Germany is a western European country with a landscape of , rivers, forests, mountain ranges and North Sea beaches. Its history dates back more than 2 millennia. The capital, Berlin, is home to art and nightlife scenes, the Brandenburg Gate and many World War II sites. Munich is famous for its Oktoberfest and beer bars, including the 16th century Hofbräuhaus. Frankfurt, with its skyscrapers, is home to the European Central Bank.
In Germany, there is only one time zone. The standard time is Central European Time (CET), and when Daylight Saving Time (DST) is in effect, the time is Central European Summer Time (CEST).
When is the best time to visit Germany?
The best time to visit Germany on a budget is between January and March, when airfare and hotel prices are at their lowest of the year. Because it’s winter, it’ll be cold and dark by 16:00, and many outdoor activities will be closed for the season. However, there is no better time to visit, and it is still a great time to visit museums, restaurants, and bars!
When it is least busy
Between January and March, when the weather is cold and the days are short, is also the best time to visit Germany without crowds. You’ll have a better time in the slightly busier but still uncrowded months of October and November. It’s warmer here, and there are more daylight hours, so you can take advantage of the outdoor activities that are still available until December.
Worst time to travel
If you want low prices and fewer crowds, avoid visiting in the summer, as it is Germany’s busiest tourist season. If you want to avoid crowds, avoid Christmas in December and Oktoberfest in early September/October.
If you want to spend a lot of time outside and see the best of Germany, avoid the winter months. This time of year is a little too cold, dark, and quiet to fully appreciate the experience.
Things to Know before visiting Germany
Understand your transportation zone
You must purchase the correct ticket for the zone in which you are traveling. Typically, if you are traveling outside of the city center, you will need to change zones. If in doubt, always consult the station’s zone maps. Most tourist attractions are in the central Innenraum zone (now called zone M), but to visit nearby towns and attractions like Schlesheim Palace, you’ll need to purchase a zone M-1 ticket and a zone M-5 ticket to get to the airport.
Other countries are catching up, but the Germans were the first to sort glass, paper, plastics, and other recyclable materials into different colored containers for recycling. Putting a bottle in the trash can or vice versa does not help. Glass is also color-sorted. If you paid a deposit (Pfand) for glass or plastic bottles, you can return them to the supermarket for a small refund (up to 25 cents/22 pence). (If you don’t care about Pfand, instead of throwing the bottle you want to return in the bin, put it next to or on top of the bin, because someone else may be willing to take the money.
Until recently, most small business shops, bars, and restaurants lacked card readers. The coronavirus pandemic, however, has changed that, and almost every bakery (Bäckerei) and kiosk now accepts plastic cards. However, cash is still useful because not all credit cards are accepted everywhere. It is also worth investigating which ATMs charge the least for cash withdrawals, as some do. Cafés are frequently open throughout the weekend, but most stores, supermarkets, and pharmacies are closed on Sundays, so make sure you have everything you need before Shabbat. Not all shops have the same hours – they vary by country – but they are usually open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Despite smoking bans, Germany is generally more tolerant of the habit than other countries. For many years, smokers have been prohibited from lighting up in cafés and restaurants, a rule that is widely accepted, though the situation in bars and pubs is a little more complicated. Some have designated smoking areas or patios, while bars smaller than 75 square meters are restricted to over-18s and can declare themselves private smoking clubs.
Best restaurant in Germany
When visiting Germany, don’t forget to bring your appetite. Portions are generous, and the best restaurants in Germany cater to hungry and time-pressed visitors. Germany is a country that values its past, present, and future, and the many people who have settled here over the centuries have created both traditional and flavorful dishes.
1. Gasthof Winkler
Homemade slaughter may not sound very appealing, but it is the main attraction at the Winkler family’s guesthouse restaurant, Zum Goldenen Ochsen. This inn in the Franconian countryside is worth a visit for the rich nature, the southern German hospitality and the hearty leberknödelsuppe (liver dumpling soup). A paradise for carnivores and their vegetarian friends
Ernst Berlin-Wedding in Berlin may appear awkward at first because there is no sign, the windows are draped, and there are only eight seats. Guests gather at a wooden counter overlooking the kitchen to interact with the mesmerizing creative team, which includes the highly acclaimed young chef Dylan Watson-Brawn, as they prepare their dinner.
The Kaiserbad, despite its name, which translates as “Emperor’s Pool,” is not only an old swimming pool, but also an old iron foundry. The menu changes weekly in the lovingly restored and stylishly furnished kitchen, inspired by the season and its products. Visit the Baumwollspinnerei arts center downstairs.
4. Restaurant Spielweg
This female-run hotel and restaurant in the Black Forest has been in the same family for six generations and serves cosy regional dishes infused with Asian flavors. Consider dim sum with steamed wild boar or crispy veal with kimchi and miso mayonnaise. Their dining rooms, with traditional tiled stoves and wooden walls, transport you to another era.
We’ve long stopped being vegetarians, which translates to overcooked tofu burgers. Seven Swans elevates vegetarianism to an art form. The kitchen team creates beautiful seasonal dishes using ingredients grown on their own permaculture farm. The Tiny Cup bar downstairs is the best place to drink before and after dinner.
Things to Do in Germany
1. Hohenschwangau, southwest Bavaria: Neuschwanstein Castle (Schloss Neuschwanstein)
Neuschwanstein Castle rises above the Bavarian forests like a fairy-tale castle. In fact, this Bavarian castle served as the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty castle, and it’s easy to see why: it’s the most photographed building in Germany.
The castle is beautifully designed, both architecturally and in terms of exterior and interior decoration. Ludwig II, Duke of Bavaria, commissioned the castle in the mid-nineteenth century to provide a place of rest, and because of his love of classical music by Richard Wagner, he dedicated the castle to the composer.
2. Berlin: Erholungspark Marzahn
The German government embarked on the ambitious project of creating the Erholungspark Marzahn, a public park that was completed in 1987, resulting in a rather unique combination of an oasis of tranquillity and cosmopolitan beauty, all in the midst of a bustling urban reality.
The Chinese Garden, which was entirely designed and built by local landscape architects and craftspeople, is the largest garden of its kind outside of China. Ponds, pavilions, water bodies, traditional architecture, and ceremonies representing countries such as Italy and Korea can be found in the garden. It is, without a doubt, a magnificent work of art that every visitor to Berlin should see.
3. Berchtesgaden: Berchtesgaden National Park
Berchtesgaden National Park is a nature preserve with few human impediments. The national park is essentially a haven of lush forests, crystal-clear lakes, steep cliffs, undulating meadows, and sleepy villages.
Clearly marked trails wind through the breathtaking scenery, providing ample opportunities for cycling, hiking, and Nordic walking. And don’t miss Lake Königssee, which is as beautiful as many of Norway’s fjords but much cleaner.
4. Aachen: Aachen Cathedral
Aachen Cathedral, also known as the “Imperial Cathedral,” was completed in 935 and is Northern Europe’s oldest cathedral. 30 German kings and 12 German queens were crowned there between 936 and 1531.
It was inspired by the churches of the Eastern Holy Roman Empire at first, but it was developed and embellished by successive governments throughout the Middle Ages, resulting in an intricate and refined architectural masterpiece. Many other buildings in Germany have been inspired by it, and it is even more impressive because it was chosen as the final resting place of the famous medieval ruler Charlemagne.
5. Würzburg: Würzburg Residence
The magnificent Baroque residence of Würzburg was completed solely due to Archbishop Johann von Schonborn’s insatiable and peculiar demands for excellent construction.
The most eminent architects from Germany, France, and Austria contributed to its design, which resulted in a spectacular U-shaped palace with 300 rooms. The sumptuous interiors of the palace must be seen to be believed, as do the manicured gardens that surround it. The residence is also designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.