Readers’ tips: Your guide to getting through the German winter
Let’s face it: Germany's long, winter months are not easy. As the temperatures drop, it can make staying upbeat and keeping warm difficult (and sometimes expensive). We asked for your advice on the best ways to get through it.
Those who've spent time in Germany know that winter can be bitter. From treacherous snow and slippy surfaces to biting cold winds and storms, it's something that internationals have to contend with if they choose to make the Bundesrepublik their home.
But, adopted Germans and Germans alike know there are was to make more bearable.
One of the major themes that came from our readers was to think about clothing. Generally speaking, Germans appear to be quite practical when it comes to clothes. For example, you'll rarely find Germans leaving the house without a scarf in winter (and even in warmer months). It's a tip we'll be following and some of you recommend it too..
Scarves. Lots of scarves.— Lynn Nothegger (@Lynn_Nothegger) January 24, 2019
When cycling you'll often find German people wearing waterproof clothing from head to toe and even babies will be clad out in snowsuits for the duration of winter ensuring they are shielded as much as possible from the elements.
A baby in a snowsuit. Photo: DPA
Aran Hevia-Suarez, from Spain and who now lives in Berlin, recommended that you take the onion approach. What she means by that is: layer up!
“You don’t need to spend a lot on expensive thermal performance stuff if you just turn into an onion and layer clothes,” she told The Local. “I have found it is way better anyway when you walk indoors because you can take one or two layers off and feel comfortable. Thermal trousers and tops inside a mall or a packed train with full blasting heating will definitely turn you into a sweaty mess.”
Others agreed on opting for practical clothing.
"There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes"— ?????? (@magischerzwerg) January 25, 2019
Hevia-Suarez said the best bit about winter is being able to walk around Berlin in the cold air and “enjoy the almost empty streets”.
She recommends embracing sleep and indoor activities, but also trying new hobbies like knitting clubs.
“It is a great time to try new and old hobbies without feeling guilty you are missing out on the good weather,” she said.
And if all else fails: if you can, jump on a plane and escape to some winter sun. “The Germans do it too so it’s not cheating,’ said Hevia Suarez.
A few others shared the same sentiment as Suarez, and recommended getting to the nearest airport. The below two are in Berlin.
Mike Stuchbery's list included tips like drinking Glühwein (mulled wine) and making the most of winter festivals, such as Christmas and Karneval.
1. For the love of God, buy decent boots.— Mike Stuchbery?? (@MikeStuchbery_) January 25, 2019
2. Layer. It's always useful to have one more piece to put on.
3. Make a big deal out of Christmas.
4. Make a big deal out of Karneval/Fastnet/Fasching.
5. Take zinc to help lower chances of cold/flu.
6. Get a daylight lamp.
7. If it's clear, go outside, make the most of sun.— Mike Stuchbery?? (@MikeStuchbery_) January 25, 2019
8. Drink plenty of Gluehwein.
9. Put your phone away when walking on icy mornings.
10. Skype home regularly.
11. Stick to routines, no matter how much you want to sleep.
12. Understand it will end!
Mechanical engineer James Clarke, 27, originally from Australia, has been in Germany for three years.
He advised ensuring your flat or house is warm enough to avoid getting sick during the cold winters.
Clarke recommended H&M for reasonably priced winter clothes although he added: “Good winter jackets aren't cheap.”
His tip to internationals who are new to the country is to take up a winter sport, “like snowboarding”.
“Winter in the city generally sucks and you need a reason to enjoy it. I doubt I could live here without snowboarding,” he said.
Winter sport enthusiasts in the Harz mountains. Photo: DPA
Clarke said the best thing about German winter is the mountains for “those of us fortunate to live near the alps”.
The worst part is the short days in November and December, said Clarke. Well, at least we’re over the worst of it!
Others also felt that sports is a good way to beat the winter blues.
Student Anna Richardovna, 22, who came to Germany a year ago from the UK, said vitamins, fresh air and a good diet were the best ways to avoid becoming sick in winter.
She recommended using hot water bottles at home to save on heating bills plus she said “be ready” for ice on the ground and recommend that you never forget your gloves.
“You lose feeling in your hands in a few minutes at -10C,” she said.
The best think about Germany in winter is skiing, said Richardovna.
Rebecca Darby, who came back to Germany after 21 years in the UK, is a self-employed translator. Her tips for avoiding picking up bugs in winter is to sleep a lot and “avoid public transport”.
Darby recommends buying second hand clothes from shops like Humana or looking online at buy and sell groups to find winter wear.
She said that anyone experiencing winter for the first time in Germany should make sure they have a long warm coat, boots with grip, wool socks and lots of layers.
Darby also says you should swap cold breakfasts for warmer meals like toast, scrambled eggs or porridge. And make sure you eat “at least one hot meal” a day. “This is not the time to diet,” she added, wisely.
Food and warm drinks was a strong theme among readers' recommendations.
Strong coffee + dark rum + sugar + whipped cream pic.twitter.com/9TVVARDsz8— Muskatblut ?? (@Asphodelchen) January 25, 2019
Darby said the best thing about Germany is that "there’s proper snow, not just months of damp slush".
“The parks and lakes are very pretty,” She added. However the worst part is that wind is biting cold and winter goes on for a long time.
Student Niz Esquivel said it’s best to take vitamin supplements if you don’t have a balanced diet.
Esquivel recommended going to a Flohmarkt (flea market) for winter clothing. And shop for winter pieces all year round when there’s not so much demand for big coats. Failing that, TK Maxx is a good bet for cheaper brands, she said.
The best thing about Germany in winter time is the “cold weather and occasional snow” while the worst thing, according to Esquivel, is the “dry cold air, and constant rain”.
Meanwhile, readers gave us lots of other tips online.
Jessica Hardaway said you should wear leggings over tights, fleeces under your puffa jacket and ski gloves.
“Still cold,” she asked? “Wear one of those neck buffs you can pull over your mouth and nose so the air you’re breathing is warmer.”
Some people said winter in Germany isn't that bad and that many other places are a lot worse.
Meanwhile, Erin Stringer said: "Go skiing as much as possible." While Jenny Zimmermann recommended a warm retreat in the form of Germany's many spas and saunas.
She said: "Spa, spa and more spa."