- Make sure your passport is valid for at least four months
- Make advance bookings for events, travel, accommodation and sights
- Check the airline baggage restrictions
- Alert your credit-/debit-card company
- Organise travel insurance
- Check your mobile/cell phone restrictions
- Find out what you need to hire a car
What to Take
- Good walking shoes and a daypack for mountain and forest trails
- Travel adapter plug
- Bathing suit
- Sunhat and sunglasses
- Ski gear and multiple layers (in winter)
- Pocket knife
- Curiosity and a sense of humour
What to Wear
Anything goes, but if you want to blend in, remember that Hamburg, Stuttgart, Frankfurt and Munich are considerably more fashion-conscious than Berlin, Cologne or Dresden. Since the weather is unpredictable, even in summer, bring layers of clothing. A waterproof coat and sturdy shoes are a good idea for all-weather sightseeing. Winters can get fiercely cold, so pack gloves, a hat, and a heavy coat and boots. For evening wear, smart casual is the norm, but upmarket places may insist on shoes (not trainers) and trousers or dresses instead of jeans. Jackets and ties are only required in casinos and at the most formal establishments.
Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com/germany) Destination information, hotel bookings, traveller forum and more.
German National Tourist Office (www.germany.travel) The low-down on every aspect of travel in Germany, with handy maps and a personal travel planner.
Deutsche Welle (www.dw.com) The latest news in English.
Facts About Germany (www.tatsachen-ueber-deutschland.de/en) Reference tool covering all aspects of German society.
Deutschland Online (www.magazine-deutschland.de) Insightful features on culture, business and politics.
Online German course (www.deutsch-lernen.com) Brush up on your Deutsch with free online lessons – from beginners to advanced.
- As much fun as it is to tear up the rubber on the autobahn, make sure you also get onto some country roads to sample Germany's often sublime scenery.
- Go local. A destination's spirit best reveals itself to those leaving the main sights and walking around a neighbourhood, people-watching in a park, using public transport or simply being curious about local food and drink.
- Don't be shy about chatting to strangers. Most Germans speak at least a few words of English and are happy to help. Ask locals for recommendations.
- Make the most of local money-saving guest cards and discounted train tickets; look out for the Sparpreis (saver fare) when you book with Deutsche Bahn in advance, for instance.
- Use this book as a guide but also seek out your own experiences.