And while these festive markets can be found all over the country over the month of December, even in the smallest of villages, Berlin truly is the Christmas market capital of the world and simply cannot be surpassed in terms of variety and influences, a true reflection of the city’s soul. Whether you prefer to hang out with Scandinavian hipsters, wealthy west Berliners or edgy Easterners, take your pick — Berlin’s markets certainly have something to please every type of tourist.
Berlin Christmas Markets: Where To Go
Fairy-tale like at Charlottenburg
The Christmas market at Charlottenburg Palace is definitely the most magical one, and perhaps the most photogenic as demonstrated here. Although quite recent — the market officially opened in 2007 — it really doesn’t feel like a novelty thanks to the 300-year-old royal palace, all lit up for the occasion.
There are approximately 150 vendors — making it one of Berlin’s largest markets — selling traditional items, like arts & crafts, ancient handicrafts, jewellery, clothing as well as several gourmet foods. Because of its extremely traditional approach, baroque soundtrack and exceptional backdrop, this particular market is the perfect introduction to German Christmas markets and a great starting point to any market tour. The Palace also offers special guided visits of its state rooms in December.
Welcome to the most photographed Christmas market in the world! Located in the highly touristy Mitte area of Berlin, this market is easily accessible by public transportation and located within minutes of other famous landmarks like the Berliner Dom, the festive Unter den Linden avenue and Museumsinsel. The square, framed by the illuminated French and German Cathedrals as well as the Concert House, despite being quite spectacular at its bare state, is all decked out for the occasion, with a gigantic Christmas tree, dozens of wooden cabins, and even a stage that welcomes choirs, dancers and acrobats.
Come watch toy makers, goldsmiths, and wood carvers at work and pick your favourite!
The market is also well-known for its long-lasting culinary tradition, welcoming top chefs from all over the world and their twist on German classic dishes like hot dogs, gluhwein, sauerkraut and more. This really where the food party is at!
Kulturbrauerei, the Swedish One
For those in search of an alternative Christmas market experience or unassumed tourists, the Swedish Christmas market at the Kulturbrauerei in hipster-approved Prenzlauer Berg is the perfect place to go. This ensemble of 20 historic buildings, 6 charming courtyards and 50 cabins is kind of a living postcard of Scandinavia, with Swedish flags everywhere, abundant glogg stands and even a Kettenkarussell. Dedicated to Saint Lucia —the Nordic goddess of light, and one of the few celebrated saints in Sweden— this market offers plenty of candle-lit corners, yummy Lussekatt buns and cosy stalls, in true Nordic fashion.
Weihnachtszeit, the eco-friendly one
Berliner Weihnachtszeit, one of the oldest in the city, is the market where history truly meets present times; whereas some traditions are still observed, this market opts for a more natural, green approach. Natural products and organic food abound, as well as arts and crafts made from recycled materials and created by local artisans. There are other similar markets around the city but this particular one is the most accessible and fun one, located at the foot of the Rathaus and the iconic Fernsehturm, the TV tower.
This is also a favourite one among youngsters — both kids and those young at heart! — thanks to a (free!) ice-skating rink and thrilling 50 meters high Ferris wheel, a life-sized nativity scene with real animals and a mini-farm, as well as scheduled Santa Claus visits. Visitors will appreciate the eco-friendly stalls, decorated in an early 19th-century German style, which is a nice change from the traditional wooden cabins normally found in markets.
Alexanderplatz, or the busy one
In this instance, busy is quite the understatement. More than 300 000 people visit Alexanderplatz every day, and another 500 000 travel through its U-Bahn station, making it the busiest square in the city by far. And the market is a reflection of this, with a bustling atmosphere and tonnes people either shopping or walking through the market, only stopping for a quick bite.
The market is also located just steps away from the famous and self-dubbed “winter dream” Wintertraum am Alexa, where visitors will find yet another large ferris wheel, a freefall , a roller coaster and bumper cars.
Berlin Christmas Markets: Honourable mentions
Since I was only in Berlin for a few days, visiting all the markets simply wasn’t a possibility, especially when factoring in a raging snow storm. But for those with more time on their hands, these markets were strongly recommended by locals and the tourist office alike, and are certainly well worth a visit:
- Potsdam Palace
- Potsdamer Platz
- Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
- Spandau Old Town
- Staatsoper and Opernpalais