Germany local time
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People often expect Berlin to be a concrete jungle. But times have changed and nowadays nothing could be further from the truth. In the West super-modern buildings provide a backdrop for a dynamic and cosmopolitan city that is distinctly new millennium in outlook. The East meanwhile is a model of 21st-century urban development – the grey Communist concrete has been replaced with gleaming new structures that look to the city’s future rather than dwelling on the past. Germany’s capital, the city is rich in cultural heritage and fascinating to explore, from its Prussian architecture, to the gloomy remains of the graffiti-covered wall. Above all, Berlin is the very pulse of Germany, with remarkable museums and buildings, vibrant nightlife and an irresistible atmosphere. Make sure to visit Potsdam, lying just south-west of Berlin, which is an idyllic town surrounded by landscaped gardens and palaces, offering an insight in to the lives of the Prussian royalty who conceived the city in the 18th century. The centerpiece is the extravagant rococo Schloss Sanssouci, built by Frederick the Great in 1745 and set within 2km of landscaped parkland.
The home of the oldest university in Germany, Heidelberg has for 600 years been a refined center of culture and learning and for the discerning visitor little has changed. Despite the city’s many trials and tribulations Heidelberg’s beautiful medieval and Renaissance architecture has largely survived intact, mainly due to the diligence of the American, General Patton and his refusal to damage the city in the Second World War.
The centerpiece is the castle, or Schloss, an impressive collection of Gothic structures completed between the 13th and 16th centuries. Throughout the centuries the castle has been frequently sacked and even destroyed by lightning at one point. The Palatinate nobles of the city always rebuilt it however, and although much of the complex is in ruins, several parts have survived or have been restored to something approaching their former glory. There’s plenty more to see however, and you should spend at least some of your visit in the student inns of the town. Hundreds of years old, they have seen generations of students come and go, but are still thronged with Heidelberg’s current crop of academics. The more traditional establishments’ tables and walls are etched with the marks of students long gone.
Munich (München) is a delightful city, offering a wealth of museums, beautiful squares, boulevards and one of Europe’s biggest city parks. More than most German cities Munich has managed to retain its traditional air, and has grown in fame as keeper of Germany’s folk customs and identity. Nevertheless, the majority of the city’s visitors have little time to notice this cultural richness. Most come just for one thing – the world famous Oktober Bierfest.
The festival sees the city absolutely packed out with tourists, and huge tents are erected to serve up steins of strong lager from all over the continent to the merry masses. Each tent has a different theme and atmosphere – although drinking is dominant in all. The wine and champagne tents are the least rowdy with most people going straight for the beer.
The Bavarian Alps
Containing dramatic mountains, lakes and fairy-tale castles, the Bavarian Alpine region along the border with Austria is undoubtedly one of Germany’s most beautiful areas.
Bavaria was once an independent kingdom and the region is still proud of this heritage – mostly centered around the regional capital of Munich – itself an interesting destination with plenty to offer. Most people proceed from the city to the high peaks and steeply sloping valleys of the Alpine region. In winter the snow covered slopes welcome skiers from all over Europe, while in summer the green meadows and craggy peaks have an irresistible allure for ramblers, hikers and scramblers.
The most famous sight here is the Neuschwanstein Castle, built by King Ludwig II between 1869 and 1886. The neo-classical style of its soaring turrets is all the more romantic with the impressive backdrop of snow-capped mountains.
Cruising along the Rhine is a wonderful way of seeing this beautiful region. Pleasure boats pass through the gently rolling hills of the main wine making region of Germany and offer cultural stops at castles, which often hold concerts and dining events.
Most cruises run from April until October and take several days to make their way down the river. Several operators run a range of cruises that can be booked before you arrive in Germany. Just across the border into Switzerland are the Rhine Falls – Europe’s largest waterfall.
Cologne (Köln) is a distinctive and original city, the art hub of Germany and perhaps the friendliest destination you’ll come across in the whole country. Its unique atmosphere comes into its own during the carnival in February when the entire city takes to the streets to celebrate for a long weekend. The festivities start on Thursday with street parties and themed balls and culminate in a three-hour parade on the day before Shrove Tuesday. Cologne also boasts the largest Gothic structure in Germany in the shape of the impressive cathedral that dominates the city.
Boasting the only skyscraper vista in Germany, Frankfurt offers an unusual blend of high commerce and high art. Although it is more “Manhattan” in appearance than possessing anything distinctly German, the city is a favorite with regular visitors to the country.
As Germany’s financial center, Frankfurt spends more on arts than any other city in Europe. The result is a world-wide reputation as a center for the arts, with over 40 museums, and a wonderful program of exhibitions and performances. Frankfurt also has mainland Europe’s largest airport and busiest train station and, as such, lays claim to being a major transport hub for the continent.
Frankfurt is also known as the focal point of Christmas festivities which incorporates elaborate displays, vendors and activities that will be sure to get any Scrooge into the Christmas spirit.
Hamburg and Lübeck
Hamburg, Germany’s second-largest city, is elegant and cosmopolitan with a huge port, extravagant office buildings and grand promenades. It has a semi-modern feel, thanks largely to the fact that much of the old city was destroyed in a fire in 1842 allowing the city to rethink its town center. Hamburg’s main appeal is its parks – although one of Germany’s most industrial cities it is also its greenest.
When visiting the Hamburg area, don’t miss a day trip to Lübeck. Just an hour away, this remarkable medieval town is jam-packed with beautiful architecture, most notably its lovely Romanesque cathedral, dating from the 12th century, and its elegant town hall.
Germany Travel Information and Tips
To enter Germany you need a passport that is valid for at least fourth months from your date of arrival. For citizens of EU countries a valid identity card is sufficient.
EU citizens do not require a visa. Citizens of all other countries will generally need a visa, with the exception of some countries for which the European Community has abolished the visa requirement. Nationals of those countries do not require a visa for visits to Germany lasting no longer than three months in a six-month period.
Goods from other EU countries do not incur duty as long as you carry them with you and they are intended for your own personal use.
Goods imported into Germany from a non-EU country are duty-free up to a value of €175.00. There are restrictions for specific goods, such as tobacco, alcohol and perfume.
No vaccinations are required for entry into Germany.
However, between spring and autumn there is an increased risk of contracting illnesses caused by ticks, such as Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis (TBE). Ticks are usually found in ground-covering vegetation. The best protection against them is to wear clothing that covers as much of the skin as possible. If you are bitten, you should seek medical attention as a precaution.
The areas of highest risk are Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, as well as certain regions within Hessen, Rhineland-Palatinate and Thuringia. In these areas, TBE vaccinations are recommended for anyone likely to spend a lot of time outdoors.
Overall, Germany has a warm, temperate, wet climate with westerly winds. Extreme fluctuations in temperature are rare. Rain falls throughout the year. Mild winters (2ºC to -6ºC) and moderately hot summers (18ºC to 20ºC) are the norm.
The main language is German, of course. However, you should be aware that there are many different regional accents and dialects, although High German is understood everywhere.
Many Germans also speak good English, so there should not be any language barriers for foreign visitors.
Around two thirds of Germany’s population are Christian. They are fairly evenly split between Protestants and Catholics, but there are more Protestants in northern Germany, while the South has more Catholics. Germany is also home to around four million Muslims and about 100,000 Jews.
This working group comprises a network of towns and tourist regions committed to developing accessible tourism in Germany through the continual development of travel offers for visitors with limited mobility, hearing and visual impairments and learning difficulties. The group’s central communication hub is the internet portal:
Traveling by car
When traveling by car it should be noted that many German towns and cities have designated low emission zones, in which only vehicles meeting certain emission standards and bearing a colour-coded sticker are permitted to enter.
There are no tolls levied on passenger cars in Germany.
Traveling by train
Thanks to Germany’s extensive rail network with excellent international connections, you will be sure to arrive comfortably at your chosen destination with Deutsche Bahn (German Railways).
Traveling by bus
With numerous routes and stops, Germany’s largest intercity bus service, MeinFernbus, not only connects domestic towns and cities, but also provides an international route network for traveling to Germany.
Traveling by plane
Germany’s three major airports Frankfurt, Munich and Düsseldorf ensure the country is well connected both nationally and internationally. Find the connection that best suits your needs with airlines such as Lufthansa or Air Berlin.