Peak travel months in Germany are May through October, with another boost in December when the Christmas markets are held and skiers head to the Bavarian Alps. Expect busy roads, lines at attractions and museums, and fewer lodging vacancies, but also long days (the sun sets as late as 9.30pm in June!), lots of festivals, and balmy nights in the beer garden. If travelling in spring, note that there are several holidays between Easter and June (Ascension Day, Labor Day, and Whit/Pentecost Sunday) when Germans like to take mini-vacations and popular places book out quickly.
Overall, Germany has a predominantly mild, temperate climate. Average summer temperatures range from 20C–30C (72F–80F). The average winter temperature hovers around 0C (32F).
Late spring and early fall can bring the nicest travel days, not too hot and often quite sunny. July and August can get stifling hot and humid, with thunderstorms in the afternoon being no rarity. November to February are the coldest and dullest months with frequent rain, snow, gloom, and sunsets around 4pm. Some museums and attractions curtail their hours or close altogether for the season. On the plus side, there are practically no crowds anywhere except the ski resorts.
Festivals & Special Events
There’s more to Germany than Oktoberfest. Germany hums year-round with festivals and special events of all kinds, and these can add an additional sparkle to your trip. Below are some of the most important ones.
Berlin International Film Festival lasts for 10 days and showcases the work of international film directors in addition to the latest German films. Second week in February.
Fasching (Carnival) festivals take place in Catholic cities throughout Germany, reaching their peak on Rose Monday, the Monday before Ash Wednesday. Celebrations in Cologne and Munich are particularly famous. A week in February.
Hamburg Sommer is the umbrella name given to a summer-long series of cultural events in Hamburg, including concerts, plays, festivals, and special exhibitions. May through July.
Historisches Festspiel “Der Meistertrunk” is a costume festival in Rothenburg ob der Tauber that recreates the story of how a brave citizen saved the town from destruction by drinking a huge tankard of wine (an event called Der Meistertrunk). On Whitsuntide (Pentecost), as well as in early September and twice in October.
Gay Pride festivals, featuring parades, performances, and street fairs, take place throughout Germany, with the largest celebrations held in Berlin, and Cologne. Berlin: last June weekend; Cologne: first July weekend.
Stuttgarter Weindorf (Wine Festival). Wine lovers converge on Schillerplatz in Stuttgart to taste a selection of hundreds of Württemberg wines and sample regional food specialties. Two weeks in late August to early September.
Musikfest Berlin plays host to orchestras, ensembles, conductors, and soloists from around the world. Three weeks in September.
Oktoberfest. The world’s biggest beer festival takes over the Theresienwiese grounds in Munich with giant beer tents, oompah bands, parades and amusement rides. Mid-September to first Sunday in October.
Frankfurter Buchmesse (Book Fair). The world’s largest book fair is a major event in international book publishing. Mid- or late October.
Jazzfest Berlin attracts some of the world’s finest jazz artists with concerts staged at various Berlin venues. Three days in early November.
Hamburger Dom (also called Winterdom) amusement fair in Hamburg is the biggest public event in northern Germany. November through early December.
Christmas Markets, sometimes called Weihnachtsmarkt (Weihnachten means Christmas) or Christkindlmarkt (literally, “Christ Child Market”), take place in town squares throughout Germany, most notably Berlin, Cologne, Dresden, Munich, Nuremberg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Last weekend in November through Christmas.
Public holidays are New Year’s (January 1), Easter (Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and Easter Monday), Ascension Day (40 days after Easter), Labor Day (May 1), Whit/Pentecost Sunday and Monday (50 days after Easter), Day of German Unity (October 3), Christmas (December 25 and 26). In addition, the following holidays are observed in some German states: Epiphany (January 6), Corpus Christi (10 days after Pentecost), Assumption (August 15), All Saints’ Day (November 1) and Reformation Day (October 31).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.