15 FREE THINGS TO DO IN BERLIN
Don’t be put off taking a trip to Germany’s capital because you’ve heard it’s a tad on the pricey side, because it’s actually really easy to spend next to nothing on days out in Berlin. We’ve put together 15 of what we think are the best free things to do in the city that will also save you money for beer later...
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1 Walk along the East Side Gallery
The best example of street art in the city is undoubtedly the East Side Gallery. This remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall now acts as a memorial of freedom, where artists and activists have used paintings to express themselves in bold, creative ways. The artwork is pretty incredible and well worth a visit to appreciate the historical importance of the site, too.
2 Pay your respects at the Holocaust memorial
Visit Berlin’s main sight which commemorates the millions of Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust. Comprising of 2,711 blocks of concrete standing parallel to each other in various rows, its sheer simplicity and minimalism is a beautiful tribute to those who suffered most during the Nazi regime. It’s an incredibly moving experience; you can feel a powerful but peaceful atmosphere in the air whilst you’re there. Well worth a visit and a haunting reminder of the past.
3 Free views at the Reichstag Dome
The Reichstag is no doubt one of Berlin’s most well-known landmarks, and you can get to the top for free! Book a slot online well in advance and you will have access to the Reichstag Dome for incredible city views over Berlin and an audio guide will come free with it too. The landmark was the seat of the former German Parliament for years and is within walking distance from both the Holocaust Memorial and the Brandenburg Gate, perfect to fit into your free day of sightseeing.
4 Sing your lungs out a Mauerpark karaoke
Possibly one of the best freebies available in Berlin. In Mauerpark, Sundays are not for putting your feet up. Have a stroll around the flea market to see if you can nab any bargains, and then head to the amphitheatre to watch the brave belt it out in front of hundreds on karaoke (or have a go yourself if you have a song in mind…).
5 Admire the Brandenburg gate
The Brandenburg Gate is one of Berlin’s most iconic monuments - and it’s free to go and see. The majestic classical arch and white pillars form the neo-classical structure that once signified the divide East and West Berlin. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Brandenburg Gate turned to symbolize the unity and peace of the country instead. This is a great place to stop for pictures - and for your first taste of currywurst at one of the stalls (sliced German sausage in a curry-ketchup sauce, usually served with chips or a bun).
6 Check out the street art
Berlin is renowned for its epic graffiti scene and the whole place is plastered in it. New pieces pop up regularly however you can’t miss the classic Cosmonaut mural in Mariannenstrasse which you can easily spot from the U1 subway line. We also love the elephant mural round the back of number 7, Wilhelmstrasse in Kreuzberg which just bursts with colour - definitely worthy of an edgy Insta.
7 Make the most of free Museums
One of the main draws to Berlin is to learn more about its rich history from World War 2 and beyond. There are countless museums to explore however the prices of entry can add up quickly. Free entry to the likes of the Topography of Terror, the Anti-War Museum and the German-Russian museum will provide you with fascinating insights into Germany’s past as well as saving you a few euros.
8 Sit back and relax at a Berlin Philharmonic lunchtime show
The world famous Berlin Philharmonic puts on a free show every Tuesday lunchtime at 1pm making for the perfect break in the middle of a busy day of sightseeing. The venue only holds 1500 people, so you’d need to get there quick to nab that special token. And to those that aren’t such a fan of more symphonic songs, it’s a fact that classical music makes us more brainy, right?
9 Sandemans Free walking tour
There’s nothing better than a free tour when in a foreign city. Our hostels offer a 2 and a half hour Sandemans Free walking tour to all of our guests, guiding you around all of the main attractions of Berlin including the Brandenburg Gate, the Holocaust Memorial, Checkpoint Charlie and Pariser Platz. Sign up for free at the hostel reception to get on one of Sandemans daily tours that leave from the Starbucks in front of the Brandenburg Gate. Just be sure to give your guide a tip at the end.
10 Don’t miss Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie is the name given to the crossing point between West and East Berlin. You may find it a little gimmicky with the dressed up soldiers and props. However, looking past that, the barriers to the crossing are 100% real and it is now a popular tourist attraction that is absolutely free to go and visit.
11 Take a leisurely stroll down Landwehr Canal
Give yourself a break from the hustle and bustle of Berlin’s main sights and head down to the Kreuzberg district for a long, relaxing stroll along Landwehr Canal which cuts right through the heart of the city. On a warm, bright day, crack open a beer and bask in the sun on the bank of the River Spree. Often you can find markets at points along the canal, such as the popular Turkish market on Tuesdays and Fridays along the Maybachufer embankment where you can pick up delicious food and treats that are easy on the wallet.
12 Hackescher Hofe courtyards
Wander through the 8 interconnected courtyards in Berlin’s central district, Mitte. The picture-perfect Art Nouveau facade is one of the area’s main attractions, not to mention all the irresistible boutique shops and cafes. The Hackescher Hofe courtyards are a hub of activity for shoppers, coffee lovers, art buffs and even an amazing night out, but it is also a beautiful place to visit for free to take plenty of photos and just to soak up the atmosphere.
13 Stroll the city parks and gardens
Escape from the city madness and find serenity at one of Berlin’s many green spaces which, of course, won’t cost you a cent! Brighten your day with a trip to the Charlottenburg Palace gardens’ beautifully laid out beds of flowers, or simply enjoy a relaxing afternoon off, sprawled on the greens of Berlin’s huge Tiergarten park. In the parks further out of the city centre like Grunewald Forest, you might even spot some wild pigs.
14 Wander the markets
It wouldn’t be a trip to any European city without checking out at least one of the many markets on offer, and the best thing about them is that you don’t have to spend a thing if you’re just window shopping. We recommend Markthalle Neun in Kreuzberg for foodies, especially on a Thursday when there’s a popular street food event on to grab a yummy dinner for cheap - better yet make the most of some complimentary samples. Or head to Strasse des 17 Juni, a flea market by the Tiergarten for vintage souvenirs and old-school crafts every weekend from 10am until 5pm.
15 Take a dip
Go with the locals and cool off on a hot summer’s day in one of Berlin’s lakes. The city’s largest lake Muggelsee will take you slightly out of the city centre but its pretty woodland walks down to the sandy edge will make it worth that little extra effort. Krumme Lake, just by Grunewald Forest, is a definite contender for Berlin’s most idyllic lake. Head here for a swim and sunbathe in the summer but make sure you pack a picnic as there are no shops on hand. There’s no better way to spend a day (spending nothing) in Berlin!
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Article by Darcy King