How to Spend a Perfect Christmas in Berlin
Christmas in Berlin is magical. In fact, I had such a memorable and amazing time in the city during Christmas that I even recommend it as one of the Best Countries to Spend Christmas in.
For our trip, Daniel and I spent December 18th through the 26th in Berlin and seriously could not have planned it better. The city is chock full of festive, fun, historical and interesting things to do, and I compiled a list of them all just for you! I hope this helps you make plans to spend your own Christmas in Berlin, and enjoy this unique city just as I did!
Visit the Christmas Markets
Obviously this is the number one reason to spend Christmas in Berlin! These quaint and cozy Christmas markets are spread throughout Germany, and of course as the capital Berlin has some of the best. These markets are full of hot drinks, beer and gluhwine, meats, sausages, cheese, snacks, popcorn, nuts, candy, pretzels… pretty much anything you could need for a picturesque European Christmas experience is sold here. Some of my favorites are…
This one is great because its set between two massive ornate churches. They sell lots of crafts like homemade ornaments and jewelry, and of course amazing foods. My favorite was this cheesy bread thing pictured above… delicious! ALSO if you come here don’t miss the Rausch Schokoladenhaus just down the street. The awesome chocolate store has massive chocolate carvings of Berlin’s monuments and sites, and is definitely worth popping into when you’re in the area.
Winter World at Potsdammer Platz
This small Christmas market isn’t the best in Berlin, but is great to visit if you’re in the area. Daniel and I walked here for lunch when we visited Tiergarten, a HUGE park in the middle of the city. This also contains memorials and historical information about the city, as well as a zoo, trees, trails, and beautiful landscapes. It’s worth visiting if the weather is nice, and you should checkout the Winter World Christmas market while you’re there.
Alexanderplatz Christmas Market
My favorite Christmas market in Berlin! Alexanderplatz is huge, and features an ice skating rink, ferris wheel, and tons of stalls and food. It’s also within walking distance of the Nikolai Historic Quarter and Berliner Dom Cathedral, so group them all together for an awesome day.
Go Christmas Shopping
My two favorite places to go Christmas shopping in Berlin when I was hunting down the perfect (ok, and touristy) gifts for my husband were the Nikolai Quarter and the Kreuzberg Neighborhood.
The Nikolai Quarter is a must visit during Christmas in Berlin. This little area in Mitte is the oldest part of Berlin, and looks just like it did when it was built hundreds of years ago. The houses are colorful and quaint, and the cobblestone streets are lined with art galleries, cafes, and shops selling tons of unique and cool gifts. Definitely a must see when you spend Christmas in Berlin.
The second place I enjoyed wandering the streets of and shopping the small businesses in was the Kreuzberg neighborhood. We stayed here too, and loved the relaxed vibe and easy access to bars and restaurants. The area near Oranienstrasse especially had some cool storefronts worth popping into and browsing around, as well as lots of locally owned restaurants to relax in afterwards.
Take a Day Trip
Berlin is a huge city and can be a bit overwhelming after awhile. Thats why I recommend taking a day trip while you’re in the city. During our eight day stay in Berlin for Christmas, we took two. The first was to Potsdam, and the second to Sachenhausen Concentration Camp.
This town is about an hour outside of Berlin on their subway/train system and was fairly easy to figure out the directions too. We got off at the Babelsberg stop (mostly cause we kinda had no idea what we were doing) and walked through a small town and a large park with a lake and castle in it before we actually even made it to Potsdam itself. I thought both were kind of cool and worth seeing, but it’s not the most efficient way. On the way back we boarded at Potsdam Park Sanssocci stop, so this is probably where you want to get off as well.
In Potsdam, we of course walked through, ate at, and thoroughly enjoyed their Christmas market. We also visited the giant Sanssoci park. This is one of the best features of the town. It has fountains, ornate buildings, and the Nues Palace (google it, it’s beautiful!). If you want a taste of the traditional European Christmas feel you don’t get in modern Berlin, this day trip to Potsdam will be right up your alley.
Sachenhausen Concentration Camp
This isn’t the best way to get in the Christmas spirit, but visiting a concentration camp is an essential part of understanding the history of Germany when you visit. Daniel and I went to Sachenhausen, the closest one to Berlin. This concentration camp was an extremely sobering experience. The camp was one of the first in Germany, and used as a “model camp” to build the rest. Thousands of people were killed there, so plan to spend time reading at the memorials and in the museums, because there is a lot to take in.
Check Out The Museums & History
The history in Berlin is different from most of Europe. It’s not old churches and cobbled roads. Most of the city was destroyed in World War II and was rebuilt, so it’s more modern. But the super recent history means the museums and memorials are fascinating. Some of the must sees are…
East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery is my favorite place in the city. If you spend Christmas in Berlin, definitely do not miss it. After the wall fell and unity was restored, artists from around the world were invited to Berlin to paint it. This long stretch along the river hosts murals, quotes, and beautiful pieces of art.
Black Box Cold War Museum & Panorama
This museum has so much information about the lead up to the Cold War and its aftermath. My favorite part, though, was the neighboring “Panorama” next door. Buy a combo ticket and you can enter it as well. First, see some of the most interesting and striking photos from the fall of the Berlin Wall. Next, add your name and a message to the colorful array of thousands covering the walls. Finally, step into the panorama. Here an artist recreated the view of East Germany from the wall almost exactly. You’ll be surprised how long you stand mesmerized by the accurate and life size piece.
This iconic part of history is right near the Cold War Museum. The still standing checkpoint carries the ominous message “You Are Leaving The American Sector” in English, German, French and Russian. It marked the strict border between East and West Germany and is one of the most important pieces of history in the city.
The Holocaust Memorial is a must visit in Berlin. Plan to spend some time here reflecting. One of the reasons we decided to spend Christmas in Berlin was to see and understand the city and country’s recent history, and the Holocaust memorial is a sad but important aspect of it. Visit it along with the Brandenburg Gate and Tiergarten park, because they are only one block apart.
Topography of Terror
This museum is located next to a still remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall. It is a super in depth look at why and how Hitler was able to take charge of Germany, and the details behind the Axis regime and the Holocaust.
The Brandenburg Gate is a memorial built in the 1700’s. It is giant and imposing, and a cool piece of German history involving Napoleon, the Nazis, and the Cold War. Now it stands as a symbol of peace.
Eat and Drink
Berlin is one of the best cities in Europe to eat and drink in. The nightlife is also totally on point so if you’re into a party scene this is the place for you. Some of our favorite restaurants from our Christmas in Berlin were the little cafes dotting the neighborhoods, the kabob shops for a cheap and filling meal, The Bird burger restaurant, Hafbrauhaus (of course, it’s a must visit), and the super strange trance club we spent a night in called Tresor. There is so much to eat, drink, and explore in Berlin!
Stock Up For A Cozy Christmas
One thing you need to keep in mind when you spend Christmas in Berlin is that this isn’t the same as the US. The country almost completely shuts down for the holiday. They take their Christmas Eve celebrations seriously, so stock up on food, drinks, and (in our case) alcohol before December 24th! We hit up the Markthalle Nuen in Kruezberg and bought some meats, cheeses, breads, pesto, fruit, pretzels, and beer for a delicious Christmas Eve dinner in our Airbnb. We also bought some amaaaazing little breakfast pies to warm up on Christmas day. It was cold and cozy and just perfect 🙂
Take in the View
When I visit a new city, one of my priorities is getting an awesome view. In Europe especially there are plenty of high points to soak in the cities and Berlin is no different. During your Christmas in Berlin, check out the view of this strange, sprawling city from these two places!
Visit the Berliner Dom along with the Alexanderplatz Christmas Market and Nikolai Quarter. The Berliner Dom is another name for the Berlin Cathedral. This massive church is worth exploring because it has beautiful paintings, architecture, and some historical tombs. My favorite part of the church was taking in the view from the roof!
The weird TV Tower in Berlin dominates the landscape. The circular top holds a restaurant and bar. We thought about visiting multiple times, but when we finally decided to there was a long line and the price was kind of high for us. Visit the website here to buy online and skip it, and check out the prices as well. I know this is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Berlin, though, so consider checking it out just for what I am sure is a stunning view.
Christmas in Berlin…
… is magical! I had the best time celebrating Christmas here and really can’t recommend it enough. Take in these sites, check out my list of recommendations, explore the day trips, and eat, drink, and be merry for the holiday season!
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