As Germany moves forward into the 21st century, leaving behind a history of division and tyranny, it is a nation embracing its newfound liberalism and redefining a modern cultural identity. Yet even today, visitors to the country can’t escape feeling profoundly moved by this country’s past and the effects it still has on its people.
Situated in the heart of Europe and bordering nine other countries, Germany provides an ideal gateway to any tour of the subcontinent. Its land is wide and varied with turreted castles nestled below snow-capped mountains, lush river valleys, dark and mysterious forests and bustling medieval villages. This is the land of fairy tales, where farmland minstrels headed to Bremen to become musicians, where Sleeping Beauty was woken and Little Red Riding Hood ventured into the woods.
Germany’s cities each have something unique to offer the visitor. Each year millions of litres of beer is consumed in Munich during the city’s Oktoberfest, where locals and visitors discover true German revelry and ‘gemutlichkeit’ (a word the locals use to describe a comfortable, sociable environment). Berlin, while still recovering from some of the scars of division, contains many sights from the iconic Brandenburg Gate, to the path of the old Berlin Wall. The city’s vibrant nightlife is still evocative of its height in the 1920s and 30s, as characterised by the songs of Marlene Dietrich, the theatre of Brecht and the Film Cabaret.
Discover the country that gave us Beethoven and Bauhaus, Goethe and Glühwein, Lager and Lederhosen you won’t be disappointed
Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 between the last Sunday in March and the Saturday before the last Sunday in April).
Electricity: 220 volts, 50Hz. European-style two-pin plugs are standard.
Money: The unit of currency is the Euro (€), divided into 100 cents. Euro notes come in denominations of €500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. ATMs and exchange bureaux are widely available. All major credit cards are becoming more widely accepted in most shops and restaurants, although Germans themselves prefer to carry cash. Travellers cheques can be cashed at banks. The quickest and most convenient way to change money is to obtain cash from one of the ATM machines that are ubiquitous features of all German streets.
Language: German is the official language.
Entry requirements for Americans: US nationals require a passport for travel to Germany, a visa is not required for trips up to three months in each six month period.
Entry requirements for UK nationals: UK nationals require a passport for travel to Germany, a visa is not required for trips up to three months in each six month period.
Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadians require a passport for travel to Germany, a visa is not required for trips up to three months in every six month period.
Entry requirements for Australians: Australians require a passport for travel to Germany, a visa is not required for trips of up to three months in a six month period.
Entry requirements for South Africans: South African nationals require a valid passport and visa for travel to Germany. Also required are onward or return tickets, sufficient funds to provide financial support, and documents for further travel.
Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish nationals require a valid passport, but a visa is not needed for trips of up to three months in a six month period.
Passport/Visa Note: The borderless region known as the Schengen area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visa that allows the holder to travel freely within the borders of all.
Health: There are no serious health risks in Germany, although there have been recent outbreaks of measles in Bavaria, Lower Saxony, and North Rhine Westphalia. The German health service is excellent. There is a reciprocal health agreement with the UK and most EU countries, whose citizens are entitled to free medical and dental treatment on presentation of Form E111 (obtainable from UK post offices). Nationals of other countries should take out medical insurance.
Tipping: Some restaurant bills already have a service charge added, but if this is not the case add 10%. Hotel porters expect around €1, and cleaning staff, hairdressers, taxi drivers etc expect small tips.
Safety: A visit to Germany should be trouble free, but take normal precautions to avoid mugging, bag-snatching and pick-pocketing, especially at airports and railway stations in the large cities.
Communications: The international access code for Germany is +49. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). Note that telephone numbers in Germany can range from four to nine digits. There are surcharges on international calls made from hotels; it is often cheaper to use public telephone boxes that use phone cards; these are available from post offices. The local mobile phone operators use GSM networks and have roaming agreements with most international operators. Internet cafes are available in the main towns.
German Tourist Office: +49 (0)69 97 46 40 or www.germany-tourism.de
German Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 298 4000
German Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 7824 1300
German Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 232 1101
German Embassy, Canberra, Australia: +61 (0)2 6270 1911
German Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 (0)1 269 3011
US Embassy, Berlin: +49 (0)30 8305-0
British Embassy, Berlin: +49 (0)30 204 570
Canadian Embassy, Berlin: +49 (0)30 203 120
Australian Embassy in Berlin: +49 (0)30 880 088-0
South African Embassy, Berlin: +49 (0)30 220 730
Irish Embassy, Berlin: +49 (0)30 220 720
Berlin Tegel Airport (TXL)
Location: 5 miles (8km) north west of the centre of Berlin. Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 between the last Sunday in March and the Saturday before the last Sunday in April). Contacts: Tel: +49 180 50 00 186 (premium rate) Transfer to the city: The most convenient and cost effective way to get to and from the airport is by bus. They connect with the subway and overground train stations. Taxis are readily available outside the airport terminal, they take around 20 minutes to the city centre and cost upwards of €10. Car rental: Vehicle hire companies represented at the airport include Budget, Avis, Hertz, Europcar, National and Sixt. Facilities: Facilities include banks, bureaux de change, ATMs, a post office, business centres and baby rooms. There are several shops, including duty-free, and a selection of restaurants. Disabled facilities are good; travellers with special needs should contact their airline in advance. Website: www.berlin-airport.de
Frankfurt Airport (FRA)
Location: 8 miles (13km) south west of the centre of Frankfurt. Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 between the last Sunday in March and the Saturday before the last Sunday in April). Contacts: Tel: +49 69 6900. Transfer between terminals: The two terminals are connected by the Sky Line people mover. Transfer to the city: Buses leave regularly for Frankfurt and other destinations from outside Terminals 1 and 2, tickets can be bought from the bus driver. Many hotels provide a free shuttle service to and from the airport. Rail connections are excellent; the airport has a station beneath Terminal 1, from which trains depart regularly to central Frankfurt, 24 hours a day. There is also a long-distance train station open between 5am and midnight, accessible from Terminal 1, from which Intercity and Eurocity trains depart. Taxis are available outside both terminals, the journey to central Frankfurt takes 20 to 30 minutes and costs around €20. Car rental: Car hire companies represented in both terminals at the airport include Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz and Sixt. Facilities: Frankfurt Airport is one of the best equipped airports in the world; it even offers a casino. There are numerous restaurants, shops, bars and cafes in both terminals, and banks, bureaux de change and ATMs are in both Arrivals and Departures. A business centre offers internet, fax and secretarial facilities. Other facilities include a hairdresser, chapel and children's play areas. Disabled facilities are good; travellers with special needs should ideally contact their airline in advance. Website: www.frankfurt-airport.com
Hamburg Airport (HAM)
Location: 5 miles (8km) from Hamburg. Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 between the last Sunday in March and the Saturday before the last Sunday in April). Contacts: Tel: +49 40 50750. Transfer to the city: The Airport Express runs frequent buses to the Central Station (Hauptbahnhof). The TRAVELPorter Airport transfer service provides a door-to-door service within the local area. Hamburg Bus Lines service the city centre and other suburban areas. Taxis are readily available outside all terminals, they take around 30 minutes to the city centre and cost about €16. For taxi rides to destinations outside Hamburg passengers can negotiate a fixed price with the driver. Car rental: Avis, Europcar, Hertz, Budget, National and Sixt are all represented in Terminal 4. Facilities: Most of the airport’s facilities are to be found in Terminal 4, but there are banks and ATMs in Terminal 3 as well. There are several restaurants, shops, bars and cafes throughout the airport. There is an internet cafe in Terminal 4 Arrivals. Disabled facilities are good; passengers with special needs should contact their airline in advance. Website: www.ham.airport.de
Munich International Airport (MUC)
Location: 18 miles (29km) north east of the centre of Munich. Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 between the last Sunday in March and the Saturday before the last Sunday in April). Contacts: Tel: +49 89 975 00. Flight Information: +49 89 975 213 13. Transfer to the city: Frequent commuter trains run by day and most of the night to various Munich stations, including the main stations for connections to major European cities. Taxis are available, as are buses to many regional destinations and the main train station. It takes about 20 minutes by train and about 45 minutes by road to reach the city centre. Car rental: Car hire companies represented include Avis, Europcar, Hertz, National and Sixt. Facilities: There airport has several restaurants and bars, duty free and other shops, shower facilities and a pharmacy. ATMs and currency exchange desks are available in Arrivals and Departures. Disabled facilities are good, passengers with special needs should contact their airline in advance. Website: www.munich-airport.de
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