This guide to Germany complied by Jennifer Sutherland-Miller & Jessie Beck, is part of a series of country-by-country focused resources addressing accommodations and transportation. You’ll find some overlap with the posts for other countries within the region. We’ve separated them by country because that’s what our readers are looking for. Feel free to skim past the parts that don’t suit you or seem redundant. Let us know if you’ve got insider knowledge to add!
Germany is one of those timeless places, where the Middle Ages rubs shoulders with bullet trains and the oompah of polka, played on an accordion by a man in lederhosen, floats on the same air as electronica. The country weathered some tough seasons and wrote some hard history for itself in the middle of the last century, but since then Germany has been transformed into the economic powerhouse of Europe and one of the most popular tourist destinations on the continent.
If you’re going to Germany, try to spend enough time that you can see north and south, east and west; each region is unique and worth exploring. The cities are fantastic. The little towns are just like you’d imagine them in a postcard. But the countryside is where the real adventure is to be found. Take a river trip if you can. Visit some castles. Definitely don’t miss the urban landscapes, or the arts and music cultures you’ll find in the street.
If you’re looking for Germany accommodations then this first section is for you. Germany transportation is listed below, so keep reading.
Table of Contents
- Hotels $100+
- Hotels Under $100
- Boutique Hotels
- Vacation Rentals
- House Sitting
- Unusual Accommodations
- Flights & Airports
- Bus Travel
- Train Travel
- Boat Travel
- Car Share & Hitchhiking
- Car Rental
- Bicycling France
Hotels $100+ per Night
There are some truly spectacular luxury hotels in Germany. From castles to posh river barges that ply the lazy waterways between the mountains, it’s easy to have a five star holiday in Germany. Check out ski lodges in the Alps, as well as the sea side retreats up north.
Ritz Carlton: A top-rated hotel chain. Fantastic luxury in the heart of Europe’s most beautiful cities. Check out their listing for Wolfsburg, Germany.
Fairmont: Luxury hotels, but a bit less pricey than the above. Comfort is guaranteed.
Park Hyatt: Classic luxury, familiar to all those who like to travel in style. Located in several destinations around Europe. They have a listing in Hamburg, Germany.
Radisson Blu: Hotels with a modern vibe, Radisson Blu is moderately priced and boasts 182 unique hotels in Europe, a number of which are in Germany.
Novotel: A comfortable stay in convenient locations around the continent. 290 hotels in Europe.
JW Marriott Luxury Hotels: All the comforts of home, in every major European city.
Small Luxury Hotels: Just like the name says. They’ve got a number of listings in Germany. Private luxury. Good stuff here.
Johansens: With just one listing in Frankfurt, if you’re going to be there, you want to stay here. Luxury meets romance.
Hotels Under $100 per Night
Finding budget hotels in Germany is not hard if you know where to look. Your best bet is to do some research ahead of time. Depending on where you’re going, book your hotel at least two days in advance, more in high season.
To save a buck, sacrifice proximity to city centers for a more modest hotel nearer the outskirts of town. City transit tends to be affordable, so you’re better off taking the train or bus in than you are spending extra money on being two blocks closer to the center of town.
Don’t forget to use air miles to get the best deals!
iescape: A personal favorite for finding Germany accommodation. Lists boutique hotels as well as your average hotel room.
Sherman’s Travel: A go-to site for more than just hotel deals. Book flights, car rentals, and more; as well as finding a great room.
Expedia: Prone to give you classier accommodation options than you might typically find for under $100, Expedia will not always give you the best deal, but you’re more likely to end up in a comfortable room.
Travelocity: One of the top hotel booking sites out there. Travelocity is great for its reviews. If a hotel is listed with them, it’s passed their inspection and you know you’re getting a clean, comfortable room.
Hotels: An offshoot of Expedia, Hotels.com is good for finding big hotel chains or local favorites for a low price.
Hotels Combined: One of the most popular booking sites for European hotels, with thousands of options and set up to be easy to navigate. Hotels Combined makes researching easy.
Ibis: Ibis hotels convey the feeling of luxury while not breaking the bank. By far, some of the nicest “cheap” hotels you can find in Europe.
EuroCheapo: Made specifically to help you find budget European hotels, including Germany, of course. Read reviews, find deals, and reserve a room in any of the most popular cities.
EuroBookings: Over 160,000 hotels in thousands of locations across Europe, catering to all price ranges.
Agoda: A tried and true travel booking website used by thousands of travelers. Sure to get you a good deal on the lodging you’re looking for. You pay in advance on Agoda, accumulate points towards free stays, and if you end up with a terrible place, they’ll refund your money for unused nights.
Boutique hotels in Germany don’t have to be expensive, and staying in one could be one of the highlights of your trip. If you’re looking for a local, hip, place to stay, this is a good place to start.
iescape: Lists at least a few boutique hotels in each European country, offering the best deals first.
Mr & Mrs Smith: Catering to honeymooners in particular, this site locates the best boutique and luxury hotels in Europe, rating them for you, as well.
Great Small Hotels: With over 2150 European boutique hotels listed, you’re sure to find a place to stay here. However, it may be harder to sort the best rooms from the just “ok.”
Secretplaces: A magical, handpicked collection of the best hole-in-the-wall hotels around Europe. Your best bet for finding the hotel of your dreams.
Chic Retreats: Would you like to stay on a modern houseboat in Berlin? That’s one of just two hand picked places (both in Berlin) available in Germany.
Design Hotels: A range of charming to chic hotels across Germany and the rest of Europe. Twenty five are listed for this country.
Splendia: Luxury and boutique hotel listings, they’ve got 53 in Germany, including castles and a wellness retreat.
My Boutique Hotels: You’ll have to search by city, and you’ll find far more than Germany listed in this site. It takes a little digging but there are many great places listed here.
Epoque Hotels: Innovative and classic hotels, modern and often with a twist. Check these out.
Staying in one area for the majority of your vacation? You may want to consider renting a home instead of camping out in the cheapest hotel room you can find. Chances are, you’ll be able to find a vacation rental that perfectly suits your needs, and may even be more affordable, in the long run, than staying in a hotel.
Most vacation rentals in Germany average from $50-150 a night, and come fully furnished with all the essentials. Save a great deal on food by cooking from the comfort of your own home-away-from-home.
VRBO: Find owners of vacation rentals around Germany and the rest of Europe, get connected, and set up a stay.
HomeAway: One of the best vacation rental websites out there. Search according to your price range, stay in your dream home for a week or two… or more!
Airbnb: Rent a house, or rent just one room in your host’s home. A great way to get to know locals and travel economically. For more on this, read this post about Airbnb alternatives.
9flats: With almost 700 apartment rentals available in Berlin alone. A fantastic local resource for finding European rentals for a fair price.
OwnerDirect: Apartments all over Germany. All pro-checked and approved.
Wimdu: Another European based rental website, with a great deal of local expertise. Claims to be Europe’s “biggest portal for city apartments.”
Perfect Places: Loads of options in Germany. Perhaps one will be your perfect place.
Green Pearls: I just recently found this resource, specializing in “ethical touring and unforgettable experiences,” this is a listing of green and eco-friendly vacation rentals. There are two gorgeous options in Germany.
If you have a beautiful home, you may be able to swap it with another family’s for an ultra-cheap vacation. Or, pay a membership fee to a housesitting website and stay without swapping. Be sure to make your housing arrangements well in advance of your trip.
Luxury Housesitting: For the best of the best. The houses listed here are beautiful. Plus, membership for homeowners is free.
Sabbatical Homes: Homes for rental, exchange, or sitting. $45 listing fee.
Trusted Housesitters: This site has extensive profiles of both home owners and sitters to help ensure a good match. We’ve used this one twice and both times have had fantastic experiences. This site caters specifically to pet owners and lovers; pet sitting is often part of the equation.
Camping & RV
Camping is a wonderful way to explore the German countryside. Get in touch with local culture, meet new people, and discover off-the-beaten path destinations by staying where locals are staying on their holidays.
Unlike in North America, campgrounds in Europe are often located within walking distance of towns, or public transportation routes in major cities. Also, most campgrounds in Germany will offer cabin accommodations, complete with sheets on the bed, so tents are not required.
The only downside to camping is that you’re at the mercy of the seasons and will likely end up traveling during the more touristed months.
Camping Europe: The official European camping guide. Everything you need to know about camping in Europe.
EuroCampings: Europe’s largest campsite search engine, with 9902 annually inspected campsites.
RV Camping Europe: An amateur’s guide to RVing Europe. Best campsites, RV rentals, tips and tricks, and destinations.
Cool Camping: The coolest camping guide out there for Germany and the rest of Europe. Read reviews, check out pictures, and book your stay in advance.
Camping Info: This site is an aggregate of camping options in Germany and beyond.
Glamping Hub: You want to camp but sleeping on the ground is not your thing? This is a great listing of upscale “camping” experiences, from yurts to tree houses, and sometimes a villa with a pool. This is the way to “rough it” in Germany.
LeadingCampings: Whether you’re tent camping or RVing, you’ll find some nice options here.
The weird, the fantastic, and the unbelievable. Here are some of the most interesting accommodation options in Germany.
Castle and Palace Hotels: Ever dreamed of sleeping like royalty in an actual castle? Here’s your chance.
Quirky Accom: As the name indicates, this is a site full of listings of quirky accommodations, some of which are in Germany. A lighthouse, tree houses, artist’s retreats, a circus hotel and more. These are fun.
Germany’s Coolest Hotels: Okay, you have to check out this article that lists ten of the craziest places to stay. You can sleep in a coffin, or a classic car, in a water tower, a prison, or a tree house. There is even a hotel bus. Yep. Unique.
Young Germany: This site has a listing of unusual accommodations in Germany, including an igloo village and a corn field hotel. Yep. Weird stuff.
Top 12 Cool & Unusual Hotels in Berlin: Global Grasshopper has a nice breakdown of 12 really different hotels all located within Berlin.
Hostels are a very popular way to stay while in Europe, especially among young people. If you’re willing to sacrifice your comfort and embrace a sense of adventure, hostels are the cheapest way to go. Just don’t expect to be pampered along the way! These are every backpacker’s go-to booking sites for the Germany and hostels in Europe.
It is worth noting that some hostels have age caps, on the upper and lower ends. Be sure to ask when you book.
HostelWorld: The biggest hostel site out there, with thousands of recorded and rated hostels for you to choose from.
Hostels: They don’t get extra points for creativity, but hey, it’s your basic hostel booking site. What more can you ask?
Savvy Backpacker: One of the best guides to hosteling Europe I’ve seen.
EuropeanHostels: This site specializes in Europe, unlike the others, meaning that it may have more in-depth information on a region than some of the bigger hostel sites out there.
HostelBookers: A personal favorite for easily finding and booking hostels anywhere in Europe, not just Germany.
Jungendherberg: A listing of youth hostels specific to Germany.
Flights & Airports
Flying into Germany, whether from mainland Europe or North America, is going to land you in a major city. If you’re coming from North America and you’re flying from the east coast, check out Frankfurt, or Munich as alternatives to Berlin.
If your time is limited, then there are inexpensive flights between the major cities in Germany and the rest of Europe. You’ll often find them at rock bottom prices through the budget airlines. Do not expect any amenities and expect to be nickle and dimed to death. Traveling with only a carry on bag will save you loads.
RyanAir: The worst kept secret of budget travel in Europe, RyanAir is a discount UK airline that flies, mostly, just within Europe. Yes, they’re ridiculously cheap (I once bought a flight for 1 Pound), but they’ll try and find ways to charge you for everything imaginable, and they don’t always fly to major airports. So, if this is your first experience with them, err, pack light.
RyanAir Alternatives: However, there are some good alternatives that service Germany, including EastJet and Eurowings. Also check into Tui Fly.
Eurowings: Formerly Germany wings is a low cost German airline.
Air Berlin: Flies not only within Germany and the continent, but off the continent too. If you’re coming from North America check the deals from NYC.
FlyCheapo: FlyCheapo will help you figure out which budget airlines go from one destination to another, so you can get even more specific with those RyanAir alternatives.
TUI Fly: Another German airline with some good deals within Europe.
SleepingInAirports: And, because Ryanair and other cheap-o flights are notorious for having terrible connection times and not being the most convenient, SleepingInAirports.net will give you tips on where and how to sleep in the airport you’re currently stuck in — stuff like “They’ll kick you out of Terminal 2 but Terminal 1 is open all night and there are some benches without arms by the cafe.”
Edreams: A European version of Kayak that will include most budget airlines in your search. I usually run it in conjunction with Kayak or Priceline.
Busing Around Germany
Taking the bus between cities and towns is a picturesque and economical way to get around Germany. There are several options for bus lines and some of them offer passes to further reduce the cost and increase flexibility. Even if you don’t have a pass, don’t hesitate to book tickets, even last minute!
Dein Bus: A bus company with routes to all of the major cities in Germany and many of the minor ones as well.
EuroLines: A central website for booking buses throughout the continent. They also have a pass similar to the Eurorail pass.
BerlinInBus: As the name suggests, goes to and from Berlin.
Public Transport in Germany: The German Way and More provides an excellent breakdown of public transport in Germany and how to use it. From signage to purchasing tickets and options from bus, to train, to Uber. This is a good read to familiarize yourself with the options.
Germany by Train
Germany has a fantastic train service. The trains are affordable, clean, and on time. Service between major cities is frequent and you’ll find that the secondary light rail goes almost everywhere you want to go. Taking bicycles on trains is no problem on most lines.
Deutsche Bahn: The official website for the national rail service of Germany.
RailEurope: RailEurope will be most travelers’ first stop when looking for train tickets. Yes, it’s good to check these, but do note that local websites will often provide lower fares and discounts that American run RailEurope will not.
Seat61: British run Seat61 is a great resource for finding discounts on train rides across Germany, and the rest of Europe, as well as advice on how to get around (affordably!) using the rail system.
Lastminute: RailEurope and Seat61 both have discounts on rail lines listed, but Lastminute is another website to check for last minute details for rail travel. It also lists last minute deals on airfares.
Car Shares & Hitchhiking in Germany
Have you considered ride sharing while you’re in Germany? Particularly within urban areas, and sometimes between towns, a ride share can be a great way to meet interesting people and save money too. If you aren’t ready for standing alongside the road and hitchhiking, old school, these sites will help you find a reputable ride.
HitchWiki: Hitchwiki, the “hitchhikers guide to hitchhiking” is an incredible database of tips for hitchhikers — from where to stand are if you’re trying to get a ride out of Berlin, to tips on which roads are the best or worst to find rides. I personally used it to hitchhike throughout Europe and the tips are both updated constantly and super helpful.
Bla Bla Car: France based BlaBlaCar (formerly Covoiturage) recently took over Carpooling.co.uk, and sets you up with drivers so you can share a ride to wherever you’re going.
GumTree: Gumtree is super similar to Craigslist, and — like Craigslist — will set you up with car shares around Europe… just in case you didn’t find any on Bla Bla Car.
Carpool World: Register. Contact. Carpool. Free to register, this is the page specific to Germany.
Car Rentals in Germany
Most of the bigger car rental agencies operate in Germany, and honestly Kayak, Priceline, or whatever you generally use to book car rentals will do the trick. However, if you’re renting a car for more than 21 days, you may want to consider a “buy back car lease.” Although they’re not always a cheap way to travel, the two resources below will help you start your search to find out if this is the best way to travel for you:
- Are buy back car leases better than car rentals? – A helpful About.com article to help you understand the concept better.
- Renault – One of the agencies who will rent cars via the buy back car lease to Americans traveling in Europe.
It may also be required, by some car agencies, for North Americans to have an International Driver’s Permit. This is easily procured through AAA and is valid for one year. Be sure to double check this with your rental agency when you book your rental.
Getting Around Germany by Boat
You can arrive by ferry to Germany at several ports. Common routes are between the Scandanavian countries and Germany. There are no direct ferries from the UK. The rivers of Germany are an absolutely dreamy way to travel. Tours are readily available across a range of budgets.
Ferry To: This site breaks down the ferry routes into Germany and lists ticketing options.
Direct Ferries: “Direct Ferries features the widest selection of ferry routes giving you flexibility and choice as well as access to the best ferry deals around.”
Germany River Cruises: Not a particularly pretty website but a consolidator of river cruising deals. Check here if you’re looking for a budget friendly option.
Shearings: Offering cruises on five of Germany’s waterways, there is something here for everyone
Mac’s Adventure: Bike and boat combo tours allow you to get off and cycle along the river during the day and sleep on the boat at night. If the cycling is too much, simply stay on the boat! This is a great tour for groups where some might be more adventurous or want more activity than others.
Bicycling Around Germany
I’ve bicycled much of Germany, with my four kids in tow. It is, in my opinion, the most cycle friendly of the European countries, next to the Netherlands, which simply cannot be beaten for cycle convenience. Off-road, designated, and paved bike paths make much of the country an easy ride. Secondary bike paths are crushed stone, which is still very easy to ride, even for the less experienced, or beginners (read that kids!) Rent bikes in Germany, or bring your own. Cycles are easily transported by train, which makes it even easier.
Experience Plus: A listing of tours you can join with your bicycle (or rent one!)
EuroVelo: Traveling with your bike around Europe? EuroVelo will give you suggested routes for long distance cycling — though, that seems to be about all it does. Check out my post on how to pack your bike for travel if you’re traveling this way.
Cycling in Germany: Bike Map: Explore Germany by bike with this collection of maps and routes for the entire country, from urban centers to the countryside.
ADFC: The German Cyclist’s Association has a ton of information specific to Germany. The about page is available in English, otherwise you’ll want to translate the site.
A classic tourist destination in Europe, Germany has a lot to offer travelers. From five-star luxury resorts to unique tree house hotels, vacation rentals, or camping experiences, there’s something for every budget and traveler. Before traveling:
- Do your research
- Figure out how far in advance you’ll need to book your stay
- Choose the accommodation style that fits your needs
- Branch out and stay somewhere special, or unique
Rent a car, or meet locals through a car share. Take the bus and train; they’re economical and efficient. Definitely take a river cruise, even if it’s just the day trip from Mosel to Mainz. Bicycle somewhere, if nothing else, hire a bike and take a day ride.
Image Credit: HaystackPhotography, Flickr, Moyan Brenn, Flickr, Wolfgang Staudt, Flickr, macfred64, Flickr, Rachel Knickmeyer, Flickr, Derek Key, Flickr, Daniel Mennerich, Flickr