The 15 Best Places to Visit in Germany During the Winter

Germany is a magical country to visit any time of year with its grand castles, medieval towns, and towering mountains – but there’s something about a coat of snow that makes it seem that much more like a fairytale. 

The country transforms into the definition of holiday spirit during the Advent season with charming Christmas Markets at every turn. 

Whether you like spending your days outdoors hitting the slopes and hiking in the snow or exploring a city with a cozy cafe never too far away, Germany is the perfect place for all kinds of travelers to explore during the winter season. 

However, with a country made up almost entirely of places that look that much better covered in snow, deciding where to spend those cold nights is not an easy task. 

Keep reading for a comprehensive list of cities, towns, and natural wonders in Germany that’ll have you wondering why you didn’t plan a winter vacation sooner. 

1. Partnachklamm Gorge

Partnachklamm Gorge

Although the Partnachklamm Gorge is a beautiful sight at any time of year, there’s something about the winter views that make you feel like you’ve entered another world. 

Of the many breathtaking gorges scattered throughout Germany, Partnachklamm Gorge is the only one that stays open during the winter season. 

Most people prefer to spend their time cozied up by a fire when the weather gets cold, but those willing to bundle up and get outside will have the pleasure of enjoying nature all to themselves. 

The gorge sees less than a third of its usual visitors in the colder months, so you can walk through this winter wonderland in peace and marvel at the frozen waterfall. 

The short hikes around the gorge are perfect for quick trips, so you can avoid getting too cold – and the beauty of large icicles at every turn is hard to pass up. There are even torchlight tours during the winter months that teach visitors about the history of the gorge. 

After exploring this magical place, head over to the Forthaus Graseck Hotel to warm yourself up and grab something to eat. 

2. Zugspitze

Zugspitze

Known as the tallest peak in Germany, Zugspitze is a hotspot for winter activities, and people from all over the world travel here just to hit the slopes. 

The most popular attraction on the mountain is the Zugspitze Ski Resort, and there’s a large selection of slopes for advanced skiers to beginners. 

If skiing isn’t your thing, you can opt to take on the mountain on a bobsled. Equipment can be acquired from the Sonnalpin Glacier Restaurant. 

Since the mountain is so tall, there are no slopes that start at its peak – but there are cable cars that’ll take you to the summit so that you can take in the panoramic views. While you are up there, stop in at one of the restaurants, sit outside on the patio for dinner and take in a view like no other. 

Keep the good times rolling by staying at one of the resorts located along the mountain, like the lodge at the Zugspitze Resort, for quick slope access, and Alpen-Chalet Ehrwald for more quiet and affordable lodging options. 

3. The Allgäu

The Allgäu

Located in the southern part of Germany, The Allgäu region is one of the most popular places to visit during the winter months, even if you’re not an avid skier. 

There’s a huge variety of hiking trails throughout the area that are accessible at any time of year. You’ll find trails suitable for all skill levels, and that can be accessed right from the village. 

Some of the most iconic castles in Germany can be found throughout Allgäu – and there’s nothing like freshly fallen snow to create that fairytale vibe. In fact, the castle of Neuschwanstein was the inspiration For Disney’s Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, and because of this, it’s the most visited castle in the country. 

Everything about this area is extremely relaxing, with its quiet roads and snow-covered mountains – but the colder months only add to this bliss. 

Enjoy your fair share of ski resorts when you want to hit the slopes, and venture off to nearby towns like Oberammergau or Oberstdorf when you need a break from the quiet streets of Allgäu. 

After spending time out in the cold, there is no better place to warm up than Kristall-Therme, which looks like a grand palace but actually houses a massive spa, with hot tubs and breathtaking alpine views. 

4. Cologne

Cologne

Although the city of Cologne is the 4th largest in all of Germany, it manages to maintain a stress-free vibe at any time of year – and the feeling of peaceful bliss is definitely at its highest in the winter season. 

The city isn’t known for its dramatic architecture, but rather its sense of community and unique culture – so every step through this vibrant city is a new adventure. 

There’s nothing quite like bathing in a thermal pool on bitterly cold days, and luckily, Claudius Therme is right in town with numerous thermal pools, saunas, and designated relaxing rooms. 

Another great way to stay warm while having a grand time is by heading over to one of the many breweries peppered through town and drinking the city’s signature beer, Kölsch. 

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, make your way over to Keupstraßen, where Turkish food stands line the streets selling tasty snacks like baklava and kebabs. 

One of the absolute best things to do here during the wintertime is to attend the annual Christmas Markets, which will make you feel like you’ve been transported to the North Pole as you walk through the 7 markets boasting treats, crafts, and more. 

If that’s not enough to make Cologne seem like a magical place, check out these Top 20 Best Day Trips from Cologne, Germany.

5. Dresden

Nestled along the Elbe River, the scenic city of Dresden is beautiful regardless of the season – but it truly glows with a coat of freshly fallen snow. 

At the center of the city lies one of the finest architectural masterpieces in Germany, the Dresden Frauenkirche, and it’s even more spectacular from the inside as you watch the snow fall through the mosaic windows. 

You can’t go wrong with a visit to any of the palaces located within the city, including The Zwinger, with its exquisite Baroque style architecture, and the Dresden Royal Palace with its ancient museum. 

Go for a walk around the Theaterplatz, the city’s public square, where you can marvel at the Semper Opera House from afar and attend a lively performance to admire its grand interior. 

Nicknamed the “Balcony of Europe”, Brühl’s Terrace is a favorite amongst locals and tourists alike if you want to go for a leisurely stroll filled with gardens, statues, and waterfront views.  You’ll also find the Albertinum along the Terrace stroll, which is made up of some of the finest pieces of artwork throughout Europe. 

Don’t miss your chance to visit the Three Gifts for Cinderella exhibition, located right outside of the city at Schloss Moritzburg, where you can watch the most iconic Christmas movie in Germany. Head over to the Moritzburg Castle, where sections of the movie were produced – and check out some of the authentic props used during filming. 

6. Baiersbronn

Baiersbronn

Located deep within the Black Forest, Baiersbronn is a favorite amongst thrill-seekers who like spending the winter season in the great outdoors and end the day with award-winning meals. 

There are hundreds of trails that’ll take you through the iconic forest and its dense greenery, which only appears even more magical once covered in snow. 

One of the most wonderful sights to come across while snowshoeing through the forest is the monstrous Sankenbach Waterfalls that stand completely frozen in time. 

Dive into the town’s unfortunate history by visiting the ruins of Kloster Allerheiligen, a monastery that faced many tragedies over the years – and relish in the silence of this secluded area as the snow falls around you. 

After a long day of exploring, have your pick between three Michelin-star restaurants that hold a total of 8 stars, awarded because of their uniquely mouthwatering menus. 

Keep the good times going by spending the night at the Hotel Traube Tonbach, where you can cozy up next to a fireplace and be mere seconds away from the most popular Michelin star restaurants in town. 

7. Wernigerode

Wernigerode

Known as one of the most beautiful medieval towns in Germany, Wernigerode is transformed into a fantasy world when its half-timbered houses become covered in snow. 

You can easily spend your days walking through the cobblestone streets and admiring the ancient homes, but the Wernigerode Castle looming in the distance will be sure to call your name. Built atop a hill overlooking the town, the Wernigerode Castle is truly breathtaking. Guided tours are available so that you can walk through its 40 fully restored rooms. 

Hop on the Harz Steam Railway for a scenic ride up through the iconic Harz Mountains to reach its highest point, and take in the sights from the warm train car. 

Stop by the Kleinstes Haus to see the smallest house in town, and make sure to duck when entering into the folk museum housed inside if you’re taller than 5’5. 

When you need a break, have a seat on one of the benches that line the Rathaus (town square), and marvel at the towering buildings and ancient architecture that surrounds you. 

End your day by taking a horse-drawn carriage ride through town, watch the snow fall around you, and stop for food and drinks along the way. 

8. Quedlinburg

Quedlinburg

Hidden away amongst the Harz Mountain Range, the quaint town of Quedlinburg doesn’t see many visitors but is overflowing with historic beauty that only gets better when winter approaches. 

The town has over 1,300 vibrant half-timbered houses that are unique in their own ways and is considered to be one of the most well-maintained medieval towns in the country. 

Go for a walk along the cobblestone streets of the Market Square where you can people watch, grab lunch at a cafe or restaurant, do a bit of shopping, and admire historic landmarks. 

Make your way over to the Marktkirche St. Benedikti, a church dating back to the 12th century, and climb to the top where you can enjoy sweeping views of the snowfall. 

You can learn about the town’s history while exploring a castle at the Schlossmuseum, take in the breathtaking views atop Munzenberg, marvel at the exquisite Romanesque architecture at St. Wiperti, and check out the oldest house in town at Fachwerkmuseum Ständerbau

The most amazing thing to do here in the wintertime is to explore the Quedlinburg Christmas Market. Try a variety of authentic snacks, buy handcrafted Christmas decorations, and mingle with the locals. 

9. Berchtesgaden

Berchtesgaden

This national park is located within the Alps and is filled with alpine lakes, snowy peaks, and thick greenery. Its bordering village bears the same name and is the perfect place to spend those cold winter nights. 

Don’t miss an opportunity to visit Königssee – a magnificent mirror lake formed by melted glaciers – as it’s considered to be one of the most beautiful lakes in the country. Although you can’t explore the lake by boat during the winter months, it’s just as much fun to put on a pair of ice skates and skate atop this natural beauty. 

Venture over to Eagle’s Nest, which sits atop a mountain and was once the location where plans of genocide were put together by Nazis. 

Visit Jenner Mountain, the highest peak in the park, by taking a gondola up to its summit. Admire the panoramic views, go for a hike, or partake in a bit of skiing. 

Be careful of icy conditions and make sure to take a 4×4 vehicle for a scenic drive along Rossfeld Panoramastrasse with its snow-covered cliffs, and check out one of the many ski resorts along the way. 

10. Heidelberg

Heidelberg

Located in the southern part of Germany, Heidelberg is a popular tourist destination because of the abundance of activities available regardless of the season. 

No trip to this charming city would be complete without visiting the Heidelberg Castle, which is considered to be one of the most iconic landmarks in the country with architectural features from the 13th, 15th, and 16th centuries. 

Put on your walking shoes before heading down Haupstraße, the longest shopping street in the world that is filled with adorable boutiques, popular name brands, cozy cafes, and unique restaurants. 

Along your travels, you’ll come across the Town Hall. Check out the grand fountain at its center and Christmas string lights hung around to welcome the holidays. 

You’ll spend much of your time in the Old Town during the winter months, as it’s transformed into a wonderland of snow and holiday cheer during the Christmas Markets. You’ll find one of the largest Christmas Markets in Germany with many stalls, a carousel, ice rink, mini train, and popular Winter Woods

Make sure to try the city’s classic dish, Flammkuchen, which is made up of thin-crust dough, onions, bacon, and crème fraîche – and pairs nicely with a piping hot cup of glüwein. 

11. Trier

Trier

Known for being the oldest town in Germany, Trier is filled with historic landmarks to admire – and its prime location within the Mosel Valley brings an abundance of natural beauty into the mix. 

Start your journey by visiting the Porta Nigra, the largest of its kind in the northern part of the country, and marvel at the ancient town walls as you learn about the role they played during the 3rd century. 

Along those same lines, you can visit the High Cathedral of Saint Peter, one of the oldest churches in the country dating back to the 4th century, and check out a variety of ancient religious artifacts. 

Plan to see a concert at the Roman-era Aula Palatina, where you can listen to music while you watch the snow fall from its large windows and step inside Constantine’s Throne Room. 

You can spend your entire day exploring the attractions along the Hauptmarkt. Walk by the many half-timbered houses, visit ancient landmarks like the Steipe, check out the massive Market Fountain, and stop at quirky museums like the Toy Museum. 

Stop by the Trier Imperial Baths for a tour of its ancient grounds sporting a large collection of underground rooms and the remains of a large bath that once held up to 600 people. 

Visit the house where Karl Marx spent his childhood, learn about the city’s history at the Rhineland Museum, walk across the Old Roman Bridge, and check out the Fell Exhibition Slate Mine. 

12. Monschau

Monschau

Travel back in time to the romantic town of Monschau, which is located within the Eifel region and boasts a variety of beautiful sights from its half-timbered houses to its dense forests. 

The most notable attraction in town is the Rotes Haus, and although it has a simple brick exterior, this iconic museum’s interior is made up of some of the finest Rococo architecture and luxurious furnishings. 

You may not be able to explore the inside of the Burg Monschau, but there’s nothing quite like taking in the views of the town from its courtyard while the snow coats the world around you. 

See how the famous town’s mustard is made at the mom-and-pop mill, Senfmühle Monschau, and try the tasty condiment that had been in the making for over 120 years. 

Walk the cobblestone streets of the Altstadt with its waterfront views, and admire how it’s transformed into a winter wonderland of Christmas lights, holiday stalls, and sweet-smelling treats. 

Just a short trip outside of town is the Hellenthal Nationalpark Eifel, boasting 64 acres of untouched nature with frequent wildlife sightings, including deer, lynxes, and wild cats. 

The Eifel Region is composed of over 150 miles of trails for those who like to hike during the wintertime, with paths for all skill levels leading to natural wonders like volcanic craters, alpine lakes, and moorlands. 

13. Leipzig

Leipzig

You can’t go wrong with spending some time in Leipzig during the wintertime when the streets are transformed into a winter wonderland and indoor attractions are in abundance for those who like to steer clear of the cold. 

What better way to warm up after a long day wandering the cobblestone streets than by sitting in a hot tub at one of the many spas that lay within the city limits? The most popular spa in town is Sachsen-Therme, which has a variety of saunas ranging in temperatures, steam rooms, a bunch of hot tubs, and even an outdoor heated pool. 

If you’re visiting during the month of December, you’re in luck; this is when the Leipzig’s Weihnachts Markt takes over the street and fills the air with the smell of freshly made pastries. You can spend hours hopping from one stall to another buying adorable knick-knacks, handcrafted items, holiday decorations, and tasty treats. 

When you need a break from the cold, head over to Gondwanaland where you can walk through an indoor rainforest environment that boasts over 300 animal species, 17,00 types of plants, and a variety of restaurants for when you get hungry. 

14. Berlin

Berlin

As the capital city of Germany, Berlin is one of the most popular tourist cities in the country and is actually one of the largest cities in Europe. However, planning your visit during the winter months can help lessen the crowds without lessening the available activities. 

Most tourists stay clear of Berlin when the weather gets cold, as the city is in one of the country’s coldest regions – but if you dress appropriately, you’ll have a wonderful time exploring and enjoying the winter activities. 

Since the city is so large, you’ll have the pleasure of seeing over 25 Christmas markets, all sporting favorites like holiday treats, crafts, and decorations. There are even pop-up Christmas Markets that happen every now and then as the holiday approaches – so always be on the lookout for Christmas lights and the smell of sweet pastries. 

One of the most popular attractions between locals and tourists alike during the winter is ice skating, with a grand slew of options to keep everyone entertained. Fan-favorite rinks include:

  • The rink at the Christmas Market encircled with colorful lights.
  • The free admission at Potsdamer Platz.
  • Eisstrand in Friedrichshagen, made from a naturally frozen lake. 

You’ll also notice a Christmas Garden, which gets decorated to the nine with Christmas lights and boasts yummy food stands selling things like cheese fondue. 

You’ll have your fair share of spas to relax in, including the Liquidom with its underwater music and occasional Dj, and Therme am Europa-Center, with its saltwater heated pool overlooking the city. 

15. Hamburg

Hamburg

There’s no place that oozes Christmas spirit like the city of Hamburg, and as the holiday approaches, the entire area is transformed into a fairytale world of twinkling lights. 

You won’t be able to resist a smile as you walk amongst one of the 16 Christmas Markets that are peppered throughout the city. Your senses will be overloaded with the smell of freshly roasted almonds and the sound of carollers from all around. 

The most iconic of the markets is the Historic Christmas Market, located right outside of the Town Hall, where you can watch Santa Claus fly across the stalls with the help of his reindeer. Your taste buds will thank you for the abundance of mulled wine, sugar roasted almonds, and potato pancakes you’ll be sure to eat along the way. 

If you’re interested in something different, check out the White Magic Christmas Market for a modern twist, or stop by the Santa Pauli Christmas Market for a more adult scene. 

Get all of your Christmas shopping done along Jungfernstieg Boulevard and the Neuer Wall shopping district, where you can hop between famous name-brand stores and trendy boutiques. 

Even if you don’t have time to plan your trip months in advance to score a ticket to a show, a visit to the Elbphilharmonie is still a must, as it’s the most amazing piece of architecture in town. 

If you still want some more things to do, check out the Top 20 Best Day Trips From Hamburg, Germany to really make the most out of your trip.