Germany is a lot more than it seems at first glance. There is the traditional South covered with forests and mountains, the laid-back North at the rough Baltic Sea and the ambitious and business focused Centre in the plain. All of the country’s inhabitants are known for being serious, strict, punctual – and maybe even boring. Whilst most of the attributes apply, Germans are anything but boring. Stunning street art is found in every city, the electronic music scene is enormous, festivals take place all summer long, ancient castles and places full of history are just around the corner, and you hear beer glasses clinking in every restaurant.
Food in Germany can be very inexpensive. Street food is popular in cities such as Berlin (where you need to try a ‘Bratwurst’) and only costs you 4 – 7€. The typical German/ Bavarian food is usually priced at about 9 – 15€ at beer halls. A nice dinner meal with a glass of wine will possibly be priced at 24€. You can easily find Turkish (e.g. Döner and Kebab) or Asian food shops or restaurants in any town, a meal there will most probably not cost you more than 6-8€. Outdoor vendors or small bistros with food to-go are quite popular in Germany, especially since there are many parks you can enjoy your food in with some friends.
As a local (I live 5 km from the German border and go to school in Southern Bavaria), I can say that Germany is fairly safe. I personally would only avoid using the subway at night and only use main streets at night as well. There might be some strange people lurking in the shadows, especially in the outskirts of a city. Yet, in recent years, the number of refugees seeking asylum in Germany has increased dramatically. Most of them are adapting to the system, but there are also a few people who do not play by the rules and become violent/ harass others etc. Frankly, I do feel a little unsafe on German streets. The native inhabitants are not the problem, but sadly the foreigners who are known for tending to be aggressive scare you in some way. Therefore, try to avoid inappropriate contact with foreigners who are in a larger group and seek attention as in playing loud music, screaming, glancing weirdly etc. (Note: no nation is attacked hereby, only obvious facts and situations are stated.)
Being a city in Central Europe with a high standard of living, Germany is a quite expensive country. A nice hotel room can quickly cost around 80€ per night in the low season. The living conditions are also very good, so do not hesitate to look for a hostel or maybe even an AirBnB place for the night – you will not end up in a shabby place. 😉
The best and cheapest way to get around the 82 million-inhabitant-country is by bus. FlixBus is well-connected throughout all of Europe and a trip from Berlin to Munich costs around 30€. Admittingly, it might take longer than traveling by train at first glance, but you do not want to travel with the DB – the German train company. They are known for being late, having technical issues, overall just being inconvenient. I have thankfully not experienced many major issues with the train service whereas friends have seldom encountered an unproblematic travel. I would only recommend using the German train system if you have a non-stop or maximum 1 stop travel. Furthermore, be sure to book tickets a long time in advance or ask for help at a counter because then you get better deals which will safe you a lot of money, speaking of 20 – 100€/ up to 50%. Nevertheless, public transport in cities are very reliable, good and well-structured. These systems in the cities themselves work perfectly fine.
Furthermore, locals like to enjoy days in the park or at the main square/ old town of a city very often. There, people meet and spend some time together whilst either taking in the first or last rays of sun or watching the leaves fall from the trees. These places are great to meet some German inhabitants, yet as they are rather reserved and like to stay in their group, have the courage to make the first step. Another possibility to easily make friends is to just join a table at a beer hall, especially in Munich, Düsseldorf or Cologne. Just tag along and start making conversations – Germans often have more stories to tell than it might appear. Cheers!
- Restaurants: 10-15%
- Taxi: round up
- Guides/Staff: 10%/3€
- Be on time. Punctuality is highly valued in Germany.
- Proper table manners are expected.
- Not all Germans are reserved and intimidated. Have the courage to start conversations with them, maybe you will end up being invited for dinner or making a new friend. People from urban areas tend to be a little more open-minded.
- Try to keep any history related topic off table. Do NOT make any Nazi, Hitler, Holocaust jokes etc. It is an overall sensitive and more than brutal part of the German history which you should avoid at all costs when speaking to Germans (who you barely know). Nobody wants to actively remind themselves of the dark past of their country.
- Best manners are expected: avoid yawning without covering your mouth, shouting and chewing gum in public.
- People in the North do get upset when you see Germany as only the “Beer, Oktoberfest and Dirndl” country, as this is more or less only the case in Bavaria. Try to adapt to their customs (of the Northern folk) as well and do not insult them by asking them why they are not wearing the traditional German clothing…which is only in the South and on special occasions.