By Vicky · Published Feb. 5th, 2024
Discover the Top Ten Free Museums in Berlin, including art galleries, exhibits about the Nazis, the Cold War, cultural museums and much more.
Best Free Museums in Berlin Map
Best Free Museums in Berlin
- Humboldt Forum
- Topography of Terror
- Jewish Museum
- Berlin Wall Memorial
- Reichstag Building
- Museum in der Kulturbrauerei
- German Resistance Memorial
- Friedrichswerdersche Kirche
For a complete picture of the museums’ offerings in Berlin, head to the Humboldt Forum to see cultural artefacts, Topography of Terror to learn about the Nazi Regime, the Jewish Museum to learn about their culture, the Berlin Wall Memorial to learn about Berlin during the Cold War, and the Reichstag Building to learn about the history of German democracy.
Head to the Tränenpalast and Museum in der Kulturbrauerei to learn more about a divided Berlin in the Cold War, the German Resistance Memorial Centre for more about the Nazis, Friedrichswerdersche Kirche for more artworks and the Futurium for something completely different! Read on to discover more about the top ten free museums in Berlin.
1. Humboldt Forum
Key Information: Exhibitions open Wed-Mon 10:30am-6:30pm. Most exhibitions are free of charge.
The Humboldt Forum is located in the rebuilt Berliner Schloss, or Berlin Palace, constructed in the 15th century. The Prussian Kings and German Kaisers lived here, but the building was severely damaged in World War II. It’s definitely worth wandering through the middle passageway of the building and into the courtyard at the back to see the architecture. Inside there are several great museums and things to do, most of which are free:
- Ethnologisches Museum: A very well-done museum that explores indigenous cultures, and traditional arts and crafts, with several interactive exhibits.
- Museum für Asiatische Kunst: An interesting museum housing a diverse collection of artworks and artifacts from Asia.
- Palace Cellar: Here you can see the historic remains of the Berlin Palace.
- Video Panorama: A video of the history of the building (German and English).
- Glass Dome: You can climb to the top of the dome (paid) for panoramic views over Berlin.
- Temporary Exhibitions: For example, about nature, democracy etc.
2. Topography of Terror
Key Information: Free entry. Indoor exhibits are open daily 10am-8pm, the outdoor area is officially closed when it’s dark. Audioguides are available.
The Topography of Terror Museum is a popular museum located at the former headquarters of the Nazi regime of terror, where the Gestapo and SS were based. It’s also next to the Berlin Wall, though the exhibits concentrate on the Nazis rather than the Cold War. There are three main parts to this site: 1) the indoor museum, 2) the outdoor exhibition trench, and 3) a walk around the grounds with information panels.
The indoor museum consists of informative panels, photographs, documents, and artifacts that chronicle the history of the Nazi security apparatus and its victims. The outdoor exhibition trench runs along the remains of the Berlin Wall. It’s not actually about the Wall or the Cold War, but about life in Berlin from 1933 until the end of the Second World War, and how the Nazis came to power.
Check out our Potsdamer Platz & Around Walking Tour to discover more in this area.
3. Jewish Museum
Key Information: Open daily 10am-7pm. Free admission.
The Jewish Museum is a really interesting museum about 10 minutes walk south of Checkpoint Charlie. It has a small section on the Holocaust but most of it is about the history of Jewish people and their beliefs and customs. The museum is well laid out and well-explained, with interactive exhibits and lots of things to keep you engaged. The building itself is unusual and fun, with hardly any right angles. On the lowest floor, the corridors are inclined and you can easily get a bit confused and disoriented, which is the idea of the design.
4. Berlin Wall Memorial
Key Information: Mainly outside with free entry and unlimited opening hours. Documentation Centre and visitor’s centre open Tue-Sun,10am-6pm. To read and see everything, you could spend a couple of hours here.
The Berlin Wall Memorial covers a section of the former wall along Bernauer Street. In several places, iron poles have been put up to represent where the walls stood, and you walk along the ‘Death Strip’ in the middle. There are some small outdoor exhibits here, along with a Chapel of Reconciliation and several large murals and photos on the buildings showing how the area changed over time.
Inside the Documentation Centre is an overview of the history of the Berlin Wall, the division of Berlin and the consequences of the Cold Wall. There are multimedia exhibits, including a film about the wall’s history. To discover more about the Berlin Wall, follow the Berlin Wall Walk.
5. Reichstag Building
Key Information: Free entry, but you have to book timeslots in advance from the official website. Book at least one day before your visit as it takes some time to get the confirmation. Bring your official ID with you. It’s open daily from 8am to 9:45pm. There’s also a free audioguide.
The Reichstag is the seat of the German parliament. The main attraction is the Reichstag Dome, a large glass dome at the top with panoramic views over Berlin. It’s free to enter (but book in advance), and you can walk up the spiral ramp to the top while enjoying views of the city and the parliamentary chamber below. The audioguide will guide you around, and there’s also a small exhibit about the history of the building and the German government. Follow our walking tour of the Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate area to discover more of this district.
Key Information: Open Tue-Fri from 9-7pm and Sat-Sun 10-6pm. Free entry. Free audioguides.
Tränenpalast, or ‘Palace of Tears’, is a historic building that served as a border crossing point between East and West Germany during the Cold War. It gained its name ‘Palace of Tears’ because it was a place where emotional farewells between family members and friends often occurred due to the strict border controls and the separation imposed by the Berlin Wall. Today, the Tränenpalast shows exhibits about the experiences of individuals crossing the border, documenting the emotional and bureaucratic aspects of the divided city.
Key Information: Open Wed-Mon from 10 am to 6 pm, or until 8pm on Thursdays. Free entry. Note, this museum is closed on Tuesday rather than Monday like most museums.
The Futurium is a fun and interactive museum about technology and the future. It’s interesting for kids and adults alike. Additionally, since it’s located near the central station, it’s a great place to spend a while if you’re waiting for your train. There’s an exhibition upstairs and you can also walk on the roof in good weather.
Downstairs, the Futurium Lab is fully interactive, a space where you can design and test your own ideas for the future. There are 3D printers, little robots, you can draw, play with electric circuits and much more. It can get a bit busy in the lab so there may be a wait time. For the shortest wait, go early and avoid the weekends.
8. Museum in der Kulturbrauerei
Key Information: Open Tue-Fri from 9 am to 6 pm, Sat & Sun from 10am to 6pm. Free entry.
The Museum in der Kulturbrauerei is within the cultural and entertainment complex of the Kulturbrauerei. It was originally a brewery, built in the 19th century, but has been repurposed into a space for various cultural events, shops, restaurants, and more. The museum itself is about life in East Germany during the Cold War. There are free audioguides plus free tours, and interactive exhibits and several fun reconstructions.
The museum is not so far from the start of the Berlin Wall Walk if you’re looking for another free activity in Berlin.
9. German Resistance Memorial Center
Key Information: Open Mon-Fri 9am-6pm, Sat-Sun 10am-6pm. Free entry.
The German Resistance Memorial Center (Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand) is a history museum that honours those who resisted the Nazi Regime and Hitler. This includes members of the German military who were involved in the failed assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler in 1944 and were then executed. Check out our Potsdamer Platz & Around Walking Tour to discover more in this area.
10. Friedrichswerdersche Kirche
Key Information: Free entry, open Tue-Sun 10-6pm.
Friedrichswerdersche Kirche hosts sculptures by German Romantic sculptor Johann Gottfried Schadow. While the sculptures themselves are not super exciting, the church itself is rather lovely, with elegant pillars and complimentary use of warm wooden furnishings.
Free Museum Sundays
Every first Sunday of the month, many museums in Berlin are free! They can get quite crowded, so head there early. The free museums include all those on Museum Island, those at the Kultur Forum, the Hamburger-Bahnhof and many more. Check the official website for more details, or see our Walking Tour of Museum Island for a pleasant stroll around the area.
Free on Thursday Evenings
The Neue Nationalgalerie is normally a little expensive, at €14/7 per adult/reduction. However, every Thursday evening it’s open late until 8pm, with free entry after 4pm!
Key Information: Open Tue-Sun from 10-6pm, apart from late-night Thursdays when it’s open until 8pm and has free entry after 4pm. Tickets cost €14/7 for adults/reductions.
The Neue Nationalgalerie is a relatively small modern art museum. The most striking thing is the building itself, a modernist glass box designed by the renowned architect Mies van der Rohe and completed in 1968. The collections are all underground and of 20th-century European art. There are a few interesting pieces but it’s quite expensive – try to visit on Thursday evenings when it’s free or as part of the Kuturforum ticket. Even if you don’t go in, walk around the building and view the few outdoor sculptures.
Guidebooks to explore more of Germany
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