As the old saying goes, “the best things in life are free” – and nowhere is this more true than in Berlin. We decided to make a round-up of the very best the city has to offer for free this winter. Now all that’s left for you to do is enjoy yourself! Do you think we’ve missed anything? It was such a tough decision with so much to choose from – we’re suckers for feedback so feel free to have your say.
The largest outdoor gallery on the planet, East-Side Gallery is a 1316 meter section of the former Berlin wall displaying over one hundred paintings by 118 artists from 21 countries. In 2009, 20 years since the first piece was created, the gallery was completely renovated and the former artists were invited to participate in the repainting of the wall, attracting 87 in all to the event who painted their section for a second time. The artwork consists of poignant murals that were conceptualized to express the feelings and emotions of the population both at the time and today.
Auguststrasse is full of small commercial galleries, each offering a unique perspective on the Berlin art scene as it exists right now. Being commercial galleries, entry is completely free (yay!) and you are encouraged to have a wander round.
- Deschler, Auguststraße 61, U6 Oranienburger Tor, Tuesday – Saturday 12.00 – 18.00
This gallery, on two floors, features works from several artists at one time. Its exhibits are predominantly eclectic, often portraying the more adventurous types of art. The collection veers away from canvas works, favouring life-size models, statues and decorative items instead. Deschler also often houses visual artwork, a rising trend in current artistic circles.
- Galerie Gerken, Augustraße 49, U6 Oraninenburger Tor, Tuesday – Saturday 12.00 – 18.00
In a large, open and airy space the art displayed here is generally very off the wall, and you can spend hours pondering about the symbolism, the content or even just the time spent to create the art itself.
- Berlin Art Projects, Augustraße 50b, U6 Oranienburger Tor, Monday – Friday 11.00 – 19.00, Saturday 12.00 – 18.00
Unlike other galleries on this artists’ stretch, the space here encourages a tranquil atmosphere and space for contemplation of the work. Sofas, tables and chairs make up the centre of the room, so you can even admire the art from a comfortable distance!
- Eigen + ART, Auguststraße 26, U6 Oranienburger Tor, Tuesday – Saturday 11.00 – 18.00
Probably the most prominent of the Auguststraße galleries (it is run by Gerd Harry Lybke, the first person to open a private gallery in the GDR, after all) this small but perfectly formed gallery is charming, and the literature is also supplied in English. Artists exhibited tend to be from the east of Germany but it has welcomed the work of young international artists in recent years. The exhibits mix simple techniques with more contemporary practice.
The free tour with New Berlin starts at Brandenburg Gate and then along the Wall, through the former Nazi Government District to Checkpoint Charlie. Post coffee break and a chat you’ll head through the 1920s Cabaret Mile and over the famous Gendarmenmarkt to Museum Island. The tour finishes in the gorgeous Lustgarten and just a stone’s throw from some of the best museums in the world.
Weaving you through side streets, past buildings adorned with some of the most spectacular street art in the world, you will visit artists’ squats and multicultural neighbourhoods, sub-culture icons the YAAM Bar and Eastside Gallery, one of Europe’s largest indoor skating facilities, urban art projects and initiatives, flea markets, abandoned sites (a photographer’s dream), a huge vintage clothes warehouse and various other weird and wacky shops and bars.
Winter brings out the best in the markets and fairs, and the city is home to over 60 different Christmas markets, the earliest starting in the last weekend of November through to Christmas. You can find all the information you’ll need about them here
A wealth of free entry museums permeate Berlin to suit every interest and timescale. Make sure you don’t miss out on these gems during your stay. What you save on the entrance fee can be spent on a delicious (but very cheap) lunch or dinner if you’re feeling peckish.
“Paths, Loosing Track and Detours” is the Dom’s permanent exhibition about the development of parliamentary democracy in Germany.
U-Bahn U2 & U6 “Stadtmitte”
Free guided tours daily at 11am, 1pm and 4pm;
Oct-Apr: Tue-Sun & holidays 10am – 6pm
May-Sep: Tue-Sun & holidays 10am – 7pm
The Berlin Wall Memorial
The border facilities of the Berlin Wall, in tip-top condition.
Bernauer Str. 111
Bus 328, 245
U-Bahn U8 “Bernauer Straße”
S-Bahn S1 & S2 “Nordbahnhof”
Apr-Oct: Tue-Sun 9.30am – 7pm
Nov-Mar: Tue-Sun 9.30am – 6pm
Information Centre of the Holocaust Memorial Berlin
More uncomfortable truths about the plight of the Jewish community during Germany’s very darkest era.
S-Bahn S1,S2, S25 “Unter den Linden”
Apr-Sep: open 10am – 8pm
Oct-Mar: open 10am – 7pm
Permanent exhibition dealing with the Cold War and changing special exhibitions.
U-Bahn U1 “Oskar-Helene-Heim” & Bus 115 to “AlliiertenMuseum”
S 1 “Zehlendorf” & Bus 115 to “AlliiertenMuseum”
Daily (except Wednesday) 10am – 6pm
Memorial and Museum Sachsenhausen
Located on the former site of Sachsenhausen concentration camp, now open to the public as a museum and memorial.
Straße der Nationen 22
S-Bahn S1 „Oranienburg“, then change to bus 821/ 804
Mar 15th until Oct 14th: daily between 8:30am – 6:00pm
Oct 15th until Mar 14th: daily between 8:30am – 4:30pm
Museums, archive and library are closed on Mondays, but the open air exhibition “Murder and mass murder in Sachsenhausen concentration camp”, the ‘station Z’ memorial, as well as the visitor’s information centre, remain open.
German-Russian Museum Berlin Karlshorst
Permanent exhibition dealing with the War of Annihilation against the Soviet Union and changing special exhibitions.
Zwieseler Str. 4 / corner Rheinsteinstraße
S-Bahn S3 “Karlshorst” & 15 min walk to the museum
Free guided tours every Sunday at 3pm
Kunstraum Kreuzberg/ Bethanien
Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien boasts contemporary art which is mindful of current social and cultural issues.
U-Bahn Kottbusser Tor
Daily 12am – 19pm
It alternates between works from the collection and new aquisitions four times a year, with additional smaller shows of work by individual artists and special exhibition.
Alte Potsdamer Straße 5
S-und U-Bahn Potsdamer Platz
Daily 11am – 6pm
Museum of Oddities
Bits and bobs, gadgets, found items and other charming little curiosities tell you fascinating stories with a historic background. A great place for all the family.
S-Bahn S1 Julius-Leber-Brücke
U-Bahn U7 Kleistpark
Wed to Fri 3pm – 7pm
Does exactly what it says on the tin – a museum dedicated to sugar!
Amrumer Str. 32
U-Bahn U9 Amrumer Str.
Mon – Thu 9.00 am – 4.30 pm, Sun 11.00 am – 6.00 pm, Fri /Sat closed
Even though the outside exhibition is closed during the winter months the wealth of information inside Berlin’s most comprehensive documentation centre of the Nazi regime is unmissable. Obviously this is not a feel-good day out, but it is so important to experience nonetheless, and truly fascinating. Delve into Germany’s past and learn for yourself the tools the Nazis used to coerce and dictate an entire nation.
Berlin is not short of green spaces, and though it may not be warm enough to lounge around in sunglasses and flipflops in the winter months you can still have a great time wandering around these gorgeous parks, breathing in the fresh air and reveling in the peaceful, tranquil atmosphere. Oh-Berlin’s personal favourites are Tiergarten, Mauer Park in Prezlauer Berg, Victoria Park in Kreuzberg, Gärten der Welt (just take a look at our photographs!) and the old Templehof airport.
Every Thursday the legendary SAGE club offers free entry to Rock afficionados in search of a great night out in Berlin. Pop in between 8 and 10pm to avoid the entry fee and get the most out of this historic club. Obviously you have to pay for your own drinks, but with great prices and a 2 for 1 cocktail offer on Thursdays, all in all you can have an extremely cheap night out.
The Grunewald forest stretches from just below Charlottenburg to the north, east towards to Steglitz and to Wannsee in the south of Berlin. It is a popular destination for walkers and cyclists as well as swimmers who like to visit the Grunewaldsee, Schlachtensee, Krumme Lanke and Wannsee during the summer. For a great day trip on a tight budget make your own packed lunches at home and enjoy them in a peaceful setting in the great outdoors – you won’t believe that the urban hub of Germany’s capital city is just down the road from this idyllic winter wonderland!
So there you have it…
…A selection of all the great things you can do in Berlin this winter for absolutely free. Please give us feedback about anything we’ve missed – like we said, we love hearing from you, and we want our articles to reflect the experiences of our readers as well as our own. It’s good to talk, so let’s get social.