Best known for its annual Oktoberfest, Germany is a country with a long history. This large European nation is famous for more than just lederhosen, as it boasts a myriad of tasty cuisine, a widely spoken language, the German Alps, and of course, beer.
The country’s darkest time came during the rise of Hitler and the Holocaust, but before travelers hesitate to visit Germany, they should remember that the deeds of past generations cannot be blamed on the newer generations. Germany has worked hard to preserve its history and is working towards a better future.
Herzlich Willkommen – Welcome to Germany!
Even with dark shadows in its history, Germany is still a delightful country and they have positively impacted the world too. With humanity’s heavyweights, Germany is also the birthplace of Albert Einstein, Beethoven, Bach, Karl Marx, and the Brothers Grimm.
German cuisine has also left its stamp and staples amongst its gastronomy are sausage, pretzel, beer, and wine. But what travelers may not expect to find is the overwhelming beauty of Germany’s landscapes, which have become the blueprint for famous fairy tales.
History and the present collide in Germany’s capital, Berlin, which is a bustle of boundless entertainment. For a city that was once divided in two, the reunion has only made it stronger. Left in the past are dark memories from Nazi domination, sections of the Berlin Wall, and bombed neighborhoods that have been rebuilt.
But with the little reminders in their everyday life, the local people are a cheerful bunch who would like to ensure that the past cannot be repeated. Now, the city is a cultural hub and food lover’s paradise. You can bounce in the bars, peruse the beer gardens, or stroll the streets for a good time in this vibrant capital.
- Culture and Language
- Spending Budget
- How to Get Around
- Top Cities to Visit
- Points of Interest
Culture and Language
While Germany’s most famous historic events occurred in the 20th century, the country has a surprising past that dates back thousands of years and has been influenced by other great cultures like the Germanic tribes, Franks, the Hanseatic League, and the Roman Empire.
Perhaps most famously, Charlemagne expanded into Germany and claimed it as part of the Holy Roman Empire. While it may be unexpected, there are still Roman sites preserved in Germany.
Germany’s ancient history is too long to cover in a few paragraphs and the more recognizable events have occurred within the last couple hundred years. The country was part of both World Wars and its participation in the second caused the most devastation.
The Holocaust is an unforgettable piece of history that was implemented by Hitler and Nazi Germany. Today, the consequences of the war are still very much present as countries around the world have monuments, museums, and preserved historic sites dedicated to World War II and its events.
However, World War II wasn’t the only thing that divided the country and by 1961, Berlin found itself infamously divided between Communists and Fascists. The Berlin Wall remained intact until 1989 and acted as a physical and ideological barrier between East and West Germany.
Thousands of East Germany risked or lost their lives attempting to escape to West Germany, but the wall remained. When the Cold War began to diminish, it was only then that the wall was torn down by bulldozers, cranes, pickaxes, and hammers. Now, the country and Berlin have once again united.
By remembering but leaving its history in the past, Germany has worked to become a positive influence around the globe. With its unique culture, it has become one of the world’s most respected nations. Now, the country seeks to be known for its positivity and generosity as they move into the future.
While most famous for its party lifestyle and mega celebration, Oktoberfest, Germany has also given the world Christmas traditions, famous composers, intelligent philosophers, and modern icons.
Modern brands that have swept the globe, but hailed from Germany include Adidas, Audi, BMW, Hugo Boss, and Puma. German cuisine has also made itself famous for its love of meat, grain, beer, and wine.
Another part of German culture that gives Germans a sense of identity is their language. Standard German is the official language in Germany and is estimated that over 95% of the country’s 83.13 million citizens (as of 2021) speak the language.
However, English is also standard in Germany and is often the first foreign language that is introduced and taught in school. A fairly large portion of the population is bilingual, and they will be fluent to a degree in the English language.
Traveling is mostly fun, but one of the not-so-fun parts is ensuring that you can afford your trip. Your spending budget is important to map out because you want to have an estimate of how expensive your trip will be and leave room for some unexpected costs.
Luckily, Germany is an affordable country, when compared to the rest of Europe, and backpackers can stay on a tight budget while traveling through its borders. The key parts of your budget will cover the cost of airfare, accommodation, food, drink, and transportation.
Going overseas is always expensive and your airfare to Germany will be no exception. The average cost of a flight from the United States to Germany is around one thousand dollars. For travelers who are on a tight budget, having a flexible range of travel dates can help you find better deals on airline ticket prices.
But the price can also be affected by your season of travel and the timing of purchasing your ticket. Summer is considered tourist season and you’ll see more travelers heading to Germany from May to September and into the beginning of October. The end of the tourist season sees a huge surge in popularity because this coincides with Oktoberfest.
If you’re planning on traveling to Germany and finding a good deal on an airline ticket, you should not wait to make a reservation. The longer you wait to book your seat, the more expensive the ticket will be.
As thrilling as it is to finally book a ticket, you also need to get excited to make reservations for your accommodation. You don’t want to be completely homeless on your journey, so it’s important to also plan where you’ll be staying each night of your trip. Hostels are the most budget-friendly options for accommodation and are well-priced.
But sharing space isn’t for everyone and if you would enjoy having more privacy, you should expect the nightly rate to go up. Hotels offer more privacy and will a decent amount. This is also the same price range for an apartment booking through sites like Airbnb. If that still doesn’t suit your preferences and you want a luxury hotel, however, this will be the priciest option.
If you’ve booked a hotel, then they will likely provide you with a free breakfast. But in case it isn’t included and for consideration towards your other daily meals, you need to know the cost of food.
German cuisine is famous for its love affair with meat. Sausages are a staple part of German food and they can be cured, grilled, or smoked. With over 40 varieties of bratwurst, your taste buds will never tire. One famous dish that is also sausage based is currywurst. This mixes sausages with ketchup and curry powder. It’s often served on a bread roll and is a tasty snack.
Germany’s version of schnitzel is another favorite, which takes breaded and fried pork and pairs it with potatoes and a sauce. Rouladen is another famous dish, more popular in the Rhine region, which combines the flavors of potatoes with beef, cabbages, and a red wine sauce.
For dessert, you can try the country’s famous Black Forest cake, which is a decadent dish with cherries and chocolate.
For many travelers, tasting authentic German food is an important part of their trip, but it comes at a price. A budget meal will be decently priced, but it may not have the exquisite taste you are seeking. Good restaurants are expensive, but they will provide you with delicious food and a great time.
A mid-range meal will still be affordable, however, Germany’s best eateries will be very expensive, costing in the hundreds.
Germans also love drinking and many people are eager to taste their variety of local brews. Beers usually will a few dollars for a pint, while spirits will be more. Depending on what you’re drinking, you will need to increase your budget to match.
How to Get Around
The cost of transportation is another part of your budget that is important because most travelers are interested in seeing more than a single city on their trip. With so many places to explore, it is important to consider the cost of transportation because it can be quite expensive in Germany.
Domestic flights have become less popular in Germany due to its growing railway system. But the cost of some flights combined with the speed of travel makes planes the top choice for some travelers. Germany actually wants to eliminate domestic flights because they are not environmentally friendly, but it’s a strongly debated topic because of the cost of trains.
Trains are another popular way to travel around Germany, but they can be costly. A high-speed train from Munich to Berlin often has a base price of a few hundred dollars, which then increases based on the ticket you purchase. If you don’t mind taking a slower train, the price will drop a fair amount.
The most affordable way to travel long distances is to use an overnight bus. This means that you don’t have to worry about the cost of accommodation for a night and you are still making progress towards your destination.
If you are looking to travel around a city, the best option would be to use public transportation. Most city transportation systems have affordable prices and tickets will a few dollars. Taxis and Uber are also popular in Germany.
Finally, walking is the best way to get around because it is free and exciting. By getting out on the streets, you can experience the local lifestyle and enjoy the fresh air. In many cities, it is perfectly safe to walk, but you should still be cautious about venturing out alone or at night.
Top Cities to Visit
Berlin and Munich tend to be Germany’s most recognized cities, but there are plenty of others to explore too. Each offers different historic sites, scenic views, and cultural atmospheres, so it’s worth adding as many to your itinerary as possible. Here are the top cities to visit in Germany amongst tourists.
As the capital of Germany, Berlin finely balances the past and present, as well as juggles its people and their diversity. People from all over the world have come to call Berlin home, which has just added more diversity to its identity.
The city also proudly boasts its treasures like the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Wall, and Bundestag Parliament. With an energy that never dies, you can explore from the day, well into the night, and jump from different clubs and bars for great entertainment.
It’s also the center of Germany’s Oktoberfest celebration, which happens annually in the fall season. Also called the “Village of the World”, Munich has come to have a diverse identity and personality, which only makes it all the more loved.
Heidelberg was the center of German Romanticism and it isn’t hard to guess why once you begin to walk its cobblestone streets. The uniform red roofs of the buildings hug the Neckar River and they were once trodden upon by Mark Twain.
With an idyllic landscape, the best way to see the area is to head up into the hills for a bird’s eye view of Heidelberg’s beauty.
Hamburg is most famous for having Roman roots, which were miraculously preserved throughout the trials of World War II. Now, the streets have helped blossom Germany’s creativity and many industries have moved in to expand their business. With stunning architecture, this city is a must-see in Germany.
For those who are religious or just want to experience the historic tales of others, Cologne is most famous for housing the bones of the Three Kings, who traveled to the birthplace of Jesus to bestow their gifts, in the Cathedral.
But ancient history also extends into the street as the ornate decorations on buildings and gold leafing will make your jaw drop. With impressive architecture, this city has been through the trenches and back as it was bombed numerous times during World War II. Now, repaired and rebuilt, it has become a top destination in Germany.
Filled to the brim with the country’s treasures, Dresden is known as a romantic getaway due to its architecture, gardens, and river. The Cologne Cathedral, or Kölner Dom, is one of the city’s favorite Gothic masterpieces.
Points of Interest
While cities are often the most treasured destination to visit, you may also want to balance out your trip by venturing to famous tourist spots. Home to stunning landscapes that inspired some of our favorite fairytales, the locations will showcase even more of Germany’s natural beauty. Here are some of the top attractions in Germany.
Discover the best of Germany’s thermal springs to add to your itinerary, on our sister site, Top Hot Springs.
The Black Forest
With dense greenery, the Black Forest is most famously known for being the inspiration and location behind many fairy tales written by the Brothers Grimm. The beauty of the forest gave way not only to fascinating creatures but also to cautionary tales for wandering children.
Now, the forest is dotted with quaint villages and become a major attraction for a German road trip.
Bavaria’s King Ludwig II commissioned this castle and boy, did he have an incredible vision. This castle is often considered to be Germany’s most famous as it was one that went on to inspire the appearance of Disney’s castles. More specifically, Neuschwanstein Castle was the blueprint for the castle in Sleeping Beauty and it isn’t hard to guess why.
Built above the valley, the castle has a great view of the landscape. Visitors flock to the nearby town of Füssen to visit the castle and it’s a good thing. King Ludwig II died before its completed, so now the rest of the world can enjoy its beauty in his honor.
With 40 different castles and 60-plus medieval towns, the Rhine Valley in Germany has become one of the go-to places for romance. With traveling options including a boat on the river or a car on the land, you can travel amongst and explore all the idyllic landscapes of this famous waterway.
Surrounded by towering rocks, the Harz Mountains are breathtaking but one of the lesser-known tourist hotspots. The remote location has kept it quieter but makes for a great getaway from the busy city streets.
You can walk along the lakeside or take a boat to popular places like the Chapel of St. Bartholomew for a little adventure. You may also enjoy the area if you love fairy tales because some of the Brother Grimm stories were based in these peaks.
Drawing in about 6 million visitors, Oktoberfest is the go-to celebration that occurs every year during the end of September and the beginning days of October. The festival is a grand celebration and an important part of Bavarian culture, which has been celebrated since 1810.
“Land of Poets and Thinkers”
While Germany’s influence has spread well beyond its borders, nothing can match first-hand experience. With everything bundled into one package, you can explore devastatingly beautiful landscapes, divulge in the local cuisine, and dance with the culture as you make your way from place to place.
The long history of Germany only adds to its beauty and the influence of mankind on the land has led to the creation of one incredible destination.