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Travel in Germany Is Easy with These 10 Tips


Mercedes Matzen, a business analyst for Capital District Physicians Healthcare, is a lifelong Germany lover and has toured its countryside, towns, and cities many times. “Even so, I feel like there’s still so much to see,” she marvels. “Usually Spain or France gets the glory, but truthfully, I think Germany should be on top of the must-see countries in Europe. Look at everything it’s given to us: incredible composers like Mozart, the brilliance of Albert Einstein, and Neuschwanstein Castle, which everyone should see at least once.” As a passionate traveler of Germany, Mercedes would like to give new visitors to the country ten suggestions on how to make their trips easier and smoother. 

Stick to cash as much as you can while in Germany.

Many travelers avoid carrying too much cash since it’s irreplaceable, but this works against them in Germany. “The country is very modern and has tons of technology,” Mercedes says, “but for some reason, they are big on cash. You won’t be able to pay for dinner, bus tickets, entrance fees, or pretty much anything else with anything but cash.”

Keep your voice down in public in Germany.

Germans are very considerate of others and view talking loudly as extremely rude. “You won’t make any friends if you are not reserved in public,” Mercedes states. “They like to have fun, obviously, but they save being boisterous for the beer festivals. That’s where everyone lets loose a little.”

Germany’s Autobahn is not exactly without a speed limit.

Mercedes agrees that it’s a lot of fun to get on the Autobahn and hit the gas pedal. “It’s a real adrenaline rush,” she says. “However, you must still observe the Autobahn’s limits. There are places where you do have to slow down temporarily, so keep an eye out for that. It’s also important to know that the Autobahn’s recommended speed limit is 81mph. You can go above that, but if you cause an accident, the fact that you were speeding above the limit can increase your liability.”

You’re going to have a very hard time finding a taxi in Germany.

Many new travelers try to stick to taxis because they are intimidated by a country’s public transportation system. “You won’t be able to do that in Germany,” Mercedes says. “Taxis are both expensive and scarce. The only places you’ll have luck finding one is in the city center, at a train station, and at the airport. Other than that, you’ll need to rely on buses and trains, but they go pretty much everywhere in the country.”

Validate your public transportation tickets and don’t lose them while you are in Germany.

An unvalidated bus or train ticket is essentially akin to not having purchased any ticket. “You don’t want that to happen because you could be fined,” says Mercedes. “I did that once, and I never forgot again! Even if you don’t read German, it’s easy to validate your transportation tickets. In bus and train stations, you’ll see a machine, and any German will be kind enough to show you the ropes. Or, worst-case scenario, you can validate it onboard. When you do, you’ll see a date and time, and how long your ticket is good for is based on that.”

Germany’s navigation app is a boon for travelers.

Mercedes recommends downloading the DB Navigator app because it’s the best place to get schedules, prices, and booking information for public transportation. “This will be a lifesaver for you, especially if you’re in the bigger cities like Frankfurt or Berlin,” she says. “The subway system can be daunting at times, so having this one place for other transportation options will keep the migraine away.”

Plan to do nothing on Sundays when you are visiting Germany.

Almost everything shuts down in Germany on the day of rest. For people who like to move from attraction to attraction, that can be a little hard to get used to. “You just have to plan your itinerary around it,” advises Mercedes. “Germany is the country of the great outdoors, and you’ll join Germans to go hiking, swimming in lakes, or picnicking in parks. It’s a great opportunity to slow down and see German life from a different angle.”

Some rules are not made to be broken in Germany.

While crossing the street in the middle of the road is fine in many countries, you’ll be fined 5-10 Euros in Germany. “While it’s not the end of the world, expense-wise,” Mercedes concedes, “it’s still money you’d rather spend some other way. Along those lines, remember that bike paths really are for bikes. Germans like to cut loose and have fun, but they do, as a nation, follow some rules that we might not in our home countries.”

If you don’t have cash, most public toilets will be closed to you in Germany.

You can find free toilets in restaurants and malls. “However, anywhere else, you’ll have to pay to use them,” states Mercedes. “Always remember to carry around a few euros so that when you’re desperate, you don’t have to walk away, the last thing you want to have happen!”

Germans have a more liberal view of nudity than do citizens of other countries.

Germans are very casual about nudity in comparison to more conservative cultures. “The changing rooms are completely open,” says Mercedes. “There are no dividers or anywhere to change in private. That can be a culture shock for some people, but if you know what to expect, you’ll get used to it quickly.” 

Above all else, relax, have a good time, and get to know Germany’s citizens.

The German people are happy to welcome visitors to their country. “They really are curious about other people and the world,” Mercedes says. “If you ever get stuck and just don’t know where something is or what to do, many of them will go out of their way to help you out. Talking to some of them may end up being the best part of your trip.”