Bad Langensalza: Ranger walks with dog through autumnal forest in Hainich National Park ©DZT (Julia Nimke)

Inspiring Germany

9 enjoyable autumnal experiences, from the North Sea to Allgäu

As the summer ends, we enter a distinctively special time of year in Germany, as the golden autumn shows itself in its most beautiful dress. Enjoy the brightly coloured forests and landscapes in the soft autumn glow.

No need for end of summer blues! It's always comforting to know that even as summer slowly fades away, beauty remains. Because from the end of September, many landscapes and regions in Germany unfold their awesome splendour, and the magic of autumn is captivating for all. Colourful leaves, ripe fruit, the grape harvest in Germany's 13 wine-growing regions and, of course, plenty of reasons to celebrate. Many culinary delights are also served seasonally in autumn: game and mushroom dishes, cabbage specialities, Waller (a fish speciality particularly popular in Franconia), delicacies with apples or pumpkins, nuts and young wine.

Experience the grape harvest

Sasbachwalden: Vines Sasbachwalden: Vines ©DZT (Jens Wegener)

Participating in a vineyard's grape harvest is a very special experience at this time of year. In many places, the harvest begins as early as mid-September. The vine leaves won't have changed colour yet, but you'll be rewarded with delicious grapes and a truly memorable atmosphere in the winery. It's particularly breathtaking when the vine leaves turn a deep red or golden yellow, and all shades in between. With the soft autumn light and occasional warm day, it becomes an unforgettable short holiday: travel to the dramatic Saar Bow in Mettlach, for example, to the Moselle with its steep slopes, to the Nahe or to the Rhine with its beautiful (vine-covered) banks, where you can also enjoy excellent hiking and cycling trails.

An abundance of apples from the lake regions

"Altes Land": Apple harvest in the plantation ©Tourismusverband LK Stade/Elbe e.V. (Martin Elsen)

With the end of summer comes the start of the harvest season in Germany. Whether it's the rosy Elstar, the sunny yellow Jonagold or the tart Boskoop – perfectly ripe apples are now in season and are being harvested, including in the two largest harvest areas in the Altes Land, near Hamburg, and in the Lake Constance region, among other places. When the autumn sun is shining and a light breeze rustles through the leaves, this is especially beautiful among the apple trees. Mid-September to mid-November is the best time to visit one of these fruit farms. Quaint farm shops, vast orchards and a variety of apple-related events invite you to discover nature and enjoy its fruits, especially in autumn. This is perfect on foot or by bike.

Cycling along the Moselle

Bremm: Sunrise over the vineyards on the Moselle loop Bremm: Sunrise over the vineyards on the Moselle loop ©Adobe Stock (rphfoto)

If you'd like to cycle through the last warm rays of sunshine in autumn on your bike, we'd recommend the Moselle Cycle Path: it starts in France and continues on for over 300 kilometres, until it reaches Koblenz. Along the German section you'll discover picturesque wine-growing villages, medieval castles and very steep vineyards – as well as, of course, plenty of opportunities to make fun detours into these little wine-growing villages. One of Germany's beautiful half-timbered towns, for example, is Bernkastel-Kues, and not far from there is the Bremmer Calmont vineyard with a slope of up to 68°, making it the steepest vineyard in Europe. Discover your own superlatives on this journey through one of the most beautiful river valleys!

A spectacle of colour in the deciduous forest

Bad Langensalza: Ranger walks with dog through autumnal forest in Hainich National Park Bad Langensalza: Ranger walks with dog through autumnal forest in Hainich National Park ©DZT (Julia Nimke)

Of course, the colours are at their best in Germany's dense deciduous forests. Fortunately, there are plenty to choose from - for example, within the idyllic Black Forest, amid the autumnal Spessart in Bavaria, or even in the romantic Spreewald in Brandenburg. The largest connected deciduous forest area in Germany can be found in Thuringia: the Hainich National Park is a forested ridge with a total area of 130 square kilometres and, along with four other forests, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, the diversity of tree species makes for an impressive colour display in autumn. The Bavarian Forest also becomes a fairytale destination in the autumn. Other enchanting forest regions include the Saxon Switzerland National Park Centre, the Eifel, and the Harz Mountains if you want to gaze far and wide over a colourful sea of leaves, your best option is to climb the Brocken, the highest and most mythical mountain in this low mountain range.

Warmly wrapped up along the coast!

Otterndorf: The tidelands guided tour by Julia Kobsch and her dog Otterndorf: The tidelands guided tour by Julia Kobsch and her dog ©DZT (Jens Wegener)

Don't be sad when your bikini and swimming trunks go into winter storage – the North Sea and Baltic Sea are inspiring holiday destinations even in the autumn. Enjoy the autumnal contrast of the white chalk cliffs against the brightly coloured beech forests of Jasmund National Park on the Baltic Sea island of Rügen and experience another spectacle of nature there: the crane birds make a stopover on this Baltic gem before continuing on their journey south. In the sometimes stormy season, the North Sea islands entice you with deserted beaches and endless walks, which you can end wonderfully with a hot tea or grog. A guided tour through the Wadden Sea is also a great option in the autumn, and afterwards you can unwind with a wellness treatment, enjoying the healing minerals extracted from the mud flats.

When the cows come home

Berchtesgaden: Cows and shepherds come from the Saletalm Berchtesgaden: Cows and shepherds come from the Saletalm ©Bildarchiv Bayern Tourismus ( – Peter von Felbert)

A special event in autumn is the cattle drive that takes place in many regions in Bavaria. This involves the herds being channeled together from different alpine pastures into the valley and "distributed" back to their respective farms. It takes place on the so-called "Viehscheid" festival. Afterwards there is music from a brass band, snacks and, of course, beer. In some places, experienced hiking guides offer tours to the alpine pastures, and from there you can join the start of the alpine cattle drive. You can find out more at the various tourist information centres in the towns involved. With or without cows: a hiking holiday in the Allgäu in the golden autumn months is always a very special highlight. And if, after enjoying all that nature you fancy some more culture, you can visit the Schloss Neuschwanstein, go shopping in Kempten, or enjoy a ride on Germany's longest toboggan run that's open all year long.

Relaxing in the spa

Neumarkt i.d. Oberpfalz: Woman relaxes in Neumarkt castle pool Neumarkt i.d. Oberpfalz: Woman relaxes in Neumarkt castle pool ©DZT (Günter Standl)

Another advantage of autumn: you can justify spending the whole day in one of the many wellness oases in Germany without feeling guilty. From north to south and from east to west, there are wonderful thermal spas to relax in and soothing thermal baths with healing saltwater, saunas and steam baths everywhere. Switch off and recharge your batteries in one of Germany's 350 certified spas and health resorts, where you can treat your body and mind to health and wellbeing.

For the connoisseurs: mushroom foraging

Germany: preparation of porcini mushrooms in the forest Germany: preparation of porcini mushrooms in the forest ©DZT (Christoph Herdt)

Find what you're looking for in Brandenburg: the forests and meadows of this province arguably provide some of the best growing conditions for many different types of mushrooms - including porcini, giant puffballs and parasols. In order for them to grow, it is important that the soil should stay constantly damp. Following long dry periods, it is unlikely that you will find them flourishing here. But after the seasonal rain, a roam through the Brandenburg forests is really enjoyable, and you can take your delicious finds home with you. Caution: please only pick and eat mushrooms that you are sure you can identify, and which are definitely edible. Experience the joy of foraging in Brandenburg. The best thing to do before you head out into the woods is to check a rainfall map to see how the area you're planning to spend your autumn holiday is faring in terms of rainfall and as a result, mushroom growth!

Lüneburg Heath: an endless carpet of purple

Lüneburg: Lüneburger Heide in der Blütezeit Lüneburg: Lüneburger Heide in der Blütezeit ©TMN GmbH (Markus Tiemann)

From late summer onwards – from the start of August to early September – head to the Lüneburg Heath, to witness the absolute wealth of blossoms there. This unique spectacle of colour is one of the most beautiful natural events in northern Germany: hundreds of thousands of purple heather plants form lilac carpets in August and September. Depending on the location and weather, the flowers develop very uniquely and at various times across different locations. If you want to be certain of exactly when your chosen heathland will be in full bloom, it is worth researching this in advance. A "blossom barometer" for the Lüneburg Heath region provides daily updates on the status and location of these purple beauties!