Best Christmas markets in Berlin: shop, sip, snack and more

by Oct 18, 2019Berlin

I have fond memories of the Christmas season in Germany when I was an exchange student in a smaller town. There was just something magical about the markets with their smells of hot mulled drinks, gingerbread, and roasted chestnuts combined with the sounds of clinking of glasses and seasonal music. When it comes to Christmas in Berlin, there are dozens of markets – so many that it can be difficult to choose the best Christmas markets in Berlin.

Many of the markets in Germany’s capital have their own character or flair, or even a special theme. If somebody tells you that “Market A” is the best Christmas market in Berlin, maybe you’ll agree, but maybe you’ll like “Market B” better. Or perhaps you simply won’t be able to choose a best Christmas market…. And why should you? They are all frankly pretty enchanting experiences.

No matter how long or when you happen to be in Berlin between about late November and late December, you will be able to find at least a few dozen markets to choose from. Some are open every day the entire season until at least Dec. 25 or 26 (often opening prior to “first Advent” which is the fourth Sunday before Christmas). Some only take place on weekends or even just on a certain weekend or two, or evening or two.

Some Christmas markets in Berlin are indoors, while many are outdoors. Some are oriented more toward dining, while some have a community and family emphasis. Many have higher security measures these days, too, so don’t take large packs and be prepared to possibly submit to a search of your bags.

Take a look below at a few of our favorites among the Christmas markets in Berlin that run the entire season. But if you have a particular interest – e.g. medieval times, nostalgia, or amusement rides – you can also peruse the Visit Berlin listing of the best Christmas markets in Berlin with descriptions to find a few others to visit.

Ferris Wheel Red City Hall Christmas Market Berlin

Remember, although charming at night when lights are aglow, most Christmas markets in Berlin are open by noon or in the afternoon, so you can always stop in earlier. (Of course, sunset in Berlin in December is about 4 p.m. so “afternoon” is a bit relative!)

HITT Tip: If you plan to hop around the city one evening, you should just buy a day pass for the metro system. Controllers will be lurking to check for tickets. For the central area (AB), the ticket will cost at the time of this writing 7 Euro. There is another ticket for “small groups” (“Kleingruppen”) up to five persons who are traveling together for 19.90 Euro which is a great deal. You can buy them at machines in the stations or online. Remember these are not 24-hour tickets but day tickets, so they are valid from the time you buy and stamp them until until 3 a.m. the following day.

Christmas Market In Friedrichstrasse Berlin

Weihnachtsmarket am Bahnnhof Friedrichstrasse (Christmas market at Friedrichstrasse station) – Let’s start small. This is a cozy affair on a small square near the Friedrichstrasse station that didn’t start until 2018. Although in the center of town, it has a more neighborhood feel. No big shows, no Santa appearances, no amusement rides. People seem to come to hang out with friends, have a nibble and a sip to enjoy the season’s cheer. There are a few covered niches to sit in that are heated, too, so definitely a place to contemplate life a bit. Don’t miss the curling sheet for a friendly match or a little entertainment while you are enjoying your mulled wine.

Best Christmas Markets Berlin is the Red City Hall with Santa

Berliner Weihnachtszeit at the Rotes Rathaus (Berlin Christmas time at the Red City Hall) – Not to be biased or anything, but we really love this market. It is large enough to offer a nice selection of food and less-kitschy artisan goods, as well as some entertainment (including ice-skating comedians and several nightly appearances by Santa in an overhead sled spouting fireworks!). Still, it still feels cozy, neighborhood-y and nostalgic, with a hint of a medieval theme. The circular ice-skating rink is open to all between performances. Admittedly, the huge Ferris Wheel with a fantastic view over the city, St. Mary’s Church, and the TV Tower overhead offer a certain flair. It doesn’t hurt that the market is quite central and very easy to access from the Alexanderplatz S-Bahn and U-Bahn, among others.

HITT Tip: Every market (and sometimes different stands in a market) will take a deposit on the mugs and cups in which you get your mulled drinks, wine or beer. They are often quite colorful and attractive, making the small 1-2 Euro deposit a small price to pay to keep it as a souvenir if you are so inclined. But pace yourself: Do you really want a mug from every market you attend?

Best Christmas Market Berlin Memorial Church

Weihnachtsmarkt am Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis Kirche (Christmas market at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church) – This top Christmas market in Berlin remains one of the most traditional and most popular, even staying open into the first week of January if you need more of a festive fix. Artisans and booths are traditional and rustic, and since they surround the breathtaking Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, which you can visit in the evening, it is all the more special. Despite its festive air, this market is where the terrorist attack occurred in 2016, killing 11 and injuring dozens. Nevertheless, do come to “Breitscheidplatz,” and do take a minute at the permanent memorial on the church steps that is sure to gather more flowers this time of year.

Christmas Market Terrorist Attack Memorial Berlin

HITT Tip: Head across the street to the Bikini Mall and upstairs to the outdoor terrace area for a great (free) viewpoint and photos of one of the best Christmas markets in Berlin. You’ll likely have the terrace to yourself if you are there in the evening since it’ll too cold for most folks to loiter.

Berlin Best Christmas Markets Gendarmenplatz

Weihnachtszauber am Gendarmenmarket (Christmas magic at Gendarmenmarkt) – This market in general is a bit — how shall we say it? – finer with high-end entertainment, enclosed dining areas with seating (reservations recommended), gourmet cuisine and fine wine. For that, you will also pay a tiny admission fee (1 Euro) and security is high with bag checks and no large bags allowed. Neverthless, we had a great time watching the street artists interact with kids with the famed and architecturally exquisite churches and concert hall on the square in the background. You won’t find as many cute trinkets here as you will premium arts and crafts, and you will pay a bit more for your mandatory mulled wine. This market is open through Dec. 31 with fireworks to ring in the New Year.

Christmas Markets Berlin Spandau Old Town

Spandau Altstadt Weihnachtsmarket (Spandau Old Town Christmas Market) – Despite being Berlin’s largest market, it feels adorable since its entertainment, booths and food are spread throughout Old Town area. The outer areas are more modern, but once you make your way into the cobbled city pedestrian area, you’re in for a treat – the wooden huts centered around the historic St. Nikolai Church are beautiful, the old town is partly illuminated, and a nativity scene has live animals. You’ll find an entertainment stage and rides for small children – very family oriented, and a bit less expensive than the glam markets in certain areas. We had one of our best homemade meals there from a man who took personal pride in what he cooked for us. If you come earlier in the day, you can also combine this with a visit to Spandau’s old town or even the renaissance-era Spandau Citadel fortress.

Berlin Christmas Markets Alex Platz

Weihnachtsmarket auf dem Alexanderplatz (Christmas market on Alexander Platz) – Alexander Square remains a gathering point for people since its days as the heart of East Berlin. Particularly appealing is the World Time Clock that has appeared in many hundreds of Instagram posts. This market combines the modern with the rustic flair, with traditional games and food booths in both trailers and huts, plus modern amusement rides. The setting is on a large square surrounded by chain stores and a mall so you can always pop through the market before and after some shopping. There is a large wooden Pyramid where you can sit on the bottom floor to enjoy your beverages.

Take a look here at our story about the largest Christmas Markets in Europe with our short guide to the food you will find at most of the German markets. Roasted chestnuts (“Maronen”), yum, and hot mulled wine (“Glühwein”), double yum!

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Michael And Therese Enjoying The Christmas Markets In Berlin

HITT Tip: At most mulled wine booths you will see a sign or be asked if you want a “schuss” or “shot.” That means they add a shot of some kind of schnapps to the hot wine for an extra kick. Careful, the sweetness of mulled wine goes down easily as it is, so the added schnapps could result in the onset of a state you didn’t intend.

So much Christmas to experience! So much mulled wine to sip! So much gingerbread to munch! What’s a person to do? Pack up your coat, scarf and gloves, pocket your camera, grab your friends, and head out so as not to miss any seasonal spirit.

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Heads up! This information on the Best Christmas Markets in Berlin was accurate when we published it on HI Travel Tales, but, as we know, traveling is all about changes (and inflation, sadly). It is your sole responsibility to confirm prices, transportation schedules, hours of operation, safety and health considerations, and any other important details before your adventure.
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12 Comments

  1. You certainly struck a chord for me with this post. OMG, this is one of my bucket lists! I so want to do the German Christmas markets. Your memories are so awesome. I was especially fond of the Alexander Platz area as I really love east Berlin. How cool to have checked this off the bucket list. 😉

    Reply
  2. Berliner Weihnachtszeit at the Rotes Rathaus would be my #1 choice as well! I love all the lights and the ferris wheel and peeking at the tower through the ferris wheel (fantastic shot by the way-envious)! This one reminds me of my favorite one in Vienna also at Rathausplatz! Something about those city halls I guess! So now I want to go to Berlin for Christmas markets. Are you guys going to meet me in Berlin in October and then back again in December? LOL!

    Reply
    • Berlin light festival, Christmas markets … so much to do! 😉 Those city halls in Germany and Austria and delightful to be sure. Glad you liked the ferris wheel shot … Therese worked really hard, dogging raindrops that night, to capture it. 😉

      Reply
  3. You had me at mulled wine. I never thought of adding Schnapps, but now I can’t get it out of my mind. Sounds like a great way to ring in the Holiday cheer.

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  4. Mulled wine and gingerbread gets me so excited! I have wanted to go to a German Christmas market for many years so maybe Berlin is the place to start. I think my first stop would be in the Old Town – just my kind of market and then wander over to the one in Alexander Platz. Good idea? Getting excited over here…

    Reply
  5. I never had any idea that each market was unique. This was always something I had wanted to do and I would probably buy a cup at each market. LOL.

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    • It is very tempting to buy a cup at each market … but how many Glühwein mugs does one need?

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  6. Wow, so many Christmas markets available in Berlin! It’d be tempting to hop from one to the other on a different night of the week. Even just to wander with a mug of mead and take in the activity and goings on would be sure to get you in the Christmas spirit.

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    • That is exactly the best way to enjoy the markets … one or two different ones each night. And sitting with a mug of Glühwein watching the festivities puts a smile on your face, guaranteed.

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  7. Oh, how I absolutely love this post. Definitely on my bucket list is to enjoy the Weihnachtsmärkte in Germany! Usually most people flock to the small, traditional German towns and don’t necessarily think of enjoying this in a big city like Berlin. But your guide is a wonderful option, offering a wide variety of choices all within the same city. I love the tips you provide too. I am saving this one for future.

    Reply
  8. Ich wohne ja in Spandau und habe den Weihnachtsmarkt fast direkt vor der Tür. Mir gefällt es leider nicht so. Er war einmal viel größer und es gab mal viel mehr Kunsthandwerk. Das hat leider sehe nachgelassen. Jetzt ist essen und Glühwein angesagt.
    Meine Favouriten der Berliner Weihnachtsmärkte sind eher die kleinen Märkte. Zum Beispiel der Dänische oder der Schwedische Weihnachtsmarkt. Oder auch der etwas größere Weihnachtsmarkt in der Kulturbrauerei.

    I live in Spandau and have the Christmas market almost right outside the door. Unfortunately, I do not like it that way. Once upon a time, it was much bigger and there were a lot more crafts. Unfortunately, this has diminished. Now food and mulled wine is announced.

    My favorites of the Berlin Christmas markets are rather the small markets. For example, the Danish or the Swedish Christmas market. Or the slightly larger Christmas market in the Kulturbrauerei.

    Reply
    • Hi Susanne, gut die Meinung einer Einheimische zu hören! wir waren in 2018 zum ersten mal in Spandau — evtl hast du die Veraenderungen miterlebt, daher gefaellt es dir “nicht so sehr.” Wir fanden es wichtig, die “grösseren” zu bewerten, denn so viele Leute direkt zu den Märkten gehen. als naechste kommt die kleineren aber wir muessen noch eine grossen Runde machen…. wir denken daran, welche du vorgeschlagen hast und hoeren gerne “offline” noch weitere Vorschlaege und evtl treffen wir uns???…. Kulturbrauerei waren wir zu dem Weihnachtsmarkt nicht, aber bei dem Food Truck event ist es zwar gemuetlich aber doch etwas teuerer.

      It’s great to hear the opinion of a local. we were in Spandau for the first time in 2018 — perhaps you have lived through the changes and that’s why you don’t like it as much now. we found it important to take a look at the larger markets because so many people go directly to them. Next up are the smaller ones, but we will need to do a big loop — or several! We’ll take a hard look at what you are suggesting and would love to hear any other thoughts from you “offline.” Hey, maybe we will see you there??…When it comes to the Kulturbrauerei: we have not been to the Christmas market there but at the Food Truck event and although it was pretty cozy, it still was a bit more expensive too. will check it out!

      thanks for commenting. Danke fuer deine Meinung!

      Reply

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