Germany's infamous wintry weather is still very much alive in the first half of the month, but the thermostat creeps upward as you move closer to April, which is helped by the fact that days are getting longer and brighter. Temperatures in the nation's capital, Berlin, reach average daily highs of 48°F (9°C) with lows of 34°F (1°C).
There are slight variations depending on where you travel. The northern coastline along the North and Baltic seas can be wetter and windier—without the frigid chill—while the eastern and southern regions are noticeably colder. The southwest regions are where you can find the most spring-like temperatures. For instance, Frankfurt this month sees an average daily high of 52°F (11°C) and an average low of 37°F (3°C).
Snow is still likely this month, depending on where you are, but you're likely to experience a mixed bag of weather and precipitation. Bring a winter coat, gloves, and hat, especially for sightseeing in Berlin and Munich, and a waterproof jacket and umbrella for wet days.
Crowds & Costs
March is still considered the off-season in Germany when travelers are rewarded with light crowds and some of the year's lowest rates for flights, hotels, rental cars, and activities. However, this can change if Easter happens to fall early and show up at the end of the month. If this is the case, beware of a sudden increase in prices and tourist crowds as this is when many Europeans travel (book early for availability). Thrifty types should consider planning their trip in advance of the week leading to Easter.
Ski resorts in the Bavarian Alps typically remain open through the end of the month, depending on snow conditions. Visitors tend to find ski passes more affordable than in neighboring alpine countries, especially during the mid-week when the locals are back to work. This is a great time to have the pistes all to yourself.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Where to Go
The vibrant city and capital of Berlin is often the place to go for first-timers, especially with the sleek new Berlin-Brandenburg airport. There are 12 distinct boroughs loaded with activities and history and enough to keep you busy for a week. If you plan to go sightseeing by public transportation, you may want to choose a hotel near the U-Bahn station, the rapid transit system, since Berlin is still quite cold in March. Look at neighborhoods like Mitte for a range of popular sights as well as art collections and exhibitions. Meanwhile, counter-culture can easily be found in trendy neighborhoods like Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg.
Germany's other major cities of Munich, Hamburg, and Frankfurt each have their own unique local color and attractions. Hamburg is an up-and-coming city with arts and culture and a UNESCO-listed warehouse district. Munich is a good choice for those who want to take a train or rent a car and explore the Bavarian Alps. There are several resorts, but one to consider is less than two hours by train from Munich, called Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which hosted the Olympics in 1936. More day trips by train from Munich include Stuttgart and Nuremberg.
The country's busiest airport in Frankfurt is just a train ride away from the Rhineland and the Black Forest with more pretty landscapes, especially since these areas tend to see spring earlier than others in Germany. Take a tour of the Eltz Castle or stop for a night in the spa town of Baden-Baden near the border of France, where you can soak in thermal baths after a long flight. Another easy train trip from Frankfurt is the city of Cologne which offers medieval architecture and a literature fest this month.
What to Do
March is a great month to explore the cities while the country emerges from a long winter. Plan your days to include a mix of indoor and outdoor activities to stay warm. In Hamburg, opt for a three-day pass and visit the city's top five renowned art institutions. There are boat tours through the canals, and the port is known from its hey-dey as a center for international trade during the Hanseatic League. In the evening, check out the buzzy dining and drinking establishments, or get tickets to a concert performance at the spectacular Elbphilharmonie designed by Herzog & de Meuron.
While in Berlin, an excellent place to start is Museum Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which houses a handful of top-tier museums known for antiquity and history, like the Pergamon with life-size reconstructions. Take time to see Germany's parliament building, the Reichstag, bombed during WWII. You can walk around the glass dome and then head next door for an early spring bike ride around Tiergarten, Berlin's biggest park. You can check out a combination of elegant and hipster neighborhoods from the U-Bahn and explore the city in an iconic car, the Trabi, made during the communist era.
Winter sports in the alps are available through March, though snow does start to dissipate this month. You'll want to check the quality of ski conditions if you plan on hitting the slopes or taking part in cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. There may be an opportunity for winter hiking if there's a light snowfall, while caves and glaciers can be explored year-round. You can also ride the cable cars to viewpoints. One to consider is Germany's highest mountain called Zugspitze.
Bavaria is also home to dozens of fairy-tale palaces and fortresses surrounded by alpine villages and mountains, like King Ludwig II's Neuschwanstein Castle. Finish the trip back to Munich and look for the biergärten that might start opening at the end of March. Beer drinkers will want to keep an eye out for the strong beer festival listed below.
Events in March
Starkbierfest, Munich. This somewhat secretive beer festival celebrates Bavaria's stronger beers and is held for a few weeks between Lent and Easter. It's a low-key fest compared to Oktoberfest and is beloved by locals. Look for celebrations at different beer halls and breweries around Munich, like Paulaner am Nockherberg.
Cologne Literature Festival, Cologne. This international literary festival holds unique events (not just readings) across the city every March, highlighting writers, illustrators, and even musicians.
Leipzig Book Fair, Leipzig. This is an important event in the spring for the book and media industry. The fair takes place annually over four days in March at the Leipzig Trade Fairground.
Easter and Holy Week, nationwide. Easter may fall in late March or April, depending on the year, and it's a major holiday in Germany. Locals use this holiday to celebrate the end of a long winter with spring decor and more time outside. Traditional Easter egg hunts are popular throughout the country, while more religious events can be found in Bavaria. If visiting during the holiday, look for restaurants serving a traditional lamb lunch.