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Winter sports in Germany: a short round trip

Every year in winter, winter sports enthusiasts ask themselves in which area winter sports can be enjoyed well. Of course, the Alps are very snow-sure. But here, too, there have been total failures in recent years as far as snow was concerned. And winter sports at +10°C are not everyone’s cup of tea either.

In addition, there are the sometimes high costs for a winter holiday. Families in particular like to look for good alternatives. And we have them in abundance in Germany . In all the areas presented, any kind of winter sport is feasible. Only winter has to want to play along.

Bergisches Land

At the gates of the Rhineland, the Bergisches Land begins from Cologne and Düsseldorf. This area is considered one of the wettest areas in North Rhine-Westphalia. This is particularly impressive in winter. While it rains intensively in the Rhineland, the first ten centimetres of snow often lie in the Bergisches Land.

The approach to the Bergisch region is relaxed via the A1 motorway, and those who have left Cologne behind can see the snow-covered meadows from Burscheid. Snow chains are not necessary for this area, but good winter tires are.

Cross-country skiers in particular have fun here. For example, there is a signposted cross-country ski trail in Önkfeld around Radevormwald. Further towards Halver there is even a complete ski slope with a T-bar lift, where all winter sports can be practiced. Wermelskirchen, with an exit on the A1 motorway, also offers a ski and toboggan slope in good snow conditions.

The Bergisches Land is therefore a good alternative for day and weekend trips, but is not considered snow-sure.


Sauerland, Rothaargebirge
The Rothaargebirge in the Sauerland, Image: LaMiaFotografia / shutterstock

As far as snow is concerned, the Sauerland plays in a different league than the Bergisches Land. At least in the highest altitudes. One of the most famous ski areas in North Rhine-Westphalia is located here around the Kahler Asten. The small town of Winterberg, which is located directly on the Kahler Asten, is an attraction for many winter sports enthusiasts when the snow conditions are good.

In addition to the typical practice slopes, rapid ski and snowboard descents are possible around Winterberg, and the return transport is provided by drag lifts and chairlifts. Especially on weekends, however, it gets very crowded here, and overnight accommodation is hardly available spontaneously. If you feel like extensive après-ski parties in the evening, you don’t have to look far. Because in Winterberg there is always a celebration somewhere.

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If all this is too loud and too crowded for you, you will find alternative options in the neighboring villages. Whether toboggan slope or downhill, there is not a large crowd here. Unfortunately, the previously existing snow reliability has dropped drastically. Very good conditions are often only found from mid-January to the end of February. For the journey to Winterberg, the winter equipment should be complete. Steep roads, which are not always cleared directly when it snows, speak for themselves.


Ski Hellenthal
Inter atmosphere in Hellenthal in the Eifel, Image: swuerfel / shutterstock

The Eifel is a volcanic elevation in western North Rhine-Westphalia, and stretches from Aachen southwards to the Moselle in Rhineland-Palatinate. For a long time, the Eifel was considered snow-sure from the end of December to the beginning of March. Unfortunately, there is not much left of it. But when there is snow, there is a lot on offer here.

The most famous ski resorts are located in:

  • Hellenthal
  • Prüm
  • Daun

Almost all winter sports are possible there, and lifts for skiers and snowboarders are available. Only the tobogganers are left behind, and have to go back up on foot. Cross-country trails are located in almost all areas from about 300 meters in altitude, and are also signposted. If you just want to hike in the snow, you will find perfect conditions here. Some hiking trails are groomed when there is a high snow cover, and can be walked with normal mountain and hiking boots.

The Eifel is famous and known for its deep valleys and steep roads. Even if these are cleared relatively quickly, one or the other traffic jam in front of the access to Hellenthal was due to broken down vehicles with a lack of winter equipment.


Winter sports Brocken, Harz
The Brocken in the Harz Mountains, Image: Frank Kuschmierz / shutterstock

More or less in the middle of Germany is the Harz National Park. This area is best known for the highest mountain: the Brocken. Legend has it that every year from 30.04. to 01.05. a witches’ meeting took place. The famous Walpurgis Night. In the shadow of the Brocken, and this is certainly of much more interest to winter sports enthusiasts, there are numerous ski resorts. One is located in Torfhaus, another in Braunlage.

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The Harz Mountains are considered to be snow-sure to a limited extent, and snow cannons are also used in some ski resorts. When the snow conditions are good, it will be very crowded everywhere, especially at the weekend. That’s when winter sports enthusiasts from three federal states arrive, and of course the Dutch. If you drive to the Harz Mountains, you should keep snow chains handy. Although these are not needed every year, if it snows properly, 50 centimeters of snow quickly accumulate.

The typical après-ski takes place on the Wurmberg in Braunlage. There are refreshment huts everywhere around the ski area, where one or the other snow party takes place spontaneously. The entire Harz Mountains are considered very family-friendly, as there are plenty of entertainment options for the little ones.

While Torfhaus is quiet and tranquil, Braunlage is much more lively and cosmopolitan. For those who dare to take a first step in winter sports, Braunlage offers a great beginner’s area. On the Rathauswiese, young and old can make their first attempts at skiing or snowboarding. There is also a small toboggan slope, which is particularly popular with families.

Bavarian Forest

Bavarian Forest
Winter atmosphere in the Bavarian Forest, Image: travelpeter / shutterstock

It comes across as small and tranquil. The Bavarian Forest is only about 100 kilometres long, and offers leisurely tobogganing and alpine descents in a very small area. This area can be classified as snow-sure, because it goes up to almost 1500 meters in altitude. However, there have also been teething problems here in recent years as far as the snow was concerned. There are connected downhill runs, and of course deep snow runs. Depending on the snow depth, you should pay attention to the avalanche warning level.

Ski resorts with all the trimmings are located:

  • on the Großer Arber
  • around Sankt Englmar
  • in Bodenmais


Alps, Germany
The Alps invite you to winter sports, Image: Richard Williamson / shutterstock

So much has already been written about the Alps and their winter sports opportunities. Snow-sure, rapid descents, alpine passes, every active winter sports enthusiast has been here. But it is often an arduous journey, and it often takes almost a whole day. Those who arrive here usually stay longer than just a weekend. Nevertheless, the Allgäu is recommended for short travellers, as it only belongs to the Alpine region to a limited extent.

Above all, the following are recommended:

  • Bad Hindelang and Oberjoch
  • Balderschwang
  • Oberstdorf
  • Fishing and Immenstadt