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GERMANY TRAVEL GUIDE
Hello, my name is Gwen, and here is my Germany travel guide for solo travel over 40, including budget, safety/female and eco-travel tips, photographs and interesting posts for your Germany travel planning.
WILLKOMMEN IN DEUTSCHLAND!
Germany – one of the most densely populated countriesthat itself borders 9 countries, is a leader in climate and energy policies and home to the Romantic Road, over 2100 castles and 1,500 different beers, Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and Schumann, Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi, the largest national economy in Europe (if not the world), Oktoberfest, the Autobahn, wine, a free university system (even for non-Germans!), over 300 kinds of bread and1,000 kinds of sausages, sauerkraut, the largest train station in Europe, the most zoos in the world, and world class cities like its capital, Berlin, and Munich, Hamburg, Cologne, Stuttgart and Frankfurt.
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LANGUAGES IN GERMANY
The official language is German (of course), called Deutschland.
How's Your German?
Brush up on your German before your trip to Germany.
Germany has been known as the country of poets and thinkers and has been shaped by major intellectual and popular European currents. For centuries Germany has influenced the world with its literature, science, music, cinema, philosophy, art and architectural contributions. They continue to hold traditional celebrations and festivals, like Oktoberfest and Day of German Unity, as well as the religious celebrations of Christmas and Easter.
In the 21stcentury, Germany has been considered one of the world’s highest respected nations and recognized for having a positive influence. Germany’s modern, advanced society promotes gender equality, disability rights and is socially and legally tolerant towards homosexuals.
Today’s German government, and much of its society, acknowledge immigrants from diverse cultural backgrounds. About 60% of the German population identify as Christian being almost equally distributed between the Roman Catholic and Protestant affiliations.
German cuisine can vary by region, but beef, chicken and pork are predominant in all dishes – pork being the most popular and served mostly in sausage form. However, since Germany is bordered by many countries, it has also adopted those surrounding, international dishes.
POPULAR GERMAN ACTIVITIES
Germans are very active – many work out weekly and participate in popular activities like jogging, cycling, ice hockey, tennis and skating, to name a few. Germany has also contributed to some of the most successful contenders in both the winter and summer Olympic Games.
Spectator sports are also very popular. Association football (soccer) is the most popular with Germany having more football fan clubs than anywhere else in the world. Germany is also one of the leading motorsports countries in the world.
In addition to sports, you may find Germans also participating in clubs like civic, bowling, and singing. In fact, over 23 million Germans belong to at least one form of social or sporting club.
Germans also like to socialize in bars and restaurants amongst friends over food and beer as well as spend time at home with their families.
Germany uses the Euro (€). Exchange rates are usually favorable for Europeans but could fluctuate in the other direction. Check throughout your travel planning phase on any exchange rate changes.
Germany has all modern forms of transportation, including Uber (research in advance if they are in your destination area), and other regional ridesharing services and apps, so getting around and booking transportation in advance or working on the fly, is no problem.
TIPPING IN GERMANY
Traveling in a new country is easier when you know the country’s tipping etiquette in advance as each country has its own rules. That said, country rules and norms can shift, so here is an international tipping resource for over 70 countries to use as a general guideline that I have found is constantly updated.
What’s not on there is how to tip a concierge, beauty salons or spas, travel or tour guides, etc. For these extras, it is acceptable to tip 10% at minimum. Remember, tipping is for good service only.
Additionally, you should always tip in the local currency (if tipping in cash), and do not be offended if your tip is refused as it may not be the norm. I feel it’s always better to offer a tip for good service than not, unless I know it will be considered offensive, like in Japan.
A key activity to do in your early planning stage is to know, at minimum, the national holidays. I so suggest also looking into the local holidays. It’s a complete bummer to spend time and money to take the holiday of your lifetime and when you show up at one of your key attractions, it’s closed due to a holiday. It’s also not fun trying to travel and have a hard time accessing travel or other essential resources when no one is around because, yes, it’s a local holiday. So take just a few moments to look at Germany’s holidays.
GERMANY ELECTRONIC ESSENTIALS
Besides money, required ID and your ticket, Germany voltage is 230V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz, so bring Type C and F adapters (it doesn’t hurt to bring 2 of each) for Germany outlets and research if your electronics require a voltage converter, if not already included in the adapter; or, you can bring electronics already adapted for Germany outlets or wait to purchase them there (I recommend just bringing the adapters with converter). Remember, most smart phones, tablets and laptops don’t require a converter, but double-check your device(s) before you leave home. If you are going to another country in addition to Germany on your trip, you can check the global adapters list to make sure you’re prepared. I have also provided suggested adapters below for your convenience!
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TRAVEL DOCUMENTS FOR GERMANY
From the U.S., you will need a valid passport. Visas are not required if your stay is less than 3 months. Make sure your passport expiration date is greater than 3 months from your return to the U.S. The U.S. State Department always has their link up to date with pertinent information when traveling to Germany. It is advised to always check there during your planning stage and again before you leave. If you are not from the U.S., please check your government’s website.
VACCINATIONS FOR GERMANY
There are normally no vaccinations required for Germany travel. The U.S. State Department always has their link up to date with pertinent information when traveling to Germany. It is advised to always check there during your planning stage and again before you leave. If you are not from the U.S., please check your government’s website.
SAFETY / FEMALE TRAVEL TIPS
GERMANY TRAVEL SAFETY
Germany is one of the safest countries to visit. Crimes are low and crimes towards tourists considered low as well. If you are in a larger city, like Berlin, just be careful at night when streets could possibly be more dangerous, especially in areas that are not well traveled. There could be instances of pickpocketing, which could happen in most places to be honest, but beyond that there is nothing I can recall from Germany making it any more of a “safety concern” than traveling in my own home country, so my standard tips for female and solo travelers are:
- always carry photo ID with you; if you don’t want your passport on you at all times, at least carry a copy of it.
- always be “street wise”.
- always be aware of your surroundings, especially if you feel the need to imbibe or feel the need to “let loose” – you’re on vacation so have fun!
- never leave your food or drink unattended.
- keep your belongs on your person, or at least in your view in close proximity, at all times.
- be open to meeting and talking with new people – that is where a lot of the travel experience lies – but be careful on how you divulge personal information.
- research places in advance, if possible, so you know what to expect (i.e., “have a familiar view” – I like to Google the street view of new addresses I’m going to first).
- if something, someone or someplace makes you feel uncomfortable, go with your gut – leave.
BUDGET TRAVEL TIPS
BEST TIME TO VISIT GERMANY
Like other countries in Europe, Germany’s high, tourist season, and most expensive time, is the summer (late June to August). Crowds are not as heavy in the late Spring (April to early June) and Fall (September and October), the weather is still nice and prices in these months are lower. Plus, the spring and autumn times may offer great festivals like the Carnival of Cultures, Berlin Festival of Lights or Octoberfest!
The least expensive time to go to Germany would be November to March. Keep in mind, however, if you are going to a ski or winter sport area – prices could be high and you may want to book in advance. For overall best weather and prices, try booking well in advance for Spring or Autumn.
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SUSTAINABILITY / ECO TRAVEL TIPS
It is very easy to do your part for the planet and implement environmental sustainability into your travel. If you would like to learn more about how you can implement environmentally sustainable, or eco-friendly, travel measures into your travel, please see my 10 Easy Eco Travel Tips and suggested Eco Travel Resources.
Additionally, if you are flying to, or within, Germany consider purchasing carbon offsets through your airline or through a third party, like MyClimate.org, Carbonfund.org, or terrapass. Carbon offsetting allows you to buy a certificate to reduce carbon emissions, a major contributor to climate change, which in turn contribute community projects across countries to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. There are several ways to go about this to help reduce your impact to climate change through your travel. Check it out!
I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Hamburg, Berlin (while they were still dismantling the Berlin Wall), and Munich, as well as some of the Romantic Road towns: Dinkelsbühl, Füssen, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, and Hohenschwangau where the Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castles are located. Rothenburg ob der Tauber and the Neuschwanstein Castle may look familiar to you from the film, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, but that would not be the reason to visit them. Both Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castles were home to the Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria and are fascinating to visit – a definite must if you are on the southern Romantic Road, which resides in the Bavarian area and is just hands-down gorgeous. “Picturesque” would be the appropriate word! The towns are quaint, the countryside is epic, and there is much history in the area.
I thought Munich’s city center and Marienplatz were beautiful. There seemed to be musicians playing on many of the streets which added to its ambience. While there I toured the Dachau Concentration Camp just north of Munich, which was very interesting. If you go, I recommend going to the Nazi Museum in Munich first if you are into learning from some of Germany’s tumultuous past of what not to repeat.
I do look forward to going back to Germany to revisit Munich (must try that Octkoberfest!) and Berlin, but also visit Cologne and Frankfurt. Also on the bucket list is finishing the Romantic Road, 28 stops along 220 miles between Füssen and Wurzburg, not to mention try some lovely German wines in the Franconian, Mosel, and Württemberg wine regions, just to name a few.
PICTURES OF GERMANY
GERMANY BLOG POSTS
Want to visit Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles solo in breathaking Bavaria? Here is my complete guide on how to get the best visit experience as a
You’re dying to go to Europe but are solo on a budget? It’s OK – you’re not alone. Budgets are important to a lot of us, but if planned wisely they don’t have to be something that holds