If you’re traveling on a budget, Berlin is the right place for you. This is a city where you can definitely enjoy a lot without spending a lot of money. After all, Berlin is known as “poor but sexy” for a reason. This list of cheap things to do in Berlin will show you how to learn about the city’s history, see the famous sights, and have a fantastic vacation without breaking the bank.
Most of the things on this list have an inexpensive entry fee, or it’s free altogether except for the transport ticket. I’ve also included suggestions for cheap but tasty food in Berlin, and some inexpensive alternatives to activities that normally cost a lot of money.
Where to stay in Berlin on a budget
Berlin has lots of great neighborhoods for you to stay in and explore. If you’re visiting Berlin on a budget, there are plenty of inexpensive options for hotels and hostels around the city. Check out some of our favorite options for budget accommodation in Berlin.
Cheap hotels and hostels in Berlin
For a more detailed look at the different neighborhoods and our recommendations, check out our guide to where to stay in Berlin.
Cheap things to do in Berlin to stick to your budget
Visiting a big capital city doesn’t have to mean spending a lot of money. Visit Berlin without going broke with these suggestions.
Döner is a common food to eat in Germany, but they’re especially easy to find in Berlin. Not only are they tasty and fast, but they are usually inexpensive. It’s not hard to find one for around 5 euros, and they will fill you up! Try Mustafa Demir’s not far from the East Side Gallery.
Snack on Currywurst
Currywurst is a cut up sausage that’s covered in ketchup and curry powder. This is another food you’ll find throughout Germany but claims to be a very Berlin thing. Currywurst makes for a cheap and quick meal, and they’re pretty easy to find while you’re out sightseeing.
Eat lunch at Thai Park
Thai Park, located in a park that’s really called Preußenpark, is where a group of Thai vendors sell cheap but delicious food. Until recently, they were technically doing business illegally, but with such a long history, they were tolerated. Now they have an actual business to cover all operations, but it’s still a unique and inexpensive place to eat. Don’t expect tables or chairs.
Get drinks at a Späti
Spätis are convenient stores sprinkled all around Berlin. They mostly sell beer and a few other alcoholic drinks, but you can also buy sodas and snacks. Sometimes there’s a bakery or other type of quicky food, and sometimes there’s a minimal amount of groceries on offer. But the real beauty of Spätis is that they are open late, often 24 hours.
Some Spätis even have tables outside. This means people treat them like a bar even though they aren’t. So you can buy a beer for just a little more than grocery store prices and hang out at one of their tables until you finish your beer. And then go buy another one. Drinking at a Späti can be a cheap alternative to a bar.
Have a picnic in a park
Berlin has lots of fantastic parks, and if the weather is nice, they are a great place to hang out and enjoy an inexpensive meal. Stop by a grocery store or a Späti to pick up food and drinks, and settle into the grass. It’ll cost you less than eating out at a restaurant, and the scenery will be gorgeous. And yes, you’re allowed to drink alcohol in public in Germany.
Other inexpensive food options
Berlin has many options for cheap eats. You’ll find many Turkish and Vietnamese restaurants where you can usually find meals for less than 10 euros, even including a soda or water. Bakeries have small sandwiches for just a few euros. Fast food Chinese noodle box places are all around too, and you can get a filling meal for a few euros. Pizza is another affordable option.
You’re best bet is to wander away from the major tourist attractions to have a bigger selection of affordable food. Chances are it’ll be better food too. Venture into Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain, or Kreuzberg, and you can see a not-so-touristy part of town and find great food options.
Take a free walking tour
Free walking tours can be a great way to see the major sights and landmarks in Berlin and get an introduction to the city. And since they’re free, it’s a great value for budget travelers.
However, please remember to tip your guide! Tour guides depend on tips. Some companies, though not all, don’t actually pay the guides, and some even charge the guide for each person on their tour. The idea is that they will earn more than enough tips to cover this, but it doesn’t always work out that way.
So please tip your guide generously. Don’t join a “free” tour if you can’t afford to tip.
Take the Third Reich Walking Tour
Sometimes a tour is the best way to go. Tour guides have lots of in-depth knowledge of the city and the areas they’re showing you, and you can see and learn a lot in just a few hours. This Third Reich Walking Tour will teach you about Hitler’s rise to power, Nazi history, and Berlin during World War II.
Shop at flea markets
On Sundays flea markets pop up all over the city. Mauer Park and Boxhaganer Platz are popular ones, but there are dozens more worth checking out. It’s free to browse, but if you decide to buy something, you can usually find some inexpensive but interesting items. Flea market purchases can be great souvenirs and memories of your time in Berlin.
Ride the 100 Bus
Hop on hop off buses are a popular option for tourists who want to see a bunch of sights with limited time. But they can be expensive! Instead you can simply buy a transport ticket and ride the 100 bus, which goes by lots of Berlin’s famous attractions. You won’t get the commentary like you do on a hop on hop off bus, but you could read about them in a guidebook instead.
Just remember that a single transport ticket allows you to ride in one direction for up to 2 hours. If you plan on getting out a lot to see a bunch of the sights along the way, you might need longer than 2 hours. A 24 hour ticket will give you the flexibility to ride Berlin transport as many times as you want within that 24 hour window.
Get the right transport ticket
Speaking of transport, make sure you understand the different ticket types to avoid wasting money. Getting around Berlin with public transport is easy and affordable, but there are so many ticket options.
Single tickets are rarely the right choice. If you’re going to take a few rides a day, it might be worth buying 4 packs. Or if you’re going to ride several times in one day, buy a 24 hour ticket.
Read more about how to get around Berlin using public transport so you know how the system works and what tickets will save you money.
Climb Victory Column
I love the views of cities from above, and there are many places for seeing Berlin from above. The TV Tower is the most popular, and since it’s the highest in the city, the views are spectacular.
But those ticket prices are expensive! It’ll cost you more than 20 euros to go up the TV Tower, and that might be out of range for budget travelers.
Luckily there are other less expensive options, and the Victory Column is one of my favorites. It’s in the middle of Tiergarten, so it’s still very central, and it only costs 3 euros. There’s no elevator, but climbing 270 stairs is good for you, right?
Visit an inexpensive museum
Let’s face it, museum tickets can often be rather expensive. But that doesn’t mean you can’t go to a museum if you’re trying to save money. Plenty of Berlin’s museums are cheap compared to the big famous ones. Here are a few interesting Berlin museums you can get into for less than 10 euros per person.
- Märkisches Museum: 7 euros. This museum focuses on Berlin and its unique history, including the permanent exhibit “Pieces of the Wall”.
- Museum Village Düppel: 5 euros. If you want to see what life was like in a medieval village, this is your place.
- St. Nicholas’ Church Museum: 5 euros. This church is Berlin’s oldest building, and the museum focuses on the history of Nikolaiviertel, the surrounding neighborhood.
- Deutsches Historisches Museum: 8 euros. The German History Museum is a great place to learn about the country’s history, and kids under 18 years old get in for free.
- DDR Museum: 9.80 euros. At just under 10 euros, the DDR Museum teaches you about life in East Germany and East Berlin during the Cold War.
- Anne Frank Center: 6 euros. Learn about Anne Frank’s famous diary and her life of hiding during WWII.
- Computerspielemuseum: 9 euros. This is a fun museum for anyone who loves video games, and you can play the games too!
- Deutsches Technikmuseum: 8 euros. The German Technology Museum is a fascinating look at technological developments in many areas, such as aviation and rail transport, manufacturing and telecommunications, film and photography, and much more.
- Stasi Museum: 8 euros. Learn about the Stasi, who carried out the communist idea of control and played a big part in East German life.
- Berliner Dom: 7-9 euros. Visit and learn about the Berlin Cathedral for 9 euros, or if you want to save a couple euros, go during services when you’ll have access to the viewing platform but no tour.
- ModellPark Berlin Brandenburg: 4.50 euros. If you like cheesy miniature versions of landmarks, this model park of Berlin attractions is perfect for you.
To save even more money, seek out free days at museums, and visit museums that are free all the time. Check out my post with 63 free things to do in Berlin, which includes lots of free museums in Berlin.
Use museum passes to save money
If you’re really interested in visiting lots of museums but still want to find ways to save money, there are museum passes that can help.
The Museum Island Welcome Card gives you a 72 hour transport pass, free entry to all museums and collections on Berlin’s Museum Island (Pergamon Museum, Bode Museum, Altes Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie, and Neues Museum), and discounts at many other museums and attractions.
To compare, a 72 hour Berlin BVG citytour card costs 29.90 euros and only covers your transport. Each museum on Museum Island costs 10 to 12 euros, and a museum pass (no transport) costs 29 euros.
Another option is the normal Welcome Card that does not include free entrance to the museums on Museum Island. It gives you a transport pass that you can choose either 48 hours, 72 hours, 4 day, 5 day, or 6 day, plus discounts at many museums and other attractions.
Go for a swim in the Spree…sort of
Please don’t actually jump into the Spree River – the water is not clean. But some genius decided it was still a cool place to go for a swim and set up a pool in a barge that floats in the river. While there are many popular lakes for swimming in Berlin, the Badeschiff pool in the Spree is quite unique, and you’ll have views of the TV Tower, Oberbaum Bridge, and Molecule Men.
Tickets are 7 euros for a two hour block, and you must book ahead.
Check out the Spandau Citadel
Technically part of Berlin, Spandau was once a separate village and still retains a different feel from the rest of Berlin. On the edge of the Spandau Old Town is the Citadel (Zitadelle in German), and it is quite an impressive fortress. Dating back to the Middle Ages, it was expanded in the late 1500s. It is considered to be one of the most important and best preserved Renasaince fortresses in Europe.
While most of the castles in Berlin are really palaces, this one feels like a real defensive building rather than a fancy home. Don’t forget to climb the tower – 153 stairs – for some really pretty views of Berlin and Spandau. Entrance is just 4.50 euros per adult, and it’s an extra 2 euros if you want the audioguide.
In the southwest corner of Berlin, right before you cross the state line into Brandenburg, lies Pfaueninsel, or Peacock Island. This pretty little island has a whimsical castle (it’s closed) and there are actually peacocks roaming around. It’s a nice chance of scenery from central Berlin.
A trip to Pfaueninsel will only cost you a transport ticket for zones AB plus a ticket for the ferry to get across to the island. From S-Bahnhof Wannsee, take the 218 bus to the Pfaueninsel stop, and you’ll see the ferry.
Learn about the horrors of Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp
World War II is a big part of Germany’s history, and it’s important that we don’t forget the horrors that occurred. A little ways north of Berlin is the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp where you can learn about those who suffered and died. It’s a somber but important sight, and entrance is free.
Take a day trip to Potsdam
Potsdam is one of the most popular day trips from Berlin, and for good reason. The palaces and gardens are absolutely gorgeous, and there’s so much interesting history. Entrance to the palaces is not free, but you can wander through the parks and gardens and enjoy the beauty without going inside the palaces for free. You’ll just need to buy a transport ticket that includes zone C to get to and from Potsdam.
Book a tour for your trip to Berlin
Berlin Travel Resources
I want you to have the best trip to Berlin, and hopefully this guide to cheap things to do in Berlin helps. But there are lots more tips on the site!
Here’s what you should know before coming to Berlin. From practical tips to quirky facts about the city, it’s all in there.
Read this helpful packing list for Berlin so you know what to bring and what to wear.
You’re probably going to be using public transport to get around Berlin. Read this handy guide to Berlin’s public transport system and how to get around Berlin.
Visiting Berlin? Don’t forget travel insurance!
It’s always a good idea to travel to Berlin with a valid travel insurance policy. Travel here is reasonably safe, but you never know when something could happen. You need to be covered in case you have an accident or become a victim to theft.
We recommend World Nomads insurance for travel. Travel insurance helps you recover your expenses and continue to enjoy your trip.