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15 Things to Know About Holidays in Germany

If you’re looking for somewhere different to visit during your holidays, or you fancy trying a bespoke holiday experience in one of the world’s most beautiful and unique countries, Germany is definitely the place for you and Travel without Borders is the specialist tour operator to choose!

Full of rich history, interesting culture, charm, character, excellent hospitality and mouth-watering cuisine, holidays in Germany are ideal for all age groups.If you are considering using our services to plan a holiday to Germany, why not brush up your knowledge and discover 15 things about holidays in Germany? We are experts in German culture and have a wealth of experience of holidays in this country, therefore we have compiled this guide to give you a little insight into holidays in Germany.

1. Cash is King

This is an important one to remember, especially for first-time travellers to Germany! It is essential to have cash, as well as spare pieces of change handy during your trip. Some shops and eating establishments in Germany may not take cards, so you will need to be prepared with some cash. It is a good idea to check first.  Also, there is usually a charge to use public conveniences.

​2. Are You Supposed to Tip in Germany?

Service and VAT are included in the menu price in restaurants, bars, etc. all over Germany, however, it is common practice to “round up” the amount to a round figure and then give the tip directly to the waiter, rather than leaving it on the table. A rule of thumb is to add 5-10%, generally ending with a full Euro amount. This applies for taxi fares and it is seen as polite to tip city guides and porters etc. (if they are good!)

​3. Sundays and Bank Holidays are Days of Rest or Culture

Whilst many cafes and restaurants may stay open to facilitate tourists, shops and grocery stores will generally be closed on Sundays and Bank Holidays. If you are in the vicinity of a major railway station, then you will find that these remain open. So, although you cannot do any serious shopping on a Sunday you can visit museums, which are open on a Sunday and closed on a Monday! Travel without Borders can advise you on German Bank Holiday dates. “Ruhetag” is the day of rest for hoteliers, restaurants, shops and other businesses.

​4. Different Beds and Pillows!

In the more traditional hotels and often family-run establishments you will encounter what has been the norm across Germany for decades: two single beds linked together with one frame (bed-head), giving you two mattresses and two sets of bedding.  However, the bed arrangements can vary a lot in larger hotels and in international chain hotels where you can find a variety of bedding arrangements, such as large king beds with two sets of bedding or queen beds often used for single travellers.

​One thing you may indeed find strange is the square pillows, it might take a while to find a comfortable position with this style of pillow!

​5. Dining in Germany

Germany is of course well known for its delicious dishes and foods. There’s so much for your taste buds to discover when holidaying in Germany, however food varies from region to region. You will definitely find more dumplings, sausages and Pretzels in Bavaria, whereas in the Rhineland the predominant meat is pork and often in Schnitzel form with breadcrumbs or different types of sauces. Travel up north towards Hamburg and the coast and you will be surprised at the range of fish specialities. Eating establishments often offer “Kinder Teller” for the kids and even sometimes “Senioren Teller” for the mature generation, whose appetite may not be as big as formerly! Further, if you really want to skip eating formally you are never far from an “Imbiss” snack stand, where you might find the famous “Currywurst” on offer!
Table water is not the norm in Germany and would need to be ordered separately, however, be prepared that bottled water in Germany is more often than not sparkling, so if you want still water, be sure to say “Wasser ohne Gas” and they will know what you mean!

6. Don’t Forget the Coffee and Cake

​The longstanding tradition of afternoon “Kaffee und Kuchen” is still very much alive and it is highly recommended for you to try out a local café and taste your way through the wonderful pastries and cakes on offer. There is so much more than to German baking the famous Black Forest Gateau, Apple Strudel and Stollen. See and taste for yourself.

7. How Formal are the Germans

Germany can sometimes be seen as a very serious, formal country. Punctuality is important and it is normal to shake hands on meeting people. You need to use Herr (Mr) or Frau (Mrs) plus their surname and adopt the polite form “Sie” for “you” as opposed to the informal form of “Du” unless you have been invited to do so. Still, when it comes to dress code, the Germans are generally a bit more relaxed unless of course you are eating in a fine dining restaurant or at a very posh event.  For men, jeans and jackets are widely acceptable and ladies take a “smart casual” approach.

8. Be Prepared for Nudity

The Germans are definitely not “prudish” when it comes to whipping their clothes off for the sauna, steam bath and other hot room facilities! This is just the way it is and although many hotels will understand that not all “international” tourists are comfortable with being naked in front of strangers or friends, you should check if there are any signs signalizing that clothes are prohibited. You are expected naturally to take a towel to sit on, but the Germans believe that swimwear is not hygienic in a hot room. Don’t despair, however, you can keep your clothes on in a hotel pool!

9. Have Fun Learning Some German

Whilst Germans are generally keen to speak English at any given opportunity, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes it is age-dependent, often in more rural areas there is less German spoken and in parts of Eastern Germany they might still be catching up with the English language learning. It can really help to have a basic idea of the German language before experiencing holidays in Germany, however, there are also local accents and regional dialects to contend with even for German speakers!

“Guten Tag” or “Grüß Gott” (more in southern Germany) is a general “Hello” no matter what time of day.  If you pass someone in the street, Germans will generally look up and say hello, so practice this one!

10.  Excellent Tourist Information Centre

To help you plan what to do on your holiday we always recommend a visit to the local tourist information centre.  Germany excels in this department and there is a wealth of information to be gained from a visit and conversation with a member of staff

11. Respect the Little Green Traffic Light Man

You must wait for traffic lights to go green before crossing the road as German people disapprove of jaywalking. In parts of Berlin and Eastern Germany, little green and red traffic light men (Ampelmännchen) light up on pedestrian zones, a throwback from the pre-reunification years.

12. Germany is Famously Green

If you are on a self-catering holiday, you will need to familiarise yourself with the local recycling procedure. Recycling in Germany is huge and is taken very seriously by locals. When you recycle any glass or plastic in Germany, you get a Pfand, which is a small refundable deposit that you would have paid for the bottle. If you buy something in a glass or plastic bottle, do not be alarmed if the price goes up a little bit at the checkout – this will just be the Pfand and you will get this deposit back upon recycling the item

13. Rail Travel

It is always a relief in Germany when you travel by rail and are able to check the notice board on the platform for a layout of your train, so you can position yourself correctly if you have a reserved ticket or study where restaurant car is located. Of course beware for any last minute changes.

14. False Friend: Drogerie

If you need a pharmacy you will need to find an “Apotheke”, not a “Drogerie” which tends to sell cosmetic items.

15. Electricity

​Don’t forget your adaptor, you need a continental style plug with two round prongs.

Holidays in Germany with Travel without Borders

We are experts in planning truly bespoke and unique holidays in Germany. If you would like to visit Germany and make the most of your time there with a carefully planned itinerary that allows you to see everything that matters most to you, then why not let us us to plan a trip for you, your family, a group of friends or even a larger group or society to which you belong. If you are still curious, read our about us page to and get in touch today.

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