Towing speed limits on German Autobahns
The normal speed limit for caravans on German Autobahns
(Motorways) is 80Km/h.
UK or Irish caravanners wishing to travel at 100Km/h
on German motorways will first have to pass a TÜV
(MOT) test in Germany to confirm that their outfit is
suitable for travelling at 100km/h. The requirements for
a successful pass are:
1) Requirement: Towing Vehicle
Must have ABS.
Be a registered vehicle (Foreign registered is OK).
2) Requirement: Trailer
Must be suitable for travelling at 100Km/h.
The caravan must be loaded in such a way that it reaches
the vehicle's nose weight limit as much as possible without
Must have a brake and hydraulic suspension system.
Must not exceed its maximum permissible load.
3) Requirement: Tyres
Must not be older than 6 years and in good condition.
Speed index must be at least L (120km/h).
Must not exceed maximum prescribed weight limit.
4) Requirement: Outfit weight ratio
The percentage ratio between car and caravan must not
A 100% is allowed if the caravan is fitted with a stabilizer
which conforms to ISO 11555-1 or any similar device suitable
for up to 120Km/h (for similar devices written proof of
specifications may be required).
Check with your motor vehicle insurance company regarding
any documents you will need and whether additional motor
insurance is required. The international registration
letters of your country of residence must be displayed
at the rear of the car. Foreign nationals may drive in
Germany for up to one year with an International Driving
Permit, or with their own driving licences with a German
translation (this is not necessary for EU citizens). Translations
of licences can be supplied by motoring organisations
in your country of residence. Third-party insurance is
mandatory in Germany for most nationals, and you must
be covered for Germany and all other EU countries. A Green
Card or pink frontier insurance certificate must be carried
as proof of insurance. However, EU nationals are not required
to show proof of third-party insurance, although it is
advisable to carry the relevant documents with you.
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Rules Of The Road
Always carry your full valid driving licence (or International
Driving Permit, if necessary), vehicle registration documents,
and insurance documents with you. Traffic drives on the
right in Germany. Seat belts must be worn by both front-
and back-seat passengers, including children. Always give
way to the right at junctions and roundabouts, unless
your road has priority (indicated by a yellow diamond
sign). The highest level of alcohol permitted in the bloodstream
when driving is 80 mg per 100 ml (8g/l). A warning triangle
and a first aid box must be carried, and the headlight
beam must be adjusted in cars with right-hand drive. Stopping
on a motorway other than in an emergency, is illegal.
Firmly set in the heart of Europe, the Federal Republic
of Germany encompasses a huge diversity of landscapes, townscapes,
and traditions. Great provincial cities like Munich or Dresden
dominate their hinterlands, and local and regional identity
is strong. In the centre of the country, wooded upland massifs
are separated by the valleys of great rivers like the Rhine,
Main, Danube, and Elbe. Northwards the landscapes and coastlines
begin to resemble those of neighbouring countries, such
as the Netherlands, Denmark, and the lands along the Baltic
coast. To the south, the Alps forms a wonderful natural
frontier. Berlin, once riven both physically and symbolically
by a wall, is once again the capital of a reunified Germany,
which is committed to the Europe Union but whose location
also guarantees a key role in the regeneration of post-Communist
Western Germany has long been regarded as a European success
story. After widespread devastation in World War II, its
heritage of historic towns and cities was painstakingly
restored. Shiny high-tech industrial plants have spread
across the landscape, and shop fronts bulge with the products
of a booming consumer society. German dynamism is symbolised
by the dense traffic speeding along the country's pioneering
network of autobahns. Between the thriving towns large areas
of land are protected as nature reserves, and forests cover
almost a third of the country. The former German Democratic
Republic (East Germany) presents a rather different picture.
It has a legacy of heavy, polluting industries, and its
countryside is divided into monotonous large-scale state
and collective farms. Many towns and villages, however,
have an attractive, old-fashioned air about them, having
escaped the often over-zealous modernisation practised in
An unrivalled cultural heritage means that nearly every
city of consequence in Germany has a first-rate artistic
life, with state or civic orchestras, opera and theatre
companies, and many art galleries. The country has produced
an astonishing roll-call of composers, from the 18th-century
patriarchs of classical music Johann Sebastian Bach, Handel,
and Beethoven to the revolutionary of German opera, Richard
Wagner. Philosophers such as Kant and Nietzsche and writers
such as Goethe and the Brothers Grimm form part of Germany's
literary tradition, which has burgeoned in the 20th century
with famous names like Thomas Mann and Bertolt Brecht. Art
groups have left their mark across the decades, from the
Berliner Secessionists and the Expressionists to the angry
muralists of the Berlin Wall. In Berlin, contemporary art
galleries have sprung up in large numbers. Germany's pioneering
record in film production, too, reads like a roll-call of
world cinema: the Babelsberg Studios in the 1920s and 30s,
the Expressionists Fritz Lang and FW Murnau, or the New
German cinema directors such as Fassbinder and Herzog. But
even though Germany is one of Europe's most modern countries,
traditional culture is still in evidence. In the taverns,
local notables gather round their reserved table, the Stammtisch,
and countless festivals of all sizes are still celebrated
with gusto, whether modestly at southern Germany's many
religious processions and pilgrimages, or at mass outbreaks
of jollity like the Cologne Carnival or Munich's Oktoberfest.
The electrical current in Germany is 220 volts AC. Round two-pin
plugs are used. Germany is in the process of changing its mains
current to 230 volts AC, in compliance with EU regulations, but
this will have no impact on the vast majority of 220–240-volt
electrical appliances. An adapter is essential for UK and Irish
Service charges in restaurants are included in the bill but additional
tips are common. However, it is customary to round the bill up to
the nearest mark, and restaurants will sometimes assume this procedure
and give you change accordingly. Taxi drivers expect DM1 or DM2
over and above the fee charged.
1 January: New Year’s Day
6 January: Epiphany
1 May: Labour Day
3 October: Day of German Unity
20 November: Day of Prayer and Repentance
25 and 26 December: Christmas
Travellers With Disabilities
Facilities in Germany for people with disabilities are among the
best in Europe. Many trains are adapted for wheelchair access with
wide doors and spaces for wheelchairs, and travellers with disabilities
can reserve seats free of charge. Most public buildings and museums
are equipped with ramps. However, a disabled badge or car sticker
does not entitle travellers with disabilities to free car parking.
For a list of resorts, hotels, and other accommodation offering
special facilities for travellers with disabilities and, in some
cases help with travel arrangements, contact Touristik Union International
(TUI), Postfach 610280, 30602 Hannover, tel: +49 511 5670. They
should be able to put you in touch with other organisations. Another
helpful organisation is the BAG Hilfe für Behinderte, Eupener
str. 4, 55131 Mainz, tel: +49 6131 225514.
Metro, buses and trams
The bus service in German cities is normally very efficient. Purchase
tickets from ticket machines at bus stops or inside the bus, or
directly from the bus driver. Trams provide a very reliable service
in many cities. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Bus and
tram stops are indicated by yellow signs with a green "H".
The U-Bahn (metro) is found in Berlin, Bonn, Hamburg, Cologne,
Munich, Frankfurt, and Stuttgart. The ticket system is integrated
with the cities' buses, Straßenbahn (trams) and S-Bahn (overground
trains). The same ticket, available at automatic vending machines,
can be used for any of these forms of transport. A book of tickets
offers good value, and you can buy special tickets that allow
unlimited travel within a 24-hour period.
Car ferries cross the Rhine at a number of points. A 24-hour car
ferry crosses Lake Constance (Bodensee) between Konstanz and Meersburg
every 15 minutes during peak times and hourly at night. There
are also ferries from Bremerhaven, Cuxhaven, Hamburg, Wilhelmshaven,
and other seaports on the North Sea coast to the Frisian Islands.
Ferries from seaports on the Baltic coast run to some of the islands
in the Baltic Sea.
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Because of the systematic transformation of its buildings in
the 18th century to a style befitting its position as capital
of Saxony, Dresden was once justly called the Florence of the
north. The damage caused by the Allied air raid in February
1945 can never be fully made good, but some of the greatest
monuments have been painstakingly restored. They include the
Semper Opera House, the Hofkirche (Court Church), and above
all, the Zwinger, a baroque complex which now houses a series
of museums. The Albertinum is one of Germany's great museums,
housing many treasures including Old Masters, modern German
paintings, and ornate figurines. Much of the city centre was
rebuilt in typical Soviet style, but Dresden still profits from
its position on the River Elbe; attractions upstream include
the Pillnitz Palace and Saxon Switzerland.
Within sight of the Alps, the glamorous capital of Bavaria, Munich
(München), has much to offer: an extensive and well-restored
old town, world-class museums and galleries, fine civic buildings
such as the neo-Gothic town hall, and the wonderful church known
as the Frauenkirche, whose twin onion-topped towers are the symbol
of the city. This cosmopolitan city is enlivened by its strong
identification with Bavarian traditions as well as by the presence
of vast numbers of students, who have made the suburb of Schwabing
their own. In addition, the city boasts magnificent green spaces,
ranging from raucous beer gardens to the vast English-style park
known as the Englischer Garten and the Olympiapark. Nymphenburg
Palace, the Versailles of Bavaria, is also worth seeing.
Citizens of the European Union (EU), as well as citizens of Andorra,
Hungary, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, Norway, San Marino,
and Switzerland, may enter Germany with a national identity card
and stay for a period of 90 days. However, citizens of the United
Kingdom and Ireland, where there is no national identity card
system, must carry a valid passport. Other nationals should consult
the German embassy or consulate in their own country before departure
for any visa requirements.
Emergency Phone Numbers
Police and ambulance: 110
Fire brigade: 112
Alternative pan-European emergency number for all services:
Central European Time (GMT plus one hour). Clocks are put forward
one hour from the last Sunday in March to the Saturday before
the end of October.
Roads, Tolls And Speed Limits
Roads in Germany are generally of a very high standard. Autobahnen
(motorways) are toll-free and among the best in Europe. They are
indicated by blue signs with an “A”; ordinary main
roads are indicated by yellow signs with a “B”. Rest
stops are found at regular intervals. On the Autobahns there is
an advisory speed limit of 130 kilometres (81 miles) per hour.
On other roads the compulsory limit is 100 kilometres (62 miles)
per hour, and in built-up areas (indicated by place-name signs)
50 kilometres (31 miles) per hour.