Cheap pleasures

free things in Berlin

I know what you’re thinking: Berlin is a city that has everything. Berlin has magic, has freedom but most of all; Berlin has gentrification. Like many of the cities we learn to love, it is slowly getting ruined by capitalism, and therefore we must provide a list of free things in Berlin.

Germany’s capital used to be cheap, and, unfortunately, that isn’t the case anymore. But there are ways around the expensive restaurants with mediocre food, the ultra hipster bars with späti bier for 3x more.

But you’ve already seen the famous sights and been to all the clubs, haven’t you? And in case you didn’t, the internet is full of recommendations for the basic-bitch Berlin experience.
Here we’ll keep it simple: everywhere we know that you can get away without paying, we’ll include it in the list.

So how do you fill your days in an exciting (and free) way? Well, by saving this post in your bookmark and your heart.




Starting with the basics: the Reichstag dome

The Reichstag building is the home of the German parliament and one of the most beautiful buildings in Berlin. According to yours truly? Yes. But you’ll agree once you see it from the outside and inside.

The dome offers stunning views of the city and access to an exhibition on German history—a lot to see starting from 1871 until today.

It is free to enter, and visitors must book ahead as only a certain number of people are allowed daily. Please mind that sometimes you need to book weeks or months in advance. You can do it by visiting this website.

Berlin’s history is rich and fascinating, and the Reichstag building is one of the best places to learn about. You’ll understand why German history played out the way it did and why this building was a pivot to WWII.

If you’ve never visited the Reichstag building before, bring a camera for some spectacular views of Berlin.

 

Read More: How the Reichstag was the scenario for David Bowie to end the Soviet Union

things to do in berlin fotostrasse - reichstag
free things to do in berlin - Reichstag building
free things to do in berlin - Reichstag building

The Berlin Wall memorial

The Berlin Wall memorial is located at Bernauer Strasse in the district of Mitte, very close to the U-Bahn station of the same name. It’s a museum and memorial to the victims of the Berlin Wall. But it is also where you can hear personal stories from those who suffered under it and some who survived—truly moving.

The original location where this museum stands was part of what used to be a no-go zone between East Germany and West Germany because there were two walls of Berlin. Did you know? One high wall, a death zone, and another wall. If you go to this museum, you will see what it looked like when the Berlin wall was still a thing.

The memorial tells its story through exhibits and photos and by reconstructing what life was like on both sides of this infamous barrier between East Germany (GDR) and West Germany (FRG). You will see how it was then – a death zone filled with elements to prevent anyone from escaping. Sometimes they used barbed wire, but sometimes even mines were placed between the two Berlin walls.

It is one of the many free museums here in the city and deserves mention in this list.

What used to be the border strip between East and West Berlin is now a place of remembrance. And a place of historical importance since it gives you important insights and information about the division of Berlin and the context you need to understand the Iron Curtain and the Cold War.
What used to be the border strip between East and West Berlin is now a place of remembrance. And a place of historical importance since it gives you important insights and information about the division of Berlin and the context you need to understand the Iron Curtain and the Cold War.
The Berlin Wall Memorial, also known in German as Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer, is a mix of monuments and museums commemorating the city's division by the Berlin Wall and the people who died because of it. And we consider it to be the best place to learn about the wall and how it affected the city and the entire continent.

Tempelhof park and the airport

Tempelhofer Park is now a park but used to be an airport. It is today a great place to go for a walk or even to fly your drone for amazing footage. You can also enjoy it as a picnic spot or barbeque area. But back in the old days, this place was very different.

The original Tempelhof Airport, which opened in 1923 and was used by both the Nazis and Soviets during World War II, closed in 2008 after being replaced by Schönefeld International Airport (SXF). We have a few articles explaining some of Tempelhof’s history and pointing out crucial events that marked its history.

Today, the former airport is an urban park with several sections open to the public. The building passengers used for check-in is home to some bars, cafes, and galleries. On the field, you can still see some planes displayed at one end of the park. It is a must in the summer and beautiful during the colder months. Bring a jacket and something to protect yourself from the wind if you’re visiting from October to April. For all the other months, just come with beers, a good mood, and whatever else you want.

I can still remember the first time I was left alone in an office around 4 o’clock in the afternoon. It was summer in 2013 and it was the first time I was working in Berlin.
If you are curious about the video and the pictures here, they were taken with a DJI Mavic Mini 2. I use some camera lens filters to help with brightness and reflection. And don't forget to check the DJI Geo Zone Map whenever you want to fly your drone.
We love taking our cameras to Tempelhofer Feld. There you can see the best sunsets that Berlin has to offer and the fact that the park is famous for people doing sports makes it an even more interesting photography spot.

Sachsenhausen concentration camp

The Sachsenhausen concentration camp was a Nazi concentration camp in Oranienburg, Germany, used primarily for political prisoners from 1936 to the end of the Third Reich in May 1945. Technically this isn’t Berlin, but since it is inside the S-Bahn map and is reachable within a few minutes from the city center, it made the list of free things in Berlin.

The camp was established in 1936, following the closure of the Esterwegen concentration camp. It was located 35 kilometers north of Berlin, which gave it a primary position among the German concentration camps. It is a straight line of S-Bahn from Mitte, and you can get there in just a few minutes. It is a must-visit if you want to understand what happened in Germany in the 30s and 40s.

It is easy to get there, the area is very different from what you usually see in Berlin’s prominent neighborhoods, and the site is well-maintained, with a museum inside. The memorial takes visitors through the camp’s history, from its original purpose as part of Operation T-4 (euthanasia program) to its use during World War II for slave labor. Around there, you can find some interesting abandoned sites that you can visit (at your own risk, of course), and we have written about them already. So it is, in a weird way, 2-in-1 for the list of free things in Berlin.

Another thing is, please check out this link to learn more about what you can expect, and share your experience with us on the Discord channel. We are always curious to see what people feel.

I can still remember the first time I was left alone in an office around 4 o’clock in the afternoon. It was summer in 2013 and it was the first time I was working in Berlin.
North of Berlin, in a city called Oranienburg, is where you can find the Nazi concentration camp known as Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg. It was used, mainly, for political prisoners from 1936 until the end of the Second World War in 1945. Today, the site of the Sachsenhausen camp is open to the public as a memorial and a museum with several buildings still standing and accessible to those who go there.
North of Berlin, in a city called Oranienburg, is where you can find the Nazi concentration camp known as Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg. It was used, mainly, for political prisoners from 1936 until the end of the Second World War in 1945. Today, the site of the Sachsenhausen camp is open to the public as a memorial and a museum with several buildings still standing and accessible to those who go there.

A free walk around Karl Marx Allee

If you’re looking for some cheap entertainment, walk through East Berlin’s Karl Marx Allee.

It was called Stalinaallee in German, which means “Stalin’s Avenue.” Located in the Friedrichshain district of Berlin, this avenue is probably the most important on this side of Berlin. You will feel “I’m in the Soviet Union; it is 1978” when you’re around Friedrichshain, but especially around this area, the feeling will be powerful. The architecture is incredible, and this avenue was used as a film location for many classic series and movies, including Queen’s Gambit, Sense8, Run Lola Run, Goodbye Lenin, and The Life of Others.

After the U-Bahn station of Frankfurter Tor, the avenue changes names, and the imponent architecture slowly fades out and blends with more “normal” Berlin buildings. And it feels like you’re making a journey through time as the stations go by.

If you don’t want to walk for all those kilometers, the U5 takes you along Karl-Marx Allee between Frankfurter Allee and Schillingstraße, following to the far East of the city. You can always get the train if you think it is too far. We strongly recommend taking a bike or simply walking.

 

Read More: The best places to stay in Friedrichshain

I can still remember the first time I was left alone in an office around 4 o’clock in the afternoon. It was summer in 2013 and it was the first time I was working in Berlin.

The bundle of free things in Berlin: Tiergarten Park and everything around it

Tiergarten Park is Berlin’s oldest park and was a royal hunting ground at one time. Today it is a popular place to go for a walk, jog, bike ride, or sunbathe in the nude (really!).

The park is home to the Berlin Zoo and Botanical Garden, but the list doesn’t stop there. You can see the Berlin Victory Column (Siegessäule), Cafe Am Neuen See, The Brandenburger Tor, and Tiergarten is home to countless monuments and statues that are super important to Berlin’s history.

I suggest checking online when it is sunset when you’re in town and make sure you get yourself a table at Cafe am Neuen See near the water for some of the most picturesque experiences you can have in this city. Here’s a spoiler of what you can expect.

When the Victory Column was built on Königsplatz, the area was surrounded by the Generalstabsgebäude, where anything related to the administration of the German Empire was dealt with, and the Kroll Opera House that was torn down for the construction of the Reichstag in the 1880s. In 1895, Wilhelm II ordered the construction of the Siegesallee, and that is how the area looked like for almost forty years.
There are 285 steps to the viewing platform at the Victory Column. You will arrive there a little tired, but the view from the top will take your breath away as well. From there you can see the Brandenburger Tor without anything blocking your way. But the central element here is the Tiergarten! It changes color depending on the time of the year, and it will turn your pictures into works of art.

Street art in Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain (and more!)

Berlin is full of street art. It’s a massive part of the city’s culture and is often political. You’ll find numerous styles around town—you may see stencils on walls, graffiti tags, or murals painted on buildings and walls by artists invited to use them by neighborhood groups.

The best way to get to know Berlin is by walking the streets and letting yourself be surprised by what you see while exploring new neighborhoods. The city has a lot of free tours that will take you through different areas where there are plenty of opportunities for spotting awesome street art and learning more about it from an expert guide!

Those two neighborhoods (Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain) are just the most famous places for street art, but please don’t limit yourself to it. Go around places like Neukölln, Mitte, Charlottenburg, Schöneberg, and others. Ride the subway and spot the pieces on the train walls, enter alleyways searching for art and emerge yourself in the world of street art that berlin has to offer.

Good starting points are RAW Gelände in Friedrichshain, a walk along the river banks in Kreuzberg, or even a visit to the free museum of street art Urban Nation and a long stroll around the area to spot all the cool spots. It is like adding a whole bunch of different art galleries to this list of free things in Berlin.

 

Read More: A tour of Berlin’s underground side

The Haus is Berlin’s newest attraction, and it can only be described as one of these things that only happen in the German Capital. We say this because over 150 artists were invited to turn a disused bank into a temporary gallery for street art. Every room becomes a piece of art, and there are paintings, tags, sculptures and graffiti spread over five floors. But… Everything will only last until demolition day.
Free things to do in Berlin Berlin is known by its street art. Fact. Here you can find everything from Blu to Gemeos, Banksy to Shepard Fairey...Berlin has it all!

Museums – visit the museums that offer free entry.

There are so many that you must try to visit several museums in one day if you want to see them all. Please check here the free museums and make a list on a map so you don’t miss any. Our recommendations are the Russian-German History Museum, Futurium, the Jewish Museum and the Memorial for the murder of the Jews, and the almighty Topography of Terror.

It is an excellent way to save money, especially if you plan and buy the Berlin Welcome Card. This Welcome Card is a special thing for tourists to make the most of their limited time here in the city.

It is important to say that some museums may have special exhibits that cost extra. But they still offer many free events and activities, including concerts, lectures, and workshops. Many of these also occur outside the city center, so it’s another excellent way to get out into nature!

Free things to do in Berlin Berlin is known by its street art. Fact. Here you can find everything from Blu to Gemeos, Banksy to Shepard Fairey...Berlin has it all!
Fotostrasse and the Berlin Wall next to Topography of Terror
During the last century, a lot of history happened in Berlin, and this is why, from time to time, I come across something unexpected in one of my bike rides across the city. During one of this trips, I managed to find myself in the back streets of Karlshorst, looking for a building where the recent history of the world changed. It was in this inconspicuous building that the unconditional surrender of the German Army was signed, marking the end of the Second World War in Europe. Today, this place is the German-Russian Museum.
things to do in berlin fotostrasse - jewish memorial

More Museums – adding paid museums to the list of free things in Berlin

Not everyone knows, but it is possible to visit all museums in Berlin for free – even the paid ones.

Do you want to see Tristan the T-rex without paying the entrance fee? Do you want to see the Pergamon Altar? The Nefertiti? Everything you like?

Every first Sunday of every month, museums are free of charge. All participant museums of Berlin and the surroundings offer the chance for you to visit them without paying a cent. All you need to do is to go to this website and reserve your free ticket. The tickets start “selling” a few days before each first Sunday, so keep this in mind.

We have lived in this city for over ten years and haven’t managed to visit all the museums you can see. But from the ones we did, we can highly recommend a bunch. Start with everything inside the museum island and around this area for sure. Then go to the many palaces berlin has, like Charlottenburg, Köpenick, and others.

To finalize, the incredible Märkisches Museum, where you learn about Berlin since Berlin wasn’t even a city. It is a free chance to add loads of culture and knowledge to your life.

things to do in berlin
free things to do in berlin - Märkisches Museum
@fotostrasse A whole historical building dedicated to tell the good and the bad side of Berlin since before it was the city we know#fotostrasse #tiktokgermany #historytiktok #museum #berlin #berlincity #berlintagundnacht ♬ I Wanna Know You - BLVKSHP
free things to do in berlin - Märkisches Museum
The Charlottenburg Schloss is one of the most famous palaces in Germany and everything there is more than beautiful, but we love to stroll around its garden trying to capture the castle and the lake behind it in a single shot. If you visit the Charlottenburg Schloss in the winter time, you will enjoy it even more due to its great Christmas market!

Sachsenhausen concentration camp

Reichstag

Berlin Wall Memorial

Tempelhofer Park

Karl Marx Allee

Tiergarten Park

RAW Gelände

Urban Nation

Topography of Terror

Jewish Museum

There are a lot of things to do in Berlin for free! Gentrification is a thing, but you can still enjoy many activities without opening your wallet.

Whether you’re looking for something fun to do with friends or want some peace, we hope this list will give you some inspiration.

And also, please keep in mind that this list of free things in Berlin is far from complete. We even have several other articles covering this topic, but it is an excellent start for a short trip. Our goal is to help people fall in love with this town. For this reason, if you need to get in contact to ask something, leave a comment here. Or on any of our social media channels.


If you like what you read here, you should join our Discord channel; there, you will find a place for open discussions about all the themes we talk about here, and it is a free space for you to share your questions, comments and suggestions.

If you are not a fan of the platform, you also can join us on our Facebook group or our Twitter and Instagram. We usually post all the lovely images we see and do there, together with curating the best links of all World Wide Web. No joke!

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