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13 Things to Do in Berlin in December

Berlin in December is an ideal choice. The city brings out its Christmas facet without abandoning that alternative touch that distinguishes it.

Matteo Gramegna

Matteo Gramegna

10 min read

13 Things to Do in Berlin in December

Berlin at Christmas | ©Rolf Dietrich Brecher

The German capital is a good destination in any season, including December. In the last month of the year you can enjoy different plans such as a museum in the morning and a sleigh ride in the afternoon. And all this without leaving the city.

Read on and find out what to see and do in the city of the wall!

1. Find an original souvenir at the Christmas markets

Gendarmenmarkt, at its Christmas market| ©Jorge Franganillo
Gendarmenmarkt, at its Christmas market| ©Jorge Franganillo

Christmas is just around the corner, and what better occasion to immerse yourself in the magic of this season? If you like romantic pictures and the charms of a historic town, I recommend you to visit the Spandau Christmas market. It is held every year in the vicinity of the church of St. Nicholas, a Gothic church with three naves. You can get here by subway (line 7, fermata Rathaus Spandau).

If you do not have time or prefer to stay in the center, I recommend visiting the Gendarmenmarkt flea market. At the foot of the German Cathedral (Deutscher Dom) and the French Cathedral (Französischer Dom) you will find dozens of stalls with typical food and crafts. Every day, artists play classical, jazz or gospel music while jugglers attract the eyes of the little ones. Open every day of the week from 11 am to 8 pm.

A good way to explore the center of Berlin and discover its streets and monuments is to take one of the tours of the city.

Book a guided tour of Berlin

2. Escape the cold in the museums

Pergamon Museum| ©Gonzalo Malpartida
Pergamon Museum| ©Gonzalo Malpartida

Sometimes winter in Berlin can be a challenge. With an average temperature of 5°C, you'll be itching to find somewhere enclosed and warm. Museums are always a good option and the German capital has a few destinations that are worth a visit.

  • Tickets for the Neues Museum Berlin: If you are passionate about ancient history, this is your best option. It has more than 6,000 archaeological objects from the Stone Age to the Middle Ages, including the sculpture of Nefertiti.
  • Tickets to the Berlin Wall Museum: A must-see to learn about the history of the Berlin Wall and delve into the division between West and East Germany.
  • Berlin Museum of Illusions: A fun immersive experience with different exhibits based on optical illusions.
  • Madame Tussauds of Berlin: And how could it be otherwise, Berlin also has its Wax Museum with more than 120 replicas. Ideal for a fun day out with the family.
  • Scharf-Gerstenberg Collection: It has an important collection of surrealist works of art by popular artists such as Max Klinger, Odilon Redon, Alfred Kubin, Max Ernst, Salvador Dalí, René Magritte, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Francisco de Goya, Victor Hugo and Jean Dubuffet.
  • Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum of Contemporary Art: Beyond the incredible collection of art that houses, highlights the place where it is located, a former neo-Renaissance train station.
  • Gemäldegalerie: More than 1,500 works of art from the 13th to 18th centuries by influential German artists await you in this museum.
  • Alte Nationalgalerie: Renowned artists such as Manet, Cézanne or Monet are some of the protagonists of this museum with more than 1,800 paintings and 1,500 sculptures.

Book your ticket for the best museums in Berlin

3. Live an ice-cold experience at the Berlin Ice Bar

Ice bar| ©Tourism Group International
Ice bar| ©Tourism Group International

The Berlin Ice Bar is undoubtedly one of the most curious plans in Berlin. It is located in the center of the city and no matter what time of the year you go, the temperature is below 0 ºC.

Even so, my recommendation is that you go during the winter. In fact, December is an ideal month. You may wonder why? As you can imagine it is essential to go very warm, obviously with coat, gloves and even a hat, and visiting this bar at another time of the year is quite uncomfortable, especially if you are on vacation and you are going to be all day sightseeing, as you will have to be permanently carrying all this extra clothing.

Another option is to end the day with a visit to the ice bar and enjoy a cool cocktail.

Book your ticket for the ice bar in Berlin

4. Enjoy the best views of Berlin from above

Berlin| ©Greg_FOT
Berlin| ©Greg_FOT

With the ticket for the Die Welt balloon ride you will enjoy incredible panoramic views of the most important monuments of Berlin from nothing more and nothing less than 150 meters high.

In addition, you will be accompanied by a team of pilots and guides who will illustrate you throughout the entire journey, which lasts approximately 15 minutes.

A unique experience in which you can take the best pictures of your trip to be the envy of all your family and friends.

Book your ticket for the balloon ride Die Welt

5. Test your adrenaline with a helicopter flight.

Helicopter tour| ©Tailer's Family - journeying!
Helicopter tour| ©Tailer's Family - journeying!

The month of December, with the city illuminated by Christmas, is an incomparable moment to enjoy a helicopter flight over Berlin. An ideal plan to let yourself be dazzled by amazing views of the capital of Germany, as well as all its monuments. The Berlin Wall, the TV Tower, the Brandenburg Gate or the Cathedral, will be some of the many sites that you will see as you would never have imagined before.

Throughout the tour, which lasts approximately 20 minutes, you will wear a headset to communicate with the professional pilot who will accompany and guide you.

And a fun fact: after this flight experience, you will receive a tourist flight certificate.

Book a helicopter flight over Berlin

6. Taste the Christmas beers

Christmas beer| ©Arthur Fuchs
Christmas beer| ©Arthur Fuchs

When Christmas approaches, German breweries bring out special brews. Generally, Christmas beers are fuller-bodied and their flavor is characterized by ingredients such as cinnamon, cloves or vanilla.

It's not unique to Germany - it's also common in Belgium, the Netherlands and some regions of France - but being a country with a long tradition, there's no shortage of options when it comes to ordering a good pint.

They are called Weihnachtsbier and are brewed with fresh first malt and hops harvested in autumn. In color, they range from dark amber to hazelnut brown. They have a higher alcohol percentage than usual - around 8º - and pair well with traditional desserts such as gingerbread.

Book a beer tour in Berlin

7. Taste the local winter gastronomy

Zur Letzten Instanz, Christmas| ©Bernt Rostad
Zur Letzten Instanz, Christmas| ©Bernt Rostad

When the cold weather hits, the warm and hearty German cuisine comes to your aid. Unlike other cities in the country, Berlin is a multicultural city and its gastronomic offer is oriented towards international meals. However, there is no shortage of characteristic places that are waiting for tradition. The following list covers all budgets and brings together the best restaurants specializing in German cuisine:

  • Zur Letzten Instanz, the dean of Berlin. It has occupied the same location since 1621 and its most celebrated guests include figures such as Napoleon, Beethoven and Charly Chaplin. Its famous Buletten (pork and beef meatballs) and Bratwurst sausages are made with meats from local producers (Waisenstraße 14/16).
  • Henne, another of the capital's historic restaurants. Since 1908 it has been serving crispy fried chicken prepared according to a secret recipe. It is located in the Turkish quarter (Kreuzberg) and is usually busy. Reservations are therefore recommended (Leuschnerdamm 25).
  • Schneeweiß, the Alpine restaurant. Its white walls and decorations create an open and elegant ambience. Specialties are Wiener Schnitzel (a breaded pork tenderloin chop or veal shank) and Spätzle, a typical South German gnocchi. It is located in the district of Friedrichshain (Simplonstraße 16).
  • Die Stulle, a good option to start the day with energy. As the name suggests, the focus is on the Stulle, a Berliner term meaning "coated slice of bread". You can choose from dozens of fresh and seasonal ingredients. It is located within walking distance of the Zoo (Carmerstraße 10).
  • Schwarzwaldstuben, an establishment focusing on the cuisine of Swabia, a region in southeastern Germany. The specialty - only available in season - is savory asparagus and onion tart (Tucholskystraße 48).

A tip, order Eisbein, the famous German pork knuckle. It is obtained after a long cooking of a ham hock. Other dishes worth eating in winter are Kassler (smoked pork with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes), Königsberger Klopse (veal and anchovy dumplings) and Apfelstrudel, an apple pie. And if you want to delve even deeper into German gastronomy, don't hesitate to book a gastronomic tour.

Book a gastronomic tour

8. Discover the Christmas lights in Ku'Damm

Kurfürstendamm| ©Sheeppurple
Kurfürstendamm| ©Sheeppurple

Kurfürstendamm - nicknamed Ku'Damm by the locals - is the most elegant boulevard in the German capital. It starts at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church and goes all the way to the residential area of Halensee.

In December it is full of colors thanks to the Christmas illuminations: Santa Claus and his reindeer, snowmen and decorated trees await you in this area of the city.

It is located in the western part of the city and can be easily reached by subway (stop Kurfürstendamm).

9. Shopping at Kaufhaus des Westens

KaDeWe at Christmas| ©onkelshark
KaDeWe at Christmas| ©onkelshark

The department store Kaufhaus des Westens - often nicknamed "KaDeWe" - has eight floors dedicated to different types of merchandise. You'll find clothing, jewelry, perfumes, delicatessen and much more. The particularity of this place is the attention to luxury and the services provided, which include currency exchange, tailoring services, luggage storage or a personal shopper who will guide you through the KaDeWe stores.

It is located within walking distance of the Berlin Zoo. It is open every day of the week from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and the fastest way to get there is by subway to Wittenbergplatz station (Tauentzienstraße 21-24). It is an ideal place to buy the last Christmas gifts, renew your closet or taste gourmet food.

10. Get your mouth wide open at the Christmas Garden

Christmas Garden| ©dilettantiquity
Christmas Garden| ©dilettantiquity

In December, the Berlin Botanical Garden hosts the Christmas Garden. It is a route of approximately 1.5 kilometers enlivened with illuminations and 3D figures. This green space is worth a visit, has more than 20,000 plants and has one of the largest greenhouses in the world. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

11. Travel to Dresden

From| ©Ma Mundi
From| ©Ma Mundi

If you have four days in Berlin (or more), it is worth spending a day in Dresden. The cities are well connected by train: regional and high-speed trains(both direct and not) will take you from Berlin Central Station (Berlin Hauptbahnhof) to Dresden-Neustadt or Dresden Hauptbahnhof. Alternatively you can opt for the bus. The main companies operate at Alexanderplatz, the airport and the Berlin Hauptbahnhof.

Berlin is modern and cosmopolitan while the capital of Saxony is a baroque jewel. Both suffered the bombings of World War II, but the latter was rebuilt respecting the traditional architecture. The Frauenkirche (Lutheran Church of Our Lady), the Zwinger (18th century baroque palace) and the Semperoper (opera house) rose from the ashes thanks to the efforts of the citizens.

In addition, Dresden can boast Germany' s oldest and most famous Christmas market: Striezelmarkt, where there are not only stalls with sweets, handicrafts and souvenirs, but also a step pyramid, a large candle arch, a skating rink and the Pflaumentoffel, a prune statue representing a chimney sweep.

12. Go sledding!

Teufelsberg by sled| ©byteschieber
Teufelsberg by sled| ©byteschieber

Did you know that the German capital has a toboggan run? Yes, sledding down the hills is a local tradition, and when winter comes, Berliners flock to the city's reliefs. I imagine you haven't checked a sled as special luggage but that's OK, many bike rental companies rent them. Among the best places we can mention Teufelsberg, the devil's mountain.

It is composed of rubble accumulated after World War II and before becoming a leisure destination was a crucial place of the Cold War, as its summit rises above the former American listening station. It is easily reached by taking a train from Central Station.

Other sledding spots include Viktoriapark (Katzbachstraße), Humboldthain (Brunnenstraße) or Insulaner, a 75-meter hill near the Planetarium.

13. Treat yourself to a spa day

Vabali| ©Alper Çuğun
Vabali| ©Alper Çuğun

Before returning home and resuming your usual life, you can dedicate a morning to your wellbeing. In December, temperatures do not stray far from freezing and a relaxing spa is the ideal way to escape the cold. Like any self-respecting capital, Berlin also has some options that will restore your energy. Read on and discover the top 5:

  • Vabali, a corner of Bali in the heart of Berlin. It is very extensive and has a 2 and 4-hour passes and a daily ticket. It is located inside the Fritz Schloß park and within walking distance of the Central Station (Seydlitzstraße 6).
  • Liquidrom, the futuristic wellness center. From the outside it resembles a stylized Indian tepee, but the extravagances don't end there. The flagship is the heated saltwater swimming pool with light effects and a thread with classical or electronic music (Möckernstraße 10).
  • Stadtbad Oderberger, the capital's former public baths. The building was designed by Ludwig Hoffman, the same architect of the Pergamon Museum and the Fairytale Fountain, among others (Oderberger Straße 57).
  • Louisa's Place, a boutique hotel near Adenauerplatz. It is housed in a Prussian-style building and has a good-sized swimming pool, sauna and massage rooms (Kurfürstendamm 160).
  • Hamam, the Turkish bath for women. Open daily except Mondays (Mariannenstraße 6).

What is the temperature in Berlin in December?

Christmas lights| ©Steffen Zahn
Christmas lights| ©Steffen Zahn

In the last month of the year, the average daily temperature is around 1 °C. But that shouldn't stop you from enjoying all the things to see and do in Berlin. However, you have to keep in mind that it is possible that it may snow** and, therefore, I advise you to bring something practical: gloves, hat and sneakers with a good sole are essential to avoid getting cold.

Despite all this, it is a good time to visit Berlin. If a layer of snow covers the surface, the city becomes more charming. In addition, there is no shortage of indoor plans to continue enjoying your vacation.

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