9 free -- or very, very cheap -- things to do when you visit Berlin

Berlin germanyShutterstockBerlin, Germany.

If any city knows how to have a good time on a shoestring, it’s Berlin.

Once deemed “poor but sexy” by its own mayor, the German capital possesses a carefree spirit that has made it a natural magnet for artists, entrepreneurs, and creative industries alike.

As one of the most exciting and rapidly growing destinations in Europe, we’ve picked out some of the best activities for which limited budgets are no obstacle.

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3. Tour the city on the 100 bus.

The 100 bus in Berlin.

Navigate the city like a pro while sparing yourself the pricey, tourist-trapping coach tours with a top-deck ride on one of the city's standard double-decker buses.

Single tickets cost just 2.70 euros and last two hours, with the option of getting on and off at any point within that time.

The iconic 100 bus route passes by the Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate, Unter den Linden, Museum Island, the Fernsehturm (TV Tower), Berlin Zoo, and the Victory Column.

Hop off at cultural institution Haus der Kulturen der Welt to check out its impressive sci-fi design by architect Hugh Stubbins.

Find the bus route here.

Price: From 1,60€ (~$US1.79) for a 6-stop ride

5. Attend a free concert at the Berliner Philharmonie.

The Berliner Philharmonie.

While Berlin's infamous club scene offers extensive options for nights out that will rarely break the bank, a single ticket to the legendary Berliner Philharmonie can cost up to 100 euros.

In 2007, this renowned institution launched an ongoing program of free weekly lunch concerts during the symphony season.

Set in the building's iconic foyer, these shows welcome audiences of up to 1,500 guests and feature world-class instrumentalists from the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester, Staatskapelle Berlin, and Berliner Philharmoniker -- consistently voted one of the world's top orchestras.

With the Jewish memorial and the Brandenburg Gate just a stone's throw away, it also makes for a head-soothing retreat from the traditional sightseeing track.

Herbert-von-Karajan-Strasse 1, 10785 Berlin

September -- June, every Tuesday, 13.00

Price: Free

6. Cool down with a swim in one of Berlin's many natural lakes.

A natural lake outside Berlin.

As a city of seasonal extremes, Berlin summers can get pretty sweaty. So when it hits melting point there's only one thing to do: a trip to the lakes.

From sandy mini-beaches to official lidos, these natural water destinations vary greatly and often fill up fast. If you're able to rent a car for the day, we recommend visiting a more remote lake such as Liebnitzsee, otherwise the popular Schlachtensee is just a short walk or bike ride from Krumme Lanke U-Bahn station. For a calmer stretch of sandy sun-soaking, Kleiner Mügelsee is a little trickier to reach but well worth the effort.

A word of warning: Nudity is not unheard of at many Berlin lakes, so prepare to drop your hangups and (optionally) your swimwear!

Schlachtensee: walk / cycle from Krumme Lanke U-Bahn or Berlin-Schlachtensee S-Bahn

Kleiner Mügelsee: S3 to Köpenick S-Bahn, X69 bus to the end of the line, walk

Price: Free entry, transport from 3,30€ (~$US3.70)

8. Visit the imposing Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park.

The Soviet War Memorial.

Tucked away in an unassuming corner of Berlin's lush Treptower park, the Soviet War Memorial and military cemetery is an epic sight to behold.

Opened in 1949, it was built as a tribute to the Soviet soldiers who lost their lives in the Battle of Berlin in 1945.

Its staggering design is set over 100,000 square meters and includes a 12-meter tall statue of a Soviet soldier standing on the remains of a broken swastika, serving as a powerful reminder of the city's long and fractured history.

Puschkinallee/ Elsenstrasse, 12435 Berlin

Price: Free

9. Grab a bargain at the canal-side markets.

Stalls at a Berlin market.

Berlin's markets aren't just great spots to pick up curious vintage souvenirs and delicious fresh food. They also provide perfect people-watching opportunities and snapshots of bustling daily activity.

Try the Turkish market along Maybachufer in Kreuzberg on Tuesdays and Fridays from 11 til 6.30 p.m. for everything from fresh juices, vegetables, and spices to unusual fabrics.

Then, just down the road, Berliners flock to buy and sell second-hand wares at the Nowkoelln market every second Sunday. Top off a visit with a scenic stroll to explore more of the Landwehr Canal. Any direction will do!

Turkish markets: Maybachufer, 12047 Berlin Neukölln
Tuesdays and Fridays, 11.00 -- 18.30

Nowkoelln: Maybachufer 31, 12047 Berlin
Every second Sunday, 10.00 -- 18.00

Price: Free entry, items from 50 cents

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