|Germany is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. It is one of the major political powers of the European continent and a technological leader in many fields.
Germany has the world's fourth largest economy by nominal GDP and the fifth largest by purchasing power parity. It is the second largest exporter and third largest importer of goods. The country has developed a very high standard of living and a comprehensive system of social security. Germany has been the home of many influential scientists and inventors, and is known for its cultural and political history.
Area: About 357 square kilometres
Population: 81.8 million
Time Zone: CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Calling Country Code: +49
Most of Germany has a temperate seasonal climate in which humid westerly winds predominate. Rainfall occurs year-round, especially in the summer. Winters are mild and summers tend to be cool.
In April and May, when wildflowers brighten meadows and fruit trees are in bloom, it can be mild and sunny. Temperatures range from 5 to 18 °C for the month of April and May, with humidity averaging around 80%.
The currency used in Germany is the Euro Dollar (Euro, €). If you wish to exchange money, you can do so at any bank, where you can also cash in your traveller's cheques. Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are also available in many parts of Germany and be aware you may be charged for cash withdrawals. It is advisable to exchange some cash before arriving in Germany.
While credit cards (VISA, MasterCard, American Express) or foreign debit cards (VISA Debit/Electron etc.) are accepted in hotels, major retail stores, supermarkets and some fastfood restaurants, it is best to inquire or look out for acceptance decals before shopping. Some places impose a minimum purchase amount (typically 10 euros) for card payments.
Nationals of EU and EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) countries only need a valid national identity card or passport for entry - in no case will they need a visa for a stay of any length. Nationals of non-EU/EFTA countries will generally need a passport for entry to Germany and most will need a visa.
Only the nationals of the following non-EU/EFTA countries do not need a visa for entry into Germany:Australia, Brunei, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mauritius, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan*, United States, additionally persons holding British National (Overseas), Hong Kong SAR or Macau SAR passports.
These non-EU/EFTA visa-free visitors may not stay more than 90 days.(*) Taiwan nationals need their ID number to be stipulated in their passport to enjoy visa-free travel.
Visitors traveling to Germany are required to be in possession of passports that are valid for 6 months beyond the period of their intended stay in Germany.
Getting around Germany is incredibly easy. The train network is comfortable, reliable, fast and reasonably priced. The eastern and western train systems have now been fully merged. German roads are also excellent and motorized transport can be a great way to tour the country. Another good and healthy way for getting around Germany is cycling. For the Germans, cycling is a fundamental part of life and many cities encourage cyclists with designated bicycle lanes, but cycling on the highways (Autobahn) is strictly forbidden (verboten).
Almost all large and small cities in Germany have airports and numerous carriers operate domestic flights. Furthermore, airports have an airport shuttle service, offering reduced fares and fast connections between the city center and the airport. View the Hotel & Travel page for details on recommended airports to fly in and out of.
Trains from Cologne and Düsseldorf run every half hour; express trains (Regional Express) take about an hour and local trains (Regional Bahn) take 90 minutes. Four times per day, high speed train (Inter City Express) goes from Frankfurt through Cologne and Aachen to Brussels.
Driving around Germany is a pleasing and flexible way to see the country. In Germany roads are usually excellent, the country’s pride are its 11,000 Km of freeways (Autobahnen) which expand to all corners of the land.
The bus network in Germany is excellent and efficient. Germany does not have a nationwide bus system, but many buses are operated by BahnBus. Bus service is especially convenient during slow periods of rail service.
Germany has a lot of beautiful lakes and rivers, and the Rhine is the country’s most traveled waterway. Most visitors prefer to see the castles on the Rhine from the deck of a passenger liner.