There’s no better way to kick start your festive spirit than with a fun-packed trip away in December. And what better place than Germany’s capital, Berlin? As the masters of all things Christmas, Germany offers plenty of magical destinations to visit during winter, but none of them quite like Berlin.
As the snow starts to fall, the city transforms into a winter wonderland of twinkling lights, Christmas markets and seasonal delights, bringing holiday cheer to locals and visitors alike. To help you make the most of your trip to Berlin in December, we’ve compiled the ultimate list of the best things to do in Berlin at Christmas, from ice skating and sledding to fairgrounds and the Berlin Wall. So, go ahead and discover what to do during Christmas in Berlin…
Check out our guide to the best European cities to visit in December for more inspiration.
What’s the weather like in Berlin in December?
Unsurprisingly, the weather in Berlin in December is rather chilly, so it’s important to make sure you wrap up warm during your Christmas city break. However, Berlin tends to be a little warmer than its neighbouring eastern cities given that its buildings and landscape create a sort of insulating effect. Nevertheless, you can expect to experience some snowfall and some small showers in Berlin at Christmas. On average, the weather in Berlin in December will reach a daytime high of 3°C, but it can also drop below freezing at points.
What to do at Christmas in Berlin
1. Visit the Christmas Markets
With some of the best Christmas markets in the world, this is certainly the top thing to do in Berlin at Christmas. With around 80 markets dotted around the city, these Weihnachtsmärkte have been a tradition in Germany since the middle ages. With hundreds of stalls selling everything from handcrafted gifts, festive drinks, traditional local cuisine, and more, you’re guaranteed to have plenty to keep you occupied. And, despite there being so many Christmas markets in Berlin to choose from, you won’t find two the same; each has its own atmosphere and speciality.
Some of the best Berlin Christmas markets include:
- Winter World on Potsdamer Platz
- Alexanderplatz Christmas Market
- Weihnachtsmarkt at Charlottenburg Palace
- Berliner Weihnachtszeit at Roten Rathaus
- Spandau Christmas market
- Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church Christmas Market
- Opernpalais Nostalgic Market
- Lucia Christmas Market
2. Brave the toboggan run at Winter World
Potsdamer Platz is the capital’s historical, cosmopolitan shopping district which is transformed into a Winter World every Christmas in Berlin. Here, there are numerous sporting winter attractions you can try, as well as stands decorated for Christmas, creating a magically festive atmosphere. With Brandenburg Gate in view, you can toboggan down a 12-metre high run while DJs and live music play in the background. After braving the slide down, you can relax with a cup of punch, hot spiced wine and some traditional German and Austrian festive treats.
3. Go curling in Bertolt-Brecht-Platz
Another active thing to do in Berlin at Christmas is curling in Bertolt-Brecht-Platz, a 3,500 m² town square in the Mitte district of the city. Set within two covered lanes, this version of curling is similar to boules, but experts will be available to help you understand how to play and explain all the rules. You’ll need a minimum of six players to get involved and up to 12 people can play on a lane at once.
4. See the Christmas Lights at Kurfürstendamm
Kurfürstendamm is a well-known shopping street and central boulevard in West Berlin which is one of the best things to see during Christmas in Berlin thanks to its magnificent display of lights. Locally known as Ku’damm, the tree-lined street is adorned with 4.5 km of Christmas lights from November until early January. The large stretch of pavement in the centre of the road is filled with large figures of snowmen, Santa, reindeer, nutcrackers, trains and more. Once you’ve marveled at the sparkly delights, stop off at the Gedächtniskirche Christmas Market and order some mulled cherry beer and some Kartoffelpuffer with Apfelmus (German potato fritters with apple sauce).
5. See the Berlin Wall
A 100km long concrete wall, the Berlin Wall divided Berlin for 28 years, from 1961 to 1989. Today, only a small fraction of the Wall remains and it has become one of the must-visit sites in the city, not just at Christmas but all year round. On visiting this site, you get a sense of how imprisoned people must’ve felt, being separated from loved ones on the other side and relenting a significant portion of their freedom and choice.
The Wall once ran through the entire city, but now there are specific sections that are better to visit than others. The most impressive section is the kilometer-long East Side Gallery, where the Wall is still intact and covered with famous art that you’ll probably recognise.
6. Go ice skating
You can’t take a Christmas trip to Berlin without going ice skating! Whether it’s to keep the kids entertained, show off with spectacular pirouettes, or just glide along to Christmas songs, Berlin is home to some of the best ice rinks in Europe. With that being said, though, we would advise booking your skating slot in advance to ensure it’s not fully booked. After all, everyone wants to go ice skating in Berlin at Christmas.
With so many skating spots to choose from, though, we’ve listed our favourites below:
- Eisbahn am Neptunbrunnen for Christmassy vibes
- Eisbahn Lankwitz for family-friendly fun
- Eisstadion Neukölln for the best value
7. Thrill-seek at Alexanderplatz Fairground
If you’re looking to get your adrenaline flowing, the Christmas market in Alexanderplatz is one of the best things to do in Berlin at Christmas. Situated underneath the iconic Berlin TV Tower, this Christmas market comes complete with a festive fariground with a Ferris wheel, haunted house, carousel, a rollercoaster, bumper cars and more. As well as all the Christmas carnival fun, you’ll find plenty of traditional treats, including hearty German food and Glühwein, and stalls selling handmade gifts and souvenirs.
8. Get some treats at the KaDeWe candy counter
If there’s one thing Christmas in Berlin calls for, it’s sweets! KaDeWe is an infamous department store in Berlin and is one of the largest of its kind. Inside, you’ll find an incredible food hall which takes up the entirety of the sixth floor. Here, there are over 35,000 products on offer, but we would advise heading straight to the candy counter. Complete with 1930s-style chutes and floating confectionary, you’ll feel like you’ve just entered Willy Wonka’s factory.
9. See spectacular views across Schlachtensee lake
The Schlachtensee lake lies in the southwestern part of Berlin, in the middle of the forest, and is one of the best things to see in Berlin in December. Here, the snow-dusted trees, moody winter light and crisp air makes for astonishing photos. The lake’s year-round clear water is surrounded by the Grunewald Forest which is ideal for exploring on foot and getting a well needed break from the bustling city centre. So, to experience a Berlin Christmas at its finest, be sure to wrap up and head to Schlachtensee.
10. Discover Christmas Garden Berlin
The famous botanical garden in Berlin gets transformed into the Christmas Garden Berlin throughout the winter months, becoming an illuminated wonderland that’s perfect for a magical nighttime stroll. From mid-November until the beginning of January, the gardens are decorated with thousands of twinkling lights to create luminous archways, lit-up Christmas figures and fully decked trees. It’s important to book in advance, though, as tickets sell out fast!