US citizens visiting Germany must possess a valid passport. You can apply for a passport at your local post office. Keep in mind that it may take a couple of months for your passport to arrive, so the sooner you apply the better. US citizens are not required to obtain a visa unless you plan to stay in Germany for more than 90 days.
Germany is part of the European Union whose currency is the Euro. Bring your debit card for the best exchange rates and to get cash from ATM’s for the many establishments that do not accept cards. Be sure to call your bank before you leave to let them know you’ll be traveling abroad, otherwise they will block your card for suspicious behavior.
Getting Around Munich:
An easily accessible and efficient public transportation system makes getting around Munich painless. There are suburban railways (S-bahn), subways (U-bahn), streetcars (trams), and buses. Universal pictographs and signs make it easy to find your destination without knowing the language. Many different tickets and multi-day passes are offered depending on length of stay and number of people in your party. Remember, do not be late! Germans take punctuality seriously and their transit system always leaves on time.
At Oktoberfest, your servers will not keep a running tab. When your order is delivered, pay the bill and tip at the same time, typically 10%. In a restaurant it is customary to tip 5-10%, rounding your bill up to the nearest Euro. Leaving the tip on the table is considered rude. Give it to your server as you pay the bill - simply tell them how much you wish to pay. Bartenders appreciate tips but don’t expect them. Taxi drivers normally expect a 10-15% tip.
Beer is an integral part of Bavarian culture and everyday life, especially in Munich where the mood is always festive - even more so during the time surrounding Oktoberfest. Having fun is expected and encouraged, but public drunkenness is not tolerated.
Hotels typically offer Internet service in the form of WLAN (Wi-Fi) or a PC in the lobby, either with complimentary service or at an extra charge. Public libraries offer PC’s for everyone, and many bars and restaurants will let you surf the web using their wireless connection. There are also Internet cafés that charge a nominal fee for their services.
International phone calls can be very expensive. Public phone booths can be found around town and in post offices, but are not as prevalent as they once were. Most pay phones are card-operated, so you’ll need to purchase a phone card.
Chances are, the phone you have now will work just fine in Munich as long as you are using a major wireless company. Your provider will need to turn on your global network before you leave and explain the costs of international usage.
Once you have done the math, you may want to consider one of the following options instead:
- If your phone is locked, have your wireless service provider unlock it so you may purchase a prepaid SIM card from a local provider when you arrive in Munich.
- Purchase an unlocked and unbranded phone (on Amazon for example), and then purchase a prepaid SIM card when you arrive in Munich.
- Rent a phone from a reputable company like Telestial or Wireless Traveler.
Electricity in Europe is generally supplied at 220V, 50Hz frequency (US is 110V, 60Hz), but can fluctuate plus or minus 10%. In order to charge your cell phone, camera, or laptop you will need a grounded plug adaptor. Buy this before you go as they are hard to find and more expensive in Europe. Make sure all of your appliances are dual voltage or you may need a converter or transformer. An electronics store or travel shop should supply everything you need.
Like most Europeans, many Germans speak a variety of languages, including English. Their first language is German, of course, and there are several German dialects spoken throughout the different regions. The Austro-Bavarian dialect is spoken in Bavaria, the largest German state, which includes Munich, where the Oktoberfest takes place.
Germany is on Central European Time, which is 1 hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, 6 hours ahead of New York, 9 hours ahead of Los Angeles, and 8 hours behind Sydney.