This post contains affiliate links. Should you click on one, I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Summer in Germany is beautiful – it’s all about relaxing in beer gardens, visiting castles, wandering in leafy green forests, and exploring half-timbered towns. There is no real dress code in Germany, but you will find people tend to wear less sportswear than in North America. Here is my local’s guide for what to pack for a trip to Germany.
What to wear in Germany in the summer
Of course, the weather varies from one end of this large country to the other. If you’re up north in Germany, you can expect temperatures around 17ºC-22ºC (63ºF-68ºF), but down south in near the Black Forest, it gets up to 35º+C (104ºF). When we travel around in Germany in the summer, I pack a capsule wardrobe of dresses, cardigans, leggings, sandals, and scarves, with a packable rain jacket for surprise showers. I am definitely a dress person, and I will let you into my secret for wearing dresses with no tights as a woman whose thighs touch (no matter what size I’ve been, they’ve always done that, just the way I’m built!). I admit I’m pretty minimal when it comes to my colour palette, so most of my clothes are black. This makes it easy to build a small capsule wardrobe though.
German style is quite straight forward, but you’ll find sportswear is kept to sports activities. Women wear jeans or dresses, with clean white tennis shoes or sandals, make-up and jewellery is not as big a deal as it is in Poland or France, for instance. Men almost always wear shirts with collars, even outside work, and sweaters when it’s cooler. Everyone wears scarves, all the time, unless it’s very, very hot.
Our German travel tends towards historic sites, city visits, museums, markets, and easy forest walks. If you’re doing a lot of serious hiking, your packing list will be a bit different!
Great travel dresses for summer
I’m always about dresses and cardigan outfits when I travel, and all the time really, but I find it a very versatile way to manage changes in temperature. A lightweight dress in linen or cotton, and a short or long cardigan depending on whether it’s very warm or cooler where you are, covers most eventualities. You look put together and nicely dressed, avoiding the whole sloppy sportswear when not doing sports thing that is a huge tourist stereotype in Europe. Packing a pair or two of leggings makes any of your dresses a great airport outfit, as well as proof against cooler temps without having to pack bulky trousers.
My secret weapon for wearing dresses and skirts in the summer
Thigh chafing, chub rub, whatever you call it, it can ruin a perfectly nice summer day. I don’t want to wear trousers or jeans when it’s hot out, but I used to suffer through it rather than get that painful burning rash when your thighs rub together. When I discovered anti-chafing shorts though, everything changed! I have tried the fancy lace bands, the creams and sticks, and nothing worked for me until I discovered Jockey Skimmies. There are other options out there for lightweight anti-chafing shorts, but these ones work for me so I don’t mess with a good thing! For really hot summer days, I go with the cooling version. These were a total life changer for me, and I now spend every summer in dresses and skirts! Bonus points for keeping everything decent when the wind blows up your skirt. I’ve linked several versions here, including the plus size ones.
Scarves are your best friend
On our trip to Italy recently, I brought a couple big yet light scarves. They were such a boon and here’s why: if it’s too hot for a cardigan (it was 40ºC most days) you can tie them to your hat or bag, but when you need to go into a church you can wrap it around your shoulders for the modesty requirements, and in the evenings it cuts the chill. Because these big chiffon scarves are so light, they are easy to manage during the day, and look quite lovely as a hatband, or floating off your purse. My scarves also saved my hair from getting totally wrecked on windy open-top bus tours and boat tours – curly haired folks will know what I’m talking about here for sure! These don’t need to be expensive, there are lots available for $5-$15/€8-€15.
Best walking sandals for travel
I bring two pairs of sandals if I’m traveling in the summer: one pair with a small wedge, and a very flat pair – both are good walking shoes for walking on cobblestones. Both of my sandals are very practical Birkenstocks, but they aren’t their standard styles. I really need a strap behind my ankle in a good walking sandal, so I avoid their slip-on styles, but the cork footbed I find very comfortable over long walking days. The sole is flexible, which is a key thing to look for when walking on old cobblestone streets.
If you’re keen on having a closed toe trainer, I would suggest a stream-lined white or grey shoe that won’t look out of place with summer dresses. Personally I love Italian Supergras, I have a silver hightop pair I love.
The best purse for travel
I am very aware of my belongings, many years of living in a big city like London will do that to you, so I don’t carry money belts or special bags or anything like that. I have never been pickpocketed or had my bag slashed or anything like that in western Europe, I really think these ‘safety travel bags’ are unnecessary. I used to bring too many purses, but I now realize that I will always have my camera bag with me so there’s no point bringing another day bag because I won’t use it. This is why I invested in a camera bag that looks like a regular purse, not one of those hyper-technical things. I wrote a whole post when I was researching a stylish-looking camera bag! I do bring my small laptop backpack if I am bringing my computer, as it allows me to keep all the cables and bits with me, but this generally stays in the hotel most days. If I’m on a train, I will stow my suitcase and then I have my laptop there ready to go with all its bits at my seat. If you’re not bringing a camera bag, I suggest a medium-sized cross body bag so you’ve got your hands free. Though do wear it fashionably pulled forward in front to discourage pickpockets. I don’t suggest a backpack style because many museums, galleries, and other attractions will insist you check it and on public transit it gets in people’s faces.
- My Jo Totes Siena camera bag (above) or cross-body satchel, like my favourite Cambridge Satchel Company bags
- Felt backpack for laptops and assorted cables
Cosmetics and toiletries
I keep my cosmetics pretty streamlined in general, so when I travel there’s nothing really different than my usual routine. I do often opt for make-up remover wipes, and throw a bunch of cotton pads in a zip-top bag with my favourite exfoliator squirted all over them. But that’s it!
- Make up (foundation, concealer, mascara, eyeliner, brow pencil, lipstick) and setting spray! This keeps everything in place all day, I love the spray from MAC
- Make-up remover wipes like these Neutrogena ones, but honestly any of them will work
- Ziptop bag with cotton pads soaked in Pixi Glow Tonic – I find this gets rid of the sweaty make-up and sunscreen build up better than anything else
- Medicines you need plus: painkillers and antihistamine
This is our family name for all the cables, chargers, and whatnot required to keep everything plugged in and charged while we’re away. Mine is a bit different as I have to bring my CPAP machine with me (a device with a mask I need to wear when I sleep, it’s to deal with sleep apnea), so I bring a surge-protected power bar with built-in USB ports for plugging in my devices. But my husband brings just a plug-in USB charging block, that has the brightest light on it ever, so it functions as a nightlight as well. We’re also adding a couple of universal plug adapters to our infrastructure as well.
One week Summer Europe packing list
- Three dresses
- One shirtdress, One sundress, one super easy jersey dress
- One midi skirt – either plain or a bit flashy, ASOS is a great source for this length. I like midi skirts for travel as they give you more coverage in case you are visiting religious sites, or end up clambering into tour boats, or sitting on stone walls
- A pair of easy jersey culottes
- Two cardigans
- Two t-shirts and a sleeveless top (I like H&M for these basics)
- Two pairs of leggings
- Packable rain jacket
- Two scarves
- Two pairs of earrings
- Two necklaces
- Three pairs of slipshorts (these are my secret to wearing dresses with bare legs!)
- Cotton underwear
- Apple Watch
Did I miss any of your must-pack items?
Pin it for later!