Berlin is one big metropolis made up of many different neighbourhoods, each with its own unique flavour. Visitors and local Berlin residents alike can discover the city from a new perspective on a day out exploring one specific district and its festive delights. Think Christmas shopping on bright boulevards, a glass of mulled wine at a Christmas market and delicious festive dining. Here are a few of our tips for days out in Berlin's 12 districts you’ll fall in love with.
Tip 1: Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf – paradise for shopaholics
The western district of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf is the perfect spot for Christmas gift-buying. Home to Berlin’s most iconic shopping boulevard, the world-famous Kurfürstendamm, it’s got plenty of gift ideas on offer. Stroll along this storied street and marvel at the displays in shop windows – you can even pick up a few decorations to adorn your own home at the Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas decoration boutique. Explore the side streets off Ku’damm to find hidden gems tucked away, like the Marga Schoeller bookshop on Knesebeckstraße or chic ladies’ fashion store meyer & nehls on Bleibtreustraße.
Of course, this isn’t the only spot in Charlottenburg that’s perfect for retail therapy: check out the Bikini Berlin concept mall with views of the zoo, or second-hand emporium Macy’z for sustainable fashion made fun. All that browsing is thirsty work – so we suggest you finish your stroll with a cup of mulled wine and a wander around the beautiful Berlin Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz. Simply magical.
Shopping street spotlight:
How about a detour into the side streets? Discover the delights of Knesebeckstraße, Bleibtreustraße and Mommsenstraße. Kantstraße with all it's international restaurants is also worth a visit.
Tip 2: Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg – the capital of cool
Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg in the east of Berlin have long been the epitome of the capital’s effortless cool. Kreuzberg’s bars and restaurants usually take the spotlight, but it’s a great place for shopping, too – from crate-digging for the best buys to browsing the achingly cool vintage emporia. Start your day out with a visit to a Berlin Christmas market with a difference: the alternative Heissa Holzmarkt, where you can browse quirky gifts and art and enjoy tasty street food by the Spree. Then hop on your bike or public transport and head towards Boxhagener Platz to check out some of Berlin’s hippest brick-and-mortar stores. Discover HHV’s eclectic mix of vinyl and streetwear, sustainable gifts from GoodBuy, handmade jewellery from Pictofactum and stylish paper to wrap it all in from Schwesterherz. Then you can party the night away in Kreuzberg or Friedrichshain safe in the knowledge that your Christmas shopping is sorted. Pretty cool.
Keep on shopping in Kreuzbergs vibrant and festive Bergmannstraße.
Tip 3: Lichtenberg – family days out off the beaten track
Lovely Lichtenberg is the perfect spot for a festive day out with the family away from the hustle and bustle. It’s home to the city’s thrilling Tierpark zoo – perfect for a crisp winter’s day discovering the animals. Make sure to reserve yourself a ticket with timeslot reservation for the magical world of Weinachten im Tierpark, when the paths around Schloss Friedrichsfelde are illuminated with festive lights. In the evening the Gifts galore can be found at the Tierpark gift shop, while the nearby Tierpark shopping centre also plays host to a regular market selling delicious produce. For a little cultural cool, bring the day to a close with a visit to the stunning Mies van der Rohe Haus – a sleek architectural marvel designed in the 1930s.
Tip 4: Marzahn-Hellersdorf – good for the goose – and good for a gander
Marzahn-Hellersdorf is a largely residential district of Berlin, but it’s home to a few fantastic hidden gems, too. Head off the beaten track to discover its delights on a unique festive day out. Start out with a crisp winter wander through the Gärten der Welt, an international botanic garden inspired by different gardening traditions around the world, featuring its very own hedge maze. It’s the perfect place to while away the hours exploring the magic of the natural world. Then take a trip to the Weihnachtshaus for a touch of festive cheer. When it comes to Christmas shopping, there’s something very special you can pick up nearby: your Christmas goose. Bring home a bird from Biesdorf butcher Gans Einfach, which specialises in delicious Christmas roasts you can pop in the oven on the big day.
Tip 5: Mitte – hidden gems in the heart of the action
Marvellous Mitte is home to some of Berlin’s most popular attractions, from the iconic Brandenburg Gate to Museum Island. It’s also a chic spot to do your Christmas shopping: vast boulevards, magnificent malls and iconic department stores rub shoulders with the cute independent boutiques at Hackesche Höfe. Start your day soaking in the atmosphere of its quirky little courtyards and browsing independent fashion at Blutsgeschwister and Wunderwerk, unique porcelain at KPM and stunning jewellery from Schmuckwerk.
Stroll through pretty Monbijoupark and along the banks of the river Spree to reach Friedrichstraße, where you can take your Christmas shopping to the next level at the impressive Mall of Berlin and stunning Galeries Lafayette. When you need a little breather, stop off at literary emporium Dussmann to pick up a book and have a coffee and a read in their welcoming café. When you’re ready to soak up more of Mitte’s festive magic, head to the iconic Gendarmenmarkt and browse luxurious handicrafts and delicious delicacies at the magnificent WeihnachtsZauber Christmas market.
For another Shopping street spotlight head over to Torstraße.
Tip 6: Neukölln – a multicultural hub for ethical cool
Neukölln is fast overtaking Kreuzberg as Berlin’s capital of cool. The city’s most diverse district has always done things a little differently. Now a multicultural magnet for new Berliners, it has a fascinating history distinct from the rest of the city. Immerse yourself in the charm of old Neukölln and head down to Richardplatz in the neighbourhood’s historic centre to check out a local Berlin institution: the Alt-Rixdorfer Christmas Market. Here you can pick up a wide selection of wonderful gifts and treats, exclusively from charities and non-profit organisations. This market is all about giving back – very fitting for this tight-knit Berlin community. If you’re feeling lucky, you can take home a horseshoe from the historic smithy on the square as a souvenir while you’re at it. Once you’ve bagged your unique gifts at the market, take a tour of some of the district’s finest second-hand and sustainable Christmas shopping spots. Check out Repeater for vintage fashion, Wesen and The Good Store for sustainable design, Antiquariat am Hermannplatz for rare books and Ekstase 51 for vintage interior decor.
Explore nearby: Reuterkiez
Tip 7: Pankow and Prenzlauer Berg – sustainable style for all the family
Pankow is a Berlin district where everyone feels at home: it’s a creative and cosmopolitan corner of the city with a warm and welcoming feel. It’s no wonder that many young families have chosen to make this area – and its Prenzlauer Berg neighbourhood in particular – their home. With lots of quirky independent shops and businesses, it’s a lovely spot for a festive day out, taking in two of the most creative and exciting Berlin Christmas markets. Start off on Kollwitzplatz at the Advent Eco Market – a green festive institution offering an eco-friendly and ethical alternative to classic Christmas-related consumption. Then make your way to the Lucia Christmas Market at the Kulturbrauerei arts centre for Scandinavian-inspired festive flavour. Try traditional Scandinavian delicacies like reindeer salami, warm up in the mobile sauna or sip a cup of good old glögg – the Nordic answer to glühwein. Once you’ve explored the flavours of Scandinavia, it’s time to explore Prenzlauer Berg with a little stroll around some of the area’s best independent shops: Kleine Fabrik, Blumenfisch, Guru Shop, Zweimalschön, Kleid und Schuh and C3 to name just a few.
If you want to continue shopping, explore nearby the area around Kastanienallee, Kollwitzplatz and Helmholtzkiez.
Tip 8: Spandau – traditional Christmas markets and historic old town charm
Step back in time and immerse yourself in local Berlin history in the iconic neighbourhood of Spandau. Renowned for its atmospheric alleyways and fascinating blend of architectural styles from different periods, Spandau’s world-famous old town is a living testament to Berlin’s fascinating history. Stroll down the narrow streets peeping into old-fashioned shop windows and imagining yourself in times gone by. Then head to this year’s edition of the district’s famous Christmas market, taking place in the incredible surroundings of the Spandau Citadel, to browse gifts and crafts while you sip on a mug of mulled wine. Afterwards, you can bring your Christmas shopping trip in this corner of Berlin bang up to date with a visit to bustling Klosterstraße and the Spandau Arcaden shopping mall – a commercial centre that’s home to all the big brands.
Tip 9: Reinickendorf – a leafy oasis
Reinickendorf is a leafy and lovely corner of Berlin that still bears traces of the village it once was. Home to the Tegeler Forst woodland, it’s the perfect place for an atmospheric winter bike ride along the Tegeler Fließ stream. Take a stroll along lakeside Greenwich Promenade before hopping on two wheels to whiz through the woods. Then head to Frohnau, a picturesque area in the north of the district that recalls the peace and tranquillity of an English garden and has long inspired artists and creatives with its charming listed buildings. This area lights up on the first weekend of December with a vibrant Berlin Christmas market dedicated to artisanal produce. Grab a mulled wine and a bratwurst and shop gifts made by over 120 talented local Berlin makers. If it’s chilly out and you fancy doing some retail therapy indoors, you can head to the Hallen am Borsigturm, a modern urban shopping centre in the heart of this little paradise.
Tip 10: Steglitz-Zehlendorf – an ethical alternative
Steglitz-Zehlendorf is a local Berlin district with lots of surprises. A mix of urban charm and leafy tranquillity, it also boasts the city’s biggest shopping street away from Ku’damm: the impressive Schlossstraße. This famed shopping boulevard is also home to a magnificent light display each Christmas and is well worth a wander to catch it in its festive finery. It’s also home to Das Schloss, a palatial shopping centre that’s packed with great spots to pick up your Christmas gifts – including the Haus der guten Taten, or ‘House of good deeds’, that’s all about the true spirit of Christmas. Run by the COEO organisation, it sells items made by people with disabilities and ethical and Fairtrade products. Head outside the centre to make your own gifts from Werken Spielen Schenken. Away from the hustle and bustle, Steglitz offers a Christmas shopping trip with a twist to remind you what the season is all about.
Tip 11: Tempelhof-Schöneberg – discover community spirit, Berlin-style
Tempelhof-Schöneberg is a West Berlin district with a vibrant history. Now with a distinctly handsome and upmarket feel, this storied district was once home to West Berlin’s counterculture and favoured by legendary rock’n’rollers like Iggy Pop, Nick Cave and David Bowie. It’s lost none of its spirit of openness and tolerance. The area around Nollendorfplatz is a hub for the city’s thriving LGBTIQ+ scene, with plenty of shops and businesses nearby serving the community. It’s also home to a Berlin Christmas market of its very own: Christmas Avenue, an LGBTIQ+-friendly Christmas market with its own series of thought-provoking events, LGBTIQ* Winterdays, designed to entertain and raise awareness of issues affecting the community.
Once you’ve checked out the market, head to nearby Goltzstraße, a street lined with cafés and restaurants with a relaxed and convivial community atmosphere. For Christmas gifts, check out Vaditim for high-end jeans and trainers, Winterfeldt Schokoladen for sweet treats, Nordliebe for Scandinavian design and Leon Lazar for watches and jewellery. Find more shops on beautiful Akazienstraße.
Tip 12: Treptow-Köpenick – visit Christmas Island in a charming corner of the city with its own character
This vast district in the south-east of the city is a beautiful spot whose relatively remote location gives it a distinctive feel. The stunning jewel in its crown is the charming Köpenick old town. Its historic streets are an incredibly atmospheric place to spend a winter day out. Wander around the old town stopping at charming little cafés, visit the handsome Schloss Köpenick palace by the river Dahme and check out the Christmas Island market on the palace island. If you’re lucky, you might even catch the ceremonial cutting of the market’s famous two-metre stollen. For local gifts beyond the market, check out MiaZAYA and CJ-32 for fashion, and Dein Kiez for souvenirs of your day out.