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GermanyView all tours
Misunderstood by many, Germany is one of the most varied and charming countries on the continent. Anyone expecting a homogenous nation conforming to old Teutonic stereotypes is in for a shock.
As a destination, it offers a clutch of truly lovely cities, culture served up in hefty portions and rural scenery so pretty you’ll wonder why it isn't on every tourist hit list.
The country occupies a prime position at the heart of Europe – both literally and figuratively. It is home to the biggest economy on the continent, has more inhabitants than anywhere else in the EU and shares land borders with no less than nine other nations.
It's no surprise, then, that today’s Germany is more diverse and cosmopolitan than old stereotypes suggest; mixing time-honoured nationalism and tradition with multicultural modernism and self-confidence.
It’s the nation’s urban highlights that immediately draw the attention. Berlin is the definition of dynamism, having forged a good-time reputation for groundbreaking creativity while still keeping sight of its past.
Elsewhere, the likes of Cologne, Munich and Hamburg provide the capital with able support. Not only are they rich in history, whether in the forms of classical music, fine art or medieval architecture, but they also put pay to the notion that Germans don’t do gastronomy. These days, you can dine and drink extremely well in Deutschland.
Then there's the beautiful German countryside. From the sky-scraping peaks of the Bavarian Alps and pale cliffs of the Jasmund National Park to the castles of the Rhine and moors of the Mecklenburg Lake District, it's nirvana for hikers, cyclists, boaters, motorists and skiers alike.
Travelling around this country is a piece of Black Forest gâteau. Costs are manageable, overcrowding is rare and, despite its size, it could not be easier to get from A to B thanks to an incredibly efficient public transport network. Which proves some of those old German stereotypes do hold true.
Germany borders Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Poland and Switzerland. The northwest has a coastline on the North Sea while the Baltic coastline in the northeast stretches from the Danish to the Polish border.
The country is divided into 16 states (Bundesländer) and has an exceedingly varied landscape. In what was once known as West Germany, the Rhine, Bavaria and the Black Forest stand as the three most famous features, while in the east, the country is lake-studded with undulating lowlands. River basins extend over a large percentage of the region, and some of Europe’s most prominent rivers flow through the country. These include the Elbe, the Danube and the Rhine.
The highest point in the country is the 2,962m (9,718ft) peak of Zugspitze Mountain in the Bavarian Alps. Cable cars run to the summit – it can also be climbed.Government:
Federal Republic since 1949.Head Of State:
President Joachim Gauck since 2012.Head Of Government:
Chancellor Angela Merkel since 2005.Electricity:
230 volts AC, 50Hz. European-style round two-pin plugs are in use.Timezone:
Euro (EUR; symbol €) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of €500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of €2 and 1, and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents.Credit Cards:
These are widely accepted in most shops, petrol stations, mid- to upmarket restaurants and hotels. All major credit cards are accepted, but it is advisable to carry cash as well. Cheques are very rarely used.ATMs:
Cashpoints compatible with international banking networks are located in all towns and cities, as well as airports, major train stations and other spots. They charge a minimum fee for withdrawals.Travellers Cheques:
To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in Euros, Pounds Sterling or US Dollars. Visitors are advised to have their traveller's cheques exchanged at bureaux de change (called Wechselstuben) as banks often refuse to change them and they are not accepted as payment in stores.Banking Hours:
Generally Mon-Fri 0830-1300 and 1400-1600, Thurs 0830-1300 and 1430-1730 in main cities. Main branches do not close for lunch. Bureaux de change in airports and main railway stations are open 0600-2200.Currency Restrictions:
There are no restrictions on the import or export of local or foreign currency. However, amounts exceeding €10,000 or equivalent must be declared if travelling from or to a country outside the European Union.Currency Exchange:
Foreign currencies and traveller's cheques can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change, post offices, airports, railway stations, ports and major hotels at the official exchange rates.Currencies: Exchange Rates:
- 1 AUD = 0.71 EUR
- 1 EUR = 1.00 EUR
- 1 GBP = 1.38 EUR
- 1 USD = 0.93 EUR
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 a temperate 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. 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(ish) 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 uncrowded 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. Required Clothing:
European clothes according to season with light- to mediumweight in summer, medium- to heavyweights 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.