Berlin break on a budget? From city tours to open-air karaoke, there are many free things to do in the exciting German capital.
“Poor, but sexy!” This motto has its grounds. First of all, because in Berlin there seems to be more creativity than money and second, because there are so many possibilities for having fun without or with little money. Our Insider Julia Graeff put together a list of the top tips for free activities in Berlin.
Berlin is full of history and if you are interested in the more recent history and the split of Germany, you should definitely visit the East Side Gallery and Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer. These two open air museums are in memory of the split of Berlin and the Berlin Wall. At the East Side Gallery you can admire pictures with which international artists have expressed their happiness of the fall of the wall in 1989.
To get there, you simply have to walk along the Mühlestraße – ideally you start at the Ostbahnhof (East railway station) and walk towards Warschauer Straße. The Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer focuses on the suffering the split has caused Germany. Apart from the outdoor exhibition you can also visit the Geschützturm and you can find more detailed background info in the visitor centre.
East Side Gallery
Where? On the Mühlenstraße between Ostbahnhof (East railway station) and the S-Bahn station Warschauer Straße
When? Any time, but ideally during daylight.
Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer
Where? Bernauer Straße 119 (it is close to the S-Bahn station Nordbahnhof – North railway station, the subway station Bernauer Straße and the tram station Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer)
When? Visit the outdoor exhibition during daylight, all the other places are open every day except on Mondays from 9:30 to 18:00
2. City walks and tours
As you are in a city full of history, you should inform yourself about the most important attractions, ideally without having to pay for them. At the same time you might meet fellow travellers if you take a multi-language tour through Berlin, which starts at the famous Brandenburg Gate. The tour takes 3.5 hours and a 3€ tip for the guide is expected. The meeting point is right at the Starbucks next to the gate and the tour will stop at all the major sights of Berlin.
In case you’d rather be by yourself and want to choose your own past, you can download an MP3-file for 27 different places in Berlin. You can listen to it over your phone or tabloid to hear reports from witnesses of historical events and learn all the important facts for each and every sight.
3. Mauerpark Karaoke
You always wanted to do karaoke outdoors? In front of up to 1000 people? Well, in Berlin you have the chance to do so! Singers can try out their talent in the amphitheatre at the Mauerpark. In case you’d rather listen, just join the hundreds of people who’ll join this event every Sunday and enjoy the good mood. Right next to it is also the legendary Mauerpark flea market. So now you have two reasons to go there.
Where? Bernauer Strasse 63-64 (close to tram station Wolliner Straße and subway station Eberswalder Straße)
When? Every Sunday between 15:00 and 20:00
4. Flea markets
Berlin has countless flea markets, but the one at the area of the former Reichsbahnausbesserungswerk (RAW) is particularly exciting with its industrial flair, the street art and the best finds.
Where? Revaller Straße 99 (S-Bahn and subway station Warschauer Str.)
When? Every Sunday between 9:00 and 19:00
In Clärchens Ballhaus parties have been celebrated for more than 100 years now. It was also used as a film set for Inglourious Basterds, so Brad Pritt has been there! And because a ballroom is there to be danced on, the venue offers free dance lessons.
Where? Auguststraße 24 (close to train stations Hackischer Markt and Oranienburger Straße)
When? Open daily from 11:00
Free beginner lessons:
Mondays 21:00 – Salsa (from 21:30 Salsa music)
Wednesdays 21:30 – Swing (from 21:00 Swing music)
6. Going out
The Crack Bellmer is a small venue, but at least nobody needs to worry about their moves as the dance floor is usually quite crowded. It is open every day and the DJs usually play House or Deep, on Fridays Vintage and on Sundays also Electro Swing. Nice detail: For your first drink the DJ gets one euro.
Where? On the RAW area, the entrance is on the corner of Simon-Dach Straße and Revaller Straße (tram and subway station Warschauer Straße)
When? Open daily between 19:00 and 5:00
7. Public bathing
In and around Berlin are quite a few lakes, most of which are joyfully used for swimming and sunbathing in the summer. Especially beautiful and also accessible by public transport (and a short walk) are the Tegeler See in the North of Berlin (subway station: Alt-Tegel) and the Krumme Lanke (subway station: Krumme Lanke).
8. Lookout points
To get an idea of the size of Berlin, you should check out the following spots to get a nice view of Germany’s capital.
Victoriapark is a 66-metre high hill, which offers a great view on the districts Berlin Mitte and Kreuzberg as well as parts of the former Tempelhof airport. On your way up, you can at the same time admire the Berlin city waterfalls.
Where? Kreuzbergstr. 62 (tram station Yorkstraße; subway station Mehringdamm)
When? Any time
Cafeteria of the TU Berlin
If you’d rather prefer an elevator to having to walk up a hill, you should go to the Cafeteria of the Technische Universität Berlin. It’s on the 20th floor and you’ll get a great view and at the same time some cheap food.
Where? Ernst Reuter Platz 7 (subway station Ernst Reuter Platz)
When? Monday to Friday between 9:00 and 17:00
Berlin is a green city in which you can relax and enjoy life. In many of the parks you are even allowed to have a barbecue. One special spot is definitely the Tempelhofer Freiheit (Tempelhof Freedom), the airfield of the former city airport Tempelhof. In this area, which is bigger than Monaco, you can take walks and sunbathe. It’s also always a bit windy there, so it’s ideal for kite surfing. At the entrance Oderstraße there are some barbecue spots.
Where? Tempelhof (subway and tram station Tempelhof; subway station Leinestraße – close to the barbeque spots)
When? The park is open between 6:00 and 22:30
10. Live (street) music
Berlin is generally a great place to hear some great street music, but you should definitely check out Mauerpark, Monbijoupark and Maybachufer, which is also known for its markets (especially on Fridays)..
Plus: bonus special tip
Do you like juggling and want to have a beach feeling in the city? Then you should go to Yaam, where you have a big beach area, you can get the equipment for the juggling, and apart from that you can play beach volleyball, table tennis and there’s also a half pipe. On top of that you can also listen to live music and get African food!
Where? Stralauer Platz 35 (Ostbahnhof – East railway station)
When? Wednesdays to Sundays from midday onwards
From dancing to drinking to... kite boarding in an abandoned airport: 10 of the best things to see and do in Berlin.