10 Things to do in Germany that are even better during Winter!

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Germany caters to pretty much everyone, even in Winter. Whether you’re young or old, looking for some time in the outdoors and retreating inside, there will be something for you in Germany. Even if you’re looking to visit some of the most historical artefacts in the world or attend some of the most premier events in the world.

Visiting Germany, and even just travelling through the country, can be an incredible and awesome experience at most times. In winter, however, it becomes tuns the magic up to 110% and becomes an even more unique and incredible place.

Germany in winter, the facts.

  • Temperatures can fall to -15 degrees Celsius in high altitude mountainous areas.
  • In winter the temperature tends to average out between 2 & -2 degrees, depending on where you are.
  • The coldest months in Germany are generally January & February.
  • Driving during the winter months is generally OK.
  • Cities in southern Germany receive between 600-950mm snowfall during the winter.
  • There are over 2500 Christmas markets in Germany every year.
  • 1500 of these or considered large Christmas markets.
  • Bring a jacket… or 4.

Skiing in the Bavarian Alps. 

They may not be the French, Swiss or Austrian Alps, but they’re also not as crowded and touristy as those slightly more famous slopes.

The Zugspitze is Germany’s highest peak and one of the best places for Skiing in the Bavarian Alps. It is so well regarded, it’s often mentioned as one of the great alps, but people tend to not realise It is in Germany. The Austria border is right there, but it still counts as Germany. 😉

Zugspitze in Germany - The best things to do in Germany during the Winter

Allgäu nearby, is also a much-loved area, and great for winter skiing.

Partnach Gorge (Partnachklamm)

This breath-taking gorge is approximately 800m long and cuts 80m deep into the mountain.

The frozen 80m waterfalls, icicles & mini-glazers that form is incredible to behold. Rapids flowing beneath in the river & the frozen walls means you could find yourself wondering if you’re in the arctic or Germany.

Partnach Gorge in Germany - The best things to do in Germany during the Winter
Photo by Richard Bartz

The Gorge can be your goal, but if you’re in a real adventurous mood, it can also just be the start. The start of a hike through one of the many routes passing through the nearby valleys.

Visit Neuschwanstein Castle

The Disney castle of Germany is an impressive sight during the summer, and if you ask me, even more so during the winter!

Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany - The best things to do in Germany during the Winter

Conveniently located near Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the Allgäuer Alps, making this a perfect stop when you need to take a break from the slopes.

Germany is full of fairytale castles, click here to check out 8 of the best.

Thermal Bath & Spa’s in Baden-Baden

You’ve had enough of the cold and just want to defrost and relax?

Let’s head off to Baden-Baden & treat yourself to some rejuvenation in Germany’s Spa capital.

Check out the Caracalla Therme near to the Friedrichsbad if you’re looking for something more family-friendly.

The historical Roman-Irish (nude) bath (Friedrichsbad) will leave you planning your permanent move to the city.

Mark Twain once wrote of the place, “Here at the Friedrichsbad you lose track of time within 10 minutes, and track of the world within 20...”

Chocolate Festival in Tübingen

If you’re lucky enough to be in Germany in early parts of December, you’re in for a treat.

A very chocolaty treat!

Chocolate Festival in Tübingen - The best things to do in Germany during the Winter

The international Tübingen Chocolate Festival attracts almost 100 of the best chocolatiers in the world, and they, of course, bring some of the best chocolate with them.

If you have a sweet-tooth, I know where you’re going to be this December. 😉

Christmas Markets

Speaking of deliciousness, the German Christmas Markets (called ‘Weihnachstmarkt’) are a must if you’re in Germany during the festive period.

Christmas Market in Germany - The best things to do in Germany during the Winter

Some markets start 2 months prior to Christmas day, and whilst many have their favourites (Nürnberg, Köln, Berlin, etc.), they are all unique whilst maintaining the same winning formula – Glühwein, Lebkuchen (similar to gingerbread) & Crepes.

Ok, that’s not all you’re going to find there, but I tend to think about the food first. 😉

Whilst I’m on the topic of food, the Dresdner Stollen is also a must during the festive period. You can get this throughout Germany, but it’s at its best in, you guessed it, Dresden!

Steam train railway trip through the Harz Mountains

Imagine you could travel back in time. Picture your ultimate railway trip; breath-taking views out of your warm cabin, quaint old villages passing by, untouched and remote landscapes. The snow-covered trees and beautiful valleys, chugging of the steam engine as the train passes through the highest mountain in the eastern side of Germany.

This may seem as if out of a fairytale, which could be so, as these dark forests and hills have inspired many.

Harz Mountains - The best things to do in Germany during the Winter

The Harz Narrow Gauge Railway is probably the most beautiful train trip in Germany, if not Europe, or the world.
What makes this even more impressive is that this route is an active and functioning railway. Keep an eye out for the daily timetables and join over a million commuters every year.

P.s. Make sure to book a route through the snowy peak of Brocken mountain.

Ice Skating on a frozen lake

Sticking with fairytales, go ice skating on one of Germany’s frozen lakes. Schönau am Königsee would incredible if you’re lucky enough to have it frozen.

Skating on a frozen lake in Germany - The best things to do in Germany during the Winter

It should go without saying though, wherever you go, make sure that the ice is thick enough for skating before you head out. It takes many days of constant minus temperatures to freeze over. If it’s safe the locals will know it first, so don’t go heading out onto untested waters.

If you can skate at Königsee, you’re bound to receive that magical feeling though. The towering Alps peering over the lake give off an enchanted feeling, with the ice being wafted into the air like dust cooling any open areas of skin.

Cross-country Skiing & Winter Hiking in Baiersbronn

With many long paths and forests, this is the perfect spot if you enjoy nature & cross-country skiing/winter hiking.

Cross Country Skiing - The best things to do in Germany during the Winter

You could also take in some of the local Michelin Star restaurants if the exploration becomes a bit too much. 😉

Tobogganing/Sledding in the Bavarian Alps

I may have left the best for last, and you may associate tobogganing with children and small slopes as soon as the snow starts to fall.

(Or Cool Runnings if you’re like me and Jamaican Bobsled Team plays in your head whenever you think of the word toboggan. 😉)

It’s nothing like either of those though. The Wallbergbahn in Rottach-Echern, for example, is one of the longest and most challenging in Germany, at 6.5kms long. You’ll be tobogganing for approximately 30min until you reach the bottom & you can reach up to 50kmph.

If you’re looking for a slightly different ski holiday, it’s time to grab a toboggan and head to the Bavarian Alps!