Germany Travel Guide

Why go to Germany? History and architecture, art and music, parties and festivals, gastronomy and beer… there is so much to explore and enjoy in this exciting country that the question should be: why not? Germany is a great place, and nothing proves this better than the fact that over 30% of the Germans themselves choose to stay in their country for their vacations.
When to go? Basically any time. Germany is a perfect destination year round, with music festivals in the summer, scenic Christmas Markets in the winter and so much to offer anyway that you don’t really need special events to have a wonderful time. If you’re a culture enthusiast, visit some of the big cities, which offer excellent museums, art exhibitions, and concerts. If you’re an outdoor kind of person, hit the Baltic coast for water sports or go hiking/skiing in the Alps.

Hiking trail in the Bavarian Alps, Germany

Germany’s large cities have a predominantly modern cityscape. Sadly enough, almost all large German cities suffered extensive bombing during World War II, which destroyed much of their ancient architecture. Despite efforts of historical reconstruction, today many of the major cities lack a traditional city center.  On the other hand, the stunning construction projects of recent decades have produced spectacular pieces of modern architecture. If you are looking for picturesque, postcard-like places, though, you should head to smaller towns, where you can still find the traditional timber-framed buildings we know from movies.

Germany’s economy is the 4th largest by nominal GDP. Of course, Germany’s high economic performance also goes hand in hand with exceptionally high living standards. German cities are mostly clean and neat, and for years Germany’s second largest city, Hamburg has topped the list of the cleanest cities in the world for its environmental efforts. Germany is also one of the safest countries in Europe with low crime rates, and thefts and pickpockets are less of an issue here.

City Guides

Top things to do and see in Germany

Explore Berlin’s great museums and art galleries

Germany’s capital, Berlin has more museums than rainy days. Culture lovers will be spoilt for choice, and you need a lot more than a few days to explore the amazing array of excellent exhibitions. The city is especially rich in historical museums which raise the consciousness of the turbulent past of the country. Checkpoint Charlie, the DDR Museum, the Jewish Museum and the Allied Museum are some of the finest. Berlin also has a great variety of art museums: you have to make your choice from 400 of them! The most famous one is the East Side Gallery, a collection of great graffiti paintings created on the Berlin Wall. Make sure you also visit Berlin’s Museum Island, which is an impressive ensemble of five famous museums on the River Spree and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Visit Neuschwanstein Castle

Summer landscape; view of the famous tourist attraction in the Bavarian Alps; the 19th century Neuschwanstein castle.

Neuschwanstein Castle is Germany’s fairy-tale castle, so spectacular that it inspired the Beast’s castle in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”. It is a Romanesque-style castle nestled in the Bavarian Alps, which attracts 1.4 million tourists a year. Its story is rather ironic. In the middle of the 19th century, Ludwig II of Bavaria commissioned the castle as a private retreat, but he died before it was completed. Soon afterward the castle was opened to the public, and the place, which was meant to be the king’s refuge from the crowds came to be flooded by tourists. Since its completion, over 60 million people have visited the castle and its gorgeous garden.

Enjoy the stunning skyline in Frankfurt

Frankfurt is the center of finance in Germany, with amazing skyscrapers rising all over its city center. Parts of the center, which has been nicknamed “Mainhattan”, are really more like New York than a European city. The famous Frankfurt skyline is formed by some of tallest high-rise buildings in Europe. To enjoy the unique atmosphere of this steel and glass world, have a delicious dinner in the sky restaurant of the 56-storey Main Tower.

Engage in snow sports in the Bavarian Alps

If you’re a fan of winter sports, you will be enticed by the beautiful landscape and great facilities of the Bavarian Alps. The choice of good ski resorts is just awesome, and besides skiing, you can enjoy toboggan runs and a huge variety of fun sports like snow tubing, skyboarding, and snowkiting.

Party like a German at Oktoberfest

Famous Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany

Oktoberfest is the world’s largest folk (and drinking) festival, held annually in Munich. It starts in late September and continues into October and attracts 6 million visitors a year. Oktoberfest is pretty much about drinking beer, so if you’re a fan of Germany’s national drink, you simply mustn’t miss it. Put on your lederhosen, and spend a great evening with locals and fellow travelers, drink beer and enjoy traditional German food in one of the city’s beers halls.

Have fun in Europa-Park

With or without kids, Europa-Park in Rust (not far from Freiburg) is a perfect place to spend a day or two. It is Germany’s largest theme park and second only to Disneyland in Europe. It is a real paradise for children, but adults seem to enjoy its 13 fantastic roller coasters, water rides, and other attractions just as much. The scenery itself is so fascinating that you could easily spend a day just walking around. The park also has a huge selection of excellent restaurants. The only downside is queueing, so try to avoid high season.

Typical costs

Accommodation

Accommodation tends to be more expensive in city centers, so you can save on costs if you head to less central districts. A hostel dorm bed costs between US$  11-22 (10-20 EUR), while double rooms in a mid-range hotel are available from US$ 110 (100 EUR).

Daily budget

Germany is not a cheap country to travel in, even by European standards. The average daily budget is around US$ 110 (100 EUR), and don’t expect to survive on less than US$  55 (50 EUR) a day.

Transportation

The public transport system in Germany has an excellent reputation. Large cities have a dense, modern and convenient network of surface and underground transportation, so leave your car behind and get a city pass valid for the length of your stay. “City cards” offered in many of the major cities combine free public transportation and discounts on entrance tickets to the most important attractions. Travel costs in Germany are relatively high, but you can find ways to economize, for instance by taking the free walking tours provided in several cities.

Food and drinks

Food is pretty cheap in Germany. Street food is a budget option, with simple meals for around 3-4 EUR. Ethnic food (falafel, kebabs, etc.) is also a good idea if you are on a budget since it tends to be cheaper than traditional German dishes. A nice three-course dinner in a sit-down restaurant will set you back US$ 33-44 (30-40 EUR), while in beer halls you can have a good dinner and a beer for US$ 16-22 (15-20 EUR).

Sights

Bavarian Alps. Panorama Photo.

Entrance tickets to major attractions can be rather pricey, but many museums have the regular discount- or free days. Watch out for these opportunities or get a city card (available in most large cities), which includes unlimited public transportation and discounts on tickets.

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