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DISCOVER GERMANY

8 of the coolest places in Germany to visit on hot summer days

If you've had enough of the hot weather in Germany, here are a few places you can go to cool down (and discover more of the country).

A man jumps in the sea in Zinnowitz on the island of Usedom.
A man jumps in the sea in Zinnowitz on the island of Usedom. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Stefan Sauer

Let’s face it: some of us are just not built for the heat. So when temperatures in Germany climb to the late 20s, above 30 – or even around 40C – there is only one place we want to be: the fridge. 

But there are a few other spots where you can seek shelter from the sweltering heat. With temperatures this week set to climb above 30C in some parts of the country, here’s a look at the areas you can stay cool in and see the sights of Germany. 

READ ALSO: Germany warns of heat danger and forest fires as temperatures soar

Swim in the sea

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that temperatures are usually cooler by the coast thanks to the sea breeze. 

So we’d recommend heading to a coastal resort in Germany to cool down. At the popular Baltic Sea islands like Rügen, temperatures rarely climb above 25C which is more manageable than the extreme heat that often hits the inland regions. 

READ ALSO: Which regions in Germany have the best (and worst) weather?

Best of all, the Ostsee water temperature is around 17-18C in June, July and August, and it even drops below 15C from September. Perfect for those who like a refreshing dip.

Alternatively you could head to the North Sea coast or islands like Sylt or Juist. The water there is usually a few degrees cooler than at the Baltic Sea. 

A swimmer bathes in the Baltic Sea near Timmendorfer Strand in Schleswig-Holstein.

A swimmer bathes in the Baltic Sea near Timmendorfer Strand in Schleswig-Holstein. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Molter

Get lost in the Oppenheim cellar maze (Kellerlabrynth)

One way to escape the heat is to explore what Germany has to offer below street level. Oppenheim in Rhineland-Palatinate has an amazing network of cellars that people can check out with guided tours. Also known as the ‘city under the city’, visitors can descend several storeys down to a depth of 500 metres, and learn all about the history of the cellar system which dates back hundreds of years.

The temperature is a constant and cool 17C so there’s no chance of overheating. 

The cellar labyrinth in Oppenheim (Rhineland-Palatinate) under the old town

The cellar labyrinth in Oppenheim (Rhineland-Palatinate) under the old town is a great place to cool down and get a history lesson. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Fredrik von Erichsen

Head to the Dechen Cave (Dechenhöhle) in the Sauerland

One of the most beautiful caves on display in Germany, the Dechenhöle in the Sauerland’s Iserlohn in North Rhine-Westphalia is well worth a visit. 

Around 360 metres of the 870 metre long cave have been arranged for visitors to explore, and the light shows look mesmerising. The cave was discovered by two rail workers in 1868 who dropped a hammer into a rock crevice. When they were searching for the tool, they discovered the entrance to the dripstone cave. 

The temperature of the caves is around 10C all year round so it’s ideal for cooling down. In fact, you’ll probably need a jacket.

The illuminated The Dechen Caves in March 2022.

The illuminated Dechenhöle in March 2022. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd Thissen

Visit a salt mine (Salzbergwerk)

The Salzbergwerk Berchtesgaden is the oldest active salt mine in Germany dating back to 1517, but it’s also a unique experience for tourists deep in the Bavarian Alps.

Hop on a miners’ train and travel 650 meters into the mountain, where you’ll find a large salt cathedral and a miner’s slide. The experience includes 3D animations depicting the mining of salt, as well as a boat trip across the underground salt lake. 

READ ALSO: Nine of the best day trips from Munich with the €9 ticket

Explore Berlin underground

If you want to cool down, and learn all about the German capital’s history, dive into Berlin’s underworld and walk through the tunnels and vaults, as part of tours by Berliner Untervelten E.V.

A jackets or a cosy jumper is recommended: the temperature is usually between 8 and 12C.

Explore the Berlin U-Bahn out of the heat.

Explore hidden parts of the Berlin U-Bahn and underground system of tunnels out of the heat. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Monika Skolimowska

Drop into the ice cellar (Eiskellar) in Altenberge

This museum is the former ice-storage and fermentation cellar of the old Beuing Brewery in Altenberge. It showcases the history of the small town in the Münsterland region, and has an eerily beautiful setting. It was once one of the largest underground refrigerators in Europe with temperatures of around 8-10C.

READ ALSO: How to explore Germany by train with the €9 ticket

Take a dip in a very cold lake

Getting into any water is a great way to cool down during the hot summer months. But you could take it a step further and head to a very cold lake. 

Funtensee is a karst lake (which means it formed after caves collapsed) on the Steinernes Meer plateau in the stunning Berchtesgaden National Park, and the area is known for low temperatures. In fact, the coldest temperature ever recorded in Germany was on December 24th, 2001, when the mercury dropped to -45,9C at the Funtensee measuring station.

Luckily, it’s not that cold all year round but the water is still pretty chilly in the summer months at around 17 to 18C.

A view of the cold Funtensee.

A view of the cold Funtensee. Photo: picture alliance / dpa-tmn | Florian Sanktjohanser

Meanwhile, the water temperature at Frillensee, also in Bavaria, doesn’t rise above 10C even in summer. Just dipping your big toe in very cold lakes is enough to cool off.

Climb (or take a cable car) up Germany’s highest mountain

Playing in snow and ice while others sweat? Yes, it’s possible, way up on the Zugspitze glacier, which is part of Germany’s highest mountain, standing at around 2,962 metres above sea level. We recommend taking a tour, which runs from the Sonnalpin glacier restaurant to the edge of the ice on the Northern Schneeferner. The tours are a free service from the Bayerische Zugspitzbahn.

People enjoy stunning weather on the glacier at the Zugspitze in May 2021.

People enjoy stunning weather on the glacier at the Zugspitze in May 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

Visitors can take a train from Garmisch-Partenkirchen, or the station at Eibsee lake, which runs through the 4.5-km-long Zugspitze Tunnel before hopping on a cable car. If the mood takes you, you could also check out Germany’s highest church on the Zugspitz Plateau. The Maria Heimsuchung Chapel is a great place to reflect after a day of climbing and exploring the mountain.

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DISCOVER GERMANY

8 unmissable events in Germany this December

From the world's biggest advent calendar to a parade of monsters - here are Germany's must-visit events for December 2022.

8 unmissable events in Germany this December

1. ChocolART Festival, Tübingen, November 29th to December 4th

If you have a sweet tooth, then you don’t want to miss Germany’s largest chocolate festival in Tübingen, southwest Germany.

The open-air market in the Old Town offers chocolate delicacies from around the world as more than 100 top international chocolatiers and manufacturers from Africa, South and North America and Europe present their wares.

Shoes made of chocolate at one of the numerous stands at the chocolate market “chocolART” in Tübingen. Photo: picture alliance / Christoph Schmidt/dpa | Christoph Schmidt

Chocolate lovers can take part in chocolate tastings, creative praline courses, artistic cocoa paintings, chocolate-making classes, chocolate massages and chocolate art exhibitions.

Entry is free, meaning you can spend more money on the tasty delights on offer.

2. Cologne Christmas Circus – December 2nd to January 8th

The Cologne Christmas Circus is returning to its magnificently decorated palace tent at the Messekreiselfor in Köln for its seventh year this December.

More than 40 artists from all over the world will put on a dazzling show of daring feats, acrobatics, ballet and classical circus acts in a two-and-a-half-hour show for the whole family. 

Similarly, the Roncalli Christmas Circus will return to Berlin’s Tempodrom this year, from December 17th to January 2nd.

3. Dresdner Stollenfest – December 3rd

Veronika Weber, the 25th Dresden Stollen Girl, and the bakers of the Schutzgemeinschaft Dresdner Stollen present the first piece of the giant Stollen at the Striezelmarkt for the 26th Dresden Stollen Festival in 2019. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Sebastian Kahnert

The people of Dresden take things pretty seriously when it comes to Stollen – a German fruit bread coated in sugar and traditionally eaten at Christmas. So much so, every year, the city celebrates Stollenfest on the second Saturday of Advent.

READ ALSO: German Advent word of the day: Der Stollen

A special attraction this year will be the show bakery at the Striezelmarkt, where Dresden Christmas Stollen will be baked live in front of an audience. There will also be the traditional parade, led by the Dresden Stollen Girl as the representative of the Dresden Christstollen brand and patron of the festival. Sadly, there will be no giant Stollen featuring in the parade this year, but instead, 588 copies of a special edition one-kilo Stollen will be auctioned.

4. Gengenbach Rathaus Adventkalendar – Novmber 30th to December 23rd

With its 24 windows, the Rathaus (town hall) in the town of Gengenbach, Baden Wurttemberg is transformed into the world’s largest advent calendar. 

READ ALSO: How do Germans celebrate Christmas? 

Up to 120,000 visitors descend on the town every year to watch the ritual of the window opening – as each evening a new artwork is unveiled in one of the backlit windows. The unique spectacle is accompanied by music and games, and visitors can also take a stroll through the Advent market and to the Museum Haus Löwenberg, where exhibitions are presented to match the artworks in the Advent calendar.

5. Krampuslauf, Munich – December 11th

If you want to see a centuries-old German tradition in action, then make sure you go to the Krampus run in Munich on December 11th.

A Krampus holds a woman during the traditional Krampus run at the Christkindlmarkt in Munich in 2016. Photo: picture alliance / Andreas Gebert/dpa | Andreas Gebert

Niklaus – the feast of St. Nicholas, is celebrated all over Germany on December 6th, but in many regions in the south of the country, the evil Krampus figure comes out to punish naughty children the evening before. 

Many towns and cities have a Krampuslauf – a Krampus run – in which performers dressed in scary costumes with carved wooden masks, huge horns and long hair parade through the streets. 

The most famous of these takes place in the Munich Christmas Market in Marienplatz and, this year will take place from 3 pm to 5 pm on December 11th. The Krampus and his entourage might look scary, but the parade is actually a lot of fun.

6. Christmas Markets

No list of things to do in December in Germany would be complete without a mention of Christmas markets – and this year, there are around 3000 taking place up and down the country, from late November to the end of December. 

Some highlights include the Aachen Christmas market – where the air is filled with the scent of mulled wine and Aachener Printen – a special type of gingerbread. For the four weeks before Christmas, the squares and lanes around Aachen Cathedral and the town hall are transformed into a Christmas village.

The Christmas Market in Mainz, Rhineland-Palatinate, is another highlight. Set against the historic backdrop of the 1000-year-old St. Martin’s Cathedral, the Mainz Christmas Market has been shining with festively decorated stalls for over 200 years. The colourful Renaissance facades of the historic market houses are particularly beautiful to see at this time of year. 

People crowd around the Christmas market in Mainz. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Hannes Albert

You can read about more of our top Christmas market picks for 2022 here:

7. Christmas Carol Concerts

Nothing can get you in the mood for Christmas quite like a Christmas Carol concert and there are plenty to choose from up and down the country. 

On December 18th, the Düsseldorf Police Choir puts on a mix of traditional, classical and modern Christmas music in its traditional Christmas concert at the Tonhalle in Düsseldorf. 

READ ALSO:  Five Christmas songs to improve your German language skills

On December 22nd, the Berlin Rundfunk Choir will put on a special programme of Christmas choral works from Ukraine in the Berlin Cathedral. 

On December 24th – Heiligabend – the Cologne Cathedral Choir, the Girls’ Choir at Cologne Cathedral and the brass section of the Cologne Cathedral Orchestra will out on an atmospheric and contemplative musical programme for the whole family.

8. New Year’s Eve parties, December 31st

After two years of Covid, New Year’s Eve in Germany is set to be back with a bang this December – especially as the ban on fireworks will be lifted. 

However, the New Year’s Eve party at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate will take place without fireworks this year – instead, there will be light projections made with the help of the producers of the “Festival of Lights”.

New Year’s Eve Fireworks in Marienplatz, Munich, 2018. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Matthias Balk

The number of visitors has also been limited, and only around 2,400 people will be able to attend with a pre-booked ticket. These will gon on sale on December 1st.

READ ALSO: Will Berlin bring back fireworks after two years of New Year’s Eve bans?

Fireworks are set to make a return at the public celebrations in Munich this year and can be seen from Olympiaberg, Friedensengel and Marienplatz. The Tollwood New Year’s Eve party, which starts at 7 pm, has live music performances.

Public fireworks displays will also be in Stuttgart and on the Islands of Usedom and Rügen this year.

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