A travel guide to Berlin at 0 cost
Berlin is a city of many facets and a thousand interests, history, culture, night-life, art, museums, lakes and nature, parks, and I could go on and on.
I will never get tired of saying it, a weekend is not enough but it can be sufficient to get fascinated by the living and metropolitan charm of a city in turmoil where everything changes quickly despite the apparent slow pace of life.
It’s a city that you either love or hate, no middle ground here, the city of great contrasts and of the divisions, that go far beyond the well-known and ominous Wall, a fairly cheap city and for all budgets. For those who have little money, then this may be the right place!
I will have a lot to write about Berlin, I dedicate this post to the Berlin for free, or some of the things you can do for free in the city.
Walks (and picnics in the summer) at the Tiergarten
With its 210 hectares the Tiergarten is the second largest urban park in Germany.
In 1527 this park was built to serve as hunting ground for the king, 200 years later, the new king, with little interest in hunting decided to turn it into a park where all Berliners could enjoy.
Nowadays the heart of this beautiful park is dominated by the Victory Column, being in the heart of the city, near the Zoological garden, to Rechstag, at the gate of Brandenburg, it is the ideal place to rest after a long walk, especially in summer days.
Berlin Free Tour
Sandemans are legendary for their great free walking tour and, naturally, they haven’t left out Berlin. If you are new to the city and do not know where to start, this 3.5hr tour in the English language touches the following tourist points of the city: the Reichstag, Checkpoint Charlie, the sections of the Berlin Wall, the Museum Island and also Berlin’s historical cabarets.
The tour departs every day at 11 and 13 in front of Starbucks at the Brandenburg Gate and generally all hostels will propose a few.
Visit to the Reichstag
Originally built in 1894 to house the parliament, the Reichstag is an example of great architecture.
This place has an interesting history, here the first German Republic was proclaimed in 1918, in 1933 it was burned leading to emergency powers to Hitler and it is always here that was the official reunification of Germany was proclaimed in 1990.
After being heavily damaged in the 20th century, it was restored in 1999 to once again be the home of the German parliament.
Probably, the most striking aspect of the Reichstag is the huge glass dome on the roof where you can admire a 360 ° view of Berlin, the architect that has signed it is a name that speaks for itself, Renzo Piano, and admission is free but to reserve in time.
To reserve the entrance to the dome of the Rechstag click here.
There is an incredible number of wonderful free museums in Berlin, more than 10, in fact besides the fact that many museums offer free admission every day or on some.
East Side Gallery
No trip to Berlin would be complete without a visit to the East Side Gallery, a preserved section of the Berlin Wall, about a kilometer, covered by an incredible array of graffiti and murals.
This is not just a memorial for freedom but it is also the largest open air gallery in the world.
These 105 paintings were originally done in 1990, and although about two-thirds are in a state of disrepair or have been victims of vandalism acts, despite the restructuring taken place in 2009, unfortunately, to date (four years later) I must say that it is as if this had never been done (vandals again).
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Along the eastern edge of the Tiergarten just a block away from the Brandenburg Gate stands the controversial and distressing memorial.
2,711 concrete slabs scattered in a grid of 19,000 square meters.
Beneath the memorial is the information center with a permanent exhibition and the famous names of the Jewish Holocaust victims.
Free guided tours are also offered.
Not far away there are also the impressive monuments of Holocaust victims but not because they were Jews but because they were homosexuals and gypsies murdered by the Nazis.
Art Galleries at Hackescher Markt
Berlin is also synonymous of art and hence Hackescher Markt is the right place.
The area around this square is filled with eclectic art galleries, especially in Auguststrasse in the vicinity of the square towards Rosenthaler Platz.
Usually, on Thursdays, some galleries serve free wine and snacks in occasion of openings and exhibitions.
Visit to the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
The Memorial Church was built in 1890, but during an air raid in 1943 the major part of the church was irreparably destroyed.
All that remained were the iconic spire and the entrance.
A new, modern church was built around it in 1960 and the remaining part of the original church is open to the public.
The Church offers some splendid mosaics and sculptures of biblical scenes including a cross made of nails.
Address: Breitscheidplatz, 10789 Berlin
Berlin Wall memorial
This memorial free and complete is in Bernauer Strasse along the strip where the Berlin Wall once divided the city.
This place is sadly recognized as the first where inhabitants of the East have lost their lives trying to go to the east by jumping from the windows, a jump to freedom.
The site has a visitor center with a historical archive, a book store, the exhibition “Border Stations and Ghost Stations in Divided Berlin” and an open-air exhibition open all year round.
Download the PDF of the Berlin Wall Memorial
If you have any interest in the history of the Cold War, Checkpoint Charlie is a great place to live it and try to imagine how the city was until the late ’80s.
This was the most visible of all the checkpoints and still is considered a sort of symbol of the division between East and West during the partition, in fact it connected the Soviet sector (Mitte) with the American (Kreuzberg).
Jazz music Trane -A and B -Flat
Berlin is famous for its rich variety of music available day and night, not only techno and electronic music, however, if you fancy a bit of jazz and furthermore free, Berlin offers this too.
Trane -A and B – Flat offer free concerts and jam sessions every Wednesday.
A-Trane is located in Charlottenburg.
B-Flat in Mitte (Dircksenstr. 40), so no matter what part of town you’re in, it’s easy to get to one of the two places to listen to some good but also modern fusion music, ethno jazz and still more.
The districts of Berlin
The most beautiful district of Berlin and like it or not you have to hang around here. The district in fact extends along Unter den Linden, the Brandenburg Gate and the Museum Island. A classic walk which tells of the East Berlin and a wonderful introduction to the city.
Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain
After Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain are the two districts of the former East Berlin that have changed the most. Prenzlauer Berg although a few years ago was a more radical and cool neighborhood, today instead has become very bourgeois and of families. It’s always nice anyway to be able to hang out among its bars. Friedrichshain is the new Boheme district of Berlin, characterized by a youthful and alternative scene.
Kreuzberg and Schöneberg
Kreuzberg is the artistic and anarchist neighborhood of the city, a short walk from the East Side Gallery, street art is everywhere here. The nearby Schöneberg is rather quiet and residential instead but has excellent bars and cafes as well as being an important hub of gay life in the city.
Tiergarten and Charlottenburg
To the north of Kreuzberg and Schöneberg, the Tiergarten district is dominated by its namesake park, along the southern edge it is lined with some fine museums, the zoo, the diplomatic district and Potsdamer Platz.
Charlottenburg was the center of the old West Berlin, here are located the historical Schloss Charlottenburg and the beautiful museums.
Beyond the city centre
Beyond these central districts other neighborhoods worth noting are the Dahlem Museums Complex, the vast forest of Grunewald and Havel River in the south-west, the city of Spandau, in the northwest, and the fascinating Köpenick and Müggelsee in the south east.
Falkenberg Garden City
Although this is also a neighborhood, it is definitely worth a note apart. The “Tuschkastensiedlung” in Treptow, in the wild east of Berlin, is the oldest of six propertiess of modernist architecture in the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Opera of architect Bruno Taut the neighborhood is based on his concept of design on the English idea of the Garden City. In this way, some of the houses are grouped around a courtyard of acacia. In another phase of construction, Taut arranged the houses in offset rows. What characterizes this neighborhood is the combination of colors of the properties from the facades with contrasting details and design.
Courtyards of Berlin
Berlin hides surprises and the interior courtyard to the building are among these, sometimes just a slip into open doors of big and tall building to discover worlds!
One of my favorites is indisputably the Haus Schwarzenberg, stop U8 Weinmeisterstrasse, where the urban art of the city explodes on the walls and in the surrounding bars and shops. Courtyard remained intact from the post-war period undoubtedly a place that leaves no one indifferent.
Where to stay in Berlin
This is one of the things that is often asked me by who is planning a holiday in Berlin.
My advice, especially if you travel in company, is to rent an apartment, Kreuzberg and Mitte are good because central and near the main districts, here you will breathe air of true Berlin.
I travel independently taking mainly public transport. A world trip began in 2011 is not yet finished, my mission is to explore the world and write about it. Travel consultant Galapagos, Argentina, Morocco, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Namibia.