It’s cold and dark, the trees are bare in the Tiergarten - winter has arrived. This doesn't mean we need to hibernate - quite the opposite. Berlin in winter is a wonderful place to explore. There are all kinds of opportunities to enjoy the season, from Christmas concerts and markets, to lovely winter walks and cosy cafes. Wrap up warm, and let us take you through some of our top tips for this most wonderful time of the year:
Please show responsibility when you are on the road, wear your masks and follow the hygiene rules of the organizers. Don't be shy, but show your love for Berlin with d i s t a n c e - in support of everyones safety.
Tip 1: Explore the Berlin Christmas Markets
This year, the good news is that the Berlin Christmas markets will reopen with the help of appropriate Covid-prevention measures. These include rules for keeping your distance and wearing a mask, tickets with time slot reservation and limited visitor numbers. We can once again look forward to the sights, sounds and smells of the countless markets open to visitors. Browse the festive stalls, stop for a mulled wine (Glühwein) and soak up the wonderful festive spirit. Depending on your mood you can choose from a wide variety of markets.
When: from 18 November 2021
Where: Various places
Tip 2: Experience the Christmas lights on Kufürstendamm
The Christmas lighting on Kurfürstendamm (Ku’damm to locals) is a real highlight of the season. From the end of November until early January, this famous shopping mile will blaze with over 500 illuminated trees. Familiar Christmas figures such as a huge Nutcracker and Santa Claus will once again decorate the boulevard, together with a 10-meter-high Christmas tree and other festive motifs. Lit daily from 16-24 hrs, visitors can take a break from Christmas shopping to enjoy this 4.5km long lighting extravaganza.
Where: Kufürstendamm, Charlottenburg
Tip 3: Take a winter walk
Walking in Berlin on a winter’s day can be a fantastic experience. In crisp weather with a bright winter sun, there is so much to see and explore. Remember to get out early though, it gets dark quickly.
Here are a few walks we recommend:
Exploring Schlachtensee lake
Located in the district of Zehlendorf and easily accessible, Schlachtensee lake is one of Berliners’ most loved and, up until recently, best-kept secrets. It’s a large beautiful lake, surrounded by trees and borders the Grunewald forest on its west side. A small path leads all the way around its 5km circumference. If you need a coffee or hot chocolate to warm you up, stop off at the lovely Fischerhütte restaurant.
Start: At Paul Ernst Park by S-Bahn station Schlachtensee (S1)
Experience Mitte from the river Spree
Meandering through the heart of the city, the river Spree seems like an oasis of quiet. It’s a perfect place to walk and take in a waterside view of Berlin’s famous landmarks. It’s particularly beautiful in the late afternoon when the sun illuminates many of the buildings.
Start at the Weidendammer Brücke near Friedrichstraße station, on the north side of the river (across the river from the Melia Hotel). Head east along the small river path. You’ll soon be looking across at the impressive Museum Island, housing the Pergamon, New Museum and Bode Museum. A little further on, comes the Berlin Cathedral and the newly built Humboldt Forum. The tour ends at the Rathhausbrücke. Here you can either cross the bridge to the island and explore the Humboldt Forum, or visit the nearby historic Nikolaiviertel.
Start: By the Weidendammer Brücke, near Friedrichstraße Station
Explore the historical Wall trail
The Wall trail follows the course of the former Berlin wall. It is 160km long and is broken down into 14 stages of varying distances. An interesting and central route through the city is the 7km from Nordbahnhof station to Potsdamer Platz. You’ll pass a number of sights such as the Zionskirche, Hamburger Bahnhof museum of modern art, Natural History Museum, the Reichstag, Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Martin Gropius Bau and the Sony Center.
Start: S-Bahn station Nordbahnhof, Mitte.
Tip 4: Enjoy Christmas Concerts
It would not be Christmas without some festive concerts. This year, thankfully, we can now enjoy them live once again. Whether it’s the Nutcracker Ballet, acapella choirs or atmospheric Church singers, enjoy your favourite advent music in unforgettable locations throughout the city.
Tip 5: Visit cosy cafes
Berlin is famous for its lively cafe culture. On a cold winter’s day there is nothing nicer than slipping into a cosy cafe for a coffee, hot chocolate or slice of cake. Savour the atmosphere, while you plan your next activity
Where: different places
Tip 6: Take part in the New Year’s Eve Run (Silvesterlauf)
Concerned about your calorie intake over the festive period? Want to justify those extra few beers and treats? The Silvesterlauf is just the ticket. Instead of just ringing in the new year, you can run it in too. This end of the year sporting highlight is a (6.3 or 10km) family fun run, which takes place in Grunewald. The route takes in Teufelsberg Hill, where you can enjoy breathtaking views over Berlin. If you're feeling energetic, include the second peak, the Drachenfliegerberg (literally the Kite-Flying Hill) to complete the 10km.
Costumes are encouraged and prizes are awarded for the most original adult or children’s costume. Every runner receives a doughnut at the finish - hence the race’s other nickname ‘Pfannkuchenlauf’. And all participants can also look forward to a sparkling or mulled wine, and much needed warm showers.
Part of the proceeds from the run will go to the WWF to help support endangered forests and stop deforestation.
When: 31 December 2021
Where: the Berlin New Year's Eve Run starts opposite the Mommsen Stadium at Waldschulallee 34, Zehlendorf
Tip 7: Go Christmas shopping
When Christmas Shopping in Berlin, you are spoiled for choice. In streets such as Kufürstendam, Friedrichstraße or Schloßstraße, to name but a few, you’ll find everything on your Christmas list. Keep out of the cold by visiting the large shopping centers like Potsdamer Platz Arkaden, the Alexa beside Alexander Platz or the impressive Mall of Berlin. Browse in comfort for that perfect Christmas gift and enjoy the festively decorated stores.
Berlin trendiest fashion labels can be found around the area of Hackescher Markt, Alte Schönhauser Straße and MulackStraße. If you want to buy luxury items for Christmas, Friedrichstraße has many stores to choose from, such as the elegant Parisian department store Galeries Lafayette. Nearby is Quartier 206 with its exclusive boutiques and international fashion labels.
Where: Various locations in Berlin
Tip 8: Visit a museum
The dark winter period is a perfect time to visit Berlin’s museums and institutions, which are thankfully all open again. And 2021 is an exciting year for Berlin cultural life with new museums and spectacular reopenings in its historic center. Discover current exhibitions at some of Berlin's top museums, such as the DDR Museum, the Museum of Natural History, the Jewish Museum and Museum Island with its fascinating collections of archaeology and art.
Where: Museumsinsel: Bodestraße 1-3, Mitte
Tip 9: The skates are waiting: ice skating in Berlin
Ice skating is also a winter highlight in the big city. Maybe you're just learning to skate, want to teach your kids or are just looking forward to doing a few pirouettes on the ice: Grab your skates and explore the ice rink at the Neptunbrunnen in front of the Rotes Rathaus or at the Neukölln ice stadium. A tip to really enjoy the ice-skating season: Find out in advance about the rinks' current Corona regulations.
Where: Various locations in Berlin
Tip 10: Celebrating Christmas
The magic of Christmas also settles over bright Berlin. If you spend Christmas in Berlin with your loved ones, you can enjoy the contemplative atmosphere in the big city. The adventurous can also look forward to many family-friendly activities on Christmas Eve and the holidays: whether it's a church service, a Christmas concert or a cabaret.
Where: Various locations in Berlin
Tip 11: Christmas Carol singing at FC Union
A yearly tradition since 2003, this event is now firmly fixed in the Club’s calendar. From just a handful of fans, it’s popularity has soared over the years. If you manage to get a ticket, a unique and moving Christmas experience awaits you. The club anthem "Eisern Union" opens the event at 7pm and is combined with familiar Christmas carols, such as, "Silent Night" and "O Tannenbaum". The stadium is dark, lit only by the thousands of hand-held candles from the audience, who sing along with the choir and brass band on the stage. Football fan or not, you will be moved by the magic of so many voices singing festive songs in harmony.
When: Am 23 December 2021 from 7:00 p.m.
Where: Stadion an der Alten Försterei: An der Wuhlheide 263, 12555 Berlin