How to enjoy Berlin for free
Berlin has so much to offer that the sheer volume of options can make it really hard to make a decision. If you're running on a tight budget, the list of free experiences is (luckily) a little shorter but no less fun.
Get a feeling for the city and its history
If you’re brand new to the city, you might still be finding your way around the capital. But fret not: A good way to get familiar is Berlin Partner’s free, regular “Welcome to Berlin Tours” that emphasise the aspects of living in the city and allow you to start or enlarge your network.
There’s history literally behind every street corner, and there are many historic landmarks to discover for free – like airport-turned public park Tempelhofer Feld, the Reichstag dome with stunning views around the city or Tränenpalast’s in-depth look at GDR history. However, a great way to explore the heart and soul of Berlin beyond the usual tourist destinations is Alternative Berlin, who introduce you to underground sights and sounds, world-famous graffiti art, as well as the hangouts of famous and infamous music scenes. To dig into the real, everyday Berlin, get in touch with Berlin Greeters. They offer individual walks for small groups around a specific Kiez (or neighbourhood), geared to visitors’ interests and filled with fun anecdotes by a “greeter” knowing the area inside out.
Galleries and museums
Berlin takes pride in its vibrant cultural art scene. Scattered over the city, there are stunning galleries with changing exhibitions to check out without spending a single cent. One of them is Kreuzberg’s König Galerie at brutalist church St. Agnes.
Over in Mitte, Carlier Gebauer and DITTRICH & SCHLECHTREIM are two art spaces known for their immersive exhibitions. Surrounded by big outdoor murals lining Bülowstraße, URBAN NATION, has only recently opened its doors to the public and invites people to discover and learn about urban contemporary art. During 48 Stunden Neukölln, Berlin’s southern district is brimming with art explorers, who make their way from one participating gallery, museum or artist studio to the next. But even if you like to pay the more established, state-funded museums in Berlin a visit, these often have a free day once a month or week. Here you can find a list of all the museums that are always entirely free.
Basketball, football, ping pong
Berlin has a lot to offer when you want to exercise for free. Of course, nobody would charge you for jogging, but there's actually a lot more you can do. Berlin has many public places where you can play basketball or football, for example at Volkspark Friedrichshain, Wasserturmplatz, Gleisdreieck Park and many more. If you have a racket and a ball: perfect! Then you can start your sports career at one of the thousands of ping-pong tables around the city. Dedicated Berliners also offers free yoga courses among others at Give Something Back to Berlin.
Live music and street festivals
If you love live music, just walk around Maybachufer, Warschauer Straße U-Bahn station or Mauerpark. Maybe you'll be lucky and get to listen to the next big star - who knows? Even Ed Sheeran was a street musician before he made deals with major record labels. In the summer, there are also several street and music festivals happening, such as Fête de la Musique and Zug der Liebe, Berlin’s dance and techno demonstration. If you are after something low-key and intimate, the Berlin branch of Sofar Sounds hosts secret gigs in someone’s living room, garage or retail space, creating an immersive experience that brings guests and artists closer together. The concerts are on a donation-basis – you give what you like – and as space is very limited, you have to apply to take part in a ticket lottery.
Explore the outskirts
And if you like to escape the metropolis and enjoy a bit of calm and greenery, there are plenty of options on the outskirts of Berlin. You could pack a bag, hop on the train and head for one of Berlin’s beautiful lakes like Schlachtensee, Müggelsee, Liepnitzsee. Get lost on a hike through the vast Grunewald forest or make your way up Teufelsberg, a man-made hill which formerly hosted an American spy station in Cold War times. Feeling like traveling back in time even further? Then visit Potsdam and go on a stroll through the monumental gardens of Sanssouci Palace and imagine what life was like at court in mid-18th century Prussia.
If you want to get more tips, just log in to one of the free wifi networks in Berlin and Potsdam and check out some blogs about living in Berlin. For example, iheartberlin’s event calendar is full of treasures, while AskHelmut has a finger on the pulse and regularly offers raffles for guest list spots and specials to enjoy for free. Check it out!
Text: Uhura Creative Media
Header Image: Frank R. Schröder