If you are looking for a European capital city to visit on a budget, Berlin might just be the perfect choice. Berlin is one of the cheapest capital cities in Europe, at least for visiting and sightseeing. Even on a small budget Berlin offers plenty of art, history and lush greenery to enjoy.
Berlin is a big sprawling city and the sights you might want to visit can be pretty far apart, so a small investment in an easy way to get around the city can go a long way. The Hop-on Hop-off bus gives you a lot of freedom to visit the sights you want to see and the ticket also gets you discounts at several attractions, such as Körperwelten, the DDR museum and the Computer Spiele Museum.
You can also combine your Hop-on Hop-off tickets with tickets to other attractions for even bigger savings. You can combine your ticket with a cruise on the Spree, or a visit to the Berlin Icebar, Madame Tussauds or the Berlin Dungeon.
Ever since 1417 Berlin has been the capital of a state or country, from the Margraviate of Brandenburg to the Kingdom of Prussia, the German Empire and all the way through to today’s Federal Republic of Germany. Many of Berlin’s historical sights can be visited for free, which means you can learn all about the rich history of this city while saving your money for other attractions or a hotel in the city centre.
Berlin’s most famous landmark, the Brandenburg Gate, is located on Pariser Platz and can be visited at any time, which hasn’t always been the case. The gate was inaccessible when East and West Berlin were separated by the Berlin Wall, as it stood in the restricted area. Ever since the fall of the Wall it has been a symbol of German unity.
Only 500 metres from the Brandenburg Gate, you can climb to the top of the Reichstag Building to see the glass dome and the roof terrace, for free though you do have to register in advance. The terrace and dome offer spectacular views of the parliamentary and government districts and certain Berlin sights.
Over on the northern bank of the Spree, near the Ostbahnhof, you can visit the world’s longest open-air gallery as well as the longest remaining section of the Berlin Wall. After the Wall fell, 118 artists from 21 countries redesigned 1.3 kilometres of the former border, which became the iconic East Side Gallery.
One of Berlin’s most beautiful squares is Gendarmenmarkt, which is surrounded by Konzerthaus Berlin, the French Cathedral and the German Cathedral or Neue Kirche. The last of the three has an admission free German Bundestag exhibition on display which traces the historical development of the liberal parliamentary system of government in Germany over five floors.
If you want to visit some of the city’s amazing sights with a guide, you may want to try a free walking tour. For a traditional tour which includes sights such as the Brandenburg Gate and Hitler’s bunker, you can take New Europe’s Original tips-based tour. If you are looking for something a little different than the usual sightseeing tours, Alternative Berlin has a three hour tour which shows off some of the more underground culture of the city.
Tiergarten is Berlin’s largest and most popular inner-city park. It is a great place for a stroll, a breath of fresh air, a picnic, cycling or a jog or just kicking a ball around. During the summer months the English Garden in Tiergarten organises the Berlin Concert Summer in their Teahouse on Sundays. Numerous top-class bands from a wide variety of music styles, such as jazz, pop, world, funk, soul, hip-hop play here and admission is free.
At the heart of Tiergarten stands the Victory Column, originally it was intended as a monument for Prussia’s victory in the Franco-German war. Today, you can climb 270 steps (for a small fee) to enjoy a spectacular view from the observation deck.
Just a five minute walk from the Victory Column, you can see the grand, classical home of the German president, Bellevue Palace. The palace owes its name to its beautifully landscaped surroundings and the different view points the park offers, looking towards Charlottenburg, towards the south-west, and across the Spree river.
Mauer Park may be some distance from the city centre of Berlin but it offers its own iconic form of entertainment on Sunday afternoons. The park’s amphitheatre fills with a supportive audience for anyone who takes the stage for Bearpit Karaoke. It is the place to be on sunny summer Sunday and the party lasts all afternoon.
And then there are the beautiful gardens surrounding Charlottenburg Palace. The palace gardens can be visited for free and are considered a world renowned example of garden design. After the destruction of World War II, the garden’s painterly vistas were restored and new areas for modern-day use were created.
Berlin offers hundreds of parks and gardens to escape the hustle and bustle of the busy city, most are free to visit and offer their own forms of entertainment, which makes them great for Berlin budget travellers.