Germany is a popular European destination, welcoming over 80 million annual visitors. It offers a unique culture, longstanding history, beautiful countryside, and delicious food!
One of the best things about Germany is that it can suit all styles of travelers. With a history dating back to the 6th century BCE, Germany is a haven for iconic attractions.
History buffs will enjoy delving into ancient castles and world-class museums. Adventure seekers will find their place in the mountains, and foodies will need to bring stretchy pants to enjoy all the delectable eats!
Germany is a favorite among ViaTravelers staff, and collectively, we’ve spent months here! Even if you’ve already been to Germany, the useful tips we’ve gathered below can help make a repeat visit even better.
What We Cover
- Travel Tips for Visiting Germany
- 1. Shop Around for Bargain Flights
- 2. Make sure you learn some basic phrases before arriving
- 3. Pack the Right Adaptors for German Power Outlets
- 4. Other Essential Packing Tips
- 5. Be Aware of Some Local Cultural Norms
- 6. Try Out the Local Food
- 7. Know How to Tip
- 8. Make Use of the Excellent Public Transportation
- 9. Go City-Hopping
- 10. Take Time to Explore the Countryside
- 11. Visit Incredible Castles
- 12. Visit a Beer Garden
- 13. Attend a Festival
- 14. Shop Till You Drop
- 16. Save Some Money and Shop at Grocery Stores
- 17. Accessing the Internet in Germany
- 18. See The Cities Via Bike Tour
- 19. Know That Germany Takes Music History Seriously
- A Word About Town Names
- What should I avoid doing in Germany?
- Is the food in Germany cheap?
- Is it safe to visit Germany?
Travel Tips for Visiting Germany
1. Shop Around for Bargain Flights
Getting a flight to Germany may not be as expensive as you think. Flights to Berlin and other major cities from the US can typically be obtained for well under $1,000. Similarly, when traveling within Europe, I managed a quick return hop-over to Munich from London one summer for less than $100.
I’ve known booking-savvy travelers to have managed to get tickets to Frankfurt from the States for under $500. However, know that the time of the year can impact ticket prices, and prices are constantly fluctuating.
If you’re trying to stick to a strict budget, the timing of your trip will matter. If you decide to take your trip during a less busy time of year, you’ll save quite a few pennies.
The best time for visiting the country does depend on what you’d like to do. During Christmas time, flights and accommodations will be more expensive, but you’ll enjoy the delightful markets that are famous worldwide. Hopping a flight from elsewhere on the Continent, or arriving via train, will be much more affordable.
Peak season for tourism is in the summer, so it may not be the best time to visit if you’re on a budget. Shoulder seasons are my preferred time to travel, because you get reasonable weather, fewer crowds, and cheaper flights and accommodations.
See Related: Ways to Find Cheap Flights to Europe
2. Make sure you learn some basic phrases before arriving
Learning a few basic words and phrases for the countries you visit is always a good idea. It’s not only a fun way to experience new places, but trying to speak the language is a nice way to interact with locals who’ll appreciate the extra effort.
I found it easy to find locals who could speak English during my memorable Germany trip, but I enjoyed trying out the basic vocabulary I had tucked away regardless. You don’t need to speak German like a local, but know that the odd word or phrase can go a long way.
Many free resources are available for learning a few essential German words and phrases, like an abundance of language YouTubers and gamified mobile apps. Some basic German phrases to know before your trip are “Hello,” “Thank you,” “Please,” and “I don’t understand.”
See Related: What Languages Are Spoken in Germany?
3. Pack the Right Adaptors for German Power Outlets
Electrical sockets in Germany are CEE 7/4 (Type F). If you want to charge your electrical items like your phone, camera, or laptop, purchase the correct travel adaptor to avoid disappointment or an unexpected shopping trip.
Personally, I always travel with a universal travel adaptor. A universal adaptor can cater to multiple countries, so it is more convenient than buying specific adaptors for specific sockets for each country you visit.
4. Other Essential Packing Tips
Make sure to pack correctly according to the season’s weather conditions. For example, good quality winter coats and woolies are essential if visiting the Christmas Markets in wintertime, but you’ll still need a rain jacket if you visit in the summertime.
The weather can be a bit unpredictable, so pack layers. The last time I visited Munich was in the summertime, but I still found myself walking through the English Garden during a torrential downpour with the strong wind ripping branches from trees!
Also consider your intended activities. Germany is a very walkable country, so a comfortable pair of walking shoes or trainers is essential year-round. Summer also brings enjoyable lakeside activities like windsurfing or paddleboarding, so swimwear and water-resistant sun tan lotion would be a great choice.
5. Be Aware of Some Local Cultural Norms
Germans are known for being honest and straightforward, so don’t be surprised if they tell you your outfit looks silly or your idea isn’t excellent. In Germany, punctuality is highly valued. When you are meeting someone, it is considered very rude to be late.
If you are not going to beon time, let the other person know immediately. Germans have a reputation for being efficient and organized. Things run on schedule, and there is usually little waiting time.
On another note, remember to take off your shoes when visiting someone’s home. Most Germans keep their homes clean and tidy, and walking around in your outdoor shoes is a no-go.
See Related: German Culture: Facts, Traditions, and Concepts
6. Try Out the Local Food
One of the top ways to experience any country you visit is by trying out its local cuisine! German food is world-famous for a reason.
From bratwurst and sauerkraut to apple strudel and Black Forest cake, all tastes can be catered for. I love a good old-fashioned pretzel or tasty Berliner pastry for on-the-go snacking.
Germany has some incredible high-end restaurants. In fact, it’s in fourth place for countries with the most Michelin-star restaurants at well over 300.
But it’s also very easy to find cheap eats at local cafes and street food stalls. Also, you won’t have much trouble finding incredible food touring experiences to get stuck in if you want a local to take you to all the best local eateries.
If you make time on your trip for a food tour, you’ll end up leaving with a newfound appreciation for German food. It’s worth the splurge.
See Related: European Food Tour – 7 Days (+ Best Tours to Try)
7. Know How to Tip
Tipping is not compulsory in Germany. Unlike in places like the States, the wages of wait staff in Germany are generally good, and they do not rely on tips to earn a liveable income. So, with this in mind, know that you should never feel obligated to tip, even if you thought the service was good.
However, if you feel that the service you received at a restaurant was exemplary and you would like to tip, a 5 – 10 % tip would be appropriate and appreciated. Moreover, you can also tip around the same if that city walking tour around Berlin exceeded your expectations, but again, you don’t have to.
8. Make Use of the Excellent Public Transportation
In Germany, the public transportation system around cities and towns is very efficient. The most common form of public transportation is the train.
I never experienced any issues using local trains throughout Southern or Northern Germany. They were always affordable, reliable, and comfortable.
To save a few euros, buy yourself a day pass. It only costs about $53 and covers all second-class travel on regional trains and using the DB S-Bahn trains. You can even buy group tickets if traveling with friends or family.
You can also benefit from the bus system as a reliable mode of transport during your trip to Germany. In most cases, you will not need to purchase a separate ticket for the bus; your train ticket will also be valid for the bus.
But check to see if your destination offers a city card. Cities like Dusseldorf and Berlin offer brilliant city cards with public transport, like buses, which are included as a great money saver.
9. Go City-Hopping
Germany is a sanctuary of some of the world’s most beautiful and historic cities. Many great big cities, like the vibrant city of Berlin, surprisingly green Munich, and the financial hub of Frankfurt, are waiting for you to pay a visit.
A personal favorite of mine is Munich. I was drawn to visit for a reunion with an old University friend who was a local and I had an incredible time.
When I arrived, I was amazed at how green and beautiful a city Munich is, with plenty to keep you busy. It is also an excellent base for venturing on day trips to Neuschwanstein Castle, Ammersee Lake, and Nymphenburg Palace.
Each city offers options for all interests. For example, head to Berlin for parties, Munich for nature, or Hannover for something a little quieter.
What’s more, the major cities of Germany hold its major international airports. So, there’s no excuse to miss out on exploring at least your city of arrival when visiting Germany.
10. Take Time to Explore the Countryside
Germany’s major cities are indeed impressive, but don’t overlook this country’s stunning countryside! There’s plenty to see, from the dramatic Bavarian Alps to the enchanting Black Forest and quaint little countryside villages.
The Black Forest offers endless adventure and is perfect for a self-guided road trip in Germany. On your Germany road trip, go boating on Titisee Lake, visit the impressive Hohenzollern Castle, or hike to majestic waterfalls.
The Bavarian Alps are also a brilliant spot for winter sports enthusiasts. If you’re in this camp, head to Feldberg Ski Resort and enjoy its 16 different trails for a memorable winter getaway.
Or, for something a little more relaxed, visit Germany’s picturesque small towns. Seek out Rothenburg ob der Taube for stunning medieval architecture. Or, go to Ramsau for a quiet retreat offering awe-inspiring views of the Alps.
11. Visit Incredible Castles
Germany is a haven for some of the most beautiful castles in the world. Neuschwanstein Castle is the most famous and inspired the Disney castle from Cinderella.
I would say it’s definitely worth the hype. But there are countless other amazing castles in Germany (over 20,000) for you to try to make time for at least one or two during your stay.
Irrespective of your search for a fairytale-like castle or an imposing medieval fortress, you’ll be able to find it in Germany. To name just a couple, the dramatic Lichtenstein Castle clings to the edge of a cliff overlooking a gorgeous panoramic valley, and the extravagant Schweriner Castle sits on its private island at Schwerin Lake.
Most visited castles are available from March to October, and a few remain open throughout the winter. Prices vary depending on which court you want to see but usually range from 5-10 EUR per person.
See Related: Real, Magical Castles in Fairytales to Visit
12. Visit a Beer Garden
Germans love their beer, and what better way to experience German culture than visiting a traditional beer garden? Some of Germany’s most famous beer gardens to pop on your radar include Schwabengarten in Stuttgart, Beer Garden Odonien in Cologne, and Schillergarten in Dresden.
If you really want to make the most of these plentiful gardens in Germany without having to travel too much, make your way to Munich. Munich has the most beer gardens of any other city in Germany. Hirschgarten or Augustiner Keller are fine options to visit within the city.
See Related: Best Breweries in Germany | Top German Beer
13. Attend a Festival
Among the finest famous is the Carnival of Cologne, which takes place in February. The festival is an epic celebration with parades, parties, and a beauty contest.
Germany is famous for its Christmas markets, which can be found throughout the country. The markets are open from late November to December and offer a range of food, drinks, and gift items.
Generally speaking, the markets can get quite overcrowded. Be prepared to navigate through the crowds if you want to make it through for the ultimate Christmas souvenir or delicious mulled wine!
Another famous festival is the Berlin Beer Festival, which occurs every August. The festival features more than 300 different types of beer from across the globe. You won’t regret putting the effort in to attend at least one festival while in Germany.
14. Shop Till You Drop
Germany is a haven for the best shopping in the world and is a perennially underrated shopping destination. From high-end designer stores to traditional markets, you’ll be able to find options to suit a range of interests.
Just note that on Sundays, everything is closed. The only exceptions are restaurants, bars, gas stations, and most shops at the central train station and bigger airports.
Some bigger stores realize they can make much more money if they open on Sunday, so they are doing that, but I would not rely on it. During the week, shops in bigger cities like Frankfurt generally close around 8 – 9 pm. You may see smaller shops in these cities and smaller towns closing at around 6:30 pm.
16. Save Some Money and Shop at Grocery Stores
Shopping for groceries, rather than eating out for every meal, is a great way to help your travel budget stretch further. Grocery carts in Germany are usually locked to one another in designated cart zones. You must place one EUR in the cart itself, which you will get back once you return it; simple!
You must purchase plastic bags to put the groceries in or take one yourself. If you’re not traveling with a handy tote bag or collapsable shopping bag, be assured the plastic bags at the grocery store are only a few cents.
Also, out of courtesy, if there is a long line, do not put all your groceries in the bag. Put them back into the cart and bag them away from the line.
See Related: Best Food Tours in Germany to Take
17. Accessing the Internet in Germany
If traveling with your mobile phone or laptop in Germany, you can easily get fast Wi-Fi in most cafes, hotels, and some larger department stores. There’s also the option to grab an eSim data plan for convenient access anywhere. Or, rent a portable Wi-Fi device for unlimited 4G connection to multiple devices.
If you don’t have a laptop or tablet and need internet access, there are Internet cafes, although it’s worth noting these are dwindling in numbers. In most cases, you can purchase an internet access card for a set period (usually an hour, two hours, or a day).
These cards can be purchased at most convenience stores and kiosks. The price for an hour of internet access will typically range from 2-5 EUR.
18. See The Cities Via Bike Tour
If you’re an avid biker, Germany may be the perfect place to visit. Many trails and tours tour this beautiful country, providing the ideal balance of adventure and relaxation.
Casual cyclists can see the highlights of Berlin or explore the beautiful city of Leipzig within 3 hours by bike. For the more avid riders looking for a cycle-centered holiday, Germany is a perfect place for multi-day bike trips.
Whizz past mountains, lakes, countryside, coastal paths, and towns to see all the beauty of Germany. Cycling adventures around Germany can be enjoyed solo or with one of the many brilliant operators within the country.
19. Know That Germany Takes Music History Seriously
One thing that the country is proud of is its place in musical history. It’s important to know about the country’s cultural hotspots, and Beethoven’s birthplace and museum is one of the all-time highlights.
The Beethoven Haus in Bonn boasts the world’s largest collection of Beethoven’s materials. These exhibits provide comprehensive insight into the composer’s life, creative process, and significant contributions to music. Visitors can explore a variety of original artifacts that showcase Beethoven’s work and achievements.
In addition to the museum, the Beethoven-Haus also includes the “Kammermusiksaal” or the chamber music hall. This space is used for various exciting events, including concerts, lectures, and ceremonies. It allows visitors to experience live performances and engage in educational activities related to Beethoven’s music.
A Word About Town Names
“Bad” in front of a town’s name does not mean the city’s people are terrible. As an illustration, “Bad Homburg,” in front of a town’s name, usually means that the town is designated as a healthy location. Such an area typically has clean air and water with a health resort or Spa.
What should I avoid doing in Germany?
Some things that you should avoid doing or bringing into the country are any Nazi symbols, weapons, and drug-related items. Walking around at night alone in prominent cities is also not advised.
Is the food in Germany cheap?
Food in Germany can be cheap or expensive, depending on what you order. If you’re eager to save money, you can eat at a fast-food restaurant; your meal will likely be less than 10 EUR. But, if you go to a fancier restaurant, you could spend upwards of 30 EUR per person.
Is it safe to visit Germany?
Germany is considered one of the safest to visit among the many European countries. But, just like any other destination, using common sense and being aware of your surroundings is crucial.