The Best Time to Visit Berlin

Berlin street art - East Side Gallery

Getty Images / Sean Gallup

Berlin is a city that never stops. Whether you are visiting for the many festivals, non-stop nightlife, or a trip to its many historical sites, there is never a bad time to visit.

Not surprising, given its never-ending attractions, the city experiences year-round crowds. The period just after Christmas and shoulder seasons of early spring and late fall are less busy, but visits should be coordinated to take advantage of the city's many events. Perhaps the very best month to visit Berlin is in May when the weather has warmed, and festivals are in full force.

No matter when you visit the city, there will be plenty to see. Discover when to visit Berlin with a complete breakdown by month on weather, crowds, and festivals.

Weather in Berlin

Berlin has four distinct seasons, each worth a visit.

Winter in Berlin is consumed by Christmas magic. People brave the often freezing temperatures to huddle around cups of glühwein at the many Christmas markets. Snow is less frequent than in the mountainous south, but wind chill and icy conditions commonly make it feel colder than the 32 degree F temperatures.

In spring, or frühling in German, the city comes alive with cherry blossoms and festivals. The grey skies part and temperatures rise to 40 to 55 degrees F. Rainstorms are common in late spring, so be prepared to take shelter from the furious thunder and lightning.

Summer is the golden season where grey skies are forgotten. Daylight stretches impossibly long until almost 11 p.m. Temperatures are pleasantly warm between 65 to 75 degrees F, but can be humid and spike up to 100 degrees F. The lack of air conditioning means nearly everyone heads to the water.

In autumn (herbst), the days begin to shorten, and temperatures drop to the low 40s. By November, it is time to pack on a jacket, and a scarf as drizzle and wind send people back inside. Snow and freezing temperatures usually don't come until winter, but may appear at the end of fall.

Crowds in Berlin

Berlin is the biggest busiest city in Germany. It has become a worldwide destination and cultural hot spot. The center of the city, Mitte, and top attractions are often flooded with tourists around Christmas and in the summer. There are about 31 million overnight visitors per year.

However, the city can be surprisingly quiet in the shoulder seasons. After the fireworks have flown at Silvester (New Year's Eve) until the end of May (except for crowds at Easter), and from September until the Christmas Markets at the end of November, the city is more locals than visitors.

Top Festivals in Berlin

The Berlin calendar is full of events. Here are some of the top Berlin festivals.

  • Berlinale: The Berlin International Film Festival occurs every February and is one of the world's most prestigious film events.
  • May Day: May kicks off with a bang on Labor Day. Full of demonstrations, revelers, and live music, Kreuzberg is full of activity on this day.
  • Karneval der Kulturen: While most of the country celebrates carnival in February, Berlin reserves its festival for the summer with a much more international flair. Expect a parade, music, and dancing.
  • ChristmasChristmas in Berlin is a magical time, and Berlin has some of the country's best weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas markets).

Berlin in January

After the twinkling lights of Christmas, things go dark in January. The country recuperates at home after the busy holiday season, until the most fabulous come out for fashion week. Expect low prices, warm clothes, discount prices, and some closures of hotels, shops, and restaurants as everyone takes a break.

Events to check out:

  • Fashion Week: This event marks Berlin as the fashion capital of Germany.

Berlin in February

February is another quiet time to travel with few tourists and lower prices. Bundle up for one of the biggest festivals of the year, Berlinale, which draws film-lovers from around the world.

Events to check out:

  • Berlinale: The Berlin International Film Festival is one of the most prestigious film events in the world.
  • Transmediale Festival: A festival of contemporary art and digital culture in Berlin.

Berlin in March

While most people plan trips to the south for outdoor adventures in the snow, Berlin's weather is cold without much snow. On the plus side, crowds are minimal, prices are low, and the weather is (usually) warming. March is a great time to look for attractions indoors, like the city's world-class museums, theater, and opera. The start of spring is also the start of spargel (white asparagus) season, a legitimate obsession in Germany.

Events to check out:

  • ITB Berlin: The world's largest travel trade fair brings 10,000 exhibitors from more than 180 countries to Berlin to talk travel.

Berlin in April

April is when the weather can reliably be warm, although rain is still frequent. Visitors appear in mass during the two weeks of Easter holiday when school is out in Germany. The Friday and Monday before and after Easter Sunday are national holidays, so expect government offices and retail closures. Expect accommodations to be booked out and public transport to be full. Cherry blossoms are also in season.

Events to check out:

  • Easter: This is one of the most popular holidays in Germany centered on family and tradition. Expect crowds and closures.
  • Walpurgisnacht: According to German folklore, this is the night when the witches fly. Many people light bonfires to celebrate this day or stay out all night dancing.

Berlin in May

May is one of the best months to visit Berlin as the weather is at its best, crowds are still low, and there are plenty of festivals and activities to keep you busy. While sun and spontaneous hot days are the norm, it is just as common for the weather to switch to thunderstorms then back to sun. Bring an umbrella!

Events to check out:

  • May Day: Erster Mai or "Tag der Arbeit" (Labor Day) is a public holiday throughout Germany but is celebrated quite differently. In Berlin, there are musical acts and crowds on every corner in Kreuzberg with political demonstrations and riots taking place after dark.
  • Baumblütenfest: Just outside of the city, a fruit wine festival within the orchards and along the river in Werder is a jubilant event.
  • Christi Himmelfahrt: Ascension Day is held on a Thursday every May. It is a national holiday often called Männertag or Herrentag, with guys taking to the parks to ride bikes with wagons full of beer.

Berlin in June

Now that the weather is officially agreeable and school holidays have begun, it is time to travel. Expect crowds at attractions and busy transportation and accommodations in June in Berlin.

Events to check out:

  • Karneval der Kulturen: Carnival of Cultures is a multicultural version of Karneval. More than 1.5 million visitors flock to Kreuzberg to revel in the international spirit of Germany’s capital with exotic food, concerts, and a parade.
  • Fête de la Musique: This international music festival has free musical performances that take place all over the city with everything from reggae to jazz to electronic.

Berlin in July

The dead of summer is one of the busiest times to travel to Berlin. Be aware that hotels and attractions will be at their most expensive, and there will be lines and wait times for many of the city's top sites. It is still one of the best times to see the city at its most relaxed. Perhaps you should skip the attractions and just enjoy the vibe in the park, at the bars, and living life as a Berliner.

Events to check out:

  • Berlin Fashion Week: Held twice a year in January and July, this event marks Berlin as the fashion capital of Germany.
  • Classic Open Air: Classic music is played at Gendarmenmarkt, one of the most beautiful historic squares in all of Berlin.
  • CSD: Berlin hosts the biggest pride parade in the country, along with discussions and demonstrations.

Berlin in August

In August, many of the locals have left, and tourists seem to fill the city. Temperatures are warm, humidity is high, and you might notice hordes of bees have also taken residence in the city. Nevertheless, it is a lovely time to enjoy the city's indoor attractions (and air conditioning), biergartens, or the many lakes to swim. Buy an eis (ice cream) or take a boat cruise to keep cool.

Events to check out:

  • Potsdam Palace Nights: The palace and grounds of Sanssouci in Potsdam are illuminated and classical music is played for this special event.
  • Pyronale: The king of fireworks events takes place at Olympic Stadium where countries battle it out with pyrotechnics.

Berlin in September

Warm weather frequently continues into September, but you might need to throw on a jacket. At this point leading into fall, prices and crowds have also begun to decrease.

Events to check out:

  • Berlin Biennale: This biannual event turns locations in the city into galleries for contemporary art.
  • International Literature Festival: Not as big as Frankfurt's, this week plus event highlights the best of literature in the last year.
  • Festival of Lights: Berlin’s monuments are spectacularly lit for this festival.

Berlin in October

While October in Munich offers one of the most popular events globally, things are quieter in Berlin. There are small Oktoberfest celebrations in Berlin, but it is best to avoid that boozy imitation and enjoy what makes Berlin unique. Fall foliage is gorgeous, although the weather is still unpredictable.

Events to check out:

  • Day of German Unity: Tag der Deutschen Einheit is a Germany national holiday. It commemorates the German reunification in 1990 and is celebrated with a festival in one city of Germany.

Berlin in November

November's weather can be harsh, and the crowds have left...before returning for Christmas markets that open at the end of the month. Expect shortened daylight hours, as well as shortened hours at attractions.

Events to check out:

  • JazzFest: The Berlin Jazz Fest is one of the world's premier jazz events with big bands and large-format ensembles, international jazz stars, and the German Film orchestra Babelsberg performing.
  • Jewish Cultural Days: Jüdische Kulturtage celebrates Jewish traditions surrounding the night of Kristallnacht.

Berlin in December

December is all about Christmas in Berlin. While markets are busy throughout the month, expect closures of government offices, museums, and grocery stores on the national holidays of Dec. 24 through 26th, as well as the 31st. For Silvester (New Year's Eve), expect massive fireworks displays - both professional and amateur.

Events to check out:

  • Christmas Markets: Berlin is full of markets, each with their own unique style and offerings.
  • Silvester: The end of the year comes with an end of the world series of explosions.
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