Discover an action packed three days in Berlin itinerary. Stay dry and warm this winter while enjoying free things to do in the city.
Looking for free things to do in Berlin? Or maybe you’re just fed up with the persistent rain and just looking for indoor things to do? Well, you’ve come to the right place!
We’ve packed our favourite tourist attractions into this three day itinerary that will undoubtedly keep you dry, cozy and on your toes.
So come along and explore all the wonders that Germany’s capital city has to offer. From Christmas markets and culinary delights, to classic cars and German history. Perhaps you’re into nightclubs and bars, or maybe museums and exhibitions? This itinerary has got it all covered.
In this guidehide
- Why Visit Berlin in the Winter
- Things to Know Before You Travel
- How to Get to Berlin
- Where to Stay
- Getting Around
- Berlin Winter Itinerary
- Berlin Trip Highlights
Why Visit Berlin in the Winter
It’s no secret that temperatures tend to drop well below zero in Berlin in the winter months. So why would anyone want to freeze their butts off and travel to Berlin in winter?
Well, for starters, Berlin take their Christmas Markets very seriously! With all the glühwein flowing, bratwurst grilling, and ice skating, let’s just say it doesn’t get any more Christmassy than that. A great reason to visit Berlin in November and December.
But if you’re visiting Berlin from January onwards, virtually all Christmas Markets will be closed. So one might expect the city to descend into some sort of hibernation. But that’s not the case. It’s business as usual for Berlin even during winter.
The added benefit for visiting Berlin between January and March is less busier attractions with fewer tourists arriving in the city. And if that’s not enough to sweeten the deal, things like attractions and even hotels tend to cost less because of the lower demand.
But brace yourself! In addition to subzero temperatures, you can expect snow and persistent raining. And if conditions are extreme, even black ice. Which is quite normal for Berlin winter weather.
Essential Packing List
If you’re visiting Berlin between November and March, it’s essential to dress appropriately to stay dry and keep warm. No one’s going to have a good time if they’re constantly moaning about how they can’t feel their toes, finger tips and ears.
Wearing layers is key to dressing warmly. But you’ll need more than layers to ensure the cold temperatures don’t get you bogged down. Here’s a list of essential items to pack for your Berlin winter itinerary:
- Gloves (negative temperature rating)
- Thermal Socks
- Winter Jacket
- Waterproof Snow Shoes
- Thermal Flask
- Facial Tissues (for runny noses)
Things to Know Before You Travel
If you’re reading this, then there’s a good chance you’ve done your research and know what to expect when you arrive in Berlin. You’re spending a few days in a city full of history, so you should maximize your time there.
But that’s why we’re here. To give you that wee bit of extra insight to make your travel to Berlin this winter a little bit more pleasant.
So here are a few things we thought would be useful to know to prepare you for your trip to Berlin.
Berlin public transportation works on a trust system. There are no turnstiles and you can literally walk onto a bus, tram or train without having to show anyone a ticket.
But that doesn’t mean that it’s free. So make sure you buy a valid transport ticket. Or you may have to pay a €60 fine if you don’t have one when a conductor does a random ticket control check.
Tipping in Berlin has always been “round it up to the nearest whole number”. So if your bill was €19.10, €20 would be good enough. But over time, and after several death stares, we’ve noticed that the tipping culture has evolved to percentages.
The norm now is to tip anything from 10% to whatever you feel the waiter deserves for the service you were given.
Cash or Card
Paying with card in Berlin is possible at most places. But there are certain places that still live in the stone age and may insist on cash only. So make sure you carry a small amount of cash with you for purchases at stalls and restaurants.
There are very few free public toilets in the city. The lack of loos almost inspired us to create an app that lets you locate one on a map. We’d call it FreeLoo™! Jokes aside, be prepared to pay anything from 50 cents to €1.50 to use a public toilet in Berlin.
Internet & WiFi
Reading this guide is precisely why you need to make sure you’re connected to the Internet while in Berlin. How else will you use Google maps to follow our action packed itinerary?
WiFi is available at almost all train stations, some bus stops and even public areas like supermarkets. But getting an eSim is the surest way to be connected 100% of the time.
If you already have a SIM card with data purchased in the EU, your Internet should work just fine in Germany.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against injury, illness, theft and even trip cancellation. It’s comprehensive cover in case anything goes wrong. We never go on a trip without it as we’ve had to use it many times in the past. Here are our favourite companies that offer the best value and service:
How to Get to Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany. So like any other capital in the world, you can expect the city to have a well connected transportation system.
Getting to Berlin is not only easy and convenient, but there are also many ways to travel to satisfy anyone’s budget. You can travel to the city by air, train, bus, and even by car. Hiking and cycling is also an option too if fitness is your thing. 🏋️
Some modes of transportation are faster than others. While some are cheaper and even more environmentally friendly, producing less emissions. Here are the different ways you can get to Berlin.
If you care about the planet, then taking a train is the best way to get to Berlin while reducing CO2. It’s also a great way to enjoy views of the country’s landscape.
We usually get train tickets from Deutsche Bahn (DB), the national railway company in Germany, which operates hundreds of trains daily.
You can book train tickets to Berlin not only from cities within Germany, but also throughout Europe. For the cheapest fares, make sure you book at least 60 days in advance. Tickets are available from €17.90, and as low as €9.90 during promotional periods.
Flying to to Berlin is by far the fastest way to travel. Flight prices vary depending on demand. But it’s not uncommon to find cheap flights, even cheaper than taking the train.
One of our favorites Qatar Airways, is one of many major airlines that fly to Berlin. But if a layover in Doha isn’t for you, check out Expedia for a quick comparison of direct flights to Berlin. Google Flights is also a great tool that lets you set alerts to track flight price changes for specific flights.
If you have your own car or if you’re on a road trip in Europe, getting to Berlin by car is as easy as steering a steering wheel.
That’s because Berlin is well connected by several autobahns (motorways) including the A2, A9, A11, A12, A13, and A24, and other major roads. Making it quite easy (and fast) to drive to the capital from cities within Germany or even neighboring countries across Europe.
If you need to hire a car, check out DiscoverCars and RentalCars to compare car rental prices. Just bear in mind that you’ll have to pay for parking once you arrive in Berlin. And hotel parking in the city center isn’t free or cheap.
The cheapest way to get to Berlin is definitely by bus. Companies like FlixBus offer ridiculous low bus tickets (as low as €5) if you book in advance.
Bear in mind that it takes longer, sometimes several hours if not days, to get to Berlin. Travelling by bus is not the most comfortable way, but it’s a great budget option for getting to Berlin Central Bus Station which is located on the western outskirts of the city.
Where to Stay
Berlin accommodates for all types budgets. So finding places to stay will really depend on how much money you’re willing to pay per night. The best place to stay in Berlin in winter is in the city center near public transportation.
We personally prefer to stay in the west of the city near Kurfürstendamm. Not only because it’s located near one of the best shopping districts in Berlin and within walking distance of several tourist attractions. But it’s also well connected to public transport including buses, the overground train (S-Bahn) and the subway (U-Bahn).
Nearby you’ll find Berlin’s Zoologischer Garten train station, with direct connection to the airport. It’s only a few stops away from the central train station, but also let’s you arrive and depart the city via train.
The A 100 Autobahn (motorway) can also be easily accessed if you need to get to the airport quickly or if you’re travelling to Berlin by car. And the central bus station is located to the west, less than 5km away.
Stay at centrally located and well connected 4 star Park Plaza Berlin. This hotel is in a quieter neighborhood only a street away from the hustle and bustle of Kurfürstendamm Avenue. But within walking distance from attractions, restaurants, 3 supermarket, and public transportation.
You’ll get all the hotel amenities that you’ve come to expect from the Radisson hotel chain. And a classy bar to have a nightcap while enjoying views of the snowy weather outside.
The best way to get around in Berlin is by public transport. Now you might be thinking, what about the cold? Well actually, trains, buses and even trams are heated. So you’ll get instant relief from the elements by merely stepping inside a toasty bus.
But we get that standing outside an unsheltered bus stop while waiting for a bus isn’t for everyone. So you’ll be please to know that you can also easily hail a cab right at your finger tips.
Here are a couple of ways you can get around Berlin this winter.
Berlin has quite an extensive public transportation system spanning from the city center, all the way out to the suburbs and outer areas including easy access to BER airport.
It’s operated by BVG (the yellow company), and includes tram, overground train (S-bahn), bus, underground train (U-banh) and even ferry (F). It’s all you need to get to all the free attractions in this itinerary.
💡Useful Tip: Make sure you download the Berlin public transport map in case you need it for offline use.
You can buy public transport tickets directly from BVG at ticket machines or on the app. Tickets vary from short trip, single trip, 24 hour, 7 day, and other season tickets. If that’s a bit too complicated, there’s an easier way. Enter the WelcomeCard.
A Berlin WelcomeCard is the easiest way to use Berlin’s public transport system. It gives you free access to all modes of public transport for all three transport zones (ABC), which you’ll need for this itinerary.
It also includes discounts to hundreds of tourist attractions and cultural highlights throughout the city. It’s cost effective if you’re travelling with kids, as children 14 years or younger can travel free with an adult.
Uber and Taxi
If the cold is gripping a bit too much, then you might want to get around door to door with Uber. Getting around Berlin by taxi is convenient, but it does come at premium. And costs much more than public transport.
The cool part is that you can estimate exactly how much it’s going to cost before requesting a cab. So make sure you’ve got both the Uber and Bolt app installed so you can compare fares between both apps.
FreeNow is also another option to call a taxi in Berlin. If you’re new to FreeNow now, download the app and use this code to get €10 off your first ride: JOINFREENOW
Berlin Winter Itinerary
Stay cozy in Berlin this winter with our 3 day itinerary fit for cold and rainy weather. We’ll take you to 11 places that will not only encapsulate what the city is well known for, but also why we’ve fallen in love with Berlin and made it our home.
This itinerary only includes free things to do in Berlin. So you can expect 100% action, with zero costs. So get ready for planes, history, food, shopping, exhibitions, nightclubs, tours, museums, live entertainment, and even classic cars.
Make sure you get our 3 Day Berlin Winter Itinerary interactive map so you can effortlessly follow the itinerary directly on your phone in Google Maps.
Day 1: Planes, History & Food
Spend your first day in Berlin looking at fighter jets, eating delicious food and learning about German politics.
Military History Museum
Start the day early at the Military History Museum at Airport Berlin-Gatow. Spend about 2 to 3 hours walking back in time to experience how aviation played a role in shaping how Germany engaged in World War II.
Explore over 25 actual aircraft that were flown in various missions during the Cold War. Entrance is free, but make sure you’re snacked up as there aren’t any restaurants on site.
Most aircraft are parked outside on the airfield. But there are a couple of covered exhibition hangers and halls with lots more planes.
On a sunny day, make your way back to Berlin via Alt Kladow. Take the F10 ferry from Fähre Kladow-Wannsee to Berlin-Wannsee main train station to enjoy views of the Havel River and Wansee lake. Once there, the city is only a few stops away from Wannsee.
Make a pit-stop at Markthalle Neun on your way back to the city. But make sure you arrive hungry at Berlin’s foodie paradise.
The covered market hall doesn’t only offer international cuisine and shops, but gives you that street food experience you’ve been craving in Berlin. Entrance, of course, is free.
With bellies full, make your way to the Reichstag Building for an audio-guided history tour. Discover how the war shaped politics in Germany, and made it adopt a transparent system of governance. Stand inside the Reichstag Dome and look down to observe, in real-time, politicians governing.
Make sure you register to visit the Dome of the Reichstag Building at least a week in advance, to secure your preferred day and timeslot. Admission into the Dome is free and includes an audio guide.
Paid for guided tours in English are also available.
Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Markets
If you’re in Berlin in November or December, end the day at the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market. Enjoy the festivities at arguably Berlin’s most beautiful Christmas market and wander through rows of stalls while sipping on decadent hot chocolate.
If it gets too nippy, keep warm inside the covered tented area while browsing arts and crafts. Admission at this pretty Christmas Market is free between 12pm and 2pm. So arrive early!
Related Guide: First time at a Christmas Market in Berlin? Then check out these 13 Tips for Visiting Christmas Markets in Germany so you can have the best time in the city.
Day 2: Shopping, Exhibitions & Nightclubs
Spend day two shopping, gazing at classic cars and into the future, and exploring Berlin’s nightlight scene.
Designer Outlet Berlin
Rise up early for some retail therapy at Designer Outlet Berlin located on the outskirts of the city.
To get there, you’ll need to make your way to the Hard Rock Cafe and board a free shuttle bus that stops in front of the restaurant along Kurfürstendamm Avenue. You can only book the free shuttle bus on Fridays and Saturdays departing at either 9am or 1pm. Don’t forget to also book the return trip.
After approximately a 1 hour journey, you’ll enjoy the ultimate shopping experience in Berlin. Shop the world’s most famous fashion and household brands and enjoy massive discounts.
We’ve personally been shopping at Designer Outlet Berlin since 2018. And we can vouch that the bargains are really worth the trip outside the city.
Drop by at Classic-Remise Berlin, the perfect place for every classic car enthusiast. Browse dozens of vintage cars inside an old industrial architecture themed tram depot just a short distance away from the center of the city.
Entrance is free, however paid for guided tours are available online.
Only a short distance away, make a stop at the Futurium Museum. Move ahead in time and explore over 5000m² and three floors of Human, Nature and Technology themed futuristic exhibitions, a forum and laboratory.
Entrance to explore this futuristic exhibition is free.
End of a busy day exploring Berlin’s nightclub scene. Dance the night away at one of two iconic nightclubs in Berlin.
Head to Havanna Nightclub where you can choose any of 4 dance floors to get your groove on. Enjoy Salsa, Reggaeton, Bachata, Merengue, Hip Hop, RnB, and Charts. Entrance for ladies is free on Saturdays between 10–11pm.
Or head to Soda Club Berlin, and lose yourself on any of 5 dance floors. Enjoy black music, dance classics, house, and R’n’B. Entrance for ladies is free on Fridays untill 10pm.
Day 3: Tours, Museums & Live Entertainment
Spend your last day in Berlin touring the city’s dark past, escaping to museums and toasting to a time well spent at a jazz bar.
Topography of Terror
Kickstart the day with a free tour at the Topography of Terror. Take a leaf out of the history books to uncover the propaganda, terror, and persecution that once plagued Germany.
Explore the museum’s location, which was once used by the Nazi regime and now serves as a place of remembrance and a warning not to repeat the past. Entrance is free. Guided tours last 60 minutes and are also free of charge.
Sunday is Museum Sunday! So why not mellow out and explore one of Berlin’s most visited sights and one of the most important museum sites in Europe.
Gain access to 14 museums on and around the city’s iconic Museum Island. Entrance is free on the first Sunday of the month.
Here’s a list of participating museums on* and in the surrounding area of Museum Island:
- Bode Museum*
- Alte Nationalgalerie*
- Neues Museum*
- James Simon Gallery*
- Old Museum*
- Humboldt Forum*
- Pergamon Panorama
- German Historical Museum
- Friedrichswerder Church
- Museum Knoblauchhaus
- Museum Ephraim-Palais
- St. Nicholas’ Church Museum
- Museum for Communication Berlin
- New Synagogue Berlin – Centrum Judaicum
You can find more information about each museum and the full list of museums participating in Museum Sunday at Berlin.de.
Here are the dates in 2024 when over 50 museums will open their doors to visitors free of charge:
- January 07
- February 04
- March 03
- April 07
- May 05
- June 02
- July 07
- August 04
- September 01
- October 06
- November 03
- December 01
The Hat Bar Berlin
Bring down the curtain on your Berlin trip at the Hat Bar Berlin. Enjoy live entertainment while sipping on cocktails at this jazz themed bar.
Sit back and be dazzled by live jam sessions every night inside this smokey bar. Entrance is free but smoking indoors is permitted.
So how much does it cost to travel to Berlin for a three day trip? It all depends on where you eat and where you stay.
Eating out can vary from under €10 for cheap eats, to well over 50 Euros per person for fine dining.
Save Me For Later
Luckily, things like public transport and even prepaid sim cards have fixed costs. So you know what to budget for irrespective of your tastes.
Here’s a cost estimate we’ve put together for one person, sharing a room at 4 star hotel (including breakfast) and enjoying Berlin’s culinary delights (eating two more meals per day):
Berlin Trip Highlights
We sure hope you enjoyed our Berlin 3 day itinerary packed with free things to do this winter. Here’s a summary of the 11 free things you can do in Berlin:
- Military History Museum
- Markthalle Neun
- Reichstag Building
- Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market
- Designer Outlet Berlin
- Classic-Remise Berlin
- Topography of Terror
- Museum Island
- The Hat Bar Berlin
- Soda Club Berlin (Ladies on Friday till 10pm) & Havanna Nightclub (Ladies on Saturdays between 10–11pm)
Remember to dress warmly! And don’t forget to get our map for effortless navigation directly on your phone.