Germany: a visitor’s guide
Germany is a popular European holiday and business destination for South African travellers. With its rich cultural history, strong intellectual tradition, stunning scenery and world-renowned beer, it’s no surprise that it’s at the top of many people’s list of places to visit.
The German currency and spending money in Germany
The German unit of currency is the Euro. Foreign currency is not typically accepted by merchants, although US dollars may be accepted at some airports or major rail stations. In general, Rand or US dollars will need to be exchanged at a money exchange counter or bank. Note that many major credit cards are not widely accepted throughout the country, so check ahead to see whether your card is an approved one before departure.
Language in Germany
German is the official language of Germany, but note that there are many regional variations, particularly in the south of Germany. English is also widely spoken as a second language, and French, Spanish and also Russian are also spoken by many Germans.
Sight-seeing in Germany: cities to visit
From the lush forest of Bavaria to the Bauhaus architecture of Wiemar, there’s plenty to see in Germany. If you’re travelling in the north, visit Berlin, where you can see the site of the Berlin Wall, and experience a music festival or two. Dusseldorf is renowned for its fashion and modern architecture, while Bremen’s old town lets you travel back in time. For a slice of ancient history, visit Cologne, which was founded by the Romans two millennia ago. Munich is the home of the famous Oktoberfest, while Nuremberg offers many sobering sights, including the Nazi Party rally grounds and the courtroom where the Nuremberg trials were held.
Sight-seeing in Germany: natural beauty
If you want to get back to nature, Germany has plenty to offer. The Baltic Sea Coast features picturesque sandy beaches, while the Bavarian Alps are famed for their skiing and hiking opportunities—and the nearby Neuschwanstein Castle. For a nostalgic experience, drive along the Romantic Road, visit the Black Forest, and travel through the gorgeous Franconian Switzerland. If you’re after vineyards, head down to the Rhine for wine and sunshine.
German cuisine: traditional German food
German food is famously rich and robust, and usually comprises meat with some form of vegetable side dish. Popular German foods include the Bratwurst sausage, salted pretzels, schnitzels, spargel, and seasonal desserts such as stollen and lebkuchen. Biergartens and Brauhaus, both serving that famous German beer, are an essential stop. Vegetarians may find that their options are limited, and visitors with allergies or special dietary requirements may need to bear in mind that it may not always be possible to accommodate their needs.
When to visit Germany
Germany has plenty to offer all year around, but spring and summer tend to be the high season. Spring brings spring fairs and Easter celebrations; summer brings plenty of outdoor festivals and activities; autumn wine festivals and Oktoberfest; and winter skiing, winter sports and the famous Christmas markets.