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Top 10 free things to do in Berlin

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Save euros and slip under the city's skin with this guide to free Berlin. Choose a central Berlin hotel for early morning views from the Reichstag's dome, provocative art at the East Side Gallery and bear encounters in Köllnischer Park that won't cost a single cent.

Wall art at the East Side Gallery

It's free to walk the East Side Gallery, a 1.3km stretch of the Berlin Wall reincarnated as one of the world's largest open-air galleries. Look out for pithy, colourful murals like the tongue-in-cheek Bruderkuss (Brotherly Kiss).

Ostbahnhof Station, 10243

Cutting-edge architecture and city views at the Reichstag

Berlin seems toy-town tiny from the platform of the Reichstag (German parliament), affording 360-degree city views. A lift races to Sir Norman Foster's crystalline dome, where a snail-like ramp twists to the top. Avoid queues by arriving before 10am or after dark when Berlin starts to twinkle.

Platz der Republik 1, 10557 Berlin

Jazz sessions at A-Trane and B-Flat

Live music fans should bookmark the free jazz nights at two of Berlin's most soulful clubs.  A-Trane hosts free gigs on Mondays, while B-Flat stages free acoustic jam sessions on Wednesdays. 

A-Trane: Bleibtreustrasse 1, 10625 Berlin

B-Flat: Rosenthaler Strasse 13, 10119 Berlin

Thursday's free museum evenings 

Euro economisers can see top museums in Berlin for free from 6pm-10pm every Thursday. Take a trip to Ancient Greece by climbing the Pergamon Museum's altar, tour the Rembrandt room at the Picture Gallery, or see Byzantine treasures in the riverside Bode Museum.

New Berlin walking tours 

It seems too good to be true, but New Berlin Tours run free three-and-a-half hour walking tours of Berlin in English. Simply turn up at 11am or 1pm in front of the Brandenburg Gate. Informative guides provide an insight into landmarks from Checkpoint Charlie to the Fernsehturm tower.

Brandenburg Gate, 10117 Berlin

Meeting Berlin's bear mascots at Köllnischer Park

Berlin Zoo has Knut the cuddly polar bear but, insiders will tell you, the real celebrities are Maxi and Schnute, the brown bears that are Berlin's official mascots. The best news is it's free to visit their pit in leafy Köllnischer Park, just south of Mitte. Feeding time is 12.30pm daily.

Am Köllnischen Park, 10179 Berlin

Contemplating Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Kirche

The Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Kirche is a 19th-century church that was shattered in Second World War air raids and is all the more enigmatic for it. Next door to the church is a modern octagonal tower, honeycombed with glass tiles that flood the nave in cobalt-blue light.

Breitscheidplatz, 10789 Berlin

Hope in history at Blindenwerkstatt Otto Weidt

This little-known free museum tells the touching tale of Otto Weidt, who managed a Blindenwerkstatt (workshop for the blind), producing brooms during the Second World War. The unsung hero managed to protect his employees from deportation by hiding them, bribing the Nazis and creating false papers.

Rosenthaler Strasse 39, 10178 Berlin

Beach life at Strandbar Mitte

There's no sea for a hundred miles, but you can pull up a deckchair under the palms and watch boats chug along the River Spree at Strandbar Mitte. Free apart from drinks, this lively urban beach lures crowds in summer with tango and salsa nights under the stars. 

Monbijou Park, 10117 Berlin

Feeling humbled by the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

Peter Eisenman created this urban labyrinth to commemorate victims of the Holocaust. Both moving and bewildering, the walkable monument of irregular concrete slabs culminates in a permanent exhibition on the Holocaust at the Information Centre.

Cora-Berliner-Strasse 1, 10117 Berlin