Free Museums in Berlin: Explore the 15 Best Cultural Gems

Whether you are visiting Berlin on a budget or a passionate history and culture enthusiast eager to delve into the city’s rich heritage, you’re going to want to explore these best free museums in Berlin.

Did you know that Berlin has over 170 museums? From the world-renowned, UNESCO-listed Museum Island’s Big 5 to contemporary art spaces like the East Side Gallery or the quirky allure of the DDR Museum. There’s a museum in this city to match every curiosity and passion.

What makes Berlin unique and a city worth visiting is the number of really amazing free museums. They are so amazing you will think “I can’t believe that was free admission” they are that good! Living in Berlin for three months allowed me to do and explore them at a leisurely pace.

That means I’m going to give you the truth. I’ll share the ones that are the “must-visits” like the Jewish Museum, compared to the “nice-if-you-have-the-time to visit”.

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Free Museums in Berlin “The Musts”

1. Berlin Wall Memorial (Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer)

Here you’ll find an outdoor museum along Bernauer Straße, a preserved section of the original Wall, a watchtower, victims of the Berlin Wall memorial and the Chapel of Reconciliation.

Learn about the history of the Wall, the division of the city, and its impact on people’s lives living in this neighbourhood. Don’t confuse this with the East Side Gallery the longest stretch of the Berlin Wall where over 100 artists have painted murals.

  • 📍 Bernauer Str. (1.3 km between Gartenstraße and Brunnenstraße)
  • 🕝 Tuesday to Sunday from 10 AM to 6 PM (Visitor’s Centre) which includes access to the Observation Tower | The outside open-air museum is open 24/7
  • 💻 Visitor Centre for Berlin Wall Memorial
  • ⌛ 2 to 2.5 hours
  • ℹ️ Guided tours are €3.50 | Dog-friendly park (where my dog would meet up for a little play) | Nearby things to do: Arkonaplatz Sunday Flea Market and dine at the chic Italian eatery Coccodrillo

2. CheckPoint Charlie

large picture in berlin free museum showing checkpoint charlie being removed

The ever-so-famous Checkpoint Charlie offers insight into the Cold War era. Learn about the tensions between East Berlin and West Berlin, espionage, and daring escape attempts through the free outdoor exhibits and a recreation of the iconic guardhouse.

  • 📍 Friedrichstraße 43-45
  • 🕝 24/7
  • 💻 Berlin Tourism
  • ⌛ 1 hour
  • ℹ️ Visit the Asisi Wall Panorama which is an immersive art display of what East Berlin looked like in the 1980s €11 | Nearby things to do: Topography of Terror and dine at contemporary Bavarian Maximilians restaurant to satisfy that schnitzel craving

3. Jewish Museum

The Jewish Museum provides a permanent exhibition of a comprehensive view of Jewish history in Germany. It’s considered the largest museum dedicated to Jewish history and culture in the world.

Emotionally charged exhibitions delve into the Holocaust, Jewish culture, and the contemporary Jewish experience of living in Germany, offering a profound understanding of the Jewish heritage.

  • 📍 Lindenstraße 9-14
  • 🕝 Monday to Sunday from 10 AM to 7 PM
  • 💻 Jewish Museum
  • ⌛ 3 hours
  • ℹ️ Nearby things to do: Checkpoint Charlie

4. Kulturbrauerei Museum

The Kulturbrauerei, once a brewery transformed into a cultural hub that features an interesting history museum that depicts the daily lives of East Germans during the Cold War.

Learn about the role the communist state played in all aspects of work, family, fashion, food, and leisure activities. There’s even the famous Trabi car.

5. Palace of Tears (Tränenpalast)

Formerly a check-in hall near Friedrichstraße Station that passengers travelling from East to West Berlin had to use. These insight exhibitions explain the border crossings within a divided Germany. It got its name from the many tearful goodbyes between loved ones living in a divided city during the Cold War.

I found this fascinating as I crossed this border as an international student in 1988 from West Berlin to East Berlin. Seeing the signs, the border officer booth and the photos brought a lot of those memories back.

6. Topography of Terror (Topographie des Terrors)

This site once served as the headquarters of the Nazi Secret State Police (SS) and the Reich Security Main Office. Now there’s a museum with exhibitions about the central institutions of the SS and the police force under Hitler’s Third Reich.

The outdoor museum is against the brick wall of the basement of the SS office and in interior museum is in a new modern building.

  • 📍 Niederkirchnerstraße 8
  • 🕝 Monday to Sunday from 10 AM to 8 PM
  • 💻 Topography of Terror
  • ⌛ 3-5 hours
  • ℹ️ Nearby things to do: Checkpoint Charlie

Berlin Free Museums “The Nice to Haves”

7. Abguss-Sammlung Antiker Plastik

stone sculpture of a women in a berlin free museum

Abguss-Sammlung Antiker Plastik houses meticulously crafted plaster replicas of Greek and Roman sculptures. If you love a peaceful environment and looking for something to do when you are visiting Charlottenburg Palace these works of art of classical antiquity are your best bet.

8. Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf Museum in Villa Oppenheim

painting in a free museum in berlin

Situated in the elegant Villa Oppenheim, this museum offers insight into the German history and culture of the Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf district. Learn about the neighbourhood’s evolution and local heritage (however, most of the museum is in Germany only). There is a new exhibit every few months showing a different themed collection.

  • 📍 Schloßstraße 55
  • 🕝 Tuesday to Friday from 10 AM to 5 PM
  • 💻 Villa Oppenheim
  • ⌛ Less than 1 hour
  • ℹ️ Nearby things to do: Charlottenburg Palace, Abguss-Sammlung Antiker Plastik, and eat at Lemke am Schloss

9. Deutscher Dom

The Deutscher Dom, or German Cathedral, is a historical site in Gendarmenmarkt Square. Unfortunately, this area is under major construction but you can still access it. You can ascend its tower for panoramic views of Berlin‘s historic center and explore exhibitions that delve into the city’s history and the development of democracy in Germany (although it’s all in German).

  • 📍 Gendarmenmarkt 1-2
  • 🕝 Tuesday to Sunday from 10 AM to 6 PM
  • 💻 Deutscher Dom 
  • ⌛ 1 hour
  • ℹ️ Nearby things to do: Gendarmenmarkt, Französische Friedrichstadtkirche and dine at Borchardt

10. Humbolt Forum

The Humboldt Forum is a cultural complex featuring a wide range of exhibitions. The standout for me was the short animated movie of the reconstruction of the Berlin Palace which gives a great visual overview of Berlin’s history over the centuries.

The other reason to visit Humbolt Forum is its rooftop deck. It is a mere 3 euros, you can have one of the best views of Unter den Linden boulevard and the Berliner Dom. If you are looking for Berlin souvenirs, the Humboldt has one of the best shops.

  • 📍 Schloßpl. 1
  • 🕝 Open Daily from 10:30 AM to 6:30 PM, except Tuesday
  • 💻 Humbolt Forum
  • ⌛ 1-1.5 hours
  • ℹ️ Nearby things to do: Museum Island, Spree River and Alexanderplatz

11. Kunstraum Kreuzberg

modern art in berlin free museums

First a hospital, then a popular squat in the ‘70s, and now a cultural forum and contemporary art space. The exhibits here change frequently! Come here and immerse yourself in the avant-garde artistic scene, with exhibitions, installations, and ongoing events.

  • 📍
  • 🕝 Sunday to Wednesday from 10 AM to 8 PM and Thursday to Saturday from 10 AM to 10 PM
  • 💻 Kunstraum Kreuzberg
  • ⌛ 2 to 3 hours
  • ℹ️ Nearby things to do: Markhalle Neun, Spree River and dine at Max und Moritz

Free Berlin Museums I Missed

12. Allied Museum (Alliiertenmuseum)

Discusses the history of the Allied forces from 1945 to 1994.

The Allied Museum showcases the history of the Allied forces’ presence in Berlin during the Cold War. Expect to learn about the Berlin Airlift, the construction of the Berlin Wall, and the everyday life of the people in a divided city.

13. Berlin Karlshorst Musum

The Berlin-Karlshorst Museum is dedicated to the history of World War II and the end of the war in Europe. It’s also the site where the Nazis officially surrendered to the Allied forces.

14. Dokumentationszentrum NS-Zwangsarbeit

The Dokumentationszentrum NS-Zwangsarbeit museum sheds light on the forced labour system under the Nazi regime. Expect to learn about the lives and experiences of the millions of people who were forced to work for the Nazi war machine.

15. Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial

Sachsenhausen is a solemn site that educates visitors about the Holocaust and the horrors of the Nazi concentration camp system. Expect to learn about the camp’s history, the living conditions, and the stories of survivors and victims. This makes for an easy day trip from Berlin by train.

As a Holidaymaker

I hope you enjoy visiting some of these fascinating free museums of Berlin. Another option for free things to do is that on the first Sunday in Berlin most museums are free, but the crowds are heavy.

If you want to take advantage of the not-free museums and Berlin’s most popular places to visit, I recommend you get the museum pass through Berlin’s Welcome card to take advantage of some amazing discounts.

For other free things to do in Berlin, look no further than:

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