Germany and Berlin are known for their Christmas markets but there is plenty more fun to be had in the German capital in wintertime. With ways to stay warm both in and outside, Berlin is a great destination for a winter city trip. These are some of our favourite wintertime activities in Berlin.

Christmas markets galore

Each year, Berlin has over 80 Christmas markets to enjoy spread out across the city. Every district and neighbourhood in Berlin has its own Christmas market and each has its own draw, some are nostalgic others modern, some are indoors others outdoors, some are especially for children others have historical themes.

One of the best Christmas markets in Berlin is the one on Gendarmenmarkt. This market offers everything from culinary delights to handmade goods and entertainment. Here you’ll surely find the perfect Christmas gifts for your family or just for yourself. Alexanderplatz, meanwhile, becomes a whole winter village, with a gigantic Christmas pyramid from the Erzgebirge, festively illuminated merry-go-rounds and a Ferris wheel.

Discover fun things to do in Berlin in winter

A sea of light and natural wonders

In winter time the Botanical Garden in Berlin offers a magical Christmas garden and a tropical tour through nature. From late November until the middle of January, the Botanical Garden becomes an enchanting winter wonderland where you can wander through a sea of lights. All the light installations are outside, as the greenhouses are closed in the evening, so dress warm.

Inside the Botanical Garden’s greenhouses you can follow the winter trail to discover those plants and parts of the garden which are at their most beautiful at this time of year. On this trail you’ll leave the cold of winter behind to travel to the deserts and tropical climes inside the greenhouses. You will travel around the world, from Africa, America and Australia to East Asia and the Mediterranean.

Icy frozen fun

Ice skating is a popular pastime in Berlin for both locals and tourists. On the temporary ice rinks at Potsdamer Platz or Alexanderplatz, you can rent skates and take to the ice surrounded by famous Berlin monuments. Here you can practice your twirls and glide across the ice while surrounded by twinkling lights and cheer.

If you want to try your hand at some proper speedskating, or at least skate on a purpose-built oval, there are several permanent ice rinks in the city, though they aren’t open year round. The Sportforum Hohenschönhausen is home to around 30 sports clubs and various German Olympic athletes train here too. The rink at Eisstadion Neukölln is popular with families with children, students, and seniors. While the rink at Horst-Dohm-Eisstadion offers both a 400 meter outer circle and a 30 x 60 meter inner rink, enough room for all to have fun at their own pace.

Discover fun things to do in Berlin in winter

Hidden gem Berlin museums

As the temperatures drop in the city, many people will head inside to visit great Berlin museums. Most people will go to the big museums on Museum Island but there are plenty of other, smaller, lesser known museums with amazing subjects worthy of exploration. Head to the DDR Museum, near Alexanderplatz to discover what life was like in East Berlin at the time of the cold war.

Or head over to Körperwelten, also known as BODY WORLDS, to take a look beneath the human skin. The Computerspielemuseum over on Karl-Marx-Allee, is the first museum in Europe dedicated to video and computer games. Over 300 exhibits take you from the origins of videogames to the interactive, virtual reality games that are just around the corner or already here.

Near the East Side Gallery, you can visit the Lighthouse of Digital Art, where technology meets art. For something more light-hearted, visit the Deutsches Currywurst Museum on Schützenstrasse, dedicated to Berlin’s iconic street food dish. Learn about the history and how a currywurst is made before tasting some, while sitting on a sofa shaped like a giant sausage.

Fresh air in the city

Tiergarten, the biggest park in the city, falls quiet in the winter months. If you want to escape the hustle and busy of the city and breath in some fresh air, this is the place to go. Dress warmly and clear your head amongst the slumbering trees and lakes.

For a break from the cold, head to one of the little cafes in the park, such as Café am Neuen See, Café Viktoria, Schleusenkrug or Teehaus im Englischen Garten. If you want to spend more time exploring Berlin on foot, there is a free walking route in the free City Sightseeing Berlin app. This route will take you all the way from Tiergarten to Alexanderplatz.

Discover fun things to do in Berlin in winter

Craft beer bars

Berlin’s famous beer gardens shut down at the end of summer, luckily many of them are attached to amazing craft beer bars where you can enjoy unique flavours all year round. The oldest micro-brewery of Berlin is Brauerei Eschenbräu, on Triftstraβe, where they have a different beer for every season. This winter’s special beer is the ‘Schwarze Molle’, which will warm you with its roasted coffee-like aroma.

Another craft beer bar to consider is Parker Bowles in Kreuzberg, where they know side dishes matter with truffle fries, breaded bacon beans and chorizo mashed potatoes on offer. In Mitte you will want to try out the beers at Kaschk, with craft beers from Scandinavia, Bavaria and England. Meanwhile BRLO Brewery offers tours of their brewery at Gleisdreieck, so you can find out exactly what it takes to make a good beer.