ATMs: In German cities, you can easily find 24-hour ATMs in airports, train stations, and outside banks. Cirrus and Plus are the most popular networks. Remember that many banks impose a fee every time you use a card at another bank’s ATM, and that the fee can be higher for international transactions. In addition, the bank from which you withdraw cash may charge its own fee. Despite the fees, ATM withdrawals are usually less costly than transactions made at other commercial exchanges.
Disabled Travelers: Germany is relatively hospitable for travelers with disabilities. Most large cities and many smaller ones provide elevator access to subways, ramps, and lifts on buses and streetcars and at museums and other public facilities, and wheelchair-accessible taxis. The local tourist offices can issue permits for drivers to allow them access to parking areas for people with disabilities. Many hotels, especially newer ones, are equipped to meet the needs of those with disabilities, and some have specially equipped rooms for the disabled. Many restaurants, including many of the more expensive ones, are wheelchair accessible. Keep in mind, though, that throughout the country some historic sights may not be properly equipped for travelers with disabilities.
Many travel agencies offer customized tours and itineraries for travelers with disabilities. Among them are FlyingWheels Travel (tel. 888/451-5006 or 507/451-5005; www.flyingwheelstravel.com) and Accessible Journeys (tel. 800/846-4537 or 610/521-0339; www.disabilitytravel.com). The “Accessible Travel” link at Mobility-Advisor.com (www.mobility-advisor.com) offers a variety of travel resources to persons with disabilities.
Doctors: Contact the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT) for lists of local, English-speaking doctors. You can find listings of reliable medical clinics in Germany at the International Society of Travel Medicine.
Electricity: In most places, the electricity is 230 volts AC. Much of your electronic gear (including laptops) have built-in converters but you will need a transformer for any device without one. Be sure to pack an adapter (a plug that fits the German socket). Many hotels will supply these.
Emergencies: Throughout Germany the emergency number for police is tel. 110; for fire or to call an ambulance, dial tel. 112.
Family Travel: If you’re traveling with children, always check to see whether the attraction offers a money-saving family ticket, which considerably reduces the admission price for a group of two adults and two or more children. The same is true for public transportation: Low-priced family or group tickets usually are available.
Gay & Lesbian Travelers: Germany is one of the most progressive countries in the world when it comes to LGBTQ pride, culture, and tourism. Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt, and Cologne all have large LGBTQ communities, but queer life flourishes outside the big cities, too. A network of LGBTQ-friendly restaurants, cafes, stores, bars, dance clubs, and community centers exists throughout the country, in small towns and large.
Every summer, parades and special events celebrate Pride. In July, Berlin holds its annual Gay & Lesbian City Festival and Christopher Street Day and Parade. Munich, Hamburg, Cologne, and Frankfurt all host summertime celebrations as well.
Taxes: As a member of the European Union, Germany imposes a tax on most goods and services known as a value-added tax (VAT) or, in German, Mehrwertsteuer. VAT is included in the prices of restaurants and hotels. Stores that display a tax-free sticker will issue you a Tax-Free Shopping Check at the time of purchase. When leaving the country, have your check stamped by the German Customs Service as your proof of legal export. You can then get a cash refund at one of the Tax-Free Shopping Service offices in the major airports and many train stations and some of the bigger ferry terminals. There is no airport departure tax.
Telephones: The country code for Germany is 49. To call Germany from the United States, dial the international access code 011, then 49, then the city code, then the regular phone number.
Tipping: If a restaurant bill says Bedienung, that means a service charge has already been added, so just round up to the nearest euro. If not, add 10% to 15%. Bellhops get 1€ per bag, as does the doorperson at your hotel, restaurant, or nightclub. Room-cleaning staffs get small tips in Germany, as do concierges who perform some special favors.
Toilets: Use the word Toilette (pronounced twah-leh-tah). Women’s toilets are usually marked with an f for Frauen, and men’s toilets with an h for Herren.
Visitor Information: All cities and nearly all larger towns in Germany have tourist offices. The German National Tourist Board covers the whole country.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.