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Germany Travel Information

Germany Vacations & Travel Tips

Getting Around

The main arrival/departure points for flights in Germany are Frankfurt-am-Main, Munich and Düsseldorf. Frankfurt is Europe's busiest airport after Heathrow. An airport departure tax is included in ticket prices. Thanks to the spread of low-cost airlines, it is now often cheaper to fly to Germany from around Europe than to take the train. While train travel is often more expensive than catching a bus, it's generally faster, more comfortable (particularly for overnight travel) and more efficient. Germany is served by an excellent highway system connected to the rest of Western Europe. Roads from Eastern Europe are being upgraded but some border crossings are a little slow, especially from Poland. To enter Germany with a car or motorbike, you must have third-party insurance. Ferries run between Germany's northern coast and Scandinavia and the UK.

Getting around Germany is easy. Domestic air travel is extensive but unless you're in an awful hurry, you might as well save your money - the German train network is wonderful. The eastern and western train systems have now been fully merged. Numerous fares and ticket passes, including Eurailpass and GermanRail Pass are available. There is usually a surcharge for the InterCity Express (ICE) trains but it's worth it to travel 300km/h (190mph) through the German countryside. Forget about buses until you're in train-unfriendly terrain.

German roads are excellent, and motorized transport can be a great way to tour the country, although most towns have problems with car-parking. The national and (in)famous motorway network known as autobahnen can be wonderful - or it can be a nightmare: speed-of-light Porsches and BMWs looming monster-size and impatient in your rear-view mirror are one factor, soul-destroying traffic jams are another. Technically there is no general speed limit on the autobahnen, but, in an effort to increase safety and curb noise pollution, many segments have speed limits ranging from 100km/hr (62mph) to 130km/hr (80mph). On other parts of the autobahn system, high performance sports cars will pass you in excess of 250 kmh (155mph). Be careful!

Bicycle touring in Germany is very popular. There are often separate cycling routes in the cities, towns and in the countryside, but cycling on the autobahnen is strictly verboten. Helmets are recommended, but not mandatory.

Most German towns have efficient public transport systems. Bigger cities, such as Berlin and Munich, integrate buses, trams and rail into a single network.

Region: Europe

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Health and Safety

Germany is a very safe country in which to live and travel, with crime rates that are quite low by international standards. Theft and other crimes against travelers occur rarely. Of course, you should still take all the usual sensible precautions, such as locking hotel rooms and cars, not leaving valuables unattended, keeping an eye out for pickpockets in crowded places and not taking midnight strolls in city parks. Many hostels provide lockers, but you need your own padlock. Train stations tend to be magnets for the destitute and drug dependent who might harass you or make you feel otherwise uncomfortable, especially if you are in the area at night.

In big cities, especially Berlin, large-scale political protests and demonstrations are quite common. Despite a high police presence, these can turn rowdy or violent on rare occasions, so it's best to stay away from them altogether. Police are also very visible on game days of soccer matches to prevent clashes between fans of rival teams. Always avoid groups of intoxicated hooligans, as many belong to neo-Nazi and skinhead organizations and are erratic, unpredictable and often violent. Although they do not target tourists, innocent bystanders they perceive as 'foreign looking' or as members of rivalling left-wing groups could potentially be harassed. If you do find yourself in a threatening situation, try not to provoke these aggressors, get away from the scene as fast as possible and notify the police.

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