Everything you need to know before you travel to Germany
Land of sausages, beer, and mountains, Germany has it all. Whether you're an adventure traveler, or you're looking for a family-friendly trip, here's where you should go if you travel to Germany.
8 min read
Germany, the land of beer festivals, fairytale castles, sausages, and 24-hour techno parties. Whether you’re an adventure traveler, culture enthusiast, or a family-oriented globetrotter, if you travel to Germany, you’re guaranteed to find the type of vacation you want. So, before you go, this guide will help you discover the best places to visit in Germany so you can plan your perfect trip.
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In preparation for your visit to Germany, it’s important to brush up on the current Covid-19 travel restrictions, identify your perfect trip location, and figure out a travel budget. Luckily, we’ve got you covered. Before you know it, you’ll be exploring your ideal German city or town with plenty of cash to spare!
Budget your trip to Germany
Nothing beats the feeling of going on vacation knowing you’re financially prepared for your trip. Being able to cover any hiccups that may happen along the way and returning with your finances in check can be deeply reassuring. So, before you travel to Germany, you should work out how much cash you’ll need to live comfortably while you’re there. This means doing some research on how much accommodation, transportation, entertainment, and food cost in your chosen destination. Use the baseline of how much you pay for food at home to get an idea of how much you may spend while on vacation. Of course, this will vary if you’re traveling solo, as a couple, or as a family—and depend on how extravagant you want to be while you’re there!
Once you have a rough idea of how much you’ll need to save, it’s time to identify areas where you can start making savings. To get a solid understanding of your financial health, it can be useful to go through at least three months of recent bank statements to get an idea of how much money you have coming and going each month. From here, you can start identifying areas where you can cut back. Tip: The best places to make savings are on your “variable costs,” i.e., your less essential expenditures such as subscription services, eating out, and unused gym memberships.
If the idea of creating a budget seems overwhelming, a good place to start is the 50/30/20 budget. It’s a simple, straightforward budgeting method that has helped many people gain control over their finances.
In general, German ATMs will accept most foreign debit cards, but it’s a good idea to confirm with your bank beforehand. It’s also smart to tell your bank that you’re planning to travel to Germany so they don’t block your card while you’re away. Occasionally banks do this as a security measure as if your card is suddenly being used in a different country, they can suspect it’s being used fraudulently.
Foreign transaction fees abroad
When using your debit or credit cards in Germany, your bank can charge you foreign transaction fees. These fees are often incurred when using a currency different from the currency in your ‘home’ country. In addition, some banks also charge a 1.5% currency conversion fee on top of any transaction that takes place on the weekend to protect themselves against fluctuations in the exchange rate. In general, it’s best to ask your bank what fees you can expect to incur when using your cards in Germany.
Losing your debit card while traveling
If you lose your debit card while traveling, act quickly and contact your bank immediately. The quicker the better as canceling your card prevents any potential fraudulent activity from taking place on your account. In some cases, your bank may be able to send you an emergency card to a fixed address while you’re traveling so you can still access your money.
Get insured when traveling to Germany
For peace of mind when traveling abroad, consider getting travel insurance to cover any health emergencies or cancellations while you’re away. This can save you a considerable amount of money and can help to reduce any travel anxiety both before and during the trip. There are many insurers to choose from, the important thing is to make sure you choose a plan that covers you for what you consider to be the greatest risks when traveling.
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Where to stay and what to do in Germany
Where you travel in Germany depends entirely on the kind of vacation you want to have. As the country offers a wide variety of different experiences, you’ll undoubtedly find what you’re looking for. Here are our top tips to point you in the right direction.
The family-friendly vacation: Freiburg im Breisgau
If you’re traveling with kids, the beautiful medieval city of Freiburg im Breisgau in southwest Germany is incredibly family-friendly. Enjoy warm days wandering around the Maisfeld-labyrinth Opfingen, a maze within a cornfield, or let your youngsters run wild in the adventure playground, Alpine coaster, and mountain toboggan run in Steinwasen Park. If you’re a family of thrill-seekers, Germany’s largest theme park, Europa Park, is only a 40 minutes train ride away and well worth the visit!
On rainy days, discover the delights of the Planetarium, the Museum for Nature and Man, or choose from the delicacies in the city’s Markthalle. For slightly older children, discovering the beauty of the Freiburg Minster and Münsterplatz, the historical square surrounding it, can be an enchanting experience. To end your Freiburg adventure on a high, take the Schlossbergbahn funicular railway up the 456-meter high hill to the east of the city for some spectacular views over the Black Forest.
For the adventure traveler: Oberstdorf
Located in central Bavaria, the town of Oberstdorf is an adventure traveler's paradise. In the warm seasons it’s famed for its impressive mountain hikes, lakes, and waterfalls, and in the winter tourists spend their time skiing and snowboarding down the Alps. No matter the weather, a trip to Breitachklamm, a magnificent rocky gorge just a fifteen minute drive from Oberstdorf’s town center, is an absolute must.
If you want to get your heart racing, check out the Heini-Klopfer ski flying hill, one of the world’s largest flying hills for avid ski jumpers. To keep the adrenaline pumping, try your hand at white water rafting, paragliding, or take a ride on the Allgäu Coaster, a year-round 850-meter long toboggan run. If you need a break from all the thrill-seeking, you can unwind in one of Oberstdorf’s many spa hotels such as the Viktoria, Alpenhotel, or Hotel Franks which offer day passes to their spa facilities.
A culture-lover’s dream: Berlin
Germany’s capital, Berlin, is one of the world’s most fascinating cultural hotspots. A city layered in a complex and often very dark history, orient yourself when you arrive by doing a walking tour with the likes of Sandemans. Aside from the main sights such as the Brandenburger Tor, the Reichstag, the Holocaust Memorial, and the TV tower, be sure to check out the museums on Museum Insel, and the Berlinische Galerie or Hamburger Bahnhof to get your art fix.
Once you’ve got your fill of the sights and cultural institutions in Mitte, spend some time wandering around the many different neighborhoods to get a real feel for the city. Kreuzberg and Neukölln are lively areas, packed with great bars and cafes, while in Prenzlauerberg and Friedrichshain you’ll find more upmarket boutiques and restaurants. If you want to sample some of Berlin’s famed nightlife, follow the techno crowd to the likes of Berghain, Tresor, or ://about blank. But, if you prefer a more chilled clubbing vibe, Kater Blau, Sissyphos, and Salon - Zur wilden Renate might be more to your taste!
In general, Germany is a well-connected country with a reliable transport system. To get across the country, Deutsche Bahn is Germany’s main rail operator. While tickets can get quite expensive, check out Flixbus and Flixtrain for cheaper cross-country rail and bus alternatives.
If you prefer getting around by car, you can enjoy exploring Germany’s 11,000km network of freeways known as ‘autobahns.’ Companies like Sixt and Europcar offer a range of different cars to match your needs, but be sure to use a price comparison site such as Kayak, Expedia, or rentalcars.com to find a good deal. Alternatively, you can use a car-sharing app such as BlaBlaCar to split the costs with other travelers.
In most German cities and large towns, you’ll be able to hire a car for short trips using car rental apps such as Miles and DriveNow. For even shorter trips, consider hopping on an e-scooter from Lime, Tier, or Bird, or jump on an electric scooter from Emmy or Felyx. However, also be sure to check out the local transportation options such as buses, U-bahns, S-bahns, and trams to see which travel option will work out cheaper for you during your stay.
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What are the requirements for traveling to Germany?
To travel to Germany, you have to present a valid ID card or passport.
Depending on your country of origin, you might need a visa to access the country as well as the Schengen area.
Are there any COVID restrictions on traveling to Germany?
Currently, you don’t need to present any health certificate in relation to COVID-19 in order to enter Germany.
What is the best time of year to visit Germany?
The best time of year to travel to Germany is between May and September. Temperatures are more pleasant, it isn’t too cold, and the days are longer – although there can be rain from time to time.
How long should I spend in Germany?
Depending on your budget and travel preferences, you’ll need at least 15 days to see Germany’s main attractions. To visit the capital city, Berlin, plan for about four days.
How long can you stay as a tourist in Germany?
Visitors of most nationalities can stay as a tourist in Germany for a maximum of 90 days (three months) within a period of 180 days (six months).