Situated within the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia the vibrant ski resort of Winterberg nestles in the Sauerland uplands, in the heart of the Rothaargebirge mountains. This charming town is within easy reach of several major cities, including Dortmund, Cologne and Frankfurt. With its excellent accessibility, historical charm and varied array of winter sports, Winterberg provides a fresh alternative to the well trodden tourist resorts of the Alps.
Things to see and do
Winterberg is an all year round resort, with a variety of activities available throughout the seasons. Whether you’re after a relaxing escape from a hectic lifestyle, or simply live for the adrenaline rush of the slopes, Winterberg has something to satisfy everyone.
Winter sports – As a favourite weekend retreat of wealthy city dwellers the town is renowned as a winter sports centre and has benefited from considerable investment. Thrill seekers can enjoy the well maintained bobsleigh, luge and skeleton tracks. These world class facilities have been utilised to train some of the top names in these sports, with the first official Wok World Bobsleigh Championships held here in 2003. Since then the town has played host to a variety of winter sports competitions, with visitors often able to enjoy a relaxing afternoon of spectating.
The skiing and snowboarding in this area is second to none, and with 27.5k of gentle slopes it makes an ideal spot for beginners to learn the ropes. Skiing lessons are available locally at competitive prices, with a ski pass costing around €35 a day. With floodlights enabling guests to ski at night, this price represents exceptional value and really helps visitors to get the most out of their stay.
While Winterberg is well known for its reliable snow falls, even coverage is guaranteed thanks to a high performance snow-making system, ensuring continuous winter availability of at least 28 pistes. This back up system removes the unpredictability of booking a ski break, allowing visitors to secure their booking earlier and saving the stress of frantically pouring over the snow reports.
Historical attractions – Culture vultures will love the rich history of the town, which stretches back to medieval times. Between the 16th and 18th centuries the area was well known for its witch hunts, with a large number of trials and executions taking place. Visitors can pay their respects to this dark period of history at a monument in Winterberger Halsgerichts dedicated to the memory of the victims.
Hiking – The natural beauty of this region cannot be overstated and during the summer months it remains a popular spot for hiking and picnics. Routes for all abilities are available, with the presence of the Kahler Asten, the second highest mountain in Saarland, providing a considerable challenge for the brave.
Summer – In Winterberg the fun on the slopes does’t stop with the spring thaw. At Erlebnisberg Kappa all the family can enjoy themselves on the child friendly summer toboggan run. The attraction also offers gentle nature walks, panoramic views, slides and cycle hire.
The town is a popular retreat for outdoor artists and yoga groups during the summer months.
Spa – No great resort would be complete without a place to relax and unwind. After a hard day on the slopes treat yourself to a massage, sauna and steam room at the renowned City Spa Schorn.
Best time to visit
Winter is the most popular time to visit Winterberg, and the resort really comes into its own between December and February. Although there is always ample space on the pistes, if you prefer to enjoy the slopes during a quieter time, consider visiting midweek and outside of the school holidays. The city crowd ensure the weekend nightlife is lively, with an eclectic mix of bars and restaurants catering to tastes from the traditional to the exotic.
It would be a mistake to only consider a visit during winter. If you enjoy the great outdoors, the forests and rivers are at the peak of their beauty during the spring. Hiking at this time of year comes highly recommended. The trails are quiet, the last snow is melting and the scent of fresh pine lingers on the breeze. While the town itself is quieter than during the winter months, for those in search of peace, solitude and relaxation this is the perfect time for a visit. Be sure to enlist the services of a local guide to help you find the best routes and prime spots to observe wildlife.
Where to stay
A wide range of accommodation options are available to suit all tastes and budgets. For those seeking a little luxury the 4* Oversum Vital Resort offers the practicality of a central location, while enjoying exceptional mountain views from the terrace. Guests can also benefit from the hotels large swimming pool and sauna after a busy day on the piste.
Bergloft Winterberg offers cosy modern apartments that are ideal for a family break. This fully furnished self catering option ensures maximum flexibility, with free on-site parking offering additional convenience.
A variety of Air BnB accommodation is also available in the town, providing a budget option for travellers.
Winterberg can be easily reached by bus or train from Dortmund in around 90 minutes. Be sure to grab a window seat and keep the camera handy, as passing through the Sauerland uplands makes for a scenic journey.
The town is readily accessible by road and many visitors opt to hire a car. The roads in Germany are exceptionally well maintained and gritted in winter, so take advantage of this opportunity for a little more flexibility on your trip.
Although Winterberg is not a prime shopping town, it offers a variety of stores specialising in outdoor clothing and ski equipment. This is handy if you’ve forgotten to pack something, or simply enjoy a spot of retail therapy.
Several local supermarkets are located in the town, making it easy to pop in for essentials during your stay. These stores are ideal for self catering guests to stock up on provisions.
In December be sure to visit the charming Christmas market where you can buy local crafts and souvenirs, sip gluhwein and listen to carols around an open fire. This picture perfect scene is bound to put you in the festive spirit.
Typical regional food
The gastronomic diversity in Germany is astounding, and Winterberg offers a variety of regional delicacies to satisfy even the most adventurous foodie traveller. Be sure to try Potthucke, this is a local favourite consisting of a rich buttery potato cake filled with bacon or sausage. Locals will recommend this dish as perfect breakfast following an overindulgence the night before.
For dinner after a tiring day on the slopes, try Himmel un Ääd (Himmel und Erde). This is a rich filling dish of black pudding, fried onions, mashed potatoes and apple sauce that will satisfy even the heartiest appetite. Of course, no meal is complete without a sample of the local speciality ale.
No holiday is complete without a little indulgence, and Winterberg is a town that knows how to party. The après ski scene here is highly renowned, with a huge range of bars spanning from Alm Salettl at the foot of the slopes, right though into the town centre.
The social element of skiing here is just as popular as the sport itself, so its a great place for meeting new people and making friends. Solo travellers in particular recommend the town as a great place to meet likeminded spirits.
If you enjoy the clubbing scene then be sure to check out Tenne, this establishment hosts the largest disco in the town, consisting of 6 bar areas spread over 5 floors. With a huge selection of cocktails and music pumping out until dawn, you’re in for a great night!
For those after something a little more relaxing, Volldampf is a well known bar with a calm atmosphere, real ale and televised sports. Make yourself at home in front of the cosy fire, order from the traditional menu or simply sit back and watch the snow fall from the window.