Temporary Furnished Accommodaton in Berlin

Should you get an Invoice and a Rent Receipt if you Rent a Furnished Apartment?

invoices

 

Sometimes tenants request an invoice for the rent of their furnished flat. Most often, it is their employer’s accounting department who requires an invoice.

In Germany, there are no rental invoices for apartments, whether you rent furnished and temporarily or unfurnished with an open-ended rental agreement. You will always get a rental agreement though. All information regarding the rent, payment etc. is specified in this agreement.

If you are renting though a business, the rental agreement should be passed on to the accounting department. It works as an invoice, and is also eligible for tax purposes.

The payment of the rent is always monthly. You transfer the rent and the deposit to the owner’s account. It is not common to receive a rental receipt either, since the rent is paid by bank transfer. Please note that the rent cannot be paid by credit card.

Your bank statement is the receipt and proof that you have paid, but you can still ask the owner whether your payment has arrived. It is best to ask after the first payment, and then set up a standing order.

Owners of furnished apartments are private individuals and not businesses.

 

Rent and VAT

Sometimes companies ask for an invoice including VAT. There are only a few apartments where the rent includes VAT or VAT has to be paid. Should an apartment’s rent include VAT- or if it has to be added – the relevant information should be on our website and also in the rental agreement.

 

Furnished Apartments Versus Serviced Apartments

Furnished apartments are most often privately owned, whereas serviced apartments – often a whole complex – are a business. If you rent a serviced apartment, you receive an invoice, a receipt, and the rent includes VAT.

In a nutshell – the differences between furnished and serviced apartment in our handy table below:

 

invoice

 

If you have any other queries or questions, check out our A-Z glossary – it contains everything you might need to know about renting a furnished apartment in Berlin.

Best Way to Learn German in Berlin: 7 Expert Tips + Help with Choosing German Language School

learn german in berlin

 

So You Finally Want to Learn German. Congratulations!

 

If you’re not a new arrival, chances are good that you’ve already attempted to learn German but have most likely given up. It might not be that you’re lazy, but it’s just so easy to survive in Berlin without speaking a word of German. The other reason might be frustration – it appears as though one life is not enough to complete the task of learning German. Do not despair, help is on the way! It is possible to improve your German, even if you don’t have time to spend the next few years at a language school.

In this article, we’ve gathered 7 tips on how to learn German in Berlin and how to choose a German language school in Berlin.  Our expert tips are even suitable for those who have given up hope of mastering the German language. These tips are perfect for expats living in Berlin.

 

1. Not second-best: online courses
2. German tandem partners
3. German private tutors
4. Download a language app
5. The classical approach: learn German at a language school
6. Take a Bildungsurlaub to learn German in Berlin
7. Immerse yourself in the German language
8. Conclusion

 

1. Not Second-Best: Online German Courses

You may be surprised that our first tip is for an online course. There appears to be a belief that attending a face-to-face language course is the best option to learn German. But before you skip over this paragraph, please wait!
The options that I want to present are not run-of-the-mill courses. They actually introduce you to a new world of language learning. These courses are suitable for beginners and learners with a language school past who still struggle when they try to form a German sentences.  Does that sound familiar? They’re the ones with the long pauses, when they go through the conjugation and declination table.
Plus, another benefit of online learning: complete flexibility.

 

smarterGerman: The Unconventional Online Course from Berlin   

Michael Schmitz – founder and tutor of smarterGerman – has been teaching the language for more than 15 years. He has come to the conclusion that group classes just aren’t effective. Schmitz even stating that they are a waste of time, money and energy.  A strong opinion indeed, but his argument actually makes sense. In conventional language classes, it takes ages before you learn to use an ‘object’. To combat this, the accusative case should be introduced first. In traditional classes grammar dictates how and what you learn, and you can spend weeks learning to introduce yourself and saying where you come from. Not an awfully tempting experience. Schmitz teaches patterns, not grammar. In his course you learn to use the past tense in the second session. He concentrates on the relevant pieces of information. This approach makes learning German faster and much more efficient.  And the best bit –  you also use your mother tongue to learn German. The idea behind this is that you learn the way German differentiates from your mother tongue, as well as what the similarities might be. This may sound academic but it is not. In German you say: “Sprichst du Deutsch?” – which would be “Speak-st you German” – and not “Do you speak German?” This helps beginners and advanced learners to understand the order of words.
Are you curious? Check out the free trial and the Youtube videos. I especially recommend the German articles unit. The technique Schmitz uses is not new, but quite surprisingly so far nobody has used it to teach German.

The Course: Smarter German
Cost: €357 + VAT, can be paid in installments over 3, 6 or 12 months
Level: A1-B1 – You can undertake the course in your own time, and for as long as you like.
Other Benefits: Live chat with Michael Schmitz once a week

 

Rocket German: Authentic Conversation

Grammar first learning – this is on Rocket German’s not-to-do list! This program is available not only for German but for many other languages.  What makes Rocket German special is their emphasis on spoken German: modern dialogue which is entertaining, and sometimes even goofy. Rocket German chooses real life situations and that is what you need when learning a language. So instead of booking hotels over the phone, something nobody does nowadays, introducing yourself or asking for directions, the lessons start with ordering a coffee. What could be more suitable for life in Berlin?
My only criticism: The voice recognition does not seem to be ideal in order to improve your pronunciation. Nik, one of the teachers, is a little too chatty. She and Paul, who is introduced as a Bavarian, aren’t German native speakers, they have a slight American accent.
Finally, this course is interactive. You play a part in a dialogue, which includes vocal training. So what is unique about Rocket German? It’s an award winning system and you can download the content easily to learn at your own pace.

The Course: Rocket Languages German
Cost: Levels 1 & 2 range from €210 to €250 (comes with a 60 day refund policy)

 

Here’s a selection of some other online or self-study options:

FluentU – Online video-based language course. Free trial, but you have to register a credit card.
Fluenz –  Attempts to simulate one-on-one tutoring. The courses are all designed from the point of view of an English speaker, but the method is not new and progress is slower than with other programs.
ASSiMil – With ASSiMil you learn the language as a child learns. ASSiMil offers short units, and you learn 20 minutes a day within the context of a dialogue. This is a useful method, but the materials are not as advanced as those of their competitors.

 

 

2. Tandem Partners

Getting a German tandem partner is a good idea if you want to brush up your language skills, and if you need a real-life counterpart.  They are also a good way to make some native German-speaking friends. But a tandem partner only makes sense if you already have a good working knowledge of German.  With a tandem partner you chat, but if you are unable to express yourself, the conversation may become boring or you might find yourself switching back to English. In my opinion, tandem partners only make sense if you have at least a B1 level.

 

You can find a tandem partner here:

On Facebook: Tandem-Partners Berlin
Tandem Partners – Free of charge, lots of Berliners German native speakers.
Tandem – Many people registered. Create an account to start connecting with individuals.
Scrabbin  Lots of individuals registered. You have to create an account to get some information on them.
Meetup – Not simply for tandem partners, Meetup is a social connection site where you can join a special interest group or start your own group. 

 

 

3. German Tutors

You can book private tuition at any language school. The prices start at approx. 35 Euro/unit (incl. VAT). You generally have to book a session of two units, which form a total of 90 minutes altogether. Private teaching can take place at a language school, your office, or at home. If the teacher has to travel to you, this will most-likely cost extra. Private tuition is, of course, much more intensive, and it is you that decides on the curriculum. Private lessons are a good choice if you can’t commit to a weekly course, or if you need training in a specific field.
A final possibility is to opt for a private one-on-one teacher. There are several platforms online where teachers can advertise their services.

Verbling
Online private tutors and teachers with online, video tuition. Teachers are given a star rating based on reviews from other students. The prices of teachers vary. For a few Euros you can book a 30 minute trial. There are short videos of every tutor so you can choose one that appeals to you, as well as a schedule to show when that teacher is available.

Teacher Finder
Here you can book a private tutor in your city. Prices are fixed, and it is always 25 Euro per hour in Berlin if you live close to the city centre. If you’re further out you’ll probably have to pay extra.
You cannot choose a teacher, but instead you register online and write what you are looking for. A teacher will contact you and you arrange either face-to-face lessons or online tuition.
This option is fairly inexpensive, so even though there is no guarantee that the teacher is qualified, it can be worth testing out.

With these options you have to evaluate your teacher’s qualifications yourself. Depending on the quality of your teacher, this might not actually end up a financially sound option.

 

 

4. Download a Language App

Apps are fun and you can use them for learning German. They are mostly suitable for learning vocabulary. Try practicing while you’re travelling to work, perhaps on the train or in the bus. Some apps even connect you to your friends, so you can add an element of competition to your learning.

 

You can learn German with these apps:

  • DuoLingo (iOS, Android, Windows Phone)
    This is the best app for language learning. It is interactive, colourful, simple and fun to use. Plus you can add your friends to track learning and progress.
  • Babbel (iOS, Android)
    Simple and easy to use, plus the app can synchronise across devices.
  • Memrise (iOS, Android),
    Memrise focuses on vocabulary, and is easy and entertaining. You can also follow fellow learners and compete for points for a higher ranking.
  • Busuu (iOS, Android)
    Busuu functions as a standalone language tool more than other apps. Plus, you don’t need an internet connection to learn.
  • Mindsnacks (iOS)
    The most visual app on the market. Mindsnacks is fun and easy to play while commuting to work. You’ll forget you were even learning German!

 

 

5. The Classical Approach: Learn German at a Language School

A language school is the obvious choice to learn German. In Berlin there’s an abundance of schools. Most of them offer intensive, evening  and test preparation classes. It is impossible to tell which school is the best.  It all depends on the teacher. Most teachers who teach German as a foreign language are dedicated, but they should also know how to simplify the process and guide you. The most obvious difference between schools is the price.  The more expensive schools don’t automatically guarantee superiority, but it is likely that they have students that are more eager to learn German.

One of the least expensive is the Volkshochschule. They offer 12 locations in each of the districts around Berlin and provide evening courses as well.  On the other end of the spectrum is the Goethe Institut: the most expensive and prestigious language school in Berlin. Their courses are over €1000.  It is interesting, that both the Volkshochschule and the Goetheinstitute have larger classes  (Goethe <16) than the private language schools .

So, how do I choose a good German language school in Berlin?

 

Here is a list of things to consider when choosing a German language school:     

  • Choose a school nearby
    It is better to book a course close to your home or work. If you have to travel too far, it will be harder to maintain motivation.

 

  • Take a trial class.
    The quality of any school depends on the instructor. They all offer fairly the same approach, so it really comes down to the teacher. If you take a trial class, you can find out if you like the atmosphere, the tutor and learning style before you commit to an entire course. Most schools offer trial classes, so you should test them out before you commit to an entire course.

 

  • Class size
    The size of the class is important. The students should speak in class and the teacher should correct improper pronunciation. This is difficult if there are too many students. The fewer, the better.

 

  • Testing to check your level.
    Every school should offer a test before you begin. Online tests are okay, but they don’t actually say anything about your active knowledge. The tests are always multiple choice. With tests like this, there is a good chance you will end up as an advanced beginner, even for Mandarin. There should always be an oral and/or written test at school.

 

  • Finding the right level
    You have a better chance to find a course that really suits your level if you enrol at a big German language school. In smaller schools, there are often fewer classes. Because of this they sometimes have to put students at different levels together into one class.

 

  • Grammar should not be taught in German
    Language schools often promote the total immersion into a language. This often means that grammar is also taught in German. Whether you are a beginner or more advanced, you have to understand the grammar. If you don’t, you’ll likely feel lost. If you are a beginner, a mono-lingual course in German does not make sense. It’s hard enough to use grammer correctly, why do you need to learn it in another language first? The aim is to avoid wasting time. You probably wouldn’t have German explanations in your home country. Mono-lingual classes make sense if you are at a B1+ level, not before.

 

Here is a small selection of schools:

Mitte
DAS Akademie (Torstr. 125, 10119)
did Deutsch-Institut Berlin (Novalisstr. 12, 10115)
Humboldt Institute (Invalidenstraße 19, 10115)

Prenzlauer Berg
GLS Berlin  (Prenzlauer Berg, Kastanienallee 82, 10435)

Friedrichshain
speakeasy Berlin (Warschauer Str. 36, 10243)

Kreuzberg
Sprachpunkt (Lausitzer Str. 13, 10999)

Neukölln
Transmitter (Allerstr. 15, 12049)
Sprachmafia (Schillerpromenade 25, 12049)

Schöneberg
Alpadia (Hauptstraße 23-24, 10827)

Wedding
IIK berlinerID (Oudenarder Str. 16, 13347)

Charlottenburg
Steinke-Institut (Wilmersdorfer Str. 58, 10627)

Wilmersdorf
Die Neue Schule (Gieselerstraße 30a, 10713)

 

 

6. Take a Bildungsurlaub to Learn German in Berlin

You did not have enough time to improve your German but German is essential to your work in Berlin.  If so, take a Bildungsurlaub! (educational leave). Instead of going to work, you take an intensive German language course. If you’re over 25 you can take 10 days of leave within two years, if you’re under 25 you get 10 days each year. The course you attend must be certified for a Bildungsurlaub.

 

 

7. Immerse Yourself in the German language

Listen and speak German as often as possible, if you already have a working knowledge of German. Watch television, switch your Netflix to Deutsch and read German newspapers. You can start with the tabloids, they are easier to understand. And most importantly: Speak German in your everyday life! Don’t worry about making mistakes, it’s always better to try. If individuals respond in English, hold your ground, reply ‘auf Deutsch’!
You can also read the Crocodilian blog in German from now on 😉

 

 

8. To Summarise:

There is not “the one and only way” to lean German. Everybody learns differently and no method works for everybody. It also makes sense to go for a combination.
Take your time and test different options yourself. After a few days if you still remember what you learned in the trial, whether on or offline, this is a good sign.

We’d love to hear from you! Add a comment below and let us know about your learning experience.

From Berlin to the Sea: 7 Day Trips to the Baltic Sea

Are you craving for some fresh air? Escape Berlin for a few hours and discover nature by the Baltic Sea. Of course, there are plenty of beautiful destinations around Berlin, but if you’d like to wander the beach and experience the water, then a day trip to the Baltic Sea is your best chance. Find a lovely café and enjoy a classic Fischbrötchen (fish sandwich).

You can get to the Baltic Sea easily – in the morning and evening there are buses and trains between the two locations.

Here at Crocodilian, we love a great escape. And to share our knowledge we’ve chosen 7 day trips that are easily accessible without a car. Better yet, in each of the towns the beaches are within walking distance! Leave Berlin in the morning and head towards the Baltic Sea to enjoy many hours of sand and sea. Leave late afternoon to be back in the evening for dinner. Are you ready to pack your things and go?
So without further ado, we present: From Berlin to the Sea – 7 Day Trips to the Baltic Sea

day trips to the baltic sea

Pixaby CC0 Creative Commons Fotograf: TorstenDorran

1. Day trip from Berlin to Warnemünde

For Germans, the former fishing village of Warnemünde is one of the most popular getaways. The long sandy beach is perfect for a stroll. Warnemünde is very easy to reach from Berlin – take the train for maximum comfort, or save money with an inexpensive long-distance bus. You could even pass the time by reading a book or taking a nap before you arrive.

Travel time: approx. 3h
Sightseeing tip: Warnemünde Lighthouse

 

2. Day trip from Berlin to Zingst

Zingst is located in the far north of the country, in the middle of Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft National Park. To make your day trip to Zingst worthwhile, you should arrive as early as possible. The beach is extensive and untouched, and the surrounding landscape offers pristine views. As an added benefit, the bus arrives directly in the centre of Zingst.

Travel time: from approx. 4h
Sightseeing tip: Max Hünten Haus

 

3. Day trip from Berlin to Wismar

Arriving at the tranquil station in the Hanseatic city of Wismar, it is worth taking a walk through the old town. To get directly to the beach, you change at the port to one of the regional bus lines. These run several times an hour. It takes approximately 15 minutes to reach Wendorf beach.

Travel time: approx. 4h
Sightseeing tip: Nikolaikirche (St Nicholas Church)

 

4. Day trip from Berlin to Timmendorfer Strand

Timmendorfer Strand boasts a seven-kilometre-long stretch of sand with typical beach huts and a sophisticated atmosphere. In the popular village there are numerous quaint stores to wander and shop. After a long stroll, numerous restaurants and cafés on the waterfront invite you to relax and enjoy the serene atmosphere.

Travel time: approx. 3.5h
Sightseeing tip: Hafen Niendorf (Niendorf Harbour)

 

5. Day trip from Berlin to Usedom

Bus and train travel directly from Berlin to Heringsdorf on Usedom: the second largest island in Germany. It’s easy to forget the noise of city as you pass the beautiful pier, on the beach of Heringsdorf.

Travel time: from approx. 3h
Sightseeing tip: Villa Irmgard

 

6. Day trip from Berlin to Ueckermünde

Particularly worthwhile in terms of history is a day trip to Ueckermünde. In around two and a half hours you can get from Berlin to Ueckermünde Stadthafen via Pasewalk. You can stroll through the dreamy old town towards the beach, which promises even more relaxing walks.

Travel time: approx. 2.5h
Sightseeing tip: Haffmuseum in the Castle Ueckermünde

day trips to the baltic sea

Pixaby CC0 Creative Commons Fotograf: WaldNob

7. Day trip from Berlin to Rügen

Leave early via train or bus to get to Germany’s largest island Rügen, and the relaxing resort town of Binz. On the way you’ll see the impressive beach promenade, and the many villas that boast typical seaside architecture. City stress? Far away.

Travel time: approx. 4h
Sightseeing tip: Colossus of Prora

 

Travel Tips:

To book the cheapest and best train or bus tickets, compare prices via GoEuro
Information and timetables available from Fahrplan Guru

Berlin’s Best Museums: 8 Must-See Spots

Berlin boasts a mind-boggling 175 world-class museums. As one of Europe’s cultural capitals, the city offers everything from the historical wonders of the Pergamon Museum, to the acclaimed Daniel Liebskind-designed Jewish Museum. Steeped in history, each location is a treasure trove of monumental architecture juxtaposed alongside contemporary adaptations. Whether you’re a recent arrival, or have been in the city for some time, Berlin’s best museums should be high on your must-see list.

So which spots should you check out? We’ve gathered our 8 favourites. Take a peek below and check out Berlin’s best museums.

 

Berlin’s best museums

Foto: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra

1. New Museum (Neues Museum)

Inside the Neues Museum you’ll encounter one of the Ancient Egypt’s most famous treasures: the bust of Egyptian Queen Nefertiti. It’s part of the world-renowned Egyptian Museum, which forms the three-part collection. The impressive prehistoric collection also includes a Neanderthal skull and legendary archeologist Heinrich Schliemann’s Trojan antiquities. The David Chipperfield-designed interior is incredible in its own right. It is truly a joy to wander the various rooms and observe each individual wall’s decorative style.

Where: Neues Museum, Mitte (Museum Island – Bodestrasse 1-3, 10178)
Opening Hours:
Everyday 10 – 18
Thursday 10 – 20
Cost: 12€
More Information: Neues Museum

 

 

Berlin’s best museums

Photograph of the ‘Lichthof’ of the Berlin Naturkundemuseum Foto: ilja.nieuwland at English Wikipedia

2. National History Museum (Museum für Naturkunde)

Tristan, as he is affectionately named, is the Museum für Naturkunde’s superstar, and Europe’s only original dinosaur skeleton. The stately façade of this museum leads to over 30 million (and counting) zoological, paleontological, geological and mineralogical specimens; perfect for those with a fascination for all things planet Earth.

Where: Museum für Naturkunde, Mitte (Invalidenstrasse 43, 10115)
Opening Hours:
Tuesday – Friday 9:30 – 18
Saturday, Sunday and public holidays 10 – 18
Closed Monday
Cost: 8€
More Information: Museum für Naturkunde

 

 

Berlin’s best museums

Altar to Zeus in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin Foto: Jan Maksymilian Mehlich

3. Pergamon Museum

The Pergamon was built on Berlin’s Museum Island between 1910 and 1930. It houses some of the most impressive historical wonders of the ancient and modern worlds, including the Pergamon Altar, for example, and the remarkable Ishtar Gate of Babylon. Expect a dazzling array of artefacts from the Middle East, Iran, Asia Minor, Egypt and the Caucasus.

Where: Pergamon Museum, Mitte (Museum Island – Bodestrasse, 10178)
Opening Hours:
Everyday 10 – 18
Thursday 10 – 20
Cost: 12€
More Information: Pergamon Museum

 

 

Berlin’s best museums

The Topography of Terror, with the Berlin Wall in the background.
Foto: Kevin Rutherford

4. Topography of Terror

Berlin was a volatile place throughout the 20th century. The Topography of Terror remains one of the city’s most compelling exhibits. Running alongside a remnant of the Berlin Wall, this open air display charts the ride and fall of the Third Reich, offering a profound insight into the events leading up to, and following, the Second World War.

Where: Topography of Terror, Mitte (Niederkirchnerstraße 8, 10963)
Opening Hours:
Everyday 10 – 20
Cost: Free
More Information: Topography of Terror

 

 

Berlin’s best museums

© Jorge Royan http://www.royan.com.ar CC BY-SA 3.0

5. Jewish Museum

The Jewish Museum celebrates the social, political and cultural history of Germany’s Jewish populations from the fourth century to the present. Most importantly, it was also constructed to acknowledge and integrate the repercussions of the Holocaust. Designed by revered architect Daniel Liebskind, this is one of Berlin’s best museums and a compelling experience that is also acclaimed for its unique and thought-provoking design.

Where: Jewish Museum Berlin, Kreuzberg (Lindenstrasse 9-14, 10969)
Opening Hours:
Monday: 10 – 22
Tuesday – Sunday: 10 – 20
Cost: 8€
More Information: Jewish Museum Berlin

 

 

Berlin’s best museums

The DDR Museum

6. DDR Museum

Here you can sit in a Trabi, or dine at an authentic Soviet-era restaurant. The DDR Museum is located in the heart of the city, and documents life as it was for East Berliners under the DDR regime. This exhibition is an interactive one, and let’s you feel, grasp and play with a number of objects and furnishings.  The museum covers topics such as the Stasi, the Berlin Wall, and the day to day affairs of East Berliners during the Wall years.

Where: DDR Museum, Mitte (Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 1, 10178 )
Opening Hours:
Monday – Sunday: 10 – 20
Saturday: 10 – 22
Cost: 5,50€
More Information: DDR Musuem

 

 

Berlin’s best museums

The Frankfurt Kitchen, originally designed by Architect, Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky
Foto: Jonathan Savoie

7. Museum of Things (Museum der dinge)

The Museum of Things is one of Berlin’s most unique and interesting experiences – a rare exhibition of design and culture from throughout the 20th and 21st century. The museum displays over 20,000 everyday objects centered on the German Werkbund (DWB), which is an association of artists, architects, designers and industrialists that contributed to the creation of the Bauhaus School of Design.

Where: Museum der Dinge, Kreuzberg (Oranienstrasse 25, 10999)
Opening Hours:
Everyday: 12 – 19
Closed Tuesday and Wednesday
Cost: 6€
More Information: Museum der Dinge

 

 

berlin's best museums

Der Blaue Engel (The Blue Angel) (1930), featuring Marlene Dietrich.

8. The German Film Museum (Deutsche Kinemathek)

The German Film Museum’s permanent exhibition spans the entire duration of German film and television. With particular focus on Marlene Dietrich, the exhibit also boasts information relating to the exile of artists to Hollywood during the Nazi era. As well as the permanent exhibition, the museum also offers a regular circulation of temporary exhibits, such as the celebration of 100-year-old UFA production company in Babelsberg.

Where: Deutsche Kinemathek, Tiergarten (Potsdamer Straße 2, 10785)
Opening Hours:
Tuesday – Sunday: 10 – 18
Thursday: 10 – 20
Closed Monday
Cost: 7€
More Information:  Deutsche Kinmathek

 

6 Tips to Survive New Year’s Eve in Berlin

When it comes to New Year’s Eve celebrations, none really compare to the sheer chaos and craziness of Berlin. Long before the clock strikes 12am, Berliners will have been ringing in ‘Silvester’ with an inordinate number of explosives, lighting up the streets and sky – terrifying tourists and those unprepared for the ecstatic celebrations.

Fireworks are taken seriously in German cities. Ordinarily illegal, the city lifts its ban for one week after Christmas to allow citizens the chance to purchase their weight in dynamite.

But where did this tradition begin? Harking back to the pagan celebration Rauhnächte, Germanic tribes observed twelve nights of festivity. Known as ‘hairy nights’ due to the woolly figures of winter demons, these nights were considered a moment of realignment between the solar and lunar years. Silvester fell somewhere in the middle of these twelve days, and was the night of the god Wotan’s (a.k.a Odin’s) wild hunt. Firecrackers, drums and chanting were employed to drive away the malevolent spirits, while Germanic Teutons emulated the sun by lighting wooden wheels on fire and rolling them down hills.

These days it isn’t much different. Along with the huge festival by the Brandenburg Gate, large social groups congregate in the streets, tossing firecrackers, releasing explosives and drinking sparkling wine. If you’ve decided to brave the bash, read on below for 6 helpful tips to survive the world’s craziest New Year’s celebration.

3, 2, 1 …let the party begin…

new year's eve

Foto: Ian Schneider

1. Expect the unexpected

The best way to prepare for a New Year’s Eve in Berlin is to expect a few surprises. As the sale of fireworks is legal between Christmas and the new year, every retail outlet, supermarket and corner store transforms into a pop-up ‘Feuerwerk’ emporium.  And don’t expect Berliners to wait until the 31st to release their purchases – the explosions begin as early as the 27th of December and increase in the lead up to NYE. Much like being caught in the eye of the storm, the fireworks tend to cease an hour or two before the countdown, most likely allowing individuals to gather firepower for the main event.

Don’t forget: to pack your sparkling wine

new year's eve

View over Warschauer Brücke. Foto: Max Langelott

2. Keep your eyes and your ears peeled

You’ll hear the fireworks before you see them – thunderous ‘ka-booms’ that resonate for hundreds of metres in every direction. Although Berlin is one of the safest cities in the world, you might be mistaken for thinking you’d ambled into a war zone. Keep your wits about you and avoid stepping on any unexploded ordnances.

Look out for: young children wielding firecrackers

new year's eve

Foto: Zara Walker

3. Prepare yourself

If you’ve not yet experienced a Berlin New Year’s Eve, the best thing you can do is to prepare yourself. Your nerves with be shot, your adrenaline pumping and most likely your ears ringing. Despite the deafening roar of explosions, Berliners generally seem impervious to the ear-splitting noise. Pack yourself some earmuffs to ward off the cold and keep your nerves somewhat intact.

Additional provisions: fire extinguisher, safety goggles and drinking water.

new year's eve

Foto: Gabriel Gurrola

4. Close your apartment doors, windows…and curtains

Over the years a number of horror stories have emerged of individuals who failed to close their flat’s windows before heading out for New Year’s Eve. As you can imagine, fireworks entering one’s furnished flat is highly undesirable, and should be avoided at all costs.

Remember: to close your windows and lock them tight!

new year's eve

5. If you have a car, park it in a garage

Similarly, if you have a vehicle parked in the street, you may want to consider housing it safely overnight in a garage. Stray fireworks, broken glass and other miscellaneous debris can damage your automobile, so parking it securely is the best option.

Tip: drive away…fast!

new year's eve

Foto: Daniel Von Appen

6. Avoid the hotspots

Although the entire city is teeming with people, some areas of Berlin become particularly hectic on New Year’s Eve. Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain and Neukölln can be especially chaotic, so if you’re looking for a somewhat peaceful evening, these spots should be avoided.

Look out for: Kottbusser Tor, Görlitzer Park, Oberbaumbrücke, Alexanderplatz, Kultur Brauerei, Potsdamer Platz, Ku-Damm, Hermannplatz, Mehringdamm

And of course, if you decide to skip the madness and spend the evening at home, you must follow the German tradition of watching the 1963 TV recording of British comedy sketch ‘Dinner for One’. Rather unknown outside of Germany, it holds the Guinness World Record for Most Frequently Repeated TV Program.

new year's eve

© visitBerlin, Foto: Wolfgang Scholvien

From all of us here at Crocodilian, we wish you a safe and enjoyable night.

Happy New Year and Glückliches Neues Jahr!

– The Crocodilian Team

7 New Year’s Resolutions for Life in Berlin

There’s no doubt about it, when it comes to making New Year’s resolutions we typically overextend ourselves by setting unreachable goals. ‘Spend less, save more’, ‘get fit’, ‘live life to the fullest’, the list of New Year’s resolutions maintains its predictability year after year. So why not set in motion some manageable objectives to jumpstart January with enthusiasm? Below we’ve gathered 7 New Year’s resolutions for life in Berlin – realistic targets that anyone can accomplish, and goals that are not only achievable, but will improve your life in the city.

new year's resolutions

1. Finally learn German

You’ve been so busy reveling in the city’s nightlife, enjoying your furnished flat, making new friends and working that a year (or more) has passed and you still haven’t perfected the native language. Learning German not only facilitates interactions with bureaucratic offices and their associated paperwork, but helps you settle into life in Berlin.

new year's resolutions

2. Immerse yourself in the city’s culture

On average, Berlin has more museums than rainy days. This can be easy to forget thanks to the fact that we dwell within comfort-zones, and that Berlin’s rain feels perpetual.  An outstanding cultural capital, you can make 2018 your year of cultural immersion by purchasing a museum pass and visiting the city’s many attractions.

There are a few options when it comes to buying tickets. If you have an entire weekend to spare and want to skip the queues, look at purchasing a 3-day pass. This 29€ ticket offers access over three consecutive days to 35 different museums, and can be bought online or at any of the participating establishments.

To enjoy art and culture as often as you’d like, consider an annual membership pass. The costs range from 25€ for off-peak entry to permanent exhibitions, and up to 100€ for unrestricted access. Find out more about the annual Staatliche Museen passes here.

There are also a number of museums around the city and regional areas that are free. You can find the list here.

new year's resolutions

3. Get out of Berlin!

With low-cost carriers such as Ryanair and EasyJet offering budget travel throughout Europe, it’s easy to forget that we some of the best destinations right at our doorstep. Germany is blessed with a wide variety of vibrant international cities, historic towns and picturesque countryside.  Venture out of your comfortably furnished flat in Berlin and take a peek at what Germany has to offer.

If you’re on a budget you might want to consider keeping an eye on Deutsche Bahn’s regular sale tickets (Sparpreis), which provide one-way trips as low as 19,90€ between German cities.

new year's resolutions

Eibsee, Bavaria (roughly 100 km southwest of Munich)

4. De-clutter your flat

Over the course of a year, your furnished apartment or studio in Berlin is likely to have amassed its fair share of domestic miscellany. Unused household items accumulate within cupboards and drawers fill with years’ worth of papers. The advent of a new year is the ideal time to de-clutter your home, focusing on only retaining the necessities.

new year's resolutions

5. Embrace a more ‘Berlin’ wardrobe

Style-wise, Berliners are ahead of the crowd when it comes to an individual, down-to-earth dress-sense.  While the common Berlin ‘uniform’ embraces anything black, shapeless and urban, the reality is that there is freedom to express oneself through fashion. If your old outfits are dull or dowdy, why not replace them with something fresh?

And when better to rejuvenate your wardrobe than the start of a new year? As 2018 approaches, take some time to audit your wardrobe, exchanging old items with new and inspired pieces.

6. Unplug from technology

Our lives are becoming more and more dictated by technology and the internet. As life gets faster, we have fewer moments to focus on ourselves, with things like social media soaking up our free time. Technology, if we let it, easily zaps time from our day – from walking down the street, waiting for a friend or sitting on the train.

If you’re feeling ‘tech-sick’ now is the time to unplug and restart. Take a break from technology and improve your digital health by implementing some restrictions in the new year. You could skip social media during the day, avoid checking your emails when you wake up, or simply shirk smart phones in the bedroom.

new year's resolutions

7. Drink less beer

There’s little doubt that most Berlin citizens who wake (or more aptly go to bed) on New Year’s Day will be starting 2018 with an aching head. Sure, it’s a cliché, but drinking less is certainly something that most individuals will implement come January 1st.

In Germany, beer is more than simply a recreational beverage – it’s a cultural treasure, and something that is well preserved thanks to the over 500 years of Reinheitsgebort (German Beer Purity Law). This law was introduced in 1516 to limit undesirable additives, but also to prevent the price competition of wheat and rye between bakers and brewers. The result is a dependable and high-quality brew which has become synonymous with Germany. Of course, with such superb availability to first-rate beer, there is likely to be a little overindulgence at times.

Start the ball rolling in 2018 by cutting back on beer, and giving your body a revitalised kick-start.

new year's resolutions

Rent a temporary residence in Berlin

Celebrating 100 Years of UFA

Located in historic Potsdam, just a short 30 min train ride from Berlin, you’ll find one of the oldest and most iconic production powerhouses in the world. The Universum Film AG (UFA) was founded on December 18, 1917 – exactly 100 years ago – and its history is as illustrious (and notorious) as the region it calls home.

Producing films since 1912, the Babelsberg Film Studio remains Europe’s oldest and largest studio, covering a floor plan of approximately 25,000 square metres. Despite the ebb and flow of its success and failure over the years, the UFA has proven itself a stubborn brand – an enduring asset to Germany, producing contemporary and historic content for a range of audio-visual platforms.

Established just a year before the end of World War I, the UFA provided greater competition against foreign-made films, while delivering massive publicity to the German Empire’s war efforts. Under the Third Reich, it became the HQ in charge of delivering a pastiche of provocative Nazi-era propaganda.

From the 1920s onwards, the company made headway with popular genre films, successfully competing against the likes of Hollywood’s ‘big-5’ studios. Credited with kick-starting the international careers of many of Germany’s biggest acting exports, the studio also played host to a number of iconic films, including Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and Josef von Sternberg’s The Blue Angel.

To celebrate the studio’s 100-year milestone, an exhibition on the facility has opened at the Deutsche Kinemathek Museum for Film and Television in Berlin – a must see for a taste of Berlin’s, and Germany’s, incredible and at times volatile history.

ufa

Marlene Dietrich in The Blue Angel

Inimitable directors and iconic actors

During the early years UFA supported many groundbreaking directors and producers. Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, Georg Wilhelm Papst, Ernst Lubitsch, Fritz Lang and producer Erich Pommer were among the finest, producing enduring 1920s classics.  Not one to fall victim to changes in technology or trends, UFA moved on to making ‘talkies’ – 1930s sound films that would ensure their relevance in coming decades. It was during this era that Marlene Dietrich received her starring role in Sternberg’s The Blue Angel.

ufa

The well-known director Fritz Lang during the shots of the space film “Woman in the Moon”, whose premiere is met with great anticipation.

Political motivations

Born during a politically turbulent era in the country’s history, UFA put German cinema on the map. Demanding international attention and defining itself as a prominent vehicle to voice issues and views, the UFA brand allowed leaders to exert their political influence. Following the end of the war, the studio was able to embrace the 1920s silent-film movement, eventually being rescued from financial ruin in 1927 by Alfred Hugenberg, owner of the powerful media company Scherl Group.  Thanks to Hugenberg’s position as Chairman of the German National People’s Party, in 1933 the company was well placed to serve the goals of Joseph Goebbels’ Nazi propaganda machine. Despite this rather dark time in the company’s history, the business bounced back from ruin yet again, becoming fully privatised in 1956, and continuing to develop new strategies to accommodate a changing media environment.

ufa

Studio Babelsberg in Potsdam

The exhibition

From the great highs of altering the cinematic landscape to the troubling lows during the Nazi-controlled 30s and 40s, UFA has proven itself a cultural treasure, as well as a persevering and determined brand. If you’d like to learn more about UFA’s cinematic history, Ufa – The History of a Brand is on at the Deutsche Kinemathek Museum for Film and Television in Berlin from 24 November 2017 to 22 April 2018.

Where: Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen, Tiergarten (Potsdamer Straße 2, 10785 Berlin)
When: 24 November 2017 to 22 April 2018
Cost: 7€ (free on Thursdays from 4 – 8pm)

ufa

Berlin in 1920: An UFA film set in Tempelhof.

Buying Christmas Trees in Germany: What You Need to Know!

Just like that, the year is almost over, and the 2017 Christmas season is in full swing! There’s nothing quite like the smell of pine needles permeating the living room to cue forthcoming festivity, and with 29,5 million Christmas trees sold in Germany last year, there’s little doubt that the humble Christmas tree remains the most festive and popular December household addition. When buying Christmas trees in Germany, there are a few things you’re going to want to know – check out our definitive guide below…

christmas trees in germany

The humble history of the German Christmas tree

Where exactly did the idea of erecting a tree in one’s living room come from? Thousands of years before the advent of Christianity the Pagans employed branches from Fir trees to brighten the home during solstice. Even the Egyptians added a little greenery in the form of palms to worship their god Ra, as well as the Romans, who decorated their temples during the festival of Saturnalia. The Christmas tree itself however likely became popular in the mid-16th century thanks to Protestant reformer Martin Luther. As the story goes, Luther was walking in the forest a night before Christmas, saw the light shining through the tree branches and went home to tell his children that it reminded him of Jesus. From then on, people took Luther’s lead and added an evergreen tree to their living rooms. Not simply a German tradition, the popularity of adding a tree to one’s living room spread internationally, with the United States and United Kingdom leading the charge.

christmas trees in berlin

Timber versus plastic

Suffice to say, Germans are fond of wood – with over 90 billion old and young spruces, oaks, beeches, and firs throughout Deutschland, the forest is national symbol, the basis for much of the country’s 19th century Romantic-era poetry, fairy tales and legends.

When it comes to the yearly Christmas tree, whether or not to go with real or artificial is a crucial question. There are pros and cons to each. On the one hand, artificial trees can be purchased once and re-assembled each year; you don’t have to water them, and they won’t die if you place them next to your central heating. On the hand, they’re fake, they don’t smell Christmassy, and their eco-friendliness is questionable. In the end, nothing quite beats the smell, feel and cultural appropriateness of a bona fide timber tree.

Varieties, types and options

When it comes to choosing a tree, you’ll find are several types to consider:

  • Nordmann Fir – The most popular Christmas tree, it will last up to six weeks and boasts shiny, soft needles.
  • Noble Fir – With dense blue-green foliage, this is a hardy tree that easily lasts for weeks.
  • Douglas Fir – Not as tough as some other Firs, with a tenancy to drop needles after two to three days.
  • Korean Fir – A less common variety, the Korean Fir is beautiful when cared for well.
  • Red Spruce – Delicate and appealing, the Douglas Fir doesn’t last as long at some other varieties, but is a popular tree offering extremely dense yet slender branches.
  • Black Pine – Not your classic Christmas tree, this variety offers long needles, a pleasant scent and can last for longer than three weeks.

christmas trees in berlin

When to buy…

For years I’ve been a steadfast supporter of waiting until the very last moment to purchase my Christmas tree. This wasn’t out of laziness, but rather to avoid any untimely tree death only days into the festive season. Over time I’ve realised that with the right maintenance and care, a good quality tree can easily live four to six weeks (and sometimes even longer).

What size do I need?

When choosing the size of your tree you’ll want to consider a few things – how large is your flat, is it a furnished apartment, and what is the ceiling height? In Germany you’ll find there are a few different types of apartment buildings: Altbau (old buildings <1949), Neubau (new buildings >1950), Plattenbau (pre-fabricated homes, which often feature low ceiling heights, 1926>) and contemporary construction. Altbauten generally feature higher ceilings, whereas Neubauten and Plattenbauten can have limited ceiling heights. When renting a furnished flat in Berlin, you will need to check your ceiling height to determine the right size for your apartment.

The general rule for purchasing the right Christmas tree size is to pick one that is at least 20cm lower than your ceiling height. Measure your ceiling height with a tape measure to ensure you don’t purchase a tree that is too tall. Of course, the size of your tree will also be influenced by your budget, and a more compact tree can look just as magical when decorated and lit.

Tree size and width will vary depending on variety, but generally come in three options, full, narrow and slim. In furnished flats, you’ll want to consider the diameter of your tree in order to ensure the room remains liveable and comfy.

How much should I pay?

The price of your tree will vary depending on height and shape, but expect to pay between 15€ to 60€ for a 115 to 200cm high Christmas tree. You will also want to invest in a good stand to safely house your tree. I personally like the German-invented Krinner stands, which are simple and easy to use.

christmas trees in germany

So, where do I find my Christmas tree?

If you’ve decided to adorn your Berlin apartment with a living tree, you’ll be wondering where to pick one up. Dedicated Weihnachtsbäummarkts pop up in shopping centre parking lots around the city, and offer a range of differently sized trees. Shops such as Bauhaus and Ikea also offer inexpensive trees, while online purchasing is becoming popular thanks to the added convenience of delivery. If you don’t have time to head out and pick up a tree from the market, check out these online stores: 123Tannenbaum and Tannen Express.

Keep in mind, there’s always the option of renting a tree too. Eco-friendly and sustainable, these rental trees (known as ‘wandering pines’), are in a sense ‘recyclable’, dug out of the ground with their roots intact, put into pots, and then replanted once the season is over. However, warm conditions of apartments over winter can easily destroy the tree’s delicate root system. To combat this, most companies acclimatise their trees to the heat first, and reacclimatise them to the cold afterwards. Once they’re replanted, they’ll recover for two years, before being dug up for another season. Check out Paderbäumchen and Green Tree for more info on rental trees.

Now I’ve got a tree, how do I get it home?

Obviously, this will depend on where you purchase it, and how far away from your flat it is. Most likely, a local tree market will be a short walk from home, and the tree can simply be carried back to your furnished apartment. If you live further away, you can rent a furniture taxi, or sign up for a car-share service such as DriveNow or Car2Go.

Placement and keeping it fresh

The secret to a lush Christmas tree is all in the care and maintenance. You’ll want to pay attention to where you locate your tree, along with how often you water it, what you feed it and, most surprisingly, how you decorate it (hot lights can dry out the branches).

The most common varieties of Christmas trees (fir, pine and spruce) don’t live long when exposed to hot temperatures. To combat your tree’s premature passing you’ll want to ensure you keep it away from excess heat. Opt for a cool and dark space away from damaging daylight or heaters. Additionally, watering your Christmas tree will ensure your Berlin apartment looks green and vibrant throughout the season. For a medium sized tree (approx.160cm) about two litres of water per day should do it. If you’re looking to be more specific the average tree absorbs about 950ml for each 2,5cm of its diameter.

Feeding your tree is a contentious issue. Some swear by it, and others deem it unnecessary. I heard of a range of options from commercial tree preservers to homemade preparations such as lemonade, glycerine, corn syrup and even aspirin. Personally, I don’t do it. Any living Christmas trees I’ve purchased have easily survived the full season with only daily watering.

christmas trees in germany

Decorating a Christmas tree

Essentially, there are no rules as to when you can purchase and start decorating your tree. Traditionally, twelve days before Christmas was a popular time, whereas some put would start on December 6 in honour of Saint Nicholas. If you’re Catholic, you might wait until after noon on Christmas Eve. As with many traditions, they tend to fade over time, and these days it’s very much up to the individual. As a keen observer of all things Christmas, I generally aim to have a tree up in the first week of December, as soon as I locate a suitable one to lug home.

As well as baubles and tinsel, lighting is an important consideration when decorating your tree. Choose small LED lights that will emit a low heat, ensuring your tree doesn’t dry out prematurely.

Got a large budget to work with, and no time to decorate? These days there are plenty of services that offer pre-adorned Christmas trees to time-poor consumers. Expect to spend upwards of 200€ depending on the style and choice of decorations. Check out Weihnachts Baumversand (Germany-wide service) and Tannen Paradies (Berlin and Brandenburg).

Disposal and recycling

Two of the most common questions surrounding Christmas trees in Germany are when to take down your tree, and what happens to them once the season is over.

The traditional time to take down it down is January 6, aka Three Kings Day. Known also as Epiphany or Dreikönigsstag in Germany, this traditionally marks the twelfth day after the birth of Christ and the day the Magi (the Wise Men) arrived at the manger in Bethlehem.

But what do you do with it then? Depending on your district, the local council stipulate certain days where they will pick up your tree from the side of the road. You can find the scheduled dates here, or enter your address via this website. Remember to leave them un-bagged, un-crushed and by the road no later than six o’clock the morning of the pick up! Once your tree is collected they will be shredded and used to generate ‘green’ energy – offering a substitute to fossil fuels, an eco-friendly contribution to the energy grid.

As for all those unsold Christmas trees, for the last several years the Berlin council has repurposed them as elephant fodder, with the Tierpark Zoo taking the festive foliage and gifting it to their African and Asian elephants as a fun snack.

It’s good to know that everyone gets to enjoy the nourishing goodness of a Christmas tree in Berlin come Christmas time.

From all of us at Crocodilian, we hope yours is particularly special.

Merry Christmas, and Frohe Weihnachten!

– The Crocodilian Team

christmas trees in germany

Shopping for a Unique Christmas Gift in Berlin

A unique Christmas gift is meaningful – however, tracking down that unusual present can feel about as hopeful as avoiding the inevitable pudding-induced holiday weight gain. Thanks to the season’s over-commercialisation, purchasing truly thoughtful or distinctive wares seems near impossible. Major department stores trade in the same standard products, which are found in multiple locations around the city, often at elevated prices. Nevertheless, procuring that one-of-a-kind gift doesn’t have to be a futile exercise, if you know where to look.

Here at Crocodilian, we’re gift-buying veterans, and Berlin is the city of artisans – serving up the goods when it comes to vintage, unique or remarkable goods. From curious homewares to personalized fragrances, we’ve rounded up a few of our top stops below. Check them out!

unique christmas gift

Hallesches Haus

When arriving at the iconic neo-gothic former post building in Kreuzberg, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve wandered back in time. Built by architect and postmaster Hermann Struve from 1900 to 1902, the dramatic red brick façade boasts incredible gable windows, two glass ceiling courtyards and retains many of its original features.

Occupying the ground floor, Hallesches Haus is a one-stop-shop for everything domestic and décor related. Peruse their general store to pick up everything from embroidered wall art and vintage maps to local artists’ jewellery and kitchenware.

If the delightful homewares don’t seal the deal, after you’ve finished shopping, you can head straight into the lunchroom, grab a flat white and peruse the seasonal menu.

Hallesches Haus: Tempelhofer Ufer 1, 10961 (Kreuzberg)
Monday to Friday: 10 – 20
Saturdays: 10 – 18
Sundays: Closed, excluding special shopping events – see their website for details

unique christmas gift

© Auschnitt

Aufschnitt

Undeniably one of the most unique stores in Berlin, this textilfleischerei (textile butcher) offers a range of traditional German charcuterie, minus the meat. Founded by artist and vegetarian Silvia Wald, each item is carefully dyed, sewed and constructed to appear exactly like its culinary counterpart. Playing on the absurdity of our attitude towards the meat industry, artisans create lifelike sausages and steaks using traditional sewing techniques. Not restricting themselves to meat alone, you can also pick up cushioned baguettes, fruit and more! The fun doesn’t end here either, as the Friedrichshain-located atelier is set up to look like a traditional butcher, complete with glass cabinet, weighing scales and ‘meat’ grinding machine.

Aufschnitt: Boxhagener Straße 32, 10245 (Friedrichshain)
Monday: 10 – 16
Tuesday to Friday: 11 – 19
Saturday: 12 – 18
Sunday: Closed

Loveco

Unlike many other traditional German cities, Berlin is known for its vegan-friendly attitude. You don’t have to look far to find sustainable and ecologically sound products. However, finding vegan fashion that is both stylish, fair trade and cruelty free can be a task. Enter: Loveco – a hip store catering to fashionistas with a conscience. Not only do they supply organic, vegan fashion, they also stock jewellery, cosmetics, accessories and lifestyle goods.

Loveco:
Sonntagstraße 29, 10245 (Friedrichshain)
Monday – Friday: 12 – 20
Saturday: 11 – 19
Sunday: Closed

Manteuffelstraße 77, 10999 (Kreuzberg)
Monday – Saturday: 11 – 18
Sunday: Closed

Harry Lehmann

Is there anything more unique than creating an individualised fragrance for your loved one? Founded in 1926 on Potsdamer Straße, the Harry Lehmann Perfumery has been housed in several locations moving from the original site to Friedrichstraße, where it was bombed heavily in the war. Rescuing what he could from the rubble, Mr Lehmann himself reopened the store and eventually moved it to its current location on Kantstraße.

Bursting with vintage appeal, it is here that you can purchase Lehmann’s signature scents, fill your own container or create something completely unique. For true nostalgic appeal, fragrances from the 30s and 40s are still in production, along with a range of lotions, after shaves and more.

Harry Lehmann: Kantstraße 106, 10627 (Charlottenburg)
Monday – Friday: 9 – 18:30
Saturday: 9 – 14
Sunday: Closed

unique christmas gift

Animal Adoptions

Are you mesmerized with meerkats or bonkers for baboons? Instead of spending money on a tangible gift this Christmas, why not contribute to the care of an animal by adopting one from the Berlin Zoo? Sponsorship ranges in price from 100€ for a duck to 2000€ for a chimpanzee. Show your solidarity with the zoo and their conservation efforts by giving this out-of-the-ordinary gift to a family member or friend. As an added bonus, you receive a sponsorship certificate, a name plate on a board in the zoo, and a VIP invitation to the donor evening.

Head over here to learn more.

Absinthe Depot

Dishing out the iconic bohemian beverage, the Absinthe Depot provides a range of unique gifts including spoons, glasses and fountains.  Founded in the 90s, this nostalgic hole-in-the-wall establishment opened with only 5 types of the mind-bending intoxicant, but now offers over 300 varieties of absinthe to its customers.  Originally a shopfront that sold cigarettes and alcohol to clubgoers, the legendary absinthe tastings that occurred in the back room of the shop soon became a celebrated event.  These days the Absinthe Depot still offers a few coveted seats for lucky patrons to sample their wares the traditional way.

Absinthe Depot: Weinmeisterstraße 4, 10178 (Mitte)
Monday – Friday: 14 – 24
Saturday: 13 – 24
Sunday: Closed

Urban Industrial

It doesn’t any more unique than Urban Industrial in Neukölln. Featuring over 800 square metres of shop space, you’ll find vintage fixtures, fittings and furniture, with each item carefully restored to its former glory. If you’re a fan of Berlin history you’ll relish the many items that have been plucked from run-down warehouses, old theatres, dentists’ rooms, apothecaries and more.

Urban Industrial Berlin: Hasenheide 13, 10967 (Neukölln)
Monday – Saturday: 11 – 20
Sunday: Closed

unique christmas gift

Pick n’ Weight

Some classics never go out of fashion! For a timeless and unique Christmas present, why not choose a vintage gift? Luckily Berlin is flooded with high quality vintage stores, Pick n’ Weight being one of the finest. Jam packed with almost every style and era, you’re guaranteed to spend hours poring through their enormous offering. As an added bonus their Kreuzberg store also houses Springbok Coffee for that post-shop pick-me-up.

Pick n’ Weight currently operates six different locations, each with a different atmosphere and selection of vintage goods. We visited their concept store in Kreuzberg, which is located at:
Bergmannstraße 102, 10961
Monday – Saturday: 11 – 20
Sunday: Closed

 

Alternative Christmas Markets in Berlin

The sweet scent of spiced glühwein, the open fires and skating rinks, the quaint wooden stalls selling everything from art and crafts, to hot bratwurst and roast pork – for many, the traditional German Christmas Weihnachtsmarkt is a joy to behold, the festive highlight in an otherwise chilly Berlin December. While there’s no denying it’s a warming scene, it’s not always to everybody’s taste. When the kitsch vibes and traditional fare lose their sparkle, you need a little alternative action to fulfil those Christmas time thrills.

Being Weihnachtsmarkt veterans here at Crocodilian, we know the deal – take a tip or two from us, and check out some of Berlin’s most ‘kitsch-frei’ Christmas markets and another shade of the festive December experience.

We’ve rounded up our top 6 alternative Christmas markets in Berlin: take a peek below!

alternative christmas markets

© Weihnachteninberlin.com

1. Weihnachtsrodeo

If you’re tired of mediocre handicrafts and searching for something a little more individual, look no further than the Weihnachtsrodeo. Situated inside the Kühlhaus just south of Potsdamer Platz you’ll find funky designer gifts, local artists’ wares, street food and workshops, along with the traditional offerings of glühwein, roasted nuts and stollen.

The Kühlhaus is also worth a visit on its own: catering to the city’s growing demand for fresh produce, in the early 20th century it was the site of Berlin’s first (and Europe’s largest) cold store complex, and the remains of its iconic red brick Gothic exterior can still be experienced today.

When: 2-3 & 9-10 December 2017 (12:00-20:00)
Where: Kühlhaus Berlin, Kreuzberg (Luckenwalderstrasse 3, 10963)
Cost: Free

 

2. The Green Market Berlin – Winter Edition 2017

Let’s face it, most of the commercial Christmas markets around Berlin are a carnivores dream. Roast pork, speck and bratwurst seem to reign supreme, so it’s rather refreshing to see the Green Market’s offering this year. Promoted as a Vegan Lifestyle Experience, there are animal-free delicacies, drinks, handmade gifts, music, and plenty of activities for little ones too.

If you’re keen to get involved they will also be hosting regular workshops, where you can learn to illustrate your own Christmas cards. Perhaps the best part of the Green market is that it’s held in the industrial hall and outdoor area of Funkhaus Berlin, the historic former GDR radio station where all state programs were broadcast under the East Berlin regime, one of Berlin’s best off-the-beaten path landmarks.

When: 16-17 December 2017 (12:00-22:00)
Where: Funkhaus Berlin, Oberschöneweide (Nalepaststrasse 18, 12459)
Cost: 4€

 

alternative christmas markets

© Rolf G. Wackenberg

3. The Holy Shit Christmas Market

Escape any Christmas gift buying stress by checking out The Holy Shit Christmas Market. Showcasing local and independent designers, this pop-up design emporium is a great place to pick up a unique present for your loved ones, while enjoying smooth beats, street food and drinks.

When: 16-17 December 2017 (12:00-22:00)
Where: Arena Berlin, Alt-Treptow (Eichenstraße 4, 12435)
Cost: 5€

alternative christmas markets

© Klunkerkranich

4. Weihnachtsmarkt im Klunkerkranich

The highest Christmas market in Berlin, Klunkerkranich doesn’t disappoint with its impressive views of the city, and über-hipster position atop the Neukölln Arcaden carpark. Enjoy hot crepes, glühwein, and apple punch for the kids.

When: 2-3, 9-10 & 16-17 December 2017 (14:00-20:00)
Where: Klunkerkranich, Neukölln (Karl-Marx-Straße 66, 12043)
Cost: 2€

5. Yaam Weihnachtsmarkt

On the third weekend of Advent, Yaam plays host to Berlin’s first Afro-Carribean Christmas market. Set on the banks of the Spree, and inside a heated yurt, you’ll be able to indulge in rum punch at the Cool Runnings Bar, while listening to a gospel choir and some mellow reggae tunes.

When: 15-17 December 2017 (Friday: 16:00-23:00, Saturday: 12:00-23:00, Sunday: 12:00-20:00)
Where: Yaam Berlin, Friedrichshain (An der Schillingbrücke 3, 10243)
Cost: 3€

alternative christmas markets

© Grüeneliga Berlin

6. Advents Ökomarkt

Unlike many of the major Christmas markets in Berlin, the Advents Ökomarkt (Eco-Market) features toys, textiles, handicrafts and delicacies from around the world, all produced to high sustainable and ecological standards.  Feast on wholegrain waffles, hot mead and organic meats roasted to perfection, while strolling Prenzlauer Berg’s gorgeous Kollwitzplatz.

When: 3,10,17 December (12:00-19:00) & 23 December 2017 (10:00-17:00)
Where: Wochenmarkt Kollwitzplatz, Prenzlauer Berg (Wörther Str., 10405)
Cost: Free