If you’ve never been to Germany during the winter holiday season, prepare yourself to get outdoorsy – just like the Germans. From the end of November to the right around the Christmas time, Germans go wild on their winter markets and traditions. Vendors sell handmade crafts, local foods, and beverages, including the heart and bone-warming Glühwein – or mulled wine, for the rest of the non-German-speaking world. For locals, this is an entertaining way to celebrate the Christmas and get together. And the local foods and hot drinks help them get easier through the bone-chilling temperatures.
You should also know that regardless of how small or big the city you’ll be visiting is, you will certainly find a Christmas market. Bigger cities have one in each square if this sounds entertaining for you.
If you aren’t familiar with the weather in Germany during the winter and also have several other packing questions, keep reading below for some insightful advice.
Clothing you should bring with you
If you go to Germany mainly to visit the Christmas markets, then you should consider bringing warm clothing with you. The outdoor temperatures go below freezing, and you will be outside for quite some time. Of course, you always have to get inside in a warm and cozy café or bar, but better be prepared. Because indoors the temperatures can be extremely warm, German people usually dress in layers, plenty of them. This will allow you to subtract or add a layer when necessary. For a week’s worth trip, pack the following. If you plan to visit for longer, search for accommodation that makes doing laundry easier.
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- 1 pair of jeans, plus the one you’ll be wearing on the plane;
- 4 base layer tees;
- 4 long sleeve shirts or blouses;
- 2 light sweaters – bulkier ones might look better, but they’re uncomfortable and take up a lot of space in your suitcase;
- 4 pairs of thermal socks – a pricier investment, but they will keep your feet safe from the freezing temperatures;
- A week’s worth of underwear – can’t compromise on those;
- 1 sports bra;
- 1 normal bra;
- 2 pair of thermal pants – Under Armour thermals are not that pricy and will keep you warm when worn under jeans.
Outwear to bring with you
You should bring some outwear that will make staying outdoors comfortable, but don’t exaggerate.
- A warm winter coat, waterproof, preferably;
- A scarf – you will shortly notice that Germans are almost surgically attached to their scarfs;
- A hat – if you don’t want to be scolded by the locals for not wearing one;
- A pair of touchscreen gloves – trust us, they are a worthy investment;
- Comfortable boots, waterproof ones, if possible. Make sure that they are comfortable to walk in. You’ll be doing it a lot.
You don’t want to turn into a Michelin Man, so avoid bringing with you a Canadian goose jacket. It’s not THAT cold, and you’ll be wearing a lot of layers.
Necessary paperwork and documents
When traveling internationally, you will have quite some paperwork to bring with you.
- Make sure to book a Germany Schengen visa appointment in London and get your visa;
- Passport – a valid one for at least six months after your entry date;
- Driver’s license, if you want to rent a car;
- Contact numbers from your family, Embassy, your banking institutions – have a copy in your wallet and keep one in your hotel room;
- A copy of your medical prescriptions and medical history, if this is the case.
Toiletries to bring with you
Pack those toiletries that you usually use at home. If you’re not too loyal to any brand and want to save up some space in your suitcase, forget about those. In Germany, local stores such as Rossmann and DM carry everything you will need during your stay – and the prices are negligible. Don’t go wild on makeup products because half of your face will be covered anyway by the warm scarf. Anyway, DO bring with you the following:
- Lip balm – a handy helper in freezing temperatures;
- Lotion – preferably a more hydrating one;
- Some solid perfume;
- Prescription medications.
The rest – shampoo, shower gel and so – on can be easily bought from local stores.
Useful tips for visiting the German Christmas Markets
Germany is a fascinating country, with a multitude of dialects and different Christmas customs, food and beverages from one corner to another. Because of this reason, if you visit the Christmas markets, you’re in for a diverse experience. But to truly enjoy the country’s diversity, visit Christmas markets in different corners of the country. You will find different variations of mulled wine and local foods. If you want to research what the city you visit has to offer, simply Google “Weihnachtsmärkte” and the city name.
Germans are keen on their environment and recycling. So, all foods and beverages are served in ceramic cups and plates, for which you will have to pay a small deposit (usually 1 euro or 2). If you want to take home your winter market cup, don’t return it. It’s already covered.
These are some simple to follow tips that will help you in your first Germany trip during the cold winter months.