Berlin is a vibrant and diverse city to explore and is full of history, some not so distant. Like other European cities, it can turn out to be an expensive break, but there are ways to see it on a budget too. Getting to Berlin cheaply is easy now with low cost airlines flying direct from major airports, and if you fly hand luggage only it is even cheaper and easier too.
Flying this way means you need to pack light and use some of the best packing cubes to make the most of your space, and leave some room for souvenirs too. There are also lots of low cost accommodation just outside the city as well as tasty purse friendly street food.
When visiting Berlin on a budget you’ll want to find some cheap things to do. Luckily here are five fabulous free things to do in the city.
Museum Island Architecture
This complex of five museums is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. Walking around the buildings and enjoying the architecture is absolutely free, however you will need to pay entrance fees to explore the museum inside. You can find the island just a short walk across the Palace Bridge.
The complex is made up of the Pergamon museum, Bode-Museum, New Museum, Old National Gallery and the Old Museum. Interestingly, Spree island where the museums are located is where the city of Berlin originated. On a nice day take your time to look around, but if you want to enter a ticket including entrance to all five will cost 18 Euros, or if you visit on a Thursday night between 6pm and 10pm, entrance is free. The collections held within the museums span six thousand years of the human arts.
Explore the Eastside Gallery and the Berlin Wall
At the part of Berlin where some of the wall still symbolically stands you can walk around freely and enjoy the artwork that has been painted here. The works are a symbol of freedom and is often described as the largest and longest-lasting open-air gallery in the world. There are 105 paintings by 102 artists from all over the world.
There is a lot of graffiti on the wall and work is being done to restore some sections, however this has caused some controversy with a few of the artists. However, this is still an excellent free place to visit, enjoy and reflect on the times that have passed on both sides of the wall. There is also a Berlin Wall museum nearby, however you do have to pay admission charges of 12.50 Euros for adults and 6.50 Euros for students.
Take a walking history tour
Free walking tours are led by enthusiastic local guides in the city. Tours cover the most famous Berlin attractions and the best historical sights you want to see. The knowledgeable guides will give you interesting stories of the past including urban legends and triumphs and tragedies.
Sometimes you have to book on a tour or other companies let you just turn up and join in. They start at different locations such as the Brandenburg gate or Alexanderplatz, and some are as frequent as every hour. Do your research and decide which company and sights to visit suits you. You can also do a self-guided walking tour with predetermined routes you can follow. Tours include, Jewish Berlin, Off the beaten track, Graffiti and Street art tours and Historic Old Berlin, The Spandauer Vorstadt.
Book ahead to visit the Reichstags dome
Germany’s parliament building the Bundestag is a marvellous building and you can get a free lift ride to the roof dome. Here you can enjoy amazing views across the city and a free audio tour of the dome. You have to book in advance and provide the day and time within a 15-minute window and also the names and dates of birth of the visitors.
The Reichstag building in Berlin is said to be the second most popular site in Germany to visit second only the Cologne cathedral. Once inside you can stay as long as you like, learning about the building and taking in the marvellous views. If you forget to book ahead you can check for cancellations at the small office next to the building and try your luck.
Pay respects at the holocaust museum and memorial
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin is not only a place for remembrance but also of contemplation. The memorial is open all day and night and covers a vast 19,000 square metres. There are 2711 concrete slabs of all different heights where you can get completely lost in between them. The ground is uneven and at different levels which gives a surreal feeling when you walk through.
You can also visit the information centre free of charge, Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 8pm. Learn about the persecution and extermination of European Jews and the sites of the awful crimes. The centre also holds the names of around 3 million Jewish Holocaust victims. It is a site for pilgrimage, learning and reflection.
Berlin on a budget
As you can see there are lots of things you can do for free in Berlin, and there are also things you can do on a small budget too. There are flea markets to peruse, you can visit the Guggenheim museum on a Monday for free, and on a Sunday, you can take a free hour long guided tour of the popular Topography of Horrors museum. If you do your research you can see some usually expensive attractions for free or at a fraction of the cost. Couple these great free things to do with a budget hostel or guest house stay and eat food like currywurst from the street food markets, you’ll enjoy a fabulous stay without breaking the bank.
Have you explored Berlin on a budget? What are your tips for a fantastic but cheap city break in Berlin?