Have you ever considered visiting Germany during the winter? In my unbiased opinion, I think Germany is worth visiting at any time of year. In the spring and summer, the weather is usually very good and perfect for exploring Germany’s diverse landscape or visiting its many beautiful cities. City breaks are very popular in May or June and the most prevalent time for an activity holiday is between May and September.
As much as I love visiting my home country in the warmer months, Germany also has a lot to offer for a winter holiday. I’ve travelled extensively across Germany and would love to take you on an inspirational journey with my upcoming blogs.
Get festive at a Christmas market
Christmas markets are one of the most popular reasons visitors flock to Germany every year. There’s nothing like experiencing an authentic, festive atmosphere at a German Christmas market. I’m certainly a big lover of them – even more so now I live in the UK. Whenever I’m there at Christmas time, I have to fit in a trip to a Christmas market!
If you’ve done such a trip to Germany, you’ll know to wrap up warm and throw your warm boots (or snow boots) and thermals into your suitcase. Visiting the markets in the south of Germany could mean proper snow in December! It certainly makes the hot mulled wine taste even better!
However, I’d like to inspire you to look beyond the Glühwein and Stollen and maybe try out a winter break in Germany.
Recharge your batteries with a short break
If you are going to a Christmas market in Germany, I would highly recommend taking the time to explore the surrounding area as well. Why not take a wonderful winter’s walk, go tobogganing (if there’s snow already), enjoy a wine-tasting session on a boat or join a torch-lit hike? Then, after spending the day outdoors, there’s nothing better than returning to a cosy hotel for a candle-lit meal.
I can also highly recommend having a relaxing spa. Germany has lots of day spas as well as the fantastic wellness and spa resorts. You should expect to pay between 20 and 40€ for 4 hours. Alternately, you can purchase a day ticket to have access to the various saunas, steam baths, pools, relaxation areas as well as being able to book a choice of treatments.
Personally, I think it’s a great idea to visit a Christmas market one day and then maybe pamper yourself in a spa the following day. I’ve written a blog about how popular spas are in Germany, which you can read here. Just bear in mind that Germans like to have a sauna without any clothes on – which maybe is a surprise to some of the Brits!
Fun in the snow
As well as visiting the Christmas markets, there are so many other reasons to visit Germany for a winter holiday. Germany also has some excellent ski resorts – not just in Bavaria! I’ll be covering these in my upcoming series of blogs. Even if you aren’t a skier or snowboarder, there are plenty of other fun things to do in the snow that the whole family can enjoy. Additionally, get ready for some really good food in a cosy atmosphere – whether it’s Bavaria, the Black Forest or any of the other federal states! It’s delicious and very tempting! Let me inspire you…
It all starts with ‘How to get there…”
As you may already know, regular winter holiday enthusiasts tend to opt for Austria, France, Italy or Switzerland if they’re not adventurous enough to try out the Eastern European ski resorts. Of course, these are all excellent places to go but flights are often much dearer than travelling to Germany. So, the good news is that going to Germany won’t leave a big dent in your bank balance.
I’ve even had experience of this myself. After booking a holiday to Austria (Zell am See), we decided to fly to Munich instead of Salzburg or Innsbruck as it was almost half the price! We then stayed the night in Munich and continued our journey to Austria by train. Some would argue that we didn’t end up saving that much money as we had to book a hotel. Of course, depending on flight times, it would be possible to travel to Austria on the same day – but for us, it was a lovely little extension to our holiday.
Check when the school holidays fall in other countries beforehand
If you’re travelling with children and you’re tied to the school holidays, it’s worth checking when the school holidays fall in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. If you’re lucky, they might fall at different times and you’ll get your accommodation for a more reasonable price. Check the school holidays in Austria, Germany and the Netherlands at the school holidays tables for 2019 and 2020. The other very busy time for the ski resorts is during the carnival season (28th February – 6th March 2019, 20th February – 26th February 2020). At this time, the Germans and Dutch often head off for a skiing holiday. So you’ll find it much more difficult to find accommodation and it will be much more expensive.
Guaranteed snow in Zugspitze, Nebelhorn and Fellhorn
Even though Germany doesn’t have the large ski resorts that Austria has, it does have some excellent smaller resorts that shouldn’t be overlooked. The added bonus is that you’ll get good value for money. If you’re thinking of booking a skiing holiday in advance, you’ll probably want to consider Zugspitze to pretty much guarantee some snow.
Zugspitze is Germany’s highest mountain, standing at a height of 2,962m. A state-of-the art panoramic lift (opened in December 2017) can take up to 120 people in each cabin. The most popular resorts in Zugspitze are the winter Olympic towns of Garmisch and Partenkirchen. Although no resort can fully guarantee snow, Zugspitze and Garmisch-Classic are (so far) pretty reliable when it comes to snow. The price for a day ticket in Zugspitze is currently 46.50€ (adult), family ticket (2 adults, 2 children) 124€.
For something unusual and rather spectacular in terms of accommodation, you might want to try out the Igloo Village in Zugspitze. I’ve personally stayed at the Staudacherhof Hotel in Garmisch-Partenkirchen during the summer and really enjoyed its facilities. When I looked up what they offer during the winter, I noticed they offer a free shuttle service to the Garmisch-Classic ski resort.
Popular events in Garmisch-Partenkirchen are:
- The Four Hills Ski Jumping Tournament 31st December 2018 – 1st January 2019
- FIS Skiing World Cup (men) 26th & 27th January 2019
- FIS Skiing World Cup (ladies) 2nd & 3rd February 2019
You can get tickets here.
All about the altitude
The other two mountains with a high altitude are Nebelhorn (2,224m) and Fellhorn (2,038m). These mountains are located close to Oberstdorf in the beautiful Allgäu region. The ski resort in Oberstdorf is connected to Austria’s Kleinwalsertal Valley ski resort – giving skiers of all levels a good variety of slopes to choose from. In Nebelhorn, there’s a new panoramic restaurant and for a more unusual experience, you can even stay in an igloo lodge. Söllereck is perfect for families with its three ski schools right at the bottom of the slope and a practice area for children.
Popular events in Oberstdorf:
- The Four Hills Ski Jumping Tournament on 29th – 30th December 2018. You can get tickets here.
- FIS Cross Country World Cup Oberstdorf 2nd & 3rd January 2019
Why not try out some different winter activities?
If you’re not into skiing or snowboarding, you might like snow shoe walking. Various resorts offer guided tours for all levels, which can be great fun for children. Most areas have winter walking trails and toboggan runs for all levels as well as attractive events like torch-lit hikes. Why not combine these activities with a visit to a museum, an entertainment park or an indoor aqua park?
I hope I’ve been able to inspire you to give Germany a go during the winter. In my next blog, I’d like to share my experience of staying in a family hotel in Bavaria with our (at the time) 2-year-old son. Keep an eye out for it or sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss it.
If you have any questions, just drop me a message in the comments section or message me on Facebook. I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can. I know just how frustrating it can be to keep going around in circles or if the only websites you find are in German – so, I’m always happy to help.
A winter holiday in Germany – Our family holiday to Bad Hindelang
A winter holiday in Germany – Lenggries, Bavaria