Here's why the Berlin Christmas markets are a festive family MUST
Undoubtedly this my favourite time of the year to travel.
Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the sun, I could spend hours on end lying on the beach, but there is something magical about wrapping up in your woolies, drinking hot chocolate and looking at all the twinkly lights.
Over the past couple years, I have found myself becoming a bit of a Christmas market connoisseur, spending hours trawling through the internet to find the best one for the best value in a city that has it all (I don't ask for much).
And through my research, I have visited a couple cities in Europe from Paris to Oslo, but the Christmas markets in Berlin are without a doubt pretty unbeatable.
If you have never gone, I would recommend a trip ASAP. You will not regret it and here are the reasons why.
1. The Markets
It is only right we start with these... unlike many other cities, Berlin's Christmas markets are dotted all over the place with a wide variety to choose from. The main markets are in Alexanderplatz, Weihnachtszauber (Gendarmenmarkt), Winterwelt am Potsdamer Platz and Weihnachtsmarkt am Gedächtniskirche. Here you can visit over 150 wooden stalls, ice skate, drink a variety of hot alcoholic drinks (in the CUTEST Christmas mugs), listen to Christmas carollers in the market squares and eat to your heart's content. The food is incredible too with a choice of sweet treats, hotdogs, roasted chestnuts and of course currywurst. Drool. There is really something for everyone.
While I stayed in Berlin I visited over 11 different Christmas markets, the services such as the U-Bahn (underground train) and the S-Bahn (overground train) made it so incredibly easy to get around. The trains come every couple of minutes and are very easy to navigate with stops clearly pinpointed. A short distance ticket costs €1.30, making it so easy to hop on and off as often as you like.
In terms of the Christmas markets, most of them are free to enter making it a cheap and cheerful day or night out. Others cost €1 - €5 still making them seriously inexpensive. Eating at the Christmas markets is cheap too with burgers and freshly cooked breads costing €5 - €8 and pizzas costing €9 - €11. The markets are super for people on a budget. Did I mention the drink is cheap too? A beer is roughly €3 and I got a glass of wine for as low as €4.50. Ideal.
Aside from the markets, Berlin is a shopaholics dream. All the streets and shopping centres COVER the place in stunning light displays and massive Christmas trees. It is truly dreamy. A three minute walk from Alexanderplatz, is the Alexa, a stunning shopping centre with a variety of high street stores like H&M, Zara and Kiko. If you are looking for something a little bit more upmarket, KaDeWe, The Kaufhaus des Westens located in Tauentzienstraße is utter GLAM. With clothing from Acne to Chanel, this place oozes style. If you're like me and can't afford the clothing, still go here. The second top floor is a food paradise with over 30 little eateries and a champagne bar. Yes yes YES.
Although I have discussed this in a couple other categories, the food in Berlin city is a big part of your trip. I decided to vary between expensive and cheap eats to mind my budget and found the food on each night exceptional. From Italian to Mexican, this place has it all. I found food places around Rosa-Luxemburg-Straße very reasonable with a burrito and a bottle of beer in a quirky little place called Dolores for €9. Steal. Alexanderplatz (one of Berlin's main centres) also has copious eateries all off each road with a pasta dish for €16 and a burger for €14, it's not ridiculously expensive.
I visited Berlin on the first week of December and found accommodation in Alexanderplatz in the Ramada Hotel for €160 a night for two people. I booked this only six weeks previously, so I was shocked to get somewhere for value this good so close to Christmas. Be warned though, I would book early to avoid sky high prices. I had friends who too visited Berlin only a week after me and it costed them practically double. A good scoop around hotel sites will ensure you get the best value for money.
And finally, a trip to Berlin is not complete without taking in all the incredible history. This place is a haven for stunning architecture and a gripping historic past. Make sure you visit all the key landmarks such as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, Reichstag building and the Berlin Wall.
You will not regret this trip of a lifetime.