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zum Inhalt springen Archive of Naumburg Cathedral  © Falko Matte, Vereinigte Domstifter zu Merseburg und Naumburg und des Kollegiatstifts Zeitz

Quote

"No one has exhausted wisdom to the extent that he would not anymore be in need of exercise and teaching."

Martin Luther

FAQ

Here we've gathered some useful information that help you enjoy a stress-free vacation in LutherCountry.

Whether you are visiting LutherCountry for the first time or have been here before, travel tips are always useful. We've also included some fun facts, must-know information about German culture and tradition, and typical FAQs we've come across over the years.

We look forward to welcoming you to LutherCountry!

»Weather Forecast

Weather in Germany can be rather unpredictable, especially during the summer. So it is always useful to have a foldable umbrella or a rain coat handy, just in case! Packing layers is essential during the various seasons as you never know, so always come prepared.

From March until June you can expect quite a mild climate with temperatures reaching up to 60°F or even higher. German summers are usually very sunny and extremely beautiful with temperatures that can reach up to 85-90°F. During winter you can expect snowfall but it doesn't get too cold; temperatures normally never go below 20-25°F.

Temperatures also vary across different regions in German. While it can be cold and rainy in Northern Germany, it might be sunny and warm in Southern Germany and vice versa. So if you're planning a road trip you might encounter quite some change in weather.

There truly is something for everyone!

Special Tip: Check out our pocked-sized conversion chart.

»Do I require travel insurance?

Yes! Always make sure you are covered in case of an emergency. Try not to go to any no-name companies you found online, try big names which will give you the best deals so you can enjoy your journey without any concerns.

Ask your tour operator for more details as they may even include some sort of insurance in your package.

»Do I require a Visa?

To enter Germany you do not require a Visa as a U.S. or Canadian citizen due to the Schengen agreement, only a valid passport is necessary. But make sure your passport is not due to expire until at least 6 months after your ticketed return to ensure you are not denied access into the country. Of course if you want to stay for a longer period of time, more than 90 days in a 6-month period, you need to register with the proper authorities.

»Information on the availability of packages

The best place to go would be to look through our list of Tour Operators which offer wonderful packages. However, the various websites for the different cities in LutherCountry can be found here and can offer more information on the different offers in the LutherCities.

Make sure you click on "Visitor Resources" (listed in the menu on the left-hand side) for further details on hotels, museums and so much more.

»Are there special facilities for disabled visitors?

This information would be best to collect in advance, either with your tour operator or by contacting the hotel in which you are going to stay. Get more information about accessible tourism in LutherCountry in our section Visitor Resources on the different LutherCity pages.

»Don't forget to bring...

  • Money (Credit and debit card + cash)
  • Documents (plus photocopy): Passport, driver's license, tickets (airline, train etc.), student ID card, insurance details, contact numbers of your bank
  • Chargers for electronic devices plus suitable plug adapters
  • First-aid kit, sewing kit
  • Foldable umbrella, raincoat
  • Maps, GPS system or Smartphone App

»Interacting with locals

In some regions of Germany it is customary to shake hands when greeting others, even when you leave them once again. Make sure you shake every individual's hand, even when you are joining the group in the middle of a conversation. In other parts of the country it is sufficient to say a nice "hallo" or something like that. But don't worry: If you're not too sure about how to greet someone wait and see what others do.

Make sure you are punctual when you have arranged to meet someone, being late is considered very rude by most Germans. You can also apply the new phrases you have learnt as it is polite for example to wish everyone an enjoyable meal and to toast when everyone has received their drinks; make sure you keep eye contact when doing so.

Another useful fact, if you are invited to a German's home throughout your stay, make sure you bring them a small gift; a hostess always appreciates flowers or a nice bottle of wine or such.

»Communicate with locals

German is of course the main language spoken in Germany. However, like in every country, Germany also has different dialects, whereas "High German" is understood everywhere. Try and use some body language and as many hand gestures as possible to get your point across when communicating with locals.

Here are just a few suitable phrases you can use during your stay in Germany. But don't worry; since visitors from all over the world are expected during the LutherDecade, many LutherCountry residents will be used to speaking English, so there shouldn't be too many language barriers. It is always appreciated when someone can deliver just a few words, even when being able to hold a full conversation is not expected whatsoever. And don't worry about the pronunciation just yet; you will pick it up in no time!

»Can I use my cell phone?

Depending on your provider you should be able to use your phone in Germany. But please be sure to check with your service provider before you travel for further information or check your manual (look for "tri-band" and "quad-band) as Europe uses a different network compared to the US. The simplest way to travel with your own phone would be to set up an international plan with your carrier, that way you can get the best deal that works for you.

Another option, if you possess a smartphone: disable your data roaming and use wifi where possible. Even though wifi is not as available in public spaces as in the US and Canada, more and more German cities introduce the possibility of using free wifi in certain places. Some cafés, restaurants and of course hotels offer access to a wifi system though. Pre-paid phone cards can also be bought in various phone stores such as Vodafone or T-Mobile and this way you can use your own cell phone. The cards are usually sold from about 10 euros with an additional fee for the German number. German supermarkets (like LIDL, ALDI and real) sometimes offer phone cards for your smartphone as well.

Even easier, hotel-room phones are available as well as payphones so you can keep track of how much you are spending.

If you want to call a German phone number from outside the country, dial 0049, the area code (without the initial 0) followed by the individual number. When calling within Germany, dial the area code (always starts with a 0) and the local number. If you want to call an American or Canadian phone from Germany, dial 001, the area code and the individual number.

Remember: the German time zone is Central European Time, so depending on your location in continental America, the time difference is between 6 and 9 hours.

»Do I pay cash or can I use my credit card?

Germany uses Euro (€) as their currency and not many places will accept dollars, therefore it is necessary to convert your cash into the correct currency (check Oanda for up-to-date exchange rates) or head to an ATM ('Geldautomat') to withdraw euros. Day-to-day spending is usually cash-based, so make sure you keep some cash on you at all times. But don't worry, ATMs are available throughout the towns and cities and are conveniently located. More and more places accept credit cards; however do not be surprised if your card is rejected, even in a larger establishment or when paying for a larger bill.

Contact your bank prior to your trip to receive more details on additional charges or the best option in using your credit and debit cards overseas. Also make sure to ask your bank for the PIN number of your credit card in advance, as some credit card systems will require a PIN.

»Public Transportation

Tickets for trains can be easily bought at the station at the various ticket machines (where you can easily change the language setting) or offices. But we want to make you aware of the different types of trains there are so you are not disappointed about the time it may take. An ICE is the fastest option you could choose of getting you from one place to another, only stopping at major city train stations. IC is still quite quick but more stops are included in its journeys. The "Regional Bahn" (regional train; indicated by "RB") is the most time consuming of all three as it will stop at almost every train station, also the smaller towns. However, this can also be a positive aspect as it gives you the opportunity to see the beautiful countryside from your window. Plus: Tickets for a regional train are usually cheaper than tickets for the faster trains. Therefore, it really depends where you want to go and how much time you can take with you. The "Regional Express" (indicated with "RE") is a bit faster than the RB as it doesn't stop at every single train station, yet these trains stop at more stations than the IC.

The public transport infrastructure is great in Germany and the best way of getting information on prices and times would be to go to www.bahn.de or it can also be beneficial to visit the information desk at the local train station for further details and contacts. You can also check their several special offers, like the "Ländertickets" (which are valid for a certain German federal state), the "Quer-Durchs-Land-Ticket" (which is valid for one day throughout all of Germany) or the "Interrail ticket" (valid throughout several countries in Europe).

A good and rather inexpensive alternative to taking the train are long-distance busses. More and more operators offer options that connect major cities in Germany (and also other European countries). While trips via bus might not be as comfortable and fast as taking a train, the prices of long-distance bus tickets usually cannot be beaten by train offers. They also bring up a great opportunity to meet new (local) people and practice some German phrases.

»Renting a car

In most cases your national driver's license is sufficient to rent a car in Germany, yet some car rental agencies might require an International Driving Permit, which you can get from your local AAA office. Just check with your rental agency before booking whether or not you need such a permit. Also make sure to check for any possible age restrictions. 

Sometimes you can save money by comparing different agencies and booking the cheapest one from your home country before going to Germany. To save money on gas, ask for a diesel car.

Note that most rental cars in Germany are manual and you will have to ask specifically for an automatic car if you wish so. Make sure to check the car thoroughly while still at the rental agency. Should there be any damage visible make the agency sign a paper with a list of all damages (no matter how small or unimportant they may seem at first).

It might be advisable to get a GPS system for your car, as German roads (especially in the bigger cities) can be quite confusing at times. Another option are certain apps to use with your smartphone. Just make sure to download offline maps of the regions you want to visit beforehand or while using wifi to save on your data-roaming bill. In case you have difficulties with German spelling, these tips might help: If there is a "ß" included in the address but you cannot find it on your keyboard, type in "ss" instead. The same goes for the umlauts ä=ae, ö=oe and ü=ue.

»Driving Regulations

German roads are much narrower than those in the US - so beware! Drive defensively as some Europeans tend to prefer a more "sporty" drive. Also, familiarize yourself with the "Autobahn" and try and have routes planned out. That way you will know roughly where you are going and can avoid traffic jams.

Another thing to watch out for are roundabouts. Remember, those already in the roundabout always have right of way, so be cautious when entering a busy one. Right of way is also applicable in town centers; be sure you can recognize certain signs and know their meaning.

While the general speed limit (unless otherwise stated) in a city or town is 50 kilometers per hour (kmh), which equals to around 30mph, the limit on an open road outside of towns is 100 kmh (around 60mph). Germany is one of the last countries with no general speed limit on an autobahn- so if there is no sign with a particular limit, you can drive as fast as you want (or better: as fast as traffic allows you to drive). A top speed limit of 130 km/h (80mph) is recommended by the German authorities in most cases though.

Special Tip: Check out our pocked-sized conversion chart.

One important thing to have in mind at a traffic light is that you cannot turn right when the lights are still red. You will have to wait for the light to switch to green. If there is a sign of a green arrow right next to the lights, this rule doesn't apply and you can turn right whenever there is no traffic ahead.

Your rental car provider will be able to give you further details on laws, fees and other useful tips when driving on the highway. Just ask!

»Are parking facilities available?

There are various parking structures available and always close to an attraction such as the various churches or museums. Street parking is available (unless otherwise stated), however be sure to get a ticket from the machine located near the parking spot (look for the sign "Parkscheine" or "Parkschein-Automat" and always have some change) and place this visibly in your car before you go on your way to avoid any fines. Some parking lots do not have any machines but they require a parking disk. This is usually indicated by a sign on the parking lot which limits the time you can park, e.g. "max. 1 Stunde", "2 Std.", "Parken mit Parkscheibe in gekennzeichneten Flächen 1 Stunde". Usually car rental agencies leave such a disk in their cars. Yet, if you cannot find one in your car, you can get them at most gas stations. Just turn the disk to your arrival time and place it visibly on the car's dashboard. Another option are several parking garages throughout most of the bigger cities. Look for the sign "Frei" (free) or "Besetzt" (no parking available at the moment). The sign "Einfahrt" will bring you to the entry and the sign "Ausfahrt" will guide your way out.

Having a car to take you from city to city is useful, yet once you are in the city center, most major attractions will be within walking distance. Maps and directions will be available at your hotel.

An extra tip: make sure you are not caught jaywalking, always cross the street when the signal permits you to. You can be fined a significant amount for not following the regulations on the road, even as a pedestrian.

More on parking laws can be found at your rental car dealership, just request more information there.

»Restaurant Guidance

The easiest option would be to ask staff at the reception of your accommodation for a list of local restaurants. They are always more than happy to help and will be able to recommend the best places; depending on what atmosphere and type of food you would prefer (German, Italian etc.).

Local or family-run restaurants often offer the best food and the best value. It may be more difficult to communicate but don't let that stop you! These establishments will give you a better experience of German traditions and amazing food that you wouldn't experience anywhere else.

Unless there is a host, a hostess or a sign you may freely choose your preferred table. If there is a sign saying "Reserviert" this table is reserved and the sign "Stammtisch" (only in little local restaurants) indicates that this table is reserved for a particular group of people who come back regularly and always have the same table. So, just look for a table without signs like these.

Careful: there are no free refills in Germany, so beware when ordering your drinks. Also, the price you see on a menu (but also in shops etc.) is always the final price, which means that VAT is always included in the indicated price.

It is considered rude to ask for tap water and iced water is not automatically placed on your table at arrival. The waiter/waitress will ask you if you prefer still or sparkling water and would then either bring you a bottle with some glasses or a glass in the size of your choice.

If you like ice in your drink, don't hesitate to ask for it specifically. Beverages are cooled previously but usually the glass is not filled with ice when brought to the table.

»Is tipping the same as in the US?

In Germany it is customary to either round up the bill or leave a 5-10% tip if you were satisfied with the service. Don't worry, this is not considered as rude. Waiters/waitresses receive more than the minimum wage and a service charge is usually included in the bill. If it is dinner or a larger bill, leave at least 10%, however if it is only coffee, rounding up the bill or adding a euro or two is completely acceptable.

»Shopping

The indicated prices in stores always include VAT already, so this will be the price you actually have to pay. One exception can be price-reduced article; sometimes the price shown on the product is the original price and they will give you the discount at the register (just ask one of the salespersons if you're not sure).

In case you need a shopping cart, always have a EUR 1 coin handy, as you will have to use 1 euro as a deposit in most stores. Just insert the coin in the slot at the cart's handle. You will get your coin back once you bring back the shopping cart.

Bring a basket or some bags when you go grocery shopping. Most shops don't offer any complimentary plastic bags anymore; they offer bags for sell though in most cases. Everyone bags his/her own groceries.

Recycling plays an important role in everyday life in Germany. Whenever you buy a drink in a bottle or a can at any store, you pay an extra deposit (up to EUR 0.25 per bottle), which you will get back once you return the bottle (look for "Pfandrückgabe" or "Pfandautomat").

Special Tip: Check out our pocked-sized conversion chart.

»Paid Toilets

This is not customary in the States but in Germany it is a regular thing. A tip dish is usually present in the entrance of the restrooms or there are barriers where you must insert coins to access them. So always keep some change handy when you're out and about. It will only be around 50 cents to EUR 1 and the restroom you visit will be well maintained.

»Emergency numbers

Even though we hope that you won't need any emergency numbers, it is always good to know them or have them handy. If you have to call the police, dial 110; the fire service and ambulance can be reached under 112 (which is also the Europe-wide emergency number!).

In case your car breaks down, call the ADAC, the equivalent to the AAA, under 01802-22 22 22 or 22 22 22 from your cell phone.

The US embassy in Berlin can be reached under: 030-83050 and the Canadian embassy in Berlin can be contacted under: 030-203-120.

»Good to know

Always have in mind that most shops and especially grocery stores are closed on Sundays (some exceptions can be gas stations and certain 24/7 shops). Most shops and some attractions are also closed on national holidays, so just ask at the reception or check online whether there will be a holiday in your travel period.

Don't get confused by the different way of writing dates. In Germany and most of Europe, the day will be the first information, then the month followed by the year. Christmas day, for example, is on 25.12.

The way floors in a building are numbered is slightly different: When entering a building, you will be on ground floor (and not on first floor as it is used in the US and Canada), the next floor will be first floor and so on.

»Further questions?

By contacting your tour operator you can gain all the information you need for your own journey. Of course you can always contact us as well via e-mail at visit-luther@tourcomm-germany.com and we will do our best to help with any questions or concerns.