SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

READER QUESTIONS

What to expect if you’re travelling to Germany this Easter

Tourism to Germany has been difficult in the pandemic. But with many countries around the world easing measures, visitors are returning. Here's what you should know if you're planning or thinking about a trip to Germany.

Easter eggs hang from a tree in Schmilka, Saxony.
Easter eggs hang from a tree in Schmilka, Saxony. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Sebastian Kahnert

Some readers have contacted us to ask for advice about what Germany is like to visit now. From travel measures to Covid rules and culture, here’s a look at what’s changed (and what remains the same) since the pandemic began.

Travel – can you enter Germany?

Travel restrictions brought in to curb the spread of coronavirus remain in place two years later – but they have been significantly eased. 

At the beginning of March this year, Germany wiped all countries from its high-risk list. It means that people don’t have to quarantine – even if unvaccinated – when entering Germany.

But it is still the case that people coming from non-EU countries have to be fully vaccinated (with a European Medicines Agency approved vaccine). Unvaccinated people are generally not allowed to enter unless they have an essential reason.

Note that Germany does allow unrestricted entry for people coming from a small group of ‘safe list’ countries.

Plus this ban on entry does not apply to German citizens or members of their immediate family, and to citizens of EU and associated states and members of their immediate family. 

3G proof to get into Germany

Furthermore, you should know that before coming to Germany you will be asked to either upload your Covid documents (proof of vaccination, recovery or a test) while checking in or show evidence before boarding – regardless of where you are coming from, even if it is within the EU. This is known as the 3G rule in Germany, which stands for geimpft (vaccinated), genesen (recovered) or getestet (tested).

This rule applies to everyone aged 12 and over, and also applies to transit passengers. 

A bar owner in Augsburg letting customers know about the change in Covid rules (to 3G instead of 2G).

A bar owner in Augsburg letting customers know about the change in Covid rules (to 3G instead of 2G). Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Stefan Puchner

You are not excluded from carrying this Covid proof if you’re coming by other means of transport, like driving. In theory, random checks near borders can be carried out but this doesn’t seem to happen very often. 

Since no countries are currently on the risk-list, you no longer have have to fill in a digital entry form before travelling to Germany. The proof of vaccination, recovery or test is enough. 

People should keep track of any changes in the “risk level” of the country you are travelling from on the Robert Koch Institute’s risk list. If a variant deemed dangerous is discovered in a country then stricter measures can be brought in at short notice. 

The travel rules have been extended until April 28th 2022, but they may be extended beyond this date. 

READ MORE:

Are there Covid rules in Germany?

Yes, there are a few things to be aware of. Germany was supposed to loosen up almost all restrictions on March 20th. But due to infections increasing upwards again, states have been hesitant to lift the rules. 

From April 2nd there will be a change in culture though – the Covid entry rules to get into restaurants and bars will fall away. That means you won’t have to show evidence of Covid vaccination, recovery or a test. 

Masks – Plus there will be a huge change on mask restrictions. Masks will no longer be mandatory in shops and in restaurants and bars – usually you have to wear them when walking around a venue. They also won’t be compulsory in gyms, cinemas and museums. However, individual businesses can decide keep the mask rule in place so be prepared for that. 

You will still have to wear a mask if going to a GP, hospital, nursing or care home. Plus masks are still mandatory on public and long-distance transport as well as flights. In Germany the norm has usually been to wear a medical mask (that’s an FFP2 or the surgical mask). Cloth masks haven’t been around for some time. 

READ MORE: What are Germany’s new Covid-19 mask rules?

Exceptions – Some German states are choosing to declare themselves a Covid hotspot, meaning that the tougher restrictions are extended. So far the northern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Hamburg have chosen to take this route. We’ll update you on any other states who also take this route. 

Tourists sit in front of the Reichsburg in Cochem on the Moselle River.

Tourists sit in front of the Reichsburg in Cochem on the Moselle River. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Thomas Frey

Tourists and visitors to Germany are not meant to get the EU digital Covid pass. You can show evidence of your own digital or official vaccination certificate (like an American CDC card or Indian digital vaccine pass). Some places prefer that you have a QR code that they can scan. However, if you have official vaccination proof on paper from a foreign country, they are usually understanding. 

READ MORE:

What about culture changes?

Masks get thumbs up

One thing to note is that Germans have generally been on board with wearing a face mask during the pandemic. So it will be interesting to see if lots of people continue to wear one in future even in places where it is not mandatory. 

READ ALSO: Half of Germans will keep wearing masks after mandates end

Testing is encouraged

Germany really went to town on offering free (well, taxpayer-funded) Covid-19 antigen tests during the pandemic. You’ll find testing stations and centres dotted around cities and towns. People are encouraged to get tested regularly to keep an eye on their Covid status. You can also buy Covid tests in supermarkets, drugstores and pharmacies but they’re selling out regularly at the moment because of the coronavirus spread.

Tourists and visitors can also use the antigen testing centres, although there’s a different system for PCR tests. And if you test positive? Here’s what you should do.

Lüften, Lüften, Lüften

Anyone who has spent a bit of time in Germany will be aware that the love and passion for the ventilation of rooms, known as Lüften in German, is strong. Due to the pandemic, it’s now even stronger. You’ll often find windows and doors wide open in cafes and other places, making sure that Covid does not linger in stale air for too long. So remember to wrap up when you go out for Kaffee und Kuchen.

You’ll also find a lot more options to sit outside to eat and drink, even when it’s chilly. When restaurants had to close many people took take-away food and sat outdoors in three layers to eat it and that outdoor-living culture has been embraced.

An exception? Smoking bars in Berlin – Raucherkneipen – are still smokey and nobody tends to open windows or doors to air them out. 

Germans still love cash

Despite an uptick in card payments at the very beginning of the pandemic, it didn’t really last. Bars, restaurants and shops still tend to prefer that customers pay in cash. So make sure you’re stocked up with euros when you head out for food or a drink. 

But there has also been a move to embrace more digital services, although who knows how long it will take for the land of the fax machine to move on completely to the digital world. 

READ ALSO: 7 things the Covid-19 crisis has taught us about Germany

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

TRAVEL NEWS

Will German transport companies hike fares after €9 ticket?

Germany's popular €9 ticket deal is due to end in September, and there's still no clarity over a new budget offer. Will customers have to deal with hefty price rises in the meantime?

Will German transport companies hike fares after €9 ticket?

When September arrives, public transport users will have spent the entire summer enjoying unlimited monthly travel for the cost of a normal day ticket in most metropoles.

Despite recent polls suggesting that a good 85 percent of people want to see the €9 ticket – or a similar deal – continue, the offer is nonetheless due to expire in autumn.

Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) has pledged to discuss a potential successor at the transport ministers’ conference in October – but at least until then, customers may have to reckon with even higher prices for their regular tickets. 

In a survey of transport operators around Germany, DPA sought to find out how many were planning to increase the cost of their tariffs in the near future.

READ ALSO:

The results revealed that, in a number of districts around Germany, price increases were in the cards.

In some cases, significant tariff increases have already been decided, while in others the corresponding committee meetings were still pending.

In and around Stuttgart, for example, fares will rise by an average of 4.9 percent at the start of the new year, while in the greater Nuremberg area they will go up by three percent.

In the region covered by the Rhein-Main transport association, which includes Frankfurt and the surrounding area, a 3.9 percent increase was implemented in July.

Several of Germany’s regional transport operators are due to meet in September and October to decide on future tariffs.

With the price of fuel and electricity – two major expenses for transport companies – both soaring in recent months, these additional costs are expected to have an impact on ticket prices around the country.

READ ALSO: How the Greens want to replace Germany’s €9 ticket deal

The Berlin-Brandenburg transport association (VBB), for example, uses an index of fuel, electricity and consumer prices when deciding on future changes to tariffs.

However, a spokesperson for VBB told Spiegel that while the index was “included in considerations”, it was not the sole criterion for price decisions.

This may explain why even in Stuttgart – where tariffs will go up by almost five percent – the price hikes still remain under the level of inflation.

A future €9 ticket?

In its survey, DPA also gauged opinions on a future cheap travel deal. It found that most transport operators were in favour of a new offer – as long as their costs are reimbursed with state funding.

“For the associations, the first priority in a possible successor arrangement is adequacy,” the Rhein-Sieg transport association explained.

For Stuttgart’s transport operator, additional state funding is necessary for maintaining stock and expanding the offer for consumers, even if regular tariffs remain in place.

“Currently, the transport companies are facing major financial problems in view of galloping energy prices,” a spokesperson told DPA.

Passengers enter the U-Bahn train in Stuttgart

Passengers enter the U-Bahn train in Stuttgart. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd Weißbrod

Meanwhile, Munich’s transport association believes that offers like the €9 ticket play a role in encouraging people to transition to public transport in the first place. However, only a good service can convince people to stay in the long-run.

“With the €9 ticket, we have regained the pre-Covid demand as quickly as probably no one expected,” said Knut Ringat, managing director of the Rhein-Main transport association. “But the €9 ticket has also shown that more tracks and additional vehicles are needed so that more people can use public transport.”

In autumn, a federal-state working group wants to present proposals on the future and financing of local public transport.

The Association of German Transport Companies has already proposed a permanent €69 monthly ticket that would apply to public transport nationwide. They estimates that this would cost the federal government around €2 billion a year.

READ ALSO: German transport operators float plans for €69 ‘Klimaticket’

SHOW COMMENTS