Berlin is one of the least expensive capital cities in western Europe, which makes it a great city for budget travelers. With so many free things to do in Berlin, you don’t have to spend much money to enjoy the city. From parks and outdoor activities to museums and tours, take a look at this list of great activities in Berlin that don’t cost a thing.
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.
Free things to do in Berlin: The Wall
The Berlin Wall shaped the city’s history forever. See the remaining pieces and learn about some of the important border crossings between East and West Berlin for free.
1) Learn about the Wall at the Bernauer Strasse Wall Memorial
The Berlin Wall is one of the city’s most famous pieces of history. At the Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse, you can see how the Wall divided a street and a community. It’s an outdoor memorial that teaches you about how the people who lived here were affected, how some tried to escape (some successfully, some not) and how the Wall shaped this neighborhood.
Be sure to go into the visitors center where you can watch two short films about the Berlin Wall and the Wall between East and West Germany. And about halfway down Bernauer Strasse there’s a tower you can climb to see over the remaining stretch of Wall and into the Death Strip. Each of these sections of the memorial are free.
2) Admire the art at East Side Gallery
You’ve probably seen a lot of pictures of the East Side Gallery, and I’m betting it’s one of your top things to see in Berlin. Luckily it’s also a free thing to do in Berlin!
This is a section of the original Berlin Wall along the Spree River where artists from around the world created meaningful paintings to remind us of the horrors that occurred. Some of the artwork has changed, but today you can admire the East Side Gallery 24 hours a day for free.
3) Learn about the border crossing at Palace of Tears
Tränenpalast in German, Palace of Tears is a free exhibition at the Friedrichstrasse Sbahn station. When the city was divided, this was one of the border crossings between East and West, and now you can learn about the process of crossing here and what people went through. It was often an emotional experience since people never knew if they’d see their loved ones again, hence the name Palace of Tears.
4) Make a quick stop at Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie was one of the most famous border crossings between East and West Berlin. Though it has great historical significance, over the years it has become a rather cheesy tourist attraction. Fake guards used to stand there in uniforms and you could take selfies with them, but even they are not allowed to be there anymore.
Stop by and take a picture at Checkpoint Charlie if you must, but plan on seeing a few other things in the area as well.
Wander through Berlin streets and neighborhoods for free
You can soak up a lot of Berlin’s history and vibes by simply walking down the street. Here are a few streets and neighborhoods to wander through.
5) Take a stroll down Unter den Linden
Unter den Linden is a gorgeous street in Mitte that takes you to tons of Berlin landmarks and attractions. It’s also become an attraction on its own since it’s so pretty. Take a stroll down this tree-lined street between the Berliner Dom and Brandenburger Tor, stopping along the way to admire the architecture and monuments.
6) Walk down Karl-Marx-Allee
Once called Stalin Allee, Karl-Marx-Allee runs from Alexanderplatz to Frankfurter Tor (where the name changes to Frankfurter Allee). Along this road, you can see Soviet era buildings built during the Cold War. They’re impressive buildings that could easily be seen in Russia and demonstrate the differences still seen today between East and West Berlin.
7) Meander in Prenzlauer Berg
Prenzlauer Berg is one of Berlin’s hippest neighborhoods, and it’s a lovely area to wander through. Admire the ornate buildings, sit in one of the many parks, and soak up the charming atmosphere. It’s a big district, but you can’t go wrong wandering the streets near Kollwitzplatz and Helmholtzplatz.
8) Walk through Nikolaiviertel
Berlin doesn’t really have an old town the way that a lot of other European cities does, but Nikolaiviertel is a restored medieval quarter that’s as close as it gets. Walking through the old buildings is a pleasant and free thing to do in Berlin.
9) Get lost in the Hackescher Höfe
In Mitte there’s an area with lots of really pretty courtyards (Höfe in German) that are fantastic to wander through. Go a little north of the Hackescher Markt Sbahn station and check out these restored courtyards where you can shop or stop for a coffee, or simply enjoy the area if you don’t want to spend any money.
10) Hunt for street art
Berlin is well known for its street art, and exploring the city to see the different murals and works of art is certainly a fun and free thing to do in Berlin. Some of the famous ones are easy to locate, but keep wandering along the side streets, and you’ll probably see some you didn’t know about that might be even more interesting. Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain are especially well known for street art.
Berlin landmarks you can enjoy for free
Berlin is full of famous landmarks, and a few not-so-famous ones, and you can enjoy so many of them without spending a penny.
11) Take pictures at Brandenburg Gate
You can’t come to Berlin without seeing Brandenburg Gate. It’s one of the most recognizable landmarks in Berlin and in Germany. This old city gate was built in the late 1700s, but during the Cold War, it separated East and West Berlin.
During that time, this monument represented separation due to its location along the border. But today Brandenburger Tor symbolizes unity.
12) Be still in the Room of Silence
The world can get a little overwhelming sometimes, and the Room of Silence provides a tranquil escape. Located inside Brandenburg Gate, this room is a place where anyone can go to be quiet and think and reflect. It was established as a place for relaxation and silence as well as a symbol of tolerance and acceptance.
13) Check the time on the Weltzeituhr
Alexanderplatz is a good place to sit and take a break from the rushing around of sightseeing, but one of the interesting sights here is the Weltzeituhr, or World Clock. This quirky landmark shows the time in cities around the globe and even splits them into northern and southern hemispheres.
14) Enjoy the beauty at Gendarmenmarkt
Undoubtedly one of Berlin’s prettiest squares, Gendarmenmarkt is worth checking out. At this 18th century square, you’ll see the German and the French Cathedrals and Schinkel’s Konzerthaus. These gorgeous buildings make for a nice background during events including one of the city’s most popular Christmas markets, but it’s a wonderful place to see any time of the year.
15) Check out the Franziskaner-Klosterkirche church ruins
Not too far from Alexanderplatz you can see the ruins of a church that dates back to the late 1200s. This Franciscan Monastery has gone through many changes over the centuries and was badly damaged during WWII. Now it’s a quiet little park that occasionally holds events, but it’s interesting to see such a sight in the middle of Berlin.
16) See the other Berlin wall
The Berlin Wall that divided the city into East and West for almost 30 years is one of the most famous things about the city. But did you know there’s still a remaining section of the old medieval walls? Just a few minutes from the Franziskaner-Klosterkirche ruins, you can see what still stands of the old Berlin city walls in this hidden corner of Mitte.
17) Admire the architecture on Museum Island
The museums on Museum Island aren’t free, but you can still admire them from the outside. The Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) is located on Museum Island, and just nearby you can see the gorgeous buildings that house the well known museums.
18) Stop at Babelplatz
Next to the Berlin State Opera House is a square called Babelplatz. This is an easy stop if you’re walking along Unter den Linden. Not only is it a pretty square, but there is a Nazi book burning memorial here.
19) Walk across Oberbaum Bridge
The Oberbaumbrücke is a bridge that crosses the Spree River and connects Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg. It was badly damaged in WWII, and then served as a pedestrian crossing once the Berlin Wall went up since the bridge sits at the border.
Today cars drive across it and the U1 and U3 lines ride across it, but a great free activity in Berlin is to walk across the bridge. You’ll get nice views of the river and the sections of Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg that sit along the banks.
20) Check out the Molecule Men statue
The Molecule Men is a metal statue that stands at 30 meters (about 98 feet) high in the Spree River not too far from Oberbaumbrücke. The statue is of three humans facing each other, forming silhouettes on the river. They each have hundreds of holes in them, which are supposed to represent the molecules of all humans coming together. This is one of the quirkier sights in Berlin.
21) Take in a service at the Berliner Dom
Visiting the Berlin Cathedral is one of the top things to do in Berlin, but it costs money to tour the inside and climb to the top for views of the city. During services, touristic visits are not allowed, so there are no tours, though you can pay for a ticket to go to the top for views. However, you can go inside to experience the church services during this time for free. Please keep noise to a minimum, and please be respectful of those who are there to worship.
Relax in a park for free in Berlin
It’s free to lounge in a park, and Berlin has quite a few unique parks to visit. Here are some of our favorites.
22) Walk on a runway at Tempelhof
Tempelhofer Feld, a former airport that has been turned into a park, is one of Berlin’s largest green spaces and one of Berlin’s best parks. This former airport was in West Berlin and was the hub of the Berlin Airlift in 1948-1949.
When airport operations ceased in 2008, the city decided to reopen it as a park, runway and all. You can take a tour of the airport building, which still stands on the property, but you can enjoy the park itself for free.
23) Climb to Berlin’s highest point in Viktoria Park
Viktoria Park is a local favorite where you can relax and enjoy a bit of nature. It’s home to the city’s only waterfall, and even though it is artificial, it’s still quite pretty. Viktoria Park also has Berlin’s highest natural point, which luckily isn’t too high, so it’s easy to get to.
24) Admire the Charlottenburg Palace gardens and park
Entrance tickets to Charlottenburg Palace might be a bit pricey if you’re visiting Berlin on a budget. Luckily you can admire the outside of the palace and wander through the surrounding gardens and park for free.
25) Take a walk in Tiergarten
Tiergarten is one of the largest parks in Berlin, and it’s a wonderful place to go for a stroll. Throughout the park you’ll see statues and memorials, fountains and ponds. There are grassy areas if you’re looking for a little sun, but also plenty of tree-filled areas if you’re trying to get some shade on a hot day.
26) Escape to Treptower Park
Treptower Park is another large park in Berlin, and it’s located on the western banks of the Spree River just outside the Ringbahn. One of the Soviet War Memorials is located here, and it’s a beautiful green space if you need a break from the city center.
27) Get creeped out at Spree Park
At the edge of Treptower Park, there’s an old abandoned amusement park called Spree Park. You can take tours, but there are sections you can wander through on your own for free. Rides that haven’t operated in years stand and show how they’ve been weathered over the years, and it gives off a bit of a creepy vibe. If abandoned places are your thing, see this one soon – they’re working on reviving the whole area in the next few years.
28) Lounge in Lustgarten
Lustgarten is the park directly in front of the Berliner Dom and the Altes Museum on Museum Island. It’s a great place to lounge in the sun while admiring some of Berlin’s most beautiful buildings.
29) Have fun at Volkspark Friedrichshain
Volkspark Friedrichshain is another park loved by locals, and it’s huge. You can simply sit and relax with friends or on your own with a good book and a beer. Or if you’re feeling athletic, check out the beach volleyball area or the rock climbing wall.
30) Sing at Mauer Park
Mauer means Wall in German, and Mauer Park is a park that sits where the Berlin Wall once stood. It’s a popular place to hang out and relax any day of the week, but on Sundays there’s a huge flea market and karaoke. Watch as people get up to sing, or if you’re feeling daring, grab the mike and sing a song yourself.
Enjoy nature for free in Berlin
Many people think Berlin is an ugly city, but there’s actually a lot of nature to explore. Rivers, lakes, forests, and hiking trails abound.
31) Relax along Spree River
Berlin’s city center is shaped by the Spree River that cuts through it, and it can be a relaxing place to hang out. Though there are several cafes, restaurants, and bars on the river, there are also plenty of spots to sit without having to buy a meal or a drink.
Try the area behind the East Side Gallery, the section across the river from the East Side Gallery, the park near Nikolaiviertel and the Humboldt Forum, the Lustgarten in front of the Berliner Dom, or James-Simon-Park and Monbijoupark across the river from Museum Island.
32) Check out the Landwehr Canal
Instead of the river, why not check out the canals? The Landwehr Canal in Kreuzberg is another great place to relax with a picnic and a beer while watching the world go by.
33) Go to a lake
Despite being a big city, Berlin has tons of lakes where you can go swimming or simply relax on the beach. Some beaches charge a fee, but many do not. Müggelsee is the largest lake in Berlin, but other popular choices include Wannsee, Krumme Lanke, and Schlachtensee.
34) Go for a hike
Berliners love nature, and it doesn’t take long to get away from the city center and out into nature. In the southwest, there’s the lovely Grunewald Forest. In the east, check out the Wuhletal-Wanderweg, a hiking trail that mostly hugs the Berlin-Brandenburg border. Or you could check out sections of the Mauer Weg, a trail that follows the path of the Berlin Wall within the city and along it’s outer border, where you’ll enjoy the natural setting.
Almost free things to do in Berlin
These are free things to do that could involve shelling out a little cash if you decide to purchase something. Even if you do spend a little money, most of these are still cheap things to do in Berlin. Read the full post of Berlin’s cheap things to do here.
35) Join a free walking tour
Berlin has many options for free walking tours. Typically they will take you around to the main sights in Mitte, such as Brandenburg Gate, Alexanderplatz, Gendarmenmarkt, and many others. It’s a great way to get an overview of the city center and learn some of the history.
However, this item comes with a giant caveat. Those tour guides depend on your 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.
36) Browse the flea markets
Sundays are for flea markets in Berlin. Dozens of flea markets pop up in squares and parks all over the city, and even if you have no intention to buy anything, they can be really interesting to wander through and see what sorts of odd items are for sale.
Mauerpark is one of the most well known, but there are tons of others, such as Boxhaganer Platz, Prinzessinenngärten, Maybachufer, Arkonaplatz, Ostbahnhof, and Fehrbelliner Platz, just to name a few.
37) Browse the fresh markets
Cities all over Europe, and most of the world, hold fresh markets where people buy meat and fish, fruits and vegetables, bread and cheese, and so many other foods. These can be fresher and more locally sourced than shopping at the grocery store, so it’s a great way to get a glimpse of local culture.
They’re held on different days of the week depending on which market you’re going to. For example, the one at Boxhaganer Platz is on Saturdays, while the one at Maybachufer is on Tuesdays and Fridays.
38) View Alexanderplatz from above at Kaufhof Galleria
Kaufhof Galleria is a department store with locations all over the country. The one at Alexanderplatz is perhaps the biggest in Germany, and there’s a cafeteria-style restaurant on the top level.
Even if you don’t buy anything, wander over to the windows in the seating area (without pestering people who are sitting near the windows) and enjoy a free view of Berlin and Alexanderplatz from above. It’s not as good as the view from the TV Tower, but hey, free is free.
39) Go window shopping at Kurfürstendamm
If you’re on a budget, shopping at the expensive stores on Kurfürstendamm probably isn’t on your radar. But you don’t have to pay to window shop! Go for a walk down this famous street and gape at the astronomical prices of Prada shoes and Hermes handbags.
Free sights that honor victims of the Nazis
The Holocaust was a dark time in German history, and Berlin has lots of free museums, memorials, and other sights that honor and remember the victims.
40) Visit Topography of Terror
The Topography of Terror Museum sits on the location that was the headquarters of the Gestapo and the SS between 1933 and 1945. This is where persecution and killings of Nazi opponents were organized, and where the genocide of Jews, Roma, and Sinti was coordinated. It now serves as a place to remember history and warn us from repeating the terrors of the past.
The exhibits here use photographs and documentation to tell visitors about the crimes that were organized here. There are also excavation sites you can view through glass windows. The longest standing section of the Berlin wall inside the city is located here as well.
41) Pay your respects at the Holocaust Memorial
Also called the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, this memorial honors the large number of Jewish people who died at the hands of the Nazis. The memorial consists of 2,711 concrete blocks of varying heights, and the ground they sit on is an uneven slope similar to a wave. The information center showcases letters, diaries, photographs, and biographies of the victims to help personalize the experience.
42) Be impressed by the Silent Heroes Memorial Center
This memorial center remembers the Jewish people who resisted persecution and those who helped them. The exhibit shows the plight of those who faced deportation and worse, and how they decided to go underground in order to resist. Learn about their living conditions and how people tried to help them, including both successful and failed attempts.
43) Visit the Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazism
The Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazism sits in the southeast corner of Tiergarten, and this memorial tells the history of how gays were arrested, tortured, castrated, and killed under Nazi rule. The intention is to encourage tolerance and acceptance while remembering the past.
44) Visit the Memorial to the Victims of the Nazi Euthanasia Murders
Under Nazi rule, tens of thousands of patients from sanatoriums and nursing homes as well as racially and socially undesirable people were murdered. This horrific crime is considered a precursor to the mass murder of European Jews. The euthanasia murder program was planned, developed, and carried out at Tiergartenstraße 4, which is where the memorial stands today.
45) Visit the Memorial to European Sinti and Roma Murdered Under Nazism
On the eastern edge of Tiergarten is the Memorial to European Sinti and Roma Murdered Under Nazism. This memorial honors the memory of the many Sinti and Roma people, formerly called “gypsies”, who were killed under the Nazi regime. You can learn about the history of this group and what happened to them, and there’s a fountain where a flower is placed every day.
46) Visit the Museum Blindenwekstatt Otto Weidt
During World War II, Otto Weidt ran a workshop that made brooms and brushes, and many of the people he employed were blind and deaf Jews. When they were in danger, he used his shop to help keep them hidden from persecution and deportation. This museum tells the story of Otto Weidt and his workshop.
47) Visit the Platform 17 Memorial
The Grunewald S-Bahn station, where you’ll find the Platform 17 Memorial, was used by the Nazis in the early 1940s to transport Jews to concentration camps. Today track 17 is no longer used, and the memorial honors those who left from this station to horrible places and likely were killed. It’s only a 25 minute Sbahn ride from the Alexanderplatz station.
Free museums and monuments about World War II and the Cold War
Berlin is a great place to learn about WWII and the Cold War, and luckily some of the places to learn about these periods of history offer free entry.
48) Learn about life in East Germany at the Museum in der Kulturbrauerei
Kulturbrauerei is a former brewery in Prenzlauer Berg that now holds a movie theater, a few shops, a club, and more, and events are held in its large courtyard. There’s also a museum here dedicated to every day live in communist East Germany, and it’s free to enter and enjoy the exhibits.
49) Learn about Cold War West Germany at the Allied Museum
The Allied Museum is another free place to visit in Berlin if you’re interested in learning more about the history of the Allied Powers and post-war West Berlin. With both permanent and temporary exhibits, there’s always something interesting to see here.
50) See the Airlift Memorial
In 1948-1949, Tempelhof Airport was the hub of the Berlin Airlift, which kept West Berlin supplied with goods during the Berlin Blockade. This important time in history is honored with the Airlift Memorial, located across the street from the front of the former airport building.
51) Check out the German-Russian Museum
In the southeast corner of Berlin, the German-Russian Museum sits on the location where Germany gave its unconditional surrender at the end of World War II. This museum tells of the history of WWII with a focus on the eastern front and the Soviet forces involved in the war. This is a must for WWII history buffs, and it’s a bonus that it’s free.
52) Take a moment to reflect at Kaiser Wilhem Memorial Church
This church was built in the 1890s but was badly damaged during air raids in 1943. After the war ended, rather than rebuild the church, it was left in its damaged state as a reminder of the destruction of war.
53) Remember the fallen at a Soviet War Memorial
Berlin actually has several Soviet War Memorials scattered around the city, but the one you’re most likely to see is the giant memorial in Tiergarten. It sits on Strasse des 17 Juni, the road that cuts through the park, and it honors the memory of Soviet soldiers who died in WWII. The other Soviet War Memorial that’s not too far from the center of the city is in Treptower Park.
Free ways to enjoy art, cultural, and history Berlin
These museums and other attractions are a great place to go to experience history, culture, and arts for free in Berlin.
54) Enjoy the art at Palais Populaire
Housed in the former residence of Prussian princesses, Palais Populaire is a museum of art, culture, and sports. Exhibits are wide ranging and include literature, music, sports parkour, performance, and dance, as well as exhibitions from the Deutsche Bank Collection, and other exhibits from partners and private collections. Entrance is free and they often have free guided tours.
55) Appreciate street art at Urban National: Museum for Urban Contemporary Art
Berlin is well known for its street art scene, and Urban National was developed to focus on street art and urban art. Even the building’s facade is an ever-changing piece of street art. Entrance is free, but they also offer guided tours and workshops for a fee.
56) Check out the Humboldt Forum courtyard
The Humboldt Forum just opened on July 20, 2021, and entrance is free for the first 100 days. But if you’re visiting after that time frame is over, it’s still worth stopping by to see the outside of the building and wander through the courtyard. It’s quite impressive.
57) Learn about German Jewish history at the Jewish Museum
The core exhibit (not temporary exhibits) at the Jewish Museum is another great free thing to do in Berlin. Here you can learn about Jewish culture and history in Germany through the ages.
58) Take the free tour of the Reichstag Dome
The Reichstag building is the seat of the German government, and it is topped by an interesting glass dome. One of the more interesting free things to do in Berlin is sign up for a free tour of the dome. The audio guide tells you all about the history of the building, interesting facts about Germany and the government, and points out some of the surroundings you can see from the dome.
You must register ahead of time for the tour. Occasionally you can snag a last minute spot if someone cancels, but I wouldn’t count on that. This is one of the most popular free things to do in Berlin, so plan ahead.
59) Visit the Deutscher Dom Museum
Not to be confused with the Berliner Dom, the German Cathedral is located at Gendarmenmarkt and no longer operates as a church. After being restored from WWII damage, the Berliner Dom reopened in 1992 as a museum. Here you can see a German Parliament exhibition called “Milestones – Setbacks – Sidetracks” and admire the inside of this gorgeous building.
Wait, there are more free museums in Berlin!
There’s a monthly free museum event, plus there are so many free museums in Berlin, I couldn’t list them all.
60) Check out many other free museums in Berlin
These aren’t the only museums you can visit for free in Berlin. There are quite a few others, such as the Energy Museum, the Berlin Sports Museum, the House of the Wannsee Conference, and more. Check out the full lists here and here.
61) Visit loads of museums the first Sunday of the month
Free museum Sundays is a new program with free entrance to dozens and dozens of museums across Berlin. It even includes the most popular museums such as the Pergamon Museum, the Altes Museum, the Bode Museum, and many more. If you are in Berlin on the first Sunday of the month, don’t miss this chance to go to top museums free of charge. Some require advance booking but not all. Check the list here.
Free things to do near Berlin
Just a quick train ride from Berlin are a few worthwhile and free places to visit as a day trip from Berlin. Your just need transit tickets for zones ABC to get to and from Berlin to visit these free sights.
62) Remember the victims at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp
Concentration camps are somber but important places to visit. The Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp is located Oranienburg just north of Berlin and was built in 1936. Tens of thousands of people died here, and today it is a stark reminder of the horrors of the Nazi regime. Entry to the memorial and museums is free.
63) Wander through the gardens and parks of Potsdam
Though most of the palaces in Potsdam charge an entrance fee, you can wander through their surrounding parks and gardens for free. These estates are impressive, and the palaces are beautiful from the outside even if you don’t want to pay for tickets to go in.
Book a tour for your trip to Berlin
Berlin Travel Resources
I want you to have the best trip to Berlin, and hopefully list of free things to do in Berlin is helpful. But there are lots more tips on the site!
Check out this detailed list of the best things to do in Berlin. It’s full of activities, attractions, and more. If you love castles, here are some castles in and near Berlin. And for those of you spending more than a few days in Berlin, consider taking a day trip.
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.