Germany is one of the most influential countries in the EU, since the 1990 reunification of East and West Germany the country has become a leading power in Europe. As such you can expect a very high standard of life, perhaps a little pricey but compared to the countries of the eastern block or the south Mediterranean you will have a cosmopolitan and comfortable time in Germany.
A large part of German history is of course the 2 world wars and much of the attractions that people come to Germany for are from the World War II period. However far from glorifying war many of the sights are amongst the most moving in the world.
Germany, being a leading light of Western Europe of course has the bustling, busy and up to date nightlife that would be expected in a modern European country. Indeed Germany has several time been a leading light especially in dance music, boasting acts such as Kraftwerk and Alec Empire and being the spiritual home of gabba (very fast techno) you wonít find many places better than Germany to party.
- Currency: Euro (€) 1 euro = 100 cents
- Time Zone: GMT + 1
- Language: German
- Telephone Services: Country code +49, International access code 00
- Emergency Numbers: 112 for all services
During the summer months the days are warm and the nights are generally quite cool making Germany quite a temperate place to come too, however rain can occur at any time during the year and much like Britain, Germany has itís fair share of summer thunder storms. The autumn is also relatively mild and winters are not too cold, this means if you take sensible clothes (such as a sweater and rain coat at all times) Germanyís climate is on the whole quite hospitable. In the winter high areas such as the alps can actually experience short spells of warm weather (warmer than the lowland anyway) due to the fohn which is a warm southern wind.
Things to see and do
A hub for travel throughout Europe, a centre of finance and capital of Germany, Berlin is a worthwhile visit on any tour. Berlin is best explored on foot where you will have time to appreciate the 50 year old preserved architecture of the east part of Berlin and the tasteful modern rejuvenation projects which have brought Berlin back from a crippled, divided city to the strong unified capital it is today. In Berlin you will be able to see such inspired buildings as the Reichstag the neo-Renaissance building which houses the German Parliament. The other benefit of Berlin is that it has the best night life and restaurants in the country. Be sure to schedule at least two days in Berlin as you mights need the second one to recover from the night before!
Munich is the next must see destination in Germany, noted for housing the worlds largest science and technology expo at the Deutsches Museum Munich still manages to keep a cultural identioty with more theatres than you will find anywhere else in the country. You will find traditional German beer halls in abundance here but if it all gets too claustrophobic the Englischer Garten offers the perfect place to relax. One of Europes largest city parks the "Garten" covers an area of nearly one and a half square miles. Lubeck is an often overlooked site in Germany, and far up in the northern state of Scleswig-Holstein you will find this to your taste if you like to get a little off the beaten track. Earning a place on UNESCOís world heritage list, Lubeck is a well restored medieval town, the old town suffered extensive damage during world war II but much of the city has been restored. Of particular interest the Marionettentheatre which is a captivating puppet theatre which really shouldnít be missed.
German train travel is efficient and comfortable but unfortunately these luxuries mean that German trains are also quite expensive. The network is run by Deutsche Bahn and covers most of Germany. Although expensive you can bring travel costs down by looking for good budget deals which are invariably on offer.
The happy weekend ticket (Schoens Wochenende Ticket) is a particularly good buy. This ticket allows travel for up to five people on local trains, all weekend for just over £20. You really canít get much better than this and even though the ticket is limited to second class with German trains this isnít really a problem.
There are German flexi-passes available which allow between 5 and 15 days travel within a 1 month period. These tickets are quite good value and there is a substantial discount for those under 25. If you have a European rail pass such as Interail or Eurail you will also be able to use these passes in Germany.
Germany has an extensive bus network which is marginally cheaper than travelling on the trains for long distances. The bus network is run by a variety of private local companies and you will find both domestic routes and routes out to major European destinations. Central bus stations for the most part will be located next to train stations and are normally clearly signposted with the word busbahnhoff.
As you would expect there is a vast selection of hotels scattered throughout Germany, these will normally be quite pricey so it is recommended to find alternative accommodation. A more affordable solution is a Pension which is a broad equivalent to a bed and breakfast and this is also a good way to meet some local people and get to integrate with the German culture a little more.
There are 640 youth hostels in Germany, these are open to members of any international youth hostel association such as the YHA. You can also apply for membership at the German Youth Hostel Association who also maintain listings for and regulate youth hostels. More information can be found on their website.
Germany has an extremely good health service and anyone carrying a completed E111 and with a comprehensive travel insurance policy should have no problem getting state of the art treatment should it be required.
There are no known health risks present in Germany, there are no vaccinations recommended before visiting the country and the tap water can be considered safe to drink.
The German National Tourist Office provides travel information and advice for tourists visiting Germany.
The German Youth Hostel Association maintains listings and information on over 640 youth hostels throughout Germany.
Deutsche Bahn runs the countries efficient train network.