We would like to share our german travel tips with you as we live here, and we love to explore Germany very much.
If you are reading this article, then you are planning your next trip and we are happy you choose to visit a country, we call home. Felix is born in Germany and Teri has been living here for already 11 years.
These German Travel Tips come from two locals, we want to share with you how to enjoy Germany to its best. What locals love to do, and if it is worth to try it.
What we would love from you is, try to slow down on your holiday. You worked hard and now it is time to relax. It doesn’t matter if you plan only a few days in big cities or a road trip through Germany. We always recommend seeing less but spend more time in one place.
So buckle up and let’s jump into these German Travel Tips.
Few facts about Germany
Germany, in german called Deutschland, is officially the Federal Republic of Germany and is a country in Central Europe.
With a population of over 83 millions is Germany the second most populus country in Europe (Russia is number one) but it ranks number one as the most populus member state of the Europian Union.
What you need to know is, that Germany consists of sixteen partly sovereign federated states and believe us, when you live here, it becomes a big deal in which one the state you live.
Your trip to Germany will be beautiful and full of glorious adventure, no matter in which area you will discover.
There is so much to offer, from the North sea in the north to the Alps in the south. Many lakes, many forests, beautiful vineyards, great rivers, charming towns, busy cities, delicious food and a great german hospitality and efficiency.
One more thing: The capital and largest city is Berlin, and its financial center is Frankfurt.
Travel distance to and within Germany
Germany is right in the middle of Europe and it has many international airports, so it is easy to reach Germany from every corner of our planet within a few hours.
Most of the airports and airlines offer direct flights to many German airports. Make sure you check with your travel agency for the best option (disclaimer: this was prior to the worldwide pandemic).
If you plan a road trip, either within Germany or you will eventually head to another country, remember that the country is huge.
For the record, driving from South to North can take over 7 hours, and the same applies for travels from East to West. Surely, it will depend on where exactly you start and where you want to end up.
There is one more example: We live near Munich and we will get quicker to the northern part of Italy, than to Hamburg (north of Germany).
We really have a significant infrastructure and you will drive most of your travels on germans freeway/highway. Call it whatever you want, but we call it AUTOBAHN and germans are very proud of them.
German Travel Tips for driving on freeway/highway:
In Germany, we drive on the right side. That means you will keep your car on the right lane while you drive on Autobahn.
You will see many cars driving either in the middle or only on the left side, but do not mind that and do not over take from right. You can get in trouble with police.
There is no speed limit, unless it marks so. That really means you can drive fast, but drive carefully.
German police not only measures over-speeding, they also measure the distance of your car to the car in front of you. That means keep a safe distance.
If your car breaks, pull over and call for help. There are yellow phone boxes every 1500m on the side of Autobahn, where you can call for help.
Public transportation can get very expensive. To take a train between Berlin – Munich can cost you over 200Euro. Check in advance and look for other options.
There are many bus companies offering bus transportation for less than 50euros.
If you travel by public transportation, make sure you are at the stop on time, as they are usually on time. Except for the Munich S-Bahn system, it gets delayed very often.
Good option for discovering unknown places in the cities are bicycles. Almost everyone has one and uses it. There are usually extra lanes for bicycles, so use these lanes. Same traffic rules apply for riding bicycle like for driving a car.
If you drive a car or walk on the street, be aware of these bicycle lanes and don’t drive over them or walk on them. Always turn around, that here is no bicycle coming toward you when crossing that lane.
German Travel Tips during pandemic
Right now Germany is closed for international or even domestic tourists travels. Hotels are open only for business purposes. Depending on the country you arrive from, you will either have to present a negative PCR test or you will have to self-isolate yourself for 14days.
Make sure you check with your Federal Foreign Office before you book any travel to Germany.
There is no information at the moment, if Germany will open borders for vaccinated tourists, but we doubt it at the moment.
Once fresh informations will come, we will update this part accordingly.
If you travel through the countries of the European Union, you can travel freely and almost with no restrictions, as long as you only carry goods for your personal needs.
You need to be careful when you arrive from non-EU states. There are restrictions that apply.
We recommend checking with german customs authorities.
Is Germany expensive?
Overall, Germany is not expensive to visit. It depends on what part of Germany you visit, as some parts are cheaper to compare to other parts of Germany.
An average meal at restaurant cost between 30-45Euro per two. At street food vendors, or at smaller restaurant, you pay less.
Accommodation depends on your budget and expectations. A standard room in 3 stars hotel starts around 70Euro per night.
What is expensive is fuel. German government charges extra taxes on fuel, and that is why we pay so much. Don’t expect American or Australian prices for petrol, we are not even close to what you guys pay. For the record, in March 2021, we pay around 1,50Euro per liter.
Our Autobahn (freeway/highway) is toll free for passenger cars.
One of the German travel tips is recycling. It is a big deal in Germany. Paper, plastic, organic waste, normal waste, we recycle.
What you need to know is that most of the bottles are returnable. When you buy a bottle of coke for 2 Euro, you will end up paying 2,25 Euro. We call it “pfand” fee. All supermarkets have a machine where you can bring these bottles back.
These fees vary on what kind of bottle you buy. Glass bottles have a lower fee.
You can recognize it on the bottle. There is a black and white mark with a bottle and an arrow on it.
You can also see homeless people collecting these bottles and making extra money from it.
There is a list of our German travel tips, how to enjoy german towns to its fullest
- Visit a local farmers’ market. The best way to experience local food and atmosphere is by visiting the farmers’ market. They usually take place on Saturday (sometimes on Wednesday). In big cities, like Munich, there are farmers’ market every day. Check with the local tourist information office.
- Stroll through the town early in the morning when everyone is still asleep and you have the charm of the town to yourself. Especially in the big cities, when it gets crowded and busy in the afternoon.
- When you are already strolling through the town early in the morning, try a local bakery. There is nothing better than a freshly brewed coffee and a delicious piece of bread, bun or croissant. Our bread tastes amazing, nothing like a toast bread. Try it.
- This one can be strange to some, but remember, shops are closed on Sundays and on public holidays in Germany. Sundays are a family time.
- What germans really love is a cup of coffee and a piece of cake in the afternoon. You will see many people sitting on the terrace of a restaurant enjoying themselves with a piece of cake. Good way to go is an Aperol spritz or beer.
- Have you heard about Biergarten? You will find them all over Bavaria, some other regions have them too BUT the true Biergarten you will find in our beautiful Bavaria.
Tip from us: In Bavaria you can bring your own food to the Biergarten, but no drinks. People usually bring a salad or fruits with them. But if they fancy a main dish they usually buy it there. The regular sized glass for beer is 1L in Bavarian Biergarten, so drink responsibly. We always recommend finding a place in the shade.
Best time to visit
This is a tricky question and very personal. We recommend spring, April-May, but there is a higher possibility of rain. It is stunning when the nature slowly wakes up from hibernation and everything blooms.
It is the same like visiting any other countries in the world and on your preferences. In summer it can get hot, and it is no fun to walk through big cities for sightseeing. Germans are not used to air conditioning systems in buildings. You may find them in bigger hotels, but they are rare in museums, official buildings, AirBNBs or restaurants.
Winter time is perfect for winter sports, like skiing or snowboarding. Most of the hotels in the Alps or in the low mountain ranges (Black Forest and Bavarian Forest) offer indoor swimming pool, sauna, or hot tube.
Don’t miss these destinations
These are TOP German Attractions you should visit:
- Berlin – the capital city of Germany. It is colorful, offers a unique atmosphere and is full of history. Great place for sightseeing.
- The Rhine Valley – a 65 km section of the Rhine between Koblenz and Bingen in the states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Hessen. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site since June 2002 for a unique combination of geological, historical, cultural and industrial reasons.
- The Black Forest (Schwarzwald in german) – You will find it in the southwest Germany, bordering France. Known for its dense, evergreen forests and picturesque villages.
- The Neuschwanstein Castle – this is THE fairytale castle, and it is stunning. You will find it in the very south part of Germany, close to Austria borders. This is a whole day trip.
- Bavaria – is the southern state of Germany, it offers many stunning lakes like Tegernsee, Ammersee, Chiemsee, and many more. Germans Alps with the highest German mountain Zugspitze. Beautiful nature, friendly people and the famous Oktoberfest.
- Rügen – you will find it in the northern part of Germany. It is Germanys biggest island in the Baltic Sea. It’s known for its beaches and white chalk cliffs, like the King’s Chair on the Jasmund peninsula.
HOT TIP: Sylt – it is a German island in the Frisian archipelago in the North Sea. It’s known for its long beaches, resorts and the Wadden Sea mudflats during low tide on the eastern side of the island.
German travel tips in restaurants
The German restaurant system and tipping in restaurant is completely different to the USA or Australia.
“Wait to be seated” sign is not really applicable everywhere in Germany. The bigger restaurants have the system, but you will not find it in the smaller restaurants. Also, when it is not that busy, you can just grab a table.
You usually get a menu card, and you can order from it. You don’t need to stand up and order at the bar. The waiter will take the order at your table.
Once you have finished your meal, you can sit at the table and order more drinks. They will not tell you to leave until you are ready to go. So you can sit at the table for another hour, with no one bringing you a bill.
They will bring you the bill upon your request. You are ready to leave; you need to ask for the bill.
Tipping? You should add 10% to your bill. If you are thrilled with the service, you can add more. But 10% is a great way to go, unfortunately many germans don’t do it.
Rounding up is common here, but not the correct way of appreciation.
The standard wage for working in the restaurant is not high in Germany, that is why tipping at least 10% is showing your gratitude.
Water is not free
Another useful thing to know for your restaurant visit in Germany is that ordering water in restaurant is not free of charge.
Yep, water doesn’t come automatically to your table, you need to order it and pay for it.
And Germans love sparkling water. We know, many people dislike it, that’s why it is so important to ask for non-sparkling or sparkling water when you order.
How to interact with Germans
Most of the Germans speak and understand English but they don’t want to use it. They prefer to speak German, so don’t get confused when you are at some party and they don’t talk to you. It takes time and few beers/wine until they feel brave enough to talk English.
They really appreciate you trying to talk german, and they will switch to English afterwards.
Germans’ punctuality and efficiency are worldwide known. Don’t be late, if you are meeting with Germans, be on time or 10min earlier. They consider it rude to show up late, and it is not the way to go with Germans.
What they are not good at is a small talk. So if you walk around in the park and you meet a few people, DO NOT try a small talk. Germans don’t know what to do with small talk and it confuses them very much.
Even a basic Hello is too much sometimes. You will see many people rather look away from you than look you into the eyes and say hello.
Some people consider Germans not to be friendly in providing service, but it is not true. They will be polite, but not doing a small talk. They will take care of your needs (for example, in a hotel) but in a correct and polite way.
Last few words on German travel tips
It absolutely thrills us that you are planning a trip to Germany. We can only repeat ourselves, Germany is really huge, and it takes time to see it all.
You will probably not see everything at once, so plan what you are really interested in and when you get here, take it easy.
Do not rush.
We love discovering our country; we call it home and love to share its beauty with you. You will have the time of your life when you travel around. Germany is so picturesque.
Get in touch with us
We hope our German Travel Tips inspire you to visit this beautiful country.
Are you planning a trip to Germany and you are not sure what to see or where to go? Get in touch with us, we will gladly help you.
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You can contact us also via email if you have any stories to share or you just need some advice from us. Or you just want to chat.
We are looking forward to hear from us.
With love, Teri and Felix