Snow-painted landscapes, frost covered woodlands and frozen lakes; sugar and spice and all things nice; bustling Christmas markets, hot Gluhwein and gingerbread. These are just some of our favourite reasons for a trip to Germany in winter. Let us tempt you a little more...
Berlin Brandenburg Gate at night.
Berlin is a vibrant city at any time of the year but in winter it somehow appears even livelier. Christmas markets, from small and charming to huge and glitzy, offer a lively outdoors scene, while indoors there are numerous art galleries, museums, bars, cafes and theatres for winter-time entertainment. Don’t miss The Berlin Treehouse, which looks beautifully quirky in winter light.
Christmas Markets are a German Tradition
Even More Markets
Germany plays host to some of Europe’s best markets. It’s difficult to choose the best German markets so we recommend you visit a few to find out how wonderful they can be. The markets, which start in the last week of November and run until Christmas Eve, are all about sparkling lights, Christmas tress, crafts, food, treats and Gluhwein (see below!). There are the Berlin Christmas markets; markets in Aachen, Freilburg, Bamberg, Dortmund, Koblenx; a total of seven markets on the Rhine, in Cologne; a market that spreads across five different squares in Heidelberg; Christmas market cruises on the Danube starting near Nuremberg; and markets in historic cities such as Regensburg and Passau. Have we whet your appetite?
A Warming Glass of Gluhwein
Translated as “glow wine”, Gluhwein is the traditional winter drink of Germany and the ideal beverage for warming you up on a chilly winter’s day. Recipes vary but rarely disappoint.
Germany has a long tradition with gingerbread, or Lebkuchen, and there are many recipes and styles of presentation. Gingerbread originates in the Middle Ages when spices were very expensive. To use spices in cooking was to show off your wealth and so gingerbread has long been seen as a luxurious product. Lebkuchen recipes vary by region – and for the visitor there are many tempting gingerbreads to choose from.
Black forest for foodies
Baiersbronn in the Black Forest is a Mecca for food lovers with no less than three Michelin star restaurants. Foodies can also enjoy a spread of traditional home-made products in the area including Black Forest hams, schnapps, honey and chocolate.
Salty Pretzels & Beer is a Winning Combination
Many breweries in the south of Germany have been turned into destinations in their own rights, offering visitors brewery tours and providing accommodation. There are breweries to be found in many historic towns – and most places also boast a Christmas market, too! Why not revisit in summer on a Macs Adventure cycling tour in Germany?
You can buy the traditional German Christmas cake, Stollen, from Lidl in the UK. But, trust us, it tastes so much better when sampled in the country where it was invented. Dresden was, in fact, where Stollen was first created, its shape symbolising the baby Jesus, some 500 years ago and today there is an official association of Stollen bakers, all of which are based in the Dresden area.
Kaffee & Kuchen
Kaffee & Kuchen – coffee and cake – is another great tradition of Germany and the perfect thing to do on a chilly winter’s day. Cosy cafes resplendent with delicious coffees and cakes welcome visitors and, somehow, encourage you to stay for hours and hours. You’ll find traditional cafes in every town and city.
For sparkle and shine
Germany loves to light up its villages, towns, cities, parks, buildings, trees and, well, all kinds of things. After dark, and especially during the festive period, you’ll enjoy fabulous lights displays.
To go ice skating
A great winter warmer activity is ice skating. There are many stunning places to ice skate including:
- Heidelberg in south-western Germany, where you’ll discover a vast outdoor ice rink with superb views of the Heidelberg Castle.
- Also in south-west Germany is Kaiserslautern’s indoor ice rink at the Gartenschau
- Stuttgart’s ice rink at Ludwigsburg, which is open from October to March.
- The Kurhaus ice skating rink in the central western German city of Wiesbaden.
To ski Bavaria
For something completely different on the skiing scene and also less crowded, less commercial and cosier, Bavaria is a gem of a destination. Zugspitze in Garmisch-Partenkirchen boasts Germany’s highest mountain. In south-west Bavaria, the Allgäu with villages like Oberstdorf and Oberstaufen is acclaimed as Germany’s largest skiing area.
For a taste of summer
Whether it's the town and cities, the food, wine, beers or the stunning landscapes, a trip to Germany in the winter often tempts visitors to make a return trip in the warmer summer months. Check out the many Macs Adventure walking and cycling holidays in Germany that are ideal for a spring or summer trip.