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November. The temperature is dipping, the nights are getting darker and Christmas is on the horizon. It’s the perfect time to wrap up and head on a short break to the continent and nowhere does winter breaks quite like Germany. With its famous Christmas markets, hearty, warming food and enchanting castles, the country has all the ingredients for a winter wonderland. Need more reasons? Take a look at our top seven reasons to visit Germany in November.
Towards the end of November, traditional Christmas markets pop up in cities around Germany, enticing visitors with the scent of gingerbread and glühwein, the sight of sparkling lights and the sound of Christmas songs. Berlin, Dresden and Cologne are just a handful of German cities where you’re guaranteed markets, merriment and Christmas magic.
For something a little different, Berlin hosts a Japanese Christmas market every other year and those with a sweet tooth will love the chocolART Christmas market in Tübingen where you’ll find chocolate in every form imaginable, from hot chocolate to spicy chocolate, vegan chocolate to chocolate infused alcohol. Perfect for a winter pick me up!
Towards the end of November, outdoor ice rinks across the country open for some seasonal skating. Heidelberg’s huge ice rink sits at the foot of the city’s imposing castle, providing one of the best backdrops for ice skating in the country.
The Eiswelt am Neptunbrunnen, is a sprawling ice rink in the centre of Berlin in the heart of the Christmas markets which encircles Neptune Fountain. People of all ages skate beneath the god of the sea in his frozen kingdom which is illuminated by the colourful lights of the surrounding markets. Santa flies overhead every evening, filling the giddy skaters with excitement.
Prinzregentenstadion in München offers a typical ice rink along with a spa with two Finnish saunas, steam bath and a zen garden. Visit on a Sunday morning for a traditional Eistanz (ice dance), where free dance lessons take place from 10am.
Neuschwanstein Castle takes on fairytale status in the winter, especially when covered with snow with its towering turrets standing tall amid the snow-capped trees of the surrounding forest. We recommend walking up to the Marienbrücke (the suspension footbridge behind the castle) for some truly breath-taking views of the castle which you can capture on camera. Just a short distance from Munich, this castle brings to life classic fairytales and folktales, igniting your imagination through its beauty.
The rest of Germany isn’t short of castles either, with hundreds hidden amongst the countryside, forests and mountains including Reichsburg Castle which overlooks the Moselle River, the 11th century Wartburg Castle and Schwerin Castle which sits on its own island in the middle of a lake.
Whether it’s skiing, snowboarding, bobsledding or hiking, November marks the start of winter sport season in Germany. Zugspitze, the country’s highest mountain and only glacier, welcomes thousands of skiers each winter and is fantastic for paragliding. The Harz Mountains offer a range of winter sports across its 500km of ski slopes and snow-blanketed forests and Lake Tegernsee offers several sled runs, including Wallberg, which stretches 6.5km and is Germany’s longest natural sled run. As well as snowboarding and skiing, Allgäu offers breathtaking vistas and horse and carriage rides for those who would prefer to sit back and take in the scenery.
The bakeries of Aachen are famed for their gingerbread and marzipan which are shipped all over the world. Sample some freshly baked gingerbread at the Christmas market and wash it down with a Christmas coffee or mulled wine. The 6-metre-tall gingerbread man mascot offers the perfect photo opportunity too.
Aachen Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in northern Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Centre is also a delight to visit, with architecture heavily influenced by the Eastern Roman Empire. After a day sight-seeing and sampling festive food, unwind in one of the city’s famous spas. Perfect to escape to on a cold winter’s day.
One of Germany’s many national parks, the confusingly named Saxon Switzerland mixes majestic mountains which reach into the clouds, glassy lakes and deep valleys which have been weathered over 100 million years to create this unique landscape.
The Bastei Bridge is the most visited area of the park and it’s easy to see why. It offers outstanding views for miles and is the perfect place to watch the sunset over the stunning landscape.
If you’re after a hike, the walk through the forest and climb through the narrow tracks to the top of Schrammsteine will reward you with awe inspiring views across the rocky columns, battered cliffs and deep valleys in the national park.