11 Reasons to Visit Berlin This Winter
By Tomas Burton
It might not be very warm and there might be a drastic lack of sunlight, but visiting Berlin in the winter can offer a certain charm that you might not experience in the summer. So why choose to abandon you usual plans of traveling south of the equator for a mid-winter warm up? Here are 11 reasons why a winter trip to Berlin will be awesome…
1. Christmas Markets
There are several great Christmas markets in Berlin, ranging from the largest in Spandau with over 400 stands at the weekend, to the most picturesque in Berlins most beautiful square Gendarmenmarkt. Perhaps you can check out the Lucia Christmas Market in the Kulturbrauerei for a Nordic-Scandinavian experience. Most of the Christmas markets around the centre of town start on the 24th of November and last until the end of December, however some of the others are only open for a limited time. Check out the list of markets here.
See also: Our blog post on Christmas markets here.
Available at every Christmas market, café and restaurant, glühwein is a much needed warm refreshment in between seeing each one of Berlin’s excellent sites. Made with wine and flavourful spices such as orange and cinnamon and then heated up to drinking temperature.
See also: Our blog post on the history of glühwein here.
3. New Year’s Eve
The turn of the year can be pretty wild in Berlin, expect lots of fireworks and street parties. The event around the Brandenburg Gate is surely the biggest in the city with an excellent fireworks display. But you can also find great parties in the nice neighbourhoods around the centre where people will be setting off their own fireworks at random on the street. If you want to go partying after you’ve seen some fireworks, most of the clubs require you buy tickets in advance.
4. Ice Skating in the Tiergarten
Ice skating in Berlin’s Tiergarten, the most central and wonderful park in the city, can be a nice break from the busy Christmas markets and traffic filled streets. In the centre of the park, not far from the Siegessäule is Café am neuen See, a nice restaurant that sits on the side of a lake and which has a 20 metre long ice rink in the beer garden during the winter.
Everything looks better covered in snow. Walk around Berlin’s historical centre and see beautiful buildings like the Konzerthaus or the Berliner Dom with a winter twist. If you are feeling even more daring you may want to take a short train ride out to the Grunewald or walk along the river bank in Treptow Park.
Berlin’s night life is one of the best, with the world’s best dj’s playing here every weekend. It is great no matter what time of year it is. During the winter though you can expect to enjoy more local crowds and less time waiting in line!
7. Café culture
Don’t let the cold fool you, people will still be enjoying Berlin’s amazing café culture throughout the winter. During this season though cafes and restaurants are armed with gas heaters and warm blankets so you can still enjoy the fresh air while you chill with a coffee in the bustling residential neighbourhoods.
8. No crowds
There are far fewer people in the city during the winter, less tourists and those Berliners who are able have fled the city for warmer climates. This means you’ll have much more space and freedom to browse the historical sights and you will come back with some much better looking photographs, free of those awful photo-bombers that ruined your last family photograph.
9. Fashion Week
Berlin’s host to two fashion weeks each year, the first of which is held in January. With Berlin being a hub for many young creative fashion designers, what better city to visit this winter? There is also a special fashion show on the U5 line of Berlin’s metro. This year It will be between the 19th and 22nd of January, with the main event being hosted at the Brandenburg Gate. Find out what you need to know on their website.
10. Berlinale Film Festival
Between the 5th and the 15th of February, film buffs from the world over will be making their way to Berlin for the 65th annual Berlinale film festival. Around 400 films are shown at the festival making it the world’s largest public film festival. There will be a mixture of big-budget international productions and small independent and art-house films. Get your hands on some tickets in preparation for your stay here. Check out the Kino International on Karl-Marx-Allee for an atmospheric former GDR venue.
11. Tropical Island
Tropical Islands Resort is an indoor tropical theme park just outside of Berlin in Brandenburg. It’s housed in the largest free standing hall in the world which was used as an airship hanger. Expect exotic plants, bathing areas and slides. Film maker Casey Neistat made this short documentary about it.