Winter is the favourite season for any romantic. Outside, snowed-in forests and frozen lakes beckon. Inside, it feels cosy with baked goods, mulled wine and candlelight.
Spring, summer and autumn have their charm – but for many, winter is the most romantic season in Germany. When it is bitingly cold outside, people in Germany draw closer together on the long winter evenings. It becomes an intimate time, surrounded by loved ones around a blazing fireplace, drinking tea by candlelight or telling stories. In larger groups, thermal baths with saunas, theatre visits and cultural activities in the warmth offer popular contrasts to the "outdoor agenda". But when it snows, there's no holding back for young or old! It's time for snowball fights, building chubby snowmen with top hats and long carrot noses in the front garden, ice skating, skiing, or hiking through the winter wonderland. The Advent season is particularly romantic. During this time, Advent calendars are crafted or ransacked, bakeries smell of cinnamon stars, and the Christmas markets tempt visitors with bratwurst and mulled wine.
Into the Snow
For sports enthusiasts, winter is a dream come true. For example, in Oberhof in the Thuringian Forest. This winter sports resort is one of the most well-known in the country. It pays to be snow-safe. Here, even top athletes train for the biathlon, luge, bobsleigh, cross-country skiing and Nordic combination skiing. Oberhof offers two alpine ski slopes, the only cross-country indoor ski centre outside of Scandinavia, and an extensive network of cross-country ski trails. In addition, there is a two kilometre long natural toboggan track, which is particularly enjoyed by families. The high-alpine Zugspitze Ski Resort near Garmisch-Partenkirchen in south Germany is an El Dorado for skiers and snowboarders. Twenty kilometres of pistes with guaranteed snow, an extra-long season from November to the beginning of May and a spectacular panoramic view of 400 Alpine peaks attract visitors here. Germany's highest ski area also offers three toboggan runs and an adventurous overnight stay in an igloo village high above the clouds, at 2,600 metres above sea level.
Bathing with an Ambience
What could be better than enjoying a cosy, warm bath in the winter cold? Germany has more than 350 spas and health resorts for you to choose from. For example, it is considered chic to relax in the spas of Baden-Baden. Here, 800,000 litres of hot, mineral-rich water bubbles up every day from a depth of around 2,000 metres, inviting visitors to enjoy the thermal springs. The Friedrichsbad is architecturally spectacular, a magnificent building from 1877, that still today stylishly combines Roman bathing culture with hot-air baths. A newer version of the Friedrichsbad is the Caracalla Spa in Baden-Baden. The 4,000-square-metre spa offers soothing relaxation in hot thermal water in a modern ambience. For anyone who wants to do even more for their respiratory system, the Salina Baden-Baden sea salt grotto is the place to go. Salt from the Himalayas and the Dead Sea create a healing micro-climate here.
Winter Baking for Foodies
Mm, tasty... Christmas is the time for culinary indulgence. In addition to almonds, nuts and chocolate, sweet pastries are often served. The Nürnberger Lebkuchen are a traditional and world-famous gingerbread treat. A sweet dough made from flour, honey, nuts and spices including cinnamon, coriander and cardamom is formed into a flattened sphere, and baked in the oven. This spiced delicacy goes back to the time of Franciscan monks, who invented Lebkuchen in the 14th century. Likewise, the Dresden Christmas Stollen is beloved all around the world. According to a fixed recipe, flour, sultanas, butter, almonds and all kinds of other ingredients and spices are mixed into a heavy yeast dough, and then baked in the oven. The Christmas Stollen has a long tradition and was considered a "fasting pastry" in the Middle Ages. For those who do not wish to bake their own, it is also possible to buy this typical German delicacy at the Christmas markets that take place all over the country in December. Few things are more romantic than strolling through the festively lit markets in thick snowfall, drinking hot mulled wine and enjoying tasty treats at the market stalls.
Harz/Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia
Walks through snowy forests are like an expedition into a fairy-tale world. One of the most popular low mountain ranges for a winter excursion is the Harz. When thick canopies of snow rest on the spreading branches of the conifers and icicles glisten in the winter sun, a magical world reveals itself. Snow shoes are a popular way to avoid sinking into the deep snow, and are available to loan on-site. Strapping them on makes it easy to negotiate the romantic forest paths covered in deep snow. One particular highlight in the Harz Mountains are the Harz Narrow Gauge Railways, historic trains, some of which travel up the Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz range. Some trains are even operated by steam locomotives and puff through the winter landscape – it does not get more romantic than that.