Germany
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Practical information Germany

By Dmitry Petrounin Dmitry Petrounin Section editor Profile

Germany : Travel Information before you go!

Area

357000.0

Flights

1 hr 50 mins to Berlin Airport, which is approximately 577 miles from London.

1 hr 50 mins to Munich Airport, which is approximately 630 miles from London.

1 hr 45 mins to Frankfurt Airport, which is approximately 395 miles from London.

Germany is 1 hour ahead of the UK.

Population

81,859,000

Airports

All the airports are accessible by public transport. Shuttles (bus or train) drive you from the airports to the town centre.


In the German capital,Berlin Schoenefeld Airport is 11 miles south-east of the city centre.

The quickest way to get from the airport is by Airport Express train (RB14, RE7) which leaves every 30 minutes from Berlin Schönefeld Flughafen train station and stops at main stations, including Berlin Ostbahnhof, Alexanderplatz, Friedrichstrasse, Central Station, and Zoologischer Garten.

There are also two S-Bahn lines from the airport. These usually take slightly longer to reach the city centre but run all night on Fridays and Saturdays. There is also the option of a bus, with local BVG lines 162 going towards Adlershof and 171 towards Neukölln. Or if you want to access the Berlin U-Bahn network (underground), the X7 bus service provides a connection.

The price of a ticket from Schönefeld Airport to the city centre costs 2.80 euros (about £2.20), valid on the Airport Express, S-Bahn, U-Bahn, bus and tram. Ticket machines are located in the arrivals area or just outside and last for a period of two hours, during which you may make as many transfers as you wish.

A taxi costs about 25-30 euros (£19-24) and you will find a taxi rank in front of terminal A.


Berlin Tegel Airport is just 5 miles from the city centre.

Tegel is scheduled to close in 2012 to be replaced by Berlin Brandenburg International Airport, which is set to open in 2013. Until then, buses and taxis are the only way to access the city centre as the airport is neither connected to the U-Bahn or the S-Bahn. However, the buses are fast and regular, with the X9 taking you to Zoologischer Garten in around 15 minutes and the TXL which goes to Alexanderplatz in the eastern city centre. Tickets are available either at the BVG booth in the terminal building or on boarding the bus.

Otherwise, taxis cost around 15-20 euros (£12-16) and take about 30 minutes to get you to the city centre.


Munich Airport is approximately 24 miles from the city centre.

The Lufthansa Airport Bus offers a good service departing every 20 minutes and takes around 35 minutes to reach the centre. Tickets are available from the bus driver. Alternatively the S1 and S8 trains link the airport and the centre of town in 40-45 minutes. Taxis run on the meter but will cost about 50 euros, taking approximately 40 minutes.


Frankfurt Airport is approximately 8 miles from the city centre.

The S-Bahn train runs from the station in terminal 1 to Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof, the main station in the Frankfurt city centre, and takes about 15 minutes. Buses also run frequently from terminals 1 and 2 and take about 30 minutes. If you'd prefer to a taxi, they run on the meter but will cost roughly 20-30 euros (£16-24) and take about 25 minutes, depending on traffic.

Security

There is a high threat from terrorism. The German government has increased security as a precaution at public buildings, major events, transport hubs and large public gatherings. Remain vigilant at this time.

Be wary of thieves in tourist areas and big cities.

Languages

German is the official language, but there is also a great variety of local languages. French and notably English are relatively widely spoken.

Required travel documents for

- The Foreign and Commonwealth Office stipulates you carry your valid passport with you at all times as the German police have the right to ask to see it as identification.
- For visits of up to three months you simply require a passport that is valid for the duration of your stay.
- If you wish to stay for a period superior to three months, it is crucial to register with the German authorities within seven days of arriving in Germany.

Religion

Most people in Germany are either Protestant (30 %) or Catholic (33 %). There is a large Turkish community, with Muslims representing 4% of the population. The remaining third of the population comprises a mix of minority religions and atheism.

Currency

The national currency is the euro, which consists of 100 cents. There are ATM machines just about everywhere, so you'll have no trouble withdrawing cash, though it is worth remembering that you will need an international credit card (Visa, MasterCard, etc.) to make withdrawals and you may be charged. Hotels, restaurants and department stores also accept international credit cards as payment, or if you'd like to pay by cheque, you'll need to bring euro travellers cheques with you.
It is simple to exchange money at banks and foreign-exchange offices. Bank opening hours: from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm and from 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm. Branches located in railway stations and airports are commonly open until 8:00 pm or 11:00 pm and offer a particularly efficient service.

Local transportation

- There are several regular internal flights between the different regional airports. Flying is a better means of travelling for long distances, as the difference in price between that and the train is not huge.
- The German railway network is arguably the best in Europe. There are several ways of travelling at low costs (contact the Deutsche Bahn, the local railway company for more information). To go faster, it is preferable to take the ICE (German high speed train). We advise you buy your ticket at the ticket office before boarding, as buying on the train must be done by cash and incurs a service fee of up to 7 euros unless the ticket office at your departure station was closed.
- Coach companies supplement the railway network. Europabus provides tourists with special lines for specific itineraries (the Romantic Road, the Castles Road and so on).
- There are buses, although these are far less of a luxury than the train. Nonetheless bus companies frequently offer day, week or tourist passes so it is worth enquiring about.
- To travel by boat, various companies provide regular services on the rivers, lakes and along the coasts.
- You can easily rent a car on the spot. Having said that, companies will only willingly let you hire a car if you are over 25, possess a driving licence and a major credit card. Those aged between 21-24 shouldn't despair as some businesses offer car hire but for an additional fee. If you are travelling with your own car, take along the registration certificate and the insurance certificate. The whole of the German road network is free, including motorways.
- Organised hitching, with participation, is highly developed. There is at least one agency in each town which has lists of information showing vehicles which offer lifts.
- As in the UK, taxi fares include handling and the price per mile (in this case km); this can vary from one town to the other.

Health

- UK nationals should obtain a European Health Insurance Card before going to Germany. Please remember this is not a substitute for health insurance, and you must take out a comprehensive health insurance policy as well. The EHIC warrants you state provided medical treatment on the same terms as German nationals. For more information see the NHS EHIC page.
- Ensure you have sufficient medication for any pre-existing illnesses in their original, clearly labelled containers from the UK. It is not worth the hassle trying to acquire this abroad.
- No vaccinations are required. Saying that, the World Health Organisation advises all travellers to ensure they are covered against diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio before venturing abroad.
- Vaccinations against tetanus, poliomyelitis, and hepatitis B are recommended, but not vital.
- In case of a prolonged stay in the forest (especially in Bavaria), in summer and autumn, get vaccinated against tick-borne encephalitis (check with a doctor).
- Dial 112 for an ambulance in Germany.

Electricity

Voltage is 220 V. Electrical outlets correspond to the European norms.

Tourist numbers

In 2011, Germany received 28.4 million tourists, an increase of 5.5% on 2010 figures.

Taxes and tips

Since January 2007, the German value added tax went from 16% to 19% on consumer goods other than primary goods (taxed at 7%).
In restaurants, service is always included in the bill. However, you can leave a tip. In taxis, 5 to 10% tips are welcomed.

Telephone

To call Germany from the UK: 00 + 49 (country code) + town code (Berlin 30, Cologne 221, Dresden 351, Frankfurt 69 (west) and 335 (east), Hamburg 40, Leipzig 341, Munich 89) + number.

To call the UK from Germany dial 00 +44 + number without the initial 0.

Germany : Useful addresses in the country

Before leaving

German Embassy
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany
23 Belgrave Square
London
SW1X 8PZ
Telephone: 020 7824 1300

German National Tourism Office
PO Box 2695
London
W1A 3TN

Warning: the Tourism Authority's offices are not open to the public.
Inquiries by telephone at 0207 317 0908, internet or by post.

At the destination

British Embassy
Wilhelmstrasse 70
10117 Berlin
Berlin
Tel: 49 (0)30 20457-0
Fax: 49 (0)30 20457 594