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I can plan a trip like no other. But when it comes to packing, I’m not sure why, but I always feel overwhelmed and not sure where to start!
However, I’ve now been traveling the world for quite some time and after living in Germany for close to a decade, I am pretty confident in my recommendations for the perfect packing list for Germany. Whether you are wondering what to wear in Germany in general or for a specific season or if you need tips on exactly how much to pack for Germany, what luggage is best, and anything in between, I’ve got you covered.
So, let’s bust out those suitcases and start creating your perfect Germany Packing List!
If you are visual person, you can see most of the items I suggest in this guide here.
Other Guides You Will Want To Dive Into:
- Traveling To Germany Tips
- Know Before You Go and FAQs About Traveling to Germany
- The Ultimate Guide to Driving in Germany
- Understanding the Deutsche Bahn Trains
- Our Favorite Itineraries
- 20 Authentic German Foods To Try
^Pin It To Save For Later!^
Whether you are traveling to Germany for the first time and don’t want to stand out as a tourist or have no clue what to wear in Germany in the fall, then let’s dive in!
How Much To Pack When You Are Traveling to Germany
Before deciding what to pack for Germany, you need to figure out just how much you want (or need) to pack.
Packing For Germany: Pack About 1 Weeks’ Worth Of Clothes.
Personally, when I travel, I only pack enough clothes for about 1 week (plus a spare or so, because well, we now travel in Germany with kids, which means we are bound to have some sort of accident at some point).
This means that even if we are doing a 2 or 3 week trip that I’ll just have to do laundry at some point. I much prefer this route, because it means less luggage that I have to bring along, even if that means having to wear pants twice or (gasp!) three times before washing.
I always recommend to travelers to pack a “Capsule Wardrobe” meaning that any top can go with any bottoms that you’ve packed, that way you can wear the same clothes at least twice (pending sweat) but still have different outfits. This gives that 1 week of clothes at least 2 weeks of options! MAGIC!
What Luggage Are you Bringing?
The other thing to consider when creating your Germany packing list is what kind of luggage will you be bringing along. After all, if you’ve got a giant suitcase, you can manage to pack a few more things. But in order to decide if you can bring that big ‘ol bag or if you will need to limit yourself to just the Germany travel essentials, you probably will need to know some basics for your trip such as:
- Will You Be Mostly Taking the Train? If so, having a GIANT suitcase rolling up and down the aisle trying to find space or seats on an ICE train is as enjoyable as listening to my husband snore at night. If you are taking trains most of the way, I highly recommend a backpack (Here is the one I personally always use for long term travel) or a Small Roller
-This may seem like not a huge deal, but for example, if you have reserved seats on an ICE train but didn’t get on the right wagon, getting your huge bag to the correct seat isn’t just a nuisance, it can become a serious point of frustration for both you and fellow passengers.
- Will You Be Driving In Germany? If you are going to be driving most of your way, then having a larger suitcase isn’t AS big of a deal, because you’ll have space in your vehicle. Granted, you need to know that European cars are often much, much smaller than American cars. So, even if you have a car, you may only be able to fit one large suitcase and a few smaller ones in (chances are, even 2 big suitcases won’t fit)
-Another thing to consider is that some Guest Houses don’t have elevators, so you might find yourself with a 50 pound bag staring up at 5 flights of stairs.
My Favorite Luggage when Packing For Germany
Here are my tried and true bags that I personally use regularly both all over Germany as I travel the country and the world.
Even when my sister just visited us with her three kids, I couldn’t stress “Backpacks are best!!!” enough times. We were doing mostly train travel and backpacks are just the way to go! Whether you can fit everything into a carry on only size or if you need a larger hiking pack with tons of space, either way, you won’t be disappointed if you go the backpack route. Even her mother-in-law went out and bought this one, which she said was perfect for her hips and knees (which she was concerned about at her age)
This is the bag I personally use and love. I generally almost always use Osprey nowadays (no, this isn’t sponsored!) because I’ve always been so happy with the quality of their bags and the lifetime warranty. However, it was the feature that could snap this day bag onto the outside of the bigger backpack that sold this particular pack for me! I am able to carry so much by myself, detach the outer bag for exploring during the day, and still have my hands free to rangle children running around. I personally use the carry on size but there are larger Porters available, too if carry on only isn’t as important to you.
Again, this may come down to personal preferences. For example, I prefer soft sided suitcases to the hard ones because I feel like the hardshell ones tend to get banged up more.
We’ve had several SwissGear bags in the past and have always been so happy with how well they hold up. This SwissGear Checked Bag is a fantastic choice if you want something durable, big, and easy to maneuver and roll around.
Pro Tip: Get a suitcase in a unique color so that you can easily know which one is yours. Also, on our last two international trips, our luggage was lost (both times!) and having something very easily discernable is such a relief rather than the typical “Uuuh, it was a black bag??” response.
Carry On Roller Suitcase
If you are looking for a great carry on roller suitcase, this is the one we’ve been using for years now (I think we bought it around 2017!) and it is hanging in there like a champ! It is a hard shell, but since we carry it on, it’s not getting thrown around and beaten up. My husband even puts his laptop in. It is also so easy to maneuver and roll around that my 6 and 4 year old kids often fight over who can be the one to push it around.
What KINDS of Clothes To Wear in Germany
When traveling to different countries, I don’t always like to stick out as a tourist. If you want to blend in a bit more with the locals, Germans tend to dress very “Smart Casual.” Jeans are becoming more and more popular now, but you almost never will find people wearing a “jeans and a Tshirt” kind of look. Think more “Chic” yet still comfortable. Some examples of how to dress in Germany would be:
- Tailored pants
- Nice blouses and tops
- Sun dresses
- Shoes: Comfortable flats, ankle boots, loafers, etc. Avoid tennis shoes
- Tennis shoes
- Name brands plastered over shirts
- Sports team wear
- Shorts (these are becoming more common with the younger crowds, but you’ll most likely see more skirts, dresses, and capris.)
* Men can get away with a dressier style of cargo shorts or Bermuda style
- Shoes that are even SLIGHTLY uncomfortable (there are a lot of cobblestoned streets and you’ll be doing a LOT of walking. DO NOT put beauty over function!)
- No flip flops
However, the reality is that at the end of the day, just wear what you feel comfortable in. While yoga pants aren’t seen left and right, you aren’t going to stick out like a sore thumb. If your kids only have shirts with Star Wars on them, don’t worry about going out and buying a whole new wardrobe! Just pack clothes (more on exactly what kinds next) that fit the kind of travel you will be doing.
What to Wear in Germany in Summer, Fall, or Winter
So here is the problem when figuring out what to pack when traveling to Germany (or creating an “Ultimate Germany Travel Packing List Guide”).
It will all depend on the season!!! What I recommend for packing for the summer in Germany is completely different than what I will tell you for a winter in Germany packing list.
So, the best cop out answer I can give you is:
ALWAYS PACK LAYERS!!!!
Even if you are traveling to Germany in June, it can be shockingly cold and rainy for what most would consider a summer month. I made this mistake on our very first backpacking in Germany trip. I mean, we were going to be gone from June through July, so naturally, I packed mostly tank tops, short sleeve shirts, and capris. Let’s just say I ended up having to find a store that sold long pants and sweaters because I couldn’t take another day of the cold! But then by the end of our trip in July, it was beautiful, sunny weather!
Therefore, when packing, even in months you assume are hot, always toss in at least one longer layer of clothing.
For winter, layers are king! I have an entire article especially on what to pack for German Christmas Markets/ Winter in Germany. Sure, it can be cold and snowy but if you are walking around sightseeing, you can warm up shockingly quickly, especially if you are visiting the Best German Christmas Markets and are sipping on some authentic Gluhwein!
Your Complete Packing List for Germany
As stated earlier, this may all need to be tweaked based on the time of year that you are traveling in Germany, but here is a pretty solid, general rule of thumb on what to pack when going to Germany. In fact, I would stick to this list for all but winter packing (see that article above) and if it is fall or spring, just make sure that what you packed can be layered (so think lighter weight, quick dry type of clothing) that can be taken off or added on, depending on the weather that day.
- 3-4 Simple, interchangeable tops
- 1-2 Nicer Blouses
- Men: 1-2 Dress shirts, or even just Polos will work well
- Cardigan Style Sweater for layering or a nicer jacket (even a fleece jacket) works well for layering for both men and women
- 1 Scarf: Even in the summer, a lightweight scarf is a great way to look chic but is also the perfect travel essential
- 2-3 Pairs of Pants
- Depending on the season will most likely depend on exactly what kind of pants you should bring. I suggest one pair of nice jeans, a pair of nicer slacks/trousers and you can even get away with a pair of leggings. I’ve been seeing a lot of pants like this lately as well, which is the perfect compromise between trousers and yet still comfy. You can dress them up or wear casual, so they are perfect.
- Men: If it is summer, I suggest 1-2 long pants and 2-3 dressier shorts. I suggest having pants like this for men that can be dressed up or even worn casually.
- 1 “Dressy” Outfit
- Women: A nice sundress with a cardigan
- Men: Fitted trousers and button up shirt (you can skip the tie unless you are going to an especially fancy function or there for business)
- 1 Pair of “Outdoor” or “Hiking” style of pants .These are very popular here, even just for Germans sightseeing for the day as they are functional, yet comfortable. They are perfect for unpredictable weather (as it often is here!) and great for winter Christmas markets with some thermals underneath
Jackets and Coats
- 1 Lightweight rain jacket that can double as a normal jacket (trust me, you’ll want a rain jacket!)
- 1 fleece style pull up/over jacket (I love my Columbia Jacket)
- 1 Pair of already tried and tested (but not worn out) walking shoes. Preferably weatherproof, like these.
- 1 Pair of sandals (not flip flops) I prefer something like this or this. For men, these are good options or even a classy Birkenstock.
- 1 Pair of flats/ dressier slip ons
Remember, you can easily do laundry, so you don’t need to pack enough to last for your entire trip
- 5 pairs of travel (quick dry) underwear
- 5 bras
- 5 pairs of socks (I always put a spare in my day bag because wet feet make for cranky people!)
- Swim Suit if your hotel has a pool or if you plan on going to a Spa/Sauna, like Baden Baden
- 1 set of comfy clothes (I always bring some lounge pants and a comfy workout style long sleeve shirt.
- Travel set of soap, shampoo conditioner. I always fill up travel bottles like these and then stop at a store like DM or any grocery store in Germany for refills if needed
- Shaving Cream/ Razor
- Toothpaste/ Brush
- Hair Brush/ Comb
- Sunscreen and lotion
- Glasses, Contacts/ Solution
- Makeup. Hairspray
- Feminine Hygiene Items
- Any medicines you regularly take plus some Ibuprofin or Tylenol
- Hair Straightener (make sure it is dual voltage and bring a converter- more on this below). Check with hotels to see if they have hair dryers so that you don’t have to pack one
- Travel Pillow/ Blanket
- Eye Mask/ Ear Plugs
- Hand sanitizer
- Jewelry, watches.
Luggage, Packing Cubes, and Passport Holders
We’ve already talked about the luggage and bags I recommend but something a lot of travelers don’t think about are:
- Packing Cubes: This is the only way I pack now. It helps me stay so much more organized when packing or jumping from one hotel to the next!
- Passport Holder: This is especially helpful if you are traveling with even one other person. You’ll always know where the passports are and are safe. I like this one because you can also put spare credit cards and IDs in as well.
Don’t Forget Your Important Documents When Packing For Germany!
- International Driver’s Permit
- Hotel/ Car/ Activity Reservation Print Outs (or downloaded to an easy to get to file in your phone)
Money (and money holders)
- Wallet or Purse. I also recommend a coin purse because change is so prevalent in Germany. Even a cheap and simple one like this is really helpful
- 2 No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards (Call ahead to notify them you will be traveling to Germany)
- 2 Debit Cards
More on cards vs cash usage below.
- Phone Charger (and phone)
- Power Bank Battery Portable Charger
- 2-3 Power Adapters (Per Person)
- Camera: If you have a camera, make sure you have plenty of SD cards and batteries/ chargers for this device
(Oher Essential )Things to take to Germany
- Converter for Electronics: You’ll need this to charge your phone, use your hair straightener, etc. I always bring several so that I can plug in multiple things. Get a few here
- Any guidebooks: I always love Rick Steves Germany books.
- Pocket Umbrella: Really, it’s most likely not a matter of IF it will rain but WHEN! Have a travel umbrella on hand at all times
- Prepaid German SIM Card:
- Read my Best Travel SIM Cards in Germany Article Here
- Orange Holiday Prepaid Sim: Get 20GB Here (Tip: Register on the “Orange Holiday” site prior to arriving in Germany, or else your messages will most likely be in French)
- Google Fi SIM Card: This is what we personally use when traveling.
- Face Masks: By now, almost all restrictions are lifted, but you should carry a few face masks with you, just in case.
Packing Logistics For Germany
I get asked all the time if you should exchange dollars to Euros before arriving in Germany and my answer is almost always NO. Unless the exchange rate is insnately favorable to the US dollar, I almost always find it better to just wait until you arrive here.
Most immediate purchases you need to make when first landing (IE: at the airport, a taxi, a bus ticket) can all be purchased with a credit card at the airport. While there, find an ATM (if you are looking for one, you can ask for a “Geldautomat”).
How much Euro should you take out?
This is a tricky question. If you are going to be staying on the more touristy paths, then a lot of places are now taking credit cards. However, cash is still king in most of Germany. There are many restaurants and even some guest houses that still only take cash. If you have a low rate on an ATM, then I recommend taking out somewhere around 200 Euro for a 2 week trip.
Whenever I travel to Germany (or international in general), I always carry several credit cards, in case one gets declined.
- Find a credit card that has no foreign transaction fees (this is essential!)
- Call your credit card company prior to travel to let them know that you will be international
Plane: You’ll obviously want to have your plane tickets packed.
Train: If you are traveling by train long distance, I recommend purchasing those about 3 months in advance for best prices. Otherwise, the regional day passes, like the Bayern Train Pass it’s best for you to just get the day of at the train station or on the Deutsche Bahn App. Even with the App, I am a bit anal and like to also have a printed copy of my tickets as well.
Car Rental Info: Ok, this isn’t a TICKET, but I like to have my rental agreement also printed out so that when I arrive, there is little confusion