(And How To Stay Cool in a German Heatwave!)
Hoch German vs Local Dialects
Dialects will Vary (Drastically)
I’ll never forget when I traveled to Frankfurt and asked for a “Salami Semmel” and they looked at me like I had 4 heads. At the time, I thought it was just my reeeeeaaaaaaally bad German but I later came to find out that the word “Semmel” (Roll) that we use everywhere here in Regensburg is actually a very Bavarian word.
When I took my first A1 German class, the teacher was from a teeny tiny village and she was explaining that she speaks Bayerisch (a very strong dialect in Bavaria). But then she was joking that even she can’t understand the Bayerisch in the next village over. You know, the town that is literally a 3 minute drive from the place that she grew up and has spent her entire life in. It was at this moment that I realized I was screwed for learning German. If a GERMAN can’t even understand other dialects, what hope do I have!?
Another thing to consider is that in some regions of Germany, they just have different phrases for things. It’s not always necessarily a direct correlation to dialect per se (although, that often does come into play). A great example is the first time I traveled to parts of Northern Germany and people were greeting me with a phrase I had NEVER heard before in ALL of my traevls of Germany. I knew that saying something like “Grüß Gott” or “Servus” was definitely something from Bavaria, so I defaulted the usual “Hallo” or even “Tag” (shortened from Guten Tag). But when they started saying “Moin” (sometimes even just “Moi”) as a greeting I was legit confused and thrown off!
My point is that having some very basic
Well, Toto, you’re not in Kansas anymore.
It’s time to just accept that Germany has some major cultural differences than what you might be used to at home. For example, you won’t be finding ice in that drink of yours. There’s a very good chance that you’ll have to pay for a bathroom at some point on your trip. You will Tip Differently in Germany.
Oh….and there won’t be Air Conditioning in Germany. (Well, most likely)
That’s right. Most of Germany just doesn’t do AC and they have their reasons for it!
So, in this article, I’ll cover what you need to know about traveling to Germany in the summer. From what to expect temperature wise, to “Is air conditioning normal in Germany?” (and therefore how to survive summer in Germany!) and a few other fun anecdotes I’ve learned through about a decade of “Surviving” German summers myself that you can apply to your upcoming summer trip to Germany yourself!
Packing For Summer In Germany
While you absolutely should use my What to Wear in Germany Packing Guide, there are a few items that you may not think of when it comes to packing specifically for the (Non AC’d) summers! Here are my additional “summer” recommendations in addition to my full packing list.
Incredibly Easy to Pack
Better for the Environment
Leak Proof and Dishwasher Safe
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Unique Fabric That Actually Feels Cool When Wet
Great For Hot Summer Days!
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Super Lightweight at Less Than 1 Pound (221 grams)
Portable, Long Lasting Charge (+9 Hours)
USB Charger (no worries of 110v (vs) 220v)
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Complete Black Out for Uninterrupted Sleep
Slight Pressure to Encourage Restful Sleep
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Summers In Germany: Know Before You Go
Aaaaah. Sweet, Sweet, Summertime!!! Like most kids, this was arguably my favorite season of the year. Even now, as an adult living in Germany, there are many reasons to enjoy summers here (fun festivals, lazy days at the local lakes, loooong days of sunlight where it stays bright until almost 10pm which are just perfect for long, busy sightseeing days…) But as a tourist, there are a few things to know before heading off to Germany in the summer.
Summer Months and Temps
Let’s keep it short and sweet. Summer is roughly middle-end of May through mid August.
The weather can be a bit unpredictable in May and even in June. Even in June, it can still be quite cool (think even as low as mid 50s! (13 C) ) and you really never do know when you’ll need an umbrella! Once you get into July, you get a bit more reliable with beautiful days of 70s and 80s F (23-29 C) and not nearly as much rain. August is often similar but with a smidge more humidity. Rarely do you ever see temperatures that break over 100°F/38°C.
Summer school holidays don’t typically start until the beginning of August though. While that definitely doesn’t mean that May and June are not busy with tourists (they are) but August can be even more of a mad house when you combine foreign tourists alongside all the locals also enjoying their own summer breaks.
Insider Tip: Despite August being a very busy month for tourism, many family run businesses and restaurants may be closed (sometimes upwards of the entire month) since this is the only time they may have to travel with their own families.
German Air Conditioning
Spoiler Alert: Don’t expect Air Conditioning in Germany (wah wah!!!)
Why in the world don’t Germans have Air Conditioning? Well, SOME do, but MOST don’t. So, just how much of Germany has air conditioning? According to the Journalism for Energy Transition, only about 1 in 8 German households actually have an AC at home! ( I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been into a German’s home that DID have AC in the last 10 years I’ve been here.) And when you talk to Germans, most will say that they are completely fine with that! But why??? Let’s break it down… I’ll start with the most obvious ones and make my way through what my local German friends have told me (some of which I find kind of humourous actually).
Since many of my readers also do my 10 Day Germany/ Austria/ Switzerland Itinerary, you should know that AC is even MORE restricted in Switzerland! In fact, while I wouldn’t call it a flat out ban/illegal, special permits (which are extremely hard to obtain) must be acquired for AC installation in Switzerland.
There Isn’t Enough Heat All Summer Long To Make It Worth It
Fun Fact: German seasons are somewhat “mild.”(In my humble opinion) Let me explain myself- I’m from Nebraska. It’s the norm for the majority of the summer months (May-August) to be in the high 80s to 90s (F) with wretched humidity leaving us with heat indexes well into the 100°F (38°C) range decently regularly all summer long. So, when I say that German summers are “Mild,” I guess take it with a grain of salt and perspective. However, I have had more German summers where it has been June and it’s been rainy, in the cool 50s- 60s (16°C) and I have literally had sweatshirts on to stay warm!!!! Let’s just say that, armed with my summer tank tops, I was in for quite a shock my first June in Germany!
Also, humidity is (relatively) low here in Germany. Combine that with the “unique” construction of buildings (more on this below) and you’ve got homes that can stay really cool even in super hot weather.
There’s Only Short Stretches of Heatwaves in Germany (at a time)
While this is beginning to change, up until recently, there would only be a few (short) heatwaves each summer in Germany. For example, I remember the first few years I lived in Bavaria, I would whine and complain about “Where is my (hot) summer!?” Because while May, June, and (sometimes even July) would all be beautifully pleasant weather (Think gorgeous 70 degree days (21°C) that are just made for Wandering In Germany (see what I did there???) ) but those aren’t HOT SUMMER days just beckoning for me dive into a cool pool!
Then, 1 week in late July or early August would hit me like a ton of bricks. For a full week, it would be in the 90s (32°C) and fans everywhere would sell out and lakes and pools would be absolutely jam packed.
And then, just as quickly as the heatwave had started, the rain would return, the temps would drop, and we’d be sliding into Autumn.
Every few years, we’d get a few of these stretches, maybe like 2 or 3 times a summer, where we would see about a week of higher temps, but rarely would the thermometers ever tip over 100°F (32°C). So, for a total of 3, non consecutive weeks, we all just “suck it up.”
Fun Fact: According to the US Military in Germany, who regularly records temperatures and stats, most heatwaves in Germany don’t even last for more than about 2 weeks at a time (and they only classify a “heatwave” as being over 80°F/26.7°C.
So, basically, the Germans are kinda like, “Hang in there folks for 14 days, that’s it!”….and they do!
Disclaimer: Global Warming (Yup….I’m going there!) is changing European Summers! While the above statements (not super hot summers, not super long stretches of heatwaves, etc) have been traditionally true, this is quickly changing due to Climate Change. In fact, while it has been scientifically proven that the world is heating, Europe is actually warming at a rate DOUBLE the wordly average! (Citation- World Meteorolical Orginzation)
It seems like each summer, Europe is breaking new heat records for hotter days than the previous year or for longer stretches, etc. So, let’s just say that while this list of “Why don’t Germans use Air Conditioning” is still applicable today, who knows how many more years until AC will become a norm and a “necessity.”
The (Financial) Cost Is Too High.
Ok, so taking all that I said above into account, most Germans will say that financially, it’s simply not worth it for the amount of time that it actually gets hot enough to really need (nay, even want) an AC. I have a South African friend who lives here and they just installed an AC unit in their home that only supplies cold air to their bedroom (granted, it then spills out into their family room and kitchen, which are all on the same floor). The cost of this was well over 2,000 Euros (JUST FOR THE ONE ROOM- NOT WHOLE HOUSE!) between the cost of the unit and cost of installation!!! So, if it costs €2,000 for ONE bedroom, imagine what a unit would cost for an entire house!
One could argue that you could get a smaller window unit or portable AC that vents out the window and that that would be significant’y cheaper. And while that might work for people renting a small, 1 bedroom apartment, the increase in energy costs are still pretty staggering.
It’s Not Worth the (Energetic) Costs to the Environment
Something that I personally love about Germany is how climate-conscious the country is. They take most things climate related pretty seriously. From the (actually somewhat intense) recycling system most homes implement to already having electric chargers everywhere along the Autobahn and ANY drive or train ride through the countryside will reveal Germany’s dedication to renewable energy in the forms of massive solar panel farms to windmills everywhere.
In a culture where taking care of our environment is pretty well engrained, it’s no surprise that many Germans also see Air Conditioning as a waste of energy and therefore, a harm to the enviroment. Add to this the combination of being in a time of energy upheaval right now with outrageously soaring electric bills here in Germany and the above mentioned fact that there are only a few weeks at a time that are pretty intense with heat and it is obvious why many Germans have said they can do without the AC in their homes, many offices, even hospitals, and other establishments.
Many Landlords Don’t Allow It (and many people rent in Germany)
Roughly 50% of all Germans actually rent instead of own their apartments or homes and let’s just say that the first time I signed a contract for an apartment there was, well….a lot of fine print. This isn’t to say that all landlords are anti AC, but if one has the choice for someone to drill into their walls to make drastic changes or to tell someone to just plug in a fan, I’d argue the fan is a heck of a lot easier for the landlord!
Protected Old Homes/ UNESCO Buildings
Can you just picture it? I’d always dreamed of living in an ancient European city, lined with cobblestone streets where I’d sit out on a summer evening at one of the many corner cafes drinking an Aperol Spritz (ok, that’s a lie….as much as I try to assimilate here, I just can’t do an Aperol Spritz like the locals! Give me a Hugo any day, please!) and then just bike a few alleyways home to my apartment overlooking a charming town square.
While that all sounds absolutely delightful, many buildings in the very old town centers are protected by the Denkmalschutz, which are very strict regulations protecting historical monuments as well as any building that is deemed as culturally important. Without a ton of bureaucracy and a REALLY good argument, good luck making ANY changes to that building’s basic structure. Need to paint that beautiful, colorful outside facade? Only with official approval!!! Want to put in an elevator? HA! Think an AC is needed? Keep dreaming, my friend!
For example, where I live (Regensburg), the ENTIRE Innenstadt/ Altstadt is a protected World Heritage Site. In many popular tourist towns all throughout Germany, there are many protected buildings and even entire areas. While it’s not entirely impossible, to find a place (like a hotel) in these locations that have AC, it is a rare gem and a coveted find by many tourists in the summer!
The Buildings in Germany Are Just Built Differently (AKA, arguably better!)
Germans don’t mess around when it comes to the construction of their buildings. I mean, shoot, here in Regensburg, there are buildings and homes that are (this is NO exaggeration) literally 800 years old! They aren’t using thin drywall and wood when building a German home. Nope. Those bad boys are pure concrete!!!! (Yeeeeaahhh…..great for controlling temps and noise control. HORRIBLE for trying to hang your family photo!!!)
I’ll never forget my mom’s complete fascination with the windowsill in my first German apartment 10 years ago. She couldn’t believe how thick it was and that that was actually the thickness of the entire walls all over!
This means that the homes keep a relatively stable temperature in both winters and summers because of the material it’s built from and the insulation.
In fact, I am sitting here on an August day with a heat index of 94°F (almost 35°C) RIGHT NOW as I type but my thermometer next to me still reads a comfortable 76° (24°) degrees inside!!!! And yes, this is going on about day 4 of these outside temps, so it’s not just that the house hasn’t had a chance to heat up to boiling levels yet.
(I’ll give some tried and tested suggestions that we all employ on how to stay cool without AirCon in the German summer’s heat below in case you find yourself caught in a heatwave here, too)
Germans Sure Do Love Their Lüften!
Head over to literally ANY Expat in Germany social media account (no matter where the content creator is originally from in the world) and you will surely find joke after joke about German’s obsessions with their beloved “Lüften” which translates literally to “Airing” or more commonly known as “Ventilating” (Their homes/ rooms/ offices, etc). It’s often joked that no matter your issue in life, Lüften is your answer!
Now granted, the idea of doing a proper Lüften is actually more important in the winter than in the summer. It’s to get any stale air out of your home and replaced with fresher (which is supposed to be healthier?) outside air but there are beliefs that the crip, cold air helps keep your respiratory system strong (I actually have no idea if that is true or not?? But I kinda buy into it!) It’s also because, like I just mentioned above, these walls as THIIICK, and the insulation is so crazy good that if you don’t air out your house regularly, you’ll be staring at a moldy wall real fast.
And while those are the “beliefs” of many Germans in the winter, the reality is that in all seasons, Germans really do believe in the power of fresh air and keeping their houses and windows open. So, when there are only a few stretches of boob-drenching heat, why trade out an AC for something like fresh air, which does the body so good?
Air Conditioning Makes You Sick….according to Germans
If I lost you on the concept of Lüften and Germans loving fresh air, then this next point is even more a little “out there.” Don’t get me wrong, when one German friend of mine told me how they believed that ACs can make you more sick because they are rarely cleaned properly or frequently enough, resulting in even more pollutants hanging in the air, that idea I could wrap my head around.
But when ANOTHER friend of mine told me that she gets sick EVERY.SINGLE.TIME she returns back to Florida to visit her (American) husband’s family and that it was because of the AC and the way it impacts our immense system, I kinda raised my suspicious eyebrow (or as the kids are saying nowadays, “I was sus”- hopefully I used that right).
Do not get me wrong….I am about as hippy-dippie as they come but even this one I hadn’t heard before. But then the more German friends I made, the more they all emphatically agreed, “The sudden, drastic temperature changes between the cold (AC) and the heat (outside) strains your body and makes you sick!!!” Well, since this is a travel website and not a science one, I am not going to vouch one way or the other, but I will admit, it does sound like there could be some actual validity to these statements when you dig deeper.
It turns out that the issue is more when you go from the heat outside into the cold AC which is when your body gets such a sudden shock of cold temperature that your blood rushes to protect your core and brain instead of continuing to flow evenly all over. When there’s not as much blood in areas such as your sinuses and respiratory tracts, those pesky, lurking viruses that were just waiting for their chance to pounce tend to prevail much easier without as many white blood cells ready to attack. Ok Ok….if this is all true, you’ve got my attention my dear German friends!!!!
But, here’s where I start to call B.S on this concept though…..
If this truly is the case, I’m thoroughly confused at how many Germans absolutely swear by the German Sauna Culture where you regularly sit in a blazing hot (humid) sauna, and as soon as you step out, you dive into an icy cold “plunge bath”(I’ll admit your blood gets a pumping REAL hard so I can agree that it feels pretty great for your circulation!) But that’s overall the same concept of summer heat> AC (Humid and hot straight into Cold?) I’m just gonna say though, I feel like you can’t have it both ways. So does super hot humid air straight into cold hurt or help??? (Germans reading this, feel free to call me out and tell me the reasoning here)
So, Do German Hotels Have Air Conditioning?
As my kids’ favorite Casper Baby Pants song goes, “It Is Both Yes and No.”
Yes There Are German Hotels with Air Conditioning
If you absolutely, positively, dreadfully can’t even fathom (cue dramatic fainting from old timey Hollywood actress gesture) a world without AC hotels, then yes, we can find you some…but there may be some caveats (which I’ll detail next). But, is air conditioning NORMAL in Germany? NO! Therefore, unlike in the US and many other parts of the world, do not just ASSUME that the hotel you booked has AirCon. Instead, assume the opposite and if you arrive and there is that magical box of cold air pumping out snowflakes in your room, then what a delightful surprise!
If you are starting to sweat just reading this at the mention of a night in the summer without AC, then you’ll want to start looking at bigger hotels and chain hotels to find what you need or just trust me when I say you will actually be fine (and then read the below suggestions on how to stay cool in the summer without air conditioning in Germany).
No, MANY German Hotels Will Not Have Air Conditioning
I can’t tell you how many people ask in my Travel in Bavaria Facebook group for recommendations on hotels that are “Unique,” “Charming,” and “Quintessential” to stay in while traveling. And while there is that rare, unprecedented, locally run German Pension or B&B with an AC (like when I literally squealed with glee as I unexpectantly walked into an AirCon room in my charming Bamberg Boutique Hotel, which I had NOT been expecting at all!) if you want a truly local, family run, authentic “German Hotel” and if I was a gambling gal, I’d put my earnings on the “No AC” probability odds.
What About High End Hotels? Nope. Not a guarantee. Just because you may be staying in more of a “luxury” level of hotel in Germany does not guarantee that your room will have AC. When I say “assume nothing” I truly mean it. If it is that important or a necessity to you during your travels, fact check it on their website, or better yet, email them directly to ask.
German Hotels With Air Conditioning
So, how do you find these unicorns in the sky? The reality is that it actually isn’t THAT hard, especially in big cities. Just know a few things first:
- Chain Hotels: Finding AC easily are typically going to be in more of the “Chain” Hotels. For example, we are HUGE Travel Hackers (AKA using points and miles to travel the world for *free throughout the world) and most Points hotels are going to be these types of hotel chains. I’ve literally never stayed at a Mariott, Hyatt, or a Hilton that didn’t have AC in the summer.
- AC Hotel Rooms in Europe are NOT cheap!! Most likely this is also at high tourist time (June- August), so prices are sometimes a bit higher simply for that reason alone and then add the luxury of an AC in Germany and you can expect to pay a pretty penny (er, Euro) for a room with AC. But then let’s recap some of the above points: 1) Energy costs are HIGH right now in Europe, so they are going to charge you a good amount to offset that AC cost off them. 2) Since this is a bit of a “Premium” thing here in Germany, expect to pay a bit of a premium for that luxury!
Insider Tip: Alright, so you handed over your cash in exchange for that sweet, kiss of cold AC. If your hotel description said it had AirCon, then you probably won’t have issues (in fact, I never have). However, some people in my group have had complaints about arriving to find out things like “Only the newer, renovated wing has AC and your room is on the other side….” kind of stuff. If you want to absolutely ensure you are getting what you thought you paid for, send the hotel a quick email for a confirmation that all rooms (or at the very least, the one you booked) have AC.
How to Stay Cool Without AC in Hot German Summers (like a local!)
So with no Air Conditioning, are you (maybe a bit dramatically) feeling a bit worried about not melting? Or maybe in the very least wondering “How do Germans stay cool in summer with no AC?”
Whether you are someone planning that once in a lifetime trip to Germany or even an expat in Germany like me, I always swear by the Boy Scout method of “Always being prepared” (ahead of time) and that (in this case-prior) knowledge is power. If you know how to “survive” summer in Germany then you won’t be caught off guard and you can still have an amazing holiday no matter the weather (rain or (HOT)shine!)
Buy A Portable Travel Fan (AHEAD of time!)
I am AAAAALL for packing light! But, I am also AAAAALL for not waking up in a pool of sweat! I know packing a travel fan seems a bit extra, but there are a couple reasons why I’m a proponent for having this before even taking off down the runway.
- I can personally handle heat during the day, but I’m a big whiney baby who HATES sleeping in anything warmer than a freezer!
- There are some actually really decent travel fans nowadays that are powerful, easy to pack, and reliable
- Many travel fans pack down decently well in a suitcase
- Having a USB travel fan means you aren’t left with a 220 voltage fan at the end of the trip that you’ll never be able to reuse again. (Warning: Battery fans can be nice because you don’t have to worry about voltage, but then you either need to bring several heavy packs of spares or be willing to find a place to buy them here)
- It’s one extra piece of mind and as well as assitance on how to stay cool without AC in hot German Summers
Insider Tip: Do NOT wait to buy a fan once you are here! I’m not even exaggerating when I say that all the fans everywhere in Germany completely sell out during heatwaves! They are like a precious gold that you may have to fight someone for if you find one in a German heatwave! (yes even on Amazon.de!)
For about the cost of an Oktoberfest Bier Maß, you can buy this really affordable, tried and tested travel fan. Cheap. Powerful. Handy. Those are MY kinda adjectives!!!!
Foldable/ Adjustable Heights
Has a Remote
Collapsible For Easy Packing
Battery Operated (No Cords Needed!)
Surprisingly Powerful For the Small Size
Welp, this one may seem really contradictory, but just hear me out! One thing I find fascinating is just how many Germans find outdoor activities to enjoy even when it’s suuuper hot. But it makes sense. Why in the world should I stay inside a stuffy house or in a boiling, hot upper level hotel room where the heat is just climbing straight up to it when I could be outside where there is at least a chance of a nice breeze!? Since the humidity in German summers aren’t completely outrageous (I’m not saying there is NONE) I promise, it’s often quite nice where there is the fresh air and a breeze compared to staying indoors.
Here are some of my favorite ways that I’ve seen locals find ways to cool off outside.
Relax At a Biergarten
Ever noticed a common theme about German Biergartens (besides well, you know…the BEER!)?
Almost all great Biergartens are located under a beautiful stretch of protective trees offering you a reprise from the sun’s rays in their lovely shade!!!! Just yesterday (94 degrees F), me and my family biked (yes, biked….we are a bit crazy sometimes) to our local Biergarten to meet up with a group of friends and if only I had a dime for each time someone made a surprised comment about “How absolutely lovely is this evening!?” or “Man, it feels so great out here!” or, “It doesn’t even feel like it’s 35 degrees (C) out!!!” (all said in really suprised tone of voices!) then I could have bought beer for the whole table!
I swear, between that fresh air, a pretty decent breeze, and the shade of the trees, I don’t think we could have asked for a more perfect summer afternoon/ evening outside!!!
Pro Tip: The refreshing Radlers help a great deal, too 😉 Not a fan of beer? Try some of these great drinks to try in Germany (including non alcoholic as well!)
Find a Local Lake or River
If you are looking for a great way to “see how the locals live,” finding a local lake on a Sunday afternoon (or any hot day in the summer!) is the perfect way to get some serious people watching and local culture vibes. Many lakes in Germany are public and TONS of them have really nice public swimming beaches.
Most swimming lakes will have Biergartens or at the very least an “Imbiss” which is more of a smaller cafe/ snack shop with things like pizzas, wursts, and Eis….always the ice cream!!!!
Another great option is many people even just head to the nearby rivers. There are often “swim beaches” along different parts of rivers that are gentle. There’s often a nearby place to get some food and drinks, a “beachy” area, and all!
Insider Advice: Just remember, Germans have a very different viewpoint on nudity than many other cultures around the world. Nudity isn’t about sex here. It’s just your body. And your body (no matter which part of it) is nothing to be ashamed of.
All this to say: Don’t be shocked if you stumble upon nude bathers at lakes and rivers randomly, even in public areas.
Hit Up a Swimming Pool
While it might be one of the more obvious ways to stay cool without AC, there are some seriously awesome swimming pools in Germany. If you want to go all out, you can go to something like Therme Erding outside of Munich, where they have the largest indoor waterslide park in the world, Tropical Islands outside of Berlin, which is the largest waterpark in the world, or have fun at Rulantica after a Day at Europa Park near the Black Forest.
Even if you don’t want to go to a huge water park, local swimming pools can still be amazing. Just this weekend, I took my kids to our local pool, Westbad here in Regensburg which is still pretty dang massive. For just being a local swimming pool, it is HUGE and honestly, that’s not too uncommon to find!
If you are googling for a “pool near me” just make sure you know the different terms:
|Indoor Swimming Pool||Hallenbad|
|Outdoor Swimming Pool||Freibad/ Schwimmbad|
|Flussschwimmbad||River Swimming Area|
Better Yet….Get a HOTEL That Has a Swimming Pool!
While not AS elusive as German hotels with AC, German hotels with pools aren’t exactly a dime a dozen, either. BUT, the good news is that they aren’t impossible to find. And unlike our other chilly friend, the AC, hotels with pools don’t always cost you an arm and a leg! There are actually a lot of really affordable hotels with pools in Germany!
Personal Recommendation: If you are looking for a truly unique experience and want to experience Neuschwanstein Castle in a completely different way, I can’t recommend enough staying at Hotel Das Rübezahl (yes it has a swimming pool!!) You can read my own experience and review of my stay there here.
Consider Camping in Germany for Your “Accommodation”
First and foremost, I know sleeping on the ground doesn’t appeal to everyone. Second, I know what you are thinking, “C,mon LeAnna! What makes you think I’d want to sleep OUTIDE in a heatwave!?”
But I’m telling you, especially if you head to the Alps, when you are in the mountains, it can cool down BEAUTFULLY and comfortably at night! What better way to do so than under the stars and with views of those gorgeous peaks!!! Even if you don’t go to the mountains, it can still cool down considerably outside, so take full advantage of those temps!
There’s so many great camping in Germany options, so if you love the outdoors, at least put it on the “Ok, I’ll look into it” column of your trip planning. I know you don’t want to deal with a tent and gear, but there are plenty of RV Rental Companies (many which come fully stocked with everything you need) or find places like those in the above picture and do a fun and unique “Barrel Camping” which can be found all over the country. There are also many places that rent out permanently stationed trailers on their campsites and there’s a few glamping experiences throughout the country as well, which should come with most of your needed supplies.
Go To the Grocery Store
This weekend, I needed to run to the grocery store and as I walked in, my internal dialogue literally went like this,
“Ooooh…..My……God. Is that Air Conditioning!?!?” “Oh my God, it IS!!!”
“Holy crap, this feels amazing!”
“Forget fans! I think I’ll just camp out in here for awhile!”
So, uum, yes. The time I ended up spending inside that nice, cool Rewe may or may not have been disproportionate to the few items that I actually had on my list that day!
But, the reality is, most people who like to experience local cultures all know that a great way to see inside a local’s life is to head to their grocery store. And any Budget Traveler in Germany knows that a bottle of beer from the store’s fridge (€0.70) is a fraction of the price of the exact same beer at a restaurant (€3-4 per beer!) So, why not kill two birds with one stone? Go get some fresh produce, German salami, and a beer for a fun picnic that you can take to one of those lakes I mentioned while simultaneously seeing what fun and unique foods are in a German grocery store.
And if you find yourself maybe walking the aisles a few extra times while the AC is blasting, so be it!
TL;DR: German Grocery Stores DO Have AC!
Drink A Cold Radler
Fine. This one could probably just fall under the “Biergarten” section, but I’ve come to love Radlers so much in the summer, that I didn’t want them feeling like I didn’t give them the full credit they deserved!
Traditionally, half Helles Beer and half “Lemonade” (but really just Sprite), even those who aren’t beer fans often are surprised with how much they enjoy a cold, refreshing Radler on a hot summer day.
The fabled origin story goes something like this: There was a large group of bicyclists riding through Bavaria. Upon stopping at a local Gästehaus in a small village outside of Munich, the owner somehow was running short on beer that day (how does that even happen in Bavaria??) So, he whipped up a special “Radlermaß” (A Maß are those big, glass, liter mugs and a “Rad” is a wheel, so a “Radler” is also a a biker) He coined it a “Radlermaß” and told the cyclists that it was perfect for bike riding, since it was much lower in alcohol content, so they would be safe to bike home!! (Damn, I want him on my marketing team!)
Funny stories aside, Radlers are now basically the unofficial drink of choice for all hikers, bikers, and just plain thirsty people on hot, summer days in Germany!!!
Use the “German Air Conditioner System” (AKA Rolladen)
Ok, this is a bit of a joke. We’ve already obviously already determined that most homes and many German hotels don’t have ACs! However, if you are staying in an AirBnB or a hotel that has “Rollos,” which is short for Rolladen (not to be confused with the German FOOD Roladen…which is a strange (yet delicious) rolled up meat covered in mustard that is stuffed full of onions, bacon and wait for it…pickles!) then use the “Roller Blinds” to your advantage!
Often joked as the “German AC,” Rollos are literally “Rolling blinds” and while they are basically like black out blinds for the sunlight, they work wonders in keeping out heat in the summer as well! Granted, not all hotels will have the best ones and not all AirBnBs will have any at all, but if you find yourself with some, the key is to not wait until it gets hot inside. Anytime the temps rise above about 80-85 degrees (29 C) I make sure to have ALL my Rollos down and closed by no later than 9 or 10 am. Today, with it getting close to 94/ 34 C, I had this place caved up by 8am!!!
Open EVERYTHING Up At Night- again, GERMAN style!
One fantastic way on how to stay cool at night without AC is to cool down your accommodation/hotel room as much as possible at night. Afterall, the nights in Germany (often) still can cool down nicely even during hot stretches. For example, last night, despite the daytime heat, it still got down into the 60s (18 C) at night!!!
And remember how we said, “German houses are just built different.” One of my (oddly) favorite features are German windows. You can tilt them out at the top or swing them wiiiiiide open (like a door!) Before going to bed, I open up every single window in my whole house. The bottom floor I’ll just tilt open at the top and then all the other floors get opened up completely to let in the refreshingly cool, nighttime air!
Granted, the downside of this is that you don’t benefit then from those wonderful black out Rollos (which can be a shame in the summer when it literally gets light at 4:30am. But hey, that’s why I NEVER travel without a blackout travel eye mask).
Combine the cool, night air with the Rollo Trick during the daytime, and it’s actually been shocking how cool our house stays in the summer (like I said earlier, despite the 90 degree heat, it’s only in the mid 70s in my house today). Even if you are staying in a hotel, if they’ve got Rollos, you can still give this trick a shot!
Do As the Germans Do: Head for the Nearest Eiscafé
I still have yet to dial in on the exact whys of this phenomenon but man, do Germans LOVE their Eis (Ice cream)!!! It could be the dead of winter and there may still be a line out the Eis shop! I mean, there’s the whole fact that ice cream is delicious, soooo there’s that (obviously). And it really is lovely just sitting along the cobblestone streets at an outdoor Eiscafé. So, when the temperatures begin to heat up, don’t forget to cool down with an Eis, like the locals do!!
Obviously, you’ll find all the usual flavors of Ice Cream in Germany, but here are a few of my family’s favorites that are a bit unique to Germany/ Europe.
- Spaghetti Eis:(pictured) Literally Ice Cream that looks just like ……you guessed it- Spaghetti!
- Zitronen: Not exactly unique, but this is my personal go-to in the hot summer months! So refreshing!
- Eis Kaffee: (first photo) Kind of like a Root Beer Float (for my Americans reading this) but with COFFEE!!! I LOVE this in the summer! A strong brewed coffee or espresso with a giant scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with whipped cream. OMG YAAAAS!
Fun Fact: The word “Eis” in German sounds just like the word, “Ice” in English. In most of Europe, you won’t find “ice” in your drinks at restaraunts (besides cocktails) which is why if you ask for “Ice” they may look at you reeeeaaaalllly weird.
Other Misc Ideas
The rest of these I won’t go into super detail because they are all pretty self explanatory or they actually really only apply to people living here in Germany. But here are just a few other ways to stay cool without AC in Germany:
- Get a Portable AC: When I knew that I’d be giving birth to my daughter in Germany and her guess date was August, I took ZERO chances (no, even German hospitals don’t have AC!!!!) I bought a portable, window AC just for that year and boy was I glad I did because, of course, she decided to come 3 weeks early, which just so happened to be the hottest day of that particular summer! (Go Figure). I didn’t keep it for future summers because of how energetically inefficient it was, though.
- Don’t Cook Inside: If you can avoid it, don’t turn that oven on! Traveling in Germany with a Family, we almost always prefer apartment hotels nowadays, which means we still cook a lot of your meals at our accommodation to save money. Today (at home), I thought it’d be a great idea to do some grilled cheese sandwiches with the kids and even just the stove top felt like it was putting out so much heat that just simply wasn’t needed today!
- Grill: If you are in an AirBnB, some of the bigger houses (usually not apartments) often have a nice backyard to sit in and many will have a grill that you can use. I love going to a local Metzgerei and just simply asking if they have a “Grillpaket” of various recommended meats they can put together for me!
- Move down to the Kellar: In the really horrible heatwaves, I’ve known people to go down to the Kellars of their apartments (usually a shared area) and just sit down there where it’s much cooler!!! If we have many more nights of the current heatwave we are in, I absolutely am not above lugging my mattress down the stairs and sleeping down there until it cools off!!!