You maybe heard the phrase The best things in life are free and you probably think that Berlin is the best city in the world, right? We thought it would be fun to combine the two in one post. This is a compilation of free things to do in Berlin that you can do at any time, any day and during any season! Well, most of the activities are available 365 days/year, but a few are seasonal.
As a tourist, it makes most sense to visit Berlin at least 4 times: one time for the free things to do in the Spring, another time for the free things to do in the Winter, a third time for the Summer and finally, a fourth and final time for the free things to do in the Fall. But, if you are based in Berlin, as we are, you should try to explore the city, one place per week.
The past, the future and the history of Treptower Park
I don’t know how many times we have to say it, but please, go to Treptower Park and the largest Soviet Memorial outside of the former URSS! This is one hell of a surprising thing here in Berlin. It is massive and impressive. And usually, it is not even in the covered area of most tourist maps.
The Soviet Memorial in Treptow is a massive war memorial and military cemetery in Berlin’s Treptower Park. It was built to commemorate 5,000 of the 80,000 Soviet soldiers who fell in the Battle of Berlin in April–May 1945. Soviet War Memorial Treptow is on Puschkinallee, just take this avenue direct from the exit of Treptower Park Sbahn Station.
And since one of our mottos is “Yes, there is life beyond the RingBahn”, I will extend myself and recommend a stroll around Treptow as a neighbourhood. It is a quiet East-Berlin neighbourhood filled with life and impressive mansions and houses.
Check out the Holocaust Memorial
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, also known as the Holocaust Memorial, is one of the many memorials in Berlin to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. And it is for sure a must-see when in Berlin.
According to the artist responsible for the project, the concrete stelae were designed to produce a confusing and unsettling atmosphere. The whole sculpture represents an ordered system that has lost touch with human reason. Walking around and inside this Memorial gives you an uneasy feeling of hopelessness and loss, not knowing where you are and how to get out. It’s hard for us to believe, but this monument was only open to the public in 2005. Today is one of the important places to visit in town and understand more of history. And there’s a free museum there too, but please get there early, or you’ll have to endure the long lines.
Do your own art gallery tour through Mitte
Auguststrasse is famous for the amount of art galleries on its street. Some charge entrance fees, but most are free. A few months ago, we did a post about Martin Schoeller at CWC Gallery, one of the many galleries on Auguststrasse.
Please make sure to venture beyond Auguststrasse, because Mitte is full small, adorable galleries and art shops! Explore!
Experience Thailand without leaving Berlin
Every weekend, you can go to Preußenpark and find the unique food stands during the summer. Preußenpark is often referred to as “Thai Park”.
The park is filled with little Thai mamas cooking on blankets in the grass; it’s like a taste of Bangkok without the beautiful temples. You can find everything over there, from fried grasshoppers, fried squid and other unusual foods to the usual summer rolls and sticky mango rice.
A massive chunk of the park gets filled with several vendors selling foods and drinks while Berliners enjoy the lazy Sundays laying down on the grass with friends.
In the past, you could only find Thai and Vietnamese delicacies. Still, nowadays, you can enjoy your Pho Bo with a colossal strawberry caipirinha made by a Portuguese person that has never been to Brazil. It is great!
Read more: Where to stay in Berlin
Support the local street art scene
Berlin is known by for its street art. Fact: In Berlin you can find street art created by everyone from Blu to Gemeos, Banksy to Shepard Fairey… Berlin has it all! And it includes several street art meetups like this one we went in the Winter of 2014.
You can see it on these city buildings, you can touch it on the city walls. Check out neighborhoods like Mitte, Kreuzberg, Prenzlauer Berg, Neukölln. Go out, explore the city. Pay attention to the light poles, to the building walls, up, down, left and right. Berlin is full of it!
Go listen to some free street music
Warschauer Brücke, Admiral Brücke, Mauerpark, several Ubahn stations, Alexanderplatz and the Turkish Market at Maybachufer are the best options for you to find a really nice and impressive street show. Don’t forget to tip if you like the performance and have the extra change.
Climb one of Berlin’s highest “mountains”
Like we mentioned here, the Flakturm (or Flak Tower in English) is a must-see place during your Berlin visit. You can choose to do the paid tour that will take you inside and explain everything or you can just go to the top of it and have one of the most amazing views of the city! Totally worth it!
And if you have no idea if what a Flakturm is, here is a brief intro: Flak towers (or in German: Flaktürme) were 8 complexes of gigantic, above-ground, anti-aircraft gun blockhouse towers constructed in the cities of Berlin, Hamburg and in Vienna from 1940 onwards. Of those 8, 3 towers were here in Berlin, 2 in Hamburg and Vienna had the last 3.
Those towers were mainly used by the Luftwaffe, or the German Air Force if you want in English, to defend the cities against Allied air raids during the war. They also served as air-raid shelters for tens of thousands of people and to coordinate air defence. A fun fact about the Flak Towers in Berlin is that they were so huge and strong, that they could not destroy all 3 towers.
Now go and climb a real mountain.
Just Kidding; Berlin has no mountains! Are you crazy?!?! Well, Arkenberge may be a garbage disposal site, but it’s Berlin’s highest point! And trust me, the smell is entirely tolerable! But please hurry up! Money-hungry real estate capitalists are trying to turn it into a fancy ski run. But if you don’t care about this, you can wait until they turn it into a fancy ski run and pay to go there!
Read more: Over 1000 hotels in Berlin for you
Walkthrough the Topography of Terror
This place may be located in one of the most boring areas of Berlin (around Checkpoint Charlie), but it provides lots of fun. We recommend the Topography of Terror far more than Checkpoint Charlie. Here’s why: Checkpoint Charlie is a big NO-NO. The Topography of Terror is a great history museum of the former Gestapo and SS headquarters. If you want to learn more about the Third Reich and WWII, this is the place to go!
Free things to do in Berlin: Get your free beer
If you find an empty beer bottle you can return it to many supermarkets or kiosks and get 8 cents in return for it. You can buy beer in supermarkets for as little as 20 cents. Do the math!
Hackescher Markt’s street art alley
A bit full of tourists; nevertheless, cool as hell! And if you go, do not forget to pop into the Otto Weidt Museum. It is the former workshop of a citizen hero who helped protect deaf and blind people during WWII. The Museum helps you restore faith in humankind.
Lose yourself to the timeless beauty and the stunning architecture of Museum Island
At the end of Spree Island sits the world-famous Museum Island, which comprises five unique museums – Neues Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie, Pergamonmuseum, Bodemuseum and Altes Museum.
The island is one of the many Unesco World Heritage sites. Go for it! It is a must see. At the same time, you’ll need to pay to enjoy the museums and see the incredible artefacts within; strolling around the island to take in the magnificent architecture costs you nothing.
Also, you should try to find the empty pedestal for Jenny Holzer’s Men Don’t Protect You Anymore that we wrote about.
Kunstquartier Bethanien is now one of the most important cultural centres in the city. Several artists and music studios are part of it today, but several years ago the place was a hospital and for a few years even a squatted building!
Check out Berlin’s cheap as f*ck Vietnamese mall
As a Brazilian from São Paulo, I have to use this reference: It is the Berlin version of 25 de Março. If you’re not Brazilian or have never been to Brazil, allow me to explain it in a different way: The Dong Xuan Center is a massive warehouse compound filled with Asian gadgets, comical (sometimes shabby) products, food and much more. All that with the delightful smell of pho. Insiders tip: go with one of those big Ikea bags if you’re planning to buy useless stuff and weird food!
Deutsch für Dich is one of the most unique ideas ever! It is free german classes in a bar. Brilliant! On the link, you can find the timetables, and you need to join the level you think you belong to! If you want to learn German for free, we have some tips for you here.
Free museums for everybody!
Almost all of Berlin’s regional museums, memorial sites, historical museums and some other art collections offer free entry for everyone! Education is free in Berlin! Click here to see which of the museums are kostenlos.
SPOILER: The German-Russian Museum Berlin-Karlshorst is free! And you’ve already read on our blog how amazing it is.
Besides that, the paid museums sometimes offer a free admission option.
- Akademie der Künste (Pariser Platz and Hanseatenweg): First Sunday of the month.
- Nikolaikirche – Stadtmuseum Berlin: First Wednesday of the month.
- Bröhan-Museum: First Wednesday of the month.
- Märkisches Museum – Stadtmuseum Berlin: First Wednesday of the month.
- Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin: On Monday.
- Domäne Dahlem: First Wednesday of the Month (Museum).
Go and check out the East Side Gallery
A memorial full of colors and art to celebrate freedom! The East Side Gallery sits along Berlin’s most famous river (the Spree), and it is the longest remaining section of the Berlin Wall at its original location. Shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, 100+ artists from all over the world turned it into an open-air gallery covered in declarations of peace and other, often politically minded murals. In my humble opinion this is the best mural:
Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp in Oranienburg
Sachsenhausen is a bit outside Berlin , but not too far for an enriching and free activity. It is fairly easy to reach by S-bahn and they offer guided tours in German and English. If you are there, you can even try to visit the infamous SS Brotfabrik close by.
Spend a few minutes staring at the grandiose Brandenburg Gate
The Brandenburg Gate is without a doubt Berlin’s most iconic landmark! It is on most postcards and in more than 50% of any Google image search about Berlin. The Brandenburg Gate is a site you must stand in front of in real life.
It was built in 1791 as the royal city gate, but spent the Cold War years really close to the Berlin Wall limits, becoming a symbol of the divided nation. Adorned by a detailed sculpture of the winged goddess of victory piloting a chariot, it is now the symbol of a reunified Germany.
Chill out at Tempelhofer Feld or any of the wonderful parks
BBQ, flying kites, swimming, jogging, sleeping, tanning, community gardening… Berlin park’s have it all. Read about our favorite parks and choose the best one for you!
Free things to do in Berlin: Reichstag’s glass dome
It is 100% free of charge to enter the glass dome of the Reichstag, but you will need to present your passport upon entry and book your visit days in advance. Or, you can wait in the 1000km line which snakes across the street. Your call.
Slide away in Viktoriapark
Viktoriapark is located in Kreuzberg. Kreuzberg is the Cross Mountain in German. There is a cross on the top of the ~mountain~ inside the park. Coincidence? I don’t think so…
But back to the fun fun fun: in the winter time, when Berlin is covered in snow, you can slide downhill from the top of Viktoriapark all the way to the end! It is amazing!
If you don’t have snow, just go there for the view in the Summer
Viktoriapark from April to October (sometimes November) has a waterfall with many reachable places to sit and relax by the water and, at its highest point, you can see the whole city!
Go Swimming in a Lake
I’m not going to post a map here showing you the 1928392 lakes you can visit. The work would be too extensive. This is why we are glad that Visit Berlin did this for us. Berlin is full of lakes and several of them are easily reachable by U or S Bahn! Some of the lakes here even have sand beaches!
Play some Ping-Pong
There are plenty of public table tennis spots all over Berlin. I’ve never seen a nation more in love with ping pong than Germany. I might even risk saying that Asian countries are losing on this one. There’s a whole website dedicated to that!
Bike through Spreewald
After you find your free bike on Free Your Stuff Berlin, head to Berlin’s surrounding countryside. It’s relaxing, pleasant and amazing. It is one of my favorite free things to do in Berlin.
Go listen to some classical music for free
Every Tuesday at 1pm the famous Berliner Philharmoniker gets packed with people that are either in love with classical music or just very curious about it, for their free lunchtime chamber music concerts. The wonderful students of the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler also show off their artistry and expertise at free concerts many times weekly.
Idolize the Berliner Dom
Lay down in the sun or just stare at it during the night. The Berliner Dom will take your breath away with its Italian Renaissance-style architecture.
The ultra-famous Berlin flea markets
You must have heard about Mauerpark Flohmarkt. But fear no more, Berlin has more options than the most touristy and expensive flohmarkt ever!
Please check this link for other locations, time schedules, and general information.
Karaoke in the Bearpit
Probably the best free entertainment on a Sunday
if you like gigantic amounts of hipsters touching you every second of the day. This is the ultra-mega-master famous karaoke spot in Berlin and everybody that comes to Berlin wants to see it and be part of it. The idea is super nice, but crowds of people ruin the vibe a bit. Nevertheless, it is one of the few options for free things to do in Berlin on a Sunday. Enjoy it!
The Soviet Memorial in Treptow
Street Art Museum
Dong Xuan Center
East Side Gallery
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