I love writing my (Almost) Free Things To Do in X posts but they tend to focus on destinations that are known to be a tad expensive. Because of this, I never really thought of writing one for the rather cheap to enjoy Berlin, but you know … since nothing is cheaper than free and we can never turn down extra chips/ice-cream/beer-money here we go…
Walk along the East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery is a wall. Not grabbed your attention yet? Well, aside from being a well ordered pile of bricks, it’s also the largest standing remaining section of the Berlin Wall, but you’ll probably know it for its graffiti art. This last piece of the original wall has been turned into the largest open-air gallery in the world, displaying more than 100 paintings, you’ll probably only recognise a few and don’t worry you won’t miss them as there is big group of people snapping in front of them.
In the lobby of Radission Hotel in Mitte you’ll find the the world’s largest free standing aquarium. Sadly, ‘free standing’ doesn’t mean the water is held without glass (like with lasers or a force field), but don’t let that get in the way of enjoying this 25m tall fish bowl, and with some 1500 fish from different species – there’s some serious fin-watching to be had. This swimming pool for the fishes is part of the SeaLife Berlin underwater attraction. You need a ticket to SeaLife but you can sneak in the lobby and have look at the aquarium itself.
Visit the Berlin Wall Museum
Since we are on this topic: The Berlin Wall Museum is a must. The East Side Gallery might be the longest standing bit left but the Berlin Wall Museum just outside Nordbahnhof is actually more impressive and gives you a great impression of how the border developed to keep people from trying to go to the other West Side. It gives you a proper insight into what living in this strange place and time would have entailed, families seperated by a mere street or block – it’s hard to imagine nowadays. There’s also history, politics and the rest to keep you clued up plus a viewing spot from the top floor if you want to see rather than look at maps and drawings.
Explore the city’s free street art
Berlin has one of the greatest street art scenes in the entire world. You don’t have to more than move your left and right legs in unison and hey presto! You’re walking. Then head down the streets, grab some 10k steps and spot some famous and less famous pieces.
Go up to the Reichstag’s Dome for free
Constructed for the use of the German Empire back in the 1890s, the Reichstag is the traditional seat of the German Parliament. Then a century later, in the 1990s, it was reconstructed and they weren’t content with just cleaning it up, so they slapped a giant glass dome on the top. You get to walk up the spriral walkway that’s part of the dome to reach a rooftop terrace which shoves an incredible view of the city into you eye holes for FREE. Do register for a time slot though or you’ll have to queue up and that’s just wasted viewing time.
Go Urban Exploring
Love peeking in places? Then Berlin is the perfect place for you. Because of its history Berlin has more abandoned buildings then you can shake a selfie stick at and has become the unofficial capital city for Urban Explorers. An abandoned hospital, an abandoned theme park and an abandoned listening post to name a few are some of the places you can get your gritty photo award.
Visit Free Art Galleries
The area Auguststrasse and its side streets really spoke to me. On Thursday/Friday evenings, you can even catch some opening shows, which basically means free alcohol and finger food. I had luck as mine was a gallery opening / Christmas party / birthday. Jackpot!
Pay As You Want At Weinerei
While we are on the free(ish) food, Weinerei has an interesting concept where after 8PM you pay €2 to rent a glass and enjoy as much good wine as you can handle, have some simple dinner from the buffet (think pasta or meal salad and bread) and at the end of your visit pay what you think it was worth. Don’t be a total D and leave €5 when you have 4 glasses of wine and refilled your plate. They offer a similar concept in their Perlin and Forum, their other two locations. And yes, you pay the €2 even if you bring your own glass, you alcoholic *hic*.
Alternatively drinking outside a Späti (basically the German equivalent of an Off Licence, the good ones often come with a little table and chairs outside the store) and getting some late night kebabs would cost you the same and can be a gem for people watching.
Do you have any good Berlin-on-a-budget tips?