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!  While visiting the city in December, we stumbled across two of the best Christmas markets in Berlin.

Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market

The Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market is flanked by dueling cathedrals.  Here, the Deutscher Dom (German Cathedral) rises above festive white tents on the southern end of the square.

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.

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!

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.

It’s hard to believe this cute little wooden house is just a temporary food booth. I imagine it would be popular with the folks on the “tiny house” kick.

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.

These huge hanging charcoal grills are common at German Christmas markets.

It’s not surprising why this is such a popular attraction during the holiday season.  Few places are as magical as the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market!

The tree in the market square glitters with thousands of tiny white lights.

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.

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, and
  • 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
The festive market radiates from the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in west Berlin.
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!
artisan selling beautiful woodwork in Berlin
The Breitscheidplatz draws artisans of all kinds, selling hand-blown glass, handmade jewelry, and beautiful wooden bowls.
20 meter Christmas tree in the Breitscheidplatz
One of the highlights of this market is a 20 meter tree decorated with Christmas balls and lights. It’s absolutely beautiful.
tribute to those killed in the Berlin terror attack
A red heart lights up an office building overlooking the Breitscheidplatz in memory of those killed during the December 19 terror attack.

In light of recent events, we were a bit reluctant to visit this Christmas market – not 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, and our defiance.  I can think of no greater way to fight terrorism than to celebrate life in solidarity!  So we ate and drank at one of the best Christmas markets in Berlin.

We love you, Berlin!


Know Before You Go:

  • As with most Christmas markets across 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.
  • The Gendarmenmarkt has a €1 entry for adults at night, though it is 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 lang)
  • List of Berlin Christmas Markets
  • Both Christmas markets are indicated on the map below with green tree icons


What’s up next on our agenda?

Our first guided walking tour of Berlin which includes some sites we never would have found on our own, including Hitler’s bunker during WWII…

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