The Sauerland is one of the locations that is likely to have snow during winter, which is close to the Netherlands. We were craving a snowy adventure and decided to drive to Sauerland for a weekend of winter camping. I did not expect that wintercamping would be so popular, but in Sauerland lots of people come by campervan. In this blogpost you will find practical information about Sauerland and Winterberg.
Sauerland is located in West Germany and is part of Nort Rhein-Westphalia, which means it is very close to Dusseldorf and Cologne. It is a hilly region, which is interesting year round due to all the sport activities you can undertake. In wintertime you can go skiing, while the area is good for mountain biking, cycling, tobogganing etc during the other seasons. You will find lots of forests and valleys in Sauerland, with little villages with traditional half-timbered houses, making it a very interesting location for nature lovers who like peace and quiet. During winter it can get really crowded in Sauerland, especially near Winterberg and Willingen, as many tourists want to enjoy a few days of snow. In the weekends the tickets for the ski-lifts sell out quickly. It is advised to buy your skipass in advance (online), just to be sure. A sold out skipass of course means it will be very busy on the slopes, so I would recommend to go on a weekday. Parking also sells out quickly on snowy days, so do some research where you want to go skiing, because you cannot expect to switch parking your car during the day.
We just wanted to hike in the snow and there had been lots of fresh snow around half January, so for us this wasn’t an issue. The walking tracks weren’t too crowded and there was sufficient parking roadside (we arrived before lunchtime).
Winterberg is one of the main hubs in Sauerland and can have a bad rep, but I don’t agree with that perse. Yes, when the snow levels are sufficient, it gets really busy, but so does Val Thorens… The village is quite charming, with enough choice of restaurants and shops and there are plenty of ski slopes to try. I did find the ski area very stretched out, making it less easy to get around than popular towns in for example Austria. But for Dutch people it certainly is a good destination if you want to make the most out of your weekend and go skiing.
What is wintercamping like?
Sauerland is quite popular for wintercamping and you will find campsites that are open year round (also near the ski slopes). We thought wintercamping would be a fun, new experience, so we took the van out for a weekend. We ended up in a free parking spot near Winterberg without facilities, which we found on Campercontact. Of course, winter camping with a baby poses some new challenges, but we ended up having lots of fun. The main challenge was to get Hugo to sleep between our hikes, when the weather is good he just naps in his stroller, but that wasn’t an option as it was quite cold and also a little rainy. So we had to be really quiet when he was napping in the van (we ended up watching De Slimste Mens in the driver’s cab). The melting snow made a big mess in our van and we decided not to cook in the van. If you decide to go winter camping, you should definitely bring sufficient cleaning supplies…
However, I found sleeping in the van during wintertime extra cozy, luckily our heater worked perfectly. I loved the snowy views from the driver’s cab, as you sit way higher above the road. Overall, we loved our winter camping adventure, but we wouldn’t advise to do it longer than a weekend (if you have a small van like us and with a baby).
Even though the weather wasn’t amazing, Sauerland looked like an absolute winter wonderland. The fog made everything a little more mysterious. Hugo loved his first sleigh ride and we enjoyed breathing in the fresh mountain air so much!