For a city that feels like it spends half the year in Winter, the Christmas season feels comparatively short – you have approximately one month from the opening of the markets to fit in as much of the festivities as possible. That includes getting turnt on mulled wine, buying outrageously expensive Christmas ornaments, shopping for handmade crafts, and eating sausages that swing from massive, rotating grills served by men in alpine hats…
Sound like your idea of a good time? Mine too 😉
Read on for my extensive guide to Christmas markets in Berlin: my favorite markets, less known locations, as well as a survival guide for your first time. Enjoy!
What you need to know before your first Berlin Christmas Market
When do Christmas markets open in Berlin?
The majority of Christmas markets in Berlin open on November 25th and run through December 28th. However each Christmas market has its own dates of operation, so do check each listing to be sure it’ll be when you visit! For obvious reasons, almost none of them actually last into the new year 😉 There are a few that only open on the 1st of December, but most of the time, if you’re coming to Berlin at the end of November you’ll have no problem popping by a Christmas market or two.
Can I pay by card at Christmas markets?
If you live in Germany you already know – cash is still king, and the Christmas markets are no different. Occasionally gift stands that sell more expensive items will accept your credit cards, but if your main MO is food and drink, you’re going to need some euro on hand.
Are there entrance fees for Christmas markets?
Most Christmas markets don’t have entrance fees. That said, one of the more popular Christmas markets, at Gendarmenmarkt, does charge a small 1 EUR entrance fee.
When is the best time to visit Christmas markets in Germany?
If you can, visit the Christmas markets during the week. On the weekend, markets can be so packed that you spend ages in the queue for something to drink (or worse – you do it German-style and there is no queue at all, just people fighting for the attention of the barkeeper).
German food you need to try at a Christmas market
There are a number of popular foods you’ll only find around Christmas time, which I’d advise you to focus on if you want to try everything like me:
- Marillenknödel (Apricot dumplings) / Germknödel (Poppyseed dumplings)
- Bockwurst (Sausage)
- Glühwein (Mulled wine)
- Maroni (Chessnuts)
- Brezel (Pretzels)
The deposit system at German Christmas markets
How is this wine so expensive?! If you’re new to drinking in Deutschland, you may not be familiar with the German concept of deposit. At many bars, as well as at Christmas markets, you’re expected to pay an additional fee as an incentive to return your glass to the bar (at which time to get the deposit back). Since Christmas market mugs are so special, I’ve seen deposits as high as 3€! If you find a mug you fancy, you’re free to keep it – otherwise, make sure you’ve got spare cash for those pricey deposits!
Berlin’s best Christmas markets
All told, there are more than 60 Christmas markets in Berlin. Here is a map of Christmas markets in Berlin and where to find the best ones!
1. Charlottenburg Palace
Weihnachtsmarkt vor dem Schloss Charlottenburg Berlin – If the Christmas market at Gendarmenmarkt is one of the most popular, then the market at Charlottenburg Palace is the most famous. Situated directly in front of the palace, there are view more scenic places to peruse for Christmas gifts than this market.
- Open: November 25, 2019 - December 26, 2019
- Hours: Monday to Thursday, 2PM-10PM. Friday to Sunday, 12PM-10PM. December 25th and 26th, 12PM-8PM. Closed on Christmas Eve.
- Address: Spandauer Damm 20-24, 14059 Berlin
- Entry Cost: FREE
Weihnachtszauber at Gendarmenmarkt – Undoubtedly one of the most popular Christmas markets in Berlin, and for a good reason: it’s beautiful and very central. Gendarmenmarkt itself is considered one of Germany’s most beautiful town squares. In fact the name WeihnachtsZauber literally means “Christmas magic”, so you know it’s gotta be good.
Unlike any other Christmas market on this list, there is an entry fee of 1 EUR. Unfortunately they don’t allow re-entry with the same ticket, so you’ll have to go in once and make it count! One good thing to note is that if you happen to visit mid-day between 11:00AM and 2PM, you get free entry on any day except the 25th and 26th of December.
Do be aware that this is one of the most popular Christmas markets in Berlin, so if you can go during the day to avoid some of the crowds, I’d advise you to do so!
- Open: November 25, 2019 - December 31, 2019
- Hours: daily 11:00 am – 10:00 pm, 24⁄12 11:00 am – 6:00 pm, 31⁄12 11:00 am – 1:00 am
- Address: Gendarmenmarkt, 10117 Berlin
- Entry Cost: 1€
3. Lucia at Kulturbrauerei
Also known as the Scandinavian Christmas Market, the Lucia Christmas Market is named after the Nordic goddess of light and offers tastes and gifts from various countries of the North. The Kulturbrauerei is a former brewery, and the grounds are sizable – you can spend a lot of time here trying all the different Nordic variants of Glühwen.
- Open: November 24, 2019 - December 24, 2019
- Hours: Monday - Friday, 3PM-10PM. Satuday and Sunday, 1PM-10PM.
- Address: Knaackstraße 97, 10435 Berlin
- Entry Cost: FREE
4. Old-Rixdorf at Richardplatz
Open for just one weekend out of the year, the Christmas market at Richardplatz is a really special event. Walking around this square, you’ll see tons of Christmas lights lacing the boughs above your head. All proceeds from this Christmas market go to benefit charities so you can feel especially good about doing some of your Christmas shopping here. Mark your calendar!
- Open: December 6-8, 2019 (One weekend only!)
- Hours: Friday 5PM - 9PM. Saturday 2PM-9PM. Sunday 2PM - 8PM
- Address: Richardplatz 28, 12055 Berlin
- Entry Cost: FREE
5. Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church at Breitschiedplatz
West Berlin is a great place to visit if you want to do your Christmas shopping, and what better place to take a break than at a Christmas market? This Christmas market is located right at the foot of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. What makes it unique is the convenient setting in the middle of one of Berlin’s top shopping districts, and the fact that you have this famous church looming in the background while you chow down on some tasty Wintry treats.
Sadly, you may also know this Christmas market location from the 2016 terror attack that happened in Berlin. In the mean time the area has been reinforced with concrete blocks to prevent trucks from driving through, and there are police around the area.
- Open: November 25, 2019 - January 5, 2020
- Address: Breitscheidplatz, 10787 Berlin, Germany
- Hours: Sunday to Thursday, 11AM-9PM. Friday and Saturday, 11AM-10PM. Christmas Eve, 11AM-2PM. December 25th and 26th, 1PM-9PM. New Years Eve 11AM-1AM. New Year’s Day, 1PM-9PM.
- Entry Cost: FREE
6. Rotes Rathaus
It can be a little hard to get into the Christmas market mood when you’re surrounded by concrete buildings, but the market at the Rotes Rathaus (Red City Hall) at Alexanderplatz is still a really convenient location to pop by for after-work Glühwein or trinket-browsing. Make sure it’s not the only one you visit this season but don’t avoid it just because it’s so central. They also have ice skating if you’re feeling adventurous 😉
- Open: November 25, 2019 - December 29, 2019
- Hours: Monday - Friday 12PM-10PM, Saturday - Sunday 11PM-10PM. Closed on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day and Boxing Day 11AM-9PM.
- Address: Rathausstraße 15, 10178, Berlin
- Entry Cost: FREE
7. Christmas Garden Berlin
The door open open every day at 4:30PM (remember, that’s when I told you it gets DARK), and it lasts until 10PM every night.
Besides walking around and admiring the light show, you can go ice skating or eat some typical German foods at the Botanical Garden’s restaurant. I’m a huuuge fan of visiting Botanical Gardens when I travel, and even though it seems a little odd to visit one in the middle of Winter, clearly Berlin has found a way around that.
During the week, you can book flexible tickets to the Christmas Garden, but during the weekend you’ll need to book a timed slot in advance. Click here to check availability for the Christmas Garden.
- Open: November 15, 2019 - January 5, 2020
- Hours: 4:30PM - 10PM
- Address: Königin-Luise-Straße 68, 14195 Berlin
- Entry Cost: 17€ per person
Which Christmas markets would you like to visit this year?
Let me know in the comments which you think looks the best! And if you’re looking for more logistical details on the individual markets, be sure to check out the Official Berlin Website for more information!