The official currency of Germany is the euro. While some larger hotels will accept credit cards, cash is still most common in Germany, so make sure to take out euros from one of the many ATMs in the country.
Germany’s official language is German. Over 95% of the population speak German, but most also speak some English, as it’s taught in primary schools. You won’t have a problem communicating throughout Germany.
Best Time to Go
Summer is the most popular time to visit as it has the longest, warmest days. However, spring and autumn are arguably better times to visit, as the temperature is still comfortable, but there are generally smaller crowds. The biggest beer festival in the world, Oktoberfest, also takes place during this time of year. The holiday season is also popular as Germany has many Christmas markets and festivals throughout December and into January.
Germany has a generally temperate climate, but weather can change rapidly. The country sees a fair amount of rainfall, with summer being especially rainy. The temperature in the summer rarely tops 30°C/86°F. Winter drops to around 0°C/32°F. Spring and fall see temperatures between 10°C/50°F and 20°C/68°F.
Germany has a variety of attractions, including historical monuments, cultural artifacts, and dramatic scenery. Thus, it appeals to all manner of travellers. However, cultural travellers and history buffs will especially find a lot to explore in Germany, as its historical attractions are nearly endless.
Getting There from North America
Frankfurt am Main (FRA) is the main international airport for Germany and much of Europe. Munich Airport (MUC) is also a popular secondary hub.
Major Air Routes from the United States
There are direct flights from New York, Chicago, and Miami to Frankfurt aboard Lufthansa. You can also find some flights from these cities to Munich, Berlin, and Dusseldorf.
Major Air Routes from Canada
Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver have nonstop flights to Frankfurt and Munich aboard Lufthansa and Air Canada.
Essential Sights of Germany
The German capital has more history per square centimetre than most cities on the planet. The Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, and the Berlin Wall draw history buffs interested in learning about the nation’s foundation and the tribulations of the 20th century. However, Berlin is also arguably Europe’s most cutting edge city, with hip cafes, bars, and clubs, celebrated museums and galleries, and an eclectic art scene. Whether you want to live it up in famous nightclubs, dig into German cuisine, learn about World War II, or steal away a few hours in a city park, you’ll find a lot to occupy yourself in Berlin.
The capital of the state of Bavaria, Munich personifies the traditional, beer-drinking culture of southern Germany. It’s where Oktoberfest takes place each September and October, attracting six million people to the city to celebrate with massive tankards of seasonal ale. It’s also a great city to explore on foot, with an attractive medieval town centre and plentiful bars and restaurants to while away the hours in.
Built for the “Mad King” Ludwig II in the late 19th century, Neuschwanstein is the fairy tale castle brought to life. Its architectural style combines several influences, with a dominating Romanesque design. Its scenic mountain backdrop in the German Alps and enchanting atmosphere make it the most popular tourist attraction in all of Germany. In fact, it’s so popular, it inspired Walt Disney’s design for the castle in Sleeping Beauty.
The Black Forest
This region of rolling hills, dark forests, and quiet villages epitomizes the German landscape like no other. The Black Forest stretches from Baden Baden to the Swiss border, making it fairly large. It encompases popular landmarks such as the Triberg Waterfalls, Lake Titisee, and Feldberg. It’s best to explore at leisure by car, bicycle, or even foot. The highway along Schwarzwaldhochstrasse or the Badische Weinstrasse offers a great journey through winelands and foothills.
Other Highlights of Germany Off the Beaten Path
This city in the country’s west is one of Germany’s oldest and largest cities. Its crowning glory is the Kolner Dom, a massive cathedral that is among the world’s most beautiful churches. Beyond the historical monuments, including Hohenzollern Bridge and the Old Town, Cologne has many popular art galleries and museums, giving the city an artsy feel. It’s also great in November, when the Cologne Carnival takes place, putting on one of the best street festivals in Europe.
The northern city of Hamburg is set along the North Sea and offers a different vibe from other German cities. It’s packed with waterways and bridges and seems more like Amsterdam than Berlin. Travellers can enjoy local seafood at the Fish Market, take in some of the popular nightlife, or learn about Germany’s naval history at a local museum. It’s also worth checking out the local music scene: a certain band called the Beatles got their start in the watering holes here.
Dresden was once Germany’s most beautiful city until it was flattened by aerial bombardment in World War II. Luckily, the city was rebuilt after the war, taking advantage of the picturesque location along the Elbe River. The reconstructed city showcases Baroque architecture in buildings such as the Zwinger Palace, Frauenkirche Churche, and Procession of Princes. It’s also a great place to eat out, as the fashionable Neustadt neighbourhood has many popular cafes and restaurants, as well as a vibrant club scene.
Top Activities and Experiences
The world’s biggest autumn festival takes place over two weeks at the end of September and early October. It started in the early 19th century as a means to celebrate the marriage of Prince Ludwig and Princess Therse, and came to be an annual tradition celebrating local culture and the harvest. Visitors to Munich during Oktoberfest can choose from 14 big beer tents and try special brews from six popular breweries, including Augustiner, Paulaner, Spaten, and Lowenbrau. It doesn’t get more German than this.
See the Christmas Markets
The Christmas Markets in Germany are the most popular in the world, starting at the end of November and ending around the New Year. There are markets from Hamburg to Nuremberg to Dresden to Cologne to Berlin. You can choose a city and take advantage of the cold weather to drink some warm mulled wine, eat some delicious sweets, and experience Christmas cheer in festive settings.
Journey along the Romantic Road
This stretch of road through Bavaria and Baden-Wurttemberg takes travellers through medieval towns and alongside several popular castles, including Neueschwanstein. First popularized in the 1950s, the road has come to be an attractive way to experience some of Germany’s most attractive townships and medieval landmarks. It’s best done by staying at boutique inns or bed and breakfasts each night, experiencing German hospitality along the route.
Essential German Foods to Try
The Germans love their wurst (sausage). Whether it’s salt-cured, smoked, or grilled, you’ll find sausage on almost every German menu. Bratwurst (simply meaning fried sausage) is a popular street food, served on a bun with mustard and/or sauerkraut, but you’ll also find frankfurter, liverwurst, and currywurst to enjoy in pubs, restaurants, and homes.
This egg-drop noodle is often called German pasta, which is accurate enough. The dough is made from eggs, flour, and salt, and dropped into simmering water to cook. Spaetzle is often served alongside meats and stews, as its great at sucking up extra sauce and flavour. It’s also often served as its own dish, often fried or combined with cheese for an extra savoury kick.
Popular across the world, pretzels find their home in Germany, where they’re a favourite breakfast treat or afternoon snack. You’ll find pretzel stalls in stations and pretzels on every pub menu. The outside is crisp and the inside is soft, making the pretzel the ultimate savoury snack to pair with a cold beer.
Tips for Sustainable Travel
Germany has a good train network and excellent public transit, so take advantage of the rails and buses when exploring the country. You can connect between cities by train, which offers an attractive and environmentally-friendly way of getting around the country. Bike share programs are also common in German cities, so you can easily get around by bike. When you’re exploring natural attractions across Germany, be sure to take your waste with you and avoid walking off designated trails.
Where to Go Next
Given its central location in Europe, Germany makes for a good connecting point to several other countries. You can head south to journey through Austria, Switzerland, and Italy, head west through France, or continue east into Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. You can also head north into Denmark to explore Scandinavia. Considering that Frankfurt is one of Europe’s busiest airports, it’s easy to connect almost anywhere from Germany.
Most Popular Itineraries for Germany
A Journey Through Germany takes travellers along the Romantic Road to explore its most picturesque medieval towns, villages, and castles, including regions of the Black Forest and Neuschwanstein Castle. The Heart of Germany explores famous historical sites from Frankfurt to Nuremberg, including stops in Heidelberg, Strasbourg, Munich, and Rothenburg. Germany’s Christmas Markets is the ultimate Christmas vacation taking travellers to Nuremberg, Dresden, and Berlin to enjoy the popular Christmas Markets that transform their old towns into festive showcases.
27 Oct 2020, 8:13 p.m.