Berlin is the capital of Germany, and it’s filled with historically rich attractions. The city was at the crossroads of important trade routes in the 13th century and was the divider between East and West Germany following World War II. Nowadays, Berlin is known for its growing entrepreneur community and cultural activities.
Free things to do in Berlin
Travelling to Europe is rarely cheap, but these free things to do in Berlin will make budgeting for your trip a bit easier. Fill your daily itinerary with must-see historical landmarks without depleting your vacation fund!
1. East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery is the longest remaining piece of the Berlin Wall that was torn down in 1989. Following the triumphant fall of the infamous symbol of division, artists covered this artefact with peaceful and politically-charged murals. This open-air gallery spans 1.3 kilometres, making it the longest in the world!
Due to the East Side Gallery’s politically historical significance, the paintings on the former Berlin Wall are well preserved. Paintings are restored as they’re worn down from weather exposure.
2. Reichstag’s Dome
Hitch a free ride to the rooftop terrace of Reichstag’s Dome, Germany’s parliament building. From there, you’ll get a beautiful view of the city, along with an audio lecture on the surrounding sites in your native language. To access the rooftop, you’ll want to book a reservation in advance. Don’t worry – registration is free, too!
Reichstag also has a rooftop restaurant. Book a reservation online to enjoy this fine dining experience.
3. Museum Island
Museum Island contains a group of five museums atop Spree Island. You’ll have to pay an admissions fee to enter each museum, but you’re free to explore the area at no cost. Even without entering the museums themselves, Museum Island is worth visiting to take in the amazing architecture.
If you choose to peruse the artefacts within Museum Island, one ticket will give you access to all five museums. Anyone under age 18 gets in for free!
4. Holocaust Memorial
A visit to the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin is a solemn, unsettling experience that should not be taken lightly. The memorial features monuments dedicated to the different groups that were persecuted during the Holocaust, with the central memorial being the Memorial to the Murdered Jews in Europe. The monuments are always free to access, and they’re open for 24 hours each day.
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews in Europe also has an informational exhibit on the Holocaust, which is also free to enter.
5. Hackescher Höfe
Relax in a courtyard, do some window shopping, and take selfies in front of street art at Hackescher Höfe. This beautiful courtyard complex is a popular tourist destination in Berlin due to its entertainment offerings. If you’re looking for a nightlife hotspot, this is the place to find it!
Within each of the 8 courtyards, you’ll find galleries, architect offices, and small shops. Since there are apartments within some courtyards, they are closed at night with the exception of Courtyards I and II. Those are always open.
6. Stand-Up Comedy
Although stand-up comedy shows do not charge outrageous cover charges in Berlin, there are opportunities to see English shows for free. Look for open-mic events or small venues that operate on a “pay-what-you-can” system. Comedy Café Berlin hosts free stand-up comedy, improv, and open-mic events frequently!
If you don’t understand German, have no fear – many of these shows are hosted in English.
7. Checkpoint Charlie
During the Cold War, Checkpoint Charlie provided the only crossroads between East and West Germany. Only foreigners could get from one side of Germany to the other, so East Germans often used this tourist border crossing as an escape route. This checkpoint hosted several tense stand-offs, including one in 1961 that many feared would lead to World War III. Now, the historical landmark is surrounded by galleries, restaurants, and shops. Checkpoint Charlie’s reimagined border crossing booth makes for a great photo opportunity!
Head to Checkpoint Charlie after your visit to the East Side Gallery, since the two attractions sit close to one another.
Tiergarten is comparable to Central Park in New York City. It’s a great place to relax, jog, or skate, with 519 acres of land to explore. There are several free attractions within Tiergarten, including the Victory Column and the Brandenburg Gate. Perhaps the coolest thing to see at Tiergarten, however, is the open-air gas lantern museum. This collection features close to 100 gas lanterns from different parts of Germany. Visit Tiergarten at night to see the lanterns lit up!
On Sundays during the summertime, visitors can hear music from a carillon with 68 bells. The carillon is the fourth tallest in the world!
9. Markthalle Neun
This food market in Berlin hosts a weekly street food festival. At Street Food Thursday, visitors can check out delicious, diverse food from chefs who are eager to share their passion for cooking. You’ll want to bring some cash if you plan to grab a bite to eat here, but it’s free to take in the smells and check out the offerings.
While in Germany, you need to try some currywurst. Markthalle Neun’s Street Food Thursday is a great opportunity to do that. Get your hands on some Thai, Brazilian, and Portuguese food, too!
10. Tegeler See
Tegeler See is one of the largest lakes in Berlin. While it’s warm out, you can swim in the lake water. There are also areas to have a picnic or relax on the eastern side of the lake, called Greenwichpromenade. If you head more south, you’ll find a forest to explore. Visiting this peaceful area will help you get away from the bustling city life that characterizes Berlin.
Germany is a country filled with history that extends far beyond World War II. For much of its existence, Berlin has been considered a prominent European city. Thankfully, its role in both modern and not-so-modern history has been well preserved. Let the capital of Germany awe and enlighten you, regardless of your vacation budget. With so many free attractions in Berlin, a low-cost trip is completely possible!