Index


Introduction



In most of Germany, the climate is moderately continental, with cold winters, in which the daily average temperature is around 0 °C (32 °F) or slightly higher, and warm summers, in which the maximum temperature is about 22/24 °C (72/75 °F) in July and August.
The northernmost area (see Bremen, Hamburg, Lübeck, Rostock, Kiel) is slightly milder, but also rainier and windier, because of the influence of the Atlantic Ocean. The massifs of south-central Germany and the small portion of the Alps in the far south, have a mountainous climate, which becomes of course colder as altitude increases.
Being exposed to both mild air masses from the Atlantic Ocean and cold air masses from Russia or the North Pole, in Germany the weather is often unstable, and can experience remarkable changes and different meteorological situations, such as cold, heat, wind, fog, snow and thunderstorms.
During winter, snowfalls in Germany are quite frequent, though generally not abundant (except in Bavaria and in the mountains, and sometimes in the north-eastern plain). Snow is more common across the eastern belt, from Bavaria, to the plains of the former GDR, and up to the Baltic coast, while it is rarer in the western part, that is, in the north-west near the North Sea and in the Rhine corridor.

Snow in Berlin

During cold waves from Siberia, temperatures can plunge to -15/-20 °C (-4/5 °F) in much of Germany, but these periods usually last for a few days in the north and central part, while they tend to last longer in Bavaria, where cold air stagnates with more ease. Snowfalls often occur after a wave of Siberian frost, when the winds from the Atlantic begin to blow again. Later, with the persistence of the westerlies, the temperature rises further and the snow turns into rain.
The westerly winds, when they blow more intensely, can bring a fairly mild weather even in winter, with highs around 10/12 °C (50/54 °F) in much of the country (except the mountainous areas).
In spring, the temperature rises slowly in March, which is usually a cold month, with average lows around freezing, while highs range from 8 °C (46 °F) in Hamburg, to 9 °C (48 °F) in Berlin and Munich, to 11 °C (52 °F) in Frankfurt and the western areas. In April they range from 12/13 °C (54/55 °F) in Hamburg and Berlin, to 15 °C (59 °F) in Frankfurt. While Frankfurt and the western regions may experience the first mild days, late cold spells, typical of spring, coming directly from the north, and passing quickly over the plains of Germany, are felt especially in Bavaria, where they cause snow showers with a higher frequency. Even in early April, short snowfalls with night frost are possible, especially in Munich and in Bavaria.
In spring and autumn, in the Alps and the valleys of Bavaria, the Föhn may blow, a southern warm wind which descends from the mountains, and brings a sudden increase in temperature, causing a rapid melting of snow, if present. The phenomenon is rarer in winter, when the wind usually doen't blow from the south.
By the second half of April, the weather becomes a bit milder, and in May, when the average maximum temperature is around 18/20 °C (64/68 °F), the first warm days occur, which in Germany are characterized by possible thunderstorms in the afternoon, especially in inland areas.
The German summer, although it often brings pleasant temperatures, is not very sunny, because the days of prevailing Atlantic weather, cool and rainy, alternate with those in which a high pressure system prevails, which begin with clear skies, and can even be hot, but then thunderstorms often occur in the afternoon. These thunderstorms are less frequent in the northernmost region, which, however, is cooler and may experience more frequent rains due to disturbances coming from the Atlantic Ocean. Anyway, on warmer days, in Berlin and other cities that are not located near the coast, the temperature can reach 30/32 °C (86/90 °F) or even more.
In autumn, September is usually a pleasant month, but then the weather becomes progressively colder, with the first mists, as well as rainy. In addition, the wind can be strong, especially in the northern areas. In November, the sun rarely shines; by mid-November it is practically winter, and the first snowfalls are possible.

The coast



The northernmost part of Germany overlooks the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. Here the weather is often cold, humid, cloudy, and rainy. In addition, this area is subject to strong winds and sea storms, especially the west coast, overlooking the North Sea. Even if the temperatures are not very low, the wind increases the feeling of cold. However, when in winter a high pressure system is formed on nearby Scandinavia, there may be very cold periods, in which the temperature can drop below freezing even during the day. On the Baltic coast, the climate is similar to that of the North Sea coast, but the wind blows less frequently and less intensely, and in summer it rains a bit more rarely.
Kiel, in Schleswig-Holstein, the Land south of Denmark, is considered as the German capital of sailing and kitesurfing.

Hamburg

In Hamburg, which is not exactly on the coast, but halfway between the two coasts, the average temperature in January is around 1 °C (34 °F). Here are the average temperatures.
Hamburg - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)-1-113711131310620
Max (°C)4481218202222181385
Min (°F)303034374552555550433632
Max (°F)393946546468727264554641

In Hamburg, 775 mm (30.5 in) of rain or snow fall per year, well distributed over the seasons, although there is a relative minimum in spring, and a maximum in summer and autumn. Here is the average precipitation.
Hamburg - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)654065455575757570657080775
Prec.(in)2.61.62.61.82.23332.82.62.83.130.5
Days1291191011111011111212129

The amount of sunshine in Hamburg is not high: the sun rarely shines from November to February, while it goes a bit better from May to August, when the weather is variable, and between a disturbance and the other the sun can come out. There are on average 6.5/7 hours of sunshine per day from May to August (but in this period in northern Germany the days are very long).
Hamburg - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours224677775321

Beach in Rostock

The sea is very cool even in summer, however, the water temperature reaches 18 °C (64 °F) in August. The North Sea is a bit warmer in winter, while in summer it has the same temperature as the Baltic Sea. Along the coasts, a moderate breeze often blows from the north, so that the people who sunbathe, often take shelter in special beach chairs equipped with roof and back protection.
Here is the sea temperature at Rostock, on the Baltic Sea Coast.
Rostock - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)222510141718151284
Temp (°F)363636415057636459544639

The west



The western part of Germany is overall the one that has the mildest climate.

North Rhine-Westphalia

In the north-west, the North Rhine-Westphalia, which borders the Netherlands and Belgium, has a climate influenced by the ocean, so in winter it is the mildest area, but it is also humid and sometimes windy, while in summer it is quite cool (although sometimes there may be short heat waves lasting 2-3 days). Here we find cities such as Essen, Dortmund, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Mönchengladbach, Duisburg, Bonn.
Here are the average temperatures of Dusseldorf.
Dusseldorf - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)0035912141411841
Max (°C)671115192224242015106
Min (°F)323237414854575752463934
Max (°F)434552596672757568595043

In the south-west, still in the Rhine valley but further to the south (see Frankfurt, Mannheim, Karlsruhe, Stuttgart), the climate becomes less windy in winter, and a little warmer in summer. Because of the proximity to France, this area is exposed to air masses of Atlantic origin as well, which at these latitudes can also be warm, when they are brought by the Azores Anticiclone.

Frankfurt

Here are the average temperatures in Frankfurt: as you can see, in summer it is the warmest city in Germany.
Frankfurt - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)-1-125912141411730
Max (°C)46111520232625201585
Min (°F)303036414854575752453732
Max (°F)394352596873797768594641

In Frankfurt, 630 mm (25 in) of rain or snow fall per year, therefore less than in Hamburg, due to the greater distance from the sea. Here is the average precipitation.
Frankfurt - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)453550456060655550555055620
Prec.(in)1.81.421.82.42.42.62.222.222.224.4
Days10799101098891010109

The north-east



In the north-east plain, in the former East Germany, the climate becomes slightly more continental, and in cities such as Berlin, Leipzig and Dresden, the average January temperature is around freezing. Precipitation is not abundant, given the greater distance from the Atlantic Ocean, but sometimes in winter there can be quite heavy snowfalls, due to cold air masses from the Baltic Sea.

Berlin

Here are the average temperatures in the capital Berlin.
Berlin - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)-2-214912141411620
Max (°C)3491319222424191374
Min (°F)282834394854575752433632
Max (°F)373948556672757566554539

Precipitation amounts to 570 millimetres (22.5 inches) per year, therefore it's not particularly abundant, but it's well distributed over the seasons. Here is the average precipitation.
Berlin - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)403540355570556045354555570
Prec.(in)1.61.41.61.42.22.82.22.41.81.41.82.222.4
Days1089891088881011106

Bavaria



Bavaria, the southernmost region, experiences the coldest and longer winter, both for the distance from the sea, and for the altitude that begins to rise.

Munich

In Munich, 500 metres (1,600 feet) above sea level, the January average temperature drops to 0 °C (32 °F), and there are around 100 days per year with temperatures below freezing, at least at night. Here are the average temperatures.
Munich - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)-3-3148111313951-2
Max (°C)3491419222424191474
Min (°F)272734394652555548413428
Max (°F)373948576672757566574539

In Munich, almost 1,000 mm (40 in) of rain or snow fall per year. Here the proximity to the Alps enhances the chances of summer thunderstorms, so there's and evident peak in the summer rainfall. In contrast, in winter and spring, when the north wind collides with the mountains, snowfall easily occurs. Here is the average precipitation.
Munich - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)504560709513013011085657060965
Prec.(in)21.82.42.83.75.15.14.33.32.62.82.438
Days1091111121412111091111129

Mountains


Alps

In southern Germany, we find a narrow strip occupied by the Alps. Here, the winter gets colder with increasing altitude. In Garmisch, a ski resort situated at 700 metres (2,300 feet) above sea level, the average temperature in January is -2 °C (28 °F). Here are the average temperatures.
Garmisch - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)-6-5-2158101073-1-5
Max (°C)2481217192121181372
Min (°F)212328344146505045373023
Max (°F)363946546366707064554536

In summer, the temperature varies greatly depending on weather conditions, so that it can be even hot on clear days (which tend to become overcast during the afternoon, with possible thunderstorms), at least at intermediate altitudes, while it changes abruptly when Atlantic cold fronts, which as mentioned in Germany can pass even in summer, move over the area. At the highest altitudes, snow can fall even in mid-summer.
Near Garmisch, on Zugspitze, the highest peak in Germany with its 2,962 metres (9,718 feet), it's cold even in summer: the average temperature is around -10.5 °C (13 °F) in winter, and 2 °C (35.5 °F) in summer.
Zugspitze - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)-13-13-12-10-5-200-2-5-10-12
Max (°C)-8-8-7-402442-1-5-7
Min (°F)9910142328323228231410
Max (°F)181819253236393936302319

Zugspitze is also the sunniest place in Germany, at least in winter, as it is often above the layer of clouds or mists that affects plains and valleys. In contrast, clouds or fogs often form in summer, especially from noon onwards.
Zugspitze - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours455665666644

Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Zugspitze

Harz

In addition to the Alps in the south, we find the Harz Mountains, which are isolated in the centre-north of the country, and whose highest point is Brocken, 1,141 metres (3,743 feet) high. Here the temperature at equal altitude is lower than in the Alps, given the higher latitude. On average, 1,800 mm (70 in) of rain or snow fall per year, with a relative minimum in spring and a maximum in winter, when there are heavy snowfalls. Also, the summit is often foggy.
Here are the average temperatures.
Brocken - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)-6-6-4-1468962-3-4
Max (°C)-1-114912141410720
Min (°F)212125303943464843362725
Max (°F)303034394854575750453632

Further south, at the highest points of the Thuringian Forest (Großer Beerberg and Großer Inselsberg), at almost 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) above sea level, the temperatures are similar, just barely higher in summer.

When to go



Since there is no season that may guarantee stable weather conditions, the main element for choosing the best time to visit Germany is the temperature, as well as the length of the days. From mid-May to September, the temperatures are generally pleasant. Sometimes there can be cool and rainy days, in which highs are around 15 °C (59 °F) or slightly higher, while in other periods, even hot days may occur, with highs around 30 °C (86 °F) or above, although the nights remain pleasantly cool.
The month of September is usually appreciated, because of the lower chance of thunderstorms, and for those in search of fall foliage, however, the days begin to shorten, while in June they are very long, especially in the north.
For summer hiking in the mountains, you should take into account the chance of afternoon thunderstorms; for winter skiing, it is worthwhile to recall that in February the days are longer than in December, so you can take advantage of more daylight hours.

What to pack



In winter: warm clothes, such as a sweater, a down jacket, a hat, gloves and a scarf, a raincoat or umbrella.

In summer: light clothes, but also some clothes for spring and autumn, a jacket, a sweater or sweatshirt; a raincoat or umbrella.

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