A collection of Germany travel and backpacking resources including Germany travel, entry visa requirements, employment for backpackers, and German phrasebook.

Backpacking Germany

Looking for important travel information while backpacking around Germany? Here you will find information on working in Germany, entry visas, Germany hostels, and much more.

Table of Contents

A guide for backpacking around Germany. Get important travelers information when it comes to Germany including visa requirements, employment opportunities, common German phrases and translation, as well as Germany hostels.

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. As such you can expect a very high standard of life, perhaps a little pricey but compared to the countries of the eastern block or the south Mediterranean you will have a cosmopolitan and comfortable time in Germany.

A large part of German history is of course the 2 world wars and much of the attractions that people come to Germany for are from the World War II period. However far from glorifying war many of the sights are amongst the most moving in the world.

Germany, being a leading light of Western Europe of course has the bustling, busy and up to date nightlife that would be expected in a modern European country. Indeed Germany has several time been a leading light especially in dance music, boasting acts such as Kraftwerk and Alec Empire and being the spiritual home of gabba (very fast techno) you won’t find many places better than Germany to party.

  • 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

During the summer months the days are warm and the nights are generally quite cool making Germany quite a temperate place to come too, however rain can occur at any time during the year and much like Britain, Germany has it’s fair share of summer thunder storms. The autumn is also relatively mild and winters are not too cold, this means if you take sensible clothes (such as a sweater and rain coat at all times) Germany’s climate is on the whole quite hospitable. In the winter high areas such as the alps can actually experience short spells of warm weather (warmer than the lowland anyway) due to the fohn which is a warm southern wind.

Germany climate map including average rainfall and temperature by month. Find the best time to backpack Germany based on your climate preferences.

Things to see and do

A hub for travel throughout Europe, a centre of finance and capital of Germany, Berlin is a worthwhile visit on any tour. Berlin is best explored on foot where you will have time to appreciate the 50 year old preserved architecture of the east part of Berlin and the tasteful 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 be able to see such inspired buildings as the Reichstag the neo-Renaissance building which houses the German Parliament. The other benefit of Berlin is that it has the best night life and restaurants in the country. Be sure to schedule at least two days in Berlin as you mights need the second one to recover from the night before!

Munich is the next must see destination in Germany, noted for housing the worlds largest science and technology expo at the Deutsches Museum Munich still manages to keep a cultural identioty with more theatres than you will find anywhere else in the country. You will find traditional German beer halls in abundance here but if it all gets too claustrophobic the Englischer Garten offers the perfect place to relax. One of Europes largest city parks the “Garten” covers an area of nearly one and a half square miles. Lubeck is an often overlooked site in Germany, and far up in the northern state of Scleswig-Holstein 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, Lubeck is a well restored medieval town, the old town suffered extensive damage during world war II but much of the city has been restored. Of particular interest the Marionettentheatre which is a captivating puppet theatre which really shouldn’t be missed.

Travel

German train travel is efficient and comfortable but unfortunately these luxuries mean that German trains are also quite expensive. The network is run by Deutsche Bahn and covers most of Germany. Although expensive you can bring travel costs down by looking for good budget deals which are invariably on offer.

The happy weekend ticket (Schoens 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 and even though the ticket is limited to second class with German trains this isn’t really a problem.

There are German flexi-passes available which allow between 5 and 15 days travel within a 1 month period. These tickets are quite good value and there is a substantial discount for those under 25. If you have a European rail pass such as Interail or Eurail you will also be able to use these passes in Germany.

Germany has an extensive bus network which is marginally cheaper than travelling on the trains for long distances. The bus network is run by a variety of private local companies and you will find both domestic routes and routes out to major European destinations. Central bus stations for the most part will be located next to train stations and are normally clearly signposted with the word busbahnhoff.

Accommodation

As you would expect there is a vast selection of hotels scattered throughout Germany, these will normally be quite pricey so it is recommended to find alternative accommodation. 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.

There are 640 youth hostels in Germany, these are open to members of any international youth hostel association such as the YHA. You can also apply for membership at the German Youth Hostel Association who also maintain listings for and regulate youth hostels. More information can be found on their website.

Health

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.

Useful Links

The German National Tourist Office provides travel information and advice for tourists visiting Germany.

The German Youth Hostel Association maintains listings and information on over 640 youth hostels throughout Germany.

Deutsche Bahn runs the countries efficient train network.

Entry Visas 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.

Addresses

For visa and immigration related enquiries you should contact the German Embassy in London :

  • Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany
  • 23 Belgrave Square
  • London
  • SW1X 8PZ
  • Tel: (020) 7 824 1300
  • Fax: (020) 7 824 1435

You can find UK representation in Germany at the British Embassies in either Bonn, or Berlin. Passport and visa related enquiries are now centralised at a Dusseldorf branch which can be found at :

  • YorckStrasse 19
  • D-40476
  • Düsseldorf
  • Passport Section Tel: + [49] (30) 9448 238
  • Fax: + [49] (30) 48 81 90
  • Visa Section Tel + [49] (30) 9448 271
  • Fax: + [49] (30) 48 86 03

Foreigner Work Permits 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 Pairing

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 most foreign-speaking countries you will find some openings for positions teaching English. The best places to look are probably language institutions, but there is no guarantee of work as jobs are usually very 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.

Hotels and restaurants

Asking around and writing to various hotel companies listed in guidebooks may help you to find some temporary work, 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, work in restaurants and pubs 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.

Agricultural Work

German harvests offer less 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

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

Europa Pages lists au pair agencies for Germany.

TEFL gives jobs teaching english abroad.

Wwoof.org gives information of voluntary work available on organic farms.

Working Holidays has information on all kinds of working holidays in Germany.

Concordia is one of the voluntary organisations in Europe.

Sci-ivs provides information about the International Voluntary Service.

How to Say Common German Phrases

 

Meeting People

English
German
yes
ja
no
nein
thank you
danke
you are welcome
bitte schön
please
bitte
excuse me
entschuldigen sie
hello
guten tag
goodbye
auf wiedersehen
good morning
guten morgen
good night
gute nacht
I do not understand
Ich verstehe nicht
Do you speak …
Sprechen sie…
English
Englisch
German
Deutsch
What is your name?
Wie heifen sie?
Nice to meet you?
Sehr erfreut
How are you?
Wie geht’s?
good
gut
bad
schlecht

Directions

English
German
map
die karte
left
links
right
rechts
straight on
geradeaus
far
weit
near
nahe

Methods of Transport

English
German
Where is…?
Wo ist…?
How much is the fare?
Wieviel kostet die fahrkarte
ticket
die fahrkarte
A ticket to…, please
Eine fahrkarte nach…
Where are you going?
Wohin gehen sie?
Where do you live?
Wo wohnen sie?
Train
die bahn
bus
der bus
Underground
die U-Bahn
airport
der flughafen
train station
der bahnhof
bus station
der busbahnhof
Underground station
der U-Bahnhof
departure
die abfahrt
arrival
die ankunft
parking
parken

Time

English
German
What time is it?
Wie spät ist es?
Today
heute
yesterday
gestern
tomorrow
morgen

Accomodation

English
German
hotel
das hotel
room
das zimmer
reservation
die reservierung
Are there any vacancies?
Haben sie ein zimmer frei?
No vacancies
Ausgebucht
Passport
Reisepal

Places

English
German
post office
die post
bank
die bank
police station
polizeiwache
hospital
das krankenhaus
chemist
die apotheke
shop
das geschäft
restaurant
das restaurant
museum
das museum
church
die kirche
street
die strafe
square
der platz

Shopping

English
German
How much does this cost?
Wieviel kostet das?
I will buy it
Ich nehme es
I would like to buy…
ich würde gerne kaufen
Do you have…?
Haben sie…?
open
auf
closed
geschlossen
postcard
die postkarte
stamps
die briefmarke
little
wenig
lot
sehr viel
all
alles

Meals

English
German
breakfast
das frühstück
lunch
das mittagessen
dinner
das abendessen
vegetarian
vegetarisch
cheers!
prost!
The bill please
Die rechnung, bitte

Drinks

English
German
drink
das getränk
coffee
der kaffee
tea
der tee
juice
der saft
water
das wasser
beer
das bier
wine
der wein

Food

English
German
meat
das fleisch
fish
der fisch
vegetable
das gemüse
fruit
die frucht
potato
die kartoffel
dessert
das dessert

Germany Hostels

Hostels are a cheap form of accomodation, and so they are essential to backpackers and other budget travellers. We have compiled a list of hostels in Germany to help you plan your journey. If you are looking for a hostel in Germany, you’ve come to the right place.

Baden-Wuttemberg
Bavaria
Berlin
Brandenburg
Bremen
Hamburg
Hesse
Lower Saxony
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania
North Rhine-Westphalia
Rhineland-Palatinate
Saarland
Saxony
Saxony-Anhalt
Schleswig-Holstein
Thuringia

There you have it, the ultimate Germany backpacking guide. We hope you have found all the information you need for backpacking around Germany.

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