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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!

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.

HITT me with quick facts and travel tips

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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.