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Why December is the Best Time to Visit Germany

by Mandy
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Germany in December is a special time for me and Oli. Partly because it’s filled with nostalgia from our first time in the country, but also because it’s filled with festive traditions unique to Germany. There are beautiful decorations too, and that all important festive atmosphere. Christmas in Germany is also a lot less commercialised than in the UK. There is of course a commercialised element (who doesn’t want presents?) but Christmas certainly feels more meaningful and magical in Germany.

We first fell in love with Germany at this most wonderful time of year, when we visited Berlin. On our first evening, we went to Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market, situated on one of the most beautiful squares in Berlin. We stood by the stalls, watching flurries of snow fall around us, and listening to locals chatting and laughing, while we sipped mulled wine. From that moment we were hooked! And we have done our best to see even more of Germany when we can. Here is why we firmly believe that December is the best time to visit Germany.

1. Magical Christmas Markets

The number one thing we love when December rolls around, are Germany’s Christmas Markets.

Compared to the markets we have in the UK, Germany’s markets feel more magical! Combined also with temperatures that tend to be much colder than the UK’s mild Decembers. If you’re lucky, there’s even a chance it’ll snow! The stalls are home to local crafts-people, selling gifts, crafts, souvenirs and clothing, unique to the region. Some stalls between cities may offer similar products, but very little is mass produced or made in China. Many markets also have craft workshops, such as wreath-making or candle making, so you can make your own decorations, souvenirs or gifts. We have 2 white glittering reindeers from Berlin, which we still put on our tree now, more than 10 years later!

Big cities like Cologne, Munich and Berlin tend to have their markets in the main city square – typically historical town centre’s with classic, medieval architecture serving as the perfect backdrop to all the stalls. Alternatively, more rural Germany, such as the Black Forest, also have unique travel-worthy Christmas Markets too, with German’s and tourists travelling far and wide to visit. Picture-perfect towns and villages, such as Freiburg, Hinterzarten or Baden-Baden offer the ultimate fairy tale Christmas experience.

One of our particular favourites is Ravenna Gorge (Ravennaschlucht Weihnachtsmarkt), found just outside of Hinterzarten and Titisee. The market is uniquely positioned under the railway viaduct, surrounded by tall leafy trees. We haven’t been to another market like it! This is definitely one of our favourite markets and instantly gives those magical festive vibes.

2. Glühwein – the ultimate winter warmer

What could be more Christmassy, than being in Germany in December, bundled up in your layers, sipping on a hot steamy mug of Glühwein? Made by adding cinnamon sticks, sugar, vanilla, orange slices, cloves and star anise to red wine, this drink is quintessentially festive! The mixture is slowly warmed, allowing the spices to infuse.

You will find several Glühwein stalls at the Christmas Markets, along with mulled cider and alcohol-free punch (also warmed up). Most stalls will also have their own mug designs. The price for the mulled wine is slightly inflated as the price includes a deposit for the mug. This means you either get your deposit back when you return the mug, or you can forfeit the deposit and keep the mug as a nice souvenir!

3. Traditional Winter Cuisine

What would go perfectly with your Christmas Glühwein? How about some Stollen? A traditional fruitcake made in Germany (and much better than the dry fruitcake we have here in the UK). It’s sweet, moist, and dusted with a perfect amount of icing sugar.

Alternatively, the German’s specialise in a range of marzipan-based delights or sweet treats such as Black Forest cake (if you’re in the region), or some Lebkuchen (gingerbread). You’ll find this in many bakeries, but especially at the markets, sold in a variety of shapes and sizes, and decorated with different designs.

If you’re after something a bit more hearty and warming, there’s always Brutwurst, Black Forest Ham, or burgers covered top to bottom in melting cheese (and yes, it’s as glorious as it sounds!). Me and Oli are both vegetarians and we can confirm veggie options for all of these exist too!

4. The birthplace of the Christmas Tree

Germany is credited with popularising the tradition of Christmas trees and decorating them from top to toe. We know all cities and towns will be decked out in their Christmas finest, but what could be better than being in the birthplace of the Christmas tree??

Germany’s cities and towns are adorned with large Christmas trees, lit up in twinkly lights, and surrounded by beautiful decorations. Plus there’s magical window displays in every store, and impressive street decorations. The festive feeling is intensified in the quieter parts of Germany, offering an idyllic setting against the chocolate box design of many of Germany’s smaller towns and villages.

5. The perfect winter wonderland

During December you may find parts of Germany transformed into a dreamy winter wonderland, blanketed in a covering of snow. We were in Berlin one week before Christmas, where we had a few magical flurries, leaving a dusting across the city. It was small, but it was enough to still bring that Christmas magic alive for us!

We were spoilt though to an absolute blanket of snow when we visited the Black Forest over Christmas a few years later. The whole region was transformed, with snow-covered peaks and hillsides, and villages were even more picturesque as snow draped off their rooftops and doorways.

Although not uncommon for many areas of Germany in December to have snow, you’ll find your chances of snow increase a lot more if you visit areas like the Bavarian Alps or the Southern parts of The Black Forest.

6. Winter sports

If you’re lucky to experience snow in December, then you must indulge in some winter sport activities!

Skiing, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, tobogganing, and winter hiking are all popular activities during the height of winter. If you’re visiting cities such as Munich, then a trip to the Bavarian Alps is only a couple of hours away. If you’re already touring the Southern region of Germany, then you can take your pick! From the ski slopes of the Black Forest, to the highest peak in Germany; Zugspitze.

7. Traditional gifts

Explore the intricate craftsmanship of Christmas pyramids (Weihnachtspyramide). These are traditional wooden structures featuring rotating figures, often depicting nativity scenes. Many towns display life-sized nativity scenes, adding a touch of tradition to public spaces.

While Germany offers something different throughout the year, we’re sure you’ll agree that Germany in December is especially magical! We hope you enjoyed our round-up on why December is the best time to visit Germany! If you have any questions, then please share them in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you! If you found our blog helpful, check out our Insta @welovetravel.in – and if you give us a follow don’t forget to say hey!

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