Winter in Germany: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

Berlin winter skyline with snow on the roofs / Getty Images

If you're planning on traveling to Germany in the winter, you're in luck. This can be a cheap time to travel, and you'll find less crowds than in the peak summer season.

On top of that, this is the birthplace of modern Christmas, world-famous skiing, and vast discounts. Expect to see beautiful lights strung up for the holidays, cheerful Christmas markets, cozy snow-covered streets, and more.

Discover the best of Germany in winter.

A map of a scene of a German village in winter
TripSavvy / Hugo Lin 

German Weather in the Winter

Bundle up! German winters are cold, with temperatures often dropping below zero degrees Celsius. Expect snow—sometimes a lot of snow. But German winters can be unpredictable, and you should always be prepared for rain or the special days of blue skies and sunshine.

  • December: Average low 27 degrees Fahrenheit, average high 41 degrees Fahrenheit
  • January: Average low 23 degrees Fahrenheit, average high 40 degrees Fahrenheit
  • February: Average low 25 degrees Fahrenheit, average high 41 degrees Fahrenheit
  • March: Average low 33 degrees Fahrenheit, average high 47 degrees Fahrenheit

What to Pack for Winter in Germany

As notes, weather in Germany can change quickly—often in the course of a day. So be prepared when packing for all conditions, particularly the biting cold common in winter.

Essentials like stylish, non-slip, water-proof, walking shoes are a given. Help them out with a decent pair of socks. Scarves are also commonplace for men and women whenever the weather turns cool. You should also invest in a quality jacket. This doesn't have to be wildly expensive or sporty, but look for something that really seals in the heat. There are few things worse than realizing your jacket isn't up to the German winter. Top with gloves and a hat and you should be ready for most winter days.

It is not uncommon to need an additional layer of protection if you plan a long day of sightseeing outside. In these cases it is worth wearing a thermal layers under your clothes. In a pinch, this can be tights, or you can go full German and buy specific garments to protect your kidneys (seriously).

For outdoor activities like skiing, of course you should be prepared with water-proof ski suit, gloves, and gear. And you can always plan on warming up with some traditional German glühwein (mulled wine).

Winter Events in Germany

Some of the best festivals and events in Germany are in winter.

  • Christmas markets: Christmas markets are a wonderful part of the German holiday tradition and a great way to get into the Christmas spirit. Every German city celebrates the season with at least one Christmas market, usually from the last weekend of November and until Christmas Day. Bigger cities have a plethora of markets to choose from. Try to hit all the best Christmas Markets in Germany from Nuremberg to Munich to Dresden.
  • Winter sports and skiing: Looking for an action-filled vacation? From the Alps to the Black Forest, Germany offers quality winter sports areas. There is downhill skiing, cross country skiing, or snowboarding and it is usually much cheaper in Germany than places like Switzerland and Austria.
  • New Year's Eve: Germans celebrate New Years (or Silvester) on the eve of December 31. Join the locals in looking for the mustard doughnuts, drinking sekt (champagne), looking for signs in lead, marveling at the many fireworks, and partying way past midnight. If you want to participate, buy your own feuerwerk (fireworks). Before the big night they are on sale at every German supermarket and pop-up stand. If you want to join Germany’s biggest New Year Eve Party, head to Berlin’s open-air party at Brandenburg Gate.
  • Karneval or Fasching:This February holiday is a joyful, silly celebration with a long history in Catholicism. Because of its religious roots, it is only celebrated in some states. In the places where it is a holiday, it is punctuated by street parades, pranks, and costume balls.

Travel Tips for Winter in Germany

  • Airfare and hotel rates tend to go up at the end of November when the markets open to the end of December. The traditional German Christmas Markets draw thousands of visitors from around the world.
  • Silvester in Berlin is a practically raucous time. If you plan to visit during this time, be aware that prices temporarily peak and fireworks are everywhere for about 48 hours.
  • January and February are the most affordable time to visit Germany. There are far fewer crowds as the holiday season is over, but some attractions and accommodations may be closed. The weather is also at its most brutal. .