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State by state: What are the new rules for tourism around Germany?

Understandably many people in Germany are longing for a holiday - and with falling infection figures, the opportunities for tourist visits are increasing in many places. We break down what's possible in every state.

State by state: What are the new rules for tourism around Germany?
Tourists paddle in Seehausen Am Staffelsee in Bavaria on Thursday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Matthias Balk

After seven months of closures, tourism around Germany is opening up again just in time for summer holidays.

Because the 7-day incidence per 100,000 residents in most districts or cities remains stable below 100, the catering and hospitality industry is loosening its rules, in some cases considerably.

Hotels and vacation rentals are increasingly welcoming guests back, as is the restaurant industry. 

However, the government says that people must check the individual state rules, which are subject to change at any time, before travelling.

READ ALSO: How states across Germany are relaxing Covid rules

Here’s an overview of what’s now possible in every state: 

Bavaria: Hotels, guesthouses, vacation apartments, campsites and youth hostels are allowed to open in districts and cities with a five-day stable 7-day incidence below 100. The same applies to cable cars, as well as river and lake cruises and tours. Prerequisites are a negative Covid test no more than 24 hours old and additional regular tests during the stay. 

Beer gardens and outdoor catering have already been open for longer in areas with 7-day incidences below 100, but this does not yet apply to indoor catering.

READ ALSO: Bavaria plans to open for tourists on May 21st

Baden–Württemberg: If the incidence is below 100 for five days in a row, outdoor and indoor restaurants, for example, are allowed to open with closing hours, hygiene requirements and testing plans. Tourist overnight stays in hotels, guesthouses, vacation homes or campgrounds will then also be possible.

Guests will need proof of vaccination or recovery, or a negative test that must be retaken every three days. Cable cars, tour buses or excursion boats can also restart on a limited basis.

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Berlin and Brandenburg: Tourist overnight stays are already allowed again in vacation homes and campgrounds. In addition to city tours and boat excursions, travel by coach is also permitted again.

Private overnight stays in hotels and guesthouses are possible from June 11th. Guests must present a negative Covid test every three days. Outdoor dining is allowed as of Friday June 4th without a test, and indoors from Friday with a test. Museums are also reopening – usually with restrictions such as an appointment and test (so check the culture facility before visiting).

READ ALSO: Indoor dining and gyms: How Berlin’s new eased Covid rules affect you

Bremen: Catering establishments are once again allowed to open until 11pm, even indoors, provided a hygiene plan is in place and guest contact details are collected. Up to and including June 13th, testing is mandatory. After that, it will only apply if the 7-day incidence exceeds 35. 

Hotel stays for tourist purposes are permitted – with a hygiene plan and a current negative test. Guests who have recovered from an infection or received both shots of the vaccine do not have to present a test.

Hamburg: Since Tuesday, tourists can again stay overnight in the Hanseatic city. The prerequisites here are also compliance with strict hygiene requirements and the presentation of a negative Covid test. The establishments are only allowed to use 60 percent of their capacity. It is still forbidden to rent out private living space to tourists. Outdoor catering is permitted, and from the weekend on, guests can also dine indoors. Port and city tours will also be allowed, subject to the usual hygiene requirements.

Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania: In the northeast, restaurateurs are able to serve their guests both outdoors and indoors. Those who want to be seated indoors need a negative Covid test. Locals have been allowed to head on holiday in their own state again since the end of May, and guests from the rest of Germany will be able to do so from Friday. A negative Covid test must be presented on arrival.

READ ALSO: Seaside German state to reopen to daytrippers – with restrictions

Lower Saxony: Tourist overnight stays are possible where the 7-day incidence is below 100 in districts and cities. Hotels and other accommodations can be occupied up to 80 percent if the incidence is below 50; the limit does not apply if the incidence is below 35. Guests from all over Germany are allowed to come – with a negative test or proof of recovery or complete vaccination. Popular destinations in the central state include the Harz Mountains and North Sea.

Hesse: In the central state of Hesse, the situation varies from region to region. If the 7-day incidence in a municipality is below 100 for five consecutive days, stage 1 of the relaxations applies – then zoos, open-air museums and amusement parks, for example, are allowed to open, and visitors must make an appointment. Outdoor restaurants are also allowed to open under certain conditions, and guests need a daily test. 

Hotels, cottages, youth hostels and campgrounds may also open under restrictions: guests must present tests upon arrival and twice a week, with occupancy capped at 60 percent. If a municipality has an incidence below 100 for 14 days or below 50 for five days, stage 2 takes effect with further relaxations.

At that point, indoor dining establishments will be allowed to reopen with daily testing. The maximum occupancy rate in lodging establishments will then be 75 percent.

North Rhine-Westphalia: If the 7-day incidence is between 50 and 100, hotels may open without capacity limits for bed and breakfast, but without further indoor catering. Again, guests must present a negative test, which must be renewed every three days, be fully vaccinated or have recovered from the virus.

Holiday rentals, campgrounds and outdoor dining are also allowed to open – with testing and assigned seating in the case of restaurants. If the 7-day incidence is between 35 and 50, the testing requirement is waived for outdoor dining. Indoor food service may open with proof of a negative test and assigned seating.

Rhineland-Palatinate: Since Thursday, restaurants are allowed to open their indoor areas even with 7-day incidences between 50 and 100, but a negative test is mandatory. The test obligation for outdoor dining has been lifted. Recreational facilities such as miniature golf courses and amusement parks may open outdoors. Saunas can open with testing and a maximum of 50 percent occupancy. Hotels are allowed to serve guests indoors and outdoors; breakfast is also allowed as a buffet.

Minister President Malu Dreyer (SPD) has also promised further opening steps in mid-June and early July.

Saarland: In Germany’s smallest state, restaurants and cafés have been allowed to receive guests indoors again since May 31th. A maximum of ten people – if they’ve tested negative, been fully vaccinated or recovered from the virus – may sit at a table. Overnight stays in hotels, guesthouses, youth hostels and campsites are also possible again with a hygiene concept and under certain conditions, as are travel by coach and ship.

Travellers must present a negative test, which must be repeated every 48 hours for stays of several days.

Saxony: Campsites and vacation homes in Saxony may once again accommodate guests. Hotels and guesthouses, on the other hand, must be patient until June 14th. They will then be allowed to open under certain conditions if the 7-day incidence is stable at less than 100. Tourist bus tours will then also be possible again.

Schleswig-Holstein: Germany’s northernmost state is now open to tourists from all over Germany. Overnight guests must bring a negative test no more than 48 hours old and renew it every three days. Outdoor catering has been allowed for some time, and indoor catering is now also permitted.

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Thuringia: Since Wednesday, camping sites and vacation homes can be booked in areas that have a 7-day incidence of less than 100. In areas where the incidence is less than 50, hotels and guesthouses will then also be allowed to accommodate guests – with only 60 percent occupancy and indoor dining for overnight guests only. Guests must also present a negative Covid test or proof of vaccination or recovery. Contact tracing must also be available. As the incidence decreases, requirements are phased out, for example in the catering sector.

Member comments

  1. Just to share something good, I watch this youtube channel myself A Voice In The Desert
    And I recommend to anyone searching for what is truth. Please get both doses of a vaccine and use a mask until everyone has vaccines, to prevent all covid-19 deaths as much as possible, breakthrough cases sometimes occur with vaccines, and this is why use a mask to avoid them till everyone is vaccinated fully.

  2. it would be great to see an update of this article! For example, I underatand that hotels in Berlin no longer require tests/vaccines.

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Is Leipzig really Germany’s ‘ultimate travel destination’?

The Saxonian city of Leipzig has been named by traveller’s bible Lonely Planet as its “ultimate” travel tip for Germany. Does the Local Germany’s knowledgeable readership agree?

The city centre of Leipzig.
The city centre of Leipzig. Photo: Jan Woitas/dpa-Zentralbild

Long a cult favourite among Germany fans, the left-wing city of Leipzig appears to now be gaining mainstream recognition after the Lonely Planet crowned it the country’s top travel destination this week.

In a new book titled “Ultimate German Travel Destinations – the top 250”, the travel publisher put Leipzig ahead of picturesque getaways such as Lake Constance and the Zugspitze as its number one destination.

“The hype that some say surrounds the city isn’t hype t all: Leipzig really is hipper than Berlin, and hotter than Munich, especially among millennials,” the guidebook boldly claims.

It goes on to lavish praise on the city of 600,000 inhabitants as “young, exciting, multifaceted – sometimes colourful, sometimes grey – and with a vibrant liveliness.”

“Everyone wants to go to the city where the anti-GDR demonstrations started,” the guidebook continues. “It is the home of Auerbachs Keller (made famous by Goethe and Faust); it’s the city of street art and wave gothic festivals; and its artistic scene at the Baumwollspinnerei is second to none.”

READ ALSO: A love letter to the eastern German city of Leipzig

‘Not cooler than Berlin’

Reaction to the list among the Local’s readership was mixed.

“It is a beautiful city and it’s easy to navigate. I find it hard to say that it’s cooler than Berlin, though. Berlin simply has more,” one reader told us on Facebook. “It’s the kind of place where people find their ‘spot.” I think most people in Leipzig know about most places in Leipzig. It’s a much smaller city. That may just be a more favourable lifestyle for some.”

Praise for Saxony’s biggest city ranged from admiration for the beauty of its architecture (particularly its train station) to the vibrancy of its arts scene.

Others suggested that Leipzig is indeed overhyped and that it can’t compete with natural wonders such as the pristine Königssee in the Bavarian Alps.

Lake Constance wins silver

Lake Constance, the country’s largest body of fresh water, came in second on the list.

The authors praised the southern See, which borders Switzerland and Austria, for “the many beautiful spots on its shores: Lindau, Meersburg, Überlingen, Constance and more – often surrounded by lush orchards.”

A regatta on the Bodensee in September 2021. Photo: dpa | Felix Kästle 

Hamburg’s new Elbphilharmonie concert hall came in third. 

“It’s impossible to imagine the Hanseatic city’s skyline without this glass work of art, which soars into the sky above the harbour like a frozen wave,” the book notes.

Also in the top ten were the Wattenmeer, which is a huge nature reserve on the North Sea coast, Berlin’s museum island, the sandstone hills of Saxony, and Germany’s highest peak, the Zugspitze in Bavaria.