Looking for important travel information while backpacking in Germany? Here you will find information on working in Germany, entry visas, Germany hostels, and much more.
Table of Contents
- Facts About Germany
- Top Things to Do
- How to Travel Around
- Germany Hostels & Budget Accommodation
- Know before you go: Entry Visas, Health, & Safety
- Work Permits & Backpacker Jobs in Germany
Facts About Germany
Germany is one of the most influential countries in the EU– since the 1990 reunification of East and West Germany the country has become a leading power in Europe. Germans enjoy a high standard of living and you can expect a cosmopolitan and comfortable time in Germany as a traveller.
A substantial part of recent German history is the two World Wars, and you have the opportunity to visit many historically-significant locations while in Germany. Far from glorifying war, many of the sights and memorials are among the most moving in the world.
Germany also boasts picturesque countryside, well-preserved medieval towns full of timbered houses, Oktoberfest and the Biergarten culture, and more. Larger cities like Berlin and Hamburg have a world-famous nightlife scene.
- Currency: Euro (€) 1 euro = 100 cents
- Time Zone: GMT + 1
- Language: German
- Telephone Services: Country code +49, International access code 00
- Emergency Numbers: 112 for all services
Climate in Germany and the best time to go
When deciding the best time to visit Germany, weather plays a significant role. Germany is a generally temperate place with weather that follows typical seasons– Summer is hot, Fall is crisp, Spring is mild, and Winter is cold with occasional snow.
Unlike neighbouring countries to the north and south, the temperature rarely hits extreme highs or lows. This means if you take sensible clothes, Germany’s climate is quite hospitable. In the winter, high altitude areas such as the Alps can actually experience short spells of warm weather due to the fohn which is a warm southern wind.
Things to do in Germany
When deciding the best things to do in Germany, there is an abundance of options. Here are the top bucket-list items when backpacking Germany.
The capital of Germany, Berlin is a worthwhile visit on any tour. The city is best explored on foot or by bike, where you will have time to appreciate the architecture of former East Berlin and the modern rejuvenation projects which have brought Berlin back from a crippled, divided city to the strong unified capital it is today.
In Berlin, you will see stately architecture such as the Reichstag Parliament building, Berlin Cathedral on Museum Island, and Brandenburg Gate. Berlin has the best nightlife and restaurants in the country. Be sure to schedule at least two days in Berlin as you might need the second one to recover from the night before!
Our suggested itinerary guarantees you’ll hit all the historical highlights while getting a feel for the modern Berlin energy: Berlin in 3 days: local vibes and must-sees.
Munich is the next must-see destination in Germany, the capital of the former Kingdom of Bavaria and the unofficial capital of Beer. Munich is the headquarters of Germany’s ‘Big 6’ Breweries, exporting world-famous beer around the globe.
You will find Bavarian culture alive and well at the many traditional beer halls in abundance here, or head to the Englischer Garten for the perfect place to relax. One of Europes largest city parks, the “Garten” covers an area of nearly four square kilometres. Munich also has more theatres than you will find anywhere else in the country.
Often overlooked, you will find this to your taste if you like to get a little off the beaten track. Earning a place on UNESCO’s world heritage list, the medieval old town of Lubeck has been restored after suffering extensive damage during World War II. Of particular interest is the Marionettentheatre, a captivating puppet theatre which really shouldn’t be missed.
Unique Activities in Germany
Since popular places in Germany can get crowded during tourist season, it is wise to reserve tickets and activities ahead of time. GetYourGuide sells entrance tickets to museums and landmarks at face value so you can avoid the lines and save that precious time for more exploring.
Viator is another popular travel website that helps you book things to do in Germany. They work directly with local tour operators in Germany, so you won’t have to scour the internet or roam around town trying to find the best deal.
If you know your schedule ahead of time, a great insider tip is to buy tickets for major tourist attractions ahead of time. Tiqets has entrance tickets and skip-the-line passes for major attractions in Berlin, Munich, Cologne, and other hotspots, which can be a worthwhile cost during peak tourist season.
How to Get Cheap Flights to Germany
In order to find the best flights to Germany we recommend using a few well-known flight comparison search engines. These websites offer powerful search options, like entering flexible dates and airports in order to find the cheapest flight to Germany.
Our go-to flight search engine is Skyscanner, which we love for its extremely flexible search options. Our favourite way to get travel inspiration is their “Everywhere” feature. Simply enter “Everywhere” as a destination, and it will then list all available flights from your departure city in order of price. This also works when entering the entire country of Germany as your destination. Skyscanner will search all possible airports in the country in order to find the cheapest option.
Kiwi is another new favourite flight search engine among savvy travelers. Kiwi works by combining flights from different carriers in order to get the best deal. Also, if there is a better ground or ferry option for the route you’re searching, Kiwi will include that in the search results. On average, we have found the cheapest flights to Germany with them compared to the other websites out there.
How to Travel Around Germany on a Budget
Train and long-distance bus are the standard modes of transport for how to get around Germany. Buses are the more economical option, nevertheless, they are well-equipped with the usual modern conveniences that expect when travelling in Europe. Train travel, on the other hand, is the fastest way between two cities in Germany, and the train stations are conveniently located right in the center of town.
Certain routes are better suited to one mode of transport than the other. To compare your options for journeys from A to B, you can try Omio. They compare trains, buses (and even flights) so you can decide for yourself the tradeoff between cost and travel time.
For finding a carpool option between cities in Germany, you can use BlaBlaCar, which is a favorite mode of transport among budget-savvy locals. Just search for your destination, pick the date you want to travel and you’ll see different carpool options. Some rides allow you to book instantly, while others require the driver to approve manually. The BlaBlaCar site defaults to German but you can change the language at the bottom of the page.
Train travel in Germany
Germany is a part of the Eurail network, which is a good choice if you plan to take multiple train journeys in a short period of time. If you plan on doing lots of train travel in a short amount of time, a Rail Pass from Eurail might be the right choice for you.
German train travel is efficient and comfortable but unfortunately at an expense. The network is run by Deutsche Bahn and covers most of Germany. You can bring travel costs down by looking for good budget deals which are frequently on offer.
The happy weekend ticket (Schoenes Wochenende Ticket) is a particularly good buy. This ticket allows travel for up to five people on local trains, all weekend for just over €20. You really can’t get much better than this.
Bus travel in Germany
Germany has an extensive bus network which is cheaper than trains for long distance journeys. FlixBus is the major provider, and they serve both domestic routes and routes to major European destinations. Central bus stations are usually located next to train stations and are normally clearly signposted with the word Busbahnhoff.
Driving in Germany
Maybe it’s your dream to drive without limits on the Autobahn. You may also want the flexibility to stop in smaller towns between the major cities. If you decide you want to rent a car, you can use DiscoverCars to compare offers from the major car rental agencies in the region. Before deciding, read more about what to expect of driving in Europe.
If you want the flexibility to have a car available on-demand, you can sign up for ShareNow, which is the car-sharing app in Europe. Using their app, you can unlock cars within major cities like Berlin, Munich, Cologne, and more, whether you need to rent a car for 2 minutes or 2 weeks. To sign up you’ll need to download the app, and have a valid driver’s license, so it’s best to sign up before your trip.
Backpacking Tours in Germany
Though part of the fun of backpacking Germany is exploring on your own, there are situations, especially when venturing off the tourist trail, when it does make sense to go with a guide or a small group.
The most popular option for a social travel experience is Contiki tours. Contiki trips offer more than just transportation, they are organized social group travel for travelers aged 18-35. Whether you’re traveling by yourself or going with a group of friends, Contiki tours are perfect for people looking to have a blast, meet new friends, and form lifelong memories. They offer tours that travel primarily in Germany or longer tours that cover other nearby places.
G Adventures is another great option for organized travel, but with a smaller group. It’s a great choice for anyone backpacking Germany alone who would like to meet up with like-minded travellers. It’s also a practical option for exploring places where you need an experienced guide, like a long hiking adventure or visiting a place well off the beaten path. You can choose from different styles of small group tours like active, wellness, hiking trips, 18-30somethings, and more.
Germany Hostels & Budget Accommodation
Hotels in Germany are abundant but normally quite pricey. A more affordable solution is a Pension which is a broad equivalent to a bed and breakfast and this is also a good way to meet some local people and get to integrate with the German culture a little more.
We have had good experiences finding hostels in Germany on HostelWorld. They have the largest inventory of hostels worldwide, and with over 10 million reviews and ratings from other travellers, you know exactly what to expect.
Another good way to find accommodation in Germany is by checking booking.com. You’ll find hotels, homestays, hostels, and other unique accommodations. They have the most reviews and advanced filtering of any accommodation-booking site, so you’ll be sure to find a great place in your budget. Many of the places on booking.com also offer free cancellation, which takes the pressure off the planning phase of your trip to Germany.
If you are backpacking with another travel companion, we highly recommend booking a rental via VRBO. With a vacation rental in Germany, you’ll have more space, your own kitchen, and you’ll get a better feel for how the locals live. Plus, the cost of a vacation rental can be split among your group, oftentimes making it cheaper than doing individual hotel rooms.
If you’re looking to save even more money while backpacking in Germany, there are plenty of creative ways to get free accommodation in exchange for work. For example, one of our favorite ways to stay in amazing locations for free is by signing up as a petsitter with Trusted Housesitters. The site connects responsible animal lovers with petsitting opportunities in Germany and all over the world. It’s a win-win for both sides – travellers can stay in amazing locations for free, and homeowners can rest easy knowing that someone is watching over their place.
And lastly, CouchSurfing is a great community that connects travellers with local hosts in Germany. You can stay for free with verified hosts, who will usually take some time to show you around the local spots.
Entry Visa Requirements for Germany
EU or USA nationals will require a valid passport or national ID card for the duration of their stay. A visa is not required for visits of up to 3 months in duration. If you wish to stay in Germany for longer than this time, or if you intend to work in Germany you should contact the German Embassy.
Visa requirements for Germany can vary widely depending on your country of origin and can change over time. To avoid any unpleasant surprises, be sure to check the latest visa requirements while you’re still planning your trip.
Health and Safety in Germany
Germany has an extremely good health service and anyone carrying a completed E111 and with a comprehensive travel insurance policy should have no problem getting state of the art treatment should it be required.
There are no known health risks present in Germany, there are no vaccinations recommended before visiting the country and the tap water can be considered safe to drink.
As with travel to all other countries abroad, it is vital that you get travel insurance before you leave. Even for short trips, our go-to travel insurance provider is World Nomads, which is also recommended by Lonely Planet, HostelWorld, and other major travel companies.
Work Permits and Backpacker Jobs in Germany
EU nationals may enter and stay in Germany for up to 90 days without needing a Visa. If you intend to stay for longer than three months you will need to apply for a residence permit (Aufenthaltsgenehmigung) for which you will require proof of having found somewhere to live. Within seven days of arriving in Germany, you should obtain a certificate of registration (Anmeldebestätigung). Furthermore, if you aim to work in a restaurant, bar, cafe etc. it is advisable to obtain a health certificate (Gesundheitszeugnis).
Au Pair Programs in Germany
Au pairs in Germany work for about 25 hours a week and can expect to earn at least €210 (approx. €148) per month. Usual au pair duties include looking after children, taking them to and from school, as well as general household work such as cleaning.
Au pairs are also usually expected to take part in a course, at a university for example, for a few hours a week. Au Pair International and Au Pair Network International are two agencies that can place EU nationals in au pair positions in Germany, but for a more extensive range of companies, see the Europa Pages website.
Teaching English in Germany
In most foreign-speaking countries you will find openings for teaching English. The best places to look are language institutions, but there is no guarantee of work as jobs are highly sought after. If you are serious about becoming an English teacher in another country it is worth training with TEFL to receive a qualification that will put you in better standing than those without.
Working at hotels and restaurants in Germany
Asking around and writing to various hotel companies listed in guidebooks may help you to find some temporary work in Germany, particularly during the summer months when tourism is high and demanding. Types of jobs in hotels include porters, kitchen staff, waiters and waitresses, and cleaning staff. A lot of hotels also provide employees with food and accommodation, but charges may be deducted from your monthly wage, which could average about €568 (approx. €400) a month.
As with hotel jobs, restaurant and pub jobs in Germany can most easily be found by enquiring in person and it is best to turn up early in the tourist season as vacancies may be quickly filled. Given that there are hotels, pubs etc. all throughout Germany there are no specific places that you should look first, but the busiest tourist areas are obviously cities such as Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin, and Hamburg.
Agriculture and Farm jobs in Germany
German harvests offer fewer employment opportunities than in a lot of other European countries, but nevertheless, if you are interested in this type of work it is worth checking farms and asking landowners in Altland, or along the French border, where apples, cherries, and grapes are grown.
WWOOF is a voluntary organisation placing volunteers on organic farms throughout the world. Workers are provided with board and accommodation and must pay an annual membership of €10 to WWOOF, see their website for more details.
Working Holidays in Germany recruit volunteers for three to six months, usually attracting gap year students. Volunteers work in family hotels or family farms, and duties can include looking after animals and children, and tasks such as cooking. Since you will be working alongside other people, knowledge of German is useful and no doubt this type of work could improve such linguistic skills. Application details can be found on the Working Holidays website, see below.
Volunteering in Germany
As well as volunteer opportunities available on agricultural projects, a number of organisations arrange social work projects, such as Concordia whose volunteers work in groups with children and communities in a number of countries throughout the world. Projects last for up to three weeks, in the summer months. All volunteers are supplied with food and accommodation and are required to pay a fee of €75 to register with Concordia.
The International Voluntary Service sets up workcamps for volunteers who participate in community schemes, including working with children, adults with special needs, and conservational issues. Again, food and accommodation are part of the package, but you will need to pay €15 membership and fund your own travel.
Useful links to find backpacker jobs and volunteer projects in Germany
- TEFL offers jobs teaching English in Germany and abroad.
- Wwoof.net gives information about voluntary work available on organic farms in Germany.
Useful Links for Backpacking in Germany
- Deutsche Bahn runs the Germany’s train network.
- Eurail – Rail Passes for travellers who plan on doing lots of train travel in a short period of time. Single-Country passes for Germany as well as Multi-Country passes available
- Omio – Train, bus, and flight search for Germany and all of Europe. Offers online booking and mobile tickets
- DiscoverCars – The world’s leading rental car search engines to rent a car in Germany
- Kiwi and Skyscanner – Flight comparison search engines to find the cheapest flights to Germany and within the country
- GetYourGuide and Viator – a collection of local tours and activities in Germany. Also offers Skip the Line tickets for crowded attractions
- Tiqets – Website selling entrance tickets and skip the line tickets for major tourist attractions in Germany
- GAdventures – guided small group tours in Germany, great for solo travellers or for those interested in a more adventurous trip which would require a guide
- HostelWorld – #1 hostel search website to find accommodation while backpacking Germany. Thousands of hostels and millions of reviews from fellow travellers
- Booking.com – commonly used booking site for accommodation in Germany. Find hostels, hotels, and other unique accommodation in Germany with advanced filtering and millions of reviews
- World Nomads Travel Insurance – Comprehensive travel insurance for long and short trips when backpacking Germany
There you have it, the ultimate Germany backpacking guide. We hope you have found all the information you need for backpacking around Germany.
Berlin in 3 days: local vibes and must-sees.
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