Back to Itineraries

Weather & Climate of germany

Germany has a mild weather, with hot summers and cold winters, although long periods of freeze or snow are very rare. It rains during the year, especially in July. During the summer, the storms usually bring thunders and lightning storms. It can get to be very cold in winter, and the lakes and channels of the country usually freeze. The average temperatures are 2°C in winter and 24°C in summer.

It is convenient to bring light clothes for summer, and warm ones for winter. It is also convenient to have a raincoat as part of the luggage, no matter the time of the year in which you travel.

Much of Germany lies some distance closer to the equator than the UK. You might therefore expect that the general principle would be that the weather would be warmer. You would be wrong. With the exception of the North West of the country, Germany is a long way from the sea and thus, it experiences a continental climate not at all like the temperate maritime climate enjoyed by the UK. This means that the winters are colder than in the UK and the summers are hotter.

The summers can often be uncomfortably hot but there is one other thing of which you should be aware. Rain storms, often with thunder can arrive vey suddenly even on hot days with otherwise sunny weather. Being out in one of these does not just involve getting very wet. They arise from air which has been over the mountains and is very cold. The water may be only just above freezing and given that the volume is roughly equivalent to having a bucketful chucked over you every second, you should be able to appreciate that getting stuck out in this kind of rain can be seriously bad for you.

Spring
April – May. In April, the weather is most unpredictable in Germany. It can be sunny and warm or rainy, windy and cold. Even hail or snowshowers are possible, especially at the higher elevations. “April, April, der macht, was er will!” goes the saying. May is usually a beautiful month as plantlife starts again and the country turns green. The days get longer and you can smell spring in the air. It can be a rather mild and warm month with little precipitation. People swing onto their bicycles and enjoy the singing of the birds and the awakening of nature.

Summer
June – September. Precipitation in Germany peaks in the summer months. Humidity levels can be high and there is always a chance of an afternoon thunderstorm, especially during July and August. Summer temperatures usually range between 22 and 30°C. Prolonged heat waves with temperatures up to 35°C are rare. It is – usually – warmer in southern Germany. The particularly pleasant climate in the Rhine and Moselle regions allows for successful cultivation of vine.

Autumn
October – November. In October, weather can still be sunny and warm. People are sitting in the beer gardens and street cafés, enjoying the “Altweibersommer” (Indian summer). In November, however, the scene changes. Days are getting noticeably shorter, and even in the midday hours the distinction between sky and land becomes difficult. It usually is misty, foggy and cool, uniformly grey – a time to appreciate a cozy home and start engaging in pre-Christmas crafts and light some candles.

Winter
December – March. Winters are rather mild with daytime temperatures averaging between 0 and 5°C. However, temperatures can fall far below zero, especially at night. It is – usually – colder in eastern and southern Germany and warmer in the North and in the Rhine regions. Snowfall normally occurs in December, January and February. The amount of snowfall is influenced mainly by altitude. Apart from the Alpine regions, the Bavarian Forest receives the most snow.

Best time to visit: 

As with most European countries, Germany is a year-round destination but not especially dependable weather-wise.

In general terms though, it's temperate throughout the country with warm summers and cold winters - prolonged periods of frost or snow are rare. Rain falls throughout the year, with much of Germany experiencing its maximum rainfall over the high summer months. Unpredictability, then, is a major factor. The average January daytime temperature is 3°C (38°F) and in July is 22°C (72°F). Extremes commonly reach -10°C (5°F) in winter and 35°C (95°F) in the summer months.

While Munich might be considerably further south than Berlin, the fact that the Bavarian capital sits at a much higher altitude means the two cities have broadly comparable summers. The highest annual temperatures tend to be in the southwest, where there’s almost a Mediterranean feel to the landscape at times. Unsurprisingly, this is where much of Germany’s wine is grown.

May through to September are the most popular months in terms of tourist numbers, and certainly hold the most appeal for visitors aiming to spend significant periods of time outdoors. However, the spring and autumn shoulder seasons also hold real attraction for those who want the promise of decent weather without the tourist levels. The winter holidays are also a big draw in their way, due in no small part to their attendant Christmas markets. Peak season for ski areas is from December through to the end of March.

Away from the mountains, January through to April will appeal to those who enjoy the benefits of un-crowded attractions, although be aware that cities like Berlin rarely witness "slow" periods at any time of year. Prices tend to be slightly higher over the summer months. One other thing to bear in mind is that hotel rates can increase when large trade shows are in town (potentially a problem in Frankfurt, for example).

 

Currency

As on 23 July 2013 1 Euro = 78.75 INR

Germany has the euro (EUR, €) as its currency. Therewith, Germany belongs to the 23 European countries that use the common European money. These 23 countries are: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain (official euro members which are all European Union member states) as well as Andorra, Kosovo, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino and Vatican which use it without having a say in eurozone affairs and without being European Union members. These countries together have a population of 327 million.

One euro is divided into 100 cents. While each official euro member (as well as Monaco, San Marino and Vatican) issues its own coins with a unique obverse, the reverse as well as all bills look the same throughout the euro zone. Nonetheless, every coin is legal tender in any of the euro zone countries.

If you have marks remaining from previous trips, they can still be exchanged at certain banks: inquire first before you attempt to convert your marks.

Do not expect anybody to accept foreign currencies or to be willing to exchange currency. An exception is shops and restaurants at airports and also - more rarely - fast-food restaurants at major train stations. These will generally accept at least US dollars at a slightly worse exchange rate. If you wish to exchange money, you can do so at any bank, where you can also cash in your traveller's cheques. Currency exchanges, once a common sight, have all but disappeared since the introduction of the euro. Again, international airports and train stations are an exception to this rule. Swiss Franc can sometimes be accepted near the Swiss border.

While German domestic debit cards - called EC-Karte or girocard - (and, to a lesser extent, PIN-based Maestro cards) enjoy almost universal acceptance, this is not true for credit cards (VISA, MasterCard, American Express) or foreign debit cards (VISA Debit/Electron etc.), which are not as widely accepted as in other European countries or the United States but will be accepted in several major retail stores and some fast food restaurants.

Don't be fooled by seeing card terminals in shops or other people paying with cards - these machines may not necessarily be programmed to accept foreign cards, so it is best to inquire or look out for acceptance decals before shopping or fuelling your car.

Hotels, larger retailers, chain gas stations and nationwide companies accept credit cards; supermarkets, discount stores or small independent shops tend not to (with exceptions). Some places impose a minimum purchase amount (typically 10 Euros) for card payments. Most ATMs will allow you to withdraw money with your credit card or foreign debit card, but you'll need to know your card's PIN for that.

 

 

Clothing

Required clothing: 

European clothes according to season with light- to medium weight in summer, medium- to heavy weights in winter. If you’re intending to visit the mountains – and particularly if you’re planning a long-distance hike – it’s best to take waterproof gear and extra layers with you, no matter what the time of year.

Clothing - Everyday

Germany’s “dress code” generally calls for casual wear, particularly along the tourist track. Bring clothing that allows you to sit comfortably on a bus or train for long hours as well as walk around the cities and villages you plan to visit. Even if you don’t plan to dine at upscale restaurants or attend the opera, bring a set of dress-up clothing that you can use just in case the occasion calls for a nicer outfit. The shoes you bring to Germany depend on your travel plans. In general, gym or tennis shoes allow for the most versatility. They are good for walking around both the city and the country and are fully acceptable by societal standards. If you plan to stay in hostels or smaller guesthouses with shared bathrooms, then a pair of shower sandals is recommended.

Clothing - Weather Specific

The clothes you bring to Germany depend on where and when you are travelling; for the most part, Germany has four seasons, so plan accordingly. Germany’s weather calls for rain at nearly all times of the year, thus bringing a rain/water-resistant coat or jacket is essential. Always bring a sweater, sweatshirt or long-sleeve shirt of some sort, even during the summer, as both the day and night temperatures can cool down, causing discomfort.

 

Shopping

Shopping

In common with most other Western European languages, the meanings of points and commas are exactly reverse to the English custom; in German a comma is used to indicate a decimal. For example, 2,99€ is two euros and 99 cents. The "€" symbol is not always used and may be placed both in front or after the price. A dot is used to "group" numbers (one dot for three digits), so "1.000.000" would be one million. So "123.456.789,01" in German is the same number as "123,456,789.01" in English speaking countries.

Taxes: Retail prices are reasonable and lower than in northern European countries but the value added tax, V.A.T., "Umsatzsteuer" (official, but even politicians use this rather sparsely) or "Mehrwertsteuer" (most Germans use this word) has been increased to 19% from 2007 onwards and therefore prices will slightly rise. Fuel, sparkling wine, spirits and tobacco are subject to even higher taxes, the first of those excise taxes - the "Branntweinsteuer" (spirit tax) - first being imposed on Nordhäuser Branntwein (the ancestor of Nordhäuser Korn) in 1507, the certainly most ridiculous of them - the sparkling wine tax - being introduced by Emperor Wilhelm II to finance the Kiel Canal and his war fleet. Some German brands of high end goods such as kitchen utensils, stationery, and hiking gear are considerably cheaper than abroad. V.A.T. is always included by law in an item's price tag (only exception is for goods that are commercially exported but then duties might apply). There exists a reduced V.A.T of 7% i.a. for hotels (but not for edibles consumed within), edibles (certain items considered luxury goods, e.g. lobster, are exempted from this reduction), print products, public transport (short-distance only) and admission price for opera or theatre.

Supermarkets: Many Germans rather look for prices than for quality when shopping for food. As a result, the competition between food discounters (which might be the cause of this very specific behaviour) is exceptionally fierce (in fact, WalMart had to retract from the German market because it failed at competing on price) and results in very low food prices compared to other European countries (though not compared to North America or the UK - as a general rule, a discount German supermarket will have similar quality compared to a North American discounter, but at mid-range prices). The chains "Aldi", "Lidl", "Penny" and "Plus/Netto" are a special type of supermarket (don't call it "Supermarkt" - Germans call it "Discounter"; a Supermarkt/super market has slightly higher prices, but also a much wider range of products even of decent quality): Their range of products is limited to the necessities of daily life (like vegetables, pasta, milk, eggs, convenience foods, toiletries etc.), sold in rather simple packaging for tightly calculated prices. While quality is generally surprisingly high, do not expect delicatessen or local specialties when you go to shop there. Many Germans buy their daily needs there and go to the more "standard" supermarket (like the chains Rewe, Edeka, Real, Tengelmann/Kaisers, Globus or Famila) to get more special treats. The personnel in these shops are trained to be especially helpful and friendly and there are big cheese/ meat and fish counters where fresh products are getting sold. Don't blame discounter personnel for being somewhat harsh; although they are paid slightly better than usual, they have to cope with a rather grim working atmosphere and a significantly higher workload than colleagues in "standard" supermarkets and therefore are certainly not amused about being disturbed in getting their work done. Beside those major chains, Turkish supermarkets which can be found in townships with predominantly Turkish population can be a worthwhile alternative since they combine the characteristics of discounters (low price levels but limited assortment) with those of "standard" supermarkets ((Turkish) specialties and usually friendly personnel).

If you are looking for organic products, your best bet is to visit a "Bioladen" or "Biosupermarkt". (Bio- generally means organic.) There are also many farmers selling their products directly ("Hofladen"), most of them organized in the "Bioland" cooperative. They offer reasonable food at reasonable prices.

Similarly it applies to clothes; although competition on this market is not that fierce and quality varies, cheap clothing of sufficient quality might be bought at C&A, but don't expect designer clothes though. During the end-of-season sales you should also compare prices of conventional stores since they may be even cheaper than the discounters. H&M sells cheap, stylish clothing, but with notoriously awful quality.

Be prepared to bag your own groceries and goods as well as provide your own shopping bags for doing so. While most stores provide plastic as well as canvas shopping bags at the checkout, you are charged for them. The Germans think it is more environmentally-friendly to re-use bags rather than get a new one each time. It's a good reminder to also keep a euro coin handy for the buggies/shopping carts. They all require a euro to use the cart but you get it back once your shopping is done. At most super markets you can spot a canister with lots of cardboard boxes in it, usually after the cash point. You are allowed to take cardboard boxes from there! It's a service the markets offer and also easy waste disposal for them. Just tell them you are getting yourself a box when the cashier starts to scan your goods, come back and start packing.

Factory Outlets: Germany has only about 6 Factory Outlet Centers, but approximately up to 1000 Factory Outlets called "Fabrikverkauf".

Local Products: You can find local food products (not necessarily organic) in most places at the farmer's market ("Wochenmarkt" or simply "Markt"), usually once or twice a week. While you your chances on finding english-speaking sellers there may be somewhat reduced, it's nevertheless quite fun to shop there and mostly you will get fresh and good quality food for reasonable prices. Most winemakers sell their products either directly or in "Winzergenossenschaften" (winemaker cooperatives). These wines are almost always superior to the ones produced by German wine brands. Quality signs are "VdP" ("Verband deutscher Prädikatsweingüter", symbolized by an eagle) and "Ecovin" (German organic winemaker cooperative). Wines made of the most typical German wine varieties are usually marked with "Classic".

Souvenirs:
German honey is a good souvenir, but only "Echter Deutscher Honig" is a guarantee for reasonable quality.
Along the German coasts, smoked eel is quite a common delicacy and a typical souvenir.

Cheese: If you head for a supermarket (even a "standard" one) to buy some cheese you certainly will discover its taste being as cheesy as the TV spot propagating it. What even many Germans do not know is that beside those "Qualitätsprodukte" (literally: quality produces – one of many quite cynical German legal terms), there actually exists an astonishing German cheese variety – you may find them in (one of the rare) cheese stores or in Bioläden.

Recycling: Germany has an elaborate and confusing beverage container deposit ("Pfand") system. Reusable bottles, glass and plastic, usually cost between 8 and 25 cents Pfand per bottle depending on size and material. Additional Pfand is due for special carrying baskets matching the bottle measures. The Pfand can be cashed in at any store which sells bottles, often by means of a high-tech bottle reader than spins the bottle, reads the Pfand, and issues a ticket redeemable with the cashier. Plastic bottles and cans usually cost 25 Cents Pfand, if not they are marked as pfandfrei. Exempt from Pfand are liquors and plastic boxes usually containing juice. There are also a few other instances where Pfand is due, for example for standardized gas containers. Pfand on glasses, bottles and dishware is also common at discotheques, self-service bars or public events, but usually not at a students' cafeteria.

Cigarettes are easily available in most kiosks, supermarkets and newsagents. Cigarette machines are often dotted around towns and cities (be aware you will need an EU driving licence or a debit card with an electronic chip to "unlock" the machine). As of July 2009, a pack of 17 costs around €4.20 and a pack of 24 costs around €5.70. The legal age to buy tobacco and smoke publicly in Germany is 18. Many Germans buy paper and tobacco separately as this is cheaper.

Opening hours

Due to a federal reform, opening hours are set by the states, therefore opening hours vary from state to state. Some states like Berlin, Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein have no more strict opening hours from Monday to Saturday (however, you will rarely find 24 hours shops other than at petrol stations). Sunday and national holidays (including some obscure ones) is normally closed for shops everywhere in Germany, including pharmacies. However single pharmacies remain open for emergencies (every pharmacy will have a sign telling you which pharmacy is currently open for emergencies). Shops are allowed to open on Sundays on special occasions called "Verkaufsoffener Sonntag". Every German city uses these days except Munich.

As a rule of thumb:

  • Supermarkets: 8 or 9AM – 8PM
  • big supermarkets 8AM - 10PM
  • Rewe supermarkets 7AM - 10PM or midnight
  • Shopping centers and large department stores: 10AM - 8PM
  • Department stores in small cities: 10AM - 7PM
  • Small and medium shops: 9 or 10AM – 6.30PM (in big cities sometimes to 8PM)
  • Petrol stations: in cities and along the "Autobahn" usually 24h a day
  • Restaurants: 11.30AM – 11 or 12AM(midnight), sometimes longer, many closed during afternoon

Small shops are often closed from 1 to 3PM If necessary in many big cities you will find a few (sometimes more expensive) supermarkets with longer opening hours (often near the main station). Bakeries usually offer service on Sunday mornings (business hours vary) as well. Also most petrol stations have a small shopping area.

In some parts of Germany (like Berlin, Cologne, Düsseldorf and the Ruhr area) there are cornershops called "Späti" oder "Spätkauf" ("latey"), "Kiosk", "Trinkhalle" (drinking hall) or "Büdchen" (little hut) that offer newspapers, drinks and at least basic food supplies. These shops are often run by Arab or Turkish immigrants and are, depending on the area, open till late night or even 24/7.

Basic supplies can usually be bought around the clock at gas stations. Gas station owners work around opening hour restrictions by running 7-Eleven style mini marts on their gas station property. Be aware that prices are usually quite high. Another exception to this law are supermarkets located in touristy areas. Towns designated as a Kurort (health resort) are allowed to have their stores open all week during tourist season. Just ask a local for those well-kept secret stores.

Train stations are allowed to and frequently have their stores/shops open on Sundays, though usually for limited hours. In some larger cities such as Leipzig and Frankfurt, this can include an entire shopping mall that happens to be attached to the train station.

Some Well known Shopping Streets in Germany

The heart and soul of a German town lies in its city center: The downtown pedestrian zone, a car-free shopping street lined on both sides with shops and department stores.

Probably the liveliest place on a Saturday in Germany, a stroll down a shopping street means much more than merely buying things: Dotted with cafes, ice cream parlours, and restaurants, churches, theatres, and old town squares, German shopping streets are a great taste of German life.

Here is an overview of the most popular and liveliest shopping streets in Germany.

1. Cologne's Shopping Street: The Schildergasse

The pedestrian zone in the city center of Cologne, called Schildergasse, is the busiest shopping street in Europe; with nearly 13,000 people passing through every hour, it even makes London's Oxford Street take second place.

The Schildergasse offers international department stores and modern architecture, but the street has a long history; it dates back to ancient Roman times and was open for business in the Middle Ages.

Try a pastry at Café Riese, family-run for over 100 years, and stop in to one of the many perfumeries to buy a fine bottle of "Eau de Cologne". Make sure to stroll down the adjacent pedestrian street Hohe Straße, which leads you to the landmark of the city, the impressive Cathedral of Cologne.

2. Munich's Shopping Streets: Kaufinger - and Sendlingerstraße

Shopaholics get their fix in Munich's city center; start your shopping spree at Marienplatz, in the heart of Munich's Old Town.

For foodies, the large open-air market Viktualienmarkt is a must-see (and must-taste). On the adjacent Kaufingerstraße, you can buy clothes, books, jewellery, and shoes, all the way till you reach the medieval city gate Karlstor.

Sendlinger Straße also starts at Marienplatz and is home to many family-run retailing and specialty shops. The street is a great place to hunt for arts and crafts, or a Dirndl (a traditional Bavarian costume), and to try some Bavarian treats after a long shopping day.

3. Frankfurt's Shopping Street: Zeil

The premier place to shop in Frankfurt is the shopping street Zeil, especially the area between Konstablerwache and Hauptwache.

Also called "The Fifth Avenue" of Germany, this shopping street offers everything from chic boutiques, to international department chains for the discerning shopper.

Don't miss the Zeil Galerie, a 10 floor shopping center, which is famous for its spiral shaped interior and a viewing platform that offers the best views of Frankfurt.

On the adjacent Goethestraße, you can drop some serious cash (or do some wishful window shopping) at world class jewellers (Cartier, Tiffany), international designers (Armani, Versace), or gourmet restaurants.

4. Düsseldorf's Shopping Street: Königsallee

Düsseldorf is home to the most elegant shopping boulevard in Germany, the Königsallee (King’s Avenue), or “Kö”, as the locals like to call it.

Stretching along the banks of the river in the heart of Düsseldorf, the promenade is not only lined with hundred-year old chestnut trees, but also with some of the most luxurious boutiques, high-end designer stores, and shopping malls in the country. Great place for window shopping and people watching!

5. Hamburg's Shopping Street: "Mö"

Hamburg's most popular shopping street is the Mönckebergstraße.
The "Mö", as the people of Hamburg call their pedestrian zone, runs from the central train station to the richly decorated City Hall of Hamburg.

The shopping boulevard is lined with historical merchant's villas, which are now home to a wide variety of popular department stores; expect no less than Europe's largest sports store (Karstadt), and the world's biggest electronics store (Saturn).

An architectural gem is the historical Levantehaus, a traditional brick stone house-turned-shopping centre, now home to high class specialty shops, international restaurants, and the exclusive hotel Park Hyatt.

6. Berlin's Shopping Street: Ku'damm

The Kurfürstendamm, or simply Ku'damm, is Berlin's most popular shopping street. The 2 mile long boulevard is packed with international shops (Zara, H&M, Mango, Esprit), hotels, restaurants, and movie theatres, which still advertise their program with hand painted film posters.

Browse the Kadewe, the biggest department store in Continental Europe, where you get everything from designer labels, to jewelry, and cosmetics; don't miss the legendary gourmet department, located on the top floor.

Make sure to promenade through the quiet side streets of the Ku'damm, such as Fasanenstraße, where you find beautiful townhouses, cozy cafés, art galleries, and antique stores.

Some Discount Outlet Stores in Germany


Want to go shopping in Germany without blowing your budget? Then hit one of Germany's discount outlet stores, where you can find great bargains all year round; designer fashion, jewellery, shoes, and household wares are often reduced up to 70%, because they are either from last season or overstock items.
Most German discount outlets are open six days a week (Monday - Saturday), but during holiday season, some of them open their doors also on Sundays.
Here are Germany's most popular discount and designer outlets where you can shop and save to your heart's content. Happy hunting!

1. Hugo Boss Outlet Store in Metzingen

The Hugo Boss outlet store in Metzingen, 19 miles south of Stuttgart, is one of the most famous factory outlets in Germany: Hugo Boss, which was founded in Metzingen and still has its headquarters there, offers everything from business wear, casual wear and sportswear, to shoes, handbags, and accessories, promising savings between 20 and 70%.

Bogner, Escada, Jil Sander, Strenesse, Reebok, and many other designers followed the example of Hugo Boss and opened their own discount outlets in Metzingen, transforming the city into a hot spot for the discerning, budget-minded shopper.

2. PUMA and Adidas Outlet Stores

When the German brothers Rudi and Adolf Dassler both wanted to produce the perfect sports shoe in the 1920s, they created two of the most famous sports brands in the world: PUMA and adidas.

You’ll find the headquarters as well as the discount outlet stores of adidas and PUMA still in the hometown of the Dassler family; in Herzogenaurach in Bavaria, 14 miles northwest of Nuremberg, you can hunt for sports gear, shoes, and clothing at rock bottom prices. Decide for yourself whether PUMA or adidas is the better fit – a feud that split the Dassler family forever.

3. Designer Outlet Center Zweibruecken

You’ll find one of Germany’s largest open-air outlet centers in the town of Zweibruecken, in the southwest of the country. Shop in more than 64 designer stores and save from 30 up to 70%. International brands include Calvin Klein, Diesel, Lacoste, Marc Picard Ralph Lauren, Svarovski, and Versace, just to name a few. Cafes, wine bars, fashion shows, and open-air concerts keep you entertained after your shopping spree.

4. Wertheim Village Outlet Store

In Wertheim Village, 55 miles southeast of Frankfurt and close to the Romantic Road, you can shop in 100 different luxury outlet boutiques, hunting for bargains from Aigner, Joop, Marc O’ Polo, Trussardi Jeans, Versace, and many more. Prices are up to 60% reduced.

A shuttle bus connects the discount outlets with the Old Town of Wertheim, a medieval village known for its well-preserved half-timbered houses.

5. Berlin Designer Outlet B5

Germany’s first discount outlet store was built 6 miles west of Berlin, selling over 100 international designer clothes and accessories from Prada, Tommy Hilfiger, adidas, Dolce&Gabbana, Versace, GUCCI, Mango, Nike, Replay, Levis, and Burberry, just to name a few.

6. Steiff Factory Store

The German Steiff toys are made only out of the finest materials, such as felt, mohair, or woven plush; they come with the traditional "button in ear" - and mostly with a hefty price tag as well. You can get good deals if you travel to the birthplace of the Steiff toys in Giengen, 90 miles west of Munich. After visiting the factory shop, make sure to stop by the interactive toy museum and the workshops, were the plush toys are made by hand.

Gifts and Souvenirs from Germany

Looking for a great gift or souvenir from Germany and need some inspiration?
Here are 8 unique and classic gifts that are made in Germany. You can pick them up in Germany on your travels, but if you don't want to pack them, just buy them online.

Dr. Hauschka Skin Care
Give the gift of beauty and well-being: Women from all over the world love Dr. Hauschka's natural skin care from Germany.
Dr. Hauschka follows a holistic approach to skin care and only uses organic ingredients, and all their products are free from preservatives.

Birkenstock Shoes
Birkenstock shoes have been manufactured in Germany since 1774; with their contoured cork and rubber foot bed, they are comfortable and healthy. But did you know that the "Birks" are also trendy? They come in such fresh colors as plum, stone blue, or passion flower, and you can choose between many different designs.

Hummel Figurines
The German porcelain factory W. Goeble closed down at the end of 2008, which makes these little collectibles even more valuable.
Designed after the drawings of the German nun Maria Innocentia Hummel, every character is handcrafted; this process takes several weeks and makes every figurine unique – and definitely cute.

Schiesser Underwear
German engineering at its finest: Schiesser has been one of Germany's leading manufacturers of high-quality men's underwear and swimwear for over 125 years. Schiesser even brought back the "fine ribbed" tighty whity to Germany.

Steiff Toys
The lovely stuffed animals from Steiff not only put a smile on children's faces, but also on those of worldwide collectors. The Steiff Teddy Bear is made only out of the finest materials, such as felt, mohair, and woven plush. Make sure your plush toy has the Steiff trademark, the original "button in ear" that keeps imitations at bay.

Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale Book
The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales include such classics as Snow White, Cinderella, and Little Red Riding Hood. Give this story book to a child or the young at heart: No matter what age, it is always magical to conjure up the Germany of old times with its mysterious forests, romantic castles and medieval villages.

Cuckoo Clock
The cuckoo clock is THE signature gift from Germany. You can spice this gift up by choosing a more contemporary model: The cuckoo clocks of today come in bold colors and modern designs, and some are even made out of stainless steel.

German Rail Pass
The German Rail Pass is a practical gift for everybody who wants to explore Germany. With this pass, you can travel throughout Germany for 4 to 10 days within a period of one month, and even make stops in Austria and Switzerland. You can purchase the German Rail Pass at any train station or travel agency in Germany, or online.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a visa to travel to Germany?
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.

We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.

Is tipping customary in Germany?
When dining out, service charges and taxes are usually included in the bill. Rounding up to the nearest euro or adding 5-10% is customary, although optional.

What is the internet access like in Germany?
Internet access is good in Germany, with Internet cafes and Wi-Fi hotspots easily found in most cities and major towns.

Can I use my mobile/cell phone while in Germany?
Mobile phone coverage is generally very good in most parts of Germany. Ensure global roaming is activated before you arrive.

What are the toilets like in Germany?
Modern, flushable toilets are the standard in Germany.

What will it cost for a…?
City public transport ride = 2 Euro
Stein of beer = 2.5-4 Euro
Simple cafe lunch = 10 Euro
Nice meal in a restaurant = 20-30 Euro

Can I drink the water in Germany?
Tap water is considered safe to drink unless otherwise marked.

Are credit cards accepted widely in Germany?
Major credit cards are widely accepted by stores and hotels in Germany. Smaller cafes and shops may not accept credit cards, so ensure you carry enough cash to cover small purchases.

What is ATM access like in Germany?
ATMs are very common in Germany, so finding one won't be a problem in most towns and cities.

Do I need to purchase travel insurance before travelling in Germany?
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

What public holidays are celebrated in Germany?
Jan 1 New Year's Day
Jan 6 Epiphany*
Mar 29 Good Friday
Apr 1 Easter Monday
May 1 Labour Day
May 9 Ascension
May 20 Whit Monday
May 30 Corpus Christi*
Aug 15 Assumption*
Oct 3 Day of Germany Unity
Oct 31 Day of Reformation*
Nov 1 All Saints' Day
Nov 20 Repentance Day*
Dec 25 Christmas Day
* Not observed in all areas of Germany

Should I get vaccinated?

No vaccinations are required.

What is Germany’s currency?

Since Jan. 1, 2002, euro bills and coins have been in circulation in Germany and 11 other EU member nations. (Actually, the euro has been the official currency since 1999.) There are 100 cents in a euro.

What do I do if I have old D-Mark coins and bills?

Coins can no longer be converted into euros, but bills can. You can take them to one of the branches of Germany's federal bank, the Deutsche Bundesbank, where they will be converted free of charge. Regular banks no longer perform this service.

Where and when can I change money?

In banks, post offices, change bureaus, airports, railway stations, and major hotels. You can get cash from automatic teller machines (ATMs) at most banks and in many retail locations using a credit card or debit card, if the card shows the symbol of an affiliated international banking organization. Bank opening hours are generally 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday, Thursday until 6 p.m. in main cities. MoneyGram and Western Union are money wiring services. MoneyGram: 0800 66639472, Western Union: (0681) 933 3328. Both may be located in airports or major train stations.

Are credit cards accepted in Germany?

In major hotels, upscale restaurants and big department stores, yes. However, they are not nearly as widely accepted as in most other European countries, Canada or the United States, with about 60 percent of stores and restaurants still refusing them. You can buy train tickets with a credit card but not tickets for local transportation or taxis.

What goods can I bring in to Germany?

If arriving from a non-EU country, you may bring in the following:

  1. Tobacco (person bringing goods must be at least 17 years old): 200 cigarettes OR 100 cigarillos OR 50 cigars OR 250 grams of tobacco.
  2. Alcohol (person bringing goods must be at least 17 years old): 1 liter spirits with alcohol content of greater than 22% OR 2 liters spirits/aperitif made of wine/alcohol with 22% alchohol or less, OR 2 liters sparkling wine /liqueur.
  3. Coffee (person bringing goods must be at least 15 years old): 500 grams of coffee OR 200 grams instant coffee.
  4. Perfume and eau de toilette: 50 grams perfume AND 0.25 liters eau de toilette.
  5. e) gifts valued at up to €175. Further information on duty free goods is available at the customs offices on the Internet.

Will I need an electricity transformer or plug adaptor?

Travelers from the UK, Australia and New Zealand will need to bring a plug adaptor for their appliance, as the standard household electrical outlet in most of mainland Europe has two round prongs. Like the rest of Europe, German outlet voltage is 220-240, twice the standard household voltage in North America, which means unless they have a multi-voltage appliance, travelers from the United States and Canada will also need to bring a voltage transformer or converter.

What happens if I get ill?

Germany has very good medical care. In case of medical emergency, dial the telephone number 112. If possible, have the receptionist at your hotel or pension assist you. If you need help at night or on a weekend, there is emergency medical service available -- some doctors even make house calls. Emergency service numbers are listed in the phone book. Pharmacies are open on nights, weekends and holidays on a rotating schedule. A list of which one is on duty hangs in the window of the nearest pharmacy.

Should I take out health insurance?
Ask your health insurer if you are covered while in Germany, and if so, how it works. If not, you should take out private travel insurance before leaving your home country. Should you be uninsured and need medical help, expect to pay for the services out of pocket.

Is there Internet in Germany?

Of course! Most bigger towns and cities have Internet cafes. And most hotels offer Internet connections.

What time zone is Germany in?

Germany has Central European Time. CET is one hour later than Greenwich Mean Time.

What are store opening hours?

Store hours in Germany are among the most restrictive in Europe. Shops are now allowed to stay open until 8 p.m. on weekdays, and 8 p.m. on Saturdays, although many close earlier outside of city centers. Sunday is a strict day of rest. However, you can usually get the bare essentials at the railway station, and gas stations open Sunday often carry staples and convenience foods.

How can I best travel within the country?
Germany's national railway, Deutsche Bahn, continues to invest millions in modernizing its service. The ICE high speed trains travel up to 280 kilometers/hour and run regularly between all major towns and cities. Look out for special offers such as weekend passes for up to five people. Also, Germany has a modern network of motorways, connecting all major cities. Motorways in eastern regions are of a reasonable standard but this may not be the case for secondary roads. Rental cars are available in most towns at railway stations. Also, cheap domestic fares make air travel a good alternative, with some fares considerably lower than the price of a train ticket.

Map


View Larger MapView Larger Map