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Travel & Tourism Tips
It has over 2,000 castles, 5,000 kinds of beer, an intricate history, and a thriving arts and culture scene that embraces both somber operas to wild graffiti art. Tourists will have many things to explore in Germany and will find each experience different from the next. From quiet museums to rowdy bars, from medieval castles to ultra-modern buildings, from serene mountain trails to the world’s fastest highway. Whatever you want, you’ll find it here.
Getting There & Around
One can enter Germany through the Berlin Tegel Airport, Frankfurt Airport, and Hamburg Airport.
To reach Berlin from the airport, tourists can take the bus, which stops directly in front of subway and train stations. Taxis charge a minimum for the 20-minute trip.
From Frankfurt Airport, tourists can avail of the free shuttle service of major hotels, take the bus, or head for the train station beneath Terminal 1. Taxis and car rentals are also available. Frankfurt Airport is one of the best equipped in the world, with a comprehensive business center, play areas and casinos just to name a few.
To leave the Hamburg Airport, tourists can take the Airport Express to the Central Station, the Hamburg Bus Lines (for suburban destinations) or the TravelPorter Airport Transfer service (a door-to-door, provided it is within the local area).
The typical “German efficiency” shows in its world-class transportation systems. Bus routes and train stations make public transportation very easy, and the roads connecting one city from another are easy to navigate by car. The Autobahn, the world’s first motorway, allows fast, unencumbered driving-it’s actually illegal to run out of gas in the middle of it.
Once the only way to cross the Berlin Wall, it became a symbol of freedom and a tribute to those who risked and lost their lives for it. Tourists can see the soldier’s post, take their pictures under the sign, visit the museum, and even watch historical films like ‘Mein Kampf’.
Address: Friedrichstraße 43-45
Opening times: Daily 9am to 10pm, with film showings starting at 5:30pm
A total of 118 graffiti artists from 21 countries transformed the largest remaining section of the Berlin Wall into the world’s largest open-air gallery-often called “the international memorial for freedom.” Keep an eye out for Dimitri Vrubel’s Brotherly Kiss and Gunther Shaefer’s Fatherland, which have received much attention from the art world.
Address: Mühlenstraße 10243 Berlin-Friedrichshain
It once carried the proud name of “the Florence of the Elbe” until the buildings were destroyed during World War II, though the government has launched serious restoration efforts. Most of its landmarks and monuments are standing once again, including the Zwinger, former stronghold of Augustus, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony (it used to house his concubines, today it holds an impressive art collection and thousands of military memorabilia from the 15th -18th century). Dresden was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004.
Munich’s famous beer flows freely here, the world’s most famous tavern. Aside from the party atmosphere-traditional beer drinking songs are often interrupted by loud cheers and laughter-the menu carries many of the country’s specialties, like sausages and liver dumplings.
Address: Am Platzl 9
First held in 1810 as a royal wedding, it is now Munich’s annual beer festival. It is actually held in September to avoid the winter cold and opens with a parade with the mayor and numerous bands dressed in traditional costumes. Once he taps the first keg of beer, 16 days of heavy partying begins-various brews, circus appearances, music, parades, and rides.
Berlinale Film Festival
One of Europe’s major film festivals, it is as prestigious as those held in Venice and Cannes. To be given the Golden and Silver Berlin bear, as well as many honorary awards, is considered a high honor within the film industry.
Important Visitor Information
GMT +1 (GMT +2 between the last Sunday in March and the last Saturday in April).
Germany uses the Euro (€), divided into 100 cents. Cash is the preferred payment, though major credit cards are generally accepted in large shops, hotels, and restaurants. You can convert traveler’s checks at exchange bureaus, or withdraw from the many ATMs.
Rain is expected all year round but is heavier in the Alpine and upland regions. Coastal regions are temperate, with mild winters and pleasantly warm summers, with weather conditions intensifying as one progresses inland.
All tourists need a valid passport. American citizens, UK nationals, Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders do not need a visa for a stay less than 90 days per half year. To extend one’s stay, a visa can be obtained after arrival. South African nationals need a valid visa and passport, onward or return tickets, sufficient funds, and documents for further travel. Germany also recognizes the Schengen visa.
Tourists face no serious risks in traveling to Germany and will find excellent medical care in case of emergencies. Cost may be prohibitive, though, so insurance is recommended.
While generally safe, tourists should be careful of theft in crowded places like airports and stations.