Travel guide Germany

More than lederhosen, beer and pretzels - discover Germany.

Travel guide for Germany

Germany is home to more than 80 million people, more than 3 million of which live in the capital Berlin. As one of the most populous countries in Europe, Germany offers a diverse and varied culture. For example, Germany offers an incredibly diverse architecture. Many buildings are still preserved from Roman times, such as the Roman Theater in Mainz or the Porta Nigra in Trier. From the Romanesque is, for example, the Mainz Cathedral. Buildings in the Gothic style can be found in many larger cities, the most famous being the Cologne Cathedral. In the Renaissance style are the buildings in Dresden, Berlin and Torgau.

Almost no other country in the world has as many city festivals as Germany. Whether it is the local strawberry festival, the Museumsuferfest in Frankfurt or the Oktoberfest in Munich, there is something to celebrate at any time of the year. Immerse yourself in the colorful hustle and bustle and join the party! In addition to the capital, the largest German cities are Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, Frankfurt am Main, Stuttgart and Düsseldorf.


Germany is located in Central Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, between the Netherlands and Poland, south of Denmark. Extending 853 kilometers from its northern border with Denmark to the Alps in the south, it is the sixth largest country in Europe and it is composed by 16 federal states. The Bavarian Alps, the highest mountains in Germany, stretch across its southern border with Austria. The country is exhausted by dozens of rivers, the longest one being the Rhine with an overall length runs 1,319 km.  

Time zone

There is only one time zone in Germany. Central European Time (CET) is used as standard time, while Central European Summer Time (CEST) is observed when Daylight Savings Time (DST) is in effect. The only time difference can be found with Great Britain and Portugal, which are an hour behind.

Climate and travel seasons

In Germany there is a collision between two major climate areas. Maritime and continental climate makes a significant difference between the northern and southern parts of the country. Due to low air humidity spring tends to arrive to Germany later compared to other Western European countries. The month of March can be quite cold and erratic, one day could be warm and sunny and the next cold and snowy. The real spring season tends to begin in April with flowers blossoming, with the nicer weather starting in May, which is when tourist season tends to begin. It is important to remember that the temperature in the north is slightly lower than in southern Germany.  
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Highest temperature Highest temperature 13° 19° 22° 23° 23° 20° 13°
Lowest temperature Lowest temperature -4° -3° 11° 12° 12° -1°
Hours of sunshine Hours of sunshine 2h 2h 4h 5h 7h 7h 7h 7h 5h 4h 2h 1h
Rainy daysRainy days 10 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 8 9 10 11
  Jan Feb Mdr Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Highest temperature Highest temperature 4 4 8 14 17 21 23 24 17 14 10 6
Lowest temperature Lowest temperature -6 -8 -2 4 8 11 13 13 10 3 1 -6
Hours of sunshine Hours of sunshine 4 1 1 7 5 3 4 7 6 3 5 2
Rainy daysRainy days 12 4 9 8 23 28 23 20 10 12 10 17

Entry requirements

As a European Union Citizen you won’t be needing a passport to travel to Germany, a valid government ID will be enough. However, citizens from non-European nations require a visa to enter the country. Further information can be received at the German consulate or at the German embassy in your country of residence. Depending on the purpose of your travel to Germany, there are different types of visas that will apply to your situation. Whether you are planning to visit Germany, study or work or even to settle there permanently, you will have to apply for a different Schengen visa, accordingly.


Germany is part of the Euro Zone and operates using the euro. The Deutsche Mark was the primary currency of Germany until 2001, when it was replaced by the Euro. Germany doesn’t accept Deutsche Marks as valid currency any longer, but you can exchange them into Euros at Bundesbank (the German Central Bank) branches or by mail. Otherwise, no other currencies are widely accepted across Germany. The red cent coins (1-, 2- and 5-cent) show the branch of a German oak tree. This motif is similar to the motif of the former German Pfennig.
The 10-, 20- and 50-cent coins show the Brandenburg Gate as a symbol of division on the one hand and unity on the other.
The 1 and 2 euro coins, in turn, show the German federal eagle as a symbol of German sovereignty.

Health care

Germany is known for its impeccable health system and offers sufficient medical facilities as well as trained specialists. For this purpose, the E111 or E128 form should be taken to Germany. These forms can be obtained directly from your home health insurance company. The costs incurred in the event of illness are usually covered by the statutory health insurance. Be sure to ask your health insurance company if and what costs will be covered in case of emergency. In case of doubt, the conclusion of a foreign health insurance is advisable, which allows more extensive benefits. From April to October there is a risk of transmission of Lyme disease by ticks, especially in grass, shrubs and undergrowth. Protection is provided by skin-covering clothing. Early summer meningoencephalitis (FSME) is also transmitted by ticks. The main areas affected are Bavaria, Baden Württemberg, Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Thuringia. For many leisure activities with possible tick exposure in the respective regions, a vaccination against TBE is recommended. In case of tick infestation and uncertainty, a doctor should generally be consulted.

Rabies can occur throughout the country. Carriers are mainly dogs, cats and forest animals. In case of bite wounds, medical help should be sought as soon as possible.

Packing list

So that you are perfectly prepared, we have compiled a luggage checklist for you.


Christianity is the predominant religion in Germany. Although the number of practicing Christians is on the decline, Christianity is present in the country’s cultural heritage. About 65% to 70% of the population are Christian. The second largest religion is Islam, with its different denominations represented by about 5.7% of the population and the third largest is Buddhism.


The country's full name is “Die Bundesrepublik Deutschland”, or Federal Republic of Germany. Germany is made up of 16 states. Each of these states has its own parliament and state leader, known as a Minister-President. Germany has a written constitution known as das “Grundgesetz”. This Basic Law, as it is known, makes the courts the most powerful arm of the state. National votes have normally been held every four years. The current President is Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The head of the government is the Chancellor (equivalent to the British Prime Minister), with the current Chancellor being Angela Merkel.

Local language and communication

The official spoken language is German, although a lot of various dialects are spoken in many regions of Germany. Some regional and minority languages may be used as official languages. Danish, Frisian, Sorbian and Romany are accepted as minority languages.

Public transport

Public transport in Germany is typically excellent. It is very practical to live in any large German city or metropolitan area without owning a vehicle. Even smaller-sized cities have reliable public transportation networks which include buses, trams, and urban/suburban rail lines. Unlike most other major cities in Europe, you don’t have to feed your ticket into a machine in order to get to your train. You therefore might be tempted to not buy a ticket, but Germany’s system for public transport operates on the “trust but verify” principle. You never know when ticket controllers will come and ask for a ticket or pass, and failing to do so this will result in paying a fine. All major cities are connected by the railroad network. You can either get from one city to another by the high-speed ICE train or by the slightly slower but cheaper regional trains. You can buy all tickets at the ticket office or online via the Deutsche Bahn website. Since 2012, long-distance buses have been allowed in Germany, which means that you can also use buses to cover longer distances within Germany. Note: regulations vary between individual cities. While in some cities you have season tickets that are only valid for a maximum of two hours after purchase (e.g. Frankfurt), there are other cities where you first have to validate your ticket at the ticket machine in the train (e.g. Düsseldorf). Find out in advance what the regulations are in your city.


Neanderthals left their first traces in Germany approximately 130,000 years ago. Around 1000 BC. Germany was developed by Teutons and Celts. From about roughly 50 BC until the 5th century AD parts of Germany belonged to the Roman Empire. The government of the Habsburgs in the 13th century consisted of individual small countries. In the 16th century Martin Luther published his 95 theses in Wittenberg, the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) ended in equating the Catholic, Lutheran and Reformed denominations. Wilhelm II led the German Reich into the First World War. One year after the end of the war, the Treaty of Versailles was signed, and eventually the Weimar Republic was founded. In 1933, National Socialism began with the rise of Adolf Hitler, with the attack on Poland, Hitler launched the Second World War in 1939. In 1945 the war ended with the occupation of Germany by the Allies. In 1949 the Federal Republic of Germany was founded. With the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961, the Cold War commenced and divided Germany into West and East Germany. In 1989 uprisings led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and a year later it made way for the reunification of Germany. The swift and unexpected downfall of the German Democratic Republic was triggered by the deterioration of the other communist regimes in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. The opening of the Berlin Wall proved fatal for the German Democratic Republic. Large demonstrations demanded a voice in government for the people, making Germany the superpower it is today.


While Germany has a strong influence on the countries that border it, such as Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Switzerland and Poland, all of these varying cultures have also had a hand in shaping today's Germany. The community places a high importance on structure, privacy and punctuality. Germans strive for perfectionism and precision in all aspects of their lives. They rarely admit their faults, and seldom hand out compliments. At first their way of being may seem unfriendly, but there is a strong sense of community and social ethics as well as a desire to belong. In Germany, work and personal lives are generally kept quite separate, and therefore if you are invited to a dinner or a social gathering with colleagues, it may not be appropriate to try and use the occasion as an opportunity to continue discussing business.


Musikmesse Festival: (April) The Frankfurt Music Fair is of great importance to the international music industry. In addition to the fair itself, there is also an associated festival, which is spread across the city and offers a variety of different concerts.

: (July) Every year in July, a large art, culture and music festival takes place in Frankfurt's Osthafen. There are 5 live stages with a lot of different artists. What makes this festival great is the fact that it's completely free!

Sommerwerft: (July - August) The Sommerwerft is a free international theater festival with a variety of different artists and performances. Mainfest (August) Frankfurt’s Mainfest is one of the oldest festivals in Germany. During this festival the river Main is celebrated, the city’s lifeline and symbol. In August the river’s shore are rich with food stalls and lives music. The highlight of the event is the big firework display closing the festival. 

: (August) Every last weekend in August, Frankfurt hosts one of the largest art and culture festivals in Europe, the Museumsuferfest. Many museums on the banks of the Main are open until late at night, and there are also a variety of stages with lots of live music.

Braukunst Live: (February) Beer connoisseurs, brewers and beer lovers should not miss the beer fair in Munich! The huge variety of German and international beers is absolutely incredible. The beer fair offers to newcomers a platform where brewers can present their novelties and specialties.

Summer Festival in the Park: (August) There's something for everyone at the Summer Festival in the Olympic Park: rides, booths, gourmet food lanes, beach bar and wakeboarding, as well as free concerts. The highlight is the Ferris wheel, from which you can enjoy a fantastic view of the park and North Munich.

Oktoberfest: (September - October) The largest folk festival in the world has been held on the Theresienwiese since 1810. Every year over 6 million people, mostly from abroad, come to Munich to drink beer. Most visitors wear the traditional clothing called Dirndl or Lederhosen. Traditional brass music is played in the tents, making the whole experience as German as it comes! Christkindlmarkt: (November – December) For all hardcore Christmas fans, the Christkindlmarkt on the Marienplatz might be even better than Santa’s Village. There you will find different booths selling Glühwein or Currywurst and Christmas music at live concerts.  FC-Bayern-München: (everyday) The football stadium of the legendary Bayern München team, known as the Allianz Arena, is one of the most impressive stadiums in the whole world. With more than 70,000 seats, shops, and restaurants, watching a football game is an incredible experience.


The most popular holidays in Germany are the following:
  • New Year's Day is celebrated on January 1, like everywhere else in the world
  • The Friday before Easter Sunday is Good Friday, it marks the crucifixion of Jesus Christ
  • The following Sunday and Monday mark Easter Sunday and Easter Monday, it celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ
  • On May 1, Germans celebrate Labor Day
  • The 39th day after Easter Sunday celebrates Ascension Day, the return of Jesus Christ as the Son of God to His Father in heaven
  • The 49th day after Easter Sunday is Pentecost Sunday and the following day is Pentecost Monday. It celebrates the sending of the Holy Spirit
  • The 60th day after Easter Sunday marks Corpus Christi. On this day, the bodily presence of Jesus Christ is celebrated in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper.
  • German Unity Day is celebrated on October 3
  • Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ, is celebrated on December 24, 25 and 26.


German cuisine is very diverse and varies depending on the region. Perhaps because of the cold winter months, German food tends to be somewhat hearty and heavy. The main hot meal is usually eaten around lunchtime. Dinner usually consists of sandwiches with sausage or cheese. Breakfast usually includes bread, rolls or toast with jam, honey, cheese or sausage. Muesli with milk, yogurt and fruit is also very popular.

Germany is known for its wide variety of breads. From dark mixed or wholemeal bread to pretzel pastries and white bread, there is something for every taste. Potato dishes continue to be particularly popular with Germans, and potatoes are used as a side dish in many meals.

Among sausages and meat products, pork, beef and poultry are particularly popular in Germany. The bratwurst especially is available in many variations. Fish is also very popular and especially widespread in northern Germany. Among the beverages, beer is drunk throughout Germany. The types of beer also vary region by region. The most widespread is the Pilz. In southern Germany, there are mainly Helles and Weissbier. Altbier is particularly popular in the Lower Rhine region.

Common tourist mistakes

While this is not indicated or obvious, most train stations in Europe (specifically Germany) require you to get your train ticket “stamped” prior to boarding. At public transport stations and squares, the rule on escalators is walk on the left, stand on the right. Do not attempt to jaywalk, this is seriously frowned upon and could get you in trouble. Most tourist expect shops to open late, or even 24/7, however, this is not the case in most German cities. Arriving late at a rendezvous is not very common as Germans value punctuality. Separating garbage from recycling, glass, cardboard, etc. is a must and if you don’t obey this law you could easily get fined. 

Tips and tricks

Credit card payments are not as common as in other countries, which is why it's always better to have some cash on you. There is a deposit on bottles in Germany, so once you're done with your drink don't throw the bottle away, but take it to a supermarket and get your money back. Tipping is not a must in Germany, because service charges are included in the price. However, if you are satisfied, you should tip between 10 and 15%.

"The Don'ts of Germany"

A foreigner discusses typical tourist mistakes, German peculiarities and gives helpful information and sightseeing tips: