December Weather in Bavaria & Hesse

My wife and i are planning on taking our grand daughter to see some Christmas markets the third week in December. I would like to rent a car and drive tentatively starting from Munich (2 nights), going to Reutte/Fussen (1 night), Rothenburg OT (2 nights), and Frankfurt (3 nights). In general, will snow fall be a problem? I am especially concerned about the Reutte area. Should I get a four wheel drive vehicle? Thanks for your help.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9131 posts

December can be unseaonably warm or unseasonably cold, but either way, it's usually damp. If your driving during a snow storm... well, you're screwed. But the road crews usually have the roads clear very soon after the storm ends. Southern Bavaria will have a higher chance of snow than the rest of your trip. PS- Don't stay in Reutte unless you want to underwhelm your grand daughter. Stay in Füssen, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Lermoos, Ehrwald or Mittenwald.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10884 posts

Nearly impossible to answer other than looking at averages, We spent Christmas week there two years back and it lightly snow every other day. Maybe an inch or so but no major accumulation. Nothing to prevent driving but it was sloppy and slow at times on the road. If it is bad enough for four wheel drive, then you should not be driving. If you are not experienced with driving four wheel drive, then it can actually be more dangerous in light snow conditions.

Posted by Denise
Lake Forest, CA, USA
1391 posts

This past December, we landed in Munich during a snowstorm and the day following a heavy snowstorm in central Germany. Going north to Rothenburg, we found the autobahns safe and clear. During the winter months, rental car companies equip their cars with a winterization package which includes snow tires. We had no issues even in falling snow. Yes, at times you have to slow down and take it easy. And, what's nice, is everyone slows down. We did have slick roads once exiting the autobahn and going into smaller, country towns. However, we were fine when we just slowed down. We did avoid mountain roads and passes. There's no telling what the weather/snow will be like when you are there. However, to be sure, I would make reservations in the Fuessen area instead of going into Reutte. There are wonderful accommodations there with magnificent views of the mountains. There's also a small, lovely market in Fuessen that I visited in 2011. If you want the websites for my blogs on the Christmas markets, send me a personal message.

Posted by Paul
NYC area
1434 posts

Hi George, Impossible to tell what the weather will be like. Cold is the only thing I would bet on. We visited the Christmas Markets in Auztria... Salzburg, Innsbruck, St. Gilgen, Rattenberg, etc., the last week of Nov. 2010. We had 4 days with some snowfall and we had no trouble driving or getting around. Highways were kept clear, secondary roads were pretty good all around. As for the Reutte/Fuessen area, I'd also go with Fuessen, no qusetion. We liked both our stays ('01, '03) at the Hotel zum Hechten in Fuessen. While we had been to most of the places we visited in 11/10, the lights, choirs and the atmosphere in general during the Christmas markets made them magical, for a lack of a better word. Would do it again in a minute. Paul

Posted by George
Chevy Chase, Maryland
5 posts

I want to thank all of you for your help. I will research all of the suggestions to see what can be incorporated into a reasonable trip, avoiding the "If it is Tuesday, It Myst be Belgium" scenario. One thing, Reutte is out. The region was lovely in September of '07, but the Christmas markets don't staqck up. it seems obvious to me now. And the snow, it is the same as discussing any event probability. It might be x%, but if it happens to you it is 100%. Thanks again, George

Posted by Rob D
Bad Tölz, Bayern
27 posts

Hi George, You've got the right idea about weather probabilities and such... But one thing is true, the guys here have a definite handle on keeping the roads in good condition. We're almost through a particularly dark and snowy winter, and snow days / school delays are non-existent here. By that time of year your rental vehicle will have snow tires on. And unless you change your mind and go into the mountains, you should have zero need for chains (if you're presented with this extra-cost option). For Christmas markets, we like Munich (including the Medieval market, very cool, for kids too I think; the neighborhood markets, for example at Münchner Freiheit or Rotkreuzplatz, just come up out of the U-bahn station and there they are; and the Tollwood Winter Festival = not to be missed imho, and you'll need more than a couple hours I bet, for the Bazar tent alone), Salzburg (best market for tree decorations, super triple bonus if you find the courtyard at the Stiftskeller St Peter, don't forget camera), Nuremberg (worth a detour because that market is somehow different enough), and my wife also wants to add a vote for Bad Tölz ;) I'm sure Rothenburg would also be nice... never had the chance though. This might be one of those trips where one or more of you brings baggage inside baggage on your way over, so that you have double the packing space for the trip home :) and in fact, the only reason I'd choose a car for this holiday is the fact that you'll in all likelihood be accumulating more treasures than on a usual trip. Otherwise, to me, nothing would beat using train (the mighty Bayern Ticket in this case) + local public transport + 2+ night stays + clever use of train station lockers for a tour like this. Enjoy!

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2012 posts

Just a suggestion in the event that you do decide to scrap the mountain part of your trip, you might want to consider taking the A8 from Munich to Stuttgart (2 - 2 1/2 hour drive) and checking out our market, which is considered to be one of the best in Germany and is very, very large (unlike many cities, we don't break up the Stuttgart market into several small ones), and more importantly to visit the nearby medevial town of Esslingen, which has for it's size a large and great traditional market as well as a Renissance Faire market that is my favorite in Germany. It's just fantastic, especially at night. I would recommend staying in the old town of Esslingen, actually. From there you're roughly equidistant from Frankfurt or Rotenburg OdT (90 min to 2 hours depending on traffic).