Want to get a sense of Berlin’s art, architecture and culture scene without paying the hefty admission fees? Check out these six free architectural and cultural activities to do in Berlin.
Saunter along the East Side Gallery
Although the East Side Gallery is directly connected to Berlin’s history, the Cold War and the Berlin Wall, it’s also a priceless dedication to the city’s urban art scene and one of the quintessential cultural activities. Sitting along the banks of the Spree River, the East Side Gallery is the longest remaining section of the Berlin Wall. Although street art on the western side of the wall was commonplace, this definitely wasn’t the case in the Soviet-controlled east. When the wall fell in 1989, more than 100 artists from all over the world came to turn this section of wall into an open air gallery – with an emphasis on peace and freedom.
See the beautiful architecture on Museum Island
The artistic talents of the buildings on Museum Island aren’t just located on it’s inner walls – they’re also proudly displayed in the stunning architectural styles. Here you’ll find a complex of five museums – the Pergamonmuseum, Bodemuseum, Neues Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie and Altes Museum. Each of these historic buildings is also classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Including the Berliner Dom…
The Berliner Dom is a lavish Italian Renaissance-style church, located in the heart of the city on Museum Island. It’s the largest in all of the city, and previously served as the royal court church. Entrance is free only during service hours.
See it all at the Reichstag’s Dome
On the fringes of the Großer Tiergarten, you’ll find the heart of Germany’s government: the Reichstag’s Dome. This is the home of the German parliament (Bundestag). You can take a free lift to the roof terrace, and enjoy spectacular views of the modern glass dome, designed by Norman Foster. They also offer a free audio guide which tells you about the surrounding area that’s unfolding in front of you. The glass is also symbolic: it’s meant to portray political transparency. This activity is free, but requires a reservation.
Bask in the glory of the Brandenburger Tor
Just a short walk from the Reichstag Building is another iconic site in Berlin: the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor). This was first built in 1791 as the royal city gate. It spent the Cold War years bordering the Berlin Wall and thus became a symbol of the divided nation. Since reunification is has become a symbol of unity.
Enjoy a show
Each Tuesday at 1pm, the entrance hall of the Berliner Philharmonie hosts a free lunchtime music concert. You should get here early, as admission is limited to 1,500 people. The concerts showcases not only members of the Berlin Philharmonic and scholars of the Orchestra Academy, but also Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester and the Staatskapelle Berlin along with students at Berlin’s music conservatories. Music is in a wide variety of styles. But shh! This is one of the best kept free secret cultural activities in Berlin.