If you think you have seen amazing Christmas markets, think again! Last December I went to Berlin simply with the purpose of seeing German Christmas markets and I wasn’t disappointed! Germans truly know how to prepare for Christmas. This is not surprising given the fact that tradition of setting up Christmas markets around the main town square originated in this part of the world and dates back as early as 13-14th century.
This was my second trip to Berlin the same year (read my detailed 72-Hour Guide to Berlin) but the city was completely transformed with gigantic Christmas trees, light displays, various funfairs and market stalls everywhere.
In today’s blog post I pick top five Christmas markets in central Berlin that are a must-see if you visit Berlin in late November-December.
1.WeihnachtsZauber at the Gendarmenmarkt
This is probably one of the most famous and beautiful Christmas markets you see in Berlin with over 60,000 visitors every year. With Französischer Dom and the Deutscher Dom serving as a backdrop, the market is famous for its fairytale like atmosphere of star-lit tents and thousands of strings of lights.
The market has its own stage and offers a variety of live performances by the local artists, music or dance groups. On the day we visited it, a choice of small children was singing traditional Christmas songs drawing crowds of admiring visitors.
Here you can also find various crafts not just from Germany but other parts of the world – from intricate embroidery and jewellery to candles and hand-made glass creations. In the meantime, you can grab a snack of traditional Christmas delicacies and a cup of hot chocolate to keep going in the cold weather. The market is very cosy and romantic and it’s impossible not to get into the festive spirit.
Address: Leipziger Strasse 65
Dates: 21 November – 31 December 2016
Opening Hours: Open daily 11:00 – 22:00 (Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve 11:00 – 18:00)
Admission: 1 euro, free admission for children under 12
Free entrance Mon-Fri 11:00 – 14:00 (except 24 – 26 and 31 December)
2.Alexanderplatz Christmas Market
Being the heart of the city, Alexanderplatz turns into one giant and busy Christmas market.
Main attraction includes Europe’s largest Christmas pyramid with more than 5,000 lights and intricate carvings that visitors can go into for snacks and traditional mulled wine at the ground floor and panoramic views of the market at the top.
There is plenty to do both for adults and children with daily show programmes, fairground rides for children and an ice rink.
Over hundred festively decorated wooden stalls offer various traditional crafts and Christmas products to take home. I particularly loved going into the Christmas shop with giant nutcrackers by the doors, which had one of the best selections of glass Christmas decorations. You just pick a basket, choose decorations that you like and then pay at the door.
Address: Alexanderplatz 4
Dates: 21 November – 26 December 2016
Opening Hours: 10:00-22:00 (24 December 10:00-16:00)
Berliner Weihnachtzeit is another Christmas market at Alexanderplatz. Located around the historic statue of Neptun (Neptunbrunnen), the main attraction of this market is the 600m ice-skating rink that goes around the statue and the fountain.
There is also a hard to miss 50-metre high Ferris wheel that allows you to have a great view of festive Berlin and see major city attractions, such as the Brandenburg Gate and Potsdamer Platz.
A petting zoo is a perfect place for children to visit.
Other than that, wooden pavilions offer a great choice of arts and crafts, yummy snacks, such as freshly baked bread and traditional hot mead served in clay mugs.
Address: Spandauer Straße/Jüdenstraße
Dates: 21 November – 29 December 2016 (closed on the 24th but open on 25-26 December)
Opening-times: 12:00 – 22:00 (during weekends 11:00-22:00)
4.Winterdream at Alexa
Close to above Berliner Weihnachtszeit market and located on the shopping mall behind Alexanderplatz, Winterdream at Alexa is a combination of funfair and a Christmas market. It’s a perfect place for adrenaline junkies with various rollercoasters and fun rides, as well as bumper cars and spinning attractions. There are also safer and slower rides for the smaller children, making Winterdream a perfect destination for the whole family.
Besides the fun rides, you can also find here market stalls with delicious crêpes bratwurst, mulled wine and other German delicacies.
Dates: 21 November – 23 December 2016
Opening-times: 14:00 – 22:00 (weekends 12:00 – 22:00)
5.Christmas Market at Potsdamer Platz
Last but not least is the Christmas Market at Potsdamer Platz. I haven’t seen it but heard a lot about it doing my research on what Christmas markets to visit. The 2.5 million people who visit it every year can’t be wrong!
What’s really cool about this market is its Austrian Alpine feel with log cabins, an artificial snow slop, ice-rink, lots of lights, and traditional handcrafts and food. The toboggan at Potsdamer is the largest in Europe and for 1.5 euros you can enjoy a ride down the 70 metres slope. For those who prefer other winter sports, there is a free ice-skating rink and even an ice rink for Bavarian curling enthusiasts.
If you happen to run low on energy, nearby huts with alpine specialty snacks and drinks will keep your cravings at bay. And a resident DJ will bring your party mood out!
Address: Potsdamer Platz
Dates: 4 November 2016 – 1 January 2017
Opening-times: 10:00 – 22:00 (24 December only till 14:00)
Berlin is truly a special place during Christmas Advent. And if you want to experience best of the German Christmas markets, it’s a perfect place for that. Modern and usually hipster city becomes a magical Winter Wonderland, offering different ways of getting into the holiday spirit and preparing for one of the biggest annual celebrations. Out of sixty Christmas markets throughout the city everyone will find something special for themselves – be it taking exhilarating rides, ice-skating, buying special gifts and Christmas decorations, warming up at numerous food stalls with a cup of hot drink or listening to a live performance. Simply enjoy and be merry!