The city of Berlin mimics the fashion of the changing the seasons. In summer, the city is spilling out of itself, everything hanging out, loose and easy. In the winter, things button up tight again, with thick curtains and heavy doors as metaphorical layers and zips. But that doesn’t mean you should rule out a trip to Berlin in the winter—on the contrary. Especially around Christmas, the city is filled with lights, the streets full of Christmas markets, and the restaurants full of satisfyingly hearty food. So if the prospect of the legendary Eastern winter is the only thing holding you back from booking your Berlin trip, just remember: there’s no such thing as bad weather—only unsuitable clothes.
What to Pack for a Trip to Berlin in Winter
Berlin’s Winter Style
If you want to blend in Berlin, black is the way to go. In fact, some say it’s the only way to get into the Berlin club scene. (It’s not, don’t worry)
Winterwear in neutral colors, with chunky accessories, is a classic style route. In general, people embrace Berlin’s counter-culture vibe in thick-soled Doc Martins and oversized coats. Ladies favor thick, tight-knit scarves piled high around the neck or jackets with fur-edged hood to keep the rain and snow far away from the face. Men tend towards sleek puffers with beanies. And because it’s Berlin, though jewelry tends to be minimalist, you’ll see lots of piercings.
Berlin is a walkable city, but it’s got a sprawl. It’s key to pack outerwear and winter accessories that will keep you warm for a while.
- Coats and jackets: You’re definitely going to need a thick, waterproof or water-resistant coat—ideally with a hood. If you’re buying a coat for your trip, keep in mind: the longer, the better.
- Scarf: A scarf is essential for keeping your chest warm. Packing one or two extra will make your winter outfit feel fresher as your trip wears on.
- Hat and/or ear warmers: Pack a beanie or knit cap to hold your body heat in, and keep the snow off.
- Gloves: I highly recommend getting gloves with the smart fingers. You’re going to want to take a lot of photos, and trust me—you are not going to want to take your gloves off every time. I prefer gloves with slim-cut fingers, for improved dexterity.
Layers, layers, layers. The Germans are good about not keeping things too warm—they’ve got special windows that flip open a fraction to constantly let fresh (and I mean, fresh) air in. Wearing layers, or tops you don’t mind pulling the sleeves up on, will give you the greatest flexibility indoors.
- Long underwear: I swear by my Uniqlo undershirts. They are super thin but keep me so warm. And they’re cute enough to wear as a tee if I get too warm indoors.
- Sweaters: I prefer slimmer-knit sweaters, which keeps the silhouette sleeker when I’ve got my big jacket on.
- Jeans / Pants: Layer tights or long underwear add extra warmth to your usual jeans or pants.
- Dresses or skirts: Don’t let the cold keep you from dressing up. I wear dresses almost daily, paired with thick tights and waterproof boots. The only thing I don’t recommend is long dresses or skirts, as they might get wet. The midi crop is pretty popular in Berlin right now.
- Thick socks: Warm socks are crucial for walking around. Once your feet get cold, forget it. Go for wool or natural fiber socks, which will keep you warm but also allow your feet to breathe, so you don’t get sweaty inside your shoes.
Winter Wear in the Berlin Clubs
Berlin’s legendary club scene dress codes are daunting in summer, but even more daunting in winter. In general, when in doubt, go with black, but the real trick is making sure you look and feel like yourself. These aren’t the Vegas “Seen and Be Seen” clubs—it’s fine to wear basic tees and comfy Chucks.
All that said, my advice is to leave the mini at home and opt for comfort, because no matter what you wear, the odds are high you’ll have waited for 1+hours in line in below-freezing temps, only for the bouncer to shake their head at you at the door.
Winter Wear at the Christmas Markets
If you’re visiting prior to Christmas, the German Weihnachtsmärkte are probably high on your agenda. The Christmas markets are full of charm, crafts, hot food—and even better, hot wine. But the fastest buzzkill for holiday cheer is the winter cold. Make sure to dress as warmly as possible when heading to the Christmas markets, especially in the evening. Many have indoor booths that have heating lamps, when you need to warm up, but the bulk of the time you’ll be out in the elements. Thick socks, hats, gloves, and warm scarves are a must.