Winter Experiences in Berlin
During the winter months, Berlin plays host to all kinds of one-off events, as well as plenty of staples that have become regulars on the end-of-year calendar. If you're considering a winter city break, Berlin has something to offer everyone - from romantic strolls in some of Europe's most beautiful gardens, to silent films at midnight, here are some of the best winter experiences in Berlin for 2017:
Explore a Christmas Market
Berlin is famous throughout the world for the transformation that takes place during the festive period, and much of this is down to the markets, which are some of the best that can be found anywhere. With over 700 to choose from, it can be a little overwhelming, but a few stand out.
For unique, handmade products, then the Weihnachtszauber Gendarmenmarkt is an excellent choice. Hosting manufacturers, craftsman, and artisans from all over the world, this market - situated in front of the Konzerthaus on the Gendarmenmarkt, and accessible on foot from stations including Französische Straße - is a fantastic place to shop for an authentic gift.
For something that breaks from tradition a little, and ideal if you're travelling with family, take a trip to Alexanderplatz and visit the market 'Wintertraum am Alexa', also known as the 'Las Vegas of Christmas Markets'. It plays host to an exciting pop-up theme park, and still offers plenty of festive staples including glühwein (mulled wine).
Take a walk in the Tiergarten
The Tiergarten is beautiful at any time of year, but winter is the perfect time to visit. The most popular park in Berlin, the Tiergarten - which comprises some 520 acres - is the perfect place for a romantic walk. With its avenues of trees, assortment of lakes, open areas, and even historical buildings, it's an ideal place for a winter stroll.
If you're feeling particularly ambitious (and aren't phased by heights), then you can even climb to the top of the Berlin Victory Column. Rising unmistakably from the centre of the Tiergarten, visitors can climb its 220 feet for one of the best views of the entire city.
Catch a film at the Berlinale
While outdoor pursuits - particularly if it snows - can add a magical charm to a winter break, it's a good idea to plan a few indoor activities. During the winter, Berlin is the perfect city to catch a movie, as it plays host to one of the most iconic film festivals in the world - the Berlinale.
Taking place a little later in the calendar, between the 15th and 25th of February, the festival is the ideal end-of-winter experience for cineastes and film lovers. With a programme that's released merely days before the festival takes place, it's a chance to mingle with some of the stars of Hollywood (and the film industry more broadly). The festival will host a number of premieres, and will open in 2018 with Wes Anderson's upcoming 'Isle of Dogs'.
Having just marked its 30 year anniversary, Transmediale is another chance to experience the cutting edge of digital art and culture in Berlin. Usually held in late January and early February, this festival runs for around 5 days and gives visitors a chance to experience a variety of exhibition mediums including performance, film, and workshops.
In 2018, Transmediale will centre around the concept of 'face value', and the many artists involved will explore current affairs, and aim to give audiences a deeper understanding of the many issues that run throughout society - challenging our propensity to accept things as they seem, and instead show them for what they truly are.
Visit one of Berlin's many galleries or museums
Berlin is an art-and-culture-lover's paradise, with over 100 galleries and museums to choose from, showcasing everything from the works of the most recognisable names in modern art, to the classic pieces of ancient history. Whatever your tastes, a visit to a gallery or museum in winter time offers you both the chance to absorb some of the best culture in the city.
Lovers of modern art should take a trip to Hamburger Bahnhoff, a former railway station built in 1847, that has be redesigned and repurposed as the home of pieces by some of the best contemporary artists such as Andy Warhol and Joseph Bueys. This winter, a new exhibition titled 'How to talk with birds, trees, fish, shells, snakes, lions and bulls' will run until March, and will feature pieces by Antje Majewski and many others.
For something a little more traditional, the iconic Museum Island is a must see. A short distance from the Brandenburg Gate, and within walking distance of our luxury apartment in Berlin, Museum Island is home to 5 museums (and you can purchase a ticket that allows access to all 5), which include the Old National Gallery, and the Pergamom Museum.
During a visit, you'll be able to see the legendary bust of Nefertiti, and the Pergamom Altar, among countless other cultural items exhibits. Even the architecture on the island itself is a beauty to behold.
Warm up at a luxury spa
While wrapping up and exploring the city carries a specific charm, during a visit to Berlin in the winter, those looking to indulge and experience a little pampering away from the cold outdoors should visit one of Berlin's high-end luxury spas. There are several to choose from, each offering a variety of treatments and therapies, and an afternoon of relaxation in a spa could be the perfect pick-me-up for the rest of your stay.
In particular, luxury travellers should seek out Vabali Spa. Spread over a total of 20,000 square meters, this breathtaking estate is authentically designed with an exotic, Balinese charm, and its treatments are second to none. With a sauna, wellness and massage program, and day spa, this slice of paradise is the perfect place for a luxury top up.
Experience the magic of silent cinema - at midnight
If you don't mind the occasional late night, then Berlin could also offer a truly unforgettable way to experience the charm of the bygone days of silent cinema. The Babylon cinema opened its doors in 1929, and since 2013 it's been hosting weekly screenings of classic silent cinema from the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton.
These aren't your average multiplex viewings though: the screenings take place at midnight, and are accompanied by a live performance on the cinema's original organ - the only one of its kind in Berlin. The screenings are completely free, but are currently only scheduled in December, and you'll need to make sure you turn up early enough to get a seat!
Enjoy a performance at a world-renowned opera house
Opera and ballet remain staple features on the itinerary of many luxury travellers, and there are few better places to enjoy a performance than Berlin. During a winter stay, programmes tend towards classic festive tales such as The Nutcracker, but there are also plenty of more contemporary offerings to experience.
The Komische Oper is well-regarded for its incredible staging and jarring, edgy performances - this winter, visitors can enjoy (among a number of shows) a beautiful rendition of 'Fiddler on the Roof'. The opera house features screens on the backs of its seats, so you can select your own subtitle language. For those who prefer something more traditional, there are plenty of other exceptional options too - with Staatsoper and Deutsch Oper Berlin often recognised as highlights.
Indulge in some retail therapy
Travellers who appreciate a little retail therapy will also have plenty of boxes to tick on their winter calendar in Berlin, with the particular focus being on Fashion Week. Berlin's Fashion Week takes place between the 16th and 19th of January in 2018, and will feature collections and catwalks from many of the world's most respected designers.
Those who prefer to take things at their own pace will also be able to enjoy some of Berlin's many outstanding shopping centres. One particular standout is the Kaufhaus des Westens, which includes a luxury food hall on the 6th floor that's well-known throughout the gastronomic world. It's the perfect place to refuel during a day's shopping, and it's also an ideal spot to pick up a gift or two for any foodie loved ones back home.