Germany – 20 things to know before you visit

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There are such a wide range of experiences to enjoy when you visit Germany.  Quaint villages to explore, culture to experience, history to discover and good food and wine to sample.  There are a few things we have learned on our travels that may save you time, money and make your trip more enjoyable the next time you visit Germany.

Language.

  • English is spoken in the major towns, however it would be useful to have a little German if visiting the more rural areas. Book in for a travel German class before you leave – it is not only fun, but may just help you when you visit Germany.

Money

  • The Euro is the currency in Germany.  Either purchase your cash before you leave or load onto a travel card. Changing currency at the airport can be hugely expensive.
  • Credit cards are not widely accepted outside major hotels.  Debit Mastercards and travel cards are widely accepted.
  • Expect to tip 5-10% in restaurants, bars and hotels.
  • Most major centres offer tourists a “Welcome Card”, which you can apply for online before you leave. This will provide you with discounts on local transport and entry into attractions. Hop onto the website of the centre you are visiting for more info.

 

Transport

  • Deutsche bahn provide a fast rail network to most major centres and is a relatively quick way to travel between towns.
  • An interrail pass can be purchased online and can provide you up to 15 per cent on fares.
  • Coaches run between most major centres and can provide a relaxed way to enjoy the country side. We travelled from Berlin to Munich, with a two day stopover in Dresden and then Prague using the Flixbus system.
  • If breaking a bus journey, do double check your pick up station. We were unaware that like airlines, the companies will merge two half full buses into one.  This meant the second leg of our Prague-Munich trip did not leave from our drop off station.
  • If you are confident driving on the right hand side of the road, a hire car can be a great way of enjoying a self drive trip and the local scenery. This will enable you to stop whenever something looks interesting.
  • There are no speed limits on parts of the autobahn. Keep right, and take great care when overtaking – and do so very quickly.
  • Munich and Frankfurt are the major airport hubs. Do some research when planning your trip as fares from Australia to each of these airports can vary widely.

Food and Drink

  • Beer is of course the national drink in Germany.  Ian has purchased a beer in the chemist, in the supermarket, at a service station and at a railway station while in Germany.  Just because he could.
  • The legal drinking age in Germany is 16. If you are travelling with a teenager, you may need to have a discussion before you go.
  • Beer halls in and around Munich are a great way to experience some local food and culture. Just be aware the servings are very large.
  • Schnitzel in Germany is pork. Chicken or beef schnitzel is unheard of.
  • Potatoes are the other staple. They can be served in many ways, as chips, baked whole, peeled into strips and deep fried and as dumplings – one of my favourites.
  • Some of the best German food you will eat will be from street vendors, currywurst, bratwurst, dumplings and fish on a stick are all worth trying.

General

  • Most shops and many attractions will be closed on Sundays. It is worth doing some research on any attractions you particularly wish to see when planning your itinerary.
  • Free public toilets are not readily available in Germany. Make sure you have a few euros on hand in case you need to “spend a penny”

If you have enjoyed this post and would like to learn more about planning a trip to Europe, click on the Amazon link at the bottom of the page, where you will find a range of travel guides which we found helpful. We do earn a small commission from any sales

Want to learn more about travelling to Germany? The following Lonely Planet guidebooks are available on Amazon.

13 comments on “Germany – 20 things to know before you visit”

    1. Thanks for reading Hazel. I was silly enough to exchange at airport once…I worked in a bank and should have known better

  1. Thanks for your tips, I would only add one thing about public transport in Berlin. Which I have to say surprised us, the signage is fairly poor for the metro unlike other European cities we have travelled. I hadn’t realised about the difference in the airports, will keep that in mind for future travels

  2. Thank you so much for the great tips. We are planning a trip to Europe and will be visiting Germany as well. Yet didn’t know much about the place. Will bookmark your article for our reference while visiting 🙂

  3. Wish i had known about the language barrier. I was confident travelling to berlin with a bid of german words under my belt. I got lost after asking for direction from an old lady. Great experience though.

  4. Great tips! there are so much similar laws and culture in other European countries. When we passed in the Autobahn it’s really true there’s no limit but in the end if there’s accident, The assurance company won’t cover if you were above their specific speed limit so it’s not really good to overspeed in the Autobahn. Anyway great post!

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