Going to Germany

   

How to Go

  • By Rail - Have a look at the page for DB (Deutsche Bahn) which can have a lot of deals from the UK, for travelling within Germany or throughout Europe.  If you're going to the West of Germany (Aachen, Cologne etc) try this dodge - get the cheapest Eurostar deal you can find from Waterloo to Brussels; that ticket entitles you to free onward travel to any station in Belgium, in particular those right on the German border.  So when you get off Eurostar in Brussels and go to book your ticket, say from Brussels to Aachen, you'll find that you only pay a few Euros (to cover the distance from the Belgian border to your destination).
     

  • By Air - Try looking at sites like Expedia (which we always find good for hotels too) or the Airline Network.  For a recent trip to Nuremberg we found a good Lufthansa deal via Expedia which took us through London City Airport (a pleasant, relaxed experience which we'd recommend if your itinerary fits) via Frankfurt (large sprawling airport where connections can involve considerable distances between gates, so allow time) to Nuremberg (another delightful small airport, recent winner of 'Best German Regional Airport').  If you've collected enough, it's worth checking the Air Miles site for planes, hotels or both.

    There are lots of cheap flights to Germany from most major UK airports on the mainstream airlines as well as the no-frills companies.  Do your research carefully - some of the no-frills airlines advertise fares to a major German city but actually land at an airport which is a long and expensive journey from that city centre - of course this could be used to advantage if your destination was a small town in that area as you might be able to avoid the city.  But don't assume that the no-frills airlines are always the cheapest.  Shopping around can get you good deals on the major airlines and you can save more by ending up where you expect to be.  We recently had a good deal from Easyjet for a trip to Köln (Cologne).  This works out well because the airport used (Cologne/Bonn) is just a short direct train ride from the city centre.  We also used the same company's EasyJetHotels service which provided us with a reasonably priced hotel in a convenient location.
     

  • By Bus - Can be cheap.  Example of a special fare by choosing dates carefully is Ł37 (in autumn 05) for London to Munich return BUT you're looking at about 18 hours on the coach.  Still, if cost matters, it might be a good deal, but check out cut-price airlines too.  (This example from the Eurolines/National Express website.)
     

  • By Car - The snag with any of the above is that it's difficult to drag home 3 or 4 crates of that really special beer you found.  The only resort is to drive there.  You have an enormous variety of routes to choose from.  Do you take a ferry (compare prices here), or cross the channel with Eurotunnel?  (If you do the latter, you could make your journey via Belgium, and check out their beers en route!)  Plan your drive with Mapquest.
     

  • Public transport at your destination - You'll find that most large German cities have good networks of Underground (U-Bahn), Bus (same word) or Tram (same word - isn't German easy!)  But if you're planning a side trip from where you're staying to another city (e.g. from Cologne to Düsseldorf, or from Munich to Bamberg or Nuremberg) go to the Reisezentrum (travel centre) at the main station to check for special offers - DB (Deutsche Bahn) has some very generous excursion deals whereby up to 5 people can travel on one ticket priced as for one person!  And the staff at the Reisezentrum are always very good at printing out timetables for your trips as well as advising on the best price.  But allow plenty of time - they can be quite busy and there's usually a queue.

When to Go

Almost any time!  German weather is similar to that in the UK - of course if you head for the mountains in winter, expect the weather to be similar to winter mountain weather in Scotland.  You may like to time your visit to coincide with major events (such as the Faschingfest or Christmas markets) - check out tourist websites (see below) for details of these. 

Where to Go

Germany offers a huge choice of regions, most of which could provide an enjoyable and interesting holiday.  For general tourist information check out  the German Tourist Office website
but if you're thinking of  a beer pilgrimage, these are the main areas you should be thinking of: (NB Some of these pages still under construction 11/6/06)

  • Berlin provides the liveliness of a capital city, with the chance to try the Berliner Weisse.
     

  • The region of NordRhein-Westfalen is an easy hop from southern England and, unusually in a country of bottom-fermented lagers, it offers you top-fermented ales in:
    Köln (Cologne) is the only place where Kölsch beer can be brewed - a sort of German appelation contrôlée - and although you can get it bottled in the UK there's nothing like the taste of it drawn straight from the barrel in one of the brewery taps, served by the jolly Köbes (waiter in Kölsch bar). 
     
    Düsseldorf  with its very own Altbier style is just up the autobahn (or DB rail track in our case) from Cologne.
     

  • The Mecca for fans of German beer has to be Bayern (Bavaria) - the largest state in the Federal Republic, in the mountainous south of Germany, home of Weizenbier/Weissbier (wheat or white beers) and a very picturesque area, with a whole lot of beer venues to visit.  See the Bayern (Bavaria) page for details.
     

  • Other beer-biased destinations could include Goslar - original home of Gose beer where it is now being brewed again.  Even when it disappeared from its home town it was kept alive in Leipzig, whose inhabitants had acquired a taste for it and still brew it. 
    Although the town of Einbeck was the origin of the Bock beer style it is now used as a generic name for strong lager by most brewers - and not just German ones!  And Dortmund gave its name to a strong pale lager style (Dortmunder or Export) which is no longer brewed there. 

More ideas

To help with your planning here's a few links to generic German beer sites:

The European Beer Guide by Ron Pattinson gives some great tips and solid information on Germany and elsewhere

Ron also collaborates in The Online Beer Guide to Germany

Paul Allison is another seasoned beer traveller whose NATA Online website contains lots of useful ideas.

 

 

 

 

 
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