5 reasons to travel in Germany this fall
Autumn is my favorite time of year in Deutschland. The seasonal specialties in restaurants around town are to die for; trees turn from green to gold to burgundy; and beer and wine flow freely at lively festivals nearly every weekend. If you’re looking for a new country to check off your list this season, Germany is a prime contender. Here’s why.
Festivals are plentiful.
As apples ripen on the branches and pumpkins turn orange in the fields, posters begin to pop up on street corners to advertise the highly anticipated start of harvest season festivities. In addition to the elaborate events held in major cities, many small towns celebrate with their own special Kerwe, or village fairs. Plan your trip to coincide with which of the many fests you’d like to attend.
Beer and wine. Enough said.
Fermented beverages are a significant part of Germany’s unique history and culture, and there is no better place to experience them in the fall. As the last grapes are picked, villagers and tourists come together to honor another successful year at celebrations along Germany’s Wine Route (Deutsche Weinstraße), as well as the Mosel and Rhine rivers. On the other side of the country, beers brewed according to the German Purity Law’s (Reinheitsgebot) standards — which ensures water, hops and barley are the only ingredients present — are guzzled from enormous steins at Munich’s Oktoberfest. Whether you visit the granddaddy of all beer festivals or decide to skip town for one of the lesser-known wine hikes in a smaller village, you are in for a good time.
Castles stun in fall colors.
It is nearly impossible to take a drive down the Autobahns without catching a glimpse of centuries-old fortresses — many in ruins — on the surrounding hillsides. In the fall, postcard-worthy views of fairy-tale castles nestled among trees the color of wildfire will take your breath away. Don’t forget to bring your camera, and remember: this may be your last opportunity of the year to visit a few of these beautiful places, including Burg Eltz. A number of historical sites shut down tourist operations during winter.
Comfort foods keep you cozy.
A bountiful harvest season promises good, food-coma-inducing eats that will help stave off the fall chill. Roasted chestnuts, warm apple cake (Apfelkuchen), steamy pumpkin soup (Kürbissuppe) — my favorite! — garnished with toasted seeds, tangy Sauerbraten, creamy Käse Spätzle and savory Rolladen are just a few of the culinary specialties you have to look forward to this time of year.
The holiday season starts early.
Germany is known for its heavenly Christmas markets. Glowing lights, candied nuts, warm beverages and handcrafted ornaments will make you feel like a kid again. Carpenters set to work setting up the traditional wooden stalls in early November to prepare for opening day, which is often during the weekend after Thanksgiving. Holiday celebrations commence in the last weeks of fall and continue well into winter. Get a head start on the festivities and make a dent in your Christmas shopping just in time to meet the holiday mailing deadlines.