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Packing for a German or Munich Christmas market holiday can be tough, especially if you’re not used to colder weather climates. German Christmas markets, especially the ones in Munich, are often cold and snowy and at many markets, you’ll be battling rain. You should also expect to be walking outside for long periods of time, so good walking shoes and thermal layers are essential to surviving the markets. As someone who grew up in a cold climate, Alaska, and currently lives in Munich, this is the best packing list for winter essentials you’ll need at Germany’s Christmas markets.
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Winter Clothing Essentials for German Christmas Markets
It is all about layers. Right now, with 2 weeks until Christmas in Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, and Dusseldorf it is near freezing and expecting snow or rain. Germany gets even colder later on in winter so the packing essentials you’ll need for February might be thicker and heavier. That means that north, east, south or west, you can expect colder temperatures, especially at night. Be warned though Germans crank up the heat indoors, so as soon as you go inside you will want to peel off those layers.
Germans dress simple and smart. They wear a lot of basic colors and pieces and you don’t need a lot of fancy clothing.
2-3 basic T-shirts that go with a variety of bottoms and can easily be layered overtop a thermal or underneath a jacket or hoodie.
2-3 Long sleeve shirts that layer well underneath other things.
1 sweater or cardigan. If you’re prone to cold weather make it wool for extra protection.
1 flannel or button down shirt – great for a more on-the-go layering for active excursions.
Some of my favorite basic T-shirts that are great for layering are PrAna shirts. They are sustainable, organic and SUPER comfortable, perfect for embracing the cozy Christmas vibes in snowy Munich. My top recommendations and ones that I personally own are the Cozy Up, the Foundation V-neck – which comes in plus size too. There is even a Cozy-Up sweatshirt for wearing around your hotel room, or if you naturally have a lower body temperature.
My husband can’t get enough of the PraNa men’s line. His go-to shirt is their classic crew shirt that literally goes with any and everything and is perfect for layering. For the guys that get a bit colder, invest in a nice think long-sleeve button-up so you can wear it out to eat and under your jacket to stay warm. LLBean has a thicker flannel that works as an outer layer. LLBean also has some great sweaters that look super classy and could work for dinner out.
For a classic long sleeve that can be worn with anything, the Transverse PraNa shirt is perfect for all weather conditions.
Dresses are a great way to have an all-in-one outfit. You want to choose a dress that can accommodate a thick pair of leggings and a sweater over the top of it.
1 black or plain dress made for layering.
1 skirt made for layering.
you can choose either or if you are tight for space.
Grab a nice wool dress or a wool skirt, perfect for layering. The merino wool is going to keep you warm and still looking classy enough to wear out on the town. Synergy is also a great place to find a sustainable travel dress.
Munich’s Graveyard in Winter
You’ll need pants that can keep you warm or will allow for a thin thermal layer underneath. Wind can easily cut through jeans, making it essental to pack those thermal layers.
2 pairs of jeans or your favorite pair of long pants.
1-2 pairs of thick leggings.
1 pair of first layer thermal. These should be able to fit under your jeans
Outdoor & Activewear to Pack for German Christmas Markets & Winter
Having a great outdoor jacket that is going to keep you dry and warm is an essential thing to pack when in Germany for the winter Christmas markets. You want something waterproof or at least water resistant so those snowflakes and raindrops bead up and don’t soak you through, ruining your Christmas market expereince.
I would always expect some rain, snow, and colder temperates in Munich. While layering up to the max without a proper winter jacket might get you through, having a proper outer layer that is going to keep you warm and dry will ensure you can spend hours drinking Glühwein late into the night.
For the practical woman: If you’re like me and you care more about function than fashion, go for a 3-1 jacket that will give you a down or fleece for cool, dry days, but also has a warmer waterproof shell to throw on when it’s snowing. Try out the sustainable Patagonia jacket,the North Face, or this ethical featherless Marmot 3-1 to find the right jacket for you.
Ladies, I am OBSESSED with my Skhoop skirt (pictured above & below). It goes over leggings or jeans and it keeps your butt and thighs warm and it looks super cute. If you do any amount of winter traveling you NEED one.
My husband invested in a Patagonia 3-1 jacket and never looked back. It covers him for every weather situation we have here in Munich. His down under layer is great for exploring Munich when it is dry outside. The outer layer provides expert waterproofing. The Patagonia brands are a bit pricy side, but they are high quality and Patagonia will always repair or exchange your older worn-out items. He has had it for 10 or more years at a time. Any of these 3-1 jackets should be perfect for Munich’s Christmas markets, but Ganesh recommends the 3-1 parka.
For the more budget conscious travelers Columbia has a great line of winter coats that will keep you warm, without breaking your wallet.
Merino Wool Layers
Merino wool layers are so handy because they don’t take up a lot of room and keep you nice and toasty. I love wearing these leggings under my jeans or pants and they save you from biting wind when out exploring the city. Merino provides heat in the cold and keeps you cool in the heat without the itch of regular wool.
1x Merino first layer long sleeve.
1x Merino first layer pants.
IceBreaker is your best bet for comfortable, breathable and warm – but not too hot, base layers. They save you when you didn’t pack warm enough and they don’t take a lot of room if you end up not needing them. I suggest going with the first layer.
Icebreaker first layer long-sleeve short and first layer pants.
Intimates, Shoes, and Accessories Pack for Winter in Munich
You really only need 2 pairs of shoes for this trip, a pair of winter boots that are water resistent and some nice walking shoes that aren’t so bulky. Pair those with warm merino wool socks and you are set for tromping around the snow.
1-2 comfortable bralette/bra.
5-7 pairs of quick-dry underwear.
5-7 pairs of smart wool or quick-dry socks.
1 pair of winter boots.
1 pair of walking shoes in black to double as going out shoes.
Pack some reliable undies and Smart Wool socks to keep you warm and dry. These shoes have great grip, they’re warm and stylish for winter, plus they come in black and brown. Timberlands are also very popular in Munich, so these winters boots will look great in the snow.
Misc. Essentials to Pack to German Christmas Markets in Winter
Along with all your regular things for self-care, toiletries, passport, phone, chargers etc, don’t forget these essentials!
Susanna grew up in small-town Alaska where the changing climate was always on her mind. Through traveling, she gained an interest in the power of sustainable and regenerative travel. She now attends a Master's program for environmental sustainability and bridges sustainable travel with environmental science. When she's not outside playing, you'll find her drinking whiskey with her cat and partner while trying to get to level 99 in life.