Germany is wonderful at any time of the year. It was our very first European country that we ever explored and for that very reason, it will have a piece of our heart forever. I mean, who doesn’t love fairy-tale castles, schnitzels, medieval towns, and history and it’s even better – when it’s sprinkled with snow. So here are the best places to visit in Germany in winter.
10 Best places to visit in Germany in Winter
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This list of best places to visit in Germany winters is compiled with the help of travelers and local bloggers from Germany. We hope you enjoy this list!
But, let’s look into the winter temperatures and packing for Germany first.
Weather and Packing for Germany in Winter
Germany is neither too hot nor too cold in the winters. The climate of Germany is moderately continental. It does experience cold winters with a daily average temperature of around 0 °C (32 °F). So that’s fairly warm as compared to where we live. Northwestern and coastal Germany have a maritime climate – with mild and cloudy winters.
Here is what you should pack for your trip to Germany in winter
- Parka or winter jacket – Different parts of Germany, gets pretty cold in winter and it is colder in the evenings, carry and wear a warm parka or winter jacket. Check out this winter jacket from North Face
- Winter boots – Wear winter boots in Germany as you are out and about exploring Christmas markets or if you plan to indulge in outdoor activities. Stay warm. Ensure your boots are at-least ankle length, waterproof, and have a good grip. Get these Ugg boots for Banff
- Warm/woolen socks
- Scarf – I LOVE blanket scarves. They will keep you warm and cozy. Check out this warm plaid scarf here.
- Beanie or warm hat – Super important to keep your head and ears warm. Check this warm beanie here
- Thermal pants and tops (or long johns) – Thermal inner top and pants aka long johns are super handy in European winters. Shop our favorite from Amazon
- 1-3 pretty sweaters (depending on the length of stay)
- Carry moisturizer with up to 24-hour hydration – Shop my favorite Body Shop Vitamin E moisturizer
- Add a nice woolen sweater dress or a black dress for German Christmas events, special dinners, New Year celebrations.
Munich in winter
Munich is one of the best places to visit in Germany in winter. Being a local, I know I am a bit biased, but let me explain.
First of all, there is much more snow in the German south than in Hamburg or Berlin. All those half-timbered houses and castle just look so much prettier with a little white dusting, don’t you think? Munich also has over 70 museums. If it’s too cold outside, you can easily escape by marveling at pictures from Leonardo da Vinci, Rubens, or Rafael inside the Alte Pinakothek.
As an alternative, you could also visit one of 5 palaces within the city limits. Nymphenburg Castle looks extra pretty on a sunny winter day, while the marvelous greenhouses of the adjacent botanical garden will keep you occupied when it’s a bit too dreary outside.
If you are visiting in December, you can stroll across Munich’s famous Christmas markets and get your fill of German sausages, gingerbread, and mulled wine.
The real deal-breaker, however, is the many day trips you can take. The German Alps are very close, so you could possibly go skiing. Or you can take the train/bus to Neuschwanstein Castle (the place that inspired Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle). There are just so many things to do in Munich in Winter!
MUNICH TOURS & ACTIVITIES: Search Munich tours and activities
Berlin in winter
There’s no escaping the fact that Berlin in winter is cold and that you’ll probably want to limit your walks along the Spree River. But traveling to the German capital in wintertime also means fewer crowds, which makes visiting its many incredible attractions that much more enjoyable.
In the beginning weeks of winter, the sun sets quite early so a visit earlier in the day to the East Side Gallery, an open-air space located in the former East Berlin, is recommended for maximum visibility. It consists of a series of murals painted directly on a 1300 meter long remnant of the Berlin Wall.
If you’re hungry after walking the gallery and want to get warm, stop in Scheers Schnitzel, a short walk from the underground station. Just know that in Germany, schnitzel is made with pork, not veal as in Austria.
Two museums that are ideal for escaping the plummeting temperatures once it’s dark and also for understanding modern German history are the Topography of Terror and the DDR Museum.
The first is located on the former site of the SS/Gestapo Headquarters and explains the heinous story of the Nazis. The second shows what everyday life was like in the former German Democratic Republic.
Winters in Berlin are amazing due to the traditional Christmas markets. In each and every neighborhood of Berlin, you will find a market to enjoy Christmas fairy lights, local exhibitions, and food. Most popular markets are set up at the Spandau, Alexanderplatz, and Charlottenburg neighborhoods.
Christmas markets are set up at the end of November, and many go on as far as mid-January. Reserve your spot at the Botanical Gardens for Christmas
The perfect hotel in terms of cost and location is the Grand Hyatt Berlin. The rooms are spacious and it’s within walking distance of many of the city’s most well-known attractions including the most famous of all, the Brandenburg Gate.
BERLIN TOURS & ACTIVITIES: Search for activities in Berlin here
Nuremberg Christmas Market
Nuremberg, situated about 2 hours by train north of Munich, is a must for all the contemporary history aficionados. It was considered to be the most German city in Germany, which lead to its almost-complete destruction in 1945.
However, well before its key role during World War II, Nuremberg was already an important social, cultural, and economic hub since its origins.
It was home to figures such as Albrecht Dürer, as well as being a media centre with 21 printing houses during Martin Luther’s time helping the propagation of his messages of Reformation, among other things. Here you can find one of the best museums of German-speaking culture and history in the world.
Other than its historical relevance, Nuremberg is also a popular winter destination for its world-renowned Christmas market (“Christkindlmarkt”). Its origin is unknown but it’s believed to date back to the 1600s. It takes place every year in the market square from the last Friday prior to the first Sunday of Advent and runs until the 24th of December (unless it’s a Sunday).
It can be chilly during the winter months but enjoying the warm mulled wine in good company and taking in the spirit of the season is an experience you won’t forget, especially if you’re lucky to catch a snowy day.
If you are only visiting Nuremberg for a day, make sure to start by taking a stroll through the old town and climbing up the castle to enjoy the stunning views over the city, it is a must to anyone visiting the Bavarian city and will give you a great overview of where things are.
A great place to stay during your visit is the Five Reasons Hotel & Hostel, in the old town. Here you’ll find both private and dorm rooms, so you’ll surely find something for you.
NUREMBERG TOURS & ACTIVITIES: Book tours in Nuremberg
Cologne (Koln) in Winter
While it is easy to miss Cologne and opt for bigger cities like Berlin and Munich, it would be a shame if you never set foot here.
Cologne is well known for its Romanesque churches, its beautiful setting beside the Rhine river, and a wonderful mixture of culture and history.
The Cathedral, also known as Kolner Dom, is a MUST visit in Cologne. It is an easy walk from the colorful Old Town.
As the largest of the 12 Romanesque churches in Cologne, and also one of the largest churches in Europe, this towering Gothic masterpiece dominates the Cologne Skyline and contains some of the most important treasures of Germany.
Step inside and climb the 533 to the top of the South Tower for a panoramic view of the city. This scene is as beautiful as it gets.
At the heart of Cologne is the Old Town, which was miraculously rebuilt after the atrocities of World War II.
Almost all of the city centre was destroyed, but through the perseverance of the Germans, the entire Old Town was recreated to the minute details.
Come in here to witness for yourself both the amazing work done by modern builders and also appreciate how beautiful the original Old Town would look like.
Here, you can walk through the cobblestoned alleys or stroll along the Rhine River, and when it is too cold outside, hop into one of the numerous quirky and vibrant cafes that line the streets.
The best place to stay in Cologne has got to be somewhere in the city center since it keeps you close to most of the attractions and provides lots of convenience and connectivity to the entire city. We recommend the Maritim Hotel Koln – well priced and great views across the city and the River Rhine.
There is so much more to discover in Cologne, as it really should make your list of cities to visit in Europe!
COLOGNE TOURS & ACTIVITIES: Book activities here
Hamburg in Winter
Hamburg is full of breathtaking architecture, shops, and restaurants. During winters, the Christmas markets are a fabulous addition to your Hamburg itinerary. They are just wonderful to explore, like a magical winter wonderland with plenty of gifts and crafts to browse as well as fabulous food and drinks.
To explore Hamburg intimately, we highly recommend getting a Hamburg card as it allows unlimited travel by bus, train, and harbor ferry. It also gives you up to 30% discount on Harbour tours, Alster trips, and city tours. You also get up to a 50% discount on various attractions and museums. Up to 28% discount on selected musicals, theatre, restaurants, and coffee shops.
During your winter visit, ensure you visit the St Nikolai church, it was the world’s tallest building from 1874 to 1876, and it remains Hamburg’s second-tallest structure.
You can take a glass lift to a 76.3m-high viewing platform inside the surviving spire for views of Hamburg’s centre, put into context of the wartime destruction. The architecture and detailing of it is absolutely stunning.
Harbour tour is also a great way to admire the city lights in comfort. Our enthusiastic tour guide also had everyone laughing.
HAMBURG TOURS & ACTIVITIES: Search activities in Hamburg
Zugspitze in winter
Who would not want to stand on the roof of Germany, their highest peak, look around and see a sea of mountain peaks covered with a thick layer of snow?
Ready to visit Zugspitze? Just attach skis or a board and ride on the white glacial lying between mountain peaks – this is the must-visit place for winter sports (along with Belchen aka Black Forest) and Harz Mountains!
How to get to Zugspitze? The answer is simple – on the train!
Yes, yes, this is not a mistake! The Germans really showed off – you can go by train almost to the top. All you have to do is jump on a cog railway, which goes up inside the mountain – it’s are great experience itself! However, for the last section (about 400 m vertically) you have to take a cable car.
Zugspitze is the highest and the only glacier ski resort in Germany. In the skiing season, which lasts here half a year, snow is therefore guaranteed. What’s more interesting, you can be sure that it will be natural snow, because at this height German law prohibits the production of artificial snow.
There are 21 kilometres of ski runs to cover, which are always perfectly prepared during the ski season and are great both for skiing and snowboarding.
We highly recommend booking the Eibsee Hotel as your base. It’s not only located at the bottom of Zugspitze but also next to Eibsee lake – one of the best lakes in Germany.
ZUGSPITZE TOURS & ACTIVITIES: Book tours in Zugspitze
Fussen and Neuschwanstein Castle in winter
Did you know that the castle that inspired Disneyland’s princess castle is a real castle in Germany? If the Neuschwanstein Castle wasn’t on your bucket list before, it will be now! And somehow this castle becomes even more magical when surrounded by snow in the winter.
This whole area is absolutely beautiful, and only a few hours away from Munich. There are also two other castles nearby as well, one in Fussen and the Schwangau Castle in Hohenschwangau, which is just around the corner from Neuschwanstein.
The castle is open year-round and you can buy tickets online in advance to go inside. The only difference is that the amazing views that you normally would visit to take pictures of the castle from is closed during the winter.
However, if you’d still like to get to those Instagram viewpoints even during winter, read about visiting Neuschwanstein castle in winter without missing anything!
If you’re looking to get a little bit of that winter magic that Europe provides, there is no better place than Neuschwanstein castle!
There are cheap hotels in Fussen, just a short bus ride from the castles. However, if you’d like to stay closer to Neuschwanstein castle, we recommend the Romantic Pension-Albrecht Hotel.
DAY TOUR TO NEUSCHWANSTEIN FROM MUNICH: Check out this day tour here
Stuttgart Winter and Christmas Markets
Founded in the 10th century, Stuttgart is home to Porsche and Mercedes-Benz. Stuttgart is the sixth-largest city in Germany and is located in the southwestern part of the country.
Winters in Stuttgart are slightly continental – it is cold, but not freezing cold. The Christmas markets in Stuttgart attract a lot of tourists in winter to the now modern city. The entire city turns into a fairytale of sorts with lights, festivities, and carols.
Other than the festive markets, visit the Porsche Museum and Mercedes-Benz Museum, as they are open in winters. For history lovers, head to Landesmuseum Württemberg – to admire the remnants of Celtic armor, Roman swords, and jeweled crowns.
Stuttgart is home to the second-largest complex of mineral springs in Europe, and winters are the best time to cozy up and enjoy the warm and healing waters.
Stuttgart is also a convenient base for exploring those in nearby cities in Baden-Württemberg.
RECOMMENDED HOTEL: Book hotels in Stuttgart
STUTTGART TOURS & ACTIVITIES: Search activities in Stuttgart
Rhine Valley in Winter
Bamberg in Winter
In the north of Bavaria, at about 3 hours by train from Munich, you’ll find the city of Bamberg. A UNESCO World Heritage site in the heart of Germany and part of the Roman remains route through Bavaria.
With an old town made of cute half-timbered houses along cobblestone streets, Bamberg is known for being one of the few cities in Germany that remained almost undamaged during the war.
Besides its stunning old town, cathedral and castle, its centuries-old family-owned breweries and their unique smoked beer are another reason for many visitors to stop by, besides its stunning architecture, of course!
Bamberg is great to visit at any time of the year, but winter is particularly nice. With fewer visitors than in the warmer months and the possibility of catching the city in the snow with its channels, bridges, and boats, Bamberg is a looker. After all, it has a little Venice right in the centre. And in December, the Christmas spirit takes over the whole city with multiple Christmas markets spread all over town.
The Alt-Ringlein Restaurant-Hotel right in the centre of the old town is a good option. Right across Aecht Schlenkerla, one of the oldest and most popular smoked beer breweries and beer halls in Bamberg, and around the corner from the Cathedral and little Venice, it’s a prime spot to explore the old town.
Essential Travel Tips for Germany in Winter
We hope you enjoyed this list of best German cities to visit in winter, here are some quick tips to help you prepare for your travel.
Planning your trip to Europe – If this is your first-ever trip to Europe, consider reading our Europe 101 guide.
Schengen Visa – If you require a visa to travel to Europe, most likely it is the Schengen Visa (for those belonging to the Euro Zone or EU, doesn’t include the UK). Read our guide to applying for Schengen Visa.
Travel Insurance – Don’t forget to insure your trip. Get Travel Insurance quotes from World’s Nomads here.
German Cities & Germany Travel Resources
- Munich Itinerary – Itinerary guide for 3 to 7 days in Munich
- Munich on a Budget – Free things to do in Munich
- Dachau Bavaria – Guide to visiting Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site
- Nuremberg – One day itinerary and day trip guide to Nuremberg
- Fussen and Bavarian Villages – Guide to visiting Neuschwanstein Castle and Bavarian Villages
- Central Europe in 2 weeks with Germany – Visit Munich, Budapest, Prague and Vienna in 14 days
- Europe – Get our 27 Europe in one week itinerary samples
Europe in winter – Here are seasonal Europe resources that might interest you
- Winter Destinations – Destinations to visit in Europe winter for Christmas markets, skiing or winter sun
- Winter sun destinations – Winter sun destinations for December to February
- Places to visit in February – Best places you must visit in Europe in February
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
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