Are you wondering what to pack for Berlin in winter? I’ve endured many winters in Berlin since we moved here in 2015, and in Germany since 2011, so I know what kind of weather to expect, what to wear in Berlin in winter, and what to pack for Berlin and a winter trip to Germany. This Berlin winter packing list will help make sure you pack everything you need to stay warm.
I’ve created this guide to what to pack for Berlin in winter to help you plan your trip to Germany’s vibrant capital city. You’ll find tips for what to wear in Berlin during the winter months, packing advice for women and men, luggage suggestions, and tons more tips for what to pack when traveling to Germany in the winter.
Where to stay in Berlin
Berlin has lots of great neighborhoods for you to stay in and explore. If you’re visiting Berlin for the first time, it might be best for you stay somewhere central.
Many of the attractions are in Mitte or easily connected to Mitte by Berlin’s public transport, so you should stay somewhere in that region. Here are a few hotels we recommend.
For a more detailed look at the different neighborhoods and our hotel recommendations, check out our guide to where to stay in Berlin.
Packing for Berlin in winter: What luggage should you bring?
I’m a backpack traveler for many reasons: It keeps my hands free, it’s easier to manage up and down stairs, and I don’t have to worry about wheels getting stuck in cobblestone streets all over Europe.
Even in a modern city like Berlin, you’ll still find lots of cobblestone streets, which aren’t so suitcase friendly.
However, backpacks aren’t for everyone. If you prefer traveling with a suitcase, or you have back problems or another physical issue that makes suitcases more ideal, I have some suitcase recommendations as well.
Backpack recommendations for your winter trip to Berlin
Over the years, I’ve tried several different travel backpacks. Here are the ones I’ve really liked that I’d recommend to you.
REI Trail 40L backpack
I’ve had this backpack for many years, and I love it. It’s comfortable on my back, the hip belt offers good support and weight distribution, and it has several pockets for organization.
I’ve been able to take this backpack as carry on without any problems for several years on several different airlines.
Osprey Farpoint & Fairview 40L backpack
My husband, Andy, has the Osprey Farpoint 40L backpack, and it has held up well through many years and many trips. Different compartments help him organize his things, and the straps are comfortable even when carrying the bag for a long time.
Though it does meet the carry on size limits for most airlines, the straps can be stowed away if you do need to check it.
Suitcase recommendations for your trip to Berlin
Briggs & Riley and Travelpro are two quality luggage brands I would recommend if you’re buying a suitcase for your trip. They each make several different types, and it all depends on your preferences for things like hard case vs soft case, two wheels vs four wheels.
Before buying a suitcase, there are some things you should consider and look at closely.
Many suitcases will be labeled by the manufacturer as “carry on” but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s accurate. Airlines measure the suitcase including the wheels and handle, while the manufacturer usually lists the size of the case itself without wheels and handle.
An extra inch or two could put your bag over the airline’s limit, so be sure to look for the full measurements.
Suitcases tend to be heavier than backpacks when empty. Since many airlines have a weight limit for carry on luggage, this digs into your allowance.
It’s best to go for the lightest possible suitcase that meets your other needs so you have more weight allowance left for the stuff you’re packing.
Day packs for exploring Berlin
Even in the cold winter, you’re going to spend lots of time wandering around the city taking in the sights and soaking up the atmosphere.
A day pack is perfect for holding all the things you want to have with you throughout the day, and for storing things like your hat and scarf when you’re inside.
I love using a stuff bag for a daypack because it folds up into itself, so it takes up almost no room in my luggage.
It means I can pack it in my main bag so I have something to use for day trips or wandering around the city, but I don’t have to lug an extra bag around with me all the time.
Stuff bags are a great option for shopping in Berlin since one-time use plastic bags are almost nonexistent, and reusable shopping bags come with a cost.
Grocery stores, clothing stores, and many others will expect you to have your own bags, though you can buy them at check out. Having a stuff bag works well for this.
What’s the weather like in Berlin in winter?
Winter in Berlin can be rather harsh with cold, gloomy days as the norm. Days are short here, with the shortest day of the year sitting at 7 hours 39 minutes of daylight.
Berlin’s latitude is 52.5N. If you compare that to North America, it falls roughly halfway between Edmonton and Calgary, so it’s a lot farther north than many people realize.
Always check the weather forecast a few days before your trip, because reality can vary greatly from the averages. One week could be mild while the next week is well below freezing.
Subscribe to the Berlin Travel Tips Newsletter
Sign up for tips to help you plan the best trip to Berlin, and get a free printable Berlin packing checklist.
Subscribe to the Berlin Travel Tips Newsletter
Sign up for tips to help you plan the best trip to Berlin, and get a free printable Berlin packing checklist.
Berlin weather in winter
Winter in Berlin can be long, cold, and gloomy. I always feel like winter starts in November, a solid month or so before the calendar says so.
Temperatures drop, days become shorter, and the sky is more than likely covered in a layer of clouds that seems to stick around for several months.
Despite the averages listed below, there always seems to be at least a week or two when the high is around 20F.
Average high and low temperatures in Berlin:
What to wear in Berlin in winter
So much advice about what to wear in Europe advises you to dress up a little more than you would at home. While this might be true in places like Paris or Milan, it is not the case in Berlin.
Anything goes in Berlin. You can be who you want to be, and dress how you want to dress. I have literally seen people walking around wearing fuzzy slippers. More than once.
In fact, there are parts of the city where you might really stick out of you’re too dressed up. Certain clubs are ruthless about who they let in based on clothing, and if you’re dressed for a NYC club, you won’t get in.
For the most part, I’d recommend dressing for comfort. You’re here to see the city, and you’re likely to do a lot of walking, so comfortable shoes are a must.
That said, I wouldn’t recommend walking around in sweats, touristy looking clothes, or dressing trashy.
When you’re deciding what to wear in Berlin in winter, think layers. It gets cold, so you’ll want to bundle up when you’re outside, but dressing in layers makes it easy to transition to indoors and not overheat.
It’s also important to pack a good winter hat, scarf, and gloves to protect you from the cold and windy weather. It’s pretty common to see people wearing big bulky or fluffy scarves.
Thermal underwear might also be a good thing to pack for Berlin in winter, especially if you’re like me and really hate cold weather. If I’m going to be outside for awhile, like when I’m going to the Berlin Christmas markets, I’ll wear my thermals or a pair of leggings under my jeans.
Are you traveling to other cities in Germany on your trip? You could get away with dressing a little nicer in some of the other big cities like Munich and Hamburg. But in general, Germany isn’t a fancy dress kind of place.
>>Check out our 1 Week in Germany Itinerary: Berlin and Munich.
What to pack for Berlin in winter
Many things you pack for a trip to Berlin will be the same any time of year, like toiletries and electronics. But for a trip to Berlin in December, January, or February, you’ll need to know what kind of clothing you should include on your Berlin packing list for winter.
Clothing: What to pack for Berlin in winter
Winters in Berlin are cold, so pack accordingly. What you should wear in winter in Berlin is definitely not the same as what you should wear in Berlin in summer.
Short sleeved shirts: Pack a few short sleeved shirts that work for layering.
Long sleeved shirts: Long sleeved shirts that can be layered over short sleeved shirts will help keep you warm.
Sweaters: Especially if you don’t deal well with cold, windy weather, sweaters will keep the chill off. Try to avoid bulky ones that take up too much space in your bag though.
Pants: Pack a couple of pairs of jeans, or other casual pants.
Skirts/dresses: If you’re a skirt or dress person, pack a few casual ones to wear instead of a pair of pants. Layer with leggings to keep yourself a little warmer. Especially in the winter, you won’t need anything fancy for a trip to Berlin.
Winter coat: A good winter coat is essential for protecting yourself from the cold Berlin air.
Hat, gloves, scarf: You’re probably going to spend a decent amount of time outside walking from one sight to another, so cover up with a good set of gloves plus a hat and scarf. These are essential for your winter Berlin packing list.
Underwear: Pack one pair of underwear for each day of your trip, plus an extra. One pair of socks per day should also be fine. Ladies, pack 2 or 3 bras for a one week trip. I love ExOfficio because they’re quick dry, which is great for travel.
Thermals: You probably don’t need these for normal sightseeing days, but if you go to Berlin in December for Christmas markets, you could spend several hours outside. Layering thermals or leggings under your jeans will help keep you warm.
Sleepwear: Pajamas, t-shirt and shorts, leggings…you know what you’re comfortable sleeping in.
Shoes: Pack a pair of comfortable walking shoes plus one other pair of shoes depending on your itinerary. Boots could be a good choice for winter weather, just make sure they’re comfortable for walking and already broken in before your trip.
What should be on your Berlin packing list all year long
Many things you’ll need to pack for Berlin will be the same no matter what time of year you visit.
Hotels will often have shampoo, shower gel, and a few other things, but I find I much prefer to travel with my own toiletries.
Toiletry bag: Make sure any liquids you pack in your carry on luggage comply with liquids rules. Pack them up in a sturdy toiletry bag like this one instead of a disposable one that can easily rip.
Shampoo and conditioner: Stay under the liquids limit by putting some of your own shampoo and conditioner into these GoToob refillable bottles. Or try solid alternatives. Check out my favorite solid shampoo and solid conditioner on Amazon.
Shower gel or bar soap: Bar soap won’t add to your liquids limit.
Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss: Keep those teeth clean! Did you know you can get solid toothpaste tabs to save even more space in your liquids bag?
Contact solution and case: If you wear contacts, I also recommend bringing glasses as a backup.
Lotion: The water in Berlin is hard and can dry your skin, plus winter weather can also be harsh on your skin.
Deodorant: Everyone appreciates it when you don’t stink. Why not try this 100% natural deodorant?
Razor: If you have shaving needs, add a razor to your winter Berlin packing list.
Nail clippers and nail file: Leave the nail scissors at home since some security agents might confiscate them.
Brush and hair elastics: I usually prefer to have my hair up when I’m walking around all day, especially on a blustery winter day in Berlin.
Makeup: Pack your must-have makeup items, but don’t bring too much.
First aid items
Germany has everything you need, but it’s always good to have a few first aid items on hand in case you need them.
Headache/Pain meds: Bring some of your Tylenol or Advil from home. You can find their equivalents (Paracetamol is Tylenol, Ibuprofen is Advil) at any pharmacy, but you’ll get a lot fewer of them, and they’re more expensive per pill than in the US.
Bandaids: Again, you can get these at any pharmacy or drug store, but if you need one, it’s better to have it already.
Wound cream: Also good to have on hand for immediate use if you actually need it.
Immodium: Hopefully you won’t need this, but sometimes travel can lead to an upset digestive system.
Prescription medications: If you have any prescriptions you take regularly, bring more than you need for your trip. It’s also good to have proof of your prescriptions. At a minimum this means your name is on the bottle, but for certain medications, a letter from your doctor is better.
Tiger balm: If you’ve never tried Tiger Balm, I highly recommend it. It’s great for headaches, itchy bug bites, and all sorts of other things you’d never imagine one balm could cure.
Forgot something at home? The word for pharmacy in German is Apotheke, and they can sell you over the counter things like Ibuprofen, Paracetamol, Immodium, wound cream, bandaids, etc. Common drug stores are DM and Rossman, and they have toiletries, makeup, razors, condoms, bandaids, contact solution, etc.
Camera and accessories: If you really love photography and prefer a camera to a smart phone, make sure you pack your camera. If it’s a DSLR, bring whichever lenses you want to use on your trip to Berlin. I love my Canon Rebel DSLR.
Kindle: Great for bringing as many books as you want to read on the plane, on long train rides, and for warming up in a cafe.
Smart phone: This works well for photos if you don’t want to bring a camera. Get a local sim card, and you can do lots of things digitally, like transport tickets.
Laptop and/or tablet: I often travel with my laptop because I work from the road, but for a winter vacation to Berlin, you might not need it. Consider leaving it at home or packing an iPad or other tablet to use instead. Or skip altogether because you can do a lot on your phone.
Chargers, cords, batteries: Make sure you pack any chargers, cords, and batteries you need for your electronics.
Plug adapters: Most of mainland Europe, including Germany, uses a two pronged electrical outlet. You’ll need a plug adapter to make your devices fit.
You do NOT need a voltage converter unless you’re traveling with a hair dryer, curling iron, or hair straightener. Even then, consider buying a dual voltage hair appliance before your trip because it’ll work better.
Passport: You won’t get far without your passport. US citizens do not need a tourist visa to visit Germany, but if you’re from another country, please check the embassy website for requirements.
Note: No official date has been released, but starting sometime in 2023, US citizens (as well as those from many other countries) will be required to obtain a visa waiver in order to enter any country in the Schengen Zone, which includes Germany. Read here for more info.
Scan a copy of your passport and email it to yourself as well as to your emergency contact at home. It’s also good to print out a few copies to have with you: one in your luggage, and one you keep with you at all times.
Hopefully you’ll never need these backups, but you’ll be grateful to have them if you lose your passport or it gets stolen.
It’s also good to get a passport holder to protect your passport. It’s an important document, and it’s best to keep it safe from bending, water damage, etc.
Travel insurance: It’s always good to have travel insurance because you never know when something could go wrong. If you need to go to a doctor or the hospital in Berlin, the charges are much more affordable than in the US, but travel insurance that covers medical issues is still worth it. Even more so if something major happens to you.
We recommend World Nomads insurance for travel.
Credit and debit cards: Paying with plastic isn’t as common as it is in the US, but it’s still good to travel with credit and debit cards. Make sure you have the phone numbers of your credit card companies and banks, that way if your cards get lost or stolen, you call them to have your cards canceled and replaced.
Driver’s license: There is no reason to rent a car in Berlin, or most of Germany really. But for more remote areas, a car rental might be a good idea, depending on what your Berlin day trip plans are. As a tourist, your US driver’s license will work here.
Confirmation info: Almost everything is digital these days, but sometimes hard copies are still useful. At the very least, have the name and address of your hotel printed out in case you’re unable to access your email.
It’s often good to have print outs of tour bookings as well, but many tour operators now accept digital versions.
Other essential items to add to your Berlin packing list
Umbrella: Berlin can sometimes be more rainy than snowy in the winter, so packing a light weight travel umbrella is a good idea. A rain jacket is also useful, sometimes more useful than an umbrella since often the rain is just a drizzle, and wind can make an umbrella useless.
City map: Google Maps works great, but if you’re better with physical maps, this laminated map that folds up to pocket size can be really helpful for navigating the Berlin streets and public transport system.
Water bottle: The tap water in Berlin is safe to drink, despite the fact that most restaurants won’t give you any, so refilling your own water bottle is a great way to save money on your trip to Berlin. And it’s better for the environment. These are collapsible, so they’ll take up less space in your bag.
Tissues: It’s always good to have a travel pack of tissues on hand.
Helpful apps for a trip to Berlin
Google Maps: Great for not getting lost while exploring Berlin.
Google Translate: If you don’t speak German, this is helpful for signs and menus you don’t understand.
BVG: Public transport is pretty good in Berlin, and this will help you plan your routes. You can also buy tickets in the app, but you have to load in your bank or PayPal info.
Deutsche Bahn: For getting around in Germany, Deutsche Bahn is excellent. The train network is extensive, and you can get almost anywhere. Buy your tickets in the app, too. The app works in English, making things even easier for visitors.
FlixBus: If you plan on using FlixBus (or FlixTrain) to save money on your trip to Berlin, or all over Europe, the FlixBus app is a handy one to have.
Airline app: This will make it easier to check in for your flights and show your boarding pass.
WhatsApp: Makes it easy to keep in touch and message people while you’re here without getting charged international texting fees.
Berlin Travel Resources
I want you to have the best trip to Berlin, and hopefully this Berlin winter packing list and guide to what to wear in Berlin in winter is helpful. But there are lots more tips on the site!
- 101 Best Things to do in Berlin
- 23 Impressive Castles in Berlin (And Nearby)
- 27 Best World War II & Cold War Sights in Berlin
- 27 Fun Day Trips From Berlin
- 75 Things to Know Before Visiting Berlin: Essential Berlin Travel Tips
- 75 Free Things to do in Berlin
- How to Get Around in Berlin: An Easy Guide to Berlin Public Transportation
- Where to Stay in Berlin: A Local’s Guide