Germany is famous for Christmas markets, but other parts of the country tend to steal the attention. Berlin during Christmas is magical though, and even people who aren’t that into Christmas enjoy the Christmas markets. Despite the cold weather and short, dark days, I love spending time outside at my favorite markets sipping Glühwein.
If you’re planning a Christmas market trip to Berlin, we’ve got you covered. Here you’ll find some of the best Christmas markets in Berlin, plus loads of advice for how they work and how to enjoy them.
Where is the best place to stay in Berlin for Christmas markets?
The Christmas markets in Berlin are spread out all over the city, so it’s hard to say where is the best area to stay for the Christmas markets. If there are specific markets you’re interested in, consider finding a hotel near those.
But Mitte is the central district of the city, and it’s well connected to anywhere you want to go. So for a Christmas market trip to Berlin that also includes sightseeing, this might be your best option. Here are a few hotels we recommend.
For a more detailed look at the different neighborhoods and our recommendations, check out our guide to where to stay in Berlin.
Things to know before visiting Christmas markets in Berlin, Germany
Berlin during Christmas is fantastic. Everything feels very festive and happy, and it’s a bright spot in the middle of the dark and short days of winter. Here are some tips and frequently asked questions about Christmas markets to help you out before your Berlin Christmas market trip.
When do Christmas markets in Berlin start?
The Germany Christmas market dates vary, but most of them start the last week in November. Traditionally, Christmas markets run during the Advent season, which starts four Sundays before Christmas, and many places in Germany still adhere to that, especially in the south. But in many areas, you’ll see Christmas markets open even earlier.
Berlin is a little more flexible and starts earlier than the four Sundays rule. The Berlin Christmas market dates are currently set at November 18, 2021, but note that each market sets its own dates, and some will start later than that. But this means you can experience roughly 6 weeks of Christmas markets in Berlin!
Many Christmas markets have their last day between December 22nd and Christmas Eve (December 24th) but there are a handful that are open a few extra days. A few of the more touristy ones even run for another week or two after Christmas.
It’s also important to note that many of them are closed on Christmas Day (December 25th) even if they’re open beyond Christmas. There are exceptions of course. For example, the Charlottenburg Palace Christmas market is usually open on Christmas Day.
A few Berlin Christmas markets only run on weekends, or on one specific day or weekend. Since there are so many Christmas markets in Berlin, it’s best to check the dates ahead of time by searching on the Berlin tourism website.
Christmas market hours vary depending on the exact market, but many will start late morning or early afternoon and run until somewhere between 8pm and 10pm. Some of the more specialized ones will have more limited hours.
When is the best time to visit Christmas markets in Berlin?
Honestly I don’t think there’s a bad time to visit a Christmas market. The best time really depends on your priorities.
If you’re interested in going when there are fewer people, weekdays during the day will be the least crowded. Evenings and weekends will be more crowded, but often that adds a lively atmosphere.
More popular Christmas markets will get more crowded, so it’s especially important to go to those on weekday afternoons if you’re hoping for less people.
I tend to like the Christmas markets better once the sun has gone down, but you won’t have to wait long for that in Berlin. In late November and almost all of December, sunset time is just a few minutes before 4pm.
Do the Berlin Christmas markets have entrance fees?
Most Christmas markets in Berlin do not have entrance fees. However, there are a few exceptions to be aware of.
Some of the specialty ones will charge a fee, and a few of the popular ones charge a fee. The one at Gendarmenmarkt charges a 1 euro entrance fee, and you can’t reenter on the same fee. The Naschmarkt at Markthalle Neun charges a fee, though it only runs for one day.
None of these entrance fees will break the bank. Most are 1 or 2 euros, and occasionally I’ve seen a 3 or 4 euro entrance fee. Decide which ones are really important to you, and balance it out by visiting a few of the free Christmas markets, and there are plenty of those.
Can you pay with credit/debit card at the Christmas markets?
Cash is king in Germany, and even though the ability to pay for things with plastic has improved lately, it’s still not as common as in many other parts of the world. You should definitely come prepared to pay cash for everything from souvenirs to food and drinks.
The exception to this is at stalls selling high priced items. They are more likely to have a credit card machine since people won’t often have large piles of cash on them. But ask first. Sometimes accepting plastic only means they accept local bank cards, and your foreign credit or debit card won’t work.
Make sure you have coins or small bills for things like entrance fees at markets that charge to enter. And in general, it’s best not to use bills bigger than a 20 euro bill since most purchases are small.
What should you buy at a German Christmas market?
Traditionally Christmas markets were where you’d do your Christmas shopping. You know, before we all started shopping at malls and on Amazon. So even though the way we shop has changed, today this is still a big part of the Christmas market experience.
The items sold at Christmas markets varies greatly depending on the city of region you’re in and even the specific Christmas market.
Berlin has some Christmas markets dedicated to shopping, so there’s less emphasis on food and Glühwein. Some focus on designer items while others are more local crafts. Either way, you’re likely to find something unique.
Most Christmas markets will have Christmas themed items like decorations and ornaments. These make good souvenirs, but try to find the interesting local ones, not the mass-produced ones.
At many Christmas markets, you’ll see a Christmas pyramid, called a Erzebirge pyramid, and some stalls will have miniature versions that you can buy. Sometimes they’re just mini replicas, but sometimes they’re candle holders.
Other stalls will have chocolate shaped like tools, or wooden items, or hats and scarves. You’ll even see some stalls selling purses and other bags or blankets. Some will sell jewelry or kids’ toys. I have a purse and two winter hats I’ve bought from local Christmas markets.
At more touristy Christmas markets, you’ll see generic souvenirs from Berlin that aren’t really Christmas-y. I feel like this isn’t the point, that you can get these kinds of souvenirs anywhere, anytime of year. At a Christmas market, you should aim to buy something more special and more connected with why you’re there.
This is just the tip of the iceberg really. The possibilities are endless. And if you’re not much of a shopper, remember that a Glühwein mug makes a great German Christmas market souvenir, especially since it’ll often say “Berlin” or the specific Christmas market plus the year. And it only costs a few euros!
What kind of food do they have at Christmas markets?
Food is a big part of the Christmas market experience. Eat, drink, and be merry, right?
At German Christmas markets, you’re almost guaranteed to find sausages. Different markets might have different types, from traditional and local sausages to ones that fit with the theme, like deer sausages at the Nordic themed Christmas market at Kulturbrauerei.
One popular food you’ll see at Christmas markets in Berlin is the Kartoffelpuffer. This is sort of like a hashbrown pancake. Usually they’re served in a set of three, but occasionally you’ll find them served as singles too. They are fried, greasy, and served with either apple sauce or a garlic or herb sour cream.
A dish you’ll commonly see at Christmas markets is Grünkohl, or green kale. It’s stewed and boiled and often cooked with other flavorful things like pork fat.
You can’t have Christmas without sweets, and you’ll find plenty at the Christmas markets. Chocolates, candies, and other sweets are popular, but keep an eye out for marzipan treats. And if you want to feel a tiny bit healthier, try some chocolate covered fruit.
Candied almonds are another popular food at Christmas markets. Some stalls will only have the traditional ones, while other stalls will have multiple types. I’ve seen chili, liquor flavors such as rum or Baileys, different candy bar flavors, chocolate, and many more weird ones. Some stalls also sell other candied nuts, like cashews, walnuts, peanuts, and more.
You’ll probably also see lots of stalls selling Lebkuchen, which are gingerbread cookies that usually have frosting or sugar glaze on them. Sometimes they are decorated with designs or phrases and hung on string, presumably to wear as a necklace of sorts.
More specialized Christmas markets will have different types of foods. There are several sprinkled around the city that focus on a particular culture, so they will have foods from the corresponding countries and cultures. A vegan Christmas market will only serve vegan food.
No matter what, you can find enough great food to have dinner and dessert at the Berlin Christmas markets!
Everything you need to know about Glühwein
Glühwein is hot mulled wine, usually made with red wine but occasionally white wine. It’s what keeps us going in December when Berlin gets cold, dark, and depressing.
Glühwein is served in 0.2L mugs (that’s about 6.75 fluid ounces) and it’s usually too hot to drink right away, so have some patience. Typically a mug of Glühwein costs somewhere around 1.50 to 4 euros, depending on the market.
If you don’t drink alcohol or you’re visiting a Christmas market with kids, you can order what’s called Kinderpunsch. This is basically a non-alcoholic Glühwein. Often you can find hot chocolate or hot tea, too.
Many Glühwein stalls will also add liquor to your Glühwein or hot chocolate for an extra charge. So if you want an extra kick, ask for your Glühwein with a shot of whiskey or rum. In German, this is “mit Schuss” which means “with shot”.
Feuerzangebowle is another drink commonly found at German Christmas markets. To make it, a cone of sugar is drenched in liquor and lit on fire. This sits above a cauldron of Glühwein and gives the Glühwein an extra kick. There are different versions, but that’s the simplest explanation. Feuerzangebowle can be rather strong, so beware.
Occasionally you’ll find hot mulled cider and/or hot mulled beer, usually a fruity beer. Sometimes there are Glühweins flavored with fruit. I’ve even seen hot mulled apple wine a couple times in Berlin, even though apple wine is a Frankfurt specialty.
A word about Pfand (deposit) at Christmas markets in Germany
You might notice the sign at the Glühwein stall says a mug costs 2 euros, but you got charged 4 euros. No, they’re not trying to rip you off, I promise.
This is because there’s a deposit on your mug, called Pfand in German. Pfand is usually 1 or 2 euros, and you’ll get that money back when you return the mug. If you order food that comes on a real plate (as opposed to a paper plate) you’ll be charged a deposit on the plate too.
So if you order several mugs of Glühwein in a night, you’ll be charged a deposit on the first one. Then they’ll swap out the mug for a clean one each time you order another. When you’re done, bring your mug back, and they’ll return your Pfand.
You can forfeit your deposit and keep the mug as a Christmas market souvenir if you’d like. While I would never keep the plate my food is served on, a Glühwein mug can be a nice memory of the Berlin Christmas market experience.
Best Berlin Christmas Markets
Berlin has so many fantastic Christmas markets! You’ll never get to all of them in one trip, so here’s a list of my top Christmas markets in Berlin. Some are popular crowd pleasers, while others are a little less known ones that I think are really great.
What’s more festive than a Christmas market in front of a palace? The Charlottenburg Palace is such a gorgeous setting any time of year, but when it’s Christmastime in Berlin, the palace is like a fairy tale.
The palace is lit up, and the stalls are set up in rows in front of the castle grounds. There are stalls with traditional German Christmas market food, plus a few outliers like the Hungarian food stand where I usually eat.
Wander around and you’ll find lots of different options for Glühwein and sweets. There’s even a stall selling hot cocktails if you want to try something a little different.
The Charlottenburg Palace Christmas market also has plenty of stalls selling traditional and unique gifts. And if you decide to keep your Glühwein mug as a souvenir, look for the ones shaped like little boots.
Don’t leave without taking in the view. On top of the Hungarian food stand is a viewing platform that will give you a nice look at this Christmas market from above.
I also like the Charlottenburg Palace Christmas market because it’s one of the few open on Christmas Day. Not many restaurants in the city are open on Christmas Day, so if you’re visiting during Christmastime, this is a nice festive option for your holiday meal.
Address: Schloss Charlottenburg, Spandauer Damm 22, 14059 Berlin
Closest transport: U Sophie-Charlotte-Platz, S Westend, Bus 109 or M45 Luisenplatz/Schloss Charlottenburg
Entry fee: Free
The Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market is a big favorite among locals and tourists alike. It’s a gorgeous setting with the the German and the French Cathedrals and Schinkel’s Konzerthaus framing the square.
This one has a much more upscale sort of feel to it than some of the other Christmas markets, though it does still have a little bit of a traditional atmosphere.
The different stalls selling gifts are in little glass enclosures instead of the wooden huts you’ll see at most Christmas markets. This is part of what makes it feel a little more fancy.
There is a 1 euro entry fee, and it’s one entry only, so if you leave and want to come back, you’ll have to pay another euro for the privilege. And the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas market gets crowded despite the entry fee, so weekday afternoons are best if you want a slightly smaller crowd.
Address: Gendarmenmarkt, 10117 Berlin
Closest transport: U Hausvogteiplatz
Entry fee: 1 euro, but if you get there early, it’s free Monday to Friday from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm
Lucia at Kulturbrauerei
This is one of my favorite Christmas markets in Berlin. It takes place in the big courtyard of Kulturbrauerei, a brick building that was once a brewery but now houses clubs, shops, and a movie theater. Different food and alcohol related events are held in the courtyard all year round, so it’s a fitting location for a Christmas market.
The Lucia market is Nordic themed, so you’ll find food and drinks with roots from countries like Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland. Think Glögg instead of Glühwein (but really not much different) and reindeer and elk instead of pork. Though you will still see traditional German fare such as sausages being cooked on a giant grill swinging over a fire pit and big greasy Kartoffelpuffer.
There’s even a stall set up in a yurt with a wood-burning stove/fireplace. The line to get in and get a seat is long, so be prepared to wait. Another area has heated seats and coats that are attached to something suspending them over the heaters.
Overall this Christmas market has a really unique and cozy vibe, and I will happily go several times throughout the season.
Address: Schönhauser Allee 36, 10435 Berlin
Closest transport: U Eberswalder Str
Entry fee: Free
Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church Christmas Market
Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church was heavily damaged during WWII. Afterwards, rather than rebuild and repair it, the church was mostly left as is to remind us all of the destruction of war.
The Christmas market here takes place in a contrasting setting among this important memorial church and modern day shopping centers. The historical atmosphere prevails at Christmastime though, and you’ll enjoy the sweet treats, tasty sausages, and of course, the mulled wine.
The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church Christmas market is one of the few markets that remains open after Christmas Day.
Address: Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Kirche, Breitscheidplatz, 10789 Berlin
Closest transport: U Kurfürstendamm, S & U Zoologischer Garten
Entry fee: Free
Rotes Rathaus Christmas market
Just a few steps from Alexanderplatz is a big Christmas market surrounding the Neptune Fountain. It’s named Rotes Rathaus for the Red Town Hall building nearby. This Christmas market has an ice skating rink, a big Ferris wheel, and lots of stalls to check out.
This isn’t the most unique market, but it’s centrally located, which makes it convenient if you’re doing some sightseeing in Mitte. I like that the nut stands have so many different kinds of candied almonds, and there are a few stalls selling homemade potato chips that are cut in front of you with a drill of all things.
You’ll have plenty of options for food, and some of the Glühwein huts have heaters. If you’re in the area, this market is better than the one in Alexanderplatz near the shopping centers.
Address: Neptunbrunnen am Alexanderplatz, Spandauer Straße, 10178 Berlin
Closest transport: U Rotes Rathaus or S & U Alexanderplatz
Entry fee: Free
Spandau Christmas Market
Spandau is a section of Berlin in the northwest corner that was once its own town. Today it still has a German village vibe that makes you almost forget you’re still in Berlin. This makes for a cozy Christmas market feeling you can’t get in the middle of the city.
The main Spandau Christmas market sprawls out among the pedestrian-only streets in the Old Town to form Berlin’s largest Christmas market. Here you’ll find sausages, sweets, and daily visits from Santa – a big hit with the kids.
Aside from the main market, there’s also a Christmas market in front of the Spandau Rathaus (town hall) and another one at the Spandau Citadel. The Citadel one has an ice rink and a nativity scene with real sheep. Christmas market in one of the best preserved Renaissance fortresses in Europe? Yes please!
Address: Kammerstraße 6, 13597 Berlin (main Christmas market)
Closest transport: U Altstadt Spandau
Entry fee: Free (all three Spandau Christmas markets are free)
Alt-Rixdorf in Neukölln
Richardplatz is in the oldest part of Neukölln, and every year during the second weekend of the Advent season, a huge Christmas market takes place here. All the vendors are from charitable and non-profit organizations, so you can be sure your money is going to a good cause.
This market has a lively community atmosphere and is quite popular. You’ll find a wide variety of international food as well as traditional German fare, and the gifts for sale are unique items you’re unlikely to find elsewhere.
The Rixdorf Christmas market gets crowded, so if you’re able to go during the day, you might have a little more breathing room. But since it only runs for one weekend, it’s never really uncrowded.
Opening dates: December 3-5, 2021
Opening times: Friday and Saturday 1 pm – 9 pm, Sunday 1 pm – 8 pm
Address: Richardplatz, 12055 Berlin
Closest transport: S Neukölln, U Karl-Marx-Straße
Entry fee: Free
Naschmarkt at Markthalle Neun
Markthalle Neun is a covered market in Kreuzberg where you can buy organic fruits, vegetables, cheese, and other products during the year. But during the Christmas season, they host a lovely Christmas market on the weekends.
The best day to go is when they have the Naschmarkt. This is a day full of sweets where almost everything on offer is chocolate, cake, pie, candy, cookies, and many other sugary items. It usually falls on the Sunday before or on December 6th, which is St. Nicholas Day, when traditionally St. Nick leaves sweets in children’s shoes.
The entrance fee is a little steep, but it’s such a fun Christmas market that I’m ok with spending it.
Address: Markthalle Neun, Eisenbahnstraße 42-43, 10997 Berlin
Closest transport: U Görlitzer Bahnhof or U Schlesisches Tor
Entry fee: 4 euros
Historischer Weihnachtsmarkt at RAW
The Historischer Weihnachtsmarkt (Historical Christmas Market) has a medieval theme, and it’s more laid back than many of the other Christmas markets in Berlin. You won’t find neon lights here, and there’s a relaxed and cozy atmosphere.
The market is tucked away in the RAW Gelände in Friedrichshain, and even though it’s not one of the more popular ones, we quite enjoy going to this one every year. They have lots of food and drink options and unique gifts, and it doesn’t feel touristy.
It’s only a few blocks away from the East Side Gallery, so if you’re in the area, check out the Historischer Weihnachtsmarkt.
Opening dates: November 18 – December 22, 2021, closed November 21, 2021
Opening times: Monday – Friday 3:00 pm – 10:00 pm, Saturday & Sunday 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Address: RAW-Gelände, Revaler Straße 99, 10245 Berlin
Closest transport: S & U Warschauer Straße, M10 & M13 trams S Warschauer Straße
Entry fee: Monday – Wednesday free, Thursday – Sunday €2
Other Christmas Markets in Berlin
Alexanderplatz: Honestly, I’m not a fan of the Alexanderplatz Christmas market. Most of what they sell is very commercial and often normal souvenirs you can get any time of year. I think you can easily skip this one, but if you happen to be nearby, maybe check it out for comparison’s sake. Free entrance.
Klunkerkranich: This hip rooftop bar hosts a quirky Christmas market where you can find unique and handmade items. It is most likely the highest Christmas market in Berlin due to its location on the roof of a shopping center, so you’ll also get some fantastic views of Berlin from above. This market takes place on weekends during the Advent season. Entrance is 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm €1, 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm: €3, 6:00 pm – close: €5.
Advent Eco Market at Kollwitzplatz: The Eco Market takes a more eco-friendly approach than the more traditional Christmas markets. Here you’ll find only regional organic and natural food traders, and gift items sold are produced in accordance with social and ecological standards. This market takes place on Sundays during the Advent season. Free entrance.
Vegan Christmas Market at Fehrbelliner Platz: For another environmentally-friendly Christmas market, check out the Vegan Christmas market. All food and drinks are vegan and organic, all tableware is non-disposable, and all Christmas decorations are plastic-free. This is also a great market for purchasing non-plastic, regional, and ecological gifts. This market takes place on weekends during the Advent season. Free entrance.
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Berlin Travel Resources
I want you to have the best trip to Berlin, and hopefully this guide to the best Christmas markets in Berlin is helpful. But there are lots more tips on the site!
Here’s what you should know before coming to Berlin. From practical tips to quirky facts about the city, it’s all in there.
Read this helpful packing list for Berlin so you know what to bring and what to wear.
You’re probably going to be using public transport to get around Berlin. Read this handy guide to Berlin’s public transport system and how to get around Berlin.
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