In October, the air starts to feel crisp and cool, with a noticeable shift from early September. If your favorite season is Herbst (fall), you're in luck. Many consider October the most enjoyable time of the year, especially for travelers looking to experience the changing colors in Germany's many beautiful outdoor settings. You'll likely get some sunshine, too, as this is one of the least rainy months. Keep in mind that daylight hours are getting noticeably shorter in October, and the clocks shift back one hour at the end of the month.
There are slight variations depending on where you travel. Berlin, the nation's capital, has an average daily high of 57°F (14°C) and a low of 43°F (6°C). Frankfurt in the southwest is generally the warmest city in Germany, with an average daily high and low of 59°F (15°C) and 46°F (8°C). Places in the southern Bavarian Alps like Garmisch-Partenkirchen are colder in higher elevations, especially at night when lows typically reach 38°F (3°C). Northern Germany may have blustering winds and more moisture from the North and Baltic Seas.
Visitors should prepare for a potential mix of mild, sunny days and chilly, wet days. Bring smart layers and an autumn jacket, as well as a raincoat, umbrella, and solid walking shoes.
Crowds & Costs
October is part of the shoulder season, so visitors can take advantage of the sweet spot following the peak prices and crowds of the summer season and before the Christmas markets in December. Attractions will be quieter this time of year, and you'll find more affordable rates and availability for flights, accommodations, rental cars, and activities.
One exception is Munich during the first week of the month when the final days of Oktoberfest occur; if you wish to participate, it is essential to secure festival tickets and accommodations early. You can also opt for a smaller-scale beer festival in Stuttgart, called Cannstatter Volksfest, during the first week of the month.
Where to Go
October is a fantastic time to visit one or more of Germany's cities and then pair it with a road trip to see spectacular fall colors. One such pairing to highlight is the country's oldest scenic drive, the German Wine Road, accessible from Frankfurt. If here, opt to drive through one of the largest and most beautiful wine regions, Rhineland-Palatine, which benefits from a mild, Mediterranean climate and beautiful scenery in the form of rolling hills and rivers. Take a self-guided tour or hire a guide. You can also fit in some exercise with a guided walking tour that makes several stops for tastings at various vineyards.
The German Wine Road offers easy access to many castles, abbeys, and charming medieval villages with half-timbered houses. You can even stop for a few days at a spa town along the French border, like Schweigen or Bad Dürkheim—both have quality wine restaurants. Then continue your road trip to the corner of Germany's southwest and spend a few days at the Gothic university city of Freiburg, where you can take advantage of all the outdoor activities that the area offers in the surrounding Black Forest.
What to Do
There's still time to enjoy outdoor activities before the winter weather arrives. Consider visiting one or more of the 16 national parks that highlight everything from white chalk cliffs on the Baltic Sea (Jasmund National Park) to dramatic sandstone cliffs jutting against the Czech Republic (Saxon Switzerland National Park).
If you're looking to burn off calories following Oktoberfest, take a trip to the Bavarian Alps to explore snow-free hiking and biking trails. Rent a car and drive along the Romantic Road, or take the train to ski resort towns like Füssen, where you can walk to the Austrian border and famous hilltop castles in the area, like Neuschwanstein, built for King Ludwig II. Thousands of castles can be found all over Germany, so it's easy to integrate a castle tour into your itinerary.
In October, Germany's major cities have fewer crowds to take in the top sights, like Berlin's Reichstag, which has an impressive glass dome that you can walk around for views of the city before walking through Tiergarten. Use rainy days to explore a collection of five museums at Museum Island, like the Pergamon with life-sized archaeological structures. Meanwhile, the northern city of Hamburg offers photogenic canals in the UNESCO-listed warehouse district and boat tours where you can learn about its maritime history. Or, head to Hamburg's nearby fruit farms for apple picking.
Events in October
German Unity Day, nationwide. This annual public holiday is held on October 3 to commemorate German reunification in 1990. Look for festivities all over the country, especially in Berlin near the Reichstag and the Brandenburg Gate, with live music and stands selling food and drink. Keep in mind that grocery stores and businesses may be closed this day.
Festival of Lights, Berlin. Take a long walk around the capital after dusk during this free festival when more than 40 of Berlin's most famous landmarks and historic buildings are illuminated from 7 pm until 1 am.
Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival, Ludwigsburg. If you ever wondered where the largest pumpkin festival in the world takes place, it's on the grounds of Schloss Ludwigsburg, near Stuttgart. There are 450,000 pumpkins on display at this autumn-long festival celebrating all things pumpkin with family-friendly activities, contests, and food and drink.
Frankfurt Book Fair, Frankfurt. Taking place in mid-October, this is an important international event for publishers, book dealers, agents, and authors.
Wine Festival, Neustadt an der Weinstraße. You can find several wine festivals during the harvest season this time of year, especially the Deutsches Weinlesefest (German Wine Harvesting Festival) in October along the Germany Wine Road.
Oktoberfest, Munich. If you're here in the early part of the month, you can still grab a slice of the action at the world's most famous beer festival. Another less-touristy beer festival in Stuttgart, called Cannstatter Volksfest, also carries over from September into early October.