Come winter, and visitors realise there's much to do in Berlin! Dive into worldclass museums, sip on Glühwein or soak in the unhurried pace of Berlin's surrounding villages. Enjoy your wintry soujourn with these 12 winter tips for 12 Berlin neighbourhoods.
1. Mitte: An artsy stroll
Retreat from the Christmas rush to the artsy bylanes of Auguststrasse. The KW Institute of Contemporary Art boasts a constantly changing program, hosting exhibitions by national and international artists. A wealth of indie galleries are represented here. While you are here, a delicious hot chocolate at Mitte's art-themed bistros and cafés is in order.
2. Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg: The experimental heart of Berlin
The heart of Kreuzberg, Bergmannstrasse is a colourful affair with its lively markets and quirky second-hand shops. Stalls at the historic Markthalle showcase their garments and food items at attractive prices. Make sure you savour culinary delights from as far as Turkey, Thailand and Mexico. Truly, no one leaves Bergmannstrasse without a juicy bargain.
3. Neukölln: Step back in time
Neukölln is home to one of Berlin's best-kept secrets, the Rixdorf on Richardplatz with its pretty flower beds and well-kept backyards. A popular winter highlight is the Alt-Rixdorf Christmas market. Trees are decked in festive lights throwing a wonderful warm glow around. In keeping with the spirit of Christmas, charitable associations come to support the market the second Sunday of Advent. Witness a Christmas tale unfold in the heart of Berlin.
4. Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf: Original ideas for your Christmas gifts
Give your loved ones something different this year. Germany's first concept mall Bikini Berlin houses a line-up of original boutiques and flagship stores. Wooden pop-up boxes allow young entrepreneurs to showcase their wares on a temporary basis. There are constant bargains to be had particularly during Christmas time. The mall's rooftop faces the monkey enclosure of the zoo. A drink at their Monkey Bar might be fun.
5. Steglitz-Zehlendorf: A nature lover's dream
Zehlendorf's Botanic Garden is just what founder Adolf Engler envisions in 1889: the 'world in a garden'. Discover 22,000 plant species from as far as the ancient Himalayas, East Asia, Africa and the tropics. Escape winter's chill at the cosy Tropical Greenhouse with cocktails and music under the swaying palm trees. The garden also organises the winter-time Seasonal Trails for those interested in plants of diverse ecosystems. And in Winter time the garden will turn into a magical Christmas garden.
6. Tempelhof-Schönefeld: All ye sweet-toothed folks
Housed inside a turn-of-the-century former cigar shop, the culinary concept store Süsskramdealer won't let down chocoholics. The owner himself embarks on a quest for the best chocolates, and he personally makes recommendations for those overwhelmed by the sheer choice on offer. Stay for a hot chocolate at their lovely café.
7. Reinickendorf: Glorious winter walks
Reinickendorf is Berlin's favourite borough for winter walks. Zeltinger Square and Ludolfingerplatz are home to intriguing star-shaped streets and garden villas. To the east of Frohnau is the lakeside village of Lübars. Pop into the Lübars Youth Farm to say hello to the pigs and sheep. Tegeler See, meanwhile, shines with its pleasure boats. Noteworthy attractions in this district include Humboldt Castle, the Tegel Forest, and 'Fat Marie', Berlin's oldest tree named after the Humboldt brothers' plump kitchen maid.
8. Spandau: The cosy side of Berlin
Rich in history, the Spandau quarter beckons for a pleasurable winter walk. The old quarter of Kolkviertel still houses remnants of the medieval city walls, and half-timbered houses dating to the 18th and 19th centuries. The red brick St. Mary's Church is an excellent example of Romanesque revival architecture.
9. Pankow: Visit the original Schönhausen Palace
Pankow is a must-visit for its Baroque-style Schönhausen Palace, summer residence of the Prussian kings. In 1989-90 discussions about the reunification of Germany take place at the palace's historic 'Central Round Table'. In the following decades, dignitaries such as Gandhi and Gadaffi are guests here. The palace today extends a warm welcome to all visitors.
Visit the palace with the Berlin Welcome Card
10. Lichtenberg: The Mies van der Rohe House
Set on the shores of the tranquil Obersee, the home of the acclaimed Bauhaus architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is today a modern gallery which proposes an exciting line-up of modern exhibitions. Following a thorough refurbishment, the house and its beautifully landscaped gardens on the lakefront are now a recreational site for visitors to Berlin.
11. Marzahn-Hellersdorf: Journey back to the past
Set out on a winter walk through the borough's winding paths until the 200-year-old Mahlsdorf Manor House slowly comes into sight. Gründerzeitmuseum at Gutshaus Mahlsdorf invites visitors into its historic interiors where century-old furnishings, cast iron furnaces, grandfather clocks and even laundry sets await. The collection is compiled by Charlotte von Mahlsdorf (1928–2002) who opens the museum in the manor house.
12. Treptow-Köpenick: An idyllic sojourn on Berlin's outskirts
The old town of Köpenick lies indulgently on the confluence of the rivers Dahme and Spree. Discover centuries-old houses in this 'green lung' of Berlin. Of particular mention is the town hall which is taken over in 1906 by shoemaker Wilhelm Voigt who masquerades as a Prussian official. The incident is immortalised in Carl Zuckmayer's play, The Captain of Köpenick.
More about Berlin's districts
More about Christmas in Berlin