Germany tours for seniors:

Germany marries old and new as harmoniously as it does city and country. Gothic architecture meets Bauhaus, while modern innovation has shaped the skyline of some of Germany’s biggest cities. Uncover the turbulent history of Berlin at the Reichstag Building, Checkpoint Charlie, and the Brandenburg Gate. In Munich, explore the medieval Marienplatz (or central square), visit the Baroque palaces of the Bavarian kings, Linderhof Palace and Nymphenburg Palace, and make time to sample iconic the Bavarian beer. Outside the cities, Germany is covered by beautiful scenery, ranging from the rugged Bavarian Alps to the eerie Black Forest. Pass grand castles on a Rhine River cruise, or head through the quaint villages of the Romantic Road. If the varied scenery, historic monuments and cultural experiences are not enough to entice you, Germany also hosts a wide array of festivals and markets each year-including the world-famous Oktoberfest, Berlinale, and the Leipzig Christmas market-making it a destination that is not to be missed.

The need to know

Touring Germany

Getting around

Odyssey travels by coach and occasionally uses local transport, including trains and ferries. Specifics are always outlined in your tour itinerary. Germany has a centralised and impressively extensive rail network, the Deutsche Bahn, which links towns to the major cities.

Accommodation

In major cities, Odyssey stays in centrally located 3-4 star hotels, with easy access to public transport. In smaller towns or rural areas, we usually stay in family-run hotels or guesthouses. On our longstay tours, during which you spend the length of the tour in a single location, we use serviced apartments.

Tour Guides

Odyssey always engages local guides with regional knowledge to ensure an authentic experience during which you can learn as much as possible about the history and culture of places you visit.

Geography, environment & weather

Germany is the largest country in Central Europe. It is bordered to the north by Denmark, to the east by Poland and the Czech Republic, to the south by Austria and Switzerland, and the west by France, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands. Germany is a federation of 16 states, roughly corresponding to regions with their own distinct and unique cultures. Renowned for its precision engineering, Germany is a major economic power with a very high standard of living.

Geographically, Germany stretches from the Alps, across the North European Plain to the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. The Alps peak at 2962 metres, while the the low-lying lands of northern Germany are traversed by some of Europe’s major rivers such as the Rhine, Danube and Elbe. There is great geographical diversity in Germany, which contributes to its appeal for travellers. Most of the country experiences a temperate climate, dominated by humid westerly winds. Think cool winters and warm summers, when temperatures can exceed 30 degrees celcius. The East experiences more contintental conditions, with longer dry periods common. Central and southern Germany range from oceanic to continental. Climate extremes are rare, but occasional spikes in temperature can occur. Be sure to check long range weather predictions prior to your departure – this will help guide your packing

World Heritage Sites

Germany is home to 42 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You can view the official list of the sites here; https://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/de.

It is well worth visiting every site, if you are able. But here’s a few highlights from the bunch:

  1. The twin-spired Cologne Cathedral,
  2. Germany’s most visited landmark, Classical Weimar, preserving one of Europe’s most influential historic cultural centres
  3. Berlin’s Modernism Housing Estates, which testify to the city’s innovative housing policies between 1910 to 1933
  4. Museum Island, a complex of five important museums, and a feat of urban planning and Enlightenment ideals.

Festivals & events

Germany is very passionate about its football (soccer), and every village has a club. Games are a major social event on weekends. Spas are also common throughout Germany, with sauna areas generally coed and nude. Germany boasts world class opera houses, and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra is known as one of the world’s top 3. Perhaps unexpectedy, Shakespeare is adored in Germany, and you may be able to find a performance during your visit. As for festivals and events, Oktoberfest cannot be missed. It comprises 17 days of celebrating beer, and is held in Munich, Bavaria every year. It is a significant part of Bavarian culture. There is a strong carnival tradition in some parts of Southern Germany, with Rosenmontag (Rose Monday) the highlight of the German Karneval.

Reading list

  1. The Ghosts of Berlin: Confronting German History in the Urban Landscape by Brian Ladd
  2. Berlin: Imagine a City by Rory MacLean
  3. Germany: Memories of a Nation by Neil MacGreg
  4. The Reader by Bernard Schlink

Eating & Drinking

There tends to be a standard formula to German cuisine: variations on meat, potatoes and gravy, accompanied by vegetables or salad. International influence has led to lighter offerings, but it is great fun discovering how tradition vies alongside the contemporary. ‘Schnellimbiss’ means ‘quick snack’, and is what you will see on the signs of German stalls and small shops that sell primarily sausage (Wurst) and fries (Pommes Frites). Sausages will include Bratwurst, which is usually a boiled pork sausage. A typical German variant is Currywurst: sausage chopped up and covered in spiced ketchup, dusted with curry powder. Beer and often harder liquor are available in most Schnellimbisse. German bakeries give fast food restaurants a run for their money, and even butchers will often prepare a fresh sandwich for you – or sometimes even a meal.

Biergärtens beergardens) provide drinks and usually meals, though in some traditional beergardens in Bavaria, you are permitted to bring your own food. Brauhaus are small breweries that sell their products direct to the customer, and frequently offer Haxe” or “Schweinshaxe” (pig’s leg), a distinctively German specialty. Other traditional dishes include schnitzel and rinderroulade – the latter is thinly sliced beef wrapped around bacon and pickled cucumber. The meat is quick-fried and then left to cook slowly for an hour, and is traditionally served with red cabbage, potato dumplings and pan gravy.

Among regional dishes is Eierschecke, a cake made of eggs and cream similar to cheese cake, found in Saxony. Beware when ordering fish – if Edelfischplatte is offered, it may not be fresh. Best to consume fish from specialty seafood restaurants. A specialty of the East is “Soljanka” (originating from Ukraine, but probably the most common dish in the GDR), a sour soup containing vegetables and usually some kind of meat or sausages.

Health & Safety

While much of Germany is usually safe to travel around, it’s important to stay alert to anything unusual. Also, you will often see signs warning of pickpockets in areas popular with tourists, so it’s important to keep a close eye on your belongings at all times.

Electrical Supply

Whenever you travel overseas, it’s always wise to take an appropriate travel adaptor. The standard voltage in Germany is 230V and 50Hz. Types C and F plugs are used here, both with two round pins – F also has earth clips on the side. The main plug is also referred to as a Schuko plug

Crafted tours for World Travellers

Tours of Germany

Discover Berlin while living there for almost three weeks. Berlin is one of the world’s most beloved cities. It is steeped in complex history, but committed to keeping memories present so that the past can be learned from.

20 days
Europe
Level 2 - Moderate

The small group tour will see the opera performed in the city of Richard Wagner’s birth, Leipzig. We will not only experience his music in these 4 operas, but also be shown the influences of culture and family on the extraordinary composer’s life.

12 days
Europe
Level 2 - Moderate

Berlin is a city rich in history,  a past plagued by conflict, and stories of powerful resistance. The Berlin Wall stood in place from 1961 to 1989. This 12 day walking tour explores the  beauty and culture in the present day.

12 days
Europe
Level 2 - Moderate
Baltics Small Group escorted Tour Latvia Estonia Lithuania
Guaranteed

The Baltic States, flexing their economic muscles, continue to become a focus of interest everywhere. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent integration of Germany bound the region into the engine of the European economy. Our program studies the diverse histories of and influences on, the Baltic States and studies how each of them is coping with its different form of independence.

21 days
Europe
Level 2 - Moderate
Guaranteed

The Oberammergau passion play is part of this  small group escorted tours for 21 days that travel across central Europe from Vienna  to Budapest with points in between. The group spends 2 nights in the town of Oberammergau for the play.

The program follows the Habsburg dynasty was influential in Central Europe from the 10th century. As Holy Roman Emperors they controlled an Empire which at its medieval zenith covered huge tracts of Europe stretching from Spain and the Netherlands to the Black Sea.

21 days
Europe
Level 2 - Moderate
Brandenburg gate Berlin
Pre-guaranteed

Berlin is a city rich in history. At every turn are traces of a past plagued by conflict, and stories of powerful resistance. The Berlin Wall stood in place from 1961 to 1989, separating East from West. But after its collapse, the city transformed, and an influx of creativity and vibrancy is palpable wherever you go. This tour from Berlin travels south to attend the once in a lifetime performance of Oberammergau. The Passion Play is performed just once per decade, and attracts people from all around the world.

20 days
Europe
Level 2 - Moderate
Bach Classical European Music Festival small group tour
Guaranteed

Enjoy the best of Bach, not just the music but to explore his and his immediate families influences as a composer on his life. The program spends 16 days visiting the locations that where influences on his life as well as attending the Bach Music festival in Leipzig.

16 days
Europe
Level 2 - Moderate

For those who enjoy the ballet and the arts this 16 day program from Amsterdam to Hamburg and finishing in Paris is a dance delight. Programs and actual performances will vary, but the structure and fabric of the experiences to be enjoyed within a small group remains the cornerstone of your experience on this program.

17 days
Europe
Level 1 - Introductory to Moderate
Contempporary Germany including Oberammergau
Guaranteed

Join us on this this comprehensive journey that begins in Heidelberg and ventures south to the romantic Black Forest to Munich. 22 Nights in Germany Featuring Berlin, Munich, the Black Forest, Bavaria, the Alps, and the Rhine as well as attending Oberammergau 2020.

23 days
Europe
Level 2 - Moderate

Participants have the chance to gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of Beethoven’s life and music. Beginning in the city of Bonn, where Beethoven was born, we visit the city precincts and buildings where Beethoven’s unique artistic sensibility was formed. In Vienna, we explore many of the concert halls and churches where his work was performed. In each city visited we attend performances of his work.

9 days
Europe
Level 2 - Moderate

This 22-day program visits the major arts centres of Hamburg, Amsterdam, Paris, and London. At Odyssey Traveller we have sought to assemble entry and show tickets to what many will consider the best arts experiences available in those cities during each program.

22 days
British Isles, Europe
Level 1 - Introductory to Moderate
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Tour Reviews

Dear Robert, Thanks for your guidance and leadership on our Bach Odyssey. You really were fabulous. See you in Berlin.
Participant June -16
The tour was compact, well planned and intense of course, having to include so much in a short space of time, compared with what we would do and see normally at home. A bit overwhelming, but wonderful for looking back, and a challenge to see how much one can remember.
Participant -17
Dear Robert, Thank you so much for a very happy and informative journey. You made it all the more enjoyable by your sensitive consideration of all our separate needs and interests. Enjoy the rest of your trip.
Participant June -16
Robert's knowledge and expertise was greatly appreciated especially as I was the least culturally aware of the group. I enjoyed every minute of the tour, and his cheerfulness even in times of trial ( the weather) and the usual small things that go wrong were met with enthusiasm and help.
Participant -17
Robert was an excellent leader who made things run smoothly. He had great knowledge about all aspects of the content of this expedition. He interacted with all members of the group. I would be very happy to go on another tour with Robert as leader.
Participant -17
This trip could have been planned for me as all my interests were included - ballet, theatre, concerts, opera and visits to magnificent museums and galleries.
Participant -17

FAQs

Germany has a single time zone (excluding its overseas territories), Greenwich mean time . The nation observes daylight saving time from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October.

If you’re on an Odyssey tour, we take care of tipping so you don’t need to give it a second thought. However, in your free time, or if travelling independently, it’s essential that you make sure you tip an appropriate amount for services, as is the case throughout much of Europe. It’s customary to tip 10-15% of the bill at restaurants. It’s polite to round a bill up to the nearest whole figure or leave the change when buying drinks.

Internet access is easily accessible, and most hotels and many cafes will be able to offer it.

Check with your cell phone provider to see whether you’re able to make calls and use data while in Germany. Many providers will allow you to pay a daily fee that allows you to make calls and check the internet while only being charged your regular rates. However, be certain to inform your provider that you’re heading overseas, because just like a bank they can turn off your service as a result of unusual activity.

Articles about Germany published by Odyssey Traveller:

A history of Berlin for Tourists

The Oberammergau Passion Play 

The Bauhaus Movement

Destination: Germany

Ten books to read about Berlin

Ten of the best art galleries in Europe

Must See Sights in Berlin

For all the articles Odyssey Traveller has published for mature aged and senior travellers, click through on this link.

 

External articles to assist you on your visit to Germany:

13 Things to know before visiting Germany

The Telegraph: Thirty reasons why we love Germany

A Rhine Romance: Following the Mighty River

Lonely Planet: 48 Hours in Hamburg

Responsible Travel Tips for Germany

  1. Learn at least the local greetings to break the ice. While many Germans speak English, it is by no means universal, and it’s always appreciated if you attempt conversation in German before shifting to English.
  2. Carry a card in your wallet or purse from your local hotel, to assist you with the return journey if you do become lost.
  3. Always ensure that you are covered by travel insurance. If you need advice on this feel free to contact Odyssey and we’ll be able to help.
  4. When travelling independently, make sure you check the opening hours of shops and museums so that you don’t miss out! Museums & galleries are often closed on Mondays. Also be certain to check whether your trip coincides with any public holidays, so you can plan accordingly.
  5. Consider contacting your bank to inform them that you may be making purchases overseas. Otherwise, they may flag any activity on your account as suspicious. Also, check which ATMs and banks are compatible with your cards, to ensure you can withdraw cash with minimal fees.
  6. Before departing, make sure you have a number of pounds in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees, and it makes tipping a breeze.

About Odyssey Traveller

We specialise in educational small group tours for seniors, typically groups between six to 12 people from Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada  and Britain. Our maximum number of people on a tour is 18 mature aged travellers.We have some 150 tours and offer 300 scheduled departures on offer each year. Odyssey has been offering this style of adventure and educational programs since 1983.

Odyssey Traveller is committed to charitable activities that support the environment and cultural development of Australian and New Zealand communities.

Odyssey Traveller scholarship for Australia & New Zealand University students.

We are also pleased to announce that since 2012, Odyssey has been awarding $10,000 Equity & Merit Cash Scholarships each year. We award scholarships on the basis of academic performance and demonstrated financial need. We award at least one scholarship per year. We’re supported through our educational travel programs, and your participation helps Odyssey achieve its goals. Students can apply for the scholarship by clicking on this link to find out more details. 

Join our loyalty program when you join an international small group tour.

Every International small group tour taken typically contributes to your membership level in our Loyalty Program for regular travellers. Membership of the alumni starts when you choose to take your first international small group tour with Odyssey Traveller, discounts in tour pricing for direct bookings accrue from your third tour with Odyssey Traveller. To see the discounts and benefits of being a Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Diamond alumni member with us, please see this page.

For more information on Odyssey Traveller and our educational small group tours, visit and explore our website., remember to visit these pages in particular

Alternatively, please call or send an email.

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