Wunderbar in Winter – Top-ten things to do in the DACH region this season

There’s a lot to love about Germany, Austria and Switzerland in the winter – after all, it’s not all about fun in the sun! Visiting lively Christmas markets, sliding down snow-covered slopes or hiking through winter wonderlands par excellence are just some of the many examples of why a trip to the DACH region is well worth it in winter. Find out what to do in the region this cold season, in the following feature.

TEXT: NANE STEINHOFF | MAIN PHOTO: NARZISSEN SPA, AUSTRIA. © AUSTRIAN NATIONAL TOURIST OFFICE, HARALD EISENBERGER

When you tell locals from the DACH region that you’re planning a winter holiday in Germany, Austria or Switzerland, the reactions are somewhat always the same: ‘Are you insane?’, ‘It’s so cold!’, ‘It’s so dark. You’re going to hate it and your nose might freeze off’. It is indeed pretty cold, to be fair. In Germany, for example, the average temperature in January is three degrees Celsius and extreme temperatures might even sometimes reach minus ten degrees Celsius. But with the right clothing and layering techniques you’ll be just fine. After all, a German saying goes like this: ‘There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing’.
When visiting the three DACH countries in winter, you’ll soon notice what a spectacular experience it is. From delicious seasonal foods to breathtaking, snow-covered landscapes and action-packed activities that just wouldn’t work in summer, there’s something to see and explore for everybody.

Here are ten reasons why you’ll want to visit Germany, Austria or Switzerland this winter.


Photo © ENGADIN St. Moritz, swiss-image.ch / Daniel MartinekZurbruegg

1) Winter spas

Winter is the perfect season for pampering oneself and what better way to do that than by getting a proper spa treatment or heading to the sauna? Numerous spas throughout Germany, Austria and Switzerland offer relaxing winter treatments and some even have outdoor pools in which to warm up and marvel at the surrounding snow-covered sceneries. We guarantee that it is always an absolutely magical experience!


Photo © Switzerland Tourism, swiss-image.ch / Christian Perret

2) Tobogganing

You already know that skiing and snowboarding are a favourite pastime for many winter sport enthusiasts. But have you heard of tobogganing? It involves zipping down a hill on a wooden sled. It is child-friendly, but adults can also enjoy toboggan runs, too. An example of a particularly beautiful one is the run between Preda and Bergrün, in Switzerland’s Grisons region. This picturesque four-mile-long run drops 400 metres in altitude as it goes, is floodlit for the evening and is guaranteed to be a special experience for the entire family.


Photo © PixabayZurbruegg

3) Paragliding at Zugspitze

Paragliding is an experience that should be tried at least once in a lifetime. Seeing magnificent nature from above, while feeling the cold air in your face and feeling like a bird is a feeling that won’t ever be forgotten. And paragliding in the Alps in winter is especially awesome – the Zugspitze in Bavaria, for example, is Germany’s tallest mountain and a popular place for paragliding. The views are absolutely breathtaking, so be sure to book early.


Photo © Switzerland Tourism, swiss-image.ch / Christian Perret

4) Neuschwanstein Castle in winter

If you love a good fairy tale and want to experience magic in its purest form, you should head to Neuschwanstein Castle in winter. The castle is a famous palace from the 19th century and can be found on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria in Germany. Commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and in honour of Richard Wagner, the castle has evolved into one of Germany’s number one sights. When its romantic towers are covered by snow in winter, it will take your breath away.


Photo © Austrian National Tourist Office, Harald Eisenberger

5) Alternative Christmas market

A trip to Germany, Austria or Switzerland wouldn’t be complete without a visit to a Christmas market, of course. And the choice is huge – almost every city and small town throughout the region hosts their very own Christmas markets. But we have a special tip for you that is slightly different to all other ones: Hamburg’s Reeperbahn Christmas market. The market in Hamburg’s red light district has attracted visitors from near and far for several years now with its alternative flair that is characterised by strip shows, erotic gifts and tasty mulled wine too.


Photo © Tourismus Adelboden – Lenk – Kandersteg, swiss-image.ch / Anja Zurbruegg

6) Chalet chill

Why not book a cosy chalet for a relaxing week away in Switzerland this winter? Chilling out and warming up in front of the fireplace after playing in the snow for an entire day is the best feeling ever – we can guarantee you that! To give it a special holiday feel, we suggest indulging in a traditional cheese fondue and some tasty wine, too.


Cross-country skiing. Photo © Austrian National Tourist Office, Andre Schoenherr

7) Cross-country skiing

Another fun sport to try this winter is cross-country skiing. After all, skiing doesn’t have to solely be a semi-vertical affair. Cross-country adventures have taken the DACH region by storm – and for many reasons. Some of its benefits: you’ll get a full-body workout; it burns lots of calories; it improves cardiovascular endurance and helps relieve stress, amongst other things. Not only is it a healthy, generally safe activity that both young and old people can enjoy, but it also gives people the chance to really experience wonderful winter landscapes at their best.


Four Hills Tournament. Photo © Ingo Jensen, OK Vierschanzentournee

8) Four Hills Tournament

If you’re looking for a party of the special kind, you should head to the famous Four Hills Tournament. The Four Hills Tournament, or the German-Austrian Ski Jumping Week, is a ski-jumping event composed of four World Cup events and has taken place in Germany and Austria each year since 1953. Not only can you marvel at the world’s best ski jumpers, but the atmosphere in the crowd is also legendary. Expect great music, loads of booze and tasty food – all in all, a great party amidst a picturesque mountain panorama.


Photo © Tourismus Adelboden – Lenk – Kandersteg, swiss-image.ch / Anja Zurbruegg

9) Saxon Switzerland National Park

If you’re into hiking, you should head to the Saxon Switzerland National Park, a hilly climbing area around the Elbe valley south-east of Dresden in Germany’s Saxony state. It sports some 1,000 climbing peaks, several hollows and the famous Bastei rock formation. In winter, it is a place that invites for breathtaking panoramic views and unprecedented, snow-covered hiking routes.


Photo © ENGADIN St. Moritz, swiss-image.ch / Lucas Pitsch

10) Ice-skating around the clock

For some great wintery thing to do inside the cities, try ice-skating. Most cities throughout Germany, Austria and Switzerland offer great ice rinks in the winter and around Christmas. If you’ve never done it, be sure to book an introduction class or take a friend that can show you the ropes. But most importantly – have fun and enjoy the special winter feeling!

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