You might think that Germany is all about super serious people, beer and extra-long sausages, but there’s so much more to offer to tourists, from mazing sightseeing, picturesque castles, stunning National Parks and friendly people that are always up for a beer or two! Having just returned from trips to Berlin and Hamburg, I want to share with you some travel tips for Germany that should make your trip stress free and more enjoyable.
Travel Tips For Germany
Respect German rules!
As you have probably heard, Germany is a very strict country when it comes to respecting the rules and paying fines if you don’t. So, if you do not want to pay enormous amounts of money for fines, make sure you check and respect the rules there.
Pay and validate tickets if you use public transportation, don’t cross the streets on a red light, don’t throw garbage on the street, don’t go over the speed limit when you are driving etc. Also, if travelling to Germany from abroad, be sure to have all your documents done if you don’t want to make a turn back home at the airport! Check if you have your passport, and make a Germany Schengen visa appointment in London before you go – arriving without a visa is a big NO NO!
Be sure to have international health insurance or travel insurance too, as health care in Germany is more expensive than you imagine.
Do a walking tour
One of the best ways to get to know a new city is to do a walking tour, and this is no different in Germany. A country with so much recent history means you need a decent tour guide to show you around, explaining the significance of certain buildings, streets and statues. I did a street art tour while in Berlin and it really helped me get my bearings for the city, as well as learning a bit of history and learning about the art of graffiti.
In Hamburg, I did a neighbourhood tour os St Pauli with an incredibly knowledgeable guide and found myself repeating his fun facts to my friend the next day.
Have cash, not cards!
Most of the pubs, clubs, and restaurants in Germany (Berlin in particular but also encountered this in Hamburg) do not accept credit card payment! Why, I do not know, but it can be incredibly annoying and frustrating once you’re landed with a bill and cannot pay. I always kept cash on me and took out large amounts at the ATM so not to get caught out. Trust me when I saw this, pretty much NOWHERE in Berlin would accept payment by card!!
Stay INSIDE the city
While German cities can be massive and public transportation is in general amazing, staying outside the city means you can feel quite isolated and cut off. Also, if you want to experience the best nightlife German cities have to offer, staying in the sticks will involve a lot of expensive taxi rides.
I also found that certain Airbnbs were in weird areas, and far away from bars and clubs so be sure to do proper research before booking. Here’s my guide on cheap places to stay in Munich.
Don’t wait for Sunday
It is well-known that all around Germany, shops, supermarkets, clubs and even pharmacies are closed on Sunday. So, better be prepared and do your shopping before you run out of something on the day. If this happens you are going to have to wait until Monday morning which in some cases can be a bit difficult – especially if it’s a food emergency! ;-) Want to know what to eat?? Check out my food guide.
Drink on the streets
Believe it or not, everyone in Germany drinks on the streets and it is perfectly acceptable. In fact, I found that in many areas of Berlin the most fun was to be had in the pop-up bottle stores that sold beer and wine for half the price of local bars and has makeshift crates outside that you could sit down or chill out on.
Many people hang out and drink either outside of bars on the streets, or outside liquor stores before heading to other bars and clubs.
Taking a taxi in Germany is a bit more expensive than you would have taught, so if you are on a low budget it is better to avoid them. Still, if you have no other option than to take a taxi then you should better find someone to share it with. There are lots of ridesharing options, both for short and long distances. Some cities, however, don’t have Uber so taxis and buses will have to do! You can even rent cars for super short periods, as little as 10 minutes, to get from A to B.
Get a transport card
German cities have amazing transport systems, with huge metro and bus networks that you should make the most of. I found getting a 2 or 3-day pass was the best option then you can use public transport for free as many times as you like.