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Berlin, Germany is a fantastic destination for any budget, but it’s an especially easy city to enjoy if you’re trying not to spend a lot of money. Many of the most iconic sights are free or inexpensive. If you’re looking for some great free things to do in Berlin, you won’t have to look very far.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure for more information.
Visit the Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse
Even if you don’t know much about Berlin, you probably know that the city was divided into East and West during the Cold War. What started as a line on a map eventually became barbed wire and fencing, which was later replaced by an imposing wall.
There are many places to see and learn about the Berlin Wall, but one of the best is at Bernauer Strasse. This street was split by the Wall, with residents on one side on the West, and their neighbors across the street on the East. A community was torn apart here.
Today this Wall Memorial tells the stories of the people who lived here, those who tried to escape, some successfully, some not. You can learn about the church that was cut off from its worshipers, and how a cemetery was moved because of the Wall.
About midway along the memorial is a tower you can climb that gives you views into the former death strip and views of a remaining section of the Wall. At the visitors center at one end of the street, you can watch two interesting short films (they alternate English and German, so check the schedule) about the Wall.
Every section of the Bernauer Strasse Wall Memorial is free, and this important attraction is a must for your Berlin itinerary. It’s truly one of the best free things to do in Berlin.
Stroll along the East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery is a more famous piece of the Berlin Wall and one you should definitely check out. It sits along the Spree River in Friedrichshain, which is a neighborhood in the former East, and it’s considered to be the world’s largest outdoor art gallery.
After the Wall came down, artists from around the world came to paint on this stretch of the Wall. The different art pieces express different things, but most relate to the Wall itself, the Cold War, the desire for peace, and the pain that walls cause.
Give yourself some time to stroll along the sidewalk admiring the artwork. There’s a lot more to it than the famous ones you always see pictures of.
Tour the Reichstag Building
The Reichstag Building is the seat of the German Parliament. It’s a stately building with a unique glass dome, and it’s located near Brandenburg Gate.
This is an interesting building to see from the outside, but you can actually take a tour inside. The audio guide tells you about the government, German history, and interesting details about the building and places you can see from the building, all while you wander along a path inside the glass dome.
Taking a tour at the Reichstag Building is one of the most popular free things to do in Berlin. But keep in mind that you must register ahead, and sometimes they’re booked up for weeks.
See Berlin’s only waterfall
One of the city’s most popular parks, Viktoriapark is also home to Berlin’s only waterfall. It’s artificial, but it’s still gorgeous.
After admiring the waterfall from the street, wander through the park and make your way up. If you keep climbing, you’ll reach a set of stairs that lead to the National Monument for the Napoleonic Wars.
It’s not a huge climb, but when you reach the top, you’ll be at the highest natural point in Berlin’s inner city. It’s a fairly flat city, but this vantage point provides some pretty views, which is why it’s one of the best things to do in Berlin for free.
Take a selfie at Brandenburg Gate
Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor in German) is one of the most recognizable sights in Berlin, perhaps in all of Germany. This was one of the city’s gates and was built in the late 1700s.
During the Cold War when the Berlin Wall divided the city, Brandenburger Tor was just east of the border between East and West Berlin. The Wall made it inaccessible to people on both sides.
Since the fall of the Wall and the reunification of Germany, this important monument has come to represent unity, instead of the separation that was associated with it for nearly 30 years. It’s also a great place for pictures.
Search for street art
Street art is a big part of Berlin’s identity. It’s a creative expression that’s more accessible to everyone who wants to see it. Seeing all of the street art is one of the best free things to do in Berlin.
You can find loads of street art, both legal and illegal forms, all around the city, and it’s free to enjoy. Though few areas of the city are untouched by street art, you’ll find higher concentrations of art in the Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg neighborhoods.
An inexpensive street art tour like this one can help you see lots of different pieces in a short amount of time while telling you more about the art and artists, but you can certainly wander the neighborhoods on your own if you’d prefer. Even though it’s not free, it’s still a cheap thing to do in Berlin.
If you’re really interested in Berlin’s street art scene, check out Urban National: Museum for Urban Contemporary Art. This is a free museum dedicated to street art.
Enjoy the Charlottenburg Palace Gardens and Park
Located in western Berlin, Charlottenburg Palace is the best castle in the city. It was the summer home for Sophie Charlotte and dates back to the late 1600s.
Today it’s a museum, but tickets to enter are a bit expensive. If you’re on a budget, this might be out of range. The good news is you can still enjoy the outside of the palace plus the surrounding gardens and park for free.
The grounds serve as a public park, so it’s easy to explore, and as you get closer to the back of the palace, you’ll see the gorgeous gardens that change with the seasons. You can easily spend an hour or more going for a walk here and enjoying the beauty.
Go for a walk on Unter den Linden
Unter den Linden is an important street in Berlin’s Mitte district where you’ll find many of the biggest sights in the city. It runs from Brandenburg Gate to Museum Island, though the street continues on after that with a different name.
Not only is this a gorgeous tree-lined street, but you can stop at many places along the way. After taking some pictures at Brandenburger Tor, stop by Bebelplatz to see the Nazi book burning memorial, the Berlin state opera house, the outside of the Humboldt Forum, the Berlin Cathedral, and more. You can even stroll through Museum Island and admire the outsides of these famous museums for free.
Remember the victims at the Holocaust Memorial
Germany doesn’t shy away from its dark past. The country does its best to own up to the mistakes of the Nazis and honor those who suffered and died. You’ll find tons of different types of memorials and info centers around the city, most of which are free.
One of the most well-known is the Holocaust Memorial, also sometimes called the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Here you’ll see 2,711 concrete blocks that were constructed at varying heights. The ground is unevenly sloped and is supposed to convey a feeling of discomfort.
There’s also an info center inside that tells you about the victims of the Holocaust through pictures, letters, and diaries in an effort to make the experience more personal. The memorial is free to enter.
Though this is a somber attraction, it’s an important one so that we can always remember what has happened in order to avoid repeating these horrible mistakes.
Stop by Gendarmenmarkt
A short detour from Unter den Linden will take you over to Gendarmenmarkt. The square dates back to the late 1600s, though it has been called several different things over the years. This is perhaps one of the most beautiful squares in Berlin, and it’s well worth visiting.
While standing in Gendarmenmarkt Square, you’ll see three historical buildings. On one end, the German Cathedral (don’t confuse this building with the Berlin Cathedral) is now a free museum. The French Cathedral sits on the other end of the square and has a great tower you can climb for views. In between the two cathedrals is the concert hall, which holds shows on a regular basis.
Throughout the year, different events are held here, such as a Christmas market, but the square is worth seeing no matter when you’re in Berlin.
Walk on a runway at Tempelhof
One of local Berliners’ favorite parks is Tempelhof. This sprawling park was once an airport, and it has quite a history.
Tempelhof was in the American sector during the Cold War, and when the Soviets cut off all land access to West Berlin, this airport was instrumental in getting food and supplies to West Berlin residents. During the Berlin Blockade in 1948 and 1949, Tempelhof was the base of the Berlin Airlift.
The airport continued to operate for decades afterward, and even for quite sometime after reunification. But in 2008, the airport was closed for good.
A couple of years later, it reopened as a public park, one of the biggest in the city. Now you can walk, run, cycle, rollerblade, and more on a runway. The park has designated bird protection areas, gardening areas, BBQ areas, and a few fenced off-leash dog areas.
Where to Stay in Berlin Germany
Wondering what Berlin hotel to book for your trip? Here’s a map of some great Berlin accommodations.
Meet the guest author: Ali Garland
Ali Garland is a full-time blogger who visited all 7 continents before her 30th birthday. She’s originally from the US, but she and her husband have been living in Berlin since 2015. They’ve recently added an adorable Yorkie to their family. Ali loves Berlin and is dedicated to sharing the best advice for visiting this fascinating city on her site Berlin Travel Tips. You can also follow her on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.