A Berlin City Guide: Five (Almost) Free Things to See and Do

Berlin City Guide - 5 Things to See and Do for FreeOne of the things that worried me the most about moving to the United States was how much we’d be able to travel and explore new places, as it’s not like living in the UK, where the delights of Europe are on your doorstep. Fortunately I think there will be more than enough for us to explore here, both in the States and further afield, hellooo South America…

Last November Mr Ship-Shape and I took a trip to Berlin to visit one of our friends and despite my good intentions, I never did get around to writing about what we got up to and how many amazing things there are to do for free, or almost free. Naturally I did find the time to waffle on about my outfit though

If you’re planning a city break this holiday season, here are my suggestions for five free things to do in Berlin…

Trinkets at Berlin's FlomahrtGet lost in a flohmarkt

There are several open-air flea markets in and around Berlin, but the most popular is Mauerpark. We went there on a crowded Saturday afternoon, and marvelled over the mix of goods for sale, from brick-a-brac and printed t-shirts to table upon table of old cameras. Check out this beautiful selection of pocket-watch style necklaces, photographed by Mr Ship-Shape.

Photoautomats in BerlinTake a selfie in a photoautomat

Photo booths may be back in fashion in the UK, but in Berlin they never left. Clunky, ancient looking photoautomats are dotted around the city and for €2 and an agonisingly long four minute wait, you can leave with a strip of black and white passport style photographs that look like they could have been printed 30 years ago. Warschauer Strasse station is surrounded by photoautomats, which are handily positioned next to late night food stands – perfect for when Berlin’s nightlife want to document their after-dark escapades.

East Side Gallery BerlinVisit the East Side Gallery

Located in Friedrichshain, the East Side Gallery is Berlin’s longest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall. Over the past 25 years it’s been covered in graffiti and artwork by local and international artists, transforming the imposing 12ft wall into a colourful, ever changing art gallery.

German cakes and pastriesEat a pastry

I couldn’t write about an adventure and not include food! It’s fair to say that on our trip I ate a lot of pastries. Nearly every street corner and U Bahn station has a pastry shop or ‘kuchen’ stand, and for less than €2 you can enjoy apple turnovers and squashed donut style pastries that are the size of a human head. Unfortunately there is little photographic evidence of these delicious pastries as I ate them far too quickly, so above is a snap I took on my phone.

Berlin's Holcust memorialGo on a walking tour

By far the best part of the trip for us was joining one of the city’s many half-day walking tours. Each tour is free, though tipping your guide at the end of the tour is suggested, and in three hours you’ll be shown Berlin’s chequered history in a nutshell, starting at the Brandenburg Gate and taking in parts of the remaining Wall, Checkpoint Charlie and the Reichstag. You can read more about our tour in this post.

Honourable mentions that aren’t free but are well worth doing are taking in brunch on a Sunday morning (this place was my favourite) and visiting the Helmut Newton Foundation. Entry is around €12 but for that you get to enjoy two floors of the iconic fashion photographer’s work.

Have you been to Berlin before? And are there any places there that I should visit on my next trip?

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  1. January 6, 2015 / 9:17 pm

    Oh I’d love to visit Berlin! We lived there for a couple of years when I was 9, we were there before and just after wall came down (we have photos of my sister and I attempted to lift and knock a bit of it down with a sledge hammer). I would love to see how much it’s changed!

    • SJ
      January 15, 2015 / 1:29 am

      Wow, that sounds amazing! This was my first visit but I really enjoyed it – it’s kind of like Rome (and many other European cities I’m sure), in that it blends a modern, cosmopolitan atmosphere with such great and varied history. x

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