Brimming with history, in Berlin you will uncover a piece of the past with every corner turned. To make sure that you and your students get the most out of your visit without breaking the bank, we’ve put together a list of the top 10 free things to do in this remarkable city.
1. Brandenburg Gate
The iconic landmark tells the story of Germany’s creation, its imperial ambitions and its darkest days. When the wall fell, the Brandenburg Gate became the symbol of the new post-war Germany. The gate can be visited at anytime, but going in the evening when the yellow floodlights are on is much more atmospheric.
2. Reichstag Building
Offering amazing 360 degree views of the city, the Reichstag is somewhere you’ll definitely want to take your students. Download your free audio guide which explains the history of the building as well as the sights around you.
Top tip 1: Be sure to register online in advance to get through security.
Top tip 2: For that ‘Instagrammable’ picture try and arrive at either sunrise or sunset.
With so many fascinating museums in Berlin providing an in-depth knowledge of the city’s history, we’ve made it easy for you with a list of the ‘must-see’ free ones that you won’t want to miss out on.
Offering free entry for under 18s, this amazing tour comprises FIVE museums, including the Pergamonmuseum Museum, Bode-Museum, Neues Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie and Altes Museum. Make sure you get your walking shoes out as you’ll most definitely be getting those steps in!
Top tip: Make sure you reserve your free tickets online.
Palace of Tears
As a former crossing point between East and West Berlin, the Palace of Tears (or Tränenpalast as it’s known in German) is today a tribute to those who fled the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR) and contains many of their personal stories. The Tränenpalast acquired its nickname because of the tearful goodbyes that took place here between friends and family.
Top tip: Guided tours are free and an audio guide and app are available to download.
Topography of Terror
A place of tangible terror and remembrance, the Topography of Terror is on the site of the Gestapo headquarters, the Third Reich’s secret police. With more than a million visitors each year, this is one of the most popular museums in Berlin and is not to be missed.
Top tip: Make the most of your visit with a guided tour!
Berlin Wall Memorial
Extending along the former border strip this place of remembrance will give your students an insight into the division of Berlin. Today this historic landmark is a stark reminder of Germany’s divided past. Not only did the wall tear families and lives apart, but at least 171 people lost their lives trying to get over it.
The Berlin Wall Documentation Centre is free of charge and uses photos and video footage from the archives to tell the story of the political context of the wall – from its erection to its fall.
German Resistance Centre
This memorial is dedicated to those individuals and movements that opposed the Third Reich. Make your way up to the third floor to find silent stories of the heroes who risked their lives to help save others.
Top tip: An audio guide is available in English to understand fully all of the historical events that took place.
4. East Side Gallery
Take a stroll along the longest open-air gallery in the world and discover the art and history which was once the Berlin Wall. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, 118 artists from 21 different countries visited the wall to begin painting the East Side Gallery; creating something remarkable that everyone can enjoy, whilst still reflecting on the past and history of the wall.
Top tip: Take a walk from the gallery to Holzmarkt for its colourful street art and edgy urban vibes.
5. Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Located in the centre of the city is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, a striking place of remembrance and warning. Witnessing the 2,711 concrete blocks laid to honour the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust is a truly moving experience.
There is also an informative visitor centre at the memorial which is free of charge. It includes testimony from witnesses of the Holocaust and the Jewish ghettos, as well as interviews with their descendants.
Take a break from Berlin’s history and retreat to the leafy Tiergarten Park for a leisurely stroll. The many lakes, greenery and walking trails make it the perfect spot for a picnic! The Tiergarten also houses the iconic ‘Siegessäule’ (Victory Column), the Soviet War Memorial and the Memorial to Homosexuals Persceuted Under Nazism.
You can also meander up to the Spree and even catch a Spree cruise from the gardens.
7. Potsdamer Platz
From empty wasteland where the only thing standing was the Berlin Wall, Potsdamer Platz has transformed into a popular district that’s bursting with life. Filled with high-rise skyscrapers, cafes, a shopping centre and a cinema, it’s one of the liveliest areas in Berlin.
Top tip: Visit the GDR watchtower, the oldest relic of the Berlin Wall, hidden at the end of a side street just off the square. For a small fee you can climb to the observation deck!
Famous for the Nazi book burning rituals, this location is definitely not to be missed off your list of things to see. When you stroll across Bebelplatz you may come across visitors staring at the same spot on the ground in deep thought. Venture closer and you’ll see a glass plate in the ground, and below it an underground library containing empty bookshelves.
9. Markthalle Neun
Take a break from history with a trip to food paradise! Let your students practise their language skills and get into the heart of this traditional German market. Inside you’ll find stalls offering traditional German food, Italian baked goods, fresh pasta, sandwiches and much more. Foodies will be in food heaven! Open every day except Sundays.
Once one of the largest concentration camps, this memorial tells the horrific story of what took place here at the time of the Second World War. Housing over 200,000 inmates who were enslaved and exploited, tens and thousands of prisoners died from inhumane working, living conditions and torturous treatment. Today Sachsenhausen memorial centre and museum is a place of learning and understanding, giving students the opportunity to visit the huts, cells and administrative centre.