What to do in Germany
Germany is a modern country steeped in history, despite the world’s perception of beer gardens, dirndl dresses and romantic castles. But those things – and more – do still exist! Thousands of castles, countless museums, quaint villages, roaring autobahns, and cobblestone roads are only part of the country that is rich in natural beauty and lush forests – they don’t call it the Black Forest for nothing. From the North Sea and Baltic coasts -- just 75 miles over water to Sweden -- to the Alpine peaks and lakes bordering Switzerland and Austria nearly 700 miles to the south, Germany is a checkerboard of agriculture and vineyards, nature reserves (104) and national parks (16), rivers and waterways, mixed with sprawling metropolitan areas. There is literally something for everybody.
Whether you are visiting for several days, a week or more, the best way to begin your quest to discover what to do in Germany is right here. Our detailed city guides, plus numerous articles highlighting insider travel tips, will ensure your visit to Germany is memorable.
Useful Travel Information
Emergencies – To reach the police, fire department or ambulance service, dial 112. Calling 112 is free from any landline or mobile phone. This is throughout European Union countries, including others such as Switzerland.
Entry Requirements (Passports and Visas) – PASSPORTS: Citizens of European Union countries simply need a valid identity card. Citizens of any other country seeking to enter Germany will need a passport that is valid for at least four months from the date of your entry into Germany. VISAS: Any citizen of a country outside of the EU will need a visa with the exception of certain countries, such as the United States of America (currently though this may change). Citizens of the United States do not currently need a visa as long as their stay within the Schengen area (of which Germany is a part) lasts no more than 90 days every 180-day period. Click here for more information about the Schengen area and to use the Schengen Calculator. ETIAS: The European Travel Information and Authorization System is a new program to help EU countries better manage who is going in and out since so many countries have no requirements for entry visas. Plus, it will add more security. It is now slated to be in place in 2022, but not required until 2023. Any visitors will need to have filled out, submitted and have an application approved prior to entry, and the approval will be valid for three years or until the expiration of the travel document it is attached to. For more ETIAS information, go to this website. To complete your application, go to the ETIAS website.
Vaccinations | Health – No vaccinations are required to enter Germany. However, ticks are prevalent in many forested regions in Germany and carry Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis (TBE). Be sure to use insect repellent or wear insect repellent clothing when walking in forests and fields. Ask your doctor about needing a TBE vaccination if you plan to spend significant time walking in forested areas.
For over-the-counter medications and other minor health issue advice (sore muscles, cough, cold, etc.) you will go to an "Apotheke" or pharmacy, where you tell a pharmacist the problem and he or she tells you what you might need. They are marked with big green crosses on the street. (Fyi, a "Drogerie" is where you pick up general supplies like bandages, snacks, lotions and such.) Should you need a doctor or emergency care while in Germany, be sure your health insurance will cover you internationally — and know at what level. We strongly advise purchasing travel health insurance that will cover you in the event of an emergency.
Language – The main language in Germany is German (Deutsch). Many Germans, especially younger ones and those living in larger cities, speak English sufficiently well that tourists and visitors who do not speak German and those whose Deutsch is “nicht sehr gut” (not so good) will be able to communicate fine. Before you go, however, do try to learn a few traveler's basics: Be sure to download our A German language cheat sheet for travelers and our A traveler’s guide to dining and shopping in Germany.
Getting around in Germany
- By Plane – Most international flights will arrive and depart from one of five major international airports – Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf, Hamburg or Berlin.
- By Train – It is easy to get to almost anywhere in Germany on either the fast train (InterCityExpress), the only slightly slower InterCity or EuroCity (IC or EC), or regionals called InterRegio). For booking information, go to the DB (Deutsche Bahn) website here.
- By Bus – FlixBus offers affordable and convenient intercity bus service connecting many towns and cities in Germany, as well as other international European destinations. To compete, the DB now offers its own so-called IC Bus. Just search for "IC Bus" on the DB site.
- By Car – Travel by car is very easy in Germany (although be prepared for frequent traffic jams) and renting a car is relatively uncomplicated. But there are a few things to keep top of mind: First, many German towns and cities have designated low emission zones, meaning only certain vehicles meeting established low emission standards and bearing a color-coded sticker are permitted. Learn more about the emission stickers here. Second, while the autobahn only has suggested speed limits in places, in other places -- and most certainly on most roads -- speed limits are strictly enforced. And those speed limits can change in a blink of an eye, typically right before a speed-trap camera catches you flying by. If you rent a car, know the speed limits (a driver is expected to know them) and stay within them at all times and drive carefully! No special driver's license is needed aside from your United States one if you are there for less than a year.
Managing Money -- The Euro is the currency Germany. Use the calculator from Oanda below to help you manage your money exchanges and know how much something selling in Euro would cost in dollars.
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