Germany Travel Tips
Germany is synonymous with a lot of things – beer, food, sausages, seriousness, hiking, castles, and parties. Yet Germany is more than beer halls and bratwurst. There is a vibrant art and music scene in Berlin, beautiful forests in the west, historic cities throughout the country, great cathedrals and castles, and picturesque “sound of music” cities and the alps on the south. Germans are often thought of as serious people who aren’t as wild as their southern European neighbors. Yet, while serious and focused, are some of the nicest, most helpful people in Europe. They aren’t as “cold” as they appear. Germany is a large country with a lot to offer travelers at really affordable prices.
- Accommodation:Accommodation in Germany is quite cheap compared to neighboring Euro-zone countries. Hostels range from $15-25 USD per night for a dorm room. A private room costs around $60 USD per night and budget hotel prices begin in the same price range.
- Food: Food in Germany is very cheap. You can eat out from outdoor vendors for around $3-4 USD (great sausages and bratwurst). Pre-made sandwiches cost around $5 USD. Fast food will cost around $8 USD. Beer usually costs $5 USD for a nice pint. If you eat in the beer halls, a traditional German meal plus a beer will cost around $15 USD. Turkish, middle eastern, and Asian food can be found for as little as $5 USD. A week’s worth of groceries will cost around $40-55 USD.
- Transportation: High speed trains are very expensive in Germany. Berlin to Munich costs over $135 USD. Most of the other intercity trains cost between $40 to $67 USD for a second class ticket. It’s cheaper to take a slow regional train or overnight bus. City transit systems cost around $2 USD per single ticket.
- Activities: Museums cost between $1-13 USD. Bike tours and river cruises can cost $27-40 USD. Most city tours are between $13-27 USD. Renting a bike costs $12 USD per day.
Money Saving Tips
- Eat at the vendors - Throughout Germany you’ll find cheap outdoor sausage vendors. These quick eats will cost a couple of Euros. Moreover, meals at many of the beer halls around the country cost only $11 USD.
- Eat cheap ethnic food - Some of the best and cheapest food in Germany is the Turkish and middle-eastern food. You can get a lot of meals for under five euros. It’s delicious, filling, and cheap and what I eat mostly while in Germany.
- Take the free tours - The bigger cities in Germany have free sightseeing tours. They are a good way to see the city, learn about the history, and get your bearings without spending money.
- Drink cheap beer - German beer is very strong and very cheap. Drink the local beer and you’ll save yourself a lot of money. After all, Germany is synonymous with beer drinking.
- Book your train early - Trains in Germany are expensive but you can get a saver ticket that is around 40-50% off the standard fare if you book at least a week in advance. These tickets have limited availability though so be flexible with your travel plans.
Top Things to See and Do
- Get lost in Berlin - Germany’s hip capital has world class museums, history, little neighborhoods and one of the best nightlife’s in Europe. I didn’t like this city at first but after visiting a second time, I saw the amazing city everyone told me about. From the museums to the art and music scene to the great bars, and cheap food, Berlin is is amazing. and one of the cheapest European capitals. Read More: How to make the most of your time in Berlin.
- Munich - Berlin’s quiet, more upscale cousin, Munich is a city steeped in history with small streets, great beer halls, amazing food, a beautiful park, surfers, and a royal palace. It’s one of Germany’s more expensive cities but it’s a beautiful city and there are a lot of great nearby Bavarian towns that make for good day trips.
- Hang out at Oktoberfest - The world’s largest 2 week beer festival filled with huge steins and giant pretzels. I went there for 5 days and had the time of my life. Buy some lederhosen, raise a class, and sing some German beer songs. ‘Nuff said. Read More: How to survive Oktoberfest.
- Hike the Black Forest - Located near the French border, the black forest is named so because of the dark green pine trees in the area. There’s hundreds of miles of hiking trails worth exploring. You can spend some time stopping in towns famous for their cuckoo clocks and typical German food. It’s a beautiful area best seen in the fall.
- Fall in love on the Romantic Road - A string of historic cities in Bavaria, the Romantic Road is a great route that helps you explore majestic Bavarian towns surrounded by snow capped mountains. It can get quite touristy but it’s a beautiful and relaxing spot to go with a girlfriend or family.
- Lake Constance – Lying along the country’s south-western border with Switzerland and Austria, Lake Constance is Germany’s largest fresh-water lake. The area around the Lake and up the lower Rhine valley has a very mild, amenable climate and fertile grounds, making it the country’s most important area for wine and fruit growing.
- Hike Berchtesgaden National Park – This national park is an alpine heaven of lush forests, steep rock faces, crystal clear lakes, sleepy villages, and rolling meadows. It’s just you, the chirping of birds, and cows ringing their brass bells. Well-marked trails wind through the spectacular scenery brimming with opportunities for hiking, and cycling.
- Trier – This is the oldest German town in the country. With a 2000-year-old history, Trier was home to six Roman emperors and has number of impressive ancient ruins. The most outstanding example is by far the Black Gate) a monumental structure that was once part of the city walls. Nested in the Moselle river valley, picturesque Trier is crowned with myriad vineyards and pastoral villages. It is very much an off the beaten path destination.
- Dresden – Explore the treasures and grand buildings of this baroque beauty bisected by the majestic Elbe River. This city was completely rebuilt after the war and today is one of the biggest nightlife spots for young people.
- Cologne – A historic city with a great cathedral. Cologne is a great place to stop in west Germany on your way to or from Holland. The cathedral itself is worth the visit. It’s huge!
- Neuschwanstein Castle – A 19th-century neo-romanticist palace on a rugged hill near Füssen. The palace was commissioned by “crazy” Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and as an homage to Richard Wagner. It’s the model for the Disney castle.
- See Frankfurt – Another great city of Germany, Frankfurt is home to several different restaurants, historical sights, and mentally stimulating attractions. There is a great exhibition hall—one of the largest in the world—and several science museums to check out. It’s less expensive compared to other cities in Germany.
- Visit Olympia Park – Located in Munich, this massive complex was originally constructed for the Olympic Games of 1972. It is topped by the largest roof in the world, spanning over 700,000 feet. There is a great restaurant here and the tour is pretty awesome. The BMW Museum is also nearby.
- Scholoss Colditz – Originally built to be a Renaissance palace, this interesting structure has a long, bizarre history. At times it went from being a hunting lodge to a poorhouse—and even a mental hospital. It is most famous for being a prison during WWII. There is a museum within the palace too.
- Tierpark Hagenbeck – Essentially a zoo, this open enclosure is over 60 acres in size and is home to more than 2,500 animals. In addition to the classic attractions, there is a petting zoo, a miniature railway, pony rides, a great playground for the kids, and a Japanese garden for the adults. It is located in Hamburg.