Your guide to planning a vacation in Europe
Susan Choi, owner of a cocktail bar Mr. Susan, depended on locals to keep the doors open during the height of the pandemic. Now that travel is back on track, Choi has noticed the influx of international guests through its doors, especially visitors from the United States.
“You can see at the bar that all Americans are back drinking dirty margaritas and martinis,” Choi says.
With the easing of coronavirus restrictions in recent months, there has been a clear sign of pent-up travel demand as visitors slowly return to Germany for short European vacations. Here are some tips if you have also decided to go there.
Travel to Germany is open to everyone, regardless of vaccination status. As of June 11, travelers no longer need to show a negative test or proof of recovery to enter. But there are other restrictions: Although the European Union has recommended lifting the in-flight mask requirement, FFP2 or medical-grade masks are required for flights taking off or landing in Germany. At German airports, masks are recommended but not mandatory.
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European airports are experiencing the same crowds and chaos as US airports due to labor shortages, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to check in baggage, go through security checkpoints and immigration and eat before a long flight.
What to know about restrictions
You no longer need to show proof of vaccination or wear a mask to enter shops, hotels, bars and restaurants in Germany. A mask – specifically an N95, KN95 or FFP2 – is required on public transport. Since regulations can easily change, Ostendorf recommends checking regularly for updates in Berlin and other areas you will be visiting.
To mitigate the rising cost of living, the German government is offering a Monthly transport ticket at 9 euros valid nationwide for the months of June, July and August. This ticket is available to everyone, including visitors, and can be used for local and regional trains, buses and trams. Tickets can be purchased at Deutsche Bahn ticket machines or at local public transport stations.
While the discounted ticket encourages people to use public transport, trains across the country have been packed with travelers taking advantage of the offer. Deutsche Bahn warns that if you are planning a trip on tourist routes with the 9 euro ticket, expect higher passenger numbers, especially on weekends and sunny days. To avoid the crowds, travel on weekdays if possible.
Katherina Klimke, Vice President of Operations 25 hours Hotels, said Americans’ bookings have doubled from a year ago, but are not at pre-pandemic levels. She advises visitors to book their stay in advance to get the best rates and availability.
“While leisure destinations fill up faster and it would be advisable to book two to three months in advance, some urban destinations may also have last minute availability,” adds Klimke.
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Sebastian Riewe, Sales and Marketing Director of the Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin, also noticed an increase in bookings from Americans. They had last minute booking requests that they couldn’t accommodate.
“So ideally we would recommend customers go back to old booking patterns, which is at least six to eight weeks lead time, or ideally two to six months for international travel,” Riewe says. .
Hotels and restaurants aren’t the only ones seeing an increase in bookings; tours through Germany are on the rise again. Since March, Bottle Stops Founder Jerome Hainz has received many requests and bookings for his wine tours and tastings in Mainz and surrounding German wine regions. The only significant difference is that more and more people are opting for private tours.
“It has to do with people wanting to be careful not to sit in a car with strangers,” says Hainz.
Because of this demand, Hainz suggests booking private tours three to four weeks in advance, but he said public tours are more flexible and can sometimes be arranged at the last minute.
How to find tests before you go home
Since June 12, it is no longer necessary to present a negative coronavirus test to enter the United States. You may still want to get tested before your flight home for peace of mind.
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You can find testing sites at all major airports in Germany, but expect to book an appointment and pay a premium. The easiest and cheapest way to test is to buy an at-home coronavirus test, which can be found at most grocery stores and pharmacies for less than $2.