Best time to go: May - September (Late Spring to early Autumn)
Hottest months: July & August
Coldest months: December & January
Germany has a predominantly mild, temperate climate. Summer temperatures are typically between 20°C/68°F and 30°C/86°F. The average winter temperature hovers around 0°C/32°F.
Extremes normally reach -10°C/14°F in the winter and 35°C/ 95°F in the summer months. The highest annual temperatures tend to be in the southwest region of the country, especially around the Rhine. But it is also in the mid summer when Germany experience its maximum rainfall.
Winters are more severe further east and around Alpine ranges in the south where a think blanket of snow may remain until beginning of spring.
MAJOR GERMAN HOLIDAYS
If You are flexible with Your travel dates, make sure to avoid the following German public holidays:
During these periods, some people in Germany are traveling to visit their family, friends, to spend few days in a holiday resort or just outside the city. The motorways are more crowded with higher probability on traffic jams. Public transport services might be substantially reduced during this time.
Travelling by air is probably the most convenient way to get into Germany.
If you fly from outside Europe, your port of entry will be most probably:
Other major French airports are:
Traveling by car from neighboring countries is very comfortable. There are no land border controls, making travel between Germany and other Schengen states easier (with the accession of Switzerland to the Schengen area in 2008).
Traveling by bus is very handy way of traveling on routes that are not serviced by trains. Especially for many immigrants that are commuting to work from nearby countries (Czech Republic, Poland, Bosnia and Herzegovina etc.) it is a common way to get directly from more remote towns and villages into Germany.
There are many bus companies around Europe that routes to Germany. One of the biggest ones is Eurolines which is present in 34 European countries. It operates from more than 700 cities and towns in and around Europe and goes to around 80 bus station spread across whole Germany.
The German railway company Deutsche Bahn is the second-largest transport company in the world. It operates most regular train services which connect Germany with nearby countries.
Majority of those countries have a network of high speed trains that go into Germany but besides that EuroCity trains are a great option to travel to Germany (particularly from Poland, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Austria and Denmark). They are a bit slower and might be less comfortable but still they reach up to 200 km/h (124 mi/h).
EU citizens are not required a visa to enter Poland.
Thanks to the Schengen Agreement, 26 European countries have a passport and border control free zone (except for UK, Ireland, Bulgaria, Croatia and Cyprus).
Passport holders of the US, Canada, Australia and some other countries are not required a visa to enter Poland for stays under 90 days.
Citizens of other nationalities who are planning to come to Germany as tourists for a period of up to 90 days, can apply for a Short-Stay Visa (called Schengen Visa).
For more information on visa requirements and application procedures visit: http://www.germany-visa.org/
Each larger city has its own airport, serving both international and domestic flights, though the domestic routes are mainly used by business travelers. Main reason for that is that the competitive network of railways and highways running across the country. Therefore the introduction of low-cost airlines on domestic routes hasn't been that successful as seen in other European countries.
After the liberalization of the law that protected the national railway operator Deutsche Bahn from long-distance competition till 2012, many bus companies have been created and are currently fighting for their share of the German market.
The domestic bus network is extensive and provide an attractive alternative to trains on many routes throughout the country. But on the longer routes time of traveling is a thing to consider, as often it takes much longer to travel with a bus than with a train.
Following inter-regional bus services are available throughout the country:
Traveling by train is one of the most popular mode of transportation across Germany not only for tourists but also for local people. Almost the whole railway transport is run by the private joined-stock company called Deutsche Bahn.
To move around major cities, InterCity Express and regular InteriCity trains are the best options. They accelarate up to 300 km per hour (186mi/h) and cover distances between major cities faster than cars. Most of the time the tickets cost much more than those for local railway lines but booking far in advance can save a lot of money. Additionally there are some saver fare for high speed trains called Sparpreis (https://www.bahn.de/i/view/GBR/en/prices/germany/savertickets.shtml) with tickets starting from 19€ per journey up to 250 km (155 mi) and from 29€ for a long distance route.
Regional train transportation is a cheaper option most of the time when traveling around the country. But it be also quite slow depending on the train type:
There are also some promotions that allow to travel for less. One of them is Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket (Lovely Weekend Ticket) which allows to travel anywhere across Germany on Saturday or Sunday until 3:00 the following day with 2nd class on all regional trains. It costs only 42€ for up to 5 people.
Another possibility is Quer-durchs-Land Ticket (Travel throughout Germany) which offers unlimited rail travel for one day on regional trains for 44€ and only 8.00€ supplement for 2nd to 5th person. It is valid from 9 a.m. (Mon-Fri) or midnight (Sat-Sun) until 3 a.m. of the following day.
For extended information on train traveling, check out the following websites:
It has become a very popular mean of transport in Germany as it is often cheaper than traveling by train or even by bus. What is more important, you can arrange a pick up place convenient for you and the time of departure which can be often move around a bit so it fits all of the potential passengers.
The drivers post their rides on a carpooling website with details on the departure time, cost per passenger, the car they own and possible range of detour. The websites often also provide ratings on the drivers posted by previous passengers.
Some of the most used carpooling websites available in English:
Germany is well known for its modern and very reliable public transport system. Bigger cities have integrated metro, suburban trains, trams and buses into a single network which should encourage to give up driving a car while in the city. Smaller cities, if they don't have a full transportation package, they have at least a well-organized bus system.
U-Bahn & S-Bahn
Rapid transit in German cities consist of U-Bahn (metro) and S-Bahn (elevated trains). Metro is present in Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt and Nuremberg and is the fastest way to get around the city. The elevated train system (S-Bahn) exists in 13 metropolitan areas, which usually run underground in the city centers and above ground in the suburbs. They cover all major metropolitan areas such as: Dresden, Hamburg, Hanover, Magdeburg, Leipzig-Halle, Munich, Nuremberg, Rhein-Main (including Frankfurt am Main, Wiesbaden, Mainz, Offenbach am Main, Hanau and Darmstadt), Rhein-Neckar (including Mannheim, Heidelberg and Ludwigshafen), Rhein-Ruhr (including Dortmund, Duisburg, Essen, Wuppertal, Solingen, Cologne and Düsseldorf, Unna, Mönchengladbach) Rostock and Stuttgart.
What is different in comparison to other countries is the lack of fare gates. The validity of the passenger's ticket is only randomly checked by the fare inspectors. The current fine for those who don't have a ticket is 60€.
Strassenbahn (tram) are very common, especially prevalent in eastern German cities. Currently more than 50 cities have a network of tramway. What makes them fast is that they are traveling on their own tracks and are largely independent from other traffic. Service is fairly frequent, usually every 5-10 minutes during rush hours and 20-30 minutes during off-peak periods. In most cases, you can get a ticket at the tram stop before boarding the tram or after boarding in the tram itself.
Buses are the most common mode of transport, present in all cities and towns. They run at regular intervals during day time and with restricted services in the evening and weekends. Bigger cities have introduced night buses. Bus (as well as tram) stops throughout Germany are marked with sign „H”. In bigger cities you can buy a ticket in the vending machine before boarding but in smaller towns only directly from the bus driver. In both cases only cash will be accepted.
The taxi industry is heavily regulated in Germany, therefore there is almost no chance of being caught for a ride by an illegal taxi. It is also relatively expensive in comparison to other means of transport. They might be mostly a good option during night-time, when you missed the last bus or tram. The average taxi fare is approximately 2.50€ and 3.50€ as a get on fee and additional 1.50€ to 2.00€ per kilometer. All taxis are recognizable as cream-colored Mercedes or Audi with a yellow- black taxi sign on the roof.
It is recommended to consult with a doctor what vaccines are needed based on the target destination, period of travel and the activities planned.
An International Certificate of Vaccination (known as the ‘Yellow Card’), verifying that proper procedures were followed in administering vaccinations for foreign travel, is used to demonstrate receipt of required vaccinations for entry into foreign countries.
No vaccinations are required for entering Germany.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reccomends to be up-to-date with following vaccinations:
- Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR)
- Varicella (chickenpox)
The health service in Germany is considered one of the best in the world. There are more than 2000 hospitals out of which somewhere around half of them are private ones. Citizens of the EU, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein should get a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare during your stay in Germany. The EHIC isn’t a substitute for travel insurance, but any treatment provided would be on the same conditions as for German residents.
You need to pay by yourself for the medical service provided only if it is not offered for free for local residents. If the treatment requires payment, you can claim any refunds back in your country from your health insurer.
Treatment in private hospitals or costs, such as mountain rescue in ski resorts or stolen property is not covered by EHIC.
Citizens from other countries have to check if a complementary arrangement for medical care between their country and Germany is provided.
Most inspectors in Germany wear plain clothes but have visible badges that give exact information on their ID, name and type of work they are performing. If you don't have a valid ticket, they will give you the option of printing out a penalty notice for you to pay later at a customer information office. The fake ones, will tell you that the only option is to pay the fine on the spot, as you are not from the country and there is the possibility that you won't pay it at all.
It is the most often scam that can happen everywhere, especially on public transportation, main train stations and tourist hot-spots. Most of the time someone drops a ring or a wallet or some other valuable. When you are distracted by helping the person and picking it up for them, you may loose your wallet. Be careful on a packed tram, a bus or on crowded street market as it is an easy target for thieves to pick your pockets and run off. The safest is to wear a money belt that goes under your shirt or pants.
In Germany, service and VAT are included in the prices, therefore tipping is not obligatory.
But it is often a custom to „round up” the amount - such as if the check is 2,30€ for a coffee, you can leave 2,50€ or for a check of 32€, you can leave additional 3€. If you are not sure how much tip to leave, a general rule of thumb of 5-10% applies.
ATMs are widely available. ATM withdrawal fee with bank-issued debit cards come with various fees depending on the bank. The names often used are: Geldautomat or Bankautomat.
Bear in mind that cash is the main method of payment everywhere across the country. The Germans rely on debit cards called “EC” which are linked to a checking account and used for direct payment and ATM withdrawals. Credit cards are not widely accepted (especially in restaurants, some supermarkets, some hotels).
Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank are major banks in Germany.
Bargaining is not a custom in Germany. The price on the price tag is the one you should be paying for an item.
First information about German tribes are dated back to somewhere around first century BC when they started to wage wars with the Roman Empire. Thanks to victory in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest (AD 9) annexation by the Roman Empire has been prevented.
Since the 5th century, the Franks started to build their own empire and subjugating the neighboring regions peopled by Germanic tribes such as Saxony and Bavaria. In 800 Charlemagne, King of the Francs who became the first Holy Roman Emperor, crushed all the remaining Germanic resistance and extended his Empire covering most of the Western Europe. However the Empire did not long survive after his death in 814. In 843 by the Treaty of Verdun, the Empire was divided into West, Middle and East Francia - which with the time has been referred as the Kingdom of Germany. In 962, the Holy Roman Empire was re-established with the coronation of Otto I and the German Kingdom became the most powerful territory in Europe by that time.
With the death of Emperor Frederic II in 1250, the Empire collapses into independent territories governed by dukes, princes and bishops. The Protestant Reformation, led by Martin Luther, in early 16th century led to religious split of the country where northern states became Protestant and the southern ones remained Catholic. After a short period of peace and stability, both Catholics and Protestants states decided to increase their powers leading to Thirty Years' War (1616-48). The war brought immense destruction to the country, where more than half of the German male population was killed and much of the country was devastated. The Peace of Westphalia in 1648 marks the end of the Holy Roman Empire and divides Germany into hundred independent states.
For almost next two centuries the largest states such as Prussia and Austria fought for their dominance and the smaller states tried to keep their independence by allying themselves with each other. After the French Revolution, Napoleon started to conquer much of Europe winning more than 50 battles (out of 60 in total during his military career). He was defeated finally at the Battle of Leipzig in 1813 and in 1815 at the Congress of Vienna, German Confederation consisting of 39 states was formed.
For the next few decades, the pressure to unite Germany grew and led to German Revolutions in 1848. It wasn't successful but soon after in 1871 Otto von Bismarck, known as Iron Chancellor, achieved to unify the country. He formed new German Empire with national parliament (Reichstag) yet leaving an extensive power to the Emperor. Bismarck stimulated German economic growth within the country and in the same time built a colonial empire in Africa and the South Pacific.
At the beginning of 20th century, Europe was divided between camps: Germany and Austria-Hungary on the one side and Great Britain, France, Russia and USA (since 1917). Nevertheless, the military strategy of Germany to invade France and Belgium to the west and Russia to the East, eventually failed. Germany was forced to sign Treaty of Versailles in 1919, losing both its colonies and land to its neighbors (France, Belgium, Denmark, Poland, Lithuania, Czechoslovakia).
The Weimar Republic was established soon after the World War I, but since its beginning fought with high unemployment rate, hyper-inflation and lack of nation's confidence in the new government. People turned to radical parties like Communists and the Nazis which by 1932 became the largest party in Reichstag and Adolf Hitler the Chancellor of Germany in 1933. The era of totalitarian regime began for the Third Reich.
With the invasion on Poland in September 1939, Hitler triggers World War II and divides Eastern Europe with Stalin in 1940. Soon after, Hitler is in control of almost all of the Western Europe. Only in May 1945 a military alliance of several nations was able to defeat the Germany army and end the terrible regime of Hitler. Due to the genocide taking place during the War - known as Holocaust, six million Jews and five million Poles, Romanies and Russians were killed in concentration camps.
In 1949 Germany was divided into communist German Democratic Republic in the east and Federal Republic of Germany in the west. The economy in the western part has been very successful and soon the country became one of the world's richest nations. East Germany on the other hand felt behind and many people decided to flee to the western part, which led to the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961. In 1990 the countries have been reunited.
Germany is part of the European Union since 1993 and since 1999 part of the euro zone. Since 2005, Angela Merkel is the Chancellor of Germany. Currently the country is the largest economy in Europe and the fourth-largest in the world, in the same time it is the biggest capital exporter globally.
Germany is located in Western Europe, sharing borders with 9 countries: Denmark, Poland, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Austria, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. It has also two maritime boundaries with Sweden (Baltic Sea) and with United Kingdom (North Sea).
With an area of 357,021 km2 (137,847 sq mi) Germany is the seventh largest country in Europe.
The Bavarian Alps at the southern end of Germany are the country's highest mountain range with Zugspitze at 2,962 meters (9,718 ft.). In central Germany there are Rhon and Harz as well as Rothaargebirge and Vogelsberg ranges. Towards the east part of the country, along the border with Czech Republic, there are Ore Mountains forming a natural border between Saxony and Bohemia.
With 865 km (537 mi) the Rhine is the longest river in Germany, forming the Franco-German border in the south-west region. It flows through Bonn, Cologne and Dusseldorf and eventually empties into the North Sea. The Elbe with 727 km (452 mi), is the second longest river linking Dresden, Magdeburg and Hamburg and Danube with 687 km (427 mi), the third longest one rising in the Black Forest.
With about 28 million overnight stays per year, this forested mountain range located in southwestern part of the country, counts to its top attractions. The region is about 160 km (99 mi) long and 60km (37mi) wide. It provides ideal conditions for hiking, cycling and ski enthusiasts.
There are some hundred of islands laying off the Germany's north coast. Rugen and Usedom are the biggest ones on the Baltic Sea and Sylt and Foehr on the North Sea. The islands serve as Germany's major holiday and recreation areas due to its beaches, its natural beauty, and a number of elegant seaside towns. They are also a popular destination with windsurfers and kite-surfers.
With about 95 million native speakers around the globe, German is one of the major languages of the world and most widely spoken language in European Union. It is an official language not only in Germany, but also in Austria, Switzerland and Lichtenstein. It is a co-official language in Italy (South Tyrol), Belgium (Germany speaking community) and Luxembourg.
German is spoken by 95% of the people living in Germany as a first language. The other languages spoken by the immigrant communities in the country are Turkish, Kurdish, Russian, Arabic and Greek.
The German grammar makes extensive use of compound words. Instead of using a phrase, the whole content is often packed into one word which stretches across the whole page. As Mark Twain put it „Some German words are so long that they have perspective”... For instance, "Unabhängigkeitserklärungen" consists of the noun Unabhängigkeit (independence) and the noun Erklärungen (declarations).
Some longest words are:
|How are you? (formal)||Wie geht es Ihnen?|
|How are you? (informal)||Wie geht es Dir?|
|How much?||Wie viel?|
|Too expensive||Zu teuer|
|I want...||Ich würde gerne|
|Where is...?||Wo ist...?|
|Go straight||Gehen Sie geradeaus|
|Turn left||Biegen Sie links|
|Turn right||Biegen Sie rechts|
|bill / check||Die Rechnung|
|appetizer / starter||Die Vorspeise|
|main course||Die Hauptspeise|
German cuisine is mainly associated with stodgy and fatty food with meat, potatoes and sauerkraut playing the major role. This is partially explained by the country's relatively northern location and its quite cold climate. Especially few hundred years ago, during icy winters, the Germans had to consume a lot of calories contained in heavy and hearty meals. Nowadays Germany has integrated many of the culinary customs into their way of cooking contributing not only from their European neighbors but also various immigrants living in the country.
Since the country has unified only in 1871, besides the traditional national cuisine, various regions of Germany have developed and maintained till current times their special regional food. In general, there are four main divisions of German cuisine: south-eastern, south-west, central and northern.
There is no punishment for a prisoner to escape from jail. According to German law it is a basic human instinct to be free and therefore prisoners have the right to attempt a jail escape.
Only 30% of German highways have a permanent or conditional speed limit. For the rest of them there is no mandated speed limit to adhere to and you can drive as fast as you want.
Germany's capital has been moved seven times in its history between Aachen, Regensburg, Frankfurt, Nuremberg, Berlin, Weimar and Bonn. Since the reunification of Germany in 1990 the capital has been shifted again to Berlin.
Two of the world's biggest athletic and casual manufacturer have been established by German brothers. In 1924 Adolf Dressler established Adidas and in 1948 his brother Rudolf formed PUMA.
With 48% of recycled waste, the Germans are among the most enthusiastic recyclers in the world (only behind Swiss and Austrian).