Even though Berlin is a thriving centre of multiculture, modernity and magnificence today, its scarred past still shows through. And even though Berlin is now one of the top cities in the world, it’s still possible to have a cheap trip to Berlin, particularly if you’re interested in history. Here’s how to see the best of budget Berlin with ten awesome (and free) things to do.
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- Budget Berlin: 10 Awesome (And Free) Things To Do
- 1. Stop and think at the Holocaust Memorial
- 2. Wander through the stunning Tiergarten
- 3. Marvel at the Berlin Wall fragments
- 4. Photograph the famous Brandenburg Gate
- 5. Marvel at the Berliner Dom
- 6. Get historical at the Soviet War Memorial
- 7. Meander through the gardens at Schloss Charlottenburg
- 8. See the bright lights of Potsdamer Platz
- 9. Look up at the Television Tower
- 10. Climb to the top of the iconic Reichstag
Budget Berlin: 10 Awesome (And Free) Things To Do
1. Stop and think at the Holocaust Memorial
The Holocaust Memorial is one of the most haunting destinations you can go to in Berlin.
Deliberately disorientating, the memorial features 7200 concrete pillars of differing heights to offer some kind of scale and perspective to the monstrosities that occurred during the Second World War.
When walking through, you will slowly be faced with pillars over twice your height. This has the exact desired effect of making you realise how small a piece you are in the world and really makes you stop and think.
It will make you appreciate life and the deaths that occurred and these thoughts will haunt you for the rest of your day – but in a truly captivating and impressive way.
2. Wander through the stunning Tiergarten
The vast landscaped park of Tiergarten used to be a place for the Hohenzollern Princes to hunt wild boar and deer. However, now it serves a relaxing purpose of being a vast green space perfect for daytime strolls.
Here you will find meandering rivers, glistening ponds and archaic statues as you walk through. Cross all of this towards the centre and you will come across a 220 ft high column complete with golden statue on the top. This is the Victory Column and will offer you breathtaking views across the city (after the climb of 285 steps).
Plus, not far from here, you will also find the neoclassical Schloss Bellevue, which allows for pleasant walks through the gardens and the chance to see beautiful buildings and monuments.
Whatever you decide to do in Tiergarten, I can promise you that it will be an amazing walk with plenty to see and do.
3. Marvel at the Berlin Wall fragments
Whether you remember the collapse of the Berlin Wall or not, viewing fragments of this iconic and legendary landmark really will make you appreciate what this city must have gone through at the time.
There are several opportunities across the city for you to see fragments of the wall – it’s safe to say that Berliners don’t try to hide their history.
Instead, they allow you to learn about their history for free and offer you thoughts galore as you walk away from the wall fragments.
4. Photograph the famous Brandenburg Gate
Once the scene of great military parades and processions, this iconic landmark is now a tranquil monument and coming close to being the ‘Gate of Peace’ that its sculptor wanted it to be known as.
Whilst the Berlin Wall was up, this landmark lay lost and forgotten in no-man’s land. Surprisingly, it then became the scene of so many ecstatic celebrations when the wall was brought down.
I say surprisingly, as now, Berliners walk nonchalantly through the archways without so much as a backwards glance at it.
Take this moment to photograph this iconic landmark and contemplate in peace just how much this monument has seen throughout Berlin’s painful and tragic periods of history.
5. Marvel at the Berliner Dom
Although it costs money to explore the insides of this impressive cathedral, it costs absolutely nothing to just stand and marvel at its beauty outside.
With the neoclassical green domes and the intricate details of the building’s stonework itself, this really is an incredible building to look at.
Come along at night and witness the building lit up to cast dramatic shadows across its domes and leave you in amazement at its beauty.
6. Get historical at the Soviet War Memorial
The Soviet War Memorial within the incredible Tiergarten parklands is one of several memorials erected by the Soviet Union to commemorate the 80,000 lives lost during the Battle of Berlin in 1945.
The memorial itself is large in size (as it should be) and requires a few moments to respect it and the lives it represents.
Behind the memorial are a series of boards that help you to understand the history of the battle and why it was constructed.
So, go get historical and pay your respects whilst you’re here.
7. Meander through the gardens at Schloss Charlottenburg
Schloss Charlottenburg is a magnificently beautiful Prussian baroque and rococo palace, similar to the kind you would find throughout Vienna.
The only surviving Hohenzollern residence and once a summer retreat for Queen Sophie Charlotte, this palace is now a treasure trove of museums dedicated to art, porcelain and original Royal furnishings.
Although you have to pay to explore the insides of the palace, walking through the impressive gardens is one of the top free things to do in Berlin.
Free for your seeing pleasure are intricate statues, a large carp pond and the opportunity to marvel at the stunning Belvedere facing the lake.
8. See the bright lights of Potsdamer Platz
Here is a unique suggestion you won’t find detailed within many guidebooks.
On the surface of it, Potsdamer Platz is a thriving hub for arts, entertainment, shopping and business. But there’s more to it than that.
With this complex being predominantly made of glass, from the buildings to the ceiling, many come here to admire the striking architecture.
Come along at night and you will be treated to a free light show courtesy of the techies from the Sony Center. And with the glasswork surrounding you, you will see the lights reverberate around and transfix you for some time.
Enjoy it before heading off for some drinks and food in the many bars and restaurants on offer here.
9. Look up at the Television Tower
Akin to seeing the Eiffel Tower in Paris, spotting Berlin’s Television Tower in the distant skyline is one sight you won’t want to miss (especially at night).
As it lights up at night-time, you will be mesmerised by the free light show you’ll have access to as well as the impressive architecture of the tower itself.
So wherever you are in Eastern Berlin, look up and see if you can spot the tower!
10. Climb to the top of the iconic Reichstag
With its new giant glass dome and the words ‘Dem deutschen Volke’ (To the German people) inscribed on the front of the building, Reichstag has become a symbol of the ‘new Germany’.
Leaving its troubles and painful past behind, Berliners don’t want to forget what happened in this city’s history, but simply want to move on and excel under the lead of a new and fair Government.
That aside, the Reichstag building now offers historians and tourists alike the chance to see Berlin from above.
Book in advance online and you will have the opportunity to clamber to the top of the building for free during the day; although expect long queues as so many others try to do the same as you.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the best of budget Berlin… what will you do first?
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