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Christmas in Berlin is magical.
In fact, I had such a memorable time in the city during Christmas that I 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 could not have planned it better. The city is full of festive, fun, historical and interesting things to do for Christmas in Berlin, and I compiled a list of them all just for you. It includes:
- Christmas markets
- Day trips from Berlin
- Museums and historical sites
- Where to find the best views
- And so much more!
I hope it helps you enjoy this unique city just as much I did during the most festive time of the year.
Gendarmenmrkt Christmas market in Berlin
1. Visit the Christmas Markets
Obviously this is the number one reason to spend Christmas in Berlin.
Quaint and cozy Christmas markets are spread throughout Germany, and 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 favorite Christmas Markets are…
One of many tasty treats at the Christmas markets in Berlin
The Gendarmenmarkt Christmas market is great because its set between two massive ornate churches.
They sell lots of crafts like homemade ornaments and jewelry and have amazing food. My favorite was this cheesy bread thing pictured above… delicious!
If go to Gendarmenmrkt, don’t miss Rausch Schokoladenhaus just down the street. The chocolate store has massive chocolate carvings of Berlin’s monuments 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 Park, a huge 520-acre park in the middle of the city. The park has memorials and historical information about the city as well as a zoo, trees, trails, and beautiful landscapes.
If the weather is nice and you decide to visit the park, check out the Winter World Christmas market while you’re there.
View of the Alexanderplatz Christmas market from Berliner Dom Cathedral
Alexanderplatz Christmas Market
Hands down, this is my favorite Christmas market in Berlin.
The Alexanderplatz market is huge and has an ice skating rink, ferris wheel, and tons of stalls with food and drinks.
It’s also within walking distance of the Nikolai Historic Quarter and Berliner Dom Cathedral (which are coming up soon in this guide) so group them all together for an awesome day.
To get the most out of your experience, you can also take a Christmas market tour (with tons of food included) with a cultural expert and writer for BBC Travel!
2. Go Christmas Shopping
My two favorite places to go Christmas shopping in Berlin when I was hunting down gifts for my husband were the Nikolai Quarter and the Kreuzberg Neighborhood.
In the Nikolai Quarter
The Nikolai Quarter is a small but charming corner of Berlin.
This little area in Mitte is the oldest part of the city and looks just like it did when it was built hundreds of years ago. The houses are colorful and the cobblestone streets are lined with art galleries, cafes, and shops selling unique gifts.
And in the Kreuzberg Neighborhood
I also enjoyed wandering the streets and shopping the small businesses the Kreuzberg neighborhood.
Our Airbnb was here and we 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 grab a bite to eat.
3. 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.
We actually ended up taking two during our eight day stay in Berlin. The first was to Potsdam, and the second to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp.
Sachsenhausen 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 Sachsenhausen, the closest one to Berlin.
Visiting a concentration camp is an extremely sobering experience.
This one was one of the first in Germany and was used as a “model camp” to build the rest. Thousands of people were killed there, so plan to spend time reading at the memorials or take a guided tour, because there is a lot to take in.
Pretty street on our Berlin day trip to Potsdam
This town is about an hour outside of Berlin and was fairly easy to get to.
We took the train to the Babelsberg stop (mostly ’cause we had no idea what we were doing) and walked through a town and a park with a lake and castle in it before we 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 thoroughly enjoyed the Christmas market. We also visited the giant Sanssoci Park which is one of the best features of the town with fountains, ornate buildings, and the Nues Palace.
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.
Just one of many colorful and beautiful art pieces on the Berlin Wall in the East Side Gallery
4. 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 so now it’s more modern and the recent history means the museums and memorials are fascinating.
There are tons of Berlin walking and history tours on Airbnb that’ll take you on guided trips through the main sites but you can also visit the museums in Berlin on your own.
Some of the best are…
Signing our names on the wall at the Black Box Cold War Museum and Panorama
Black Box Cold War Museum & Panorama
The Black Box Cold War 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.
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 that cover 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.
Checkpoint Charlie sign
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. Checkpoint Charlie marked the strict border between East and West Germany and is one of the most important pieces of history in the city.
Outdoor section of the Topography of Terror Museum
Topography of Terror
The Topography of Terror 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.
When you visit Berlin, plan to spend some time reflecting at the Holocaust Memorial.
One of the reasons Daniel and I decided to spend Christmas in Berlin was to see and understand the 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.
‘Many small people who in many small places do many small things that can alter the face of the world’ – Quote painted on the Berlin Wall in the East Side Gallery
East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery is one of my favorite places 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.
The Brandenburg Gate is a memorial built in the 1700’s. It’s an imposing and interesting piece of German history involving Napoleon, the Nazis, and the Cold War. Now it stands as a symbol of peace.
Brandenburg Gate in Berlin
5. Take a Tour
There are only about a million Berlin guided tours and activities to choose from on Airbnb, so this shouldn’t be overwhelming at all.
If visiting all the museums and day trips on your own feels like too much work (this is your Christmas vacation, after all) you can pay someone else to organize it for you. Some popular options to get the most out of your Berlin Christmas visit are the:
- Traditional food tour at a Christmas market
- The Hip Berlin Alternative Christmas Tour
- The Berlin Christmas Garden in the Botanical Gardens
- Berlin craft beer tasting (which just feels cozy and Christmassy to me)
And tons more! There are literally hundreds of guided experiences available in Berlin, so there’s something to suit every taste and travel style.
If you’re reading this article early enough in advance, you can also book this multi-day Christmas Market tour through Germany, Austria, and Hungary for the most festive Christmas vacation of all time.
Just one of many memorable meals during our somewhat-gluttonous Christmas in Berlin
6. Eat, Drink, and Be Merry
Berlin is one of the best foodie cities in Europe. 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 restaurant memories 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, and a super strange trance club called Tresor.
Honestly, the options are endless here because there’s just so much to eat, drink, and explore in Berlin! If you’re traveling solo or want to be more social, you can also go clubbing with a local, book an absinthe tasting, and more. (I meant it when I said Berlin has tours for everything.)
Gluhwein stand, the hot wine that dominates Christmas celebrations in Berlin
7. 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 apartment.
We also bought some amaaaazing little breakfast pies to warm up on Christmas day. It was cold and cozy and just perfect 🙂
View of Berlin from the Berliner Dom Cathedral
8. Take in the View
When I visit a new city one of my priorities is getting an awesome view.
In Berlin there are plenty of high points to soak in the city from above. During your Christmas in Berlin, check out the view of this beautiful, sprawling city from these two places!
The Berliner Dom is another name for the Berlin Cathedral. This massive church has beautiful paintings, architecture, and even some tombs. My favorite part of our visit, though, was taking in the view from the roof.
The TV Tower in Berlin dominates the landscape wherever you are in the city. The top has a restaurant and a bar which we thought about visiting multiple times, but when we finally decided to go there was a long line and the price was to high for us.
If you want to go, use this ticket to skip the line. This is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Berlin, so consider checking it out for what I am sure is a stunning view.
Berliners will eat, drink, and celebrate outside no matter the temperature
Bonus: Where to Stay For Christmas in Berlin
Kreuzberg is one of the most popular neighborhoods in Berlin, and where Dan and I stayed during our trip. It’s hip, it’s trendy, and it’s full of good food and great nightlife.
For a more budget-friendly stay, check out the Die Fabrik or Acama Hotel for cheaper accommodation. Or, if you’re traveling solo, the well-reviewed Grand Hostel Berlin Classic has dorm beds for only $14 per night!
Our Christmas gifts from the markets and shops in Berlin, wrapped and ready to be opened on Christmas day.
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 recommendations, explore the day trips, and eat, drink, and be merry for the holiday season!
Ready to go?
Explore accommodation like unique stays on Airbnb – like this super cozy houseboat or this repurposed water tower– and the top-rated hotels on Booking.com to plan the perfect night, weekend, or long-term stay in the city.
Then, check out the four best countries to spend Christmas or browse tons of culture, art, food, and nature experiences in Berlin to round out your itinerary!
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