berlin architecture

There are several free things to do in Berlin, Germany if you are travelling on a budget. Known as Germany’s thriving capital city, Berlin is considered one of the trendiest cities in the world due to its lively nightlife and hipster vibe.

From historical buildings to world-class museums, it is one city that should be on your itinerary when travelling Europe. We’ve put together the best and fun free things to do in Berlin to include on your Berlin itinerary.

Related Read: How To Get Schengen Visa For Germany

1. Spend your Sunday at Mauerpark

mauerpark berlin

One good thing to do in Berlin, especially if you want to see more locals and fewer tourists, is to head to Mauerpark (Wall Park) on Sundays. Mauerpark used to be called the “death strip,” where escapees were killed when trying to go over the Berlin wall. With the fall of the wall, Mauerpark was reinvented.

The wall was torn down, and only 300 meters of it remained. Anyone is free to paint anything on the remaining section of the wall. Graffiti artists, from those with the skills of a 2-year old to others who could rightly be called the masters of their art, made the wall their home. Several swings stand in front of the wall, and from there, you’ll have a view of the Sunday flea market, with lots of small items on display, as well as several food stalls and other activities.

In the summer, you’ll find parties being held there, as well as musical events. Despite its grim history, Berliners have indeed managed to transform Mauerpark into something that can now be enjoyed by many. And if you are in the city, whether you have a week or a few days in Berlin, this place is a must-visit. 

Source: Aleah Taboclaon of Backpacking Abroad

2. Check out the flea markets

There are several flea markets in Berlin. Whether you are looking for a great bargain or just trying to pass the time, Berlin’s flea markets offer a relaxed shopping experience for tourists and locals. You can browse through an endless range of items – from antiques to unique handicrafts while also trying some tasty food from the market.

The flea market along the Straße des 17. Juni is one of the most famous antique markets in Berlin. If you just want to browse antiques and secondhand handicrafts, you’ll enjoy the selection of this flea market.

Source: Jewel at Tripsionista

3. Walk through the Brandenburg Gate

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Brandenburg Gate is an 18th-century neoclassical monument in Berlin. The gate has five passages and the classical sandstone work is one of the masterpieces of this era and is the only surviving one of 18 previous city portals.

The Gate was erected not as a political symbol, but instead for a rather more simple reason – to mark the end of the boulevard Unter den Linden. Throughout its existence, the Brandenburg Gate was often a site for major historical events and considered a symbol of Berlin and German division during the Cold War. Today, it is now a national symbol of peace and unity and one of the most popular sites in Berlin.

Source: Christine of Great National Parks 

4. Learn the history at Berlin Wall Memorial

Berlin Wall Memorial commemorates the division of Berlin by the Berlin Wall and the deaths that occurred there.  It is the central memorial site of German division, located in the middle of the capital, Bernauer Strasse. It extends along 1.4 kilometers of the former border strip.

The monument was created in 1998 by the Federal Republic of Germany and the Federal State of Berlin. The construction of the Wall put a violent end to everyday life on Bernauer Strasse, leaving traces that are still visible today.

Source: Marie of The Backpacking Executive 

5. Check Out the DZ Bank Building

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Everyone visiting Berlin should take a few minutes to check out the DZ Bank Building. Located on Pariser Platz, right beside the Brandenberg Gate and only a block from the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the DZ Bank Building has such a nondescript façade that on my first visit to Berlin I didn’t even notice it! It was only on my second trip to the city that I discovered this architectural marvel disguised as a typical office block.

The DZ Bank Building was designed by world-famous architect Frank Gehry in 2001. Admission to the building is free, and from the viewing area, you can see the stunning contemporary architecture inside. The focal point is a steel and wood conference room inside a curved shell that is reminiscent of a horse’s head. Curved glass covers both the ceiling overhead and the floor below. The effect is absolutely breathtaking, and it’s amazing to think that such a little-known landmark can be found only meters from Berlin’s most famous sights.

Source: Carly of Fearless Female Travels

6. Visit the Soviet Memorial at Treptow Park

I love visiting the Soviet memorial since I’m a big fan of Soviet architecture, and I must admit that the Treptow Park memorial in Berlin is really one of the best. It’s hidden away in the big park, and not very well signposted, but once you find it, your jaw will drop. It’s really grandiose and spectacular – it used to be the largest memorial in the Soviet world from 1949 until 1960 when the Stalingrad memorial was completed.

The Treptow memorial is dedicated to the over 5000 Red Army soldiers who fell during the Battle of Berlin and now rest beneath the memorial. The centerpiece and arguably the most spectacular place is the main monument, portraying a Red Army soldier standing atop a broken swastika. However, it’s worth spending time checking out all the carvings and statues, and enjoying the peace in this forgotten corner of Berlin.

Source: Margherita Ragg of The Crowded Planet

7. Peruse the East Side Gallery

The East Side Gallery in Berlin is one of the most special free things to do in Berlin. This 1316m long wall is a remnant of the Berlin Wall, which divided East and West Berlin. Nowadays, it’s painted all over by a series of murals, which makes it the largest open-air gallery in the world. Many paintings are by famous (street) artists. Several of them will leave a lasting expression, such as The Kiss.

My favorite painting is Trabant breaking through the Wall. The Trabant was a commonly used vehicle in Communist East Germany and was often used by East Germans who tried to escape over the Berlin Wall. The East Side Gallery is one of the best activities in Berlin if you’d like to learn about Berlin during the Cold War in a unique way. Moreover, this wall will also give you an impression of how the people of Berlin have dealt with their recent past. You can find the East Side Gallery on Mühlenstraße in Friedrichschain-Kreuzberg.

Source: Sanne van den Berg of Veni Vidi

8. Understand History at Berlin’s Museum of the Murdered Jews of Europe

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Berlin’s Museum of the Murdered Jews of Europe is a free museum and is a must-see when visiting Berlin. Although this isn’t a feel-good sort of tourism spot, it’s important to understanding German and world history – a history that is shockingly not that long ago.

The museum’s entrance takes you underground where you’ll start off with a timeline of events that puts into perspective the gravity of the Holocaust. You’ll continue through the exhibits to get a glimpse into what life was like during the Holocaust with survivors’ experiences, letters written from those that didn’t survive, and stories of families torn apart by this horrible tragedy.

Walking through the museum itself takes less than an hour, but the impact that it’ll have on you will last for years. After your museum visit, I recommend walking through the connected memorial to give yourself time to reflect and process the experience. The museum itself is located on the eastern side of the Memorial of the Murdered Jews of Europe, which is right across from the Tiergarten. Lines do get pretty long, so visiting during the off-hours is best. We went just before sundown and spent less than 20 minutes in line.

Source: Taylor Palmer of Rich Living, Less Spending

9. Enjoy the view of Berlin from the Bundestag

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Berlin does not lack places for the history junkie to visit – but getting a great view of the city from up high is a little different. One of the places offering great views of the city is the Bundestag building, Germany’s Parliament building (also referred to by an older name: the “Reichstag”).

It is a historic structure not only due to age but also because of all it has witnessed in the century-plus it has been around. The rooftop terrace’s great views of the city are bested only by the views from the top of the glass dome that sits on that rooftop terrace! A tour guide is not required to visit but advance registration is due to security procedures. The rooftop terrace hosts a pleasant café offering a nice brunch though I am sure it is ideal for happy hour. Finally, another great feature of the building is that there is no charge to go enjoy these views!

Source: Raul of I Live To Travel

10. Discover the urban tale in Zombie Hospital

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Berlin’s Zombie Hospital, the former children’s hospital, is a hidden tourist gem situated in Weißensee. While the gates were locked, there was a convenient hole somewhere along the fence. There are a total of 4-5 buildings to explore. Every floor is decorated with endless walls of graffiti and chalk drawings.

But the most incredible part was visiting these multi-themed rooms, each filled with different illustrations. Since it is relatively secretive, there was no one around except for us. It was an amazing 2 hours spent wandering around the buildings and having been to hundreds of cities, I’ve really never seen another place quite like it!

Source: Daisy of Beyond my Border

11. Walk around the Landwehr Canal

The Landwehr Canal is a 10.7-km long canal parallel to the Spree river in Berlin. It is one of the favorite local hangouts in Kreuzberg. There are several things to see and do around this Canal in Berlin. The Amerika-Gedenkbibliothek building,  Admiral Brücke, Altbau buildings, Lohmüle Berlin and several farmer markets are just among the interesting things to see in Berlin for free.

12. Join a free walking tour

A free walking tour is a good way to explore a city. It is good for travellers who don’t have big budgets for paid tours but need tour guides to properly explore places. As the name suggests, a free walking tour is done on foot. And it mainly focuses on cultural and historical parts of the city where the walking tour takes place. Check our Ultimate Guide To Free Walking Tours Around The World to find a walking tour in Berlin.

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