May is a highly pleasant weather month with blossoming flowers and trees and extensive hours of sunshine, averaging about 15 hours a day.
You can expect mild temperatures and occasionally an early touch of summer during midday hours in the southwest. Temperatures in Berlin, the nation's capital, have an average daily high of 66°F (19°C) and a low of 48°F (9°C). Frankfurt is said to be the warmest city in Germany, with an average daily high of 70°F (21°C) and an average low of 52°F (11°C). The Bavarian Alps' towns like Garmisch-Partenkirchen will be a touch cooler due to their higher altitude, especially in and around Germany's highest peak, Zugspitze, at 9,718 feet (2,962 m) above sea level.
Wherever you travel, bring a spring jacket and some layers for cooler mornings and evenings. You should also pack a rain jacket and umbrella for intermittent spring showers and occasional thunderstorms that are often quickly dried up by the sunshine. Sunscreen is a good idea for long days of sightseeing.
Crowds & Costs
May is an excellent month to visit Germany, where visitors can take advantage of the last month of the off-season for tourism with more elbow room at popular attractions. This is when travelers can find agreeable rates for flights, hotels, rental cars, and activities before the summer crowds (and prices) arrive. Book accommodations and transportation early to secure availability and the best price, especially if staying overnight at one of the festival locations listed below.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Where to Go
Germany is a big country loaded with history, culture, and natural beauty from rivers, forests, mountain ranges, and even beaches. It may be hard to choose an itinerary. You'll likely start or end your trip in a major city, especially since the spring weather is conducive to urban sightseeing. The port city of Hamburg is called Germany's 'Gateway to the World' with its photogenic canals, bridges, and gardens to explore, like the beautiful Stadtpark. You can also head to the Alster lakes to see the cherry blossoms.
From Hamburg, it's less than a two-hour train to Berlin. Take a few days to explore the capital's cultural attractions and 12 distinct boroughs. An easy day trip is the UNESCO-listed city of Potsdam, with elegant parks and palaces, while a bit further is Dresden, with gardens surrounded by magnificent Baroque architecture.
You can then fly to Munich from the new Berlin-Brandenburg airport, where you'll have train access to the Bavarian Alps, Stuttgart, Nuremberg, and Salzburg, Austria. You can also rent a car and drive along the Romantic Road before the route becomes packed with summer tourists. Another option is to base yourself in Frankfurt, home of the country's busiest airport, for train access to Cologne, Düsseldorf, the Black Forest, and a spa town called Baden-Baden on the border of France.
What to Do
May is the perfect month to plan outdoor activities. Germany's cities are enjoyable for long walks and exploring neighborhoods on foot. In between museums and sightseeing activities, head to the city parks and take part in various spring fairs and festivals (listed below). You can also visit smaller cities that boast grand cathedrals and palaces, while many medieval towns and villages have their protective walls still intact.
The Black Forest and Bavarian Alps offer road trips and springtime activities from hiking and biking or simply riding a cable car to see views of the tallest peaks in Germany. May is an ideal month for taking a long drive on the Romantic Road with scenic stops and fairy-tale castles, like King Ludwig II's former home, the Neuschwanstein Castle. Having a car lets you travel at your own pace before the route gets congested in the summer.
This is the month when the country's 13 wine regions—and their quality restaurants—re-open for the season, while river cruises are also back in full swing. A popular cruise starts in Cologne and traverses the Rhine River with plenty of castles and medieval towns. Cafés and restaurants nationwide swing open their doors and set up outdoor dining; in Munich, you won't have to look hard for a Biergarten with shared tables serving large quantities of beer. Consider renting a bike and cycling to one of Munich's prettiest beer gardens, called the Waldwirtschaft, and then return along the Isar River.
Events in May
Tag der Arbeit (Labor Day), nationwide. Held annually on May 1, this is when many Germans take the day off work and school and celebrate the start of spring with time outdoors. Picnics are popular. Those traveling in Bavaria can find villages that raise a traditional maibaum (maypole) on this day to announce the spring season. At the same time, there may be union campaigns and protests in the capital.
Baumblütenfest, outside of Berlin. During the first two weekends in May, join the locals as they make their way to the nearby town of Werder for Baumlütenfest (tree blossom festival), celebrating fruit wines and the onset of summer.
Spargelfest, Schwetzingen. Germany's beloved spargel (white asparagus) is in season now, and fans can find festivities along Germany's Asparagus Road. One to keep an eye out for is located in Schwetzingen, which holds an annual Spargelfest serving what else but a variety of fresh spargel dishes.
Cherry Blossom Festival, Hamburg. This annual festival (50+ years and running) is organized by Hamburg's German-Japanese society, which puts on a festival celebrating arts and culture, culminating with a fireworks display. It all started in the 1960s when thousands of cherry trees were donated and planted around the Alster lakes and the Altonaer Balkon Park.
Hafengeburtstag, Hamburg. Another important festival in May in Hamburg is this anniversary celebration of one of the largest working harbors in the world that is usually held over the first weekend in May. Look for boat parades and races in the harbor, as well as plenty of food and drink (on land).
International May Theatre Festival, Wiesbaden. Culture lovers can head to this city near Frankfurt, which hosts a theatre festival and a month-long celebration of the arts.
Rhine in Flames, Bonn. Head to the home of Beethoven on the first Saturday of May for this festival featuring the beauty of the Rhine Valley, culminating with riverside fireworks.
Weindorf, Würzburg. On the last weekend of May, head to this wine festival in Würzburg's market square featuring dozens of area vineyards and culinary delights from the Franconia region.