Germany’s Intercity Express (ICE), historic narrow-gauge lines and private heritage railways make travelling by train fun, easy and affordable. 

Germany is a fascinating destination that can easily engage visitors regardless of what they are after. Across the country, you will find soaring mountains, sunken valleys, rolling meadows, dynamic cities, idyllic villages and tranquil islands that are never over-crowded. Then there are Germany’s unrivalled beer culture, massively underrated wineries and strong gastronomy heritage ready to add flavours to your holidays. If you’re after a highbrow itinerary, Germany has a whopping 48 cultural sites that are UNESCO-listed, plus many more world-class museums. All in all, this is a country that aims to surprise and delight its visitors, so join PTG Tours to explore the best part of Germany.

German town shutterstock 415060381

Germany at a glance

train german holiday

Capital: Berlin
Language: German
Money: Euro
Travel advice:

Tipping: If the service charge hasn’t been included, tipping 10% is common.

  • New Year’s Day – January 1
  • Good Friday (date varies)
  • Easter Monday – date varies
  • Labour Day – May 1
  • Ascension Day – date varies
  • Whit Sunday – (date varies)
  • Germany Unity Day – October 3
  • Christmas – December 25
  • St Stephen’s Day – December 26

Hallo (hello), Bitte (please), Danke (thanks), Tschüss (bye), Prost (cheers), Die Rechnung, bitte (the bill, please).

Exploring Germany

bratwurst germany

Germany has a strikingly varied landscape. In the southwest, the mountainous region of the Black Forest requires little introduction – this is where the mighty Danube River originates, where the Brothers Grimm were inspired to publish folk tales in 1812, where craftsmen still produce timeless cuckoo clocks, and where farmers and their herds roam the flower-filled meadows.

In the centre-north of Germany, the Harz Mountains might not be as famous as the Black Forest but certainly no less spectacular. The rolling plateau, interspersed by narrow valleys and lovely mountain towns known for their pampering health spas, is also home to the 140km (87mi) network of Harz Narrow Gauge Railways that sneak around the region and to the top of the Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz Mountains.

German cuisine is surprisingly diverse, with every region serving its own specialities and traditional dishes relying on ingredients caught in the North Sea or produced across the plains. You can sample everything from light Bremerhavener Fischsuppe (fish soup) in the north to hearty Pfälzer Saumagen (stuffed pig’s stomach) in Rhineland-Palatinate and delicious Birnentorte (layered pear cake) in the Havelland region. Of course, you can also depend on the ever-present Bratwurst (sausage) and Sauerbraten (beef stew) no matter where you go.

Germany is well-known for its beer culture, but its wine, produced by vineyards stretching from the Elbe River to Lake Constance, is arguably one of the best-kept secrets. For over 2,000 years, the Germans have been cultivating some 135 different varieties of grapes and using them to produce some of the best, most complex wines on the market. Riesling is perhaps what most people can relate to German wine, but beyond this aromatic wine, you get Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir), Blauer Portugieser, Schwarzriesling and many more that allow you to have endless fun with wine tasting and drinking.

Germany enjoys a temperate climate with warm summers and relatively cold winters, although you do get regional variations. The tourist season starts from May to September when the days are long and warm.

Spring (March to May) is cold along the coast that overlooks the North Sea and the Baltic Sea and also in the Alps in southern Germany, but the weather is noticeably warmer in the Rhine Valley. Frankfurt, located in the upper Rhine Valley, has an average mean of 7°C (45°F) in March.

Summer (June to August) is pleasant, although rain can also be frequent in the north and south. Munich in southern Germany, for instance, receives an average of 130mm (5in) of rain in June and July respectively. Frankfurt, however, receives less than half of the rain amount as Munich during this period. Elsewhere in the Harz Mountains, located in centre-north, enjoys a maximum of 14°C (57°F) in July and August.

Autumn (September to November) is an excellent time to visit Germany as the weather is still decent and there are fewer people in touristy spots across big cities like Berlin, Frankfurt and Hamburg. Even Munich, at 500m (1,640ft) above sea level and near the Alps, still records an average temperature of 4°C (40°F) by November.

Winter (December to February) can be relatively mild or very cold, depending on where you are going. In the Alps and the Harz Mountains, snowfalls are frequent and temperatures rarely get above freezing. In Frankfurt, however, the average temperature is still 3°C (37F) in December.

Summer months: long pants, cotton garments, t-shirts and extra outer layers for the cooler evenings. Take an umbrella or waterproof.

Winter months: warm clothes, gloves, scarves.

In July 2021, CNN ran an article titled ‘The Soviet spy steam railway that’s still running’. In it, it talked passionately about the Harzer Schmalspurbahnen (Harz Narrow Gauge Railways or HSB for short) and its 140km (87mi) network, including a spectacular journey up to Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz Mountains, where a former Soviet-era spy station still stands.

Rail enthusiasts have known about the HSB for decades, and now with train travel being a sustainable choice to discover the German countryside, more people are being introduced to the HSB than ever before.

Heritage railways also play a big part in Germany. The Moor Express in Lower Saxony, the Sauschwänzlebahn in the Black Forest, and the Vulkan Express in Rhineland Palatinate are some fine examples that will excite any travellers who appreciate the historical features and cultural significance of rail heritage.

  • Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada
  • Last Train From Berlin by Howard K Smith
  • The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
  • Why the Germans Do it Better by John Kampfner

Why choose PTG Tour’s escorted rail tours through Germany

  • Established in 1998, PTG has evolved into a leading tour agency offering rail-based holidays with a focus on culture and heritage.
  • You can choose from a diverse product range, based on your preference and budget.
  • Your escorted rail tour comes with a professional tour leader who will take great care of you, plus local guides when applicable.
  • All hotels and restaurants included in your package are vetted and approved by the local teams.
  • You can travel in confidence as all of our tours are ATOL and ABTA protected.