Discover Berlin’s Most Beautiful Christmas Markets (2018)
The months of November and December are a truly magical period to visit Germany. Christmas is a favorite holiday for the Germans so there are lots of festivities during those months. One of the top reasons to visit during the holiday season is to experience the beautiful Christmas markets. This post is about Berlin’s Christmas Markets, in particular. There are hundreds of Christmas markets throughout the city so it would be impossible to visit even half of them. That’s why I’m breaking down the best Christmas markets in Berlin based on my own experiences and a little bit of digging.
First Up, A Little Background on Christmas Markets
Christmas markets are a tradition across Europe. Every November through January, hundreds of cities and towns roll out beautifully-lit and ornately-decorated markets filled with food, music, and shops selling cute little handicrafts. They draw in millions of tourists every year. It’s as if storybook versions of a white Christmas spring to life across Europe every winter. Some of the most popular Christmas markets are located in Prague, Vienna, and Strausbourg.
In Germany, people surprisingly don’t consider Berlin’s Christmas markets to be the best of the best. There’s a lot of competition given how passionate the Germans are about Christmas. Dresden, Hamburg, Cologne, and Nuremberg always seem to outperform Berlin in lists of best Christmas markets in Germany. Still, I went to Berlin and had a wonderful, magical, sensational experience. I think you would too. Maybe someday I’ll go to the other Christmas markets across Germany so I see which one is really the best.
When do the Christmas markets start in Berlin?
For the 2018 holiday season, the Christmas markets in Berlin all have their own start and end dates. Generally speaking, they begin in late November (usually after the 25th) and end in the first week of January. I will share the exact schedule for each market.
What’s there to do at the Christmas markets?
You’ll find all sorts of unique hand-crafted gifts, decorations, jewelry, clothes, silverware, toys and more. Artisans and sellers from all over Germany and Europe descend on Berlin to set up shop. You’ll find similar merchandise across all the Christmas markets, but occasionally you’ll run into a unique gem.
Eat and drink.
There were so many different types of sausages, I had a difficult time choosing. First, I had some of the traditional bratwursts. Then I tried Currywurst, a sausage topped with curry powder. Then I think I had alligator sausage. I wonder who thought of that. For something heartier, you can try goulash. It’s a beef stew dowsed in paprika and usually served with a side of dumplings. It will fill you up in no time.
German beer (especially the wheat kind) is amazing, but there’s something else you should try: Gluhwein. It’s a hot, mulled wine with hints of cinnamon, cloves, and a couple of other spices. It tastes a bit like cider. Perfect for the cold weather! I had maybe 8 cups of it. Making Gluhwein is actually really easy. Check out the recipe below.
Go on a Ferris wheel
At many of the Christmas markets, you’ll find a Ferris wheel. They are dominated by children, of course. But you’re never too old to go on a Ferris wheel can have fun and bring out your inner child. I skipped this because I felt it was too cold to high in the sky.
Go ice skating
You can’t have a winter event like this without an ice skating rink. You’ll find them at many Christmas markets around Berlin, especially the biggest ones.
How do you get around Berlin?
Berlin has an extensive public transport system. When I visited, I mostly took the metro or the trams. I also walked a lot because many of the Christmas markets are close to each other. That said, Berlin is quite a large city so walking from one district to another may take a good 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Can you get around Berlin with English?
Yes, you can easily get around Berlin without speaking any German. Most people in Germany speak English proficiently. You’ll also find English translations on public transportation and roads to guide you to the right destination.
Now that we’ve gotten the logistics out of the way, let’s countdown the best Christmas markets in Berlin
The absolute best Christmas markets in Berlin
Despite being a big city, Berlin has many Christmas markets with an intimate atmosphere. I visited a handful of Christmas markets, from the largest ones to the ones in tiny squares. A couple of them had a small-town vibe. I don’t know what the other Christmas markets are like, but Berlin’s left a great impression. Out of all of them, three Christmas clearly markets stood out:
- Weihnachtzauber at the Gendarmenmarkt,
- Gedachtniskirche at the Charlottenburg Palace,
- Berliner Weihnachtszeit at Roten Rathaus
(Don’t ask me how to pronounce any of those names.)
Weihnachtzauber at the Gendarmenmarkt
In my humble opinion, the Weihnachtzauber at the Gendarmenmarkt is the best Christmas market in Berlin. It’s also Berlin’s largest and most visited Christmas market, with over 500,000 visitors every year. It is located at Gendarmenmarkt, a cobblestone square surrounded by the French and German churches. The beauty of the decorations alone makes it number one. Think quaint little houses, giant Christmas trees, and gospel choirs. Just thinking about it brings back so many fun memories.
This market happens to be the largest and most popular market in Berlin for a good reason. It’s centrally located within a large square facing the Französischer Dom, French Cathedral. It gets really crowded so try to get there when it opens. There, you’ll have a ton of activities and food to choose from so I’d to spend at least an hour here. The best things I found at this market were the wooden handicrafts, figurines, and marble jewelry.
Duration: November 26, 2018 – December 31, 2019
Opening hours: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm daily
Christmas Eve: 11:00 am – 6:00 pm, New Year’s Eve 11:00 am – 1:00 am
An entrance ticket costs just 1 euro for adults. Kids get in free.
Gedachtniskirche at the Charlottenburg Palace
I’m a sucker for palaces so I was instantly charmed by the Gedachtniskirche at the Charlottenburg Palace. This market is unique because it is located right in front of the Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin-West, which provides a gorgeous backdrop. While there, you can also take a tour of the palace’s interior and gardens. The best thing about this Christmas market, though, was the food! It wins the competition for ‘Berlin Christmas Market With the Best Food.’ Here, I had the most amazing bratwursts of my life! It was a long, spicy sausage.
Duration: November 26, 2018 – 6 January 6, 2019
Sunday-Thursday: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Friday and Saturday: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
Christmas Eve 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
December 25th and 26th: 1:00 pm – 9:00 pm
New Year’s Eve 11:00 am – 1:00 am
New Year’s Day 1:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Admission to this market is free.
Charlottenburg Palace lights up at night after the Christmas festivities are underway
More from Somto Seeks:
Berliner Weihnachtszeit at Roten Rathaus
This market is easy to spot because of the giant Ferris wheel at the center. It’s near Alexanderplatz, which is the very center of Berlin. Situated in front of Berlin’s Town Hall, the Roten Rathaus Christmas market is one of the oldest in the city. When I visited, there were some goats and sheep roaming around a makeshift barn. It was cute to see all the kids gathered around to pet the animals. The stalls here are gorgeous, with roofs decorated with Hollys and lights. There a giant skating rink that’s free if you bring your own skates. If you want to rent some skates, it will cost you 4 euros.
It was at this market that I first tried Gluhwein and got hooked. There are a couple of different types of Gluhwein. First, you have traditional Gluhwein made with red wine. Then you have the Gluhwein mit Schuss, which has a shot of liquor. Feuerzangenbowle has an infusion of rum syrup.
Duration: 26 November 2018 – 6 January 2019
Monday-Friday: 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Saturday and Saturday: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
Christmas Eve: closed
December 25th and 26th: 1:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Rathausstraße 15, 10178 Berlin, Germany
Admission to this market is free.
The great thing about going to Alexanderplatz is that there are lots of Christmas markets within walking distance. A stone’s throw away from Roten Haus is the Christmas Market at Alexanderplatz.
Which one of the Berlin Christmas markets appeals to you the most?
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