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Planning to visit the Christmas markets in Berlin? Or maybe you’re dreaming about it…

With the holidays being in full swing, I thought I’d recap one of my best Christmas trips abroad that led into the New Year. It all started when my then-boyfriend and I visited his home in Germany for the holidays. Berlin is when I officially fell in love with Europe at Christmas.

In this blog, I share how enchanting Germany’s capital is over the holiday season with delicious delicacies, twinkly lights, and the sweet smell of mulled wine creating a magical experience like no other. I’ll give some ideas for German Christmas markets you can visit in Berlin and a great hotel that’s conveniently located near the Christmas markets.

In this blog, I share…

  • An American Girl Dreams of a European Christmas
  • Flight to Germany
  • Train to Berlin
  • What are the holidays like in Berlin Like?
  • Christmas markets in Berlin
  • Overall Christmas market experience in Berlin
  • Where to stay in Berlin for German Christmas markets
  • Non holiday things to do in Berlin
  • Map of Berlin points of interest

But, if someone you’re traveling with is not a Christmas enthusiast like you and I… (eye roll)… or, doesn’t celebrate… later in the blog, I mention Non-Holiday Related Activities Near Westin Grand Berlin that you can enjoy too. I also share my Google Maps list as well so you can plan your trip.

I hope to inspire you to go! Let’s dive right in!

An American Girl Dreams of a European Christmas

When I was a little girl, I would sit on my bed, flip through magazines, and plan my epic European Christmas. If I came across something cutesy and Christmasy, I’d scan the page for the name of the city and write it down. Of course, this way before the days of Pinterest.

Remember when we were that adorable? I couldn’t wait for the day when I was grown up enough to actually plan a trip. Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure that was the moment I manifested being a travel blogger!

What’s not to love about charming historic towns with twinkly lights and garlands decorating the streets, little bakeries and shops with big wreaths on the doors… and snow-covered cottages…

As it turns out, the adorable markets we’ve all seen in magazines and Hallmark Christmas movies actually do exist. Thank goodness… Imagine having to go back in time and tell your “little me” that those scenes were just staged… Oye.. Little hearts would be broken all over the world.

The Christmas markets I was determined to find on this trip to Berlin looked like they could be from a storybook complete with carousels, skating rinks, ornate steins of glühwein, hot cocoa, and shops with delicious sweets, handcrafted ornaments and nutcrackers.

“My Christmas present to myself each year is to see how much travel can open up the world and take me to places as far from sheltered California … as possible.”

Pico Iyer

A Trip to Germany Over the Holidays

One of the great things about having a European boyfriend is that I always had many great opportunities to visit Europe, particularly Germany… at Christmastime. It’s so interesting to see how the US and Germany’s Christmas traditions compare to each other.

Not to mention, having him speak the language, everything was much easier. If you’re not hitched already, get yourself a European boyfriend ladies! 😉

Traveling to Berlin, Germany: Here I Come!

Whether you’re a history buff who likes exploring the many historical sites and museums of a city or are a big foodie like myself and want to eat your way through every street vendor and Ratskeller in the city, there’s something for everyone in Berlin….  

I’ll create a guide for Berlin in another blog, although I do mention some highlights later in this blog. For now, let’s gush about the Christmas markets in Berlin! 

The Flight to Germany

I took a Delta / KLM flight from Boston to Dusseldorf via Amsterdam. I’ve always liked flying with Delta/KLM.

It’s not as luxurious an airline as say, Singapore Airlines or Lufthansa First-Class.. but I’ve found them to be better than the other airlines leaving from the US. Plus, Delta got me to my destination safely and on time over the holidays so no complaints.

I have so many horror travel stories I could tell you about Amsterdam.. just bad luck I guess.. I’ll save that for another time but let’s just say I was relieved at finally having a smooth layover… just 1 hour as promised.

Pro Tip: During Winter, Amsterdam is known to have a lot of cancelled flights due to weather. Plan accordingly. I’d recommend getting to your final destination a day or so early. Things happen, be prepared like a pro!

Arriving in Germany at Last…

When I finally arrived at Dusseldorf Airport, I was pleasantly surprised to find how festive it was! They even had an ice skating rink! 

After visits with Mr. X’s family in his hometown outside Dusseldorf, we hopped on a train and headed to Berlin, where we’d be staying for several days to celebrate the holidays and welcome the new year!

Christmas treet | Dusseldorf airport at Christmas
ice skating at Dusseldorf airport at Christmas

Train to Berlin: Berlin Central Station

5 star element

How did we get to Berlin? By train of course! Berlin Hauptbahnhof (Berlin Central Station) is Europe’s largest train station.

The train ride was comfortable. They also had a food counter with decent food, actually. I got a curry sandwich and a beer.. because, ya know, you’re in Germany. 

The train station was beautifully decorated for Christmas and very big! Lots of stores and food options. Located in the heart of Berlin, close to many tourist attractions and hotels on foot. We caught a cab from the train station to the hotel which was only a few minutes away.

What are the Holidays like in Berlin Like?

Although I wouldn’t know from personal experience, I hear that Berlin is great any time of year… I can see why. It’s one of those cities I found myself not wanting to leave. So much so that I found myself asking whether I wanted to become a Berliner one day… 😉

But, Berlin over the holidays? Even more fun… and pretty. I loved how the city came to life with charming Christmas markets all over the city, each unique to its location.

New Year’s Eve is equally spectacular but in a completely different way. The city has a massive party at Brandenburg Gate every year that goes on for a mile! It’s basically the equivalent of watching the ball drop in NYC’s Times Square.. only, fireworks all over the city as well! It’s pretty spectacular.


New Years in Hamburg, Germany

If you’re planning Christmas in Berlin, take a trip to Hamburg for New Years which is less than 2 hours.


geeves at Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market Berlin
Gendarmenmarkt

A German Tradition: Christmas Markets in Berlin

A thing about the Germans? They know how to do Christmas! It’s an amazing spectacle to witness. They really value tradition, especially at Christmas

The tradition of German Christmas markets have been around since the 16th c. Many Germans argue about what constitutes an “authentic market”. It’s a whole east vs. west vs. south vs. north thing.

Whose Christmas markets are better in Germany? I can only speak for the ones I’ve experienced in Berlin… But would love to go to markets all over the country one day!

There are so many names for Christmas markets in Germany…

  • Christkindlesmarkt
  • Christkindlemarkt
  • Adventmarkt
  • Christkindlmarkt
  • Glühweinmarkt
  • Striezelmarkt
  • or Weihnachtsmarkt…
Christkindl Market, Chicago
Christkindl Market, Chicago

In my blog, Chicago at Christmastime, A Train Stop in Chicago I talk about what I thought about Christkindl Market, which was Chicago’s take on the real Christmas markets in Germany. Now that I’ve been to the real thing, it’s silly to think how excited I was when I saw that one.

Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market Berlin
Gendarmenmarkt

Christmas Markets in Berlin, Germany

If you’re in Germany at Christmastime without having stopped by a Christmas market, were you even there at all?

I love how a lot of Berlin’s markets are open way before in November and even after Christmas. If you’re like me, you enjoy stretching out the holiday for as long as possible! 

If you want a classy and elegant Christmas market…

Gendarmenmarkt is located on a lovely square that houses the German and French Cathedral as well as Shinkel’s Konzerthaus, Berlin’s national theatre, and a famous concert hall.

Can you say charming?! This market stole my heart and ended up being my favorite! It had a more classic, romantic feel to it. It’s the kind of storybook traditional Christmas village you’d expect Germany to have yet, it’s classy and sophisticated. I was in awe of it all.

When is the Market Open?

From Advent until New Year.

Special Offerings:

The market had everything… from live performances (plays and a choir) to adorable foodie finds like cafes and little popup fondue restaurants in heated tents with white fur throw blankets to keep you warm.

The restaurants had a very cozy interior that made you feel like you were in a ski chalet. There was no shortage of foodie finds in the market… fresh cheese assortments… desserts… traditional German fare and vendor booths throughout serving gluhwein.

They also had an abundance of craftsmen, dressmakers, and local artists selling hand-carved wood trinkets and signature German souvenirs. To go with it, I also got some Mutzenmandeln (little German almond donuts) a.k.a. “Mutz”.. which is far cuter to say, don’t you think?

They were warm, sugary, and delicious. Perfect chilly evening treat. I ate them while watching a show. They had cute Christmas performances you could stand and watch for free which was great! One of them was a funny dance routine.. and there was singing too. There was also a woman dressed in costume walking around the market on stilts and giving little gifts to children which was super cute.

Gendarmenmarkt_Christmas Market Berlin Play
Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market Berlin Gluhwein
I got several mugs to take home as souvenirs after finishing my gluhwein!

For More Info

Visit their website here. If you want a Christmas market that’s less elegant and more fun and sporty.

Review of Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market

I was really happy with this market. It was elegant, classy, festive and had many special offerings like foodie finds and Christmas shows. The square that the market is held in is lovely. The whole experience was charming.

Potsdamer Platz Christmas Market

They’re both located right next to the Mall of Berlin and SONY Center (which is has a pretty cool setup in itself, more on that later). Potsdamer Platz used to be a wasteland. Now, it’s a popular nightlife and shopping district with lots to explore!

After taking a stroll, I stumbled upon their two-holiday attractions, Christmas Market and Winter World (“Winterwelt”). I absolutely loved the Wintery setup! It was a nice change in scenery from the Gendarmenmarkt.

Potsdamer Platz Winter World Tobbogga

When is it Open?

Beginning of December to the beginning of January.

Special Offerings

Potsdamer Platz Winter World Tobbogga
Before

If the last market was charming, this market was sporty and fun! They had a lot of fun things to do. Like an open-air ice rink (free of charge), curling, a large toboggan which you better believe I did! It’s actually the largest toboggan in Europe!

After

It brought out the kid in me! Sadly, I did it all alone… Since my bf refused to act 5 years old with me. ☹ But, he did make up for it by getting some gluhwein, which you can’t get enough of at a German Christmas market. 😉

Potsdamer Platz Christmas Market Gluhwein

It was just as delicious as the ones I had before. Of course, I saved the mug as a souvenir as well. The one thing each market had in common is gluhwein!!

The market also had a lot of foodie options to choose from.. schnitzels, pretzels, baked goods, sweets, candies, souvenirs.

Potsdamer Platz Christmas Market Gluhwein

You can hang around in the evenings for the apres-ski party and live DJ on the weekends. You could also enjoy Austrian delights in one of the Schmankerl or Salzburger Stiegl Alm wooden huts which were very authentic experience.

FUN FACT

Gluhwein literally translates to “glow-wine”. You’ll totally be glowing in the chilly night’s air after a mug of this delicious mulled wine.

They also had a very traditional German restaurant.. as well as food vendors and little shops that sold sweets and souvenirs.

Potsdamer christmas market rides

They had kiddie rides too!

Funny Story

One of the songs they played at the market was Cisco’s “Thong Song”.. as the kids were riding the carousel, you could hear it. No one seemed to care.. We couldn’t stop laughing though!! It was in English so I wonder if all the words were understood by the locals…

More Info

Visit Potsdamer Platz Christmas market & Winter World’s websites.

Attractions Near Potsdamer Platz Christmas Market

  • Sony Center
    3 star element

I was curious to see what else Potsdamer Platz had to offer… Afterward, my boyfriend and I went to the SONY Center since it was right next door…

Turns out, it’s super cute! They had a very festive display which was great for a quick photo op.

Berlin Sony Center at Chrimas
Berlin Sony Center at Chrimas
  • Sony Center
    5 star element

Then, we went to The Mall of Berlin. I was dying to stock up on some German candies and cheeses.

Potsdamer Platz Cotton Candy Clouds
mall of berlin a christmas

It never ceases to amaze me how freaking inexpensive European food is compared to the US.

I once went to a German grocery store and was able to get food for a charcuterie & cheese platter that usually would have cost me anywhere between $6 & $9/cheese and salami.. I could get 5x the amount of food for the same price. SO crazy!

berlin wall at potsdamer platz

After shopping, we checked out the streets of Potsdamer Platz. The area has been redeveloped as the new center of Berlin. There’s so much history. Part of the Berlin wall is on display there.

berlin wall at potsdamer platz

Funny Story

My boyfriend told me I should touch the wall.. and I thought, “Hey.. that’s cool, I can say I got to touch the Berlin wall!” and then I touch it and I’m like, “It’s so much softer than I thought it would be”…

Then I look closer and it’s freaking gum! Ucckkkk… I was so grossed out. 😜 Meanwhile, he couldn’t stop laughing.

Review of Potsdamer Platz

I loved how they were both located next to other activities such as Mall of Berlin and SONY Center.

Christmas Market:

Was festive.. had gluhwein, souvenirs, and food. I enjoyed Winter World more than the market however.

Winter World: It’s absolutely wonderful if you want a little something fun to do, not just Christmas related. I enjoyed the Winter set up. It was festive but also gave a little something unique that I wasn’t expecting in a Christmas market with the tobbaggan which was so fun!


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Alexanderplatz has a lot of tourist attractions in the area and a bucketload of history. You could easily spend a whole day there walking around.

This Christmas Market I spent all of 5 minutes at. I wasn’t too impressed with the environment or the offerings. It wasn’t unique in my opinion.. and not as charming as the last 2 markets.

But who knows.. you may disagree with me and absolutely love it.

Special Offerings

I’d say, the big draw here was the ice skating rink.

ice skating ring at alexanderplatz christmas market

I also saw that they had a restaurant nearby. It was very commercial in the area.. tourist shops and whatnot. Maybe that’s why I didn’t fall in love. It didn’t feel like a Christmas atmosphere.

When is it Open?

Beg. of Dec to end of Dec.

For More Info

Visit Alexanderplatz’s Christmas market website here.

Review of Alexanderplatz Christmas Market

I was very unimpressed.. actually, that’s an understatement.. it killed my Christmas mood. I’m happy this wasn’t the first market I went to or I would have been very disappointed.

My Christmas Market in Berlin Experience Overall…

If you’re looking for a Wintery destination to spend a lovely Christmas, check out the Christmas markets in Berlin. I’m not ashamed to admit that I would travel there just for the markets. It’s truly special.

I can see why “little me” planned for this moment in her journal all those years ago. I may not be that little girl anymore but, having traveled all over, I realize that each destination has its own charm during the holidays.

That’s what I love about travel. It’s what makes Christmas special in each part of the world!

I will continue to come back for Christmas in Germany. It never gets old.

Where to Stay in Berlin, Germany: Westin Grand Berlin

4 star element

I have two main deciding factors when choosing my hotels.

The first is whether the hotel is a Marriott property, where I’m a member.

He and I both collectively have Marriott Bonvoy points so, we try to utilize them as often as we can. Since Marriott has over 6,500 properties for us to choose from, we always have a lot of options and are usually really satisfied with our hotel choice.

My second deciding factor is whether the hotel is close to attractions. I don’t know about you but, I like to spend my time enjoying a place rather than getting to that place… lol.

So, I was happy with our stay at Westin Grand Berlin for the location alone. We were very close to many of the city’s main attractions which I mention below.

In summary, it wasn’t a luxurious stay but we were very comfortable and happy with the customer service. The big benefit here was the convenient location. Also, the breakfast was fantastic and it was a lovely setting. They had a Christmasy atmosphere in the hotel. Many amenities.

Where is Westin Grand Berlin located?

On the corner of Friedrichstrasse & Unter den Linden in the center of Berlin.

You would think my first stop would be Brandenburg Gate since it’s right around the block. However, I would be staying through New Year’s so there’s no way I was going to spoil that experience in advance.

But would have no shortage of fun activities until that moment came.

Hotel Experience

  • Breakfast
breakfast spread at westin grand berlin

Every morning, we sat down in the dining room for breakfast overlooking the city as we planned our day’s activities.

It was lovely, with lots of different food options presented in a nice setting. The buffet setup was quite elegant. You had your selection of different charcuteries, cheeses, freshly squeezed juices, fresh-made omelets, bread, mimosas.

Whatever you’d like, they most likely have! I love European breakfasts.

It was a great way to start off every day. I find European Marriotts to have a better selection of food in general.. which appeals to the charcuterie & cheese lover in me!

Breakfast is always complimentary for us thanks to our Marriott status through Marriott Bonvoy.

  • The Room
hotel room at westin grand berlin hotel

Our room was simple, modern, and clean.. which is Marriott’s signature style for most of their properties. It wasn’t particularly posh or anything but it did the job. We chose the hotel based on location and the fact that it was a Marriott property.

The bed was comfortable. We had a balcony too.

  • Amenities
Pool at the westin grand berlin

They have an elegant pool with lights that change colors.

They also have a locker room and shower nearby. The gym was very tiny.. They also have a spa.

geeves at the westin grand berlin pool
  • Westin’s New Years Eve Party

The hotel had a NYE party downstairs which was great. I caught the end of it…

Lobby of the Westin Grand Berlin

Downstairs in the lobby, there’s a restaurant, club, and bar all rolled into one. Quite a few movies such as Bourne Supremacy have been filmed here.

The hotel offers a New Year’s Eve dinner in a lovely setting which you can enjoy while listening to the piano.

At the end of the night, closer to the New Year’s countdown, they have a DJ, champagne flowing, and dancing!

Cocktails and coffee in the lobby of the Westin Grand Berlin

During our stay, we enjoyed some drinks and patisserie while listening to music in the lobby.

I highly recommend Westin Grand Berlin for your hotel stay!

Non Holiday Things to Do in Berlin

Just in case you’re in Berlin and you’ve dragged your friend to every festive venue in the city but they’re so over it, here are some activities that are non-holiday-related.

If you’re staying at the Westin Grand Berlin, the following are close by.

5 Attractions You Can Walk to in 10 Minutes & Under 

7 Attractions You Can Walk to in Under 20 Minutes 

Map of Berlin, Everything Mentioned in Blog

I’ve also included attractions that are over 20 min walking from the hotel which you can take a cab to or trek there!

Stay tuned for more blogs about Berlin!

Final Thoughts

The Christmas markets in Berlin were everything I have dreamed of and more! To be there in person was so surreal. I loved how there were so many different Christmas market options, no two were alike. If you miss them during the Christmas period, you can go either before in November or after around New Year’s like I did.

And if you can’t go to Europe, Christmas markets in New England are pretty much the closest thing you can get to actually experiencing the real thing. I would know… I have been a New Englander for over a decade after all. 😉

But, having known the people firsthand through my German boyfriend and his people, I can tell you honestly that the Germans are also warm, kind, hospitable, caring people.

GERMANY TRAVEL RESOURCES

Compare Flight Deals

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How to Travel with a Chronic Illness

There are ways to travel even with a chronic illness. Check out my chronic illness travel tips and how I travel despite having Lupus.

US Embassy in Germany

Visit here.

Best Travel Insurance

Accidents happen. Make sure that you’re covered on your next trip. Compare travel insurance here.

Earn Travel Perks & Free Trips

Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive. Read my in depth guide on how to earn points toward free hotel stays, flights, car rentals and more with Marriott’s brand partners! Travel smart, get the most for your money.

Rent a Car

Sometimes its nicer (and cheaper) to rent a car and go at your own pace. Discover best deals on car rentals here.

Dating Safety

Every woman should be able to date without being the next victim. Check out my safety tips guide for women.

That’s a Wrap!

Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed my stories of Berlin at Christmas as much as I enjoyed sharing them with you! Hopefully, you got some ideas on which Christmas Markets in Berlin to visit. 😊

Have you visited any Christmas markets in Germany? Would you go? I love hearing from my readers! Let me know in the comments below! Until next time… keep it real.

illustration of geeves traveling with pink suitcase and blue outfit

Pinterest Marketing Pin | Berlin Christmas Markets
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If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:

20 Helpful Tips for Traveling with a Chronic Illness

Your Ultimate Guide to New Years in Hamburg Germany

Best Christmas Themed Bars for Festive Cocktails This Holiday

Add a Christmas Story House and Museum to Your Holiday Bucketlist

A Quick Magical Trip to Chicago at Christmas

How to Leverage Marriott Points and Miles with Marriott Partners

15 Comments

  1. I think we had that in common, the pink bedroom and dreaming of European Christmas markets!! I’m hooked, and every year I try and visit a different one. I haven’t been to Berlin’s yet, but on my list!!!

  2. Hi Marga!
    It’s really cool that you lived in Germany. Thank you for those Christmas market recommendations! I always love going back to Germany so I’ll have to make a note of them and check them out next time.

  3. I know right! I literally thought that to myself.. Unfortunately I didn’t have any cash on me so I couldn’t tip.. Which come to think of it, explains a lot lol. 🤔

  4. Love Berlin’s Christmas markets! It sounds like you had a lot of fun exploring so many of them. I did some skating while I was there but I didn’t see any tobogganing–that looks like so much fun!

  5. Ooooh I lived in Berlin many years and I miss the markets. My favourite one was in Rixdorf as it was so small and local. RAW and and Kulturbrauerei were also amazing. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  6. What an experience it seems to have been! I love the German Christmas markets and go whenever I can since I live here in Europe. I’m glad it fulfilled one of your dreams. Keep catching ‘em girl!

  7. Hi Jeanine!
    I’m so happy that you enjoyed the blog. Germany is such an amazing place to explore. Their Christmas markets are like no other in the world. It’s great that you got to experience them.

  8. Germany is a place that has our heart, and the Christkindlmarkts were a feature of one such trip (in the south). Can’t wait for our next visit to the North and see the wonders, you have fuelled my wanderlust thank you

  9. It makes the experience more authentic and definitely easier to communicate with the locals. Well, I’m American too and didn’t speak more than a few words of German so don’t worry! Most of them speak English.

  10. It must have been great visiting Germany with someone who is from there. I’d like to experience an old-world Christmas, but I’d stick out like a sore thumb or more like an American tourist!

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