Monday, December 9, 2013

Why You Should Stay in Berlin This Winter

Berliners get extra ungemütlichkeit in winter as the days grow short and ice freezes in your/Ian's beard. Many try to flee the city, but I am making the case for celebrating the darkest season in the capitol. This is partly because we are poorer than ever and condemned to have no escape from the brutal Berlin winter. And since we gotta stay, we are trying to make the most of it and you should too.


Indulge in the Many, Many Christmas Markets

One of the most obvious reasons is also the best. Germany is world famous for it's Christmas Markets (rightfully so). While Berlin doesn't host the best in the country, they are still enough to impress most foreigners.

Glühwein (mulled wine) is served everywhere from the local Dönerstand to every Christmas market. It helps battle the cold and it's alcoholic nature makes everything better.

SlowBerlin offers a good run down of the best Christmas markets in Berlin in 2013, with VisitBerlin offering comprehensive market listings. If you desperately need the real-deal Weihnachtsmärkte experience, I recommend further afield like the oldest market in Dresden

Winterwelt am Potsdamer Platz

Potsdamer Platz's unique architecture is decorated for Christmas - usually bizarrely and often associated with LEGOs. Get your strange Christmas photo now!

WeihnachtsZauber Gendarmenmarkt

This is my favorite Christmas market as the surrounding architecture defines the city. Santa, or the Weihnachtsmann, makes an appearance at this market at 20:00, soaring over the historic square in front of the Fernsehturm (TV Tower) complete with 1 reindeer and a fiery sleigh. The ice skating around the Neptune fountain also offers some of the best people watching... as they fall down.



Added bonus: Ugly Sweater Pub Crawl

Embrace the season, don a ridiculous outfit and see how many bars you can visit before your fingers fall off. Extra Extra bonus points if you can coerce any native Berliners to play along!

Christmas Tree Shopping

Even poors like us spring for a tree. Because many Germans buy their tree, decorate and give gifts all on the 24th - don't expect any last-minute deals.

Plus, finding a tree somewhere in your vicinity and finding a way to get it home adds an element of insanity to your Christmas.

It may be small, but it's mighty.


Christmas Eve in the Berliner Dom

Even atheists like me can appreciate the stark beauty of Christmas Eve services in Berlin's Protestant cathedral. Listen to children sing the Christmas songs you know so well in their original German and appreciate a rare chance to see the church in action.


Somber Memorials Best Viewed Cold

Visiting Berlin's memorials always feels a bit wrong when it is sunshiny outside. As lively and entertaining as the city is, observing it in one of it's best colors - grey - can be quite fitting.

Neue Wache

Nikolaiviertel's St. George & the Dragon


Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe


Graffitti Looks Good in the Snow

On the other hand, one of Berlin's best features looks great off-set by snow.

RAW Temple


New Years (Silvester) in Berlin is like nowhere else. Any child with a limb left can hold a bottle rocket - and they do. The city explodes from every street, balcony, window, and rooftop.

Last year, we even very nearly blew ourselves up. So every year I vow not to write about it, but after narrowly escaping with my life I just can't help it.

Flea Markets Remain Open

Come rain or come snow, flohmarkts like that of Mauerpark open on Sundays to offer their wares of vintage dresses, avant-garde light fixtures, and silk screened everything. If you didn't get what you want for Christmas/Chanukah etc., this is your chance to go get it yourself.

Utilize Berlin's (Mostly) Amazing Transportation

London, Tokyo and New York City receive heaps of praise for their public transport systems, but Berlin deserves some transport loving too. Even though the S-Bahn frequently fails to adequately prepare for ice most years, the majority of the system remains accessible as snow piles underfoot. I know in hilly Seattle we are stranded at the first sign of ice. The BVG knows you've got bars to get to!

Full rundown on Berlin Transportation


Added bonus: Ride the Party Tram

The M10 from Prenzlauer Berg to Friedrichshain is affectionately known as the Party Tram. Even some of the other aforementioned transportation options even take on a more jovial feel with an unheard of amount of camaraderie (aka people actually talking to each other) and drinks and confetti getting people in the mood. 

Premium Sledding

Berlin's flatness provides a unique challenge in trying to find the greatest hill.We found ourhill so go find your own. We don't want more kiddies getting in our way. Become one with the cold...

Take it up a Notch with Ice Skating

Sledding too lame for you? Really go for broken bones with ice skating.


Or even better - Skiing!

We went for our inaugural attempt in the Czech Republic last year and looked pretty ridiculous doing. Luckily - it was so much fun we are willing to humiliate ourselves once again.

For more pics of the madness that takes over at this time of year, check out our Photo Advent Calendar + some of our favorite Christmas Movies

What do you do in Winter? What are we missing? My guess is, a lot.


~ cheryl said...

Christmas in Berlin does look magical!

Unknown said...

It is kinda magic - but now comes the hard part. The after Christmas never-ending winter. Let's hope my tips can take us through!

Joe Dodgshun said...

Berlin does have its winter charm... But any more post-Christmas survival tips would be greatly appreciated!

We're Back in Berlin Ja!

We're Back in Berlin Ja!
ebe & ian at Yak-toberfest 2008