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Top 10 things to do in Berlin for a long weekend this winter

Top 10 things to do in Berlin for a long weekend this winter

Berlin is a pretty magical place to visit in the winter and is the perfect destination for your next getaway.

Winter is the perfect time for a European city break. From frosty mornings exploring the city to cosy evenings cuddled up by a fire with some great food, and from searching for unique finds at the markets to big nights out on the town.

As far as destinations go, Berlin is a pretty magical place to visit in the colder months. Just a two hour flight away, with so much to see and do, as well as long-standing festive traditions, the German capital might just be the perfect choice for your next getaway. Here's why…

1. Traditional Christmas markets

Germany is the birthplace of the traditional Christmas markets we all know and love. One of Berlin’s largest is nestled within the fortress walls of the Spandau Citadel, with hundreds of stalls in wooden huts selling gifts, artisan crafts, food and drink.

The courtyards are filled with food traders selling traditional Christmas street food and gluhwein (mulled wine). Walking acts like fire artists, jugglers and winter creatures roam the fortress, and there’s also a large ice rink and curling lanes.

The old town of Spandau is located just out of the city centre, and is reachable by both the U-Bahn and S-Bahn. The market is open seven days a week from 12pm to 8pm and until 10pm on Friday and Saturdays, with entry from 3.50 euros.

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2. Travel back in time

Taking place over just one weekend in December, the Alt Rixdorf Christmas market in Neukolln transports visitors back to the 19th century. Richardplatz, an old market square in the Bohemian village of Rixdorf, has a truly magical feel, surrounded with historical buildings and filled with kerosene lamps for the occasion.

Stalls sell handicrafts like wooden toys and decorations, candles and jewellery. Traditional dishes served include barbecued meats, potato and pea soup, waffles, mulled wine and mead - all made according to old family recipes. Plus, there are live performances throughout the weekend.

The Alt-Rixdorf Christmas market is on from 2 to 4 December and it’s free to enter. All proceeds from sales of the stalls are donated to various local charities in the Neukolln area.

3. Browse the flea markets

No visit to Berlin is complete without a stroll around one of the many flea markets, where you can pick up unique items and unusual gifts.

The Baergarten flea market is open every Saturday from midday to 6pm, with lots of outdoor stalls selling vintage clothes, old books and antiques. There’s plenty of indoor seating too, where you can enjoy Neapolitan pizza and mulled drinks. And, as it’s Berlin, it’s all set to a pumping House soundtrack.

On December 4, the Nowkoelln flea market has a special festive event with more than 50 stalls on the banks of the canal selling hand-crafted gifts and artwork from local creatives. Plus, gluhwein, waffles and more Christmas specialities.

4. Catch a show

If you’re looking to catch a Christmas show on your weekend away, Berlin has a packed programme of performances to choose from.

Why not catch one of the famous variety shows at the iconic Wintergarten? Acrobatic acts perform alongside comedy sketches, live music, dancers and more. The Wintergarten has a long history, stretching back to 1887 when the first 'wintergarten' variety theatre was opened. The auditorium transports you back to these times with a canopy of stars, plush velvet seating and dark wood, as well as costumes and props from the past.

Elsewhere in the city, there’s also traditional ballet shows like Swan Lake and the Nutcracker and the spectacular ARISE Grand Show at Friedrichstadt-Palast with more than 100 performers on one of the world’s biggest stages, plus many more.

5. Festivities with a view

For a less traditional (but very Berlin) festive market, head to rooftop bar, Klunkerkranich. Found on the parking deck on top of a shopping centre in Neukolln, this hidden venue hosts a Chrismtas market with unusual and handmade gifts from local artists and designers, with everything from clothing to artwork, and jewellery to handicrafts.

Its rooftop location offers unrivalled views of the city, which you can enjoy with a cup of apple punch or gluhwein, hot churros and bratwurst. There’s also live music and a cultural programme throughout the festive period.

6. Experience the nightlife

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To say Berlin has a great nightlife would be a huge understatement. There are countless bars, pubs and clubs to get your teeth into, with the party lasting well into the early hours (and sometimes never actually stopping).

There's always more to explore in Berlin, with many bars having hidden secrets, like Tante Lisbeth, which houses an underground bowling alley. Upstairs, it's a quaint bar with kitsch decor, and downstairs, there's an old school wooden bowling alley which looks like it hasn't changed since the 60s.

7. A wintry walk

Taking a walk around Berlin is one of the best ways to take in what the city has to offer. So, why not wrap up warm and take a stroll along the Landwehr canal? Running through the heart of the city, it stretches 10km from Kreuzberg in the east to Charlottenburg in the West.

Whichever section you choose to walk, you’ll come across many picturesque spots, parks and beer gardens along the way. This could also be the perfect opportunity to take part in Berlin’s späti culture. Spätkaufs (“late shops”) are everywhere in Berlin and at these convenience stores you can grab a wegbier - beers that you take on the go. So, don your thermals, maybe grab a drink, and explore the city on foot.

8. Indulge in wellness

Berlin is a vibrant, fast-paced capital city, with so much excitement to offer. So, if you need to recharge, check into one of the city's many baths and spas. The biggest is Vabali, a Balinese spa just a stone’s throw from the central station, with 10 different saunas, heated beds, pools and steam baths. Near Potsdamer Platz is Liquidrom, where you can experience live DJ performances and light shows while floating in a salt water pool.

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A warning: most German spas are a no-clothes zone (not even a bikini). If getting your kit off isn’t your thing, the Meridian Spa is a little further out of the centre with large indoor and outdoor heated pools, plus plenty of steam baths and saunas. There is also a women-only hammam (Turkish bath) in Kreuzberg.

9. The Art of New Year

Bring in the New Year in Berlin at one of the many parties happening around the city. Our top pick is at Musikbrauerei, the 19th century industrial building used to be a brewery and today hosts large-scale events, concerts and parties.

The Art of NYE is an all-inclusive party, featuring a visual art exhibition, two dance floors, with snacks and drinks included in the ticket price.

10. Brandenburg Gate

After a two-year hiatus due to Covid, New Year celebrations will be returning to the Brandenburg gate this year. For the first time since 2019, the area surrounding the Brandenburg gate and Victory Column will once again be transformed into a huge street party. Entry is free but tickets must be booked online in advance.

There will be a series of live acts performing throughout the evening. Fireworks will also be returning this year, so visitors can enjoy watching the display over this iconic landmark.

Fly to Berlin this winter with easyJet from £29.99 one way. Book here.

Featured Image Credit: Visit Berlin

Topics: Travel, Christmas