Berlin’s a huge, historic city with endless things to do — you could spend a month in Berlin and not do it all! With this excess of activities, you really can easily zero in on just the free or cheap options to make for an affordable vacation!
We spent a little over 3 days in Berlin and managed to do it pretty cheaply — and, btw, vegan-friendly! Not at all vegan, but loved everything we ate. Click here to read about tackling Berlin as a vegan! Also, here’s our city guide of Berlin with more of a wintery approach.
Here are some of the free or cheap things we loved doing the most!
Do a free walking tour
Free tours are everywhere in Europe, and I’m obsessed! Most tour groups do the basic ones for free, with more specific and more fun ones for about 15-20 euros. All they ask is at the end of the tour, you tip what you think it’s worth. I’d say do a minimum of 10 euros, unless it just sucked.
Alternative Berlin tour
This was my favorite of the two. It’s Berlin, but not the basics. Rather than going to all the historic parts of town, you hang in cool neighborhoods and look at art, learn about the different types of graffiti, etc. Of course the tour goes into some of the history of Berlin — you can’t not! But, nothing was repeated between this tour and the other one for us. Our tour guide was Rhew (Roo? Rue?) and he was amazing, even recommending fun things for us to do — too bad we didn’t have much time to do anything.
Total spent: 10 euros
New Europe tour
We did this one fresh off the plane, and let me tell ya, it was a struggle doing a walking tour (in the rain) after not sleeping for 24 hours. But, we were troopers! And I do recommend doing a walking tour as one of your first things you do in a new city — you get to orientate yourself and get amazing recommendations. You go to the standard touristy spots, so it was good to get those out of the way!
Total spent: 10 euros
East Side Gallery
Another (admittedly) touristy thing you gotta do is walk down the East Side Gallery. Grab a coffee or a beer — you can drink anywhere in Germany! — and wander around taking pictures or just appreciating the art on the segment of the Berlin Wall that still stands today.
Total spent: 0 euros
Flea market and karaoke in the park
Mauerpark is another wall-related part of history that’s worth a visit. “Mauer” means wall, since the Berlin Wall and its Death Strip used to run right through the park. Now, the park is frequented by locals every Sunday for the city’s largest flea market. You can get a coat for 5 euros or handmade jewelry. After you’re sufficiently broke, follow the music to karaoke! Seriously, loved the karaoke. You sit in the elevated stone seats (fyi, very dirty) while two dudes conduct a hilarious and fun karaoke experience. If you’re brave (we weren’t) you can volunteer to sing. If not, (like us) you can drink beer and raddlers from guys selling cold drinks out of little carts, ball stadium style. Note: There is no restroom. The bush is your restroom. Plan accordingly.
Total spent: 10 or euros on bier and mango wodka shots
Ping pong at a bar
Upon entering a bar with some new friends, I witnessed a group of 6 or people, each with a paddle in hand, circling the ping pong table each hitting the ball on one side before shuffling to the other side to hit the ball again. It was mesmerizing and dizzying. If someone missed the ball or hit it off the table, they were out. When it was down to two, the two people played until they won 3 points. Then, the winner bangs his or her paddle on the table and everyone rallies and a new game starts. I didn’t understand annnny of the German words said, but eventually got in the game. Then, we closed down the bar since I didn’t want to leave the ping pong table!
Total spent: 2 euros on a bier
Pratergarten game watch
Football season? Highly recommend watching a game at Pratergarten, where the beers are cheap and so are the bites. It’s HUGE and cash only, fyi. Even if there isn’t a game and you’re in the area, this is a great spot for groups or just chilling after a long day of walking tours. Free WiFi, y’all.
Cheap eats: We went to quite a few vegan spots and all were hella affordable. Check out the vegan food guide to Berlin here.
Total spent: 10 euros on bier and snacks
Outdoor art and lounging by the river at Holzmarkt25
Stumbled upon this little nugget of beauty because Anastasia saw it from the train and then we blindly followed our Alternative Berlin tour guide’s directions. It was worth it! There are different little spots in the big market — a bar, a restaurant, coffee, shops — and then there’s seating right along the river. Looks like there are events held there too!.
What drew us in, of course, were the murals. There were three that faced opposite the water, right on the street. We proceeded to take pics at them, as one does.
Total spent: 0 euros (but we didn’t stay for food or drinks)
Run in Treptower Park or Berlin Tiergarten
Total spent: 0 euros
Sauna and chill at the hotel
Y’all, I am obsessed with the hotel we stayed at in Berlin. It’s called the Mövenpick Berlin and it’s in the trendy neighborhood of Kreuzberg. The hotel has an amazing vibe to it — trendy and art deco. And, y’all, it has a spa. We checked in and made a beeline to the sauna. The hotel is kind of a maze, so we probably should have just asked for help, but we did (eventually) find it! After that, we had dinner, and spent a few more hours at the bar — every guest gets a free welcome drink of beer or wine. After that, we slept quite soundly in our room in our beds, which have a remote you can control how firm or soft your bed is. #techonology #amirite I super admire Mövenpick’s sleep priority and the chocolates they left on my pillow. Bless u.
Berlin Welcome Card
Anastasia and I scored two of the 3-day Welcome Card for free — much thanks, Visit Berlin! The biggest perk for us was the unlimited travel pass. In Germany, you don’t need a train/bus ticket to get into the subway/train terminal or on the vehicle — you literally can just walk in and on the train — HOWEVER, if you are caught riding without a ticket or a pass, you can be fined up to 60 euros. If you don’t have the cash or your passport.. you could go to JAIL! Get a travel pass for however long you’ll be there and make sure to sign and/or stamp it at your first use. It’s much more worry-free and convenient.
If you’re not planning on doing any of the museums or big touristy things, skip the Berlin Welcome Card. But if you do plan on doing stuff, you get tons of discounts and free admission with the card. Learn more here.
- A Vegan’s Guide to Berlin
- A Houstonian’s Guide: 24 Hours in Berlin
- A Houstonian’s Guide: Oktoberfest in Munich
- Read more Germany posts