Does it snow in Berlin: is it commonplace or an anomaly?
Berlin’s one of my favourite cities. It has a history like nowhere else and while a lot of this is sombre, I believe that its resilience as a city is something that inspires countless travellers every year.
Situated in the northeast of Germany (which was pivotal to a lot of its history, namely the establishment of the Berlin wall), the capital Berlin has a seasonal climate, marked by warm summers and often chilly winters.
As the temperature drops and the days shorten, the question inevitably arises among locals and travelers alike: “Does it snow in Berlin?”
Indeed, I’ve found myself wondering this while exploring the city!
Here’s everything you need to know about snowfall in the German capital!
Does it snow in Berlin?
Yes, snow in Berlin is fairly common during the winter months, but it’s not typically heavy or long-lasting.
There’s often light snowfall or snow flurries from December through February.
While the temperatures can dip below freezing and snow can happen, it tends to be short-lived and may quickly melt away!
Some winters are milder, with only a few instances of snow, while it’s sometimes more frequent in others.
While snow in Berlin does happen, it doesn’t dominate the season as it does further north in the continent (for example, it’s expected in much of Norway).
How often does it snow in Berlin?
There’s usually a little snow in Berlin, although it’s difficult to determine the average snowfall, as it changes a lot year-on-year.
If it’s a particularly cold winter, it may snow a lot, but sometimes there seem to be more days of rain than snow!
Data is available at the DWD (German Meteorological Office), although I couldn’t find a general average for the entire city.
You can also take a look at the average annual temperature and weather of the city by clicking here.
When does it snow in Berlin?
Snow in Berlin is most common during the winter months, typically starting in late November and lasting until early March.
The city’s continental climate influences weather patterns, and snowfall can vary from year to year.
Here’s a month-by-month breakdown to give you an idea of when snow is most likely to occur.
Does it snow in Berlin in November?
November marks the transition into winter in Berlin, and while snow is less common this early in the season, it’s not unheard of.
The temperatures start to dip, and occasional snow flurries might be seen, especially towards the end of the month.
Does it snow in Berlin in December?
December is when snowfall becomes more likely in Berlin.
The city begins to see colder temperatures and more consistent winter weather patterns.
Snow can add a magical touch to the festive Christmas markets and holiday decorations.
Does it snow in Berlin in January?
January is often considered the heart of winter in Berlin, and it’s one of the months where snow is most likely.
The temperatures are often at their coldest, leading to more frequent and sometimes heavier snowfall.
Does it snow in Berlin in February?
February continues the winter trend in Berlin, and snow is still common.
The month might experience both light snow showers and more intense snowstorms, contributing to the city’s winter charm.
Does it snow in Berlin in March?
March sees the transition from winter to spring, and while the chances of snow begin to diminish, occasional snowfall can still occur.
Early March might see a few snowy days, but as the month progresses, temperatures typically rise, and the likelihood of snow decreases.
Why does it snow in Berlin?
Snow in Berlin is primarily influenced by its continental climate.
The city’s location, well away from large bodies of water, allows cold air from Eastern Europe to prevail during the winter months.
This colder air mass frequently results in temperatures dropping below freezing, especially from December to February, creating conditions ripe for snowfall!
The geography of Berlin plays a part as well.
Its largely flat terrain and lack of natural barriers allow cold winds to flow freely, which often leads to the formation of snow.
Even Berlin’s position in relation to nearby mountain ranges and rivers can affect how weather systems behave in the area.
The chance of precipitation is usually high, and when it’s cold enough, the chance of snowfall typically increases.
That being said, like most other countries in Europe (it’s even affecting Iceland), Berlin’s a victim of global warming.
This means that generally, less snow falls even in the coldest months when compared to a few decades ago, and the average temperature is higher.
When has it snowed heavily in Berlin?
While most years have at least a few days of snow, Berlin’s witnessed several instances of heavy snowfall that are still talked about today!
- Winter of 1978/79: This winter stands out as one of the most severe in Berlin’s recorded history. Particularly in December and January, heavy snowfall coupled with strong winds led to drifts several meters high in some areas. The snow halted transport and created immense challenges for daily life.
- February 2009: A record-breaking snowfall occurred on February 14, 2009, with more than 25 centimetres of snow accumulating in just one day. It was the heaviest single-day snowfall in Berlin in over 100 years. The city’s services struggled to cope with the sudden deluge, leading to disruptions across various sectors.
- December 2010: The beginning of December 2010 saw intense snowfall in Berlin, with accumulations reaching significant levels. The snow lasted for several days, leading to beautiful but disruptive winter scenes across the city.
- January 2021: A substantial snowfall hit Berlin in early January 2021, affecting not only the capital but much of Germany. Berlin had accumulations of over 15 centimeters in some parts of the city!
What’s it like when it snows in Berlin?
There’s no denying that Berlin’s aesthetics ramp up a little during snowfall, but it also poses challenges.
When it snows – especially during heavy snowfall – the city may face traffic delays and disruptions.
Roads can become slippery, and public transport often slows down.
Residents often spend extra time shovelling sidewalks or de-icing cars.
Despite Berlin’s efficient snow-clearing efforts, unexpected snowfall might lead to inconveniences that affect both locals and visitors.
Tips for visiting Berlin in the snow
If you happen to be in the city when it snows, pack warm clothing and invest in waterproof footwear.
Stay updated on weather forecasts and allow extra travel time.
The snow shouldn’t deter you from exploring; many local attractions remain open.
Embrace the opportunity to see Berlin’s iconic landmarks adorned with fresh snow, enjoy the cosy cafes, or join in the winter fun at one of the beautiful parks!
Recommendations for winter travel to Berlin
Snow or no snow, here are some tips for travelling to Berlin in the winter!
- Enjoy festive events: Berlin’s Christmas markets are famous for their festive atmosphere. Wander through twinkling stalls filled with handcrafted gifts, and indulge in traditional German treats like roasted chestnuts and mulled wine. Many museums and cultural venues also host special winter exhibitions and concerts.
- Practical advice: Dress warmly, with layers, scarves, and hats!
- Take public transport: Public transport is generally reliable, even in snowy conditions, but always allow for extra travel time.
- Warm Up with Local Cuisine: Try some hearty German winter dishes, such as stews or sausages, in a cosy local eatery. Berlin’s cafes also offer a warm respite with delicious coffee and pastries!
- Shorter daylight hours: If you plan on walking around the city on foot, remember that it has shorter daylight hours from the end of October (when daylight saving time ends). Some attractions may close earlier in the winter too.
Snowiest places near Berlin
While Berlin itself might not be guaranteed heavy snowfall each winter, there are several other places in Germany where snow is more prevalent and consistent.
Here are some top locations:
Drive time: Approx. 3 3/4 hours Distance: Approx. 150 miles (240 km)
Located southwest of Berlin, the Harz Mountains offer higher elevations with consistent snowfall, ideal for skiing, snowboarding, and winter sports.
Base yourself in Braunlage and enjoy the winter weather!
Drive time: Approx. 3 1/4 hours Distance: Approx. 118 miles (190 km)
Situated to the south of Berlin, near the Czech border, Saxon Switzerland (which isn’t actually in Switzerland!) is known for unique rock formations and reliable snowfall, providing opportunities for winter hiking and snowshoeing.
Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains)
Drive time: Approx. 3 3/4 hours Distance: Approx. 124 miles (200 km)
On the border between Germany and the Czech Republic, the Erzgebirge region’s high altitude ensures regular snowfall, making it a favorite spot for cross-country skiing.
Oberwiesenthal and Altenberg are favourite winter destinations.
Drive time: Approx. 4 hours Distance: Approx. 203 miles (327 km)
The Thuringian Forest boasts regular snowfall during winter, with hiking and cross-country skiing among the favourite activities.
FAQs about snow in Berlin
Here are some answers to FAQs about snowy weather in Berlin.
Does it snow heavily in Berlin?
Snowfall in Berlin can vary, with occasional heavy snowfall. Generally, the city experiences light to moderate snow, especially during the winter months. Heavy snowfall is less common but can occur, usually leading to disruptions in transportation.
Which month does it snow in Berlin?
Snow in Berlin typically occurs during the winter months, with the highest likelihood from December through February. Snow can also occur in late November and early March, but these instances are less common.
When was the last time it snowed in Berlin?
Snowfall in Berlin happens almost every winter, so the last time would likely be during the previous winter season. For precise information, you may want to check local weather archives or news reports for specific dates and details.
Is Berlin colder than the UK?
Generally, Berlin experiences a colder winter than most of the UK. Berlin has a continental climate with colder winters, while the UK’s maritime climate leads to milder and wetter winters. The average winter temperatures in Berlin are lower compared to most regions in the UK.
Does it snow in Berlin at Christmas?
While snow in Berlin at Christmas is a picturesque idea, it’s not guaranteed. December does fall within the snow season in Berlin, but snowfall during Christmas varies from year to year. Some years may see a white Christmas, while others may have no snow at all.
Is Berlin very cold in winter?
Yes, Berlin can be quite cold in winter. Average winter temperatures range from 32°F to 41°F (0°C to 5°C), but can drop lower, especially during the night or in particularly cold spells. The chill is often accompanied by wind, which can make it feel even colder.
So, does it snow in Berlin, Germany?
Whether you want to relish or avoid the snow, the city has plenty on offer – if you do experience bad weather, there are tonnes of indoor attractions (head to Museum Island to see what I mean!), or if you want to embrace the cold weather, grab a Gluwein and walk around the enchanting Christmas markets.
Berlin’s a fantastic city for the winter, whether it snows or not!