Beyond Berlin’s Christmas markets

Discover cosy cafés, hot chocolate spots and choirs of Christmas carollers

Nowhere does Christmas quite like Berlin. And though you shouldn’t miss the famous festive markets, there’s much more to Berlin than bratwurst and Glühwein. Escape the crowds and hole up in a cosy café, with a piping hot slab of strudel. Or wrap up and explore the city’s winter-themed events and dazzling exhibitions. All before checking into one of the best luxury hotels in Berlin.

Feast in Berlin’s hottest foodie spots

If you’re braving the city’s bracing weather, it’s worth seeking out something special. Thankfully, Berlin has a dazzling fine dining scene, emblazoned with Michelin stars. At low-lit Japanese restaurant Zenkichi, you can enjoy melt-in-your-mouth sashimi and Kosen-style scallops. Or in the light, playful atmosphere of PANAMA, dine on central American specialities, like octopus carpaccio and empanadas.

Wherever you go, you’ll be spoilt for choice for both venue and menu. Or if you simply want to thaw out over a coffee and a cake, there are plenty of cosy spots to discover. Try Katie’s Blue Cat Café for some hearty pies, freshly-baked cakes and foamy lattes. Or for a light lunch in vintage-inspired surrounds, head to Wohnzimmer, or ‘living room’ in German. Here, you’ll be transported back to the 1920s, with velvet sofas wrapped around ceiling-high pillars, and pops of floral furnishings offsetting the otherwise muted décor.

Make footprints in the snow

Berlin Unter den Linden

The best way to get a feel for Berlin in winter is on foot. At night time, Tiergarten turns into an enchanted forest, with its desolate woods blanketed by fog. For a more social affair, the Berlin-Dahlem Botanical Garden hosts winter-themed events. If you’re planning a trip here, make sure you’re layered up (or down) – the Main Tropical Greenhouse is warm and humid, even in winter, allowing exotic plants to bloom all year round.

If you’d simply like to take your camera on a walk, there’s plenty to see and snap around Christmas time. Unter den Linden boulevard is lined with 220 illuminated trees you won’t need a flash for. Running between the City Palace and Brandenburg Gate, this glittering stretch puts you right within reach of the city’s best sights.

Top Tip: If you’re searching for that festive feeling, head over to Köpenick’s football club on December 23rd, and join the crowds of Christmas carollers. This is an annual event that gets more magical every year, and the numbers can rise into the thousands. If you’d rather not sing along, you can simply go to watch, or even just spend the evening drinking mulled wine and eating German biscuits.

Cool galleries and captivating culture

Orania Berlin

If you’re looking to escape from the snow, spend the day in one of Berlin’s many art galleries. Around every corner, there are buildings buzzing with Renaissance masterpieces and modern art exhibitions.

Peruse the walls of Gemäldegalerie and marvel at its world-renowned collection of 13th-18th century artwork. Or seek out Berlin’s best kept secret – the Sammlung Boros Collection. You can only visit this über-exclusive gallery if you’ve made an appointment, but it’s well worth the effort. Built as a bomb shelter in 1942, the building oozes history, excitement and intrigue. Over the years, many contemporary artists have exhibited here – from technology-driven Olafur Eliasson to conceptual trail-blazer Tracey Emin.

For culture without the cold, check in at Orania.Berlin. This luxury hotel hosts intimate concerts and film screenings, so you can cosy up in your home-away-from-home. And with so much happening, you won’t miss out by staying in.

So take a seat in the bar, with an Asbach Manhattan in hand while soothing jazz lingers in the air. In a hotel boasting Gatsby-age grandiose and Eastern-inspired touches, your Berlin city break will surely end on a high.