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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, and I compiled a list of them all just for you.
I hope this helps you enjoy this unique city just as much I did.
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…
This one 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, a huge 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.
Alexanderplatz Christmas Market
Hands down, this is my favorite Christmas market in Berlin.
Alexanderplatz 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 and in the museums because there is a lot to take in.
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.
Some of the best are…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’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.
5. 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!
6. 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 🙂
7. 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, visit the website here to buy your tickets ahead of time and 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.
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.
If you want to book your stay in Kruezberg, the Orania Berlin and Hotel Johann are two of the top-rated hotels in the neighborhood. For a more budget-friendly stay, Die Fabrik and Acama Hotel both have rooms for about $55 per night, and if you’re traveling solo, the well-reviewed Grand Hostel Berlin Classic has dorm beds for only $14 per person.
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? Click here to book your stay in the city!
PS looking for more inspo to plan your trip during the most magical time of the year? Read what I think are the four best countries to spend Christmas or add more nearby countries to your European travel itinerary like Romania or Bulgaria.