, the Hotel Otto, a boutique family-run property, offers modern, unpretentious rooms from 80 euros per night. For cheaper, homier lodging, there's the friendly B&B Hotel-Pension Bregenz, also near the Kurfurstendamm, where prices start at 40 euros. Berlin's top-rated budget accommodation on HostelWorld.com, The Circus Hostel, promises hip, spotless digs near Prenzlauerberg and rates as low as 18 euros per person per night.
Early September flights from New York to Berlin start at $604 round-trip, including taxes and fees, on Hotwire.com.
For more trip planning resources, go to the Berlin Tourism Marketing website.
Turquoise Coast, Turkey
You may be priced out of a vacation on the Italian Riviera or the Greek islands, and costs for stays along Croatia's Dalmatian Coast are rising rapidly. However, you can still find bargains along Turkey's Turquoise Coast, a stunning 1,000-mile shoreline that rivals its Mediterranean neighbors for beauty and ancient history, but not for costs.
"The Turkish Mediterranean is one of my favorite places in the world," says RaeJean Stokes, a Program Officer at American Councils for International Education in Washington, D.C, (and former SmarterTravel.com editor) who last visited the region in 2005. "It's laid-back and gorgeous—think azure blue waters and ancient ruins, plus great food, culture, and music. In terms of value for money, Turkey is a no-brainer. It's a steal compared to Western Europe, and even some cities in Eastern Europe." Stokes says the region also differs from other parts of the Mediterranean in terms of cuisine and culture. "Turkish food is like a gift from heaven, in my opinion—it's fresh, local, heavy on eggplant and lamb (two of my favorites) and resplendent with olive oil. And turkey in general offers up a more laid-back vacation due to the country's social and religious mores."
The most interesting part of the coast lies between the cities of Antalya and Dalaman, which both receive regular air and bus service from Istanbul during the summer months. Traveling either East to West or vice versa, you can drive, take buses, or, ideally, sail between the seaside resorts and ancient towns along the coast. Stokes and her husband opted for a four-day gullet sailing cruise between Fethiye (near Dalaman airport) and Olimpos (near Antalya) booked through Fez Travel. Starting at a mere $269 per person today, this all-inclusive trip is a real steal. "Each day we visited a different port, sailing briskly along the lush but rocky Turkish coast and summarily stopping for dips in the clear azure waters," says Stokes.