If you’re arriving from a Schengen country, entering Germany is usually a very straightforward process. EU nationals, citizens of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland and the US only need their passport or national identity card to enter Germany as a tourist for a stay up to 3 months within a 6-month period.
For stays exceeding 90 days, it’s necessary to contact the nearest German embassy or consulate to apply for a visa.
Nationals from non-Schengen countries need a Schengen Visa as well.
The climate of the inland of Germany is continental, with seasonal variations in temperature.
In summer (18⁰C to 20⁰C), low pressure can bring showery weather and sometimes even thunderstorms. Winters are normally mild (2⁰C to -6⁰C), but can sometimes be severe with heavy snowfall and temperatures far below zero, especially in the southern, eastern and mountainous regions.
Autumn and winter occasionally come with uncomfortable weather with showers and thunderstorms, especially in the western coastal parts and the mountainous regions of Germany.
The northwestern and coastal regions of the country have maritime influenced climate, characterized by warm summers and mild cloudy winters.
The Alpine regions in the south and some areas of the Central German Uplands have mountain climate, which is characterized by lower temperatures.
Germany is in the Central European Time Zone and applies Daylight Saving Time. Germany is GMT/UTC + 1h during Standard Time, and GMT/UTC + 2h during Daylight Saving Time.
Banks are usually open from Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. or 4 p.m. (5 p.m. or 6 p.m. on Thursday). Afternoon closing time depends on the bank or branch.
Stores are open from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on weekdays, and from 9 a.m. till 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Sunday is a day off for shoppers in Germany. However, shopping centers often set their own special opening hours and there might be exceptions in some states.
Mind, that smaller shops usually prefer to have shorter hours than supermarkets, but many family-run grocery stores in Berlin stay open until 10 p.m.
Many German official holidays are religion-based and may vary by state or region. Catholic regions such as Bavaria may observe a holiday that is not observed in Protestant states. Check calendar of German holidays for details.
The main language is German. However, there are different regional accents and dialects. Many Germans speak good English, so there should be no language barrier for a foreigner.
The currency unit in Germany is the euro.
When in need for help in Germany, dial the common emergency phone number 112 around the clock to contact the emergency services (police, fire, ambulance). It’s free to call both from landlines and from any mobile network.
While service is usually included in the bill, rounding up a café, restaurant or taxi bill to the next euro is acceptable in most cases. However, the following are recommendations for tipping in Germany.
At hotels you can leave € 1 per bag to the bellboy, and € 1 or € 2 per day to the housekeeping staff.
Restaurant bills as a rule include service charge, but most people add 5 % or 10 % for good service.
When in a bar, add about 5 % to the bill. For drinks brought to your table, tip as for restaurants.
For taxis, tip about 10 %.