Germany: Self-Drive

Germany: what you need to know before you travel

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been to Germany. But I never tire of going there: each time I discover new and unusual places in the country.

It would be wrong to judge Germany by one city. Urban Berlin and Düsseldorf are not like quiet Munich. At the Christmas market in the old center of Nuremberg you can feel the Middle Ages, near the town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen for a walk in the Alpine meadows. In Hamburg, it’s worth seeing ships call at one of the largest ports in Europe.

In this article, I’ll talk about Germany’s top attractions and how much it costs to live, transport, and eat.

What you will learn.

Introductions.

How long is the flight : from Moscow to Berlin – 2,5 hours, from Moscow to Munich – 3 hours.

Flight time from Moscow: -1 hour in summer, -2 hours in winter.

Season: May – September, Catholic Christmas and New Year.

Language : German, locals speak English well.

✈️ How to get there

A trip around Germany is convenient to start in Berlin, Munich, or Dusseldorf, where there are regular flights from Moscow and St. Petersburg. On average, a ticket to any of these cities costs from 6000-8000 P one way if you buy a month in advance or earlier.

⛅ Weather

The climate in Germany is comfortable. The most suitable months for travel are April, May and September. It’s not so hot during this time, and temperatures rise to +35 °C in summer.

Winters are mild: temperatures rarely drop below -10 °C. Dusseldorf and Stuttgart can have more than ten rainy days per month in the spring and fall, with average daytime temperatures of +14 to 21 ° C.

Snow falls rarely, the exception is the Alpine region in southern Germany. It snows every winter there, but there are no severe frosts.

Visa to Germany

Money.

The official currency is the euro. You can pay with a card in all major stores and shopping malls, but you may not be able to in small restaurants. There are almost never any terminals at festivals, Christmas fairs and beer gardens. It is better to carry cash.

️ Map

Cities and attractions in Germany

In Berlin, I get the feeling that there are no borders here. Thousands of foreigners live in the city: some come to work for local IT companies, others for a creative impulse. It seems that in Berlin any, even the most extraordinary idea will be accepted.

The main attraction according to Tripadvisor is the former Reichstag, now the Bundestag. It can be visited for free with a guided tour in Russian, and then climb the dome. To do this, you need to book a time to visit on the official website. From the roof you can see the city and the dome, which is very harmonious with the architecture of the historic building. But I was most moved by the inscriptions of Soviet soldiers on the walls. There are only 160 of them, but it’s a real memory book.

If you are in Berlin on May 9, I suggest you go to Treptow Park. There is a memorial to Soviet soldiers. On this day in the park a huge number of people: Russians, Germans and other nationalities. Many elderly Germans try to say at least a few phrases in Russian. The atmosphere on this day is incredible: people laughing, crying, singing and dancing. At any other time in Treptow Park you just want to walk in silence.

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On the longest surviving section of the Berlin Wall is the East Side Gallery. It is a free open-air museum with graffiti on various themes. In the gallery there is graffiti with Brezhnev and Honecker kissing and the inscription: “Lord! Help me survive in the midst of this mortal love.” The most popular graffiti is always crowded.

Dresden is a three-hour drive from Berlin. After the noisy and diverse capital it is unusual to look at the quiet streets of Dresden with beautiful architecture, like from a fairy tale. One of the main attractions is the snow-white church of the Virgin Mary – Frauenkirche. It looks majestic, and what I liked most was looking at it in the evening when the lights are on. The church seems several times bigger than it really is.

Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany after Berlin. It is 300 kilometers from the capital. The city has many canals, over which there are 2,000 bridges, and near the center there is an artificial lake called Alster. I love walking around Hamburg: crossing from one bank to the other, accidentally bumping into unknown but beautiful and interesting buildings. In my opinion, the best shots with views of the city center come from the Lombard Bridge.

Hamburg has one of the largest ports in Europe – many people pass through the city. You can see the port from the free observation deck of the Elb Philharmonic. The building is interesting in itself: the roof is shaped like a wave, and the walls are as if covered in small bubbles.

Dusseldorf is located in western Germany, 60 kilometers from the border with the Netherlands. People come here to stroll along the banks of the river Rhine, along the avenue of chestnuts, to drink the local beer viola and to walk along the street, where every house has graffiti on it. I like the city center: it’s always crowded and noisy. At the same time, it’s never crowded because of the large open space.

There are a lot of interesting buildings in Düsseldorf. These are called drunken buildings because they don’t have any straight lines.

Cologne is Düsseldorf’s historical rival. To this day, the residents of these two cities, which are 40 kilometers apart, joke about each other. The only thing I liked about Cologne was the main square, where the famous Cologne Cathedral stands. It is the largest Gothic cathedral in Germany and is protected by UNESCO. The cathedral is impressive in its appearance. The first time I saw it in rainy weather, it looked gloomy, a little creepy, but majestic. Inside, as outside, the size is striking. The high ceilings seem endless, the thin multicolored stained glass windows only light up the huge space, so the light inside is always dim, and on a rainy day it is so dark that it is impossible to see who is at the other end.

Germany: Self-Drive

trip to germany

What you need to know, going on a trip to Germany: how to get to Germany on your own, how to get a visa, what documents you need to travel by car. We also tell you what to see in Germany’s 16 federal states, and what local food to try on your trip.

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8 best tours in Berlin in Russian

Germany does not yet accept tourists from the Russian Federation, but some are successfully making their way through other European countries. Check out the list of open countries. For convenience, we provide pre-pandemic prices for travel and flights. Information about visas and flights may not be up to date now, check with official resources.

Planning a trip to Germany is not as easy as it may seem at first glance, unless you are an avid herdman and guidebook devotee. You should travel to Germany exclusively on your own: stay in small towns for long periods of time, getting to know the local cuisine and savoring beer brewed according to traditional recipes, go off the beaten tourist track, explore the surroundings or choose your own, uncovered view of castles, and, of course, observe the locals – who else can help you learn the country from within, if not them?

You can take out travel insurance for a trip to Germany online at Compare.ru or Cherehapa – they compare prices from all major insurance companies. You can choose a policy by the parameters you want and the best price. The policy costs from 300 rubles per week.

How to get to Germany

The cheapest way to Germany is by plane: round-trip tickets from Moscow to Berlin cost from 7 thousand rubles (Transaero, Air Berlin) and sometimes even cheaper. From Moscow to Dusseldorf, Hamburg and Frankfurt am Main round trip tickets cost from 8 to 9 thousand rubles. To Hanover, Munich and Cologne – from 9 to 10 thousand rubles. One can fly to Berlin from Kaliningrad inexpensively (about 8 thousand rubles). In general from the province to fly to different cities in Germany is possible for 10-13 thousand rubles. Germany (in terms of airfare) is one of the most affordable destinations for tourists flying from Russia.

Where to look for cheap tickets? Use the search engine Aviasales. To find the best price, look for tickets for different dates. Read also the instruction on how to look for cheap airline tickets correctly.

Going to Germany by bus

Trip to Germany by bus from Moscow is not very convenient, it’s better (and cheaper) to buy plane tickets. The company Ecolines bus ticket from Moscow to Berlin with connection in Riga costs about 10 thousand rubles (round trip), while the plane ticket – about 7 thousand rubles.

One can go to Germany by bus from Kaliningrad: tickets to Berlin (there and back) cost about 4-6 thousand rubles.

Trip to Germany by car

An independent trip to Germany by car will be a pleasant journey, if you do not forget to comply with the requirements.

What you need to have in your car for a trip to Germany:
  • reflective vest;
  • first aid kit;
  • an emergency stop sign;
  • Extra bulbs;
  • fire extinguisher (if you drive through Poland).
Documents for a trip to Germany

You’ll need to show a valid passport and visa, health insurance and proof of financial means (they’re rare, but may be asked). Of course you should have your driving license, car documents, and green card. It is also better to buy an environmental permit if you plan to enter protected areas. Before your trip to Germany, we recommend putting your car in order: the windshield must be without cracks, the body – without damage, and the lights must work.

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independent trip to Germany

(photo © vic xia / flickr.com)

Visa for a tourist trip to Germany

To travel to Germany you can do either a Schengen visa (stay less than 90 days) or a national visa (stay over 90 days). Learn how to get your own visa to Germany.

Documents required for obtaining a visa to Germany:

  • Completed and signed application form (download the application form and read about photo requirements on VFS.GLOBAL website);
  • Passport, valid for at least 3 months after the date of departure from the Schengen area and not older than 10 years. Two pages of the passport must be blank;
  • copy of the first page of the passport;
  • A copy of your internal passport;
  • two photos that meet ICAO requirements;
  • Visa fee (consular fee €35, service fee €18.85); , valid in the Schengen countries;
  • hotel reservation;
  • Copies of airline or train tickets – proof of program;
  • Proof of employment or financial solvency.

Also you can find detailed information about visas for tourist and other trips to Germany on the web-site of German missions in Russia.

Travel accommodations. Look for hotels at the best price on Rumguru, the world-famous service. There you can also read useful travel reviews about hotels, attractions, cafes and restaurants.

Travel to Germany: sailing through cities and towns

Look for interesting excursions on Tripster. The most popular picks are the 8 best tours in Berlin.

A trip to Germany will puzzle any traveler: how to see the main sights of the country in a short time, while not missing not so popular, but no less interesting places? After all, a country with such a great past, it is simply impossible to take a quick look around, especially since the number of sites included in the World Heritage List of UNESCO and located in Germany, inspires respect – there are 38 of them.

Germany consists of 16 federal states, and perhaps it is best to choose 2-3 cities from each county to appreciate the diversity and charm of the German land. Here is a brief overview.

Welcoming the New Year in Germany: tips, ideas, traveler’s reviews and prices of hotels and food for the winter holidays.

travelling around germany

(photo © Khun Hans Photography / flickr.com)

Baden-Württemberg

Baden-Württemberg is an interesting mix of old and new: Stuttgart, a strong industrial center, is neighbor to Heidelberg, whose university was the center of the second generation of German Romantics, the city of theaters and museums, which was not destroyed by bombing during World War II, and Baden-Baden, once a fashionable resort city, loved by aristocrats. One can’t help but think of the Black Forest, a mountain range covered in forests, with wonderful lakes and waterfalls.

Bavaria

The Free State of Bavaria is famous for its ancient beer traditions: if you look at the beer map of Germany, you will notice that most breweries are concentrated in Bavaria – there are about 750 breweries and there are about five thousand different kinds of beer. Bavaria also attracts tourists with its unforgettable landscapes, fabulous castles and proximity to the Alps.

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Berlin's free museums

Berlin and Brandenburg

Berlin usually gets the lion’s share of travel time in Germany, because Berlin’s attractions are not limited to the famous Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column, their list is simply off the charts. The city is an attraction: Gendarmenmarkt Square, Berlin Cathedral, Reichstag, Red City Hall, the Berlin Wall… Museum lovers also have a lot to see: there are museums from the National Historical Museum to the Beate Use Museum of Erotica. And in Brandenburg, with its capital in Potsdam, it is easy to escape the hustle and bustle of the metropolis, with its rolling green countryside and pristine landscapes.

sights of Germany

(photo © basvasilich / flickr.com)

The Free Hanseatic Cities of Bremen and Hamburg

Hamburg is a large port city, partly preserving its medieval buildings. What to see: Town Hall and Town Hall Square, houses of the 16th – 17th centuries, churches and museums. Bremen is also a major port. Here you can see the monument to the Bremen musicians, the chic town hall and the Gothic cathedral, the market square and the street Böttcherstrasse.

Hesse

Hesse is home to the beloved Grimm brothers and the museum dedicated to them is located in the small town of Steinau an der Strasse, where the writers lived and worked. In Hesse is actively developing eco-tourism, the whole region can be traveled on a bicycle on historical routes. There is also a “Road of fairy tales” – a route of 600 km, each stop of which is associated with fairy tale characters.

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, with its Baltic Sea coast and countless nature reserves, Schwerin Castle, Gothic cathedrals and Hanseatic cities of Mecklenburg, Wismar and Rostock.

Lower Saxony

Lower Saxony is a land washed by the North Sea on one side and bordered by the Harz Mountains, through which Heine once traveled. For the most part, tourists are interested in the Lüneburg Heath, many castles, the North Sea coast and the Harz Mountains. The most popular cities are Hamburg and Bremen, which, however, have the status of the Free Hanseatic Cities, i.e. are not part of Lower Saxony, the capital and the main city of which is Hannover.

North Rhine-Westphalia

North Rhine-Westphalia is home to UNESCO sites such as Cologne Cathedral, Aachen Cathedral, Augustusburg Palace and the Zehe Zollverein mine. The region is great for outdoor activities: there are many cycling and hiking trails, among them the Rotharsteig Trail.

Rhineland-Palatinate

Rheinland-Pfalz is a wine-growing region. The region also disposes to active recreation, there are scenic routes. The most popular cities are Mainz, Trier, Koblenz, and Worms.

Saarland is the smallest region of Germany. The land is famous for the “Saar loop” – a bend in the river, which was admired by Hugo. The best place to see the river bend is from the Klöf Lookout or the ruins of Monclair Castle.

what to see in germany

(photo © Eyecident / flickr.com)

Saxony

On a self-guided trip through Germany, the mountains are worth special attention. The Free State of Saxony delights with its landscapes thanks to the Saxon Switzerland, called the Pearl of Germany, the Ruda and Lusatian Mountains, and the Elbe River, which crosses the land. Important cities are Dresden – “Florence on the Elbe”, Leipzig and Chemnitz.

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What to see in Berlin? Itinerary for 1, 2, 3 days

Saxony-Anhalt

The most attractive places in Saxony-Anhalt are the Harz with its highest point, Brocken, described by Goethe in Faust, where witches gather on Walpurgis night, and the “Romanesque Road”, or the “Road of Romanesque buildings”, which stretches for a thousand kilometers through Saxony-Anhalt and includes about 80 medieval buildings. The capital Magdeburg, the old town of Quedlinburg, which captivates travelers with its ensemble of medieval half-timbered houses with red tiled roofs, Halberstadt and Burg Wolkenstein are definitely worth visiting.

Schleswig-Holstein

Schleswig-Holstein is above all about the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. Seaside lovers come here, so the coast has many resorts: the islands of Amrum and Sylt, the district of Travemunde and the town of Oetin. Interesting places to visit are Kiel, the Gothic Lübeck, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Schleswig.

Thuringia

On the uplands of the Free State of Thuringia runs the Rhensteig, a 170 km hiking trail through the Thuringian and Franconian forests and slate mountains. The capital of Thuringia is Erfurt, whose medieval center has remained intact. Notable are Jena, Eisenach and Weimar.

Germania trip

(photo © p2bg / flickr.com)

Food in Germany: What to Try

Germans are famous for their hospitality, unparalleled beer and hearty food. The three pillars of German cuisine are beer, cabbage and sausages. And although the dishes may vary from region to region, the core of German cuisine remains the same.

No table in Germany is without meat products. The various sausages (the most famous are Bavarian), sausages and wieners can be served separately or as an ingredient in the preparation of other dishes. Pork is particularly popular.

However, the dish associated with Germans is sauerkraut and sausage stew. In Germany, especially in the east, sauerkraut is generally loved and considered a national dish. Find out about the best restaurants in Berlin.

Bavaria offers white sausage made from veal and pork with sweet mustard, gingerbread lebkuchen, Bavarian sausages and Nuremberg sausages.

In Franconia you should try Franconian wines, in Swabia and Baden-Württemberg – pancake soup and spätzle noodles. In the northern part of the country, where fish dishes are renowned, be sure to order the fried sea tongue and eel soup.

Germans also love pastries: the cuisine abounds in pies and cakes with various fillings, as well as mousses, jellies and so on.

Germany’s traditional drinks are beer, mulled wine, riesling, cider and schnapps.

Very popular in Germany is Turkish fast food – nourishing and budget. This is döner kebab – pita bread filled with meat, sauce and vegetables, which is sold on the street and costs 3-4 euros, Turkish pizza (Lahmacun) and a plate with meat, vegetables and rice.

Inexpensive meal in Berlin you can eat at Café Kranzler on Kurfürstendamm Street, at La Crapule or Cafe Morgenland. You can visit Block House or Nordsee network of restaurants with a cozy atmosphere and reasonable prices. In general, there are a lot of interesting places in Berlin and restaurants with cuisines from around the world, you should only turn into some forgotten alley to find exactly what you like.

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