16 Free Things To Do In Berlin Without Spending A Cent
There's plenty to do and see in the German capital
Berlin is famous for its history, and the city is just littered with famous monuments, museums and breathtaking architecture. As most Berliners are already aware, the city itself is very affordable and the majority of the sights are free to check out. We've put together a list of some of the best sights you can do, absolutely free of charge.
1. Take a free guided tour
Lots of different companies in the city offer free guided tours in Berlin. At the end of the tour, it's courtesy that you give a tip to your guide. This actually works out more affordable, and your guide is working extra hard to make the tour worth your while so you'll give a decent tip!
2. Visit the Sachsenhausen Memorial
Just north of Berlin, one of the first concentration camps to be built on German territory back in 1936 is open to visit for tours. A dark place that allows you to step inside the remains of gas chambers, see the train tracks and the grounds where so many lives ended tragically during WW2.
3. The Holocaust Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
This memorial, finished in 2005 was designed Jewish architect Peter Eisenmann. Some 2,711 large stelae cover a total area of 19,000 metres. The memorial has a small museum underground that tells the story of the holocaust, insight to the Jewish families, read letters between families and a room that speaks the names of the Jewish lives lost.
4. View The City From The Top Of The Reichstag Dome
The Reichstag building is home to the Bundestag, the German government. The building went under huge renovations in recent years with the addition of a glass dome which looks down upon the government proceedings. Pick up a free audio guide on your way in that tells you about the city's surroundings and the Reichstag itself. The view at the top is amazing - you can see the whole city and the architecture is magnificent. Just make sure you book online, print your confirmation and bring your passport as there are strict security rules on the door!
5. Do Some Window Shopping At The Mall of Berlin
This newly built mall features some great shops and places to stop by a grab a bite to eat. it isn't free to shop, but it is definitely free to browse!
6. Indulge yourself at Berlin's Best Foodie Markets
The likes of Markthalle in Kreuzberg offer a Street Food Thursday event with cuisines from all over the world. Indulge in some of the best tacos, rice rolls, burgers and focaccia! Mauerpark in Mitte - this market hosts a flea and food market every Sunday, selling everything from foodie stalls, vinyls, bikes, board games, furniture, clothes and all kinds of junk! During Krenzlauerberg's Kollwitzplatz market takes place every Saturday, offering the best of arts and crafts, seasonal fresh fruits and veg, organic butchers, fish, sweets and lots more homemade goods.
7. Do Your Touristy Thing At The Brandenburg Gate
Though this gate, largely deemed overrated by a lot of people, is actually a very important symbol for Berlin and a landmark for the city. Though there's not much to see at the gate, it is essential you grab a very touristy pic. Free tours will generally start off here, bringing you up to speed on the gate's history and its significance. Just around the corner, you can find the Holocaust museum and the Bundestag, so check it out on your way to either of those.
8. Otto Weidt Museum
You wouldn't see this museum if you were simply passing by. Down a small alleyway in Mitte, there is a small museum dedicated to Otto Weidt, a business owner who employed blind and deaf jews during WW2, protecting them against deportation. Step inside this museum and view Otto's workshop and read more about his story, while a lot of stories from WW2 can be quite grim, this one is a lot more heartwarming.
9. See The Remains of The Berlin Wall
When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, in pure celebration the people of Berlin started to demolish the wall themselves, with some people taking pieces of the wall knowing they would be a strong piece of history in years to come. Luckily, not all of the wall was destroyed and parts around the city remain. The longest remaining strip of the Berlin Wall is at the East Side gallery, down Mühlenstraße, stretching just over a mile long. See the wall and also some of the coolest street art and graffiti, a lot of which is very relevant to events from German history.
10. Check out Museum Island
Visit the northern side of the island, home to 5 Unesco World Heritage museums. The island is located along the river Spree, with some fantastic views to take in. Although the museums aren't free of charge, walking around the island and taking in the views is!
11. Am Gendarmenmarkt
Undoubtedly Berlin's prettiest square, features the old Konzerthaus, German and the French cathedrals, facing each other across the square. The German dom features a historic museum, while the French dom has a restaurant and a viewing tower which you can walk up to for just 2 euro.
12. Take A Look At Some Of Berlin's Best Street Art
With the erection of the Berlin Wall in 1961, many Berliners took to expressing their frustration through modern art. The Hackesher Markt lies in Mitte, down a small alleyway off of Rosenthaler Straße. You could literally pass this by if you didn't know what was down there, but it's totally worth taking a quick stroll down to check it out. It is filled with incredible art that constantly changes, so you can always pop back to see what new stuff has cropped up. This alley is also the location of the Otto Weidt museum we mentioned earlier.
13. Topographie des Terrors
This is a free museum that tells the story of the Third Reich, the Nazi's, on the grounds which once was the headquarters for the SS and next door to the former Luftwaffe HQ. Just beware this tour is very long and involves quite a lot of reading!
14. Checkpoint Charlie
Just down the road from the Topographie des Terros is where what would have been the checkpoint of the Berlin Wall, marking the separation of the East and West side. Though there isn't a whole a lot to see at the actual checkpoint, you can have your photo taken with some actors dressed up in army uniforms at a small hut, made as a replica of the original. However the surrounding area displays a timeline that tells the story and is buzzing with different museums.
15. Sony Centre at Potsdamer Platz
After a huge renovation in 2000, Potsdamer Platz became a central square in Berlin and Sony set up their European HQ here. The architecture is pretty fancy and very urban - by day the square is filled with natural light through the glass roof and by night, it lights up in fluorescent colours. This square boasts great cafes, restaurants, shops, offices, various music museums, a cinema and IMAX theater. Free wi-fi is also provided throughout the square so perfect if you want to catch up with the world!
16. Stroll Around The Tiergarten
This park, the biggest inner city park in Berlin, is a popular spot to catch some fresh air or a bit of exercise! Take a walk, jog, cycle or pedal power taxi (if you're feeling lazy!) around the park. Stop off and see the Neuen See, though it can be very cold in the Winter, in Summer you can sit out and have a picnic or a few cold beers!