German Christmas markets are without a doubt reason in themselves to head over to any German city, town or village in December – especially Berlin. There’s just something so exciting about them!
Here’s the thing though, my first trip to Berlin didn’t leave much of an impression of the city on me. Don’t get me wrong, I had so much fun but I felt this was so because of the friends I went with (and met up with, in the city) than because of the city itself. We ate more than our fair share of German food, saw the sights (albeit hurriedly) and danced the night away – it was brilliant!
Our return to Berlin was fuelled by one reason – the return of those amazing German Christmas markets! What I didn’t expect though was how much I would end up properly falling in love with the city.
Now, I don’t know if it’s just because we had more free time this time to explore the city, if it was just the festiveness that got to me or the discovery of nearby Potsdam but Berlin just seemed so more special this time – the perfect example of why it pays off to visit a place more than once.
After a brisk walk from the train station to our hotel, we wasted no time whatsoever in heading straight out (we ended up booking the same one we stayed in before – by the way, if you’re looking for hotels in Berlin, we’ve got a roundup here of some amazing boutique hotels here).
Thinking about it now, I don’t even think we had a plan when we headed out. I just remember the square where the concert house (The Konzerthaus), with the Gendarmenmarkt (the pretty public square) in front of it, having lots of pretty buildings (and that it was walking distance to other sights) so we just headed there.
The Gendarmenmarkt in Christmas is home to arguably Berlin’s most popular Christmas market, so much so that you have to pay to go in at night – a really tiny token fee (during the day its free).
We had a quick walkthrough, making a reminder to return here at night (at some point on this trip) before heading off again through the city, making our way over to the Cathedral.
The Cathedral (The Berliner Dom) was another spot we didn’t get to see properly last time. We did a hop on, hop off bus thing, which can be a great way to see a city quickly – if you actually do hop off it! Back then, we couldn’t figure out when we supposed to get on or off (there were absolutely no prompts) so we ended up missing this stop.
This time, we got to marvel at the Cathedral to our heart’s content! And boy is it worth it! It’s so much more impressive looking than I remembered it!
Alas, with our plans set on heading over to at least one Christmas market that night, we made our way through the Museum Island and headed over to Alexanderplatz, stopping off just short (right in from of the Rathaus – the city’s town hall), where the Berliner Weihnachtszeit was in full swing!
The evening started off with so very welcome currywurst, swiftly followed by a bratwurst and Glühwein (mulled wine) – all at different stalls, before heading over to the skating rink.
The rest of the evening just went by in a flurry of bright lights, even more German foods, candied nuts with toffee apples and even more Glühwein!
Before you knew it, hours had passed and we decided to head back to the hotel to get a good night’s kip before another day of exploring tomorrow (still with no actually proper plans).
For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to walk around and perhaps even pop into another Christmas market before finally calling it quits and hopping on the train back to our hotel.
So far, having no plans and exploring Berlin slowly meant that I was slowly starting to see the Berlin locals love and, addled by the Glühwein, was falling for the city so much more than I did before! 🙂