Late fall in Germany means fewer days of sunshine and more gray skies, plus a higher possibility for rain, sleet, and maybe even snow. The southern regions that stayed relatively mild in previous months will feel a sharp turn in November. In addition, daylight hours get noticeably shorter, with early sunsets occurring before 4 pm by the end of November, as is typical of Northern Europe. Those who love cozy weather will find a true Herbst (autumn) vibe with locals happily pulling out their sweaters, more candles at bars and restaurants, and deep autumn colors in Germany's cities and countryside.
Expect some temperature variations depending on where you travel. Berlin, the nation's capital, has an average daily high and low of 46°F (8°C) and 37°F (3°C). Frankfurt, in Germany's southwest, is typically the warmest city, yet this month, there's hardly a difference, with an average daily high and low of 48°F (9°C) and 39°F (4°C). Places in the southern Bavarian Alps, near Germany's highest peak, Zugspitze, are colder at night, with lows typically reaching 28°F (-2°C) and a good chance of snow. Germany's coast to the north will feel milder with more rain and wind coming in from the North Sea and Baltic Sea.
Bring a winter coat and rain gear wherever you travel, as you'll likely need it.
Crowds & Costs
November is a great time to visit if you prefer a peaceful version of Germany when crowds are few before the holiday rush. A unique shoulder season month, November in Germany is shorter than in other European countries due to its Oktoberfest in September/October and the Christmas markets in December. Bonus, there are also lower rates for flights, accommodations, and activities to be found. Keep in mind that some businesses and destinations may alter their hours of operation or close altogether for the winter season, so double check restaurants, wineries, and activities before you go.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Where to Go
With fewer daylight hours, this is an excellent month to travel by train; luckily, Germany boasts one of the best public transportation systems in Europe, with an impressive network of regional and high-speed train routes (often faster than driving). A good place to start is the exciting capital of Berlin, where you can choose different neighborhoods depending on your taste, from cosmopolitan Mitte to trendy Kreuzberg. After several days (and hopefully a day trip or two), take the two-hour train to Hamburg, where you can explore the canals and historic port, followed by a concert at the Elbphilharmonie.
Alternatively, take a short flight from the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport to Munich. Here you can have your pick of adventures from day trips to historic cities like Nuremberg and Stuttgart, or resort towns in the Bavarian Alps that will put you in view of Germany's highest peaks.
Then there is Frankfurt, home of the busiest airport globally, which offers several day trips to castles, and train routes in nearby wine regions, spa towns, and countless villages and activities in the mountainous Black Forest.
And if hitting the autobahn is on your wish list, this is the right time to avoid summer crowds. All the autobahn routes have frequent (and clean) service areas offering fuel, bathrooms, and restaurants. November is likely the last month recommended for a scenic drive, particularly at the start of the month. Roads like the German Wine Road are a great option, as well as the Romantic Road, where you might like to start from north to south and end at the Neuschwanstein Castle situated on a magnificent hilltop.
What to Do
Germany is blessed with world-class cities, but none can top Berlin. Save time to explore the important monuments, WWII sights, museums, and distinct neighborhoods either by foot, bike, U-Bahn, or Trabi, an iconic car dating back to the communist era. One activity not to miss is walking around the futuristic glass dome of the Reichstag building. There are multiple day trips by train from Berlin, like to Potsdam, where you can wander the Dutch Quarter and tour the UNESCO-listed Sanssouci Palace, the 'Versailles of Germany,' surrounded by acres upon acres of royal gardens.
Oenophiles traveling in Germany's 13 wine regions during the first few weeks of November may still find a few harvest celebrations or create your own self-guided tour. You can also sign up for walking tours that meander through well-marked trails allowing you to exercise and enjoy the scenery in between tastings. Wineries in the southwest can also be combined with a night or two at a spa town along the French border, like Baden-Baden, known for its thermal baths (you can also find a spa town near Berlin at Bad Saarow).
And, of course, the mountainous Bavarian Alps and the Black Forest provide many outdoor adventures from fall and winter hiking and biking to early snow sports if the season kicks in early.
Events in November
JazzFest, Berlin. This annual festival in early November is held at the Philharmonie and attracts world-famous jazz artists and ensembles playing everything from Big Band to contemporary jazz.
Winter DOM Festival, Hamburg. Families have attended this open-air amusement fair in Northern Germany for centuries. This is the November/December edition (there are other DOM festivals in different seasons), and this one lasts for an entire month.
Martinsfest, Rhineland. St. Martin's day celebrates the 4th-century saint and has similarities to Halloween with kid-friendly decorations, costumes, and parades.
Christmas markets, nationwide. Toward the end of the month, you'll notice Germany getting ready for Christmas when nearly every city has at least one Christmas Market. The fun and festive markets usually start on the last weekend of November.
Tollwood Festival, Munich. An alternative Christmas festival in Bavaria's capital celebrates social and environmental issues through art, music, and theater. Tollwood starts at the end of November and offers its version of a Christmas market selling fair trade clothing, arts, crafts, and organic fare. Glühwein and bratwurst continue to be on offer.