Kreuzberg Berlin – After spending a month in the former-hippie turned wealthy-bohemian-latte-mom Prenzlauer Berg district of Berlin, we decided to change our surroundings – we moved to another popular neighborhood called Kreuzberg, which turned out to be a complete contrast to Prenzlauer Berg …
Kreuzberg Berlin Gritty but Cool
Berliners love to refer to their city as “poor but sexy”, and no neighborhood represents this as well as Kreuzberg.
With graffiti covered lanes, murky bars and alternative hang-outs, Kreuzberg is gritty but cool – it’s far from picture perfect and pretty, but it has some of that roughness that gives a place depth and makes it interesting.
Shops and restaurants seem to pop-up and close down before the ink in newly printed guide books has even dried, which makes this neighborhood the perfect place to explore without a guide book.
Kreuzberg Berlin Multi Cultural Cuisine
Kreuzberg is one of Berlin’s areas with the densest population of immigrants, which has created a great mixture of different cultures.
If you want to sample cuisine from all over the world, Kreuzberg is the ideal district to base yourself in.
From Vietnamese to Turkish, Nepalese to Middle-eastern flair, there are restaurants serving delicious food from all over the world, and while we had a perfectly working freestanding oven in our studio apartment, we ended up eating out a lot of the time.
It’s hard to resist all the awesome diners when often it was cheaper to eat out than to cook at home, and even when they weren’t – who can resist all that deliciousness?!
Here are some great places to try out when visiting Kreuzberg
This place is by far the coziest cafe we went to in Kreuzberg.
Plunge into the comfy armchairs and sofas with a latte macchiato in one hand and a home made cake in the other, and enjoy the laid back vibe and vinyls playing on the DJ set by the bar.
With free movie nights every monday, this place has the perfect balance between hip and welcoming (too many places in Berlin are over-doing the hip and underrating comfort!) – address: Graefestr. 12
The staff at this cafe will happily stuff your waffle to the brim with whatever topping you want, from crumbled candy bars to fruit, syrup, ice cream and sprinkles of all kinds.
The most baffling part of this is how they manage to keep the price at only €3. We also like the fun atmosphere and retro Nintendo game in the cafe – address: Adalbert Strasse 88.
There are literally hundreds of Turkish diners in Kreuzberg and we have barely scratched the service, buts Imren Grill is a local favorite with cheap, fresh meals and kick-ass Pide! address: Boppstr. 4
This café truly brings Britain to Berlin, with shortbread, ginger crunch and friendly service in a stylish cafe – and an all-you-can-eat cake and tea deal every Sunday!
The only minus is that it can get pretty loud if the cafe is full. address: Boppstr. 1
In our last Berlin post we mentioned the obsession Berliners have about the Sunday Brunch, and every Sunday between 9am and 1 pm the most popular Brunch cafes are crowded with locals all meeting up for brunch.
While Prenzlauerberg may win in number of brunch places, no place we’ve been to has beaten Wirsthaus with its huge buffet offering many interesting choices with fancy cheese and Dolmas – all for a measly €4.50!
An interesting thing about this place is that they charge double for Brunch, even though there seem to be no difference in what’s on offer – so beat the crowd, go there early and pay half the price for the same delicious food. address: Hasenheide 19.
Visiting the Turkish market on Tuesdays and Fridays were one of the perks of staying in Kreuzberg.
There are stalls selling hummus in a hundred varieties, freshly baked bread and home made pasta and dolmas.
The aroma from grilled feta cheese wraps is irresistible!
The market is located along the river on Maybachufer street, if you’re nearby but have trouble finding it just tag along with the many old ladies in colorful scarves dragging their trolleys to the market to do their weekly shopping.
Tempelhof Airport – Berlin’s Strangest Playground
It’s not every day you get to roller-skate down a runway or barbecue sausages in the shadow of an airport terminal – but both are everyday scenes in Tempelhof Park, Berlin’s newest playground – check out our article about Tempelhof Airport here!
Exploring The Area
Kreuzberg is full of surprises, most of which you just happen to stumble upon when you’re out exploring.
From street art so big they cover whole buildings to small galleries and a surprising number of odd furniture shops, put on a good pair of walking shoes and bring a camera to capture it all!
One place to include on the itinerary is the Topography of Terror (a free outdoor museum on the site of buildings which during the Nazi regime from 1933 to 1945 were the headquarters of the Gestapo and the SS).
Nearby is the famous Checkpoint Charlie, the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East and West Berlin during the cold war – also make sure to walk across the beautiful Oberbaum Bridge when walking over to the Berlin Wall in neighbouring Freidrichshain.
To sum it up, Kreuzberg is a perfect place for food lovers, travelers who love spontaneous exploring, and those interested in Berlin’s shaky past – so in short, a little bit for everyone.
Berlin – A Mixture Of Ugly, Pretty & Everything In Between
Berlin is the city everyone is talking about, and has grown in popularity to become the third most visited city in Europe.
My friends keep returning over and over, and when I ask what they love so much about Berlin that makes them return again they say – ”well…it’s Berlin!”.
Last time we were in Berlin we only spent two days there, and while we managed to see a lot of things despite the rainy weather we still felt like we had not given the city a chance and wanted to return to see what all the fuss was about.
Now, after having spent two weeks exploring the many streets and corners of Berlin at a slow pace, I can see what they’re talking about.
Berlin is a city which is alive, and ever changing – while many European cities’ main attraction is its history and past, Berlin is the past, the present and the future – all mixed into one.
It’s a cocktail of ugly, beautiful, sad, quirky, and the charm and fascination about the city is nothing specific, but everything in a confusing mixture.
I have never been to a city where everything seems to change as often as in Berlin.
In Berlin, there is no specific ”party street” or ”shopping street”, but more like ”party street of the month”.
Berlin is very much like Asia in the way that you never know what’s around the corner, and the best thing to do is to get lost and see what odd places you will find next.
It’s a city full of randomness, where things seem to ”just happen”, almost by mistake.
There are hidden treasures around every corner, from small cinemas and shops to galleries and bars that will pop-up and close down before you know it.
Despite the tourism boom, Berlin is a rather poor city, which is one of the reasons why it has become one of the most popular graffiti-hubs – the government simply can’t afford to take it all away.
Artists from all over the world come to leave their mark, and you can see some pretty amazing work by just walking down the street.
It’s an interesting city, with no real center – it’s neighborhoods, Kiez, actually feel more like small cities in themselves, and are treated as such by locals as well.
Talking to the locals, they say they rarely even leave their district, and are just as lost as any other tourist in the rest of Berlin.
Living in Schönhausallee I could really see why – you have everything you need right by your doorstep; there are shopping malls, boutiques, supermarkets, cafes, restaurants, bars, theaters, cinemas in abundance.
On the same street where we lived there were restaurants serving food from all over the world, you would almost be silly to go through the hassle of finding a nice restaurant in another neighborhood when there were so many right across the street.
When we told people that we would travel down to Bavaria in southern Germany, they kept saying that Bavaria was ”different”, or that it would be very different from Berlin.
I would agree, but from another angle, down south it really is different from Berlin, but so is everywhere else as well.
In fact, I don’t think that there is any place like Berlin, I think Berlin is the place which is ”different” … and that’s what makes it such a wonderful city.
Berlin Germany Travel Video
Berlin was a rainy mess, but we still enjoyed it – we realized how much harder everything is to do when it is raining – so on the first day we saw little of Berlin.
Not because we stayed inside like everyone else on such a bad day, but because it was so windy and it rained so hard that we were too busy using our umbrellas as shields in front of us, to have the time to be able to look around and see everything.
Tempelhof Airport – The Past & Future of Berlin
It’s not every day you get to walk, bike and roller-skate down an airport runway or set up a barbecue on an airfield at an airport.
But at Tempelhof Airport in Berlin, these things are normal – the closed airport has become Berlin’s newest playground, now known as Tempelhof park.
Tempelhof Airport in Berlin
Taking up a space of 400 hectares, picnics and jogging aren’t the only things this park has space for: kite flying, hot balloon rides, urban gardening and marathon events are just a few of the things you can and will soon be able to do in the park.
The city plans to recreate the park in many ways, from creating a lake to building new homes, while still keeping the airport building which plays a major role in Berlin’s history.
A Little History
Built in 1939-1941, Tempelhof airport was built in typical Nazi monumental “Bombastic” style, complete with carved eagles at the entrance and a roof constructed to hold an audience of 100,000 people watching military parades and air shows, designed to be the world’s biggest terminal.
A Symbol For Freedom
Tempelhof is more than just an abandoned airport or an awesome park, for many of the Berliners it remains a symbol for freedom …
Outside the airport stands the Airlift Memorial, honouring those who fought for freedom and participated in the “supplies action”, and the 79 pilots who lost their lives during the Airlift.
In 1948 Soviet authorities halted all traffic by land and water into and out of the western-controlled sectors of Berlin, with the only access left being an air route across the Soviet Zone.
For the next 11 months the western powers began sending skytrains supplying the people with food to survive.
The legendary “Operation Little Vittles” is almost as famous, where the “Candy Bomber” Gail Halvorsen started dropping candy to the children from his parachute before landing, and other pilots started to do the same.
Go There Before It Changes!
Today, a dilapidated plane overgrown by weeds hides in one corner of the park, and in summer you can buy sausages from a beer garden created for the US military during the Cold War.
As always, in true Berlin style, the past is mixed with the present.
I’m sure the future of this park will be amazing, but the way it is today is truly unique and something to experience, and who knows what will be left and distract from its history when the park is recreated into something new?
So don’t risk it, go bike down the runway and enjoy the unique view while you still can!
Berlin continued with the history of the WWII and the Cold War, and seeing the Berlin wall was a highlight.
I also loved the cool vibe the city had, with all its funky cafes and pubs.
I would have liked to explore more of the alternative culture there, but we didn’t have the time.
However, Berlin is Berlin, a place you will most certainly cross paths with again specially with those awesome flights to Hanover you can find from around Europe arriving only 2 hours away from Berlin.
Life in Berlin: Hip Prenzlauer Berg
Prenzlauer berg is the hippest district in Berlin – at least that’s what the people living there love to describe their beloved neighborhood.
With beautiful 20th century buildings, cute boutiques and an overload of cafes lining the streets and boulevards – it’s easy to understand why this area has become so popular.
Wondering what it would be like to live in Berlin’s most desired districts, we decided to spend a month renting an apartment there to see what all the fuss was about…
From Poor Hippies to Rich Bohemians
Prenzlauer Berg has a fascinating history, and was once one of the poorest districts of the city, attracting a young bohemian crowd.
But the days of poor artists living on cheap rents in crumbling buildings are over – since the reunification, the district has transformed into a wealthy, trendy area – and the poor bohemians have been replaced… with rich bohemians.
While the residents are wealthier, they still want an alternative lifestyle, and have paved the way for the organic supermarkets, vegan restaurants and fair trade shops that now line the streets.
We found a vegan fast food restaurant around the corner from our apartment and another one with an all vegan buffet around the other, a vegan shoe shop a few blocks away, which was right next to a vegan supermarket – this was vegetarian heaven!
The P-berg Mum
When walking into the hallways of apartment buildings or in one of the many cafes and parks, you may suddenly find yourself surrounded by deluxe baby trolleys.
Prenzlauer Berg is the so called “latte-macchiato-mums” hood, also known as the “p-berg mums” (Prenzlauer Berg mum).
You can usually find them at the nearest boulevard cafe sipping a latte-macchiato with their friends – check out this post if you want to read a hilarious and dead-on description about what the “p-berg mums” are like!
Perhaps thanks to the “p-berg mums”, there are countless of cafes in Prenzlauer Berg that are perfect hang-outs for people wanting to spend half their days with one cup of coffee.
Here are some great places to check out:
Godshot Coffee Club:
Famous for its great coffee, and a very cozy atmosphere making guests stay for hours on end. Only bad thing is that the wifi costs.
Has a great vegan weekend brunch, where you pay what you can afford and a very laid back hippie-vibe.
Café Im Nu
A cozy little place with a lovely Sunday breakfast buffet (€8,90) by a nice square.
The perfect Berlin atmosphere and typical German food so filling that you will last all day.
Vita Bäckerei & Café
Our favorite bakery with delicious home made cakes in fun varieties and flavors.
The Coffee is nothing to write home about, but the chai latte is awesome.
It’s one of those places where old people hang their coats on the clothing hangar and sit there for hours with a newspaper.
While Sundays tend to be very quiet days in Germany with empty streets and closed doors, the cafés and restaurants in Prenzlauer Berg will be crowded already by 9 am.
Going out for Sunday brunch has become a phenomenon in Berlin, and with the huge amount of restaurants, bars and cafés in Prenzlauer Berg it’s almost a crime not to indulge in all the brunch options!
Shopping & Hang-Outs
There aren’t many attractions in Prenzlauer Berg, and yet it’s one of the places everyone tells you to visit.
The reason is that Prenzlauer Berg is kind of an attraction in itself.
The best way to enjoy this area is to simply stroll along the streets and alleys, sit down for a cup of coffee, check out some event at the Kulturbrauerei and shop in the many quirky second hand boutiques – and of course make a visit to Mauerpark.
On a sunny day, few places beat Mauerpark. It’s the favorite hang-out spot for locals in Prenzlauer Berg, and is also where one of Berlin’s most famous flea markets is held.
Every Sunday you can make your way down the jam-packed market an find lots of unique things you want and convince yourself that you actually need, from vintage and antiques to furniture, toys, clothes and jewelry.
There is a great vibe in the park and a good mix of people, and sometimes there is even karaoke section going on which is pretty crazy.
To sum it up, Prenzlauer Berg is the perfect place to spend a Sunday – you join the latte-macchiato-mums for brunch before visiting the Sunday market and do some thrift shopping at Mauerpark!
Berlin Germany – Cozy Cafes, Rain & Dark History
Our time in Berlin was such a rainy mess, it made us realize just how much harder everything is to do in the rain – so on our first day in Berlin, we saw very little of the city.
This wasn’t because we stayed inside like everyone else on such a bad day, but because it was so windy and was raining so hard that we were too busy using our umbrellas as shields against the rain to even look around.
It was exactly how Forrest Gump described the rainy season in Vietnam ”it rained… and it rained, sometimes the rain even seemed to come straight from underneath!”
In flip flops (my shoes broke a couple of weeks earlier and I hadn’t found any to replace them), I felt completely out of place around everyone else in their winter jackets and gumboots.
But hey, people, it’s July!
It’s supposed to be warm now!
We probably saw Berlin in the worst conditions, and yet we both quite enjoyed it.
The Holocaust memorial was really touching, and I loved how it was like a maze where kids played hide and seek, adults got lost and confused and others simply didn’t really understand what was going on.
It was a very self -reflective monument, made to make the visitor feel uneasy – which is what a memorial should do, in my opinion.
It should awake an emotion in you, it should provoke you and make you reflect on what happened and how they must have felt.
We also found Berlin full of awesome cozy cafes which all had one thing in common – everything was double the size of normal portions.
A small coffee was like a large one in any other country, and one portion of traditional German food was big enough for two people to share.
I also understand why many of the travelers I’ve met found that just sitting down in one of the cafes in Berlin reading a book (secretly waiting for a hot guy to chat them up) was one of their highlights on their Europe trips – the vibe was just so cozy and relaxing.
There is a lot more for us to explore in Berlin with its underground clubs and 1 Euro wine bars where you only pay for the glass, so it’s definitely a city we will return to soon – hopefully in better weather and for a longer period of time.
Visiting The Most German Cities In Germany
Our first stop after Berlin was Nuremberg and Rothenburg – which according to Hitler were ”the most German of German towns”.
Nuremberg is perhaps most famous for its significance to the Nazi era and the huge Nazi party rallies that were held there.
But strolling around the city center we were amazed by the beauty of the medieval city we found behind the surrounding stone walls.
The traditional German houses lined along the cobble stoned streets was a big contrast to what we had seen in Berlin.
Nuremberg did feel very German, and very traditional.
There were shops selling Lederhosen and Drindls (traditional Bavarian pants and dresses) everywhere, every five meters there were shops selling traditional Lebkuchen (a type of gingerbread), and every ten meters a stall selling fresh Pretzels.
Within ten minutes of arriving we had already bought and finished a whole bag of Lebkuchen, and I was already fantasizing about when I could possibly find the excuse to wear those Drindls.
You could tell the people were proud of their food, and I would definitely say that when it comes to food tradition, Germany has a lot to thank Nuremberg for its Lebkuchen and sausages.
The Christmas City
The next day we took a day trip to a small town outside of Nuremberg called Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber. Rothenburg is everything foreigners picture of Germany.
This place seriously looks as though it has been taken from a fairy tale like Hansel and Gretel, with wonky half timbered houses in different colors, and steep red rooftops.
It’s often nicknamed the ”Christmas city”, since the streets are lined with amazing Christmas shops that are open all year round.
If Nuremberg doesn’t captivate you with its food, then Rothenburg will with its quaint Old Town.
For some reason the people in Nuremberg were the friendliest out of all the places we’ve visited in Germany – the easy going and cheerful strangers we met made this place Nathan’s favorite.
Tea In Berlin – The Tajikistani Way
Tucked away on the second floor of a theater building in the center of Berlin, the Tajikiztan tea room is well hidden for those who are not looking for it.
Even if you do have a rough idea of where it is chances are you still won’t find it.
Last summer we spent a good half hour looking for it without success.
That was the reason we did not want to give up this time.
But when we finally entered the fancy theater building we were wondering if we had really found it, or just gotten lost again.
It just didn’t seem to be a place for a tea room, and it was far to late for the usual afternoon tea.
But this tea house is very different from the English tea houses you’re used to.
Before entering the room you have to take your shoes off and leave them outside.
Once you’re inside you sit down by one of the low tables surrounded by colorful cushions in different sizes.
It is almost impossible to sit on the cushions.
Sooner or later you will find yourself half lying down, but that’s OK because everyone else is doing it too.
And once you get used to the idea, it is really cozy.
In fact I have never been in a cafe where I have felt as much at home as in this odd place.
The atmosphere is relaxed, almost drowsy, and people sit and drink their tea for hours on end.
To give you an idea, at 11 pm after having been there for about two hours we basically forced ourselves to leave, and everyone who was there when we arrived was still there, ordering a second, third perhaps fourth refill.
The waiter brought us a thick menu of different teas to choose, and we picked a Russian smoked tea flavor, curious of how a tea can possibly taste of smoke?
Surprisingly, it tasted just like smoke.
This tea was far from the fruity flavor of berries or the fresh mint teas you normally find.
It was a strange but somehow still nice flavor similar to burned wood – strong and manly, and exactly the way I would have thought Russian tea would taste like.
In Tajikiztan women are not allowed in these tea rooms, they are strictly meant for men to meet with friends, drink tea and do business.
So I am glad that this place which was initially set up during the Soviet era for Tajikiztanian people/ soldiers?
Was still there.
When the Soviet era saw everything else falling down, the Tea room remained, and little has changed since.
So if you want to experience part of Berlin’s history but in a different way, this is a good place to visit.
It is right in the middle of Berlin’s Mitte – but once inside you feel like you’re a world away from all of it.
Free Things To Do In Berlin That Don’t Cost a Dime
Berlin is a great city to visit for anyone on a budget; accommodation and food is cheap, and many of the paid attractions are reasonably priced.
But small expenses add up and before you know it you’ve spent more than planned, often in places that are cheap we justify the low prices and end up spending more than usual.
Checkout our Berlin Where “Green” is the New Black.
The best way to save money is of course to do things that don’t cost a dime, and fortunately, there are tons of free things to do in Berlin.
The Berlin Wall & The East Side Gallery
Most people who have been to Berlin will instantly tell you that you need to visit the Berlin Wall; it is such a huge piece of modern history.
The fall of the division between East and West Germany in 1989 unified a city that had been divided for over thirty years.
The East Side Gallery, which is the longest stretch of wall still intact, is covered in art work and murals from famous artists.
It takes about two hours to wander along the full length of the wall and I would highly recommend it.
In March earlier this year they removed a part of the all to make way for new luxury apartments.
They started tearing it down at 5 a.m in the morning when everyone was asleep so that it would be too late once the citizens found out about it.
If they have the stomach to do something like that, who knows how long the rest of the wall will be there?
If you can, go and see it before this piece of the past is gone forever.
For more information on the East Side Gallery visit their website here.
The Brandenburg Gate is the main entrance to Berlin, and it is stunning.
The gate was designed as the great entrance to the Unter den Linden, which lead led to the palace of the Prussian monarchs.
Like the Reichstag, it is a very busy attraction, but it’s really worth a visit, even if just for a photograph.
The gate sustained major damage during the Second World War and was used as an ideological tool before standing as a symbol of Germany’s turbulent past.
Recently restored, it’s a lovely place to sit and reflect on the rest of the beautiful city for an hour or so.
Free Walking Tour Or Alternative Tour
Sandeman’s new Europe walking tours are free and run every day from the Brandenburg Gate at 11am and 1pm.
Taking part in one of the a walking tours on your first few days is a great way to orientate yourself in Berlin and see some of the most famous landmarks.
The tour guides are friendly and happy to answer any questions.
It might be free, but the guides work on a tips-only basis so make sure you have some cash on you to show your appreciation.
If you want to see more of Berlin’s subcultures take an Alternative Berlin Tour around the city.
Like the Sandeman tour, it works on a tips only basis, but that’s where the similarities end.
This tour will take you to artist’s squats, underground cultural icons and flea markets in the summer.
It’s a much more rock and roll way to get around.
The Tiergarten is Berlin’s biggest inner city park.
It is extremely popular with visitors and locals alike due to its central location and natural beauty.
There are loads of monuments and statues to see, as well as beer gardens and even a zoo.
If you can, get your hands on a map so you don’t get too lost in the wilderness.
If you want to see all of the park, hire a bike for the afternoon.
I hired mine from Fat Tire rentals which cost €12 for one day.
To get around the whole of Tiergarten on foot will take up to 4 hours; a bike will get you round much faster.
If you are backpacking around Berlin invest in some lightweight luggage from luggage specialists, Luggage Superstore – lightweight luggage will reduce the burden when you’re in-between attractions.
I bought a hard shell case – a small case like this will be easier to get around local attractions than a heavy backpack or regular suitcase.
The Reichstag is a fantastic example of Berlin’s clash between old and new.
The original building dates from 1884 and was neglected during the Second World War.
During its regeneration, a huge glass dome has been attached to the building which offers 360 degree views of the city.
It is the busiest parliament in the world, with over 34 million visitors since its regeneration so it’s going to be pretty heaving whenever you go.
Make sure you choose your date and time slot online to avoid disappointment on the day.
You can pre-book at the official Reichstag website.
These are just a few of many free things to do in Berlin.
Best Christmas Markets To Visit In Berlin
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.
Berlin Where “Green” is the New “Black”
Berlin Germany Travel Video
Berlin, Germany Cosy Cafes
5 Free Things To Do In Berlin
Best Christmas markets in Berlin:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 …
- Evening In Berlin Christmas
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.
- Berlin Christmas
The same places you walked past during the day seem completely different and transformed at night…
- Christmas in Berlin
The past and present blend together making every street interesting and new to discover.
- Evening In Berlin Christmas
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.
Berlin Where “Green” is the New “Black”
In the past couple of decades, Berlin has been undertaking somewhat of a green revolution.
It is undeniable Berlin has always tried to maintain its greenery, with over 2,500 public parks and gardens in the city as well as approximately one fifth of the city’s land surface area covered by trees.
But it is not solely the landscape which can be considered green.
The cities inhabitants are increasingly becoming eco-friendly in all aspects of life.
Now everywhere you look there is a noticeable effort to lessen the city’s impact on he environment from large carbon neutral government buildings, to promoting recycling.
As the locals have largely adopted this new way of living, visitors too should aim to be as green as possible whilst visiting the German capital.
A good start to a more eco-friendly city break in Berlin would be to rent an apartment in the hip Kreuzberg area.
This is a very eco-conscious area which voted Green party in the last general election and houses green spaces such as Viktoriapark and Görlitzer Park.
Once you have your accommodation sussed, here are a few more ideas to help embrace the sustainable living style that makes Berlin such an iconic city.
In recent years, Berlin has revolutionized transport around the city.
As well as a comprehensive and increasingly energy efficient public transport network, the city boasts plenty of other green options for getting around as over 50% of Berliners don’t own a car.
Last year there were 1.5 million bike journeys made everyday through the streets of Berlin, over three times as many as in London.
The innovation continues as Berlin seeks to lower the effect of transport on their total carbon consumption.
Just stroll through the city and you will probably encounter ranks of electric bicycles charging entirely by solar power.
Velotaxis are a popular option for getting around and about.
These are Berlin’s version of a pedal powered rickshaw and are made entirely from recycled materials.
Similarly you could also catch a ride on an E-tuktuk.
These are based on the same model as their South-East Asian counterpart but are powered entirely by an electric motor and comply with Europe’s highest safety ratings.
This desire for environmentally friendly travel even led Berlin-based inventor Stefan Gulas to come up with the ErokIT – an electric bicycle-cum-motorbike which can reach speeds of up to 50 mph.
If you’re feeling a bit peckish in Berlin, you won’t have to look far to eat “green”.
The bustling markets doted around the city are always packed with fresh, organic (Bio) produce.
If you are looking for fast food, but want to avoid the standard greasy burger then head over to “Superfood”.
This relatively cheap restaurant provides quick healthy organic meals for those on the go including a selection of vegan meals.
Alternatively, you could head to Foodorama, Berlin’s first certified carbon neutral restaurant.
Not only does this restaurant use fresh, organic ingredients but also directly helps support re-forestation projects in South Asia.
Berlin has a strong culture of recycling, especially for plastic and glass bottles.
When buying beer from a shop you can expect to pay a supplementary deposit of between 8c-25c.
You only receive this money back once the bottle has been taken to any recycling point in the city.
Of course if you find yourself a long way from a recycling bank, there are sure to be a number of “bottle collectors” who travel around and earn money by collecting other peoples used bottles and recycling them.
Shopping In Berlin
A tourist can even help the cause whilst shopping. Eco-shopping is an incredibly popular concept in Berlin and a number of fashion brands promote themselves through their green label.
This can be anything from using organic raw materials to promoting fair working conditions.
This is a growing market in Berlin which holds two major eco-fashion fairs annually, the “Green Showroom” and the “Ethical Fashion Show”.
Any Eco-tourist looking to stock up their fridge in their serviced apartment must make the trip to the LG Bio-Markt, Europe’s Largest organic supermarket, which stocks over 18,000 organic products.
Berlin has succeeded where many other major cities are failing.
The green open spaces, improving air quality and general attitude to eco-friendly living makes the city a delightful place to visit and should be high up on any travellers list of “must-visit” places.
Berlin – Where “Green” is the New “Black”
Best Christmas Markets To Visit In Berlin
Living In Kreuzberg, Berlin – Gritty But Cool!
Life in Berlin: Hip Prenzlauer Berg
Berlin Germany Travel Video
Berlin, Germany Cosy Cafes
5 Free Things To Do In Berlin
(photo credit: 1 – 2 – 3)