Germany

Germany

With a German cousin and lots of little second cousins in the family, I need to be careful what I write here lol.

Germany is SO much more than Oktoberfest and has a lot to offer families, adventurous travellers and vegan foodies.

Germany is seriously eclectic too; it has some jaw-dropping nature with beautiful forests, mountains and beaches but a wild techno and vibrant art scene that makes London look tame! Its language also has the longest words in the world.

Top Ten Cities

  1. Berlin – 3.7m
  2. Hamburg – 1.78m
  3. Munich – 1.45m
  4. Cologne – 1.06m
  5. Frankfurt – 732,000
  6. Stuttgart – 623,000
  7. Dusseldorf – 612,000
  8. Dortmund – 586,000
  9. Essen – 582,000
  10. Leipzig – 560,000

What to Know

Language

  • The official language of Germany is German and it’s spoken by approximately 82 million inhabitants. Germany is the most populous country in Europe.

Currency

  • Germany’s currency is the Euro €.
  • ATM’s can be found just about everywhere and every shop, supermarket, petrol station, restaurant & take out we visited accepted payment by bank card.

Visa

  • Europe has open borders so if you drive through you probably won’t be stopped.
  • Germany is part of the Schengen countries which means most people (from outside the EU) can visit for up to 90 days on a short term visa.

Accommodation

  • Hostels are very common in Germany and easily accessible with English being spoken to a high level. Single beds start at around €15 per night but family friendly rooms may start at €50.
  • Airbnb (get $25 off your booking) is available in certain locations with prices generally between €65 per night – with the exception of Berlin which is very expensive for accommodation.
  • Booking.com (get £15 off your booking) offers a comprehensive list of hotels, hostels, guest rooms and private villas/houses. Hotels vary from €45-80 per night depending on which type of hotel and how many rooms you have. Most hotels have interconnecting rooms or apartment style rooms.
  • Camping is big business in Germany. For a basic plot with no electricity you could pay €10-20 with prices rising to €30-40 for bigger plots with electricity. At some campsites you can rent

Food

  • German food is good quality and not that expensive. A quick take-out meal will cost about €4-7 where as a basic restaurant meal might cost €10+. As a family in Berlin we were eating out for about €30 per night in basic restaurants.
  • Plant based food restaurants are not that easy to find outside the main cities (think Berlin & Hamburg) but there was always something on the menus to eat. Germany is the only country to have an entirely vegan supermarket though (Veganz).
  • If you plan on buying and cooking your own food, supermarkets can be found everywhere. German supermarkets are all like Aldi and Lidl’s and don’t necessarily stock what you want. We found that Lidls offered the best quality fresh food as well as a range of plant-based packaged food. Expect to pay about €100-150 for a family week shop.

Transport

  • The cheapest way for a family to see Germany is by hiring a car. A basic car can cost €100 per week.
  • High-speed trains are expensive given the distances they travel. For example Berlin to Munich can cost €180 for one person.
  • The Intercity trains are slower but cheaper and can cost upwards of €40 for a second class ticket.
  • Overnight and long-haul coaches are plentiful with GoEuro, Flixbus, EurolinesDeutsche Bahns and cost around €20.
  • City transit systems cost around €1-3 per single ticket (must have cash as foreign cards not accepted)
  • Some cities offer bicycle hire which can cost €15 per day.

Activities

Places of Interest

  • Berlin – Berlin used to be divided in half but the city has worked hard to re-develop east Berlin and it’s a very hip and funky area. We loved Berlin, in particular East Berlin, and had a brilliant time there. The museums  are ‘wunderbar’ in particular the DDR museum but it was the memorial to the Sinti and Roma that drew the most learning.
  • Frankfurt -This city is the main financial hub of Germany and has a very international feel. It was re-built after the war and its buildings are BIG.
  • Munich – Munich is a quiet city. It’s often overlooked by travellers because it’s expensive (supposedly boring) and more up-market than other cities. The city is old and has winding streets but it a good location for visiting other smaller, Bavarian towns close by.
  • Hamburg – The second-busiest port in Europe is famous for its parks, canals and bridges. It’s an unusual and almost disjointed city with a boulevard connecting the old (cobbled) and new (concrete) town.  Some buildings remain from pre-WWII.
  • Freiburg – Filled with Gothic buildings and surrounded by vineyards it’s a quaint little place to visit.
  • Neuschwanstein Castle – Germany’s most famous landmark outside Berlin is this palace perched on a rocky hill. Most beautiful in Autumn when surrounded by orange and red trees.

Areas of natural beauty

  • Germany is home to some seriously scary bridges!  Geierlay is Germany’s longest suspension bridge at 360m long and 100m high. The Marienbrucke is located just a few meters from Neuschwanstein Castle and spans the Pollat Gorge.
  • Berchtesgaden National Park – This national park has well-marked trails and maps are available online and to buy.  It’s an area of rolling green hills, lush forests, overhanging rocks and beautiful lakes. Perfect for families hiking, biking or day visiting.
  • Bastei Bridge – The Bastei is a rock formation towering 194m above the Elbe River in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. Walk through the national park and up onto the bridge. Look down if you’re brave enough!
  • Lake Constance – Lake Constance is Germany’s largest freshwater lake that also borders Austria and Switzerland. Fed by the Rhine River the area is surrounded by vineyards. If you get what I mean…
  • Wadden Sea – This protected area harbours seals, bird migration and sailing for those brave enough to venture into the North Sea. You can also walk the tidal flats at low tide.
  • The Black Forest – Known for its dense, evergreen forests and picturesque villages, it is often associated with the Brothers Grimm fairy tales. There’s loads to do here including hiking and biking.

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