Germany

Where will your dreams take you?

Germany is a modern and cosmopolitan country steeped in history (countless museums, castles, quaint villages and cobblestone roads) and rich in amazing natural beauty (the country boasts 16 national parks, 104 nature reserves and 15 recognized biosphere reserves). Between the North Sea and Baltic coasts in the north and the peaks of the Alps in the south there are checkerboard agricultural areas, vineyards, forests, rolling hillsides and craggy mountains. Use our many stories below to begin planning your next visit to Germany.

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 and likely will change). Citizens of the U.S. do not currently need a visa as long as their stay lasts no more than three months within a six-month period within the Schengen area (of which Germany is a part).

By Plane – Most international flights will arrive and depart from one of five major international airports – Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, and Berlin.

By Train – It is easy to get to almost anywhere in Germany on either the fast train (InterCityExpress) or the other lines (InterCity, EuroCity, and InterRegio). For booking information, go to the Deutsche Bahn website here.

By BusFlixBus / MeinFernbus offer affordable and convenient intercity bus service connecting many towns and cities in Germany, as well as other international European destinations.

By Car – Travel by car is very easy in Germany and renting a car 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 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, stay within the speed limits at all times and drive carefully!!!

Language – The main language in Germany is Deutsch (German). 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 just fine. Still, it’s always a good idea to learn a few German language basics so that you feel more comfortable shopping and in a restaurant.

Learn to speak a bit of German so you can get around more easily and don’t stand out as a tourist! Read our story Start to learn languages – Top language learning apps and websites.

Health – Ticks are prevalent in many forested regions in Germany and carry Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis (TBE). Be sure to use insect repellent and 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 seeking minor health issue advice (sore muscles, cough, cold, etc.) you will go to an Apotheka. Should you need a doctor or emergency care while in Germany, be sure your health insurance will cover you internationally — and at what level. We strongly advise purchasing travel insurance that that has emergency medical coverage sufficient enough to cover you in the event of an emergency.

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 Europe.

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Managing Money — The Euro is the currency in 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. Be sure to read our advice on getting or managing foreign currency before travel.

 

 

Currency Converter by OANDA

Late spring to early autumn (think May through early October) are the best times to visit if you are seeking warmer, sunnier weather — this is also the most crowded time to visit as a result.

To check the latest weather for any destination you are thinking of heading to in Germany, visit our weather page complete with weather radar and minute-by-minute forecasting.

5 great Berlin street food markets

5 great Berlin street food markets

As the burgeoning and bustling capital of Germany, Berlin offers an addicting restaurant scene with any international or trendy cuisine you may desire. But in keeping with its gritty, artistic ways, Berlin has a superior street food market scene. We show you 5 great Berlin street food markets you won’t want to miss.

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Thai Park Berlin a feast for eyes and tummies

Thai Park Berlin a feast for eyes and tummies

Germany’s capital of Berlin offers every international food imaginable, in restaurants, street markets or, in the case of the most authentic Thai food in the city, spread across a park. Thai Wiese (Thai Park) comes alive every weekend with arguably the best Thai food in Berlin.

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Great carnival parades in Europe: Think small (Updated February 2019)

Great carnival parades in Europe: Think small (Updated February 2019)

Known in the United States as Mardi Gras (actually French for “Fat Tuesday), the traditions of excessive celebrations and outrageous carnival parades prior to the pre-Easter fasting during Lent date back many centuries in Europe. But you don’t have to head to the crowd-filled streets of big towns like Germany’s Cologne or Dusseldorf, France’s Nice, or Switzerland’s Basel to experience some great carnival parades in Europe. And you don’t even have to indulge in excess!

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Q110 Bank of the Future in Berlin by Deutsche Bank gets revamp

Q110 Bank of the Future in Berlin by Deutsche Bank gets revamp

Earlier in 2016, HI Travel Tales wrote about a new kind of banking experience by Deutsche Bank called “Q110 Bank” or “Bank of the Future.” We were quite enthralled by the casual and friendly, yet efficient and hard-working experience. The concept we wrote about had been active for several years without much change (the branch itself originally opened in 2005), so Deutsche Bank decided it was time to re-think its original “concept bank” and try out something different. The update was unveiled on Nov. 18, 2016, on a rainy day near the outlet not far from Checkpoint Charlie in central Berlin (Mitte).

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Haunting history on Berlin Underground tours

Haunting history on Berlin Underground tours

Underground city tours always seemed to be a tourist come-on to me, but then I discovered Berlin Underground tours. Not a for-profit business, not a tour that drops you off in a gift shop, not a tour that starts in a bar and highlights raucous partying, this is the real deal in Berlin’s Underground.

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Quick Prenzlauer Berg travel guide to a Berlin hotspot

Quick Prenzlauer Berg travel guide to a Berlin hotspot

One of our favorite areas in Berlin is the artsy cool Prenzlauer Berg. Our Prenzlauer Berg travel guide will point you to the top things to do in this Berlin hot spot. Kollwitzplatz and Kastanienallee are particularly beautiful Prenzlauer Berg streets. Farmers markets, street festivals and more are regular occurrences.

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Artist’s war memorial at Berlin Bethlehemkirchplatz

Artist’s war memorial at Berlin Bethlehemkirchplatz

The memorial on the Berlin Bethlehemkirchplatz (Bethlehem Church Square) is actually the work of Spanish artist Juan Garaizabel to commemorate the Bohemian Bethlehem Church. This small church was built for Bohemian evangelical refugees in about 1735 and was a center of the community. It was destroyed by bombing in 1943.

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Busy bee in Hamburg’s Planten un Blomen garden

Busy bee in Hamburg’s Planten un Blomen garden

A visit to the Planten un Blomen Garden on your Hamburg tour is a must, whether you are a flower and garden lover, adore open spaces, enjoy dancing water fountains, or just want a nice place for a stroll or picnic. Now, not many non-Germans head there – obvious in the fact that the official Hamburg tourism website doesn’t have the garden’s page translated into English!

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Berlin Bank of the Future by Deutsche Bank

Berlin Bank of the Future by Deutsche Bank

A concierge? A gift and trinket store? A bar and coffeehouse? Waiters and fine décor? This is a bank? Yes, this is Germany’s “Deutsche Bank” — the so-called “Bank of the Future” in central Berlin, the company’s one-and-only concept bank where it tests ideas for the world.

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Tiny German town answers letters to Santa for 50 years

Tiny German town answers letters to Santa for 50 years

It takes dedication to answer children’s letters to Santa Claus, whether he’s known as St. Nick, Father Christmas or Kris Kringle. But a few namesake towns around the world do just that – letters by the many thousands every year, year after year. There is one special town that answers letters to Santa Claus: Nikolausdorf (Nicholas village) in Lower Saxony in Northern Germany. With a population that barely brushes 1,000, it has its work cut out for it to answer nearly 8,000 letters each year.

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Kellerwald Forchheim beer gardens: a Franconian forest secret

“Off to the cellar” is what you’ll hear from Forchheim locals when they disappear into the forest on trails (“auf die Keller”). What that means in local slang is that they are headed to a beehive of popular beer gardens — the Kellerwald Forchheim beer gardens — nestled deep in the Upper Bavarian forest dubbed Franconian Switzerland.

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Berlin Wall 25th anniversary commemorates fall and freedom

Berlin Wall 25th anniversary commemorates fall and freedom

It’s been 25 years since the Berlin Wall came tumbling down … suddenly, surprisingly, peacefully. Memories of the wall’s horrors seem like yesterday to those of us old enough to remember it and to have personally seen the wall and its “death zone.” The Berlin Wall 25th Anniversary remembrance reminds us to never forget.

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