Things To Do In Berlin In December
5 ways to experience a wonderful winter in the cold capital
Summer and open air events may be over and the days a short, but there is no need to spend your entire trip indoors. With scarves, gloves and hats donned, it’s time to brave the cold and discover the hidden gems few ‘fair weather’ tourists ever find. Of course you can see the usual Berlin attractions, but there are some unique experiences you can enjoy only in winter. Read on to delve into a local’s guide of things to do in Berlin in December.
1. Catch the Christmas Markets
A spectacular show of the festive spirit, the traditional Christmas markets happen all over Germany. But none do it better than Berlin’s Gendarmenmarkt, known as the most beautiful square in Berlin being framed by the illuminated French and German Cathedrals. Wandering around the many handicraft stalls, refreshment stands and amusements at the markets at night under twinkling Christmas lights has a unique atmospheric element. It costs 1 euro to get in, but it is definitely worth it. If you’re looking for a more intimate (or free) affair, you can also visit the Lucia Christmas Market in the Kulturbrauerei.
Something to say to sound smart: Both the Christmas Tree and Advent Wreath are German-born traditions.
2. Tour the city in "a sardine can on wheels"
It may be a touch too chilly for a walking tour, but bus tours can be a little boring, so do something different and indulge in some Ostalgie on a trabi safari tour. Driving one of the little East German cars, you will be taken as a convery around the famous sites of Berlin.
3. Relax on the Badeschiff
This former river barge turned swimming pool, which morphs into an alfresco nightclub after sundown, is anchored in the Spree river. Originally conceived as an art project, the Badeschiff’s quirkiness peaks during the winter months when the pool is transformed into an indoor health complex (complete with two saunas, lounging area and heated pool) covered by glowing, translucent shells. The perfect place to seek a relaxing refuge from the cold.
4. Glow from gastronomical goodness
Winter is the time for warm beverages, and what better beverage than traditional German mulled wine. A perfect accompaniment to chilly winter days, Glühwein (aka glowing wine) is a German institution - a delicious amalgam of warm red wine, cinnamon, cloves and citrus fruits. For those looking for a more substantial meal, try an authentic experience with goose, German dumplings and red cabbage or some comfort food like Stollen, a fruit loaf filled with raisins, nuts, citrus and spices - a favorite since the 14th century.
5. Celebrate Silvester with doughnuts
New Year Eve in Berlin is ushered in with fireworks, lots of them, everywhere. If you have nowhere to go, catch the party at the Brandenburg Gate. But the better option is to make friends with a local and join a house party. You could also join hundred of Berliners for the Silversterlauf (aka doughnut run), an annual New Year Eve cross country fun run through Grunewald forest and over Teufelsberg (also a great place for adventurous souls to go makeshift tobogganing throughout winter). Considered by many as the best preparation for a hard night’s drinking, you can join for anywhere between 2km to 15km and be rewarded at the end of the race with a Berliner pastry.
These are only 5 of the many way to discover a different side to Berlin city. Tell us your experiences by commenting below. For those seeking more info, we suggest you read our complete travellers guide to Berlin.