Before the euro came into being, Germany used the mark as its official currency. Referred to as the Deustche mark, it was used in West Germany from 1948 until the time both sides of Germany were re-unified in 1990. It was then used by the whole country until the euro replaced it in 2002 in money form.
The euro is currently available in eight different coin denominations. These are the one cent, the two cent, the five cent, the ten cent, the twenty cent and the fifty cent coins, as well as the one euro and two euro coins. The obverse of each of these coins has a design that is unique to Germany. With that said though, if you happen to have coins with other designs from other euro using countries you can use those perfectly happily in Germany as well.
You will also find you have seven banknotes to use. These are the 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 500 euro notes. The euro is represented by the € sign, which appears before each number when used as a price. So for example you might pay €5 for a product, which means five euros.
Germany has been using the euro since 1999, which was when it adopted the currency. It then started using the actual banknotes and coins from 2002. The previous three year period saw both the German mark and the euro in tandem use, so people could get used to the idea of switching to another currency. This was in common with other countries that joined the euro at this early stage.
The euro is incredibly easy to get when you are travelling to Germany. You can easily get some cash in advance of your trip by visiting a bureau de change. It is definitely useful to have some cash on you before you get there.
Germany is an advanced country so you won’t have any trouble finding cash points from which to withdraw cash. They are known as ‘Bankomat’ in Germany. Just be sure the cards you are going to take with you are suitable to use at cash machines while you are away. As is the case at home, it is best to use large cash points at banks or other main areas if you can. If you find one in a small store or shop you will probably be charged a fee for getting cash out.
You can of course also pay for purchases by using a debit or credit card. If you are going to take one or more cards with you (which you should) make sure you contact your bank to let them know you are taking your card to Germany. This means your card stands far less chance of being stopped because they might think it is being used fraudulently.
Traveller’s cheques are also easy to exchange but you are normally charged a fee for doing so. Make sure you know what the fee is before you agree to exchange one.
Just find your favourite currency converter and figure out what the rate is for your own currency. Select your currency and convert it into the euro using the drop down boxes normally provided. You can opt to convert one unit of your currency or select the amount you want to take.
Those travelling to Germany may wish to find out more about doing so and what to expect. You can do so by visiting the official website for the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany at http://www.london.diplo.de, for the London branch.
For the most part Germany is a safe country to visit and travel around. The German authorities are not at all keen on anti-social behaviour that can upset or hassle other people, so be sure to respect the local laws and rules that are in place.
Many of the usual rules that apply to tourists when travelling abroad will apply in this situation too. Germany is by and large a safe country to visit but you should be alert to the chance of being pickpocketed. Make sure your money is safe and keep it in separate places rather than all in one pocket or wallet. This reduces the chances of losing everything if you are targeted. Keep your bag securely slung around your shoulder too, and never let go of it. Opportunistic crimes are by far the easiest to fall prey to if you are not careful.
If you carry your passport with you as identification, be sure to keep it safely zipped up in a money belt. This is also a good idea to keep cash and cards safer than they would be in a pocket.
Germany is a large country bordered by the Netherlands, Belgium and France on the west, Switzerland and Austria to the south and the Czech Republic and Poland to the east. It also shares a small border with Denmark to the north. The capital of Germany is Berlin, which can be found in the north east of the country.
It is an amazing city to visit with a history reaching far back into time. One of its most notable sights is the Brandenburg Gate, which itself dates back to the late 1700s. It is known for being blocked up as part of the Berlin Wall that divided the country in two after the Second World War. Today it is open once again to be appreciated by everyone who lives in and visits the area.
Elsewhere in Berlin you can visit the Bode Museum, which takes its place with a few other museums in the area. Another highlight is the Gendarmenmarkt, a beautiful square that is lit up at night. The square was heavily damaged during World War II but you wouldn’t know it today, so considerate was the rebuilding process.
Germany has also had its fair share of composers over the years. If you have an interest in this area you should visit Leipzig, which has connections to Bach, Wagner and others. Situated in Saxony, the place is always alive with things to see and do. If you visit not long before Christmas you can indulge in the festive atmosphere provided by the Christmas market. There are many historic sites here to explore as well.
For a view of Germany that may make you feel as if you are in another country altogether, why not visit Rugen Island? This can be found in the north eastern corner of the country. There is a causeway that links it to mainland Germany and once you cross it you will appreciate the change of pace here. You can stay here on holiday if you wish, enjoying the beaches and resorts it has to offer. The undisputed highlight is definitely Jasmund National Park, which offers incredible white cliffs, forests are much more besides. Quite rightly, it has been granted UNESCO World Heritage Status.
The Europa Park is a good place to take the kids if you are on a family holiday. It has everything you could want from a theme park, including roller coasters, great food and many other superb rides. If the weather is nice you have no excuse not to try a water ride or two, such as the Tirol Log Flume for example.
The cuisine in Germany is something you will come across wherever you go. They are perhaps known for smoked sausages and sauerkraut, but this is merely a fraction of what you will come across on your travels. For example, different regions have different recipes and traditions, and these can be influenced by the bordering countries. Given what we know about where Germany is in Europe for example, it should not come as a surprise to learn that the food in the western part of the country is influenced by France, which just so happens to be across the border. Similarly the north western part of the country takes some inspiration from nearby Poland and the Baltic Sea, and this is where sausages (the ‘wurst’ types of food, you might say!) can often be found.
Wherever you go in Germany you will find many destinations to spend your euros on. You can also part with your money to try lots of local dishes that will be great to try.
Germany has had a chequered history throughout the years. Today it is a great place to visit and you can find out much about its history both near and far in the past thanks to the museums and signs of other times that are all around you. Where will you choose to go first when you arrive there?