It is a fact: Berlin is still one of the top budget destinations in Europe. The German capital has a lot to offer with its touching history, diverse neighborhoods, affordable food and accommodation options. Not to mention the infinite nightlife choices. Although prices have consistently risen in the last years (especially for the locals), Berlin has a plethora of activities and attractions that are totally free of charge! So it was only natural that we dedicated some time to give you tips for enjoying Berlin for free!
In fact, there are so many free-of-charge activities that we decided to publish this article in two parts!
Most of the places are more enjoyable in the warmer seasons, when people spend their spare time in the parks and lakes all over the city and take advantage of the late sunsets. However, in the colder months, Berlin offers plenty of nice indoor activities as well.
The first and most basic thing you will need is to maintain high levels of nutrients in your body (also known as getting food). And in Berlin you can get some for free! This precious tip came to us by The Secret City Travel: The awesome Foodsharing project redistributes produce and prepared food that is wasted by residents, restaurants and catering services. Find the food “redistribution popup spots” on the Foodsharing map.
Now that your belly is full, you need to get around to enjoy the city, right? You may have a false impression that the public transport is free of charge, because there are no ratchets in the metro and train stations in Berlin. But you are completely wrong! Passengers found without or with an expired/invalid ticket are fined 60 euros! So don’t be a Schwarzfahrer!
The fastest, cheapest, healthiest and eco-friendliest means of transport is cycling. The city is very flat and there are dedicated bike lanes in almost all of the main streets. And you can get a bike for free to commute easily around town: BikeSurf is a bicycle sharing project, enabling free trust based bike borrowing. Choose the type of bike you want, book it for the period you will be in Berlin, wait for their confirmation and pick it up on the designated location. And make sure to take it back at the end of your borrowing period!
However, if you are not into biking, you can just walk, which is, par excellence, the cheapest way to get around! And why not join a free walking tour guided by locals? You will certainly see the city from a more intimate perspective. Sandeman’s NewEurope takes you around some of the most emblematic city landmarks, in tours of 2.5h, and Alternative Berlin Tours does more “alternative” tours, passing by multiculti neighborhoods, like Kreuzberg and Neukölln, artists squats, urban farms and daytime raves. The tours run daily at 11h and at 13h, for a duration of 3 hours. Both tours are tip-based, so you pay what you want!
Biking or simply walking, you will be able to admire some of the best street art murals in Berlin, including artworks of the Brazilian twins osgemeos and of the French multimedia-artist JR. Known as the world’s longest open-air gallery, the East Side Gallery is a 1.3 Km stretch of the original Berlin Wall that was used by more than 100 artists to showcase their art.
Street art is a serious thing in Berlin and there is even a museum dedicated to it, powered by the Urban Nation collective project, the Museum for Urban Contemporary Art. This museum is located in an Wilhelminian-era building in Schöneberg and the entrance is obviously FREE.
It will not cost you a thing to explore the city’s abandoned structures. Many of the abandoned facilities are located in areas of the former East Berlin, like the Königin-Elisabeth-Hospital, the Pankow Schwimmhalle, the former Iraqi Embassy and many, many other places.
In the warmer season, spending time picnicking in a park is a must. Berlin’s parks are also perfect for a stroll during the autumn foliage season (October/November). Tiergarten, Schlosspark Charlottenburg and Tempelhofer Feld are among our favorites. Check our top 10 parks list here. Furthermore, summer is the lake season and Berlin has many lakes where taking a dip is free of charge!
Regardless the time of the year, enjoying the colors of the sunset is always a delight. Pick one of our best sunset spots here.
Another outdoor activity: Sports. A lot of parks and squares around the city have table tennis spots. Find them at the Ping Pong Map. Besides table tennis, many parks, like Mauerpark, Monbijoupark or Volkspark Friedrichshain, has gym equipment that you can use for free to keep improving your pull up series – even when you are away from home!
Many of the Berliner attractions can be visited for free. The Reichstag Dome, by the famed British architect Norman Foster, is open to the public. You just need to book a visit on their website and take you passport with you! The German Parliament also has exhibition halls that can be visited free of charge!
On the other side of the Brandenburg Gate, the Holocaust Memorial and its permanent exhibition on the information center, located on the underground level, is definitely worth a visit. Cross Ebertstrasse, where you should find the Memorial to Homosexuals persecuted under Nazism. It is a concrete block, designed by Elmgreen and Dragset, where you can watch touching images of same sex couples kissing displayed on a screen. Both memorials are accessible 24 hours a day.
On Unter den Linden, next to the area where the City Palace is being rebuilt, the Humboldt Box is an information center, with temporary exhibitions. It also delivers stunning views from its rooftop of the Lustgarten, the Berliner Dom and the TV Tower.
The Tieranatomisches Theater (Veterinary Anatomy Theater) is the oldest academic building in Berlin. The theater was converted into an experimental exhibition space. It is a very “instagrammable” spot in Berlin and can be visited for free! And the building is surrounded by some pretty grassy areas for picknicks and general afternoon chilling among the University folk.
Berlin is a feast for Cold War History aficionados and many of the most interesting sites have free entrance: the Wall Memorial on Bernauerstrasse, the Topographie des Terrors, the former Stasi prison at Hohenschönhauser, the Allied Museum and the Tränenpalast (Palace of Tears), on the grounds of the Friedrichstrasse train station. There are also permanent exhibitions about the everyday life during the GDR times at the Museum in der Kulturbrauerei and even an apartment in a Plattenbau building, the Plattenbau-Museumswohnung, on the eastern neighborhood of Hellersdorf, that was left untouched since the fall of Wall and can be visited on Sundays!
The three Soviet memorials, where fallen soldiers were buried, can be also visited for free. The most known of them is located at Treptower Park. You can find a second one in the northern district of Pankow, at Schönholzer Heide, and a third one in Tiergarten.
That should be enough for you to get started on your free of charge Berlin explorations, but we do have quite a few more tips. Find them HERE.
*Article written by Domingos Lepores and edited by Tulio Edreira.