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Germany Travel Guide

Emerging from a troubled 20th-century history like a BMW with a re-tuned engine, Germany is now one of the most stable and progressive countries in the world. The country is home to forests, river valleys, mountains, historic towns, and unique culinary experiences. Visitors can also enjoy a diverse range of cultural riches, several truly cosmopolitan cities, a famous beer and wine industry, and 44 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Most foreign visitors to Germany choose to visit vibrant Berlin or cheerful Munich, but there are a wealth of other prime tourist destinations as well. Several themed tourist routes take in the gorgeous countryside featuring notable cultural assets such as Germany's wine routes, historic castles, the famous Black Forest and more. The capital lies in the east and is home to the Brandenburg Gate, Germany's most iconic landmark. Tourists can stroll past the historic Berlin Wall and admire the world's largest open-air art gallery. To the west sits Cologne Cathedral, a prime example of gothic architecture. The north of the country houses the bridges and canals of Hamburg as well as the resorts of the North Sea. Bavaria and the world's favourite beer festival, Oktoberfest, attract visitors to the south.

For those seeking high culture, Germany abounds with jazz clubs, concert halls and art galleries (such as Berlin's Gemaldegalerie). For a more sobering and poignant experience tourists can visit the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site.

With something to offer everyone, from independent backpackers to discerning older travellers, family vacationers and everyone in between, Germany is a sure bet for an unforgettable European holiday.

Best time to visit Germany

There is no bad time of year to visit Germany as each season has its own charms and drawbacks. Spring (March - May) is a lovely time of year, full of warm days and a blooming countryside. Summer (June - August) is magnificent, with resplendent sunshine and long days, although this is high tourist season, and so airfares and accommodation prices are at their highest and queues for tourist attractions are long. Autumn (September - November) is great for festivals, including Oktoberfest; while in winter (December - February), airfares and accommodation prices plummet and Germany's famous Christmas Festivals provide warmth and cheer to stave off the snowy temperatures.

What to see in Germany

-The Cologne Cathedral is a sombre, imposing Gothic masterpiece that will leave an indelible impression on any visitor.

-The historic Brandenburg Gate is not just a great tourist site, but the very symbol of Germany's proud cultural heritage.

-The awesome size and grandeur of the Renaissance-era Heidelberg Castle is not to be missed.

-The Porta Nigra ('Black Gate') in Trier is a Roman structure dating back to the year 180 AD.

What to do in Germany

-Get your drinking arm in shape and take on stein after stein of local brew at Oktoberfest, the world's most beloved beer festival.

-Travel deep into the Bavarian mountains and visit the fairy-tale castle of Neuschwanstein.

-Rent a car and take on the Romantic Road, a suitably-named route that takes in the best of Bavaria, from rolling vineyards to medieval towns and historic castles.

-Go hiking, walking or biking through the Black Forest, and reward yourself afterwards with a piece of traditional black forest cake.

Getting to Germany

There are ample direct cheap flights to Germany available from a variety of British and American cities. Flights are cheapest in winter, late-autumn and early-spring, and far more expensive in summer, which is the chief tourist season.


Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann, The Reader by Bernhard Schlink, Absolute Friends by John le Carre, and The Bridge of the Golden Horn by Emine Sevgi Ozdamar.


Rammstein, Wir Sind Helden, Tokio Hotel, and Nicolaus A. Huber.


Run Lola Run (1998), The Reader (2008), Wings of Desire (1987), and Goodbye Lenin (2003).


Germany is world-famous for its beer and wine, with an inexhaustible selection of local brews and blends for tourists to try out.


Wursts (sausages) of various description are popular, as are kartoffels (crispy potato pancakes), sauerkraut (a cabbage-based side dish) and bretzeln (pretzels).

What to buy

Cuckoo clocks, chocolate and Bavarian beer mugs.

What to pack

When packing for Germany, tourists should bear in mind that German weather can be highly changeable. Make sure you pack clothes for all eventualities: a good coat, an effective raincoat, and some lightweight clothes for when the sun is out.

What's on in Germany

Bavaria's Oktoberfest (September/October) is the world's favourite beer-based cultural festival, drawing about six million visitors every year. The Berlin International Film Festival (October) is one of the industry's most highly respected festivals, with the world's best new cinema competing for the coveted Gold and Silver Bear awards. Berlin's Christmas Markets offer traditional German Christmas food and handicrafts.

Did you know?

-Every day, more than 300 different kinds of bread are prepared in bakeries across Germany.

-There are more football fan clubs in Germany than in any other country.

-70 percent of Germany's highways have no speed limit.

A final word

Whether you're looking for fun and trendy cities, gorgeous countryside or significant cultural sights, Germany has it all; it is one of the most versatile tourist destinations in Europe.


German is the official language. English is also widely spoken and understood.


The unit of currency is the Euro (EUR), divided into 100 cents. ATMs and exchange bureaux are widely available. The major credit cards are widely accepted in large shops, hotels and restaurants. The quickest and most convenient way to change money is to obtain cash from one of the ATMs that are ubiquitous features on all German streets. Banks are closed on weekends, but exchange bureaux at airports and main railway stations are open daily.


230 volts, 50Hz. European-style two-pin plugs are standard.


German law stipulates that all prices, menus and bills include both tax and a service charge, so tipping is not necessary in restaurants. Cleaning staff, hairdressers, taxi drivers and other menial services appreciate small tips.


A visit to Germany should be trouble free, but take normal precautions to avoid mugging, bag-snatching and pick-pocketing, especially at airports, railway stations and markets in the large cities.


The international access code for Germany is +49. Travellers will find it easy to use a local SIM card, Skype, WhatsApp or similar apps. Free WiFi is available in most hotels, cafes and restaurants.


There are no serious health risks for visitors to Germany and no vaccinations are required. The German health service is excellent and there is a reciprocal health agreement with most EU countries, whose citizens are entitled to free medical and dental treatment on presentation of a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). After Brexit, the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) replaced the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for UK citizens. The GHIC allows UK citizens access to state healthcare during visits to the EU. The GHIC is not valid in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, nor is it an alternative to travel insurance. Nationals of other countries should take out travel insurance.

Public Holidays

New Year's Day1 Jan1 Jan
Good Friday10 Apr2 Apr
Easter Monday13 Apr5 Apr
Labour Day1 May1 May
Ascension Day21 May13 May
Whit Monday1 Jun24 May
Day of German Unity3 Oct3 Oct
All Saints' Day1 Nov1 Nov
Christmas Day25 Dec25 Dec
St Stephen's Day26 Dec26 Dec


In Germany, business is conducted in a formal manner, with a conservative and formal dress code being the norm. Punctuality is vital at all meetings and it's considered rude to be late. Germans use titles often, with men referred to as 'Herr' and women as 'Frau', followed by their last names.

Meetings are often purely business and may not occur over lunches, which are generally more social. Shaking hands at the beginning and end of the meeting is common. Business hours are generally 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday, with an hour taken over lunch.

Passport & Visa

The borderless region known as the Schengen Area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visa that has a multiple entry option, and which allows the holder to travel freely within the borders of all the aforementioned countries. Additionally, non-EEA members require proof of (i) onward or return tickets, (ii) the necessary travel documentation for their next destination, and (iii) sufficient funds to support themselves while in Germany. Note that citizens of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the USA are exempt from the requirement to hold onward tickets.

It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.


Visitors are not required to carry their passports with them at all times in Germany, but carrying some form of identification is advised. Smoking in public places such as bars and restaurants is illegal.

Duty Free

Passengers arriving from EU countries can enter Germany without paying duty on 800 cigarettes or 400g cigarillos or 200 cigars or 1kg tobacco; 90 litres of still wine; 110 litres of beer; and 10 litres of alcohol stronger than 20 percent or 20 litres of fortified wine, sparkling wine or other liqueurs up to 22 percent.

Passengers arriving from non-EU countries, over the age of 17, can enter Germany without paying duty on 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g smoking tobacco; 4 litres of wine and 16 litres of beer and 1 litre of spirits over 22 percent volume; or 2 litres of spirits under 22 percent volume. Other goods to the value of €430 for travellers arriving by air or sea, and €300 for travellers arriving by land.


German National Tourist Board, Frankfurt: +49 (0)69 751 903 or

110 (Police); 112 (Ambulance/Fire)

Entry Requirements

US citizens must have a passport that is valid for three months after the period of intended stay in Germany. A visa is not required for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.

British passports endorsed 'British Citizen', 'British Subject' (containing a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode issued by the United Kingdom), and 'British Overseas Territories Citizen' issued by Gibraltar, only need to be valid for period of intended stay in Germany. All other endorsements require at least three months validity beyond the period of intended stay in Germany. A visa is not required for passports endorsed 'British Citizen', 'British Subject' (containing a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode issued by the United Kingdom), and 'British Overseas Territories Citizen' issued by Gibraltar. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period for holders of passports with any other endorsement. Holders of identity cards issued by Gibraltar authorities, and endorsed 'Validated for EU travel purposes under the authority of the United Kingdom', do not require a visa to visit Germany.

Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for three months beyond the period of intended stay in Germany. A visa is not required for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.

South African citizens must have a passport that is valid for three months beyond the intended period of stay, and a valid Schengen visa, to enter Germany. Note that Temporary passports will not be recognised.

Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid on arrival in Germany. A visa is not required.

New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid for three months beyond the period of intended stay in Germany. A visa is not required for stays of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.

Embassy Consulates

United States Embassy, Berlin: +49 (0)30 83050.

British Embassy, Berlin: +49 (0)30 20 4570.

Canadian Embassy, Berlin: +49 (0)30 203 120.

South African Embassy, Berlin: +49 (0)30 220 730.

Irish Embassy, Berlin: +49 (0)30 220 720.

New Zealand Embassy, Berlin: +49 (0)30 206 210.

Embassy Consulates

German Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 298 4000.

German Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7824 1300.

German Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 232 1101.

German Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 427 8900.

German Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 (0)1 269 3011.

German Embassy, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 (0)4 473 6063.


Germany remains one of the world's top sightseeing destinations by virtue of its unique and important historical attractions, charming medieval buildings, beautiful landscape and legendary cultural events. The country has played a leading role in world history and many of its sightseeing attractions - commemorating the celebrated to the infamous - are connected to this storied legacy.

The major cities such as Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt are attractions in themselves, each jam-packed with historical treasures and sites of interest. Dachau and Checkpoint Charlie are remnants of more tragic periods, while the magnificent Rhineland and Garmisch-Partenkirchen regions offer enough natural splendour to please even the most demanding outdoor enthusiasts. Munich is home to one of the world's biggest parties, the legendary Oktoberfest, while the Romantic Road between Berlin and Frankfurt is a self-drive tourist classic that never fails to delight with its perfectly preserved old towns and villages.

Germany is certainly a year-round destination, although tourists should be warned that the European winters (December to February) can get bitterly cold. The best way to travel around the country is by train as the network is comprehensive, reliable and safe, and decent value for money. Another good option is to rent a car and drive between attractions on the extensive network of autobahn freeways.


Germany has very changeable weather. Extremes in temperature are rare but visitors should be aware that the weather changes fast and there can be rain at any time of year. The seasons are also slightly unpredictable in that the weather is not the same from year to year. There is a variation in climate according to region in Germany. The coastal regions have a temperate climate with warm summers and mild, cloudy winters. Inland, the climate is more continental with warmer summers and colder winters. The alpine and upland regions have cooler weather and more rain.

In spring (March to May), the weather is at its most unpredictable and can bring rain, sun or wind, but it is a pretty time of year to visit Germany. Summer (June to August), is warm and generally sunny but it is also the season with the most rainfall and humidity. Autumn (September to November), usually begins very pleasantly but becomes grey and misty later in the season. Winter (December to February), is cold and temperatures can drop well below freezing at night. Snow usually falls in December, January and February.

The best time to visit Germany really depends on what you are planning to see and do. Each season has its own charms. The peak tourist season is summer so everything tends to be a bit more expensive and crowded.

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