Five Things First Time Travellers To Germany Should Know
- Don't forget to recycle. Germans take recycling seriously and have large bins on the street for collecting different types of waste. You'll need to sort out your biodegradable products, and you get paid for recycling bottles of beer.
- Jaywalking is not allowed. In fact, you might even get scolded for setting a bad example for children. But if you're caught by police the consequences will be far worse, and you'll have to cough up an EUR 10 fine.
- Cash is king in Germany. The locals prefer to use cash for just about everything so make sure you keep some on you as you explore the country.
- The shops are closed on Sundays. Make sure you stock up on food beforehand and get any last minute shopping done before this national day of rest.
- Germany does have a tipping culture. With waiters getting a reasonable wage with benefits, you can either round up to the nearest whole Euro or tip 10%.
Best Time To Visit Germany
Germany is a destination that you can visit any time of year. Each season has its own unique charms and pitfalls that all depend on what you'd like to see while in the country.
If you're not a fan of cold weather, head to Germany in the summer. From June to September, the days are warm, and there is plenty to see. The only downside is that you won't have country's top attractions to yourself. Expect long lines and higher prices for flights and accommodation.
Spring is a beautiful time of year to visit Germany if you want the warmer weather without the price tag. From March to May, flowers are in bloom, and some of the best national festivals take place. While it's still not dirt cheap, you'll find better deals than in the peak summer months.
If you want to escape the crowds and save money, book your trip from September to November. As the temperatures start to drop, so do airfares and hotel rates. It's also a great time of year for wine lovers, with festivals in full swing at the country's vineyards.
The only thing you need to plan around is Oktoberfest. Over 6 million people attend each year, driving up hotel prices in Munich. Either avoid visiting the city during this period, or book your trip as early as possible.
Germany sees a peak in tourism again over Christmas and New Years. But afterwards, the country quiets down as the freezing winter temperatures set in. It's the best time of year to visit Germany's ski resorts and take advantage of the excellent conditions. Be sure to pack enough warm clothes as temperatures frequently dip below freezing.
Berlin is the capital of Germany and the largest city in the country. After being destroyed in World War II, it's rebuilt itself into one of the most exciting cosmopolitan destinations.
Berlin is known for its cultural flair and world-famous Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Its art scene is full of hundreds of galleries, and Berlin's nightlife is unrivalled with a huge selection of bars, clubs and live music.
The city's highlights include the Brandenburg Gate, Museum Island, The Berlin Wall Memorial and Charlottenburg Palace.
Munich is the gateway to the Alps and one of Germany's most beautiful cities. It's full of museums, traditional German architecture and plays host to the much-loved Oktoberfest.
While much of the city was destroyed in the war, it's done a remarkable job of reconstructing its historic city centre. Make sure you visit The Cathedral Church of Our Lady, Marienplatz and the beautiful English Garden.
Frankfurt is one of the most important commercial and economic centres in Europe. Its skyline has earned it the nickname "Mainhattan", and it frequently ranks as the best city to live in.
Stop by for the Frankfurt Book Fair, visit its many museums and galleries and explore its historic Old Town Center.
Hamburg is Germany's second largest city and eighth largest in Europe. It's famous for its harbour, Port of Hamburg, that covers an area of 100 square kilometres and its nightlife scene on Reeperbahn.
Its other attractions include the world's largest model railway, the Kunsthalle Hamburg art gallery and its Neo-Renaissance City Hall building.
Top Attractions in Germany
Cologne Cathedral is the third tallest in the world and took over 600 years to complete. Despite the rest of the city being levelled during World War II, the cathedral was the only building that survived.
Today, it's one of Germany's most important architectural monuments. Inside the cathedral's 6,166 square metre interior, you'll find the famous Reliquary of the Three Kings. This 12th-century art piece by Nicholas of Verdun holds the relics that the three kings brought to Germany from Milan.
This masterpiece of Gothic architecture also offers panoramic views of the city, and its Treasury is worth a visit too.
The Black Forest
The Black Forest in Germany is one of the most visited regions in Europe. Spanning across an area of 160 km, it stretches from Baden Baden to the Swiss border.
Hikers will love exploring the rolling hills, while winter sports enthusiasts can hit the slopes at Todtnau.
There's also plenty of wineries and monasteries to discover as well as interesting tours to take. One of the most popular is the German Clock Road that traces the history of the cuckoo clock.
But no visit would be complete without tasting the namesake of the region, Black Forest cake.
Nestled in the Alps in Bavaria, lies Neuschwanstein, the most famous castle in the world. Built from 1869 to 1886 by King Ludwig II, it eventually became the inspiration for Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty.
But don't just admire this architectural wonder from the outside. Take a tour and marvel at the castle's opulent interior. Visit the Throne Room, the Singer's Hall and take in some of Germany's most scenic views.
July to September is the most popular time to visit, with tickets selling out by lunchtime. If you can, avoid these months or make sure to get your tickets as early as possible.
The Berlin Wall
A visit to Berlin would be incomplete without visiting one of its most infamous attractions, the Berlin Wall. Built in 1961 to stop the brain drain to the West, the wall extended for 155 km before it was torn down in 1990.
While only a stretch of 2km remains, it serves as a potent reminder of the oppression the city faced. The best-preserved spot is the East Side Gallery and features many murals by international artists.
Join a bike tour and cycle along the 160 km Berliner Mauerweg path. It goes past the border fortifications and has multilingual information stations along the way.
Built in 1791 to mark the end of the boulevard, Brandenburg Gate is Germany's most iconic structure.
Standing at 26 metres high, it was once part of the Berlin Wall as a symbolic division between East and West. It's also the location of US President Ronald Reagan's famous 1987 speech where he demanded the Berlin Wall be taken down.
Today, it's a national symbol of peace and unity and has a far happier use. Each year, over a million people, flock to Berlin to attend the Gate's famous New Year's Eve party.
Major International Airports in Germany
- Frankfurt Airport
- Munich Airport
- Düsseldorf Airport
- Berlin Tegel Airport
- Hamburg Airport