All the information you need to start preparing for your trip to Germany without complications. Germany is a very attractive and diverse country for travellers in Europe.
Welcome to Germany! The Kingdom of Merkel
With this guide, I want to introduce the country in which I live and I have not stopped traveling since 2013 so that you can organize your trips, easy, without complications from home before coming.
It is my first general guide that I write for a European country. Although I have described how it is to travel to countries such as China, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, Colombia, Costa Rica or the Balkans … Germany has been more difficult for me to intuit what information or doubts people have when preparing their trip.
If you have any doubt or question, do not hesitate to contact us or write in the comments below.
Let’s get started!
. is the country of punctuality and accuracy, known for its engineering companies and especially for German cars.
… is the heart of Europe, with a reputation for serious and formal people, although during the Oktoberfest they are not so formal.
… the land of sausages, Brezels, Schnitzel, potatoes and other traditional dishes. Also the paradise of beer for many.
- Quick information
- Daily budget
- When to visit Germany
- Baggage. What do I take
- Itineraries and What to see in Germany
- German Food
- More about Germany
Currency: Euros €. There are ATMs all over the country, even in the villages.
220V round plugs, same as in Spain. (Adapters)
Type C round plugs in Germany/Europe
Inhabitants: 80 million
Language: German is spoken, although most young people speak English without problems. In cities and tourist areas, there are no problems to understand each other in English. Many say they don’t know how to speak English because they are ashamed to commit faults or speak badly, but in reality, they do.
Visa: is a European country within the Schengen area. Spaniards (and Europeans) do not need any visa and can travel only with the DNI.
If you have a residence permit from any Schengen country, you can travel freely with your residence card and passport.
Most Latin American countries have 90 days to live for free, although some requirements must be met:
- Reason for stay (letter of invitation) or route with reservations
- Sample of economic sufficiency (45€/day in cash or bank)
- Medical insurance with a minimum cover of 30,000€ in the whole Schengen area. You can check insurance rates at IATI (with 5% discount)
- Return tickets.
If a European wants to stay more than 3 months he has to register at the office of the city council (Bürgeramt) where he wants to live.
Health insurance: Spaniards must apply in advance for a European health insurance card. If the valid medical card is not available, the costs of any medical emergency must be paid.Viaja siempre con seguro, te ahorrarás disgustos y cuesta mucho menos de lo que crees! Nosotros usamos IATI seguros desde hace más de 2 años y nos va genial!! Además obtén un descuento directo del 5% por ser nuestro lector y consulta cuánto te costaría en tu próximo viaje.
Security: Germany is a very safe country. You can walk alone anywhere at any time. Perhaps it is necessary to pay more attention at night in places near the train stations, where there are usually indigents day and night.
Traveling at a fast pace and without stopping too much, doing a route through Germany is quite expensive. On the other hand, Germany is very cheap compared to neighbouring countries such as Belgium, Holland, Denmark, UK or the Nordic countries.
How much money do I have to calculate per day?
I would say that the daily budget is between 60-80€ per person/day. Although sleeping in hostels and eating in supermarkets can be lowered to 50 € / day.
It can be lowered even further, for example:
- Cooking in hostels or Airbnb or buy cheap food at street stalls, Asian stalls, Turkish stalls, etc.
- Bring your water bottle and refill it for free
- Hitchhiking and hitchhiking common among young people
- Sleeping in couchsurfing is common and you will find very nice people
- Do the freeTour
- Travel in low season
Maybe you’re interested in reading More tips on how to travel cheaply in Europe.
When to visit Germany
I think the best time is summer, from May to September. It is when the weather is best and when all kinds of outdoor events take place, the popular festivals (Volksfest), people are on the street and the days are longer.
Christmas is a very good season.
At Christmas, the streets are decorated with cities, Christmas markets are set up in all the cities, people go out again and breathe a scent of happiness and joy.
Christmas in Germany is from the last week of November to 23 December.
The middle season is an ideal option to find fewer visitors and save a bit. This is from March to May and from September to October.
The low season is November and from January to April. Accommodation is much cheaper, but it is cold, even snow in many cities. Another factor to take into account is the low light. In winter at 4 pm it is already dark, depending on the month and the area.
Some landscapes or areas, I think are more beautiful with snow, for example the Black Forest or the castle of Neuschwanstein.
Except for the mountain and ski areas, which during the ski season is more expensive everything. If you’re looking for snow and winter sports areas, the best are in Austria.
Baggage. What do I take
Even if you travel in summer, you will need a thin jacket to protect you from the rain. In mountainous or natural areas it is usually colder at night.
I always recommend going with little luggage and no “just in case”. If you’re missing something important, you can always buy it there.
You may also be interested in my recommendations and checklist to prepare your minimalist backpack.
As in many European cities booking in advance is almost mandatory to opt for good places and prices, especially at weekends or high season.
Prices are approximate, being optimistic and booking in advance:
- Bed in hostel (shared room) 15-25€
- Private double economic room 40-55€
- Double room in Hotel from 70€
- Apartment Airbnb 2 people 40-60€ (4 people 70-100€)
- Private room in floor Airbnb 30-45€
Ábrete una cuenta de Airbnb y aprovéchate del 10% de descuento en tu primera reserva! Nota importante: cuando ya hayas usado tu descuento, podrás hacerte otra cuenta a nombre de tu hermano, madre, padre, abuelos, amigo, familiar, etc y seguir disfrutando del descuento!
Book in advance?
Except for a few exceptions, I recommend booking beforehand. Germans like to have things planned ahead of time, and therefore the best and cheapest accommodations are running out.
We will always find accommodation, although generally more expensive. Sometimes there are even offers if you book for the same day, as the hotels want to fill the rooms even if it is lowering the price.
3 or 4 weeks before I think it’s a perfect time to book.
Booking can be booked with “free cancellation”. I often reserve like this (if it doesn’t have an extra cost) and when there is less I look to see what there is. If it suits me or I like more reserve and then cancel the previous reservation (not the other way around).
If you travel alone or in shared rooms you don’t need so much notice. In this case you might want to take a closer look at Hostelworld.
The transport between cities par excellence is the train, although you can also use the bus if you want to save a little.
- Trains: expensive, but fast and comfortable
- Bus: cheaper but slower and uncomfortable
- Blabla car: register, verify your account and search for a trip. Drop-off point can create confusion if you don’t know the city. Not much cheaper than the bus and sometimes trouble if you take luggage.
- Rent a car
Renting a car is a very profitable and comfortable option, especially if you are going to travel in a group.
The Spanish driver’s license is for driving in Germany (although not the provisional license or certificates). If you come from another Latin country you will need an international driver’s license.
If you want to travel by train, don’t forget to consult the 7 essential tricks you should know to save on German trains:
Everything is usually very well connected, especially airports, city centre or train stations. There are at least trams and buses or also metro (U-Bahn) and suburban train (S-Bahn).
The single ticket is between 2-2.50€ and the day pass for about 7€.
To see the route the DB search engine or app works all over Germany, but then in each city there are other apps, which basically tell you the same but better ordered.
In Germany, trains work very well. Even if the Germans are complaining all day that they are going badly… they don’t really know what it means that trains are going badly.
The state railway company is the Deutsche Bahn (DB), although a few years ago the concession of trains was opened and other companies can enter the market. With the exception of a few regional lines, long distance is dominated by Deutsche Bahn.
If you are going to travel by train, you must know at least the word “Hauptbahnhof” which means main train station and is abbreviated with Hbf. It’ll come in handy.
To consult the timetables and connections go to the website Deutsche Bahn available in English.
Tricks to find cheap trains
As with aeroplanes, booking in advance means paying less, LOTS less. It is called “Sparpreis” and in English, they translate it as “Saver Fare Finder”. Here are some other tricks to find cheap trains.
When entering the website, you must select another search engine to be able to filter by price and dates.
Although there are more companies Flixbus has an almost absolute monopoly in Germany and little by little the surroundings as well. On the Flixbus website, you can check connections, prices and buy tickets.
In case it is convenient to check the other companies with a comparator BusLinienSuchen.
My experience tells me:
For short distances, the bus takes 10-20% longer and on average 30-40% less money.
For long distances, the bus may take 20-40% longer, especially with transfers.
Short history of the bus boom in Germany, that I experienced in 1st-person
Before 2012 the train was the king’s transport, almost exclusive. BlablaCar was beginning to emerge as the only alternative. Mitfahrengelegenheit (carpooling Spain) was used at that time as the BlablaCar boom came later.
Before 2012 it was forbidden to offer bus lines on routes where there were train lines… And since the train reaches every corner of Germany (literally) there were no bus lines.
From 2012 there was a bus boom in Germany. At that time a lot of new bus companies came out: MeinFernbus, FlixBus, DeinBus, PostBus, etc
Several companies began to compete on prices and services. The wifi became standard and promotional prices were laughable. I remember travelling Mannheim Berlin for 1€. Just like that.
All this was very nice, until the two biggest companies merged. This was a shock to those of us who liked to travel and find the best bargains. Monopoly started in Germany.
Currently, in 2018, already controlled the German sector, they are absorbing or cooperating with companies from neighbouring countries. At a scary pace.
Itineraries and What to see in Germany
Germany is very big and there are lots of places to visit.
It depends on what you’re looking for… From vibrant cities like Hamburg or Berlin, to fairytale villages such as Schwäwische Hall or Rotenburg ob der Tauber, passing through medieval castles such as Wartburg o Neuschwanstein, sea areas such as the Ostsee or mountain and forest such as the Black Forest
For those who want to tour the country… How long does it take?
To make a meaningful route I calculate that 1 month is necessary, although to go into detail 3 months! I’ve been almost 5 years living in Germany, 2 others between Austria and Poland and I’d still like to go to a lot of other places I haven’t seen.
Nevertheless, any duration of trip is sufficient to know a little more the country.
Here I am going to propose some destinations, although you can read this other article I comment My 15 best places to visit in Germany.
If you want to go to an Oktoberfest, here I recommend the best popular parties in Germany. (coming soon)
Let’s be realistic… Gastronomy isn’t the Germans’ strong point. Although they obviously have traditional dishes, which in turn depend very much on the region. In this article I presented the 15 typical German dishes.
Germany is characterized by being a very conscious country with the theme of vegetarianism and veganism. There are many alternatives and facilities for vegetarians and vegans.
I’m going to try to present the most typical German dishes:
German sausages are famous all over the world, aren’t they? There are many types of sausages and they are usually called by the region where they are typical.
The truth is that this type of sausages looks very bad when they are not made because they are deformed, flabby and are usually stored in water. But then they’re great on the grill!
The Currywurst in the north (Berlin), Nürnberger Wurst are small, finite sausages the size of a finger. The Wiener Wurst are the Frankfurt sausages we know. In this article, I explained the difference between “Wiener” and “Frankfurter” sausages.
The “Brezel”, is a bow of salty bread that can be eaten at any time. I like them, especially when they are freshly made and you can put some melty butter inside.
In the southern part of the Spätzle, it is a kind of pasta made with eggs, flour and water. Gratin with some crispy onion and lots of cheese is how most are eaten. Also with salmon or as a garnish with some meat.
Los Maultaschen, it’s stuffed pasta, something like Italian ravioli. They are usually stuffed with meat, although they are also eaten with spinach or other things. Garnished with Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage).
They are popularly called “deceived by God” (Herrgottsbscheißerle) because they carried the meat hidden inside and so one could eat meat in “incognito” mode in times of religious fasts.
The Flammkuchen, is a kind of finite white pizza. The traditional has Creme Frêche, onion and bacon. The best I’ve eaten in Strassburg, an old German city on the border with France.
Klöße, are balls of dough that are eaten as a garnish or in soup. Sometimes it can be filled with crispy bread, onion or bits of bacon.
White asparagus are prepared a lot, but only in the season (spring and early summer). They are usually accompanied by a “hollandaise” sauce, boiled potatoes and some more garnish to complete.
The Kebab. Yes, the Kebab began to be made (invented if you want to say) in Berlin in the 1970s by Turkish immigrants. So technically it’s a German meal.
Sparkling or non-carbonated water
If not specified, Germans usually drink sparkling water. It is known as “Sprudel“, “Wasser mit Kohlensäure” or directly “Mineralwasser“.
If you want to order non-carbonated water:
- “Stilles Wasser.” The labels usually bear the words “ohne Kohlensäure” (carbonic acid).
- “Leitungswasser” which literally means water from the pipe. Most places don’t charge you.
Tap water is good and you can drink it all over Germany. You can take your bottle and refill it “on the way”, you will save something and you will be more ecological.
It is good and it is enough cheap tea if you buy it in supermarkets or drink shops.
It is totally legal and normal to buy a beer and drink it quietly in the street. In summer it is a very common practice among Germans to drink a few beers with friends in the city’s most famous squares or parks.
The standard measure is 1/2 litre, although small beers “ein kleines Bier” of 33cl can also be ordered.
He expects to pay €3.90 for a pint in bars, €2 in drink shops and €0.50-1 in supermarkets. At the Oktoberfest or other similar festivals you expect to pay 10-11€ for a 1 litre pitcher.
Normally the Germans tip for the service. Although it is NOT obligatory at all. They are optional and posing as a foreigner who knows nothing is the best option to avoid them.
What do you mean?
When they bring you the account, let’s suppose 13,40€, when you pay you give them the money and you say “15€” and they give you back the chord.
Pay separately (“getrennt“)
Germans are very accurate and always like to do everything right.
When several people are in a bar, the bill is usually requested separately, especially for groups of more than 3 people. For this the keyword is “getrennt” which means “divided”.
The waiter brings the bill and you tell him what he has to charge you, for example, a beer and a Currywurst. So one by one at the whole table until at the end it should all be paid for.
It’s a custom I like very much from Germany and it saves a lot of headaches. You pay separately and everything is in order.
More about Germany
Pfand: The system for returning bottles
Germany is a very green and ecological country, which is why beverage bottles, whether made of glass, plastic or cans, are returned after use to the supermarket or shop.
When you buy a drink you pay an extra for the bottle (between 8 and 25 cents). When you return it, empty, they give you the equivalent money. Plastic bottles and cans carry the symbol from the image below. The glass ones have nothing, but ALL have Pfand.
How much is each bottle worth?
Depends. Crystal ones like beers and so on are 8 cents. If they have a metal clasp, that’s 15 cents. Plastic bottles and cans are 25 cents.
There are people, known as Pfandsammelrn, who are dedicated to collecting bottles from parks, especially where people go to drink. They load a cart or bicycle up to the stops and then at the supermarket they pick up their money.
How are the bottles returned?
The easiest way is in supermarkets where there is a machine with a hole where the bottles are inserted one by one. Then you print a ticket and in the cashier give you the money.
Follow German codes of conduct
The Germans are a very civic society. If you visit a country, I think you have to respect the local culture and not disturb it as much as possible.
Some tips to integrate a little in German culture:
Do not cross a red light, especially if children are nearby. They take example and education very seriously.
phoe-icon name=”fa-caret-right”] If you drink alcohol on the street, don’t make noise and collect everything at the end.
phoe-icon name=”fa-caret-right”] Do not ride in the bike lane or if you are going by bicycle, use the sites for bicycles.
Carrying lights on the bike. I’ve already been stopped by the police for that…
Pay the tram or metro and validate the ticket! Even if there are no reviewers (or you don’t think you’re going to get caught). This is known as “Schwarzfahren” in German.
If you drive through the famous Autobahn, drive with caution and safety. No speed limit doesn’t mean you’re going 300km/h. Respect other drivers.
Do not throw a bottle or can with Pfand to the wastebasket. Leave it next to the trash, so that the people who pick up the bottles don’t have to put their hands in it. Throwing the bottle into the trash can means that you don’t care about people who have few resources and you are technically “throwing money in the trash no matter what”.
Study in Germany
Studying in Germany can help you make the academic leap you need to find the job you were looking for.
In addition, they are usually almost free, at least for Europeans (between €20 and €150 per semester).
I studied a Bachelor’s degree in Germany, which helped me to learn German and find a job easily.
Germans do not pay much attention, a priori, to foreigners, especially if they have not studied in Germany. That’s why studying a Master even if it’s a year to clean curriculum, it will open many doors.
More information about studying in Germany can be found on the DAAD website.
In case anyone can be helped, that was my process:
At first I arrived in Germany, like many other Spaniards with my career just finished and I started looking for work. Normal, right? I started sending resumes everywhere and they didn’t even call me for a sad interview. It’s true that in addition to having no work experience, did not know very well what he wanted and sent the lottery type CVs without hardly preparing. But not one answer.
In the meantime, I had already enrolled, just in case, in a Bachelor’s degree, as I was not allowed to do so in the Master’s degree. I learned German in a super-intensive course, as the courses were in German and 1 year later I was internship doing the project in a good company in the city. From there everything goes more or less rolled. Suddenly, all those companies that had rejected me before, have an interest in me.
PD: Offtopic Is it true they wear sandals with socks?
Yeah. Here’s some evidence:
Are you preparing a route through Germany? Ask me your doubts in the comments!