13 ways to have fun in Berlin for free

Zazie Atkinson
Zazie Atkinson - [email protected] • 28 Jan, 2022 Updated Fri 28 Jan 2022 15:40 CEST
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People play spot on Berlin's Tempelhofer Feld in the evening sunshine. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Annette Riedl

While Berlin can be slightly more expensive than many of its eastern neighbours, there are several free experiences the capital has to offer. Why not try out one or two over the weekend?

Living in a major city can be challenging when you're on a budget, but people often forget that you can enjoy some great experiences without spending a single cent. 

We've gathered together some of the most fun and interesting activities you can take advantage of in the buzzing city of Berlin. And the best part? All of them are completely free. 

Museums

  • Visit a museum

There are many museums in Berlin that are free entry, including the Allied Museum, Anti-War Museum and German Museum for the Blind. 

What’s more, the first Sunday of every month is designated “Museum Sunday”, where a huge number of museums offer free entry. 

Participating museums include the Bode-Museum, Deutsches Historisches Museum, Jüdisches Museum Berlin, Neues Museum, and more. For the full list, see here

  • Get a panoramic view of Berlin 

For a 360° view of Berlin, head to the roof terrace of the Humboldt Forum. A much cheaper option compared to the TV tower, and you’ll still see the famous sights of Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Cathedral and Museum Island. Book your slot in advance here.

Plus, if you go on Museum Sunday, you’ll be able to enjoy both the exhibitions and the scenic views free of charge. 

READ ALSO: The one way to beat the January blues in each German state

History

  • Visit the Reichstag Dome

One of the most important landmarks in German history, Germany’s main government building features a huge glass dome - intended to symbolise transparency in politics - that allows you to view your MPs in action. While visiting is free, you need to book a place in advance on their website, and slots can fill up fast. 

To find out more about the history of this iconic building, see our article here.

Reichstag

The sun sets over Berlin's famous Reichstag building. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Wolfgang Kumm
 
  • Pay respects at a memorial 

It can be a sombre experience learning about the darkest period of German history, but still worth a visit.

The Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas (Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe) in Mitte consists of thousands of concrete slabs of different sizes, creating a sense of disorientation, to remember the Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

The site also features an underground information centre, with photographs, diaries, and letters of those who lost their lives. 

You can also take a tour of the former Sachsenhausen concentration camp located just outside of Berlin in Oranienburg.

To learn more about all the horrors of the Nazi era, head to the Topography of Terror, a history museum on the grounds of the former Gestapo headquarters. 

Exercise

  • Take a walk in Tiergarten + Siegessäule

Tiergarten, at 520 acres, is one of Berlin’s largest parks featuring lots of greenery and the famous “Straße des 17. Juni” leading from the Brandenburg Gate to the Siegessäule.

The Siegessäule, or “Victory Column”, while originally commemorating the Prussian War, has become a key symbol and route of Christopher Street Day, Berlin’s gay-pride parade.

Climbing to the top of the column (including all 285 steps) will only set you back €3, and the outlook from the viewing platform is well worth it on a clear day. 

  • Go rollerskating at Tempelhofer Feld

This massive field was once home to Tempelhof Airport – where the famous Berlin Airlift of 1948/49 took place – until its closing in 2008. 

Since opening as a park, Tempelhofer Feld has become one of the largest urban open spaces in Berlin, with over 300 hectares to skate, bike, jog and more. It is also a great place to watch the sunset. 

Tempelhofer Felt

Berliners walk and roller-skate down a former runway on Tempelhofer Feld. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Wolfgang Kumm
 
  • Other sports

If Tempelhofer Feld isn’t enough to fill your fitness craving, there are many other free sports facilities. 

From the beginning of May through to the end of September you can make use of the tennis courts on Harbigstraße in Charlottenberg. To book a place, call the number on their website

You can also find ping pong tables in various parks across Berlin - all you need to do is bring the equipment.

And if that isn't enough, why not grab your bike and spend some time cycling the famous Mauerweg that follows the trail of the old Berlin wall, or exploring many of the other rural and urban cycle routes in and around the city?

READ ALSO: Riding the Radweg: A guide to touring Germany by bike

  • Take a dip in a lake

When the weather eventually gets warmer in the summer months, there’s nothing Berliners like to do more than cool off in one of Berlin’s many lakes. Grab your trunks/swimming costumes and picnic baskets and enjoy the nature Berlin has to offer.

Some popular destinations are Plötzensee in Wedding, Krumme Lanke and Schlachtensee in Steglitz-Zehlendorf and Müggelsee in Treptow-Köpenick. If you're after a (fairly) well-kept secret, we also love Flughafensee (literally: Airport Lake) that's in a gorgeous forest next to the now-defunct Tegel Airport. 

Flughafensee

A group of youngsters jump into Flughafensee on a hot summer's day. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Paul Zinken

If you can't wait that long, brave souls might be interested in taking part in weekly ice dip organised by people affiliated with Ice Dippers Berlin. Though official events have been postponed due to the pandemic, there are still groups of people gathering at various lakes around Berlin such as Plötzensee and Weißensee on a weekly basis and beginners are welcome.

Though these events are free, you do have the option to make a voluntary donation to a homeless shelter to support those who don't have any choice about braving the cold. 

READ ALSO: 12 ways to improve your life in Germany without even trying

Art & Culture

  • Visit the East Side Gallery

The East Side Gallery in Friedrichshain is a permanent open-air gallery on the longest remaining section of the Berlin Wall. 

After the opening of the wall, this 1.3km long section was painted by various artists from across the globe – with many pieces conveying political and social messages of freedom and reconciliation. 

Other street art can be found across Berlin – check out the “StreetArt Spotteron” app for a digital map.

  • Go see a cinema screening

Every third Wednesday of the month, visitors of the Sputnik Südstern cinema in Kreuzberg can see a free screening of a short film from aspiring and professional filmmakers. The films are usually no longer than 25 minutes, and the viewings start at 8pm. 

On other days, the cinema shows arthouse cinema, documentaries, and independent films, as well as young German and European cinema.

READ ALSO: What I’ve learned from five years of living in Berlin

  • Enjoy a music performance

Why not experience some live classical music on your next lunch break? Every Tuesday at 1pm the Berlin Philharmonic put on a free chamber concert. Just be sure to get there early to grab a spot - these events are popular! 

Other free concerts include the “Kurzkonzerte bei Dussman” in the Kulturkaufhaus, “Konzerte in der Gedächtniskirche” and the annual “Staatsoper für alle” on Bebelplatz.

Berlin Philharmonie

People queue to see a free concert at the Berlin Philharmonie. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Annette Riedl
 
  • Go to a reading

Dussmann das Kulturkaufhaus not only offers concerts but also free readings. Whether it's a thriller, drama, novel or biography, there is a wide range on offer. You can find all upcoming events in the department store here.

If you're interested in something a little more intimate, check out the events organised at cult English-language bookshop Curious Fox. They're in the process of moving to a new location in Kreuzberg right now, but are due to reopen shortly with book clubs, poetry readings and more.

  • Little extras

Make the most of Berlin pedestrian routes with free walking tours, which you can find details of here.

Particularly helpful for tourists are over 650 free Wi-Fi hotspots, including in most U-Bahn and S-Bahn stations and onboard many trains.

Some free useful apps to download include “Die Berliner Mauer”, an interactive map of Berlin showing tours along the former wall, the “komoot Bike Berlin” app displaying bike routes across Berlin and “Flush” and “Tap” to find public toilets and drinking water fountains.

READ ALSO: Holiday like a local: Five of the best camping regions in Germany

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Zazie Atkinson 2022/01/28 15:40

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