This post provides 13 ideas to enjoy Berlin absolutely for free, with a few almost free ideas mixed in. This is the best city in the world for a lot of reasons but mostly because no matter where you come from you can enjoy this city on whatever budget and at whatever pace you choose. In Berlin we say, ‘come as you are’ and that’s it, everyone belongs here and everyone can enjoy themselves here. One of the best things about this city are all the free things that you can do. I highly encourage checking all of them out but if you find your time running short, don’t worry, Berlin is a place that you should always revisit because like its malleable and unforgettable history this city is always changing and forever evolving.
(1) The Berlin Wall, various locations
Monuments tend to be outside and outside tends to be free. The Berlin Wall is the big one here. You can’t come to Berlin and not see the wall that divided this city in two for 28 years. Visit the East Side Gallery,the longest stretch of the wall that was painted by different artists after reunification. A must see is the official Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse. Here the wall has been fully reconstructed and offers a free viewing platform to get a top notch view of divided Berlin. Below is a 3 minute highlight video of the Berlin Wall Memorial.
This is a self-guided tour of the varieties of graffiti and street art one can find on the streets of Berlin. Graffiti and street art is very typical for Berlin and can be found everywhere. The former city mayor described Berlin as “poor and sexy”. Graffiti and street art just fit right into this slogan. While graffiti and street art is not just the product of unruly gangs, it is a form of expression and an important component of Berlin’s underground art and culture scene, which contributes to the uniqueness and creativity that defines the German capital. Berlin in many ways throughout history has had an alternative and unconventional streak of rebellion and emancipation, and it shows in its urban art environment that it is often thought-provoking and political. Many street artists are attracted to Berlin; they either live in Berlin or travel here to leave their mark. If you walk the streets of Berlin with a keen eye. you will notice street art and graffiti everywhere – on walls, garbage containers, bridges, doors, sidewalks, tunnels and other places.
This self-guided tour will serve as a short introduction to Berlin’s graffiti and street art.
This post is about Berlin’s underground bunkers. Like every city, Berlin has a hidden life under the surface. The sewage system, gas, water electricity, the subway, pneumatic tubes – and in the case of Berlin the air raid shelters and bunkers from World War II. Visitors to Berlin can take a bunker tour to discover this hidden network of tunnels and shelters underground. Tours are offered by the organization “Berliner Unterwelten e.V.” about 350 members of diverse professional background who do research, explore the underworld and make them accessible to the public by giving tours in various languages, offering an exhibit and publications. Their focus is on World War II and the Berlin Wall. Even though the Berlin Wall is far from being subterranean architecture, escape tunnels – more than 70 – played an important role in people’s way into freedom.
Not all bunkers are accessible anymore, for example, Hitler’s bunker has been excavated and filled in and is located underneath what is today a parking lot. If you decide to go there, a bilingual information board helps to understand when, why, and how the bunker was built. The board was installed by “Berliner Unterwelten – Berlin Underworlds”.
This post reviews and compares the various different Berlin bike tours available to you. Believe it or not, there are quite a few guided bike tours in English – not only in the city center, but also in more remote neighborhoods. Some providers specialize in bike tours, while others offer walking tours as well. Most of these tour companies have bicycles available for rent, and some offer the additional helmet or child’s seat as well. Depending on which service you choose, you may also have the option to rent out electric bikes or tandem bikes for a more interesting experience. A majority of these tours are offered less frequently during the winter. Ticket prices typically range from €20-€30 on average, but sometimes prices drop even lower.
This self-guided Jewish Berlin Tour gives a short overview of the major sights in Jewish history in Berlin. For centuries, Berlin had a vibrant Jewish culture and was the birth place of important Jewish movements such as the Jewish Enlightenment in the 17th Century and the Reform and Modern Orthodox movements. Despite times of hardship, the community was thriving right up until the rise of the Weimar Republic in the 1930’s. The 1933 census counted 160,000 Jews living in Berlin, but in less than 15 years, the Jewish population of Berlin was reduced to 8,000. Hitler’s ‘Final Solution’ – the carefully planned extermination of Jews – had decimated the Jewish population of Berlin and most of Europe. In addition to the massive loss of life, many of Berlin’s Jewish institutions, synagogues, schools and cultural sites were destroyed during the war.
Since the reunification of East and West Germany, Berlin’s government has strived to make Berlin a city that once again welcomes Jews and their unique culture. The city as well as individual foundations have made it a point to create sites and memorials throughout the city to honor the 6 million Jews who were murdered by Hitler’s Germany.
Today, surprisingly, the city that is regarded with disdain by many people as the command center Hitler’s Third Reich, is now home to more than 45,000 Jews and continues to grow. Jews are moving to Berlin from places like Australia, Eastern Europe, Russia, France and United States. There are signs once of Jewish life once again and though this tour focuses on the past and the terrible loss of life, the existence of the memorials you will see is a testament to the hopeful future for Jews in Berlin.
While the old historic center of Berlin was destroyed in World War II and most of the buildings are reconstructions, the Spandauer Vorstadt, between Alexanderplatz and the theater district (e.g. Friedrichstadtpalast with its Las Vegas-like shows) has the real old houses from the 18th and 19th century. This neighborhood had also been the center of Berlin Jewish life and again houses important Jewish institutions. Neglected in socialist times, the Spandauer Vorstadt is beautifully restored today with cafés, shops and much more to explore. Come and explore this Historic Old Berlin – The Spandauer Vorstadt on this self-guided tour.
We are happy to have produced several self guided Berlin walking tours and our collection is growing. We designed these self guided tours to be used on your own time and your own pace or as companion pieces on our guided tours. Some tours are only available as a self-guided tour. We hope these tours are helpful to you.
Berlin Mitte-East Tour – One of the historically and architecturally richest areas of Berlin and located right in the center – hence the name Mitte. This self-guided tour covers the important monuments and sights of Mitte’s East part which no every visitor to Berlin should miss. Complimentary to this tour, you can also explore the Things to see in Mitte West.
Berlin Wall Tour – During our Berlin Wall Tour, you will learn about the events, figures, and postwar principles that lead to the construction of the wall, and the consequences that were brought about even to this day. This tour will shed some light and perspective onto both sides of the wall, and its impact on German culture and mindset, as well as on Berlin itself.
Friedrichshain Tour – Berlin’s district Friedrichshain is trendy and rough, with lots of graffiti and a distinct East German charm and an off-beat alternative culture. It’s very low key, and not yet as commercialized with a big student population, low rents, but also a rich history in working class roots. Come and explore this district on a self-guided tour of Friedrichshain.
Spandauer Vorstadt Tour – While the old historic center of Berlin was destroyed in World War II and most of the buildings are reconstructions, the Spandauer Vorstadt, between Alexanderplatz and the theater district (e.g. Friedrichstadtpalast with its Las Vegas-like shows) has the real old houses from the 18th and 19th century. This neighborhood had also been the center of Berlin Jewish life and again houses important Jewish institutions. Neglected in socialist times, the Spandauer Vorstadt is beautifully restored today with cafés, shops and much more to explore. Come and explore this Historic Old Berlin – The Spandauer Vorstadt on this self-guided tour.
Kreuzberg Tour– This district gets is name from the hill with the cross (“cross mountain”) where this tour ends. It is a Berlin district that has enjoyed more and more popularity. Kreuzberg can be divided into east Kreuzberg, more unkempt and rich in immigration (the former SO36 postal code also gives a nickname to the area), as well as west Kreuzberg, the more trendy, bohemian part with the Bergmannstrasse. If you can’t take part on a walking tour, take this self-guided tour to get an overview of the main highlights.
Jewish Berlin Tour – Today, surprisingly, the city that is regarded with disdain by many people as the command center Hitler’s Third Reich, is now home to more than 45,000 Jews and continues to grow. Jews are moving to Berlin from places like Australia, Eastern Europe, Russia, France and United States. There are signs once of Jewish life once again and though this tour focuses on the past and the terrible loss of life, the existence of the memorials you will see is a testament to the hopeful future for Jews in Berlin.
Charlottenburg Tour – Located in the western part of Berlin, this affluent borough with its mansions, churches, and a famous castle is worth exploring. It’s filled with history, medieval buildings, Prussian history, and the beautiful gardens of Charlottenburg Castle.
Berlin Graffiti and Street Art Tour – Berlin’s underground street art culture portrays the creative character of this city. Many street artists live in the city or they have traveled from all over the world to leave their mark. From graffiti, tags, paste-ups or big murals, you’ll find anything Berlin. Some street art is more hidden, some is wide out in the open. This short guide will show you where to find the street art hot spots in Berlin.
Berlin’s district Friedrichshain is trendy and rough, with lots of graffiti and a distinct East German charm and an off-beat alternative culture. It’s very low key, and not yet as commercialized with a big student population, low rents, but also a rich history in working class roots. Come and explore this district on a self-guided tour of Friedrichshain. You can follow the tour via Google map.
Stop A – Cross Otto-Suhr-Allee and have a look at the huge building with the 89m (270 ft.) tower. This was Charlottenburg City Hall (Rathaus) when it opened in 1905 and Charlottenburg was still an independent (and rich) city. In 1920, Greater Berlin was established, and today Charlottenburg isn’t even a district of its own. The building is Art Nouveau and the ornaments look pretty medieval. Read more »
This post is a review and comparison of Cold War themed guided tours as well as a self-guided tour of things to see and do in East Berlin. Although Berlin has been a unified democratic city since 1990, there are still some sites that can give you an understanding of the hardships that East Berliners (as well as west) suffered during the Cold War. Scroll down in this post for is a map we created that takes you to the highlights in East Berlin, accompanied with descriptions.