Germany, one of the most highly developed nations in the world and home to a disproportionately large slice of history's ingenuity, including names like Einstein, Martin Luther, Karl Marx, Beethoven and Goethe, also claims one of the largest chunks of visitors to Europe
each year. When traveling to Germany, whether you plan on basking in the sun on the North Sea Island of Sylt, perusing the world-class museums of Berlin or photographing the Gothic cathedrals of Cologne, a little background information can go a long way. Be sure to familiarize yourself with its many attractions, its brilliant culture, its tumultuous history, its wide-ranging weather and all the logistics involved in traveling through this remarkable country.
Transportation in Germany is convenient, clean and efficient and leans heavily toward mass transit. With a fast and reliable network of trains, subways and buses linking almost every corner of the country, renting a car is neither necessary nor cheap (gas and parking prices are kept very high). For long-distance travel between major cities in both Germany and other European hubs, you'd be wise to invest in a Eurail Pass (www.eurail.com).
From the wet lowlands of the north to the icy peaks and green valleys of the north, Germany's borders include a wide range of weather at all times of the year. Generally speaking, Germany's climate is similar to that of the Midwest in the U.S., with hot sunny summers, cool crisp falls and springs and gray muggy winters that see several feet of snowfall. For this reason, the largest crowds come between May and September. Be sure to pack according to both your planned destinations within Germany and the time of year.
Fluency in German will be sure to impress the Germans you meet on your trip, but it is far from necessary. Since English classes are part of the German education system, most Germans will be able to understand your questions. Of course, making an effort to learn some basic German will not only impress others, it will make your trip all the more memorable.
Unless you're arriving in Germany from any of the other 15 Schengen countries, like Austria or the Netherlands, you will have to show your passport at the port of arrival. Make sure that it is valid for at least six months from the date of entry. Citizens of most Western countries need no visa to enter Germany.
Money & Costs
The euro, Germany's official currency, is among the strongest and most stable currencies in the world. Check the current exchange at www.xe.com/ucc. Germany is an expensive place to travel, although it is not any more so than other Western European countries. Expect to spend €40 per day at the very least (staying in hostels, walking places and eating fast food), while about €120 will allow for a comfortable daily ration including a mid-range hotel, use of public transportation and meals at restaurants.
Andy has attended schools all over the world but is now on the leg last of her Bachelors Degree at Brigham Young University through Independent Study while living in China. She has studied Spanish, Finnish, and Mandarin and is majoring in English literature. She has been a writer fro Demand Studios for over a year.