Caddle Recommends: German Vacation
Learn more about vacationing in German
Germany is a country where you might take in the picturesque, rolling hillside at a national park one day and breathe in the scent of a spicy sausage being grilled at Oktoberfest the next. Of course, you’ll also look forward to the taste of German beer quenching your thirst on a late September afternoon, or tour the spectacular Neuschwanstein castle. Passionate about history? Visiting the country’s striking World War II and Holocaust memorials is also a must.
There’s no mistaking that there’s a lot to see and do in the nation of more than 82 million people at the heart of Europe . We’ve got some tips on how to travel in the country safely and affordably, so if you’re traveling on a budget, read on.
When to go
If you’re budget-focused, Culture Trip, suggests traveling between mid-January and mid-March, avoiding Carnival in Cologne or Düsseldorf. The last two weeks of October are also an option. Hoping to hit the ski hills? Visit between January and March, where you’ll find some of the best slopes in the world less than 90 minutes from Munich.
The weather changes throughout the year might factor heavily into your plans, along with the activities you’ll get to enjoy. According to Adventure in You, the best time (weather-wise) to to take a German vacation is during Europe’s summer season – April to November. Mid-season is April through June and September to October and brings sunny weather. You’ll also notice the country is quieter during these months, with lower prices except on public holidays.
Flying into Germany, you’re likely to land in one of the top five busiest airports:
- Frankfurt in Frankfurt/Rhine-Main
- Munich in Munich
- Düsseldorf in Düsseldorf/Rhine-Ruhr
- Berlin Tegel in Berlin, Potsdam
- Hamburg in Hamburg
Bring cash, use public transit and rent a bike
Germany’s currency is the euro, and you’ll want some with you when you land. USA Today says you should get enough to cover immediate expenses such as taxis and snacks. Withdraw more euros at ATMs, which, similar to North America, are everywhere including airports, hotels, train stations and attached to banks (you can also use a bank if you’re comfortable going that route).
Leave your plastic in your wallet, and don’t count on using Apple Pay as it’s not very popular or accepted by most businesses, advises travel blog Travels of Adam. Locals prefer using cash and coin for just about everything. Your second option is an EC card (a debit card usable in Germany).
One of the reasons travellers love Germany vacations is for the affordability – those euros go further than in many other countries. Depending on what type of experience you’re looking for while visiting, you should budget anywhere from $40 to $120 a day, with accommodations and activities the top two expenses.
Tip: Your server may tell you what you owe instead of bringing you a bill. When you pay, don’t leave your tip on the table – hand it directly to your server.
On a backpacker’s budget? Adventure in You breaks down accommodation, food and transportation costs in an easy-to-understand format. Get a dorm for €10 to €30 ($12 to $35) a day. If you’re willing to spend more for more comfortable surroundings, a mid-range hotel room will cost you €60 to €100 ($70 to $120). Grab some street food for €2 to €4 ($2 to $5), or a meal in a restaurant for €15 to €20 ($18 to $25). Budget Your Trip also breaks down the price of food and travel, putting daily travel at €106 ($120), food at €28 ($32) and the average price of a hotel for one week for a couple at €1,491 ($1,686). You can travel locally for €16 ($18) or between cities for €49 ($55). See the breakdown for more information on entertainment, tips and alcohol costs. You can also rent a hostel for €30 to €90, says TripSavvy . HotelsCombined offers price checks on hotels.
You have a diverse range of options for getting around Germany’s cities and larger towns. In large cities, you’ll find an integrated transit system with trams, U-Bahn (underground subway) trains, S-Bahn (suburban) trains and buses. Speaking of buses, Lonely Planet says they’re “a ubiquitous form of public transport, and practically all towns have their own comprehensive network.”
Sometimes they’re supplemented by the faster trams (Strassenbahnen), which run on their own tracks. Generally, you can purchase a single ticket or day pass for the bus or tram.
Tip: Use GoEuro to compare/book transport options anywhere in Europe.
The country is well-known for being cyclist friendly and you’ll be happy to find you can rent a bike and cruise the dedicated bike lanes in many cities.
Tip: On Sundays, most shops including supermarkets, retail stores, malls, etc. are closed.
See stunning castles
Whether you’re bringing the family for an unforgettable tour of the world power, spending a few days at Oktoberfest or strolling through the vineyards Rhine Valley on your honeymoon, German vacations hold something for everyone.
Europe’s second most populated country is home to the Berlin Wall and several World War II sites , such as the Nazi Party Rally Grounds in Nuremberg, the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin and concentration camps at Dachau, Bergen-Belsen and elsewhere that commemorate Germany’s dark history.
Tour historical sites
You’ll also find stunning castles and cathedrals to capture your wonder and imagination. Aachen Cathedral (aka the Imperial Cathedral), the oldest cathedral in all of northern Europe, was finalized in 935 and is the final resting place for Charlemagne, an eminent medieval ruler. Heidelberg’s Heidelberg Castle is one of Europe’s most famous landmarks and has inspired many artists and poets for centuries.
Ajay Khanna lived in Oestrich-Winkel (a small village near Frankfurt) with some close friends for a month before heading to Poland. He remembers boarding a bus to get to the main city, then hopping on a high-speed train to an airport so they could travel around Europe. The group also rented cars to get to Zugspitze – the highest mountain in Germany – to try skiing for the first time, an activity Ajay describes as “terrifying. I accidentally got on the wrong lift and the only way down was the red or the black path,” he remembers. “I highly recommend Zugspitze, as it was one of the most memorable parts of my trip.”
They also stopped at Neuschwanstein castle, “which was beautiful, basically a castle in the sky. I love winter, and Germany is where I felt right at home because [it’s weather is similar to] Canada’s.”
After spending some time in Europe, Ajay returned to Germany and traveled by bus from Berlin to Warsaw, Poland.
He vividly recalls seeing the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie, which were both “unbelievable – [there’s] so much history behind these monuments and moments.”
Sip local beer at world-famous markets
After a day of exploring, head to Munich’s famous beer gardens (biergartens) , where you can enjoy some world-class suds on a hot summer’s evening. If you’ve got a science and technology enthusiast in your group, take them to the Deutsches Museum – one of the world’s largest science and technology exhibitions.
Tip: Nudity is common in public spaces such as parks:
Happy to Wander also advises nudity is expected and mandatory in many saunas, wellness spas, etc.
Germany National Parks
At Berchtesgaden National Park, get in touch with nature and hike the trails while enjoying gorgeous scenery of lush forests, crystal clear lakes and sleepy villages. If strolling through a sun-soaked vineyard and cruising the Rhine River by boat is more your speed, take a trip to romantic Middle Rhine Valley. Germany also knows how to host world-famous parties. Oktoberfest – the world’s largest folk fest – brings between 6 to 7 million visitors to Munich at the end of September and beginning of October to indulge in food, entertainment, music and activities for 16 days. Revellers indulge in everything from from sausage, poultry and roasted chicken to suds from local breweries and countless large pretzels.
Germany Christmas Markets
Traveling in late November/early December? You’ll have any number of Christmas markets to look forward to, where Gemütlichkeit (winter cheer) abounds and brilliant sights, sounds and smells await to delight your senses. Marvel at the world’s tallest Nutcracker at the Dresden Streizelmarkt or savor Glühwein, Käsespätzle, the local version of macaroni cheese while you stroll through Old Town Konstanz (there’s also a Christmas ship, moored at the quayside). In the medieval city of Nuremberg, you can enjoy spicy grilled sausages before browsing the handcrafted goods on sale in what is arguably Germany’s most famous Christmas market.
From medieval castles and the Middle Rhine Valley to the raucous Oktoberfest that brings millions of revellers to Munich every September to indulge in delicious German food and local beer, to its world-famous Christmas markets, and the striking memorials to World War II, you’ll always have new sights to see and new places to discover on your German vacation – all on an affordable budget.
Don’t forget to tell us about your experience! Have you ever traveled to Germany or are you planning to book a trip? What are your best tips when it comes to saving for vacations? We’d love to hear what you’ve planned, or any tips we’ve missed. Share your story in the comments and tell us what destinations are on your wish list. Our team love saving for holidays and we hope to inspire our members with exciting suggestions to spend your Caddle money.