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Atmospheric castles, opulent palaces, Alpine peaks and great rivers

Germany is the land that brought the world Beethoven, Albert Einstein and Karl Marx, and you can see how the dramatic vistas could have inspired them.

Charming cities line the banks of the mighty River Rhine as it curves its way through the sweeping countryside, while Berlin, with its poignant history, is a modern-day playground for artists, musicians and bright young things.

 

Culture and history

The main religion in Germany is Christianity. Around two thirds of the population are Christian, with an equal divide between Roman Catholic and Protestant.

A handshake is the most common greeting among men and women, as cheek kissing is usually reserved for family and close friends.

Titles are very important in Germany, so when meeting someone new you should address them by their title and surname (Herr, Frau, etc.), unless you’ve already been invited to use their first name.

Mercedes Benz and BMW both originate from Germany along with well-loved composers Mozart and Beethoven. Other famous sons include Albert Einstein, whose theory of general relativity continues to blow the minds of physics students, and Martin Luther, whose religious reforms changed the face of Christianity.

Things to do

Crisscrossed with rivers, Germany is perfect to explore by ship. Book a river cruise of the Rhine and her tributaries, set sail along the Elbe River or traverse the Baltic Coast. Travel to Germany through Austria and Slovenia on a the Danube River or head north and explore Hamburg - the city of a thousand bridges. Don some lederhosen and knock back a stein or three at the famous Oktoberfest in Munich, tuck into a slice of chocolate gateaux in the Black Forest or wander through the twinkling lights on a festive Christmas markets tour of Germany's medieval towns and villages.

Berlin

Germany's capital city has emerged as an artistic and welcoming city after the ravages of the 20th century. Visit Checkpoint Charlie, trace the remnants of the Berlin Wall and explore the ornate Prussian Palace.

Saxony

This fairy-tale region is straight out of a storybook, with castles perched high on cliff tops, steam trains and the wide river Elbe winding through it. The capital city, Dresden, is resplendent with rococo and baroque architecture, while Leipzig has a strong musical heritage. For many years it was home to Bach, and today the Gewandhaus Orchestra and St Thomas Choir are both famous amongst classical music enthusiasts.

Rhineland and North Rhine

Castles, cathedrals and steep hilly vineyards characterise this romantic region of western Germany. A large part of the Rhine river valley has now been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, and all along it ancient towns and cities make for great holiday daytrips, including Cologne, Koblenz, Bonn and Düsseldorf, to name but a few.

Bavaria

Bordering Austria and the Czech Republic in southeast Germany, Bavaria offers up some of the most quintessential of German views. Chocolate-box visions of fairy-tale castles rise up in the foothills of the Alps, and the fertile plains around the Danube river valley are dotted with medieval villages. The capital, Munich, plays jovial host to Oktoberfest, while Nuremburg and Würzburg lie to the north.

The Black Forest

This vast swathe of mountainous forest marches down the border with France in Germany’s southwest. This is where Hansel and Gretel got lost in the woods, and you can certainly see how in this dense evergreen forest! The region is also home to the upmarket spa town of Baden-Baden, bustling Freiburg and the cuckoo clock, not to mention one very important cake.

Flight time

From London to Berlin and Munich it takes from 1 hour and 40 minutes.

London to Düsseldorf takes from 1 hour.

London to Stuttgart takes from 1 hour and 25 minutes.

Currency

Euro - The currency is the euro, divided into 100 cents.

Passports and visas

You’ll need a current passport valid for the duration of your stay. British citizens don’t require a visa.

Phrases

Ich spreche kein Deutsch – I don’t speak German

Hallo – hello

Guten Tag/Abend – good day/evening

Auf wiedersehen – goodbye

Tschüs – goodbye (informal)

Bitte – please

Danke – thank you

Ja – yes

Nein – no

Entschuldigung – excuse me

Timezone

One hour ahead, two in British summertime.

Electricity

Mains voltage is 220 volts AC (50 cycles) and sockets take small round two-pin plugs.

Language

German - German is the official language, with a number of differing regional dialects. English is often learnt at school from an early age, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble communicating – but it’s always useful to learn a few phrases before you travel.

Tipping

Just like in the UK, a 10% tip is standard in restaurants where a service charge is not added to the bill. Taxi drivers and porters also expect a small tip.

Climate

The climate in Germany is similar to here in the UK, and just as unpredictable. Expect cold winters and warm summers and, sadly, rainfall throughout the year.

Most of the rain occurs in the summer months, although the southwest of the country – where the wine is grown – has been known to occasionally feel Mediterranean in climate.

Health

As health information can change at any time, we’d advise you to consult your GP at least 12 weeks before departure.

Country-specific information and advice on possible health risks is also published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre, and The British Foreign and Commonwealth Travel Advice Unit provides important health and safety information for British nationals travelling abroad.

Population and size

Germany has a population of just over 81 million, which is the largest in the EU.

Germany is 357,022 square kilometers, which is around one-and-a-half times as big as the UK. It’s situated in the geographical heart of Europe, is bordered by a total of nine countries and has coasts on the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.

Smoking

Smoking is prohibited in all enclosed public spaces, unless specifically designated as smoking areas.



Climate

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