Best of Berlin

Berlin on a Budget:

4 Day Guide

Free things to do in Berlin on a budget is a city with a lot of dark energy, as our friend Alessio puts it. This is probably due to the fact that it endured a lot of pain during the 20th century. Despite that, now Berlin on a budget now dhas an exciting and vibrant energy thanks to a youthful population of artists, hipsters, and a prominent LGBTQ scene.

To be quite frank, there are plenty of great free things to do in Berlin but overall we didn’t think it was a very pretty city. Parts of the city still have ugly, gray, rectangular buildlings that are remnants of from Soviet occupation

Though it wasn’t our favorite city, this 4 Day Guide to Berlin on a budget will tell you about some free things to do in Berlin, how to get around, and cheap lodging in Berlin.

Day 1: Friedrichshain

We highly recommend checking out the neighborhood of Friedrichshain; a hip borough of Berlin on a budget known for its lively club and artistic scene. If you're not into clubbing and heavy techno there are plenty of outdoor bars and restaurants running along the banks of the Spree.

The Spree and Molecule Man

The Spree river cuts through the heart of the city right where the Berlin Wall used to run. Following it through Friedrichshain you’re bound to see the Molecule Man, an enormous sculpture in the middle of the river. Continuing along the Spree will also take you through several historic parts of Berlin on a budget like the East Side Gallery and Tiergarten Park.

4 Day Guide Berlin on a Budget - Walk along the Spree
4 Day Guide Berlin on a Budget - Walk along the Spree
Berlin Wall East Side Gallery & Museum

If you want to experience a bit of live history, we recommend checking out the East Side Gallery. It's a well preserved portion of the Berlin wall, currently displayed as graffiti art project created by 118 artists to celebrate its collapse.

At the beginning of the East Side Gallery is the Wall Museum, which gives some historical context of Post WWII Berlin. It focuses on the late 1940s until Germany was reunited in 1990. The museum itself was alright, but a bit pricey for being so small; €6.50/student ticket and €9.50/adult ticket. While there are some historical artifacts displayed, the majority of the exhibits are television screens playing prerecorded moments throughout history.

Berlin on a Budget - Berlin Wall East Side Gallery
Berlin on a Budget - Berlin Wall East Side Gallery
Berlin on a Budget - Berlin Wall East Side Gallery
Berlin's Clubbing Scene

Berlin is known throughout Europe for it's clubbing scene. Perhaps one of the city's most notorious institutions is Berghain Panoramic Bar. If you read some of the reviews online it seems like people either love it, or hate it.

This could be because of the club's strict door policy upheld by world renowned bouncer, Sven Marquardt. People line up every weekend to either have the time of their lives, or be rejected after waiting several hours.

Though the club is open for 48 hours straight through the weekend, its most popular time is Sunday morning all through the night. Our friend Alessio, who has lived on and off here for several years, told us real Berliners go out to party on Sunday leaving Monday morning.

Free things to do in Berlin on a budget

Though the club is open for 48 hours straight through the weekend, its most popular time is Sunday morning all through the night. Our friend Alessio, who has lived on and off here for several years, told us real Berliners go out to party on Sunday leaving Monday morning.

Day 2: Historic Berlin

Day 2 of our guide to Berlin on a budget will take you to see some of the historic sites and buildings in Germany's capital. The good news is that all of these places are free to visit. Though our last stop is free to the public on the outside, there is a paid underground museum if you wish to learn more about the memorial site.

Bellevue Palace

First up is Bellevue Palace, the official residence of the German President since 1994[1], located in the neighborhood of Tiergarten. Since we're from the US, we thought of this place as visiting the White House of Germany. We checked online about booking a tour inside the palace but had no luck. Nonetheless, walking by and admiring it from the outside is still one of the great free things to do in Berlin on a budget.

Free Things to see in Berlin: Bellevue Palace
Tiergarten Park

Located right near Bellevue Palace is the largest park in Berlin, Tiergarten (also the name of the neighborhood it's located in). One of the monuments in the park that might catch your eye is the Soviet War Memorial Tiergarten, a large display with retired soviet tanks on either side. As you walk through the park, you will be making your way through former East Berlin until you reach the Brandenburg Gate, signifying the entrance into West Berlin. Starting or ending your day around here is definitely one of the best free things to do in Berlin.

4 Day Guide Berlin on a Budget - Tiergarden Park
Free Things to do in Berlin - Tiergraden Park
Free Things to do in Berlin - Tiergraden Park
Brandenburg Gate & Riechstag Building

The Brandenburg gate is a must see in Berlin. Not only is it a historic icon of the city, but a landmark of Germany. Originally the gate was built in the 18th century, and has become a relic of the country's history over the centuries.

In Post WWII Germany, the gate was used one of the checkpoints between East/West Berlin. After the fall of the wall, the Brandenburg gate stands as a symbol of Germany's reunification. If you want to get a good shot of this building from the front, we recommend going early in the day. By the afternoon, the sun will be sitting right behind it along with huge crowds of people.

Best things to do in Berlin on a budget - Brandenburg Gate
Brandenburg Gate
Best things to do in Berlin on a budget - Riechstag Building
Riechstag Building

The Riechstag Building once held the chambers of the German Imperial parliament, until it burned down in 1933 during the rise of the Nazi party. It stood in ruins throughout WWII and most of the Cold War until reconstruction was completed in 1999[2]. Though some of architecture in Berlin isn't my style, the before and after of this building restoration is quite impressive.

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

Unlike some countries that try to rewrite horrific events in their history, Germany has a very pragmatic way of promoting education to learn from a regretful past. This Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is described as a "a place of contemplation, a place of remembrance and warning" on its website. After visiting, I would describe it as just that - walking through the 2,711 concrete slabs is a sobering experience.

The outside display is free things to do in Berlin and open to the public, but we recommend checking out the underground museum. It's only €3.00 ($3.33 USD) for the audio guided tour making it one of the best educational (and affordable) free things to do in Berlin.

Best things to do in Berlin on a budget

Day 3: Cheap Leisure

If you're looking for some of the best cheap and free things to do in Berlin, this portion of our Berlin on a budget guide is for you. Starting off with some free walking tours, there are several options offered daily. After strolling around the city for a bit, you can swing by Holtzmarkt to get some happy hour specials in this stylish outdoor marketplace along the Spree river.

Berlin Free Tours by Foot
Free Tours of Berlin

One of our favorite things to warm ourselves up to a city is find free walking tours. I usually do this by looking them up online or seeing if the hostel recommends any. To be honest, they are kind of hit or miss since it really depends on the tour guide.

Though these tours are supposed to be free, tipping is encouraged to promote better guides that give the best experience. So if you enjoyed your time and learned a few things, consider donating some euros to keep the good tour guides around.

Afternoon at Holtzmarkt

This outdoor marketplace caught our eye as we were riding the S train back to our cheap lodging in Berlin. We invited our friend to come along with us to grab a drink, and it turned out to be an amazing place to spend the afternoon. Holtzmarkt is an outdoor event venue featuring several bars and food stalls.

Best things to do in Berlin on a budget - Holtzmarkt
Holtzmarkt 3.2 - 600 4x5.jpg
Best things to do in Berlin on a budget - Holtzmarkt

We visited Berlin during the summer and this place is the perfect spot to grab a bratwurst, beer, and sit along the canal for happy hour. Bratwurts, pretzels, and beer all start at roughly €3.00 which makes this place one of the great cheap places in Berlin to check out.

Day 4: The Best of the Rest

For the last day in our guide to Berlin on a budget, we will go over some other great cheap things to do in Berlin that won't break the bank. If you're into museums, then we recommend checking out Museum Island which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Museum Island

Located smack dab in the middle of the city is Berlin's Museum Island, you could easily spend all day here if you're interested to learn a bit. The combined ticket, which grants you entry to all 5 museums, is €18.00/adult, but only €9.00/student ticket. We were feeling pretty frugal on our last day so we opted out of paying the admission ticket. However, if you have a valid Student ID spending the day here can easily turn into one of the best cheap free things to do in Berlin.

Berlin on a Budget: Museum Island
Gendarmenmarkt & Alexanderplatz

Gendarmenmarkt is a historical market square in Berlin featuring a beautiful architectural ensemble. If you're visiting Berlin in December then you can expect to find a Christmas market and ice rink located here. On the other side of Museum Island is Alexanderplatz, a bustling square with one of the main stops on the Berlin metro system. Here you will find Neptunbrunnen, a fountain dedicated to Neptune, and Fernsehturm, a 1960's style space needle with a restaurant/observation deck at the top.

Best free things to do in Berlin - Alexanderplatz
Alexanderplatz: Berliner Fernsehturm
Best free things to do in Berlin - Gendarmenmarkt
Gendarmenmarkt: Französischer Dom
Best free things to do in Berlin - Gendarmenmarkt
Gendarmenmarkt: Konzerthaus Berlin

How to get to Berlin on a Budget

Though most people think the Eurorail trains are the best way to get around Europe, taking a bus is really best option to get to Berlin on a budget. Hands down our favorite bus operator in Europe is Flixbus. They run to most countries and large cities, and are by far the most comfortable buses with the most leg room.

Photo Credit: Flixbus.com
Photo Credit: Flixbus.com
Amsterdam ↠ Berlin
  • Bus:
    • Cost: €4.99+
    • Time: 1.5 hrs+
  • Train:
    • Cost:  €16.80+
    • Time: ~1 hr
Hamburg ↠
Berlin
Hamburg ↠ Berlin
  • Bus:
    • Cost: €10.00+
    • Time: 5 hrs+
  • Train:
    • Cost:  €33.10+
    • Time: ~3 hrs
Prague ↠
Berlin
Prague ↠ Berlin
  • Bus:
    • Cost: €14.99+
    • Time: 4 hrs+
  • Train:
    • Cost:  €40.00+
    • Time: ~3.5 hrs

We also like browsing tickets on CheckMyBus to see the easiest and cheapest options. CheckMyBus also suggests train tickets, but buses are usually the most cost effective option. Above are rough costs of getting to Berlin from a few close-by European cities. Another good website we like to check is Trainline for both bus and train tickets. They also offer a comprehensive search of the quickest/cheapest transport between European cities.

Pro Tip: If you plan on taking trains anywhere in Europe, you will need to book more than a month ahead of time if you want a decent price. Booking train tickets only a few weeks out can sometimes be 3-4x more expensive than a bus. Fortunately, bus tickets remain fairly stable and only increase a modest amount closer to the departure date.

Getting around Berlin on a Budget

To be honest, the public transport in Berlin was pretty difficult for us to figure out. There are a couple different train lines that make up the ‘metro’ system. The S and the U are the main lines, but transferring between them can be a bit of a headache at sometimes. Some stops on the U line will also have an S station, but they will not be in the same building.

Pro Tip: The U line is always underground and the S line is always above ground. The Exit of a U line will not always lead directly to the S line.

Nonetheless, the Berlin metro system is very affordable and one of the most unique we have seen. Tickets are flat rate for a one-way journey ranging from €2.80-€3.40 depending on what zones you are traveling within. A full day pass for unlimited travel can be purchased for €7.70.

Passengers do not need to 'swipe into' an entrance at the station. Instead, tickets are to be bought and validated at the platform and is sort of based on an honors system. Conductors will sometimes come around on the train to check your tickets so if you don't have one then you will need to pay a large fine.

Contrary to what we had been told before, Uber is in fact legal in Berlin and we used it a couple times. Sometimes, a quick Uber trip was more cost effective than buying 2 one-way journeys on the train.

Cheap lodging in Berlinon a Budget

From our experience, we like to use Hostel World to check out potential hostels, then check other booking websites like Booking.com to make our reservations. Sometimes we also message hostels directly to get a better price. We also like to use Airbnb to book accommodations if its a better deal than hostels. Clicking on either of the icons will give you a deal with either of the sites, but are affiliate links so we earn a small commission.

Dorms: €9.25+ ($10.40+USD)

Private: €19.28+ ($21.60+USD)

Amenities: Free Wifi, 24 Hr Reception, Bar, Luggage Storage, Self-Catering Facilities

Photo Courtesy: Hostelworld.com

Dorms: €14.90+ ($16.65+USD)

Private: €19.90+ ($22.25+USD)

Amenities: Free Wifi, 24 Hr Reception, Bar/Restaurant, Tours/Travel Desk, Luggage Storage

Photo Courtesy: Hostelworld.com

Dorms: €10.00+ ($11.17+USD)

Private: €14.00+ ($15.65+USD)

Amenities: Free Wifi, 24 Hr Reception, Bar/Restaurant, Tours/Travel Desk, Luggage Storage

Photo Courtesy: Hostelworld.com

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By |2019-11-06T09:12:58-05:00June 5th, 2019|Budget Travel, Europe, Germany, Travel Guides|0 Comments

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