From the sand dunes of the North Friesian Islands to the snow-capped Alps, Germany has a great variety of travel destinations. To help you choose what to visit we have designed seven driving itineraries, each highlighting the beauty of a particular region. Whether you want to explore the restored baroque city of Dresden, marvel at Ludwig of Bavaria’s fantasy palaces, or go hiking in the Black Forest, we have an itinerary to suit you. Because we believe that where you lay your head each night makes the difference between a good and a great vacation, we have included a section on wonderful little hotels that we enjoy throughout Germany–you’ll find lots of fluffy down comforters and gargantuan breakfast buffets here. Our list of German hotels and other Germany accommodations fit a wide variety of interests as well as pocket books with many of our selections costing considerably less than 100 Euros a night.

Select a region in , or choose one from the map below:


Germany



General Info and Resources

Itineraries:

At the beginning of each itinerary we suggest our recommended pacing to help you decide the amount of time to allocate to each region. Most sightseeing venues operate a summer and winter opening schedule, with the changeovers occurring around late March/early April and late October. If you happen to be visiting at the changeover times, be sure to check whether your chosen venue is open before making plans. While we try to give an accurate indication of opening times, there is every possibility that these will have changed by the time you plan your trip; so before you embark on an excursion, check the days (lots of places are closed on Mondays) and hours of opening. We indicate outstanding sightseeing spots by preceding them with an asterisk (e.g., *Burg Eltz).

 

HOLIDAY ROUTES

Germany has a network of holiday routes that allow visitors to follow special-interest, scenic, and historic paths. All are signposted and indicated on most maps. Samplings of the more popular routes are:

Burgenstrasse—The Castle Highway between Mannheim and Nürnberg.

Alpenstrasse—The German Alpine Way between Berchtesgaden and Lindau.

Marchenstrasse—The German Fairy-Tale Route between Hanau and Bremen.

Weinstrasse—The German Wine Road between Schweigen and Bockenheim.

Moselweinstrasse—The Mosel River Wine Route between Trier and Koblenz.

Romantische Strasse—The Romantic Road between Würzburg and Füssen.

Schwarzwald Hochstrasse—The Black Forest High Road between Baden-Baden and Freudenstadt.



Airfare:

Karen Brown’s Guides have long recommended Auto Europe for their excellent car rental services. Their air travel division, Destination Europe, an airline broker working with major American and European carriers, offers deeply discounted coach- and business-class fares to over 200 European gateway cities. It also gives Karen Brown travelers an additional 5% discount off its already highly competitive prices (cannot be combined with any other offers or promotions). We recommend you make reservations by phone at (800) 835-1555. When phoning, be sure to use the Karen Brown ID number 99006187 to secure your discount.

Another option is to visit Flight Reservations under the blue Travel Tools tab on all of our web pages. Here, you will find a myriad of prices from different air carriers.

Europe now has several low-cost air carriers, the largest being Ryanair, offering excellent prices for air travel within Europe. If you are traveling long distances across Europe it might be advantageous to look into flying rather taking the train.

 



Car Rental:

We always use Auto Europe―a car rental broker that works with the major car rental companies to find the lowest possible price. They also offer motor homes and chauffeur services. Auto Europe’s toll-free phone service, from every European country, connects you to their U.S.-based, 24-hour reservation center (ask for the Europe Phone Numbers Card to be mailed to you). Auto Europe offers our readers a 5% discount (cannot be combined with any other offers or promotions) and, occasionally, free upgrades. Be sure to use the Karen Brown ID number 99006187 to receive your discount and any special offers. You can make your own reservations online via our website, , or by phone (800-223-5555). There is a definite price advantage to reserving and pre-paying for a car rental, but remember, you will have to pay taxes and insurance locally. Also, depending on the policies and locations of a particular company, there are often surcharges for returning a car to a place other than the originating rental location.

When driving in Germany please note the following:

BELTS: Seat belts must be worn by everyone in the car. Children under 12 must not sit in the front seat.

DRIVER’S LICENSE: An international driver’s license is strongly recommended by the German Tourist Office. This can be purchased for $10 in the USA at your local AAA office. Your own driver’s license is also acceptable. The minimum driving age is 18.

DRUNK DRIVING: It is a very serious offense to drive when you have been drinking. Anyone with an alcohol blood level of 0.8% (fewer than two beers) is considered under the influence, so do not drink and drive-save your liquid refreshments for evening meals, when your driving is finished for the day.

GASOLINE: Gasoline is very expensive (diesel is less expensive) so, if you are driving, budget this as part of your trip’s expense. When estimating how much money you will need, figure roughly that gas costs about three times more in Austria than it does in the United States. In addition to the expected combinations of premium and standard gasolines, many stations have another choice where you can create your own mixture to arrive at the perfect octane combination for your car by adjusting the dial on the pump. Most stations take credit cards. Lead-free fuel is bleifrei. Diesel is dieselgas.

ROADS: The German road network consists of autobahns (freeways/motorways marked with blue signs) and secondary roads (also excellent highways). Traffic moves fast on the autobahns where, unless signposted, there is no speed limit. On the secondary highways the speed limit is 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour. The speed limit within city and town boundaries is usually 50 kilometers (31 miles) per hour. There are a few toll roads, usually over secondary mountain passes, but these are not always open. While most road signs are international symbols, a few very important ones are usually written: einbahnstrasse—one-way street, links fahren—keep left, parken verboten—no parking, and umleitung—detour.

ROAD SIGNS: Before getting on the road, prepare yourself by learning the international driving signs so that you can obey all the rules of the road and avoid the embarrassment and danger of heading the wrong way down a small street or parking in a forbidden area. There are three basic sign shapes: triangular signs warn that there is danger ahead; circular signs indicate compulsory rules and information; square signs give information concerning telephones, parking, camping, etc.

 

 



Currency:

All pricing, including room rates, is quoted in euros, using the “€ ” symbol. The euro is now the official currency of most European Union (EU) countries, including Germany. As of February 2002, the euro completely replaced their national currencies.

An increasingly popular and convenient way to obtain foreign currency is simply to use your bankcard at a seemingly ubiquitous ATM machine. You pay a fixed fee for this but, depending on the amount you withdraw, it is usually less than the percentage-based fee charged to exchange currency or travelers’ checks. Be sure to check with your bank or credit card company about their fees and necessary pin numbers prior to departure.

Many establishments accept one or more credit cards. If possible, pay using your credit card as the exchange rate is usually quite favorable. Paying by credit card reduces the need to carry large sums of cash and thus reduces potential loss in the case of theft. Keep a record of your credit card numbers at home as well as with you separately from your cards in case of loss or theft. Also, it is a good idea to contact your card issuer and inform them of your travel plans.



Driving:

DRIVING: The German road network consists of autobahns (freeways/motorways marked with blue signs) and secondary roads (also excellent highways). Traffic moves fast on the autobahns where, unless signposted, there is no speed limit. On the secondary highways the speed limit is 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour. The speed limit within city and town boundaries is usually 50 kilometers (31 miles) per hour. There are a few toll roads, usually over secondary mountain passes, but these are not always open. While most road signs are international symbols, a few very important ones are usually written: einbahnstrasse—one-way street, links fahren—keep left, parken verboten—no parking, and umleitung—detour.

BOATS and RIVER CRUISES: Köln-Düsseldorfer German Rhine Line (known as KD for short) operates cruises and day excursion services on the Rhine, Mosel, Main, Danube, and Elbe rivers from April to the end of October. These excursions vary in duration from several hours to a week. No reservation is needed for day ferryboat services—you buy your ticket from the pier before departure. The most popular excursions are the half-day trip through the Rhine gorge between Koblenz and Mainz; ; along the Mosel river between Koblenz and Cochem; and the multi-night cruises on the Elbe River between Wittenberg (Luther’s town) and Prague.

BUSES: In conjunction with the German railroad, buses make the trip along the Romantic Road between Füssen and Würzburg. Principal stops include Rothenburg and Dinkelsbühl. Additional service connects Mannheim, Heidelberg, and Rothenburg. If you have a German Flexipass or a Eurailpass, the price of the bus ticket is included and you do not need to pay a supplement. The buses operate on a seasonal basis. Schedules are available from the German Tourist Office and are published in the Thomas Cook European Timetable.

TRAINS: From the high-speed ICE train to the local trains that stop in every little village, Germany has a rail system that is easy to use, operates on time, and embraces over 30,000 kilometers of track, enabling the tourist to crisscross the nation with ease. Trains arrive and depart with clockwork precision. The cars are marked on the outside with their destination and first or second class, and, within each, there are seating areas for smoking and no smoking. Most trains of substantial size have a dining car, while those that do not often have a vendor who sells snacks and drinks from a cart. In each train station there is usually an information desk where someone speaks English to assist you with schedules. Other services at large stations include currency exchange, accommodation information, shops, and restaurants. Baggage carts are free.

For trains within Germany you can buy point-to-point tickets or a German Flexipass, or use a Eurailpass. We highly recommend the Flexipass that permits unlimited rail travel in all of Germany for five, ten, or fifteen days within the period of one month. Travel does not have to be on consecutive days. The superhigh-speed ICE trains that link many of the major cities in Germany (such as Hamburg to Munich, Hamburg to Frankfurt, and Berlin to Munich) are covered by the Flexipass, but reservations are necessary. The Flexipass also allows free travel on buses along the Romantic Road and reductions on river steamers on the Rhine and Mosel rivers. In the USA, Flexipasses and Eurailpasses can be purchased through Rail Europe (click on Rail Europe under Travel Tools).

Note that many special fares and passes are available only if purchased in the United States.

 

 



Electricity:

If you are taking any electrical appliances made for use in the United States, you will need a transformer plus a two-pin adapter. A voltage of 220 AC current at 50 cycles per second is used almost countrywide, though in remote areas you may encounter 120V. The voltage is often displayed on the socket. Even though we recommend that you purchase appliances with dual-voltage options whenever possible, it will still be necessary to have the appropriate socket adapter. Also, be especially careful with expensive equipment such as computers—verify with the manufacturer the adapter/converter capabilities and requirements.



Shopping:

Most shops are open Monday through Friday from 9 am to 6 pm, and Saturday until noon or 2 pm. Many small shops close for an hour or two in the middle of the day, when the shopkeeper goes home for lunch. In resort areas, some of the shops are open seven days. You will discover the same consistently high standard of products throughout Germany, with minimal price variations. Department stores are large and display a magnificent assortment of items. In the cities, some of Germany’s larger department store chains to watch for are Kaufhof, Hertie, Karstadt, and Horten, as they usually have excellent souvenir departments and competitive prices.



Tourism:

Within Germany, a big blue “I” denotes the location of the tourist information booths in all major towns, train stations, airports, and tourist centers. Before you go; information, maps, and brochures can be obtained from the German National Tourist Offices or by accessing their website: www.germany-tourism.de.

UNITED STATES German National Tourist Office, 122 East 42nd St., 20th Fl., Ste 2000, New York, NY 10168, USA, email: gntonyc@d-z-t.com, tel: (212) 661-7200, fax: (212) 661-7174 German National Tourist Office, 1334 Parkview Ave., Suite 300, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266 USA, email: info@gntolax.com, tel: (310) 727-9757, fax: (310) 727-9773

GREAT BRITAIN German National Tourist Office, Post Office Box 2695, London W1A 3TN, England email: gntolon@d-z-t.com, tel: (020) 7317-0908, fax: (020) 7317-0917

GERMANY German National Tourist Board, Beethovenstrasse 69, 60325 Frankfurt/Main, Germany email: info@d-z-t.com, fax: (069) 751903



Weather:

Rainfall occurs at all times of year. Autumn is mild and long, spring chilly and late, winter, often snowy and cold; and summer can vary from cloudless and balmy through hot and muggy, to cold and wet. Bring a woolen sweater, a fold-up umbrella, and a raincoat that can be taken off as the day warms, and you will be all set to enjoy Germany, rain or shine, cold or warm.