Things to Do During Autumn in Germany
Last updated: 25 August 2020 / by Sam Williams
When you think of travel, you’ve probably got the summer months in mind. It’s certainly true that Germany is stunning in the warm weather, with barbecues, beautiful beaches, and parties that last long into the warm, balmy nights.
But Germany isn’t a one-season country. Delay your visit by just a few weeks and you’ll find plenty of other activities to enjoy or places to go. If you’re already living in Germany, take your holiday leave in the autumn and you’ll reap unexpected rewards.
If you need a bit more persuading, check out our guide to Germany in the autumn months, with a few ideas of where to go and what to do.
Reasons Why Autumn in Germany is So Much Fun
Wherever you travel in Germany, the scenery is wonderful at any time of the year. However, the lush forests and the panorama of mountains on the horizon are so much more dramatic in the autumn.
As the summer fades into the distance, the trees’ foliage provides a kaleidoscope of color, which is breathtaking. A myriad of gold, orange, red, yellow, and brown, coupled with a green smattering creates a blanket as far as the eye can see.
No matter how stunning the landscape looks in other seasons, nothing can compete with this visual treat. If you are planning on taking a road trip, now’s the time to go!
Quieter tourist spots
Germany is a country that attracts tourists all year round; you’re unlikely to ever find a popular spot that has zero visitors. But if you can delay your sight-seeing activity until the autumn months, you will find that it’s noticeably quieter.
Whether you’re visiting a theme park or one of the many castles, pencil in a trip during autumn and you’ll get much more out of your time there.
You won’t overheat
Germany has many places to go and lots to see. If you’re hoping to pack in plenty of activities, you could have a full itinerary. The problem is, when it’s hot you will get tired and sweaty very quickly and will lose your enthusiasm for traveling around.
In the autumn, the cooler temperatures mean you’ll feel far more comfortable and will be able to see much more without feeling like a hot mess by the end of the day.
It’s the ballet and opera season
Germany has a phenomenal reputation for opera and ballet, but you won’t find shows on all year round. This can be a huge disappointment if you’ve traveled to a city with the express aim of watching a performance.
In the autumn, it’s a different matter as the opera and ballet season is open. Book your tickets early and you could catch one of the very first shows open!
Enjoy hearty meals
German cuisine is varied, but it’s hard to beat some of the most traditional dishes’ heartiness. When the weather is hot, you won’t feel like wolfing down a bowl of meat, potatoes, and cabbage swimming in a gravy sea.
When the temperature starts to drop and you need something to warm you up, German food’s comfort will seem like heaven on a plate.
Whether you’re renting a car or staying in a hotel, everything is more expensive in peak season. As summer passes and autumn arrives, you’ll find prices drop substantially. Taking a holiday around Germany offseason can be a marvelous experience with the added benefit of costing far less too.
Markets begin to open
If you’re the kind of person who likes to plan, you’ll be delighted to see the Christmas markets start to open in October. Although different markets around Germany all begin at other times, you can check online to see where the markets are when you plan on taking your trip.
And finally…no more wasps!
In the summer months, a peaceful moment enjoying a piece of küchen outside can often be ruined by a stubborn wasp’s appearance. In the autumn months, you can relax at your leisure at an outdoor cafe, safe in the knowledge that you won’t be bothered by the striped critters!
What Part of Germany to Visit?
Whether you’re more of a city person or a country explorer, Germany is beautiful in the fall. The autumnal colors and mild, crisp climate make it an enjoyable time to venture out. All the cities have something to offer but where should you head if you’re looking for something a little different? Here are a few suggestions:
You don’t need to be an experienced climber to visit the Alpine regions in Germany. There are many places where you can enjoy a gentle hike in the fresh air, without an arduous slog uphill. The Alps are beautiful all year round, but it’s the perfect spot to appreciate the carpet of changing color in the trees and leaves in the autumn.
Being in one of Germany’s sunniest parts means that autumn is a popular time to visit Lake Constance. Surrounded by trees, the area is a vibrant blaze of golds, reds and browns, which adds to the water’s beauty and makes a stunning vista. There are plenty of tours and days out still available, but the apple and pumpkin harvests are the highlights.
Stretching out over 913 square kilometers, the Black Forest in Germany is one of Germany’s most iconic areas. A wonderful mixture of coniferous and autumnal trees make the fall the best season to pay a visit. The Clock Route is a popular way to see the Forest, and in the autumn, you’ll have the best of the quaint villages and towns, plus breathtaking foliage.
Within a reasonable distance of Berlin, Spreewald is a sleepy town in Germany renowned for its picturesque landscape. With lots of waterways and lush vegetation, you’ll feel like you’re traveling through a tunnel of trees, especially while kayaking. The meadows, forests, canals and lakes offer a serene escape at any time of the year. The autumn is exceptional though, with the cornucopia of fall colors creating an enchanting experience.
German Wine Route
One of the most historic routes in Germany, the Wine Route begins at Bockenheim in southwest Germany and winds its way to the French border, a total of 50 miles. Although you can travel it at any time of the year, autumn is the best season to go. Alongside the medieval architecture and castles, you’ll spot on your journey, you will be able to visit many wine festivals during the autumn.
If you’re looking for something dramatic, travel to the extreme east of Germany to Saxon Switzerland on the Czech Republic’s border.
Often known as the city of stones, it has striking sandstone formations that have been carved into the most extraordinary shapes by the elements. The natural beauty of the water, trees and rock is difficult to comprehend unless you see it in person. The cooler temperatures and colorful trees make autumn the best time to pay a visit.
Festivals and Celebrations
Germany loves to party and in the autumn, there are many festivals, celebrations and carnivals. These take place all over the country so that you can take your pick of a whole range of fun activities. It’s impossible to list all of them, but here’s a select few of the best:
Is it even possible to talk about festivals in Germany without mentioning the most famous of them all: Oktoberfest? Millions of revelers join together from all over the world in an enormous celebration of beer, sausage and German culture.
Oktoberfest is such a significant event, it is often the sole reason people visit Germany! You will see lots of people wearing traditional clothing but it’s not compulsory. Famed for its friendly atmosphere, Oktoberfest takes place in Munich every September and lasts for approximately two weeks.
Berlin Shines and Berlin Festival of Lights
These two festivals take place in Berlin at the same time, complementing each other. Berlin Shines is the longer of the two, lasting from 2nd October through to the 18th October. Berlin Festival of Lights is only about a week-long, starting on the 9th October and finishing on the same date.
Both celebrations light up Berlin’s city with a spectacular array of illuminations across many of the city’s buildings. Collaboration from different artists, laser displays, 3D projections, light installations, fireworks and musical performances are just some of the highlights.
You can book a guided tour of Berlin during this time to see the best of what’s on offer.
Frankfurt Book Fair
If you love all things literary, then the Frankfurt Book Fair is the place to be. The largest trade fair in the world for books, you’ll find it full of publishers, authors, translators and book lovers alike.
It’s not open to the public during the week, but at the weekend, anyone can attend and travel from all over the world to be there. If the 400,000 books aren’t enough to grab your attention, there are also concerts, exhibitions, readings and films.
Museum Night in Cologne
If you’re a bit of a culture vulture, Museum Night in Cologne is an event you won’t want to miss. Starting at 7pm and lasting throughout the night, there are more than 200 events across 46 locations in the city. You only need to buy a single ticket to get access to them all and there’s a shuttle bus to move between locations.
St Martin’s Day
This day is named after St Martin of Tours, a former Roman soldier who became a monk. Known for ripping his cloak in half to share with a beggar, St Martin’s Day is officially a Catholic festival, but everyone celebrates it as Christmas is. You can expect lantern processions, bonfires, mulled wine and delicious food, including the traditional roast goose.
German Unity Day
The momentous occasion in 1990 when the two parts of Germany were officially reunited has been celebrated annually ever since. German Unity Day takes place on 3rd October and is a public holiday nationwide. But it’s more than just a day off work; all around the country there are parties and celebrations. The best of these take place around Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, where there’s a three-day festival.
Cows are an essential part of life in more rural parts of Germany, especially in towns and villages close to the Alps. In the summer months, the cows enjoy the warm, grassy hills, but as the seasons change, they are brought back down to the barns’ safety.
This “cow parade” is celebrated in German towns (as well as Austria and Switzerland). There are small and large Almabtrieb celebrations that take place throughout the autumn. It’s worth seeking them out with beer, prizes, local crafts, carnivals, and late-night parties.
Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival
Germany is home to the largest pumpkin festival in the world – which is a lot more fun than it sounds! Taking place in the autumn, the Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival has all kinds of activities, including pumpkin chainsaw carving, pumpkin smashing and pumpkin canoes in a crazy water race. And if you’re a fan of pumpkin cuisine, you’ll have the chance to sample all pumpkin-themed food types.
Cannstatter Wasen (Stuttgart)
If you want an alternative to Oktoberfest, you’ll find many other beer festivals throughout Germany in the autumn. This includes Cannstatter Wasen, a traditional celebration which first began in 1818. With the biggest Ferris wheel in the world, oompah bands and rollercoasters plus wine, beer and good food, it’s fun for the whole family.
Activities to Enjoy
If you don’t have a particular part of Germany you want to visit, but prefer to be inspired by what’s on offer, here are a few ideas. Below we’ve listed some of the most attractive sights to see and activities to enjoy which will still be available and open in autumn.
Germany is renowned for its magical castles and autumn allows you to take your pick of the most picturesque without having to battle through throngs of tourists.
There are many castles in Germany which are well worth a visit, but perhaps the most famous of them all is Neuschwanstein Castle. Said to have inspired Walt Disney’s castle in Sleeping Beauty, Neuschwanstein is just like a fairytale.
The chance to appreciate its beauty without being jostled makes a trip in the autumn an essential. You might want to explore other castles include the nearby Hohenschwangau Castle, Eltz Castle, Linderhof Palace and Heidelberg Castle.
Beaches are admittedly more often associated with the summer season, but you can still enjoy a trip to the coast when the crowds have gone.
The Baltic Sea is a stunning destination where you can enjoy a walk along the soft white sand and listen to the gentle lapping of the waves. Swap your ice-cream for a Heiße Schokolade (hot chocolate) and maybe add in a Nutella crepe too, and we guarantee you’ll be in heaven.
Take a Grimm tour
Alsfeld is a quaint medieval town in Germany but it’s best known for its links to the famous Grimm Brothers. Little Red Riding Hood is said to have been inspired by the women’s traditional headwear from the area.
Tourists can take a Fairytale Tour in Alsfeld where you’ll hear from guides dressed as the Grimm Brothers, eat a fairytale themed dinner and you could even stay in a fairytale themed hotel. Keep your eyes open during your stay as Red Riding Hood can often be seen wandering around the market square!
Experience an adult adventure park
If you’ve always felt envious about children having all of the fun, head to Kulturinsel Einseidel where you’ll find something unlike anything else. A homage to the Turisede folk and traditions, this cultural journey couldn’t be more fun.
Underground passageways, secret tunnels, slides and trampolines are just some of what you’ll encounter. You can even opt to stay in one of the cabins and enjoy a “cauldron bath spa”. With its wooded setting, during the autumn Kulturinsel Einseidel feels simply magical.
Walk the Rothenburg wall
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a German town that has genuinely preserved its roots. Completely encircled by a defensive wall, Rothenburg still feels just like a medieval dwelling.
The ramparts look impressive from the ground, but you can follow the sentry walk along the wall for a much better look. This offers incredible views over the town and surrounding countryside and provides a unique perspective into German life in the 14th century.
There are just over 3km encircling the town and apart from a couple of small sections, visitors can walk around it for free. Doing this activity during the autumn means you won’t have to navigate maneuvering around other people along the narrow path.
The small island of Rügen in the north-east of Germany, in the Mecklenburg-West Pomeranian region, is a huge hit with tourists in the summer months. But visit in the autumn and you’ll not only have more space, but you’ll be in exactly the right spot to see wildlife.
Aside from the stunning Jasmund Nationalpark worth the trip alone, you could also see migrating cranes flying south for the winter. Huge flocks of 25,000-60,000 rest in fields on Rügen in the autumn. You could also see other wildlife such as otters, eagles, falcons and swans in this season too.
Enjoy a theme park
Theme parks are great – but having to queue for each ride can suck the joy out of a visit. The good news is that Heide Park, a theme park in Soltau, is open during the autumn when you’ll find it’s much quieter. It’s such a popular attraction that you still might have to queue briefly, but within 10-15 minutes, you’ll be on the ride and onto the next adrenaline rush!
The park doesn’t close until 28th October so there’s plenty of time to enjoy the facilities in autumn, and towards the end of the season there’s a thoroughly enjoyable Halloween theme – perfect if you love spooky fun.
If you love Halloween and all things paranormal, a trip to Burg Gamburg could really get your pulse racing. A lovely castle in Baden-Württemberg, it is owned and lived in by a private family. As well as offering day tours and delicious cake, you can return after dark to enjoy their ghost tour where you may meet one of the 21 friendly spooks.
Visit a monastery
How does the idea of visiting a monastery that brews beer sound? At Andechs Monastery you can enjoy just that, with strong beer available to sup onsite. There’s the added bonus of an easy hike through stunning foliage before arrival at the monastery where you can enjoy a well-earned beer!