Berlin: The top venues for free (and cheap) summer concerts

B-Flat Jazz club in Berlin
At B-Flat Jazz club in Berlin. Photo by gyst.

Nothing says summer like a great concert. Good thing Berlin has plenty of acts—both in-door and out—to offer when the weather gets hot in July and August.

Big shows with hefty price tags, including Patti Smith, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Arcade Fire and more, will hit the capital’s dozens of stages this season. But there are so many smaller and cheaper venues throughout the city that you won’t have a hard time catching up-and-coming acts for little—or even nothing.

Here’s a rundown of our favorite venues that sing the Cheapo tune:

Be Worldly

Housed in a funky 1950s building dubbed the “pregnant oyster” by locals, the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (S-bahn: Hauptbahnhof; U-bahn: Bundestag) hosts dozens of free or inexpensive acts from far-flung corners of the world.

The multi-kulti (German slang for multicultural) Wassermusik Festival (July 22-August 13) features live music outdoors (or, in the case of rain, inside). This year’s theme—the Danube, the Nile and the Amazon—dictates the diverse acts, which hail from Hungary, Peru, Uganda and beyond. Tickets are €10. After the concert, you can take a relaxing—and cost-free—stroll through the expansive Tiergarten park.

Jazz-a-ma-tazz

Berlin’s most famous jazz club, Quasimodo, shuts its doors July and August, but A-Trane (S-bahn: Savingyplatz) and B-Flat (S-bahn: Hackeschermarkt) sweat out the summer. Both venues offer the occasional free concerts; B-Flat shows are rarely more than €10 (€8 if you’re a student).

Open-Air

Berlin’s most beloved summer hangout, Badeshiff (U-bahn: Schlesisches Tor, €4), doubles as a music venue in July and August. Badeschiff is a swimming pool floating atop the Spree River in the funky district of Treptow, just east of bar-lined Kreuzberg. During the day, it’s the place to cool off and recover from a night on the town. After 8 p.m., it’s the place to catch some inexpensive tunes before hitting the bars again. Performers include singer-songwriters and DJs. Shows start at 8 p.m. and cost €4.

If you do feel like shelling out for a full-price concert, check out Comet Club (S-bahn and U-bahn: Schlesisches Tor) for shows under €20 and O2 Welt (S-bahn: Ostbahnhof), Huxelys Neue Welt (U-bahn: Hermannplatz), Arena (S-bahn: Treptower Park) and Magnet Club (U-bahn: Schlesisches Tor) for pricier options.

Don’t forget to check out Zitty, Tip and the English-language Ex-Berliner for comprehensive event listings. If you’re trying to decipher German, look for the word frei (free).

About the author

Susan Buzzelli
About the author: A Pittsburgh native, Susan Buzzelli has been a sworn Germanophile since she spent a high school summer as an exchange student in Buxtehude. After stints in Dresden, Munich, and Hamburg she settled (possibly for good) in Europe’s most dynamic city: Berlin. When she isn't exploring Berlin, she's traveling throughout Germany (with an occasional hop over the border). Her comprehensive guidebook to Germany, Zeitguide Germany, will be published soon. Look for updates on her website, www.susanbuzzelli.com.
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