Fancy picking your way around more than 80 Christmas markets in one trip? Then it’s got to be Berlin. Germany’s capital pulls out all the stops when it comes to yuletide markets, and easily ranks as one of Europe’s most seasonal spots.
Come for giant mugs of glühwein, craft stalls spilling over with gifts, and all the festive trimmings you’d expect from the country that invented the Christmas tree. Not sure where to start your festive shop-a-thon? Here’s our pick of the best Christmas markets where you can eat, drink and be merry in Berlin…
The popular one: WeihnachtsZauber Christmas Market at Bebelplatz
One of the city’s headline markets, WeihnachtsZauber is usually held on the square at Gendarmenmarkt, but it’s moved to nearby Bebelplatz until 2024. Signature white tents line up in front of the State Opera House from the end of November until New Year’s Eve, when a massive fireworks display wraps things up. This one’s a good shout for artisan gifts, and you can buy all sorts of handmade trinkets in the arts and crafts tent while you watch wood carvers and glass blowers doing their thing. There’s a bar in here, too – shopping is thirsty work – and loads more tents dedicated to food. The best bit? They’re heated, so it won’t just be the mulled wine keeping you toasty.
The famous one: Alexanderplatz Christmas Market
Another must-visit while you’re in central Berlin, Alexanderplatz Christmas market takes over the city’s most famous square, known as The Alex to locals. That means you can snap landmark sights like the TV Tower and World Clock as you work your way through your Christmas shopping list. Knick-knacks come in the form of carved wooden boxes and ceramic Christmas ornaments, and there’s an ice rink and Ferris wheel to boot. The star of the show has to be the huge, illuminated walk-in Christmas ‘pyramid’ – which looks more like a multi-tiered carousel. Stop off for snacks on the ground floor and epic views from the top.
The Insta-friendly one: Charlottenburg Palace Christmas Market
Berlin’s beautiful Baroque palace is even more of a head-turner at Christmas, when the glow of 250-odd fairy-lit stalls reflects off its façade. The market traders here sell tree decorations, wooden toys and delicately wrapped slabs of stollen and gingerbread, so you won’t go hungry. If it’s savoury street food you’re after, take your pick from staples like filling potato pancakes, bratwurst and currywurst, washed down with – you guessed it – a steaming glühwein or three. Bonus points for finding the stall that serves it in the weirdest mug. Old-fashioned fairground rides and quaint nativity set-ups complete the scene, as well as a sprinkling of snow if you’re lucky.
The out-of-town one: Spandau Christmas Market
Branching out from the city centre? Set your sights on Spandau Christmas market – it’s a 15-minute subway ride out west from downtown Berlin. Home to the city’s biggest pedestrianised zone, Spandau is all set up for some serious Christmas shopping, and wooden stalls pop up across the entire old town. Alongside familiar German goodies there are some international take-homes, too, from Polish tree decorations to Peruvian woollen blankets. There’s also a nativity scene complete with live animals, a giant bauble-decked fir tree, and a schedule of events that includes visits from Santa, who makes a special appearance every Wednesday.
The unexpected one: The Japanese Christmas market
Had enough stollen for one year? Swap it for sake and sushi at the Japanese Christmas market in the Malzfabrik. Once the biggest malt factory in Europe, it’s now a creative hub close to Berlin’s Bavarian quarter. Head here to shop for everything from Japanese paintings to silky kimonos, have a go at traditional dance workshops, and watch authentic sumo performances. Granted, this one-off market is held over the last weekend of November, so it’s one for the early birds. But it’s perfect if you fancy something a bit different for your festive market fix.
Planning a winter trip to Berlin?
Check out all our holidays to Germany. For more ideas, take a look at the best Christmas markets in Prague or the best Christmas markets in Budapest.
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Author: Katie Gregory
Last updated: 23/10/23
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