Our trip to Berlin was in part sponsored by the VisitBerlin tourism board. Berlin has over 50 different Christmas markets spread around the city, and just like the city itself, there are different markets for different tastes – and you can always find something for everyone. Visiting a Christmas market in Berlin is the perfect way to get your Christmas spirits up, and after spending a whole week in Berlin making our way through the ”Christmas-market-jungle” I have never felt as nostalgic about Christmas as I do now. Wherever we walked, we stumbled upon a new Christmas market – every little neighborhood had its own local market, and we went back again and again to our favorite ones just to explore.
Here are 5 of the best Christmas markets in Berlin:
1) Weihnachtsmarkt Gendarmenmarkt
Set in a beautiful location by the French Cathedral, this market is one of the most popular, and everyone gets their cup of Gluwein at one of the wooden huts before making their way to the stage to watch ballet, listen to a choir or enjoy whatever is on that night. This market is one of the most fancy in town, and offers the best entertainment with several shows on the stage every day. It does cost 1 Euro to get in, but the free entertainment is well worth it, and the location couldn’t be better.
2) Alexanderplatz Berliner Weihnachtsmarkt
The Christmas market by Alexanderplatz is built more like a small fairy-tale Christmas village, with streets and small houses selling wonderful handicrafts and tasty candy. While most markets we visited in Berlin had a small ferris wheel for the children, this market has a much bigger one, offering a great view over the city center. But what I think makes this market extra special is the ice skating rink which is in the center around the Neptunes fountain – the fountain and ice rink is lit up with colorful lights, providing a really cozy and romantic atmosphere.
3) Lucia Market
The Lucia market seems more popular with locals than with tourists, and being a Scandinavian market rather than German, it offers a unique touch. Hidden in the historic surroundings of the Kulturbrauerei, it’s a little hard to find if you don’t know what you’re looking for, but once you get there you’ll find that it’s one of the coziest markets in the city. There are a few different foods to try which you won’t find in other markets, foods that are typical Scandinavian and of course Scandinavian mulled wine.
4) Charlottenburg Christmas Market
Set in a beautiful location with the Charlottenburg castle as a backdrop, this is the most romantic Christmas market in Berlin – the castle is lit up with mood lighting, giving the market a magical feel. The arts and handicrafts at this market are carefully selected, and we personally thought that the stalls here offered more unique and interesting things than the other markets. There were also some great food stalls around, and it was really nice walking around the market hearing random brass musicians playing in the background.
5) Christmas Market at Kaiser Wilhelm Church
The Christmas market at Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church is one of the most popular, and we really enjoyed this market. The mouthwatering smells of hot Gluhwein, traditional egg punsch, roasted almonds and crepes would make anyone who passes by hungry. The market with 170 stalls is a perfect place to buy some Christmas presents and soak up the atmosphere around the 20 meter high Christmas tree. However, what caught our interest the most was the Christmas tree made of steel and some really strange decorations on it – which blew out fire! Another market worth noting is Spandau, which is a bit far away from the city center but if you have the time its well worth checking out – it’s the biggest market in Berlin and is located in the beautiful Old Town.
An Evening In Berlin Christmas – Photo Essay during our time in Berlin last Christmas.
When darkness falls over Berlin – the city lights up in colorful, intriguing lights, showing a new face to the visitor – one which you can’t see during the day, & one which actively draws you in for more …
Magical buildings, mysterious paths and mouth-watering smells of roasted almonds and gluhwein surround those who get out and walk the streets of Berlin during the Christmas period.
The same places you walked past during the day seem completely different and transformed at night…
The past and present blend together making every street interesting and new to discover.
And you know that no matter where you go and no matter how trendy the neighborhood wants to be, there is always a traditional grilled Bratwurst around every corner … this was our Berlin.
4 Yummy German Christmas Treats!
One of the best things to do in Berlin is to walk – aimlessly stroll around without really knowing where you are or where you’re going – that way you get your own impressions of Berlin, and find your own favorite places and interesting spots. When you decide to take a walk, one thing is for sure: you will never go hungry – there are cafés and bakeries EVERYWHERE, around every single corner of every little street. We spent the last week tasting many typical German xmas treats – here are a few that we tried…
We found these quark balls in a Christmas market, and while we had no idea at the time what we just had bought, we knew just by the alluring smell around the wooden hut that we had to try them. They are called Quarksbällchen, and are small balls made from flower, egg, sugar and Quark, which are deep fried and then coated with sugar. Quark is something very typical German, and it’s very hard to explain what it is and what it tastes like, but it’s a type of cheese similar to sour cream. You can’t have too many of these balls, they’re just SO tasty!
Baumkuchen / Tree Cake
Nobody knows exactly when and where this cake was first baked, but a theory is that it was invented in the German town of Salzwedel. The cake is very dry and almost paper-like, and in my opinion rather tasteless, but you can sense a bit of almond in there. Our cake was coated in dark chocolate, which made it taste better, and it was good together with a hot cup of tea. I was more fascinated by all the effort they put into making the cake than the actual taste – it is almost impossible to make one of these cakes in your own home. Bakeries use a special machine for the Baumkuchen, which is made on a spit by brushing on layers of batter and rotate it around a heat source – you heat it until it turns brown, and then you add another layer. This method makes the cake look very similar to the tree rings you see on trees which have been cut down, which is why the cake has the nickname ”tree cake”.
If there is one thing that the Germans know how to make, it’s bread – they have even come up with a way of making bread into a dessert, with this famous and loved bread-like fruit cake called Christstollen. The cake is filled with juicy raisins, candied and dried fruits and almonds, and is mixed with different spices like cardamom and cinnamon. Some even go all the way and put marzipan and rum in the cake – which is then covered in icing sugar. The recipe for this moist bread dates back to the early 15th century, and has always been a cake you consume during Christmas. I didn’t think it sounded like a very good idea to mix bread with those ingredients, but once I tried it I absolutely loved it!
Lebkuchen is a traditional German christmas treat famously known as Gingerbread. Lebkuchen is a very old cookie, invented in the 13th century by the medieval monks in Franconia, Germany. The traditional Lebkuchen is very tasty, soft on the inside and often with marzipan and different kinds of nuts inside (walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds). The more good quality nuts inside the better the cake, and the taste is heavenly.
You see these cookies all over Berlin’s Christmas markets, often decorated with some nice text like “I love you” – but these are of a harder type and not as genuine. It’s also common to make “witch houses” from that type of gingerbread, which became popular from the story about Hansel and Gretel.