by Janis / 2 comments - Orginally published:14th December 2018

A visit to Berlin's Christmas Markets

What you'll discover in Germany’s capital at Christmas

Back on the road again on our 2018 Christmas Markets road trip, and leaving Bremen we’re now off to discover Berlin. What was going to be in store for us within this historical city?

We knew Berlin was a large city, so would it be embracing all things Christmassy throughout, we were about to find out.

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Where is Berlin?

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Discover Berlin at Christmas

To get an understanding of the city, we decided to head into the centre, and we took a stroll around the Gendarmenmarkt area. This attractive square is surrounded by some incredible buildings, the Concert Hall, Deutscher Dom and Französischer Dom.
The Französischer Dom at the Gendarmenmark in Berlin, German
The Französischer Dom
These made a lovely backdrop to the Weinachts Zauber Christmas market. Although, what we were initially surprised about, was that people were queuing to get into the market. We’d visited quite a few German markets before and never had to queue, and this comes from a Brit, a nation of people who are renowned for queuing.
Huts around the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market in Berlin
Concert Hall & Deutscher Dom

We soon realised that this was for security checks, and with the developments over recent years around these events, it wasn’t too surprising.

Also, for this market, there was a €1 entry fee if you arrived after 2pm. Live music was on the central stage here, so you were entertainment as you strolled around.

The Christmas Market in front of the Concert Hall at the Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin
The Concert Hall from the market
We visited during the day and evening, and like most Christmas markets, it has a more subdued feel during the day. Which actually is ideal, as this is when you can seek out those unusual gifts while browsing the stalls and indulge in the local delights.
A Christmas Market stall at the Gendarmenmarktselling unique white Christmas gifts
It’s all white here
A glazed cherry kebab on a stall in the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market in Berlin
Some toffee covered grapes

Also within the Weinachts Zauber Christmas market, there was an indoor section all along one side. So, if the weather took a turn for the worse, you can jump inside and carry on browsing, or like us, it was a chance to grab a glühwein & rest your feet.

There’s lots going on within this market, a little brass band wandering through the lanes, plenty of food stalls, to grab a snack. What we also noticed here was that there were quite a few pop-up eateries where you could sit and enjoy a meal.

Christmas Market stalls at night at the Gendarmenmarkt in front of the Deutscher Dom, Berlin
Sampling the delights of the market
Musicians in the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market in, Berlin
The wandering band

Good to know

Don’t be put off by the queuing or the entrance fee, Weinachts Zauber is a delightful market to visit.

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Enjoying Berlin's Christmas Markets

Rotes Rathaus
The Christmas market at the Rotes Rathaus is known as “Berliner Weihnachtszeit”, this market is full of fun, for all ages of your family. At times, some of the markets may be more orientated to adults or children; however, this had it all.
The tower of the Red Rathaus in Berlin
The Rotes Rathaus
The swing carousel at the Berliner Weihnachtszeit Christmas Market with the Berliner Fernsehturm, or Berlin Tower, in the background.
Swings with a view
There were no security checks here, it was straight into the festivities. I really enjoyed this market and probably my favourite of the ones we visited in Berlin.
The children's miniature railway in the Berliner Weihnachtszeit Christmas Market
The miniature railway
There was an ice rink, a huge Ferris wheel, a miniature railway and so many stalls. I couldn’t resist the aroma of the warm chocolate covered nuts so had to grab a bag while enjoying a glühwein.
Two steaming red glühweins in frosted translucent glasses at the Berliner Weihnachtszeit Christmas Market.
Enjoying a glühwein
The tower of St. Mary's Church with the Berlin TV Tower in the background at Christmas
St. Mary's Church and the TV Tower
The sun was setting while we were here, so the market was waking up around us, with lights twinkling, festive cabins coming alive and the ice rink was aglow this one was fun & as usual never short of a food stall or two.

Where to stay in Berlin

- Adina Apartment Hotel Berlin Checkpoint Charlie - During our visit to Berlin, we stayed at the Adina Apartment Hotel Berlin Checkpoint Charlie. A pleasant hotel with friendly staff. A short stroll from the Gendarmenmarkt and, of course, Checkpoint Charlie.
A giant grill over charcoal full of sausages on the Berliner Weihnachtszeit Christmas Market
A bratwurst or two!!
A skater on the ice rink around the Neptune fountain in Berlin, with the giant Ferris wheel in the background.
The ice rink in front of the Ferris Wheel

Good to know

It’s quite a short walk from Rotes Rathaus to Alexanderplatz where you’ll find another market.

The Christmas Markets in Berlin

Trying to dodge the heavy rain we arrived at the Christmas Market in Alexanderplatz. This market for me, I felt was aimed a little bit more towards adults, although there was an ice rink, carousel and other things for children to enjoy.
An illuminated double-height carousel in front of the world clock at Alexanderplatz Christmas Market in Berlin.
Carousel and the World Clock
I always love to see the Käthe Wohlfahrt cabin, it wouldn’t quite be the same without it and also the traditional Christmas Pyramids. Nearby here is also the World Clock and a must to see, and has been in the square since 1969.
The Käthe Wohlfahrt hut on the German Chistmas Market at Alexanderplatz in Berlin.
Käthe Wohlfahrt on Alexanderplatz
The Christmas Pyramid at Alexanderplatz Christmas Market in Berlin.
Colourful Christmas Pyramid

If you've yet to discover Berlin's incredible history, then let’s start planning. I find these DK Travel Guides invaluable, they're extremely informative, easy to follow, and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more of those fascinating sites.

You can now grab a recently revised copy of this guidebook, so you won't miss a thing.

Some large, some small

Not to be defeated for the evening, we headed over to Eco-Friendly market along Sophienstrasse near Hackesche Höfe.
Strolling along the eco-friendly Christmas Market on Sophienstrasse Berlin, German
The eco-friendly market
This market is only open the four weekends in advent. It is a lot smaller than the other major markets; however, it felt more unusual and unique, and the gifts were made with the environment in mind.
Shoppers walking along the Sophienstrasse Christmas Market on a damp evening in Berlin, German
Strolling along Sophienstrasse

Why not?

Start creating your own Christmas Market adventure and discover the culinary delights for yourself, take a browse through for departures from your local airport.

Discover more of Germany on a road trip like us, Rental Cars searches multiple well-known car hire brands and discovers the deals that suit you the best.

Exploring Berlin at Christmas

Potsdamer Platz
We headed to Potsdamer Platz, which was once No-man’s Land for a few reasons, the main reason being the history of the area and that there are still parts of the Berlin Wall on display. Also, it was a chance to visit the last of our Christmas markets whilst in Berlin.
Christmas Market huts in Potsdamer Platz, Berlin, surrounded by modern skyscrappers.
Potsdamer Platz Christmas market
Potsdamer Platz is in a modern part of the city, and we were there during the day, so couldn’t fully appreciate the market coming alive in the evening. It had a nice selection of stalls and rides, and even had an ice stock curling rink and a mini ski slope.
A tyre ski slope in the Potsdamer Platz German Christmas Markets in Berlin
The tyre ski slope at the Potsdamer Platz market

Our video of Berlin at Christmas

The Christmas Markets experience through our eyes

We have created a little YouTube video of Berlin, why not check it out?

Also, why not subscribe to our YouTube channel and get the latest clips as we post them?

There’s more to Berlin than Christmas

Too much history not to miss
As this was our first trip to Berlin, we didn’t want to spend all of our time visiting the Christmas markets. Gary and I are intrigued with history and Berlin is just overflowing with so much.
The illuminated Brandenburg gate at dusk.
The Brandenburg Gate at dusk

A reminder of a divided Berlin

Checkpoint Charlie

The falling of the Berlin Wall in 1989, was a moment in time that we both remember watching together with amazement. So, we weren’t going to let this opportunity slip by.

We headed to the Berlin Wall Memorial, via Checkpoint Charlie, which was a crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War.

The white wooden hut of the US Army at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin at Christmas
Checkpoint Charlie
A section of the Berling wall at Checkpoint Charlie
Piece of the Berlin Wall near Checkpoint Charlie
It has now become a bit of a tourist attraction, although, it still holds a significant point in history that I wanted to visit.

Not to be missed in Berlin

Berlin Wall Memorial
We jumped on the U-Bahn to Naturkundemuseum station and strolled the few minutes up the road to the Berlin Wall Memorial.
The graffitied Berlin Wall in front of a section of grass that made up the no-man's-land area in front of the wall on a grey December day.
The Berlin Wall at the memorial
It took my breath away, I couldn’t believe I was standing there next to it. Whether it was because it only fell in 1989, so recent in terms of history and the division and atrocities associated with it.
Graffitied sections of the Berlin Wall at the memorial near Bernauer Strasse
Sections from the Berlin Wall
I couldn’t help myself but go and lay the palm of my had on it, somehow trying to alleviate some sort of pain.
A Memorial Wall constructed of rusted iron with a place for each individual of the killed trying to cross the Berlin Wall, the majority with a portrait of the fallen.
A few who lost their lives
It was an astonishing sight to see, some of the buildings that the wall was built alongside in 1961 still remain. You are also able to see where numerous tunnels were dug for escape.
The end of an apartment block with images depicting the story of the rise, and fall, of the Berlin Wall
Still standing
Steel stepping-stones across the grass of no-man's-land marks out the path of "Tunnel 57", another attempt to breach the Berlin Wall.
One of the tunnels dug under the wall

For more on the Berlin Wall check out our post - 'Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Germany'

Other parts of the Berlin Wall can be found at Potsdamer Platz.

A section of the Berlin Wall in front of the Potsdamer Platz station in Berlin
Berlin Wall in Potsdamer Platz
Sections of the Berlin Wall in Potsdamer Platz
Story behind the Berlin Wall
Trying to hold back the tears while reading and listening to innocent people’s stories was too difficult.

Did you know?

That there was a Museum Island in the heart of Berlin. This island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to five incredible museums built between 1824 and 1930.

A must-see in Berlin

Brandenburg Gate

Probably one of the most photographed landmarks in Berlin if not Germany. We visited the Brandenburg Gate a couple of times, as we wanted to see it during the day and the evening.

When we were there during the day, there was a demonstration taking place, which is often witnessed by this 18th-century neo-classical building.

The Brandenburgh gate at dusk captured under a winter's blue sky
The Brandenburg Gate
Heading back later in the evening it was a lot quieter and looked very impressive at dusk.

I love nothing more than planning a trip and so often I use the DK Eyewitness books.  I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.

We used a previous version of this book to plan our Germany road trips, now you can grab the revised copy.

Something free in Berlin

The Reichstag Building
Another place Gary and I wanted to visit, was the Reichstag Building (Parliament Building). Although you have to book a time slot in advance (which is very easy), this tour is amazingly free of charge to visit along, with an audio-guided tour.
On the rooftop of the Reichstag in Berlin looking at the glass dome where you can see people walking up the spiral staircase to The viewpoint at the top.
The dome on the Reichstag Building
From within the glass dome at the top, the views across the city are incredible, as you stroll around in circles winding your way up to the top of the roof, all the significant landmarks are pointed out for you.
Inside the dome of the Reichstag. A spiral staircase take you to the top, and other back down. The central inverted reflector transfers daylight down to the debating chamber below.
Inside the Reichstag dome
For more on the experience, why not have a look at our post - 'A visit to The Reichstag Building, Berlin'

Our Tip

Ensure you book your Reichstag visit in advance; otherwise, there is a high probability you won’t get in. We used their official Deutscher Bundestag, website and it is very easy to register. However, make sure you bring a form of official ID and also there are airport-style security checks.

Remembering the past

The Holocaust Memorial
We walked down the road to the Memorial of the Murdered Jews of Europe. This Holocaust Memorial is quite moving, 2,711 grey concrete slabs of differing heights, lay across a sloping field. They portray a cold starkness, that really does make you stop and think.
The mass of grey concrete blocks of the Berlin Holocaust Memorial
Memorial of the Murdered Jews of Europe
You can wander amongst the slabs; however, I felt at times some people could have been more respectful here.
A small bunch of flowers left atop one of the grey concrete columns of the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin
Holocaust Memorial flowers
A view along the columns of the Berlin Holocaust Memorial towards a bright light
Step inside the Holocaust Memorial

In Summary

Although we really enjoyed our time in Berlin, mixing the trip with the Christmas markets and visiting the historical sites, we felt that as a whole, Berlin didn’t entirely embrace Christmas throughout its streets like other German towns and cities.

In hindsight, this wasn’t a bad thing as it gave us the opportunity to uncover more of its history.

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  1. It seems Berlin comes alive during the Christmas season! The Christmas markets look so beautiful. I’d love to explore them someday. Is Berlin suitable for solo travelers?

    1. Author

      Yes, the markets were lovely, we particularly enjoyed the one in the Gendarmenmarkt and also the market near the Rotes Rathaus. Although we travelled as a couple I felt quite relaxed about the city, I think it would be fine for a solo traveller.

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