As winter’s chill sets in, there's no better place to warm your spirits than the German capital. As the snow starts to fall Berlin feels like a magical snow globe with twinkling lights, Christmas markets, Winter Wonderlands and seasonal delights lighting up the city’s short days and freezing nights, bringing festive cheer to tourists and locals alike. If you're heading to Berlin this Christmas here are our top 10 things to do in the German capital over the festive season...
Looking for affordable accommodation in Berlin? Check out our to base yourself in the city this winter.
1. Visit the Christmas markets
The festive season and Christmas markets go hand in hand and in Berlin there's an abundance to choose from. Dotted around the city, these markets have been a tradition in Germany since the middle ages, with the first one recorded all the way in 1530! With a variety of stalls selling handcrafted gifts, traditional German food and festive drinks, you're pretty much guaranteed to leave a bit more merry than you arrived! Carols play cheerfully throughout and thousands of twinkling Christmas lights illuminate huge Christmas trees, making the markets a hit with locals and tourists every year.
Check out the 5 Best Markets in Berlin for more.
2. Go sledding at Winter World
Berlin’s cosmopolitan shopping district, Potsdamer Platz, is transformed each year into a Winter World, this year from the 29th of October 2022 to the 2nd of January 2023. With Brandenburg Gate within view, visitors can brave 12-metre high tobogganing run for some alpine fun in the heart of Berlin. Live music and DJs are also on offer, along with punch, hot spiced wine and a sample of traditional German and Austrian winter treats.
Need somewhere to continue the party after Winter World? Check out our two Belushi's Bars in Berlin!
3. See the Christmas lights at Ku'Damm
Kurfürstendamm - the infamous shopping street and central boulevard in West Berlin - comes to life during the festive season. Known by the locals as Ku’damm, the tree-lined street is adorned with fairy lights in the barren trees branches from November until early January. The large stretch of pavement in the middle of the road becomes a centrepiece with large snowmen, Christmas trees and a santa and reindeer all assembled and lit up throughout the winter months.
4. Get your skates on
One of the best things to do in Berlin over the festive season is donning a pair of ice skates and gliding (or falling) around a rink to Christmas songs. Check out Eisstadion Neukölln for their happy hour rates, or Eisbahn am Neptunbrunnen in Berlin Mitte for the most Christmassy experience possible. Book your slot in advance and do your best to skate circles around the rest of your group, or bring that special someone along for a fun (and funny) date. Maybe not the best idea if you've just met...
5. Feel festive with Gluhwein
As snow gently covers the city and temperatures drop to subzero, little else will warm you up like a hot mug of Glühwein (mulled wine). This much loved Christmas beverage can be found at the Christmas markets, and you can choose to add flavoured schnapps for an extra kick. During Advent in Berlin, you'll also be able to pick up a glass from your favourite bars, street vendors or you can even make your own with a range of pre-made mixes filling the supermarket aisles.
6. Enchanting lights at the Sony Centre
The Sony Centre at Potsdamer Platz transforms after dark during winter. Throughout the year, visitors can admire the nightly play of lights on the ceiling. During Christmas, from November until late December, an additional 100,000 lights are added to the display with the glittering gold and blue lights display an abstract Christmas tree to delight passers-by.
7. Get your thrills in at the Alexanderplatz Fairground
For any adrenalin junkies looking for a little festive joy, the Christmas market in Alexanderplatz is the place to go. Located under the iconic Berlin TV Tower, this Christmas market and fairground pairs all of the traditional attractions of Christmas markets with the fun of a carnival. With the scent of hearty German food and Glühwein in the air, visitors can get their thrills in by braving the large rollercoaster, bumper cars, or ferris wheel in the fairground.
8. Warm up with 'fire tongue' punch
This festive punch is a tongue twister due to its difficult German name and extremely high alcohol content. Called Feuerzangenbowle, the name literally translates into ‘fire tongue,’ and is also the name of a popular German film. The traditional drink is made by setting a rum-soaked sugar cube on fire and letting it drip into mulled wine. It’s enjoyed throughout Germany during the festive season and on New Year’s Eve.
9. Share a lebkuchen
These colourful, heart-shaped treats pop up all over Berlin during the festive season. Christmas market stalls, local vendors and festive shops hang the loving treat in their windows, lighting up their shop fronts. Baked across Germany for hundreds of years, lebkuchen is similar to gingerbread and is a delicious Christmas treat to accompany a warm Glühwein on your travels.
10. Enjoy a German Christmas sausage
Sausages, or würst, play a big part in German culture and it's no different during the festive season. Christmas markets come to life with the aroma of sizzling sausages, and walking with a würst in one hand and glühwein in the other is a must-do in Berlin if you're visiting near Christmas. Thüringer Bratwurst is the classic 'white' sausage, Krakauer is pink and spiced, and Currywurst is served with curry ketchup and sprinkled curry powder. If you're veggie or don't eat pork, don't worry - there's plenty of meat-free options now available at the markets!
Want more? Check out