Two of the Best Christmas Markets in Berlin

Who doesn’t love German Christmas markets?  Towards the end of November, they start popping up in towns across the country.  It seems no village is too small to host their own festive extravaganza.  In any given year, Berlin alone offers between 50 and 100 Christmas markets, though only a handful of them are sizable.  Each market offers its own unique features, from ice skating rinks and Ferris wheels to live concerts and historic attractions. With so many options, it can be difficult choosing which ones to visit! For us, two in particular stand out as two of the best Christmas markets in Berlin.

Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market

The setting for the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market is hard to beat.  Occupying one of Berlin’s prettiest squares, the market is sandwiched between two historic churches – the Deutscher Dom and the Französischer Dom – one German and one French.

German Cathedral at the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin, Germany
Flanked by dueling cathedrals, here the Deutscher Dom (German Cathedral) rises above festive white tents on the southern end of the square.
French cathedral at the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market in Berlin, Germany
The French cathedral marks the north end of the square with festive booths laid out in a grid.

A third monumental building, the Konzerthaus Berlin, borders another side of the square. Time it right and you’ll catch a live Christmas concert in front of the concert hall.

If you don’t speak German, have fun seeing who’s the first person in your group to recognize each Christmas carol just by the melody!

Choir at the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market in Berlin, Germany
A choir performs carols in German at the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market. The one euro entry fee helps cover the cost of the entertainment.

Food options are plentiful.  The Gendarmenmarkt offers everything from snack foods like deep-fried cheese bites rolled in sesame seeds (SO good) to  full-on temporary restaurants set up inside the market.  If you’re somehow immune to the festive music and decorations, you’ll still appreciate all the tasty menu options.

Festive food booth at the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market in Berlin
It’s hard to believe this cute little wooden house is just a temporary food booth.

Lots of stands offer the ever popular glühwein, as well as our personal favorite drink – Feuerzangenbowle.  Even non-lovers of wine tend to appreciate this stiff alcoholic beverage made from glühwein spiked with rum-soaked sugar set on fire.

Meat lovers are likely to find at least one stand selling bratwurst and thick cuts of chicken or steak on a monstrous hanging charcoal grill.

Meat grilling at the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market in Berlin
These huge hanging charcoal grills are common at German Christmas markets.
Sparkling tree at the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market in Berlin
The tree in the market square glitters with thousands of tiny white lights.

It’s not surprising why this is one of the most popular Christmas markets in Berlin during the holiday season.  Few places are as magical as the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market!

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Breitscheidplatz Christmas Market

Another of the best Christmas markets in Berlin is the Breitscheidplatz Christmas Market.  The Kaiser-Wilhelm Memorial Church is the historic landmark at the center of the Christmas market. Known to locals as “der hohle Zahn” (the hollow tooth), the damaged church was bombed in 1943 and now serves as a memorial.

Location of one of the best Christmas markets in Berlin
The Breitscheidplatz Christmas Market radiates from the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, the most famous landmark in west Berlin.

Finding this Christmas market can be a bit confusing simply because it is commonly known by at least three names:

  • Breitscheidplatz Christmas Market, for the name of the square where it’s located
  • Kaiser-Wilhelm Memorial Church Christmas Market because of the church at the center of the Breitscheidplatz
  • Gedächtniskirche Weihnachtsmarkt, which is German for Memorial Church Christmas Market.

Don’t be fooled.  They’re all the same market – the mother of all Christmas markets!

With the stunning church as a backdrop, over 170 stands, and a great location, it’s not surprising that over 2 million people visit this market every year.

Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin, Germany
During WWII, the bells of the church were sacrificed, melted down to make weapons. Now, new bells ring out on special occasions.
Booth at one of the best Christmas markets in Berlin
A brightly-lit vendor sells roasted almonds and gingerbread cookies, common holiday treats at German Christmas markets.
The steak sandwiches at the Breitscheidplatz Christmas Market are among the best you’re likely to ever have.
Artisanal woodwork at the Breitscheidplatz Christmas Market in Berlin
The Breitscheidplatz Christmas Market draws artisans of all kinds, selling hand-blown glass, handmade jewelry, and beautiful wooden bowls.
Twenty-meter tree at the Breitscheidplatz Christmas Market in Berlin
One of the highlights of the market is a 20-meter tree decorated with Christmas balls and lights. It’s absolutely beautiful.
Memorial of the terror attack at the Breitscheidplatz Christmas Market in Berlin
A red heart lights up an office building overlooking the Breitscheidplatz in memory of those killed during the December 19 terror attack.

Many of you may be aware that on December 16th – just two weeks ago – a terrorist drove his truck into a crowd at the Breitscheidplatz Christmas Market, killing 12.

In light of these recent events, we were reluctant to visit this Christmas market.  It wasn’t because of any fear for our safety, but out of respect for those still grieving.  It felt insensitive to be celebrating within sight of a candlelight vigil, but we wanted to show our support for the city, for Germany, and for a way of life and values that will never bow to fear.  I can think of no greater way to fight terrorism than to celebrate life in solidarity.  So we decided to go after all.  While the market was rather somber during our visit, we still found it to be one of the best Christmas markets in Berlin. We’re confident you will too.

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Know Before You Go
  • As with most Christmas markets in Germany, these two Berlin markets begin around November 21st each year and run through the end of December or early January.  Confirm the market’s hours before making travel plans.
  • Dogs are not allowed at the Gendarmenmarkt.
  • While most Christmas markets in Germany are free, the Gendarmenmarkt has a €1 entry for adults at night, though it’s free Monday-Friday from 1100 to 1400.
  • Official website for the Gendarmenmarkt (DE, EN)
  • The Breitscheidplatz (Kaiser-Wilhelm) Christmas Market is free.
  • Website for the Breitscheidplatz Christmas Market (13 languages)
  • List of Berlin Christmas Markets
  • Both Christmas markets are indicated on the map below with green tree icons.
Highlights of Berlin Map
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