If there's one thing I love more than a big fat Doner Kebab in Berlin, well I could say the holidays are a close second. After spending several weeks in Germany's capital during December, I took upon myself the missing to hop from one Christmas market to the next.
But before we dive in, lets talk history. Christmas markets originated in Germany around the Late Middle Ages as street markets during the 4 weeks of Advent. If you're not a history buff, they've been around for the last 750 years. Tradition endures as Christmas markets are still held in the town square with open-air stalls selling food and drinks and are entertained by traditional dancing and singing. Also as a general note, when buying a cup of Glühwein (think of a godsend drink to keep you warm and fuzzy whilst being outside: it is also known as mulled wine) if the price is a little steep, it's simply because you're purchasing the mug (they're also dated and a great souvenir idea) but you can simply bring the mug back to get your deposit back.
Let's start this list strong with my favorite Christmas market in Berlin: Gendarmenmarkt! You have until the last day of the year to admire the market located in between the Französischer Dom and the Deutscher Dom (French and German churches). I will strongly say this is one of Berlin's most beautiful squares just for the architecture and also for the ambiance. Indeed upon my visit, I was delighted to attend a free short concert presented by the Konzerthaus. The latter is the newest addition to the square as the concert hall was built in 1821. Basically, as I was sipping on a much-needed cup of Glühwein, I watched the small orchestra doing a rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Pretty magical if you ask me.
Entrance fee: 1€
Gendarmenmarkt, 10117 Berlin
2. Charlottenburg Schloss
How about going to a Christmas market and having a humongous castle in the background? Indeed, the estate was actually the casual summer residence of Sophie Charlotte of Hanover located in the village of Lietzow (formerly a suburb of Berlin now called Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, one of Berlin's borough) back in the 17th century. So if you're looking for a low-key casual Christmas market, this would be it! Awaken your inner princess and feel the magic. Side note: this was actually the place I had my very first Currywurst!
Entrance fee: free
Spandauer Damm 10-22, 14059 Berlin
3. Lucia Christmas Market in Prenzlauerberg's Kulturbrauerei
Only God knows how often I've been there. Originally built as a brewery, the Kulturbrauerei (translates to Culture Brewery) is a complex currently protected since 1974 as a landmark as one of the well-preserved examples of industrial buildings from the 19th century. You will find a cinema, a theater, nightclubs (crazier than the next if I dare say !), function rooms and the ephemeral Christmas market: Lucia. What sets this market apart, is not only its location but the theme as it is a tad different than a traditional German Christmas market. Indeed the name Lucia comes from the Nordic goddess of light, which means the markets will focus on goods and food from Scandinavia! Worth a look and why not go after to the club just for the sake of burning a few calories on the dance floor after your visit?
Entrance fee: free
Schönhauser Allee 36, 10435 Berlin
4. Berlin Eco Christmas Market
Located on one of Berlin's oldest streets, Sophienstraße, you will find a Christmas market focusing on ecological, organic and fair trade products. Over the last few years, the market gain recognition among artisans and it won't be hard to find trendy and hip items handcrafted by Germany's best artists. The only downside is that this market is only open on weekends.
5. Winter World at Postdamer Platz
Another square I like in Berlin would be Potsdamer Platz just for its shopping attractions and rooftop terraces. What's great about this market is how you can play a game of curling, show you ice skating skills in the rink and slide down the hill on a crazy carpet!
Potsdamer Platz, 10785 Berlin
For other Christmas markets, I will advise avoiding the one at Alexanderplatz just for the sake of being a tourist trap. I mean, to visit it just to see the international clock tower would be worth the stop and perhaps head to the Fernsehturm to admire Berlin in all its glory. But the market itself doesn't compare to others listed above.