Moving to Berlin, as with any country abroad, can be expensive and stressful, not to mention a bit lonely, and perhaps even boring when you’re new in town. At least that was my own experience. Here are some terrific activities to help you get out and enjoy in Berlin, without breaking the bank, or even spending a penny.
Free Guided Tours
There are a number of free guided walking tours in Berlin, which make a great way to kick off your time in the city and get to know it from an experienced guide’s perspective. The perfect introduction to both Berlin’s tourist track, and the stomping grounds of local culture, all of these tours are absolutely free (though tips are certainly appreciated), which fits everyone’s budget.
SANDEMANs NEW Europe Tours
Berlin free 2.5 hour walking tour
There can be little doubt that Berlin’s unique history had a defining effect on the world in the 20th century. Guided by volunteers, this free walking tour of Berlin is led by history buffs and enthusiasts who have an appreciation for the past, and it’s affect on the present and future of not only Berlin, but also the world at large. Here’s what you’ll see:
The Berlin Wall and Memorial
The wall divided Berlin from August 13, 1961 to November 9, 1989, effectively preventing East Berliners from defecting to West Berlin, Western Germany, or Western Europe.
The Holocaust Memorial
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is a Holocaust monument located in the center of Berlin, very close to the Brandenburg Gate. The impressive iron monument was build by the architect Peter Eisenman and was presented in May 2005.
The Topography of Terror- Former SS Headquarters
The Museum provides an overview of the evolvement of the National Socialism and does not skip the crimes that this movement was responsible for. The museum holds a massive documentation center.
Gendarmenmarkt is one of Europe’s most beautiful squares, surrounded by three beautiful landmarks: the Konzerthaus, the Franzosischer Dom, and the Deutscher Dom. Most of the buildings were destroyed during the Second World War, however they have all since been restored. Visitors come to enjoy the quiet and architectural beauty.
Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor)
The Brandenburger Tor is one of Berlin's most visited attractions and one that symbolized the divided city of Berlin for nearly three decades.
Old Royal Boulevard- Unter den Linden
Unter den Linden is Berlin’s main boulevard, running from East Berlin to the West side.
Other points of interest on this tour include the following:
· Pariser Platz
· The Site of Hitler’s Former Bunker
· Luftwaffe HQ
· Checkpoint Charlie
· The 1920s Cabaret Mile
· The TV Tower
Alternative Berlin Free Tours
Alternative Berlin Free Tours takes visitors past the regular tourist destinations and into the city’s heart and soul. The volunteer tour guides on the Alternative Berlin tours have much to share about what´s going on in the city, and can advise you on the best way to enjoy Berlin like the new local that you are.
Trekking through some of the city’s most famous neighborhoods, you will have an opportunity to meet local artists and residents. Alternative Berlin is all about creative arts, culture, and Berlin lifestyle, as well as underground sights and sounds, world-renowned street art and graffiti culture, and musical landmarks of punk, electronic music, reggae and rock.
Every tour is different and there is no need to book ahead- just show up at the meeting point and you’re all set.
A typical Alternative Berlin Free Tour might include some of the following experiences:
· The Bethanien House
· YAAM beach
· One of Europe´s largest indoor skate parks & alternative entertainment facilities, which is housed in a bombed out train depot
· Urban art projects and autonomous art initiatives
· Urban farms
· Street art, graffiti, and mural art
· Daytime raves
· Flea markets and bizarres (my own personal favorite past time)
On Your Own
If you’re not into guided tours, despite their social nature, you may want to head out on your own, and check out any of the tour stops I mentioned in the free guided tours. Don’t worry: there is no charge to enter any of them. You could also head for either of the following Berlin “must-see” attractions:
Tiergarten is Berlin’s oldest public park. It’s a good place to spend some time while taking a break from the sightseeing. It is conveniently located near many of the city’s top attractions. Plus, the Berlin Zoo is there - home to over 10,000 animals.
A terrific spot for people watching, as well as a bit of Berlin historical emersion, Alexanderplats was named in honor of the Tsar of Russia, Alexander the First. Today Alexanderplats is a transit junction and shopping center; however, much of Berlin’s urban history can be accessed through this square, as centuries of politics, culture, and architecture are housed here.
Tours and sightseeing activities give recent expatriates an opportunity to get to know some locals, socialize with others who are new to the city, and learn about the history and landscape of their new home. Whether it’s to learn the layout of the city, or simply a great way to help ease into those first social interactions, there is an abundance of free activities for those who have just moved to Berlin.