The Cost of Travel in Germany: A 2021 Budget Breakdown


Food at a German Christmas market

Germany is one of my favourite European cities, and I’m fortunate to have visited a whopping four times so far. What can I say? I love regularly dipping in and out of this country on a mission to discover a brand new region, and I’m determined to explore as much of it as possible.

What I love about Germany is its stunning gothic architecture, the rolling hills of its countryside, the festive vibes that emerge during Christmas and Oktoberfest, the picturesque castles that leave you in awe, and the incredibly welcoming locals. I fell in love with the bustle of Berlin, the buildings of Frankfurt, the romance of Heidelberg, the arts scene of Munich, the beer of Cologne, and so much more.

And that’s just the cities! You can’t visit Germany and not venture out to some of the small villages. Seriously — they look as though they’ve emerged straight from the pages of a fairytale. Throw some seriously beautiful castles into the mix, and you’ll be pinching yourself on a daily basis, wondering if Germany is even real.

In short, Germany is a world-class destination with so much to offer its visitors and explorers. Whether it’s partying the night away at one of Berlin’s most infamous nightclubs, sipping Gluhwein while wandering through cosy Christmas markets, or hiking the soaring mountains of Bavaria, in this country, there truly is something for everyone.

I’ve been recording every single cent I spend in the countries I travel through because I want to give my readers a realistic and accurate look at how much you can expect to spend in each country you visit.

Today, it’s Germany’s turn.

I visited Germany first of all on a high-end vacation with my partner, where I stayed in five-star hotels and dined in Michelin-starred restaurants. Next, I travelled there as a solo backpacker on the tightest of budgets, and then I entered Germany as part of a couple on a mid-range budget. In other words, I have enough German travel experience to be able to tell you exactly how much you can expect to spend on a trip to this wonderful country.

So, let’s get started! Here’s how much it costs to travel in Germany:

The absolutely incredible Neuschwanstein Castle — a must-visit while you’re in Germany!

How to Save Money on Flights To/From Germany

My fellow Europeans will already know that scoring an affordable flight on this continent is rarely too much of a problem. Thanks to the vast range of budget airlines in Europe, getting to and from a different country is unlikely to break the bank.

As always, I recommend heading to Skyscanner to snag yourself a bargain of flights.

If you’re flexible with dates and itinerary, you’ll find the best deals by searching to flights to “Germany” rather than assuming that Berlin will be cheapest. You may find it costs far less to fly into Frankfurt or Cologne, for example. It’s also worth setting your flight’s departure date to be across an entire month in Skyscanner. This will show you the cheapest dates to fly and ensure you have the very best deal possible.

In general, you’ll find that it’s cheapest to fly to Germany outside of high season, which coincides with typical European summer vacation dates (late-June to late-August) as well as December, when Christmas markets reign supreme, and mid-September to early-October, when tourists pour into the country to celebrate Oktoberfest. If you do have the freedom to visit outside of high season, I highly recommend it, as it’ll mean spending less on flights and accommodation while having to deal with fewer tourists. I’ve visited Germany in early-June, early-September, and mid-November, and found all three to offer up great prices and few crowds.

What if you’re not European?

Fortunately, getting to Europe from North America is surprisingly cheap these days, and I wouldn’t expect you’d need to pay more than around $400 for a return ticket. Allow me to introduce you to one of my favourite websites in the world: Secret Flying! I’d estimate that 80% of the flights I book these days are due to a deal I’ve found on Secret Flying.

If, however, none of the deals on Secret Flying work for you, that’s when Skyscanner comes in! They check prices of practically every single airlines in the world to ensure that you’re finding the absolute lowest prices.

Welcome to Hamburg! I highly recommend taking a sightseeing boat through the Speicherstadt district to gain incredible views like these

The Cost of Accommodation in Germany

Munich – Jugend- und Familienhotel Augustin – ($122 a night for a family room): This hotel fits right in to Munich’s distinctive and tasteful charm while showing off its modern vibe. Cleanliness and location are top notables, and the cloud-like beds, hotel garden and large lawn add a special touch to your stay. The restaurant and bar offer inexpensive drinks and tasty eats with a complimentary breakfast; and If you’re craving a beer you don’t have to wander far- St. Augustiner Brewery is attached to this steal of a hotel.   

Frankfurt – The Flag Oskar M. – ($117 Business Single Studio): Classiness is in the air. Everything, and I mean everything, is modern, crisp and fresh. The Busines Single Studio is more like a mini apartment equipped with a kitchen, living room, private bathroom, free Wi-Fi and a balcony. But when it’s time to venture out of your dream loft, you won’t have to venture far. This hotel is conveniently located in the heart of Frankfurt’s Old Town District, so walking or biking is an uncomplicated way to see the surrounding area.  

Berlin – Studio-Apartments with Balcony in Berlin Mitte – ($131 a night for the whole apartment): If you want to live like a local during you visit, this is the way to go. In fact, the chic décor and simple pops of color will have you living like a classy local. This Airbnb is clean, open and coated in natural sunlight, courtesy of the many floor to ceiling windows leading to the spacious balcony. High speed Wi-Fi, underfloor heating and private digital locks come with the studio stay. Located in the Nook Building, the unbeatable location to Berlin’s attractions includes a 2-minute walk to Hackescher Markt, a 15-minute walk to the TV Tower and a 10-minute drive to the Berlin Wall. 

Heidelberg – Hotel Heidelberg Astoria– ($102 a night): What a jewel! This restored bed and breakfast is set in a traditional villa radiating old-fashioned charm. The rooms (less than ten of them) are clean, comfortable, welcoming and all about the freebies. Wi-Fi, parking, toiletries and a pair of comfy slippers are all included in your stay. The upscale neighborhood of Neuenheim is safe and cute, while the bed and breakfast is only a short distance from the city center and Heidelberg Castle (both a 25-minute walk) and mere steps away from the River Neckar. After a day of soaking up the romance of the city, you can grab a drink from the hotel bar and sip it on the picturesque terrace with an unreal backdrop. 

Cologne-  Zur Guten Quelle– ($108 double room with private bathroom): Family owned for more than 60 years by the Windecker’s, affordable elegance has been made a priority over the decades. The rooms are stacked with sophistication shown through the sleek fixtures and patterned wallpaper while the communal areas are pleasantly welcoming, especially the garden and restaurant. The cuisine in the eatery boasts traditional German fare and delicious cider made from the Windecker’s winery. Zur Guten Quelle’s location is perfection as it is walking distance from Cologne City Center yet not close enough to bring the hustle and bustle of city happenings. 

THE AVERAGE COST OF ACCOMODATION IS $116 PER DAY

The U-Bahn in Berlin: the city’s metro! You’ll use this a bunch while you’re in town

The Cost of Transportation in Germany

In Germany, ransportation is accessible is many forms within small towns, large metropolitans and throughout the country. The modern infrastructure and easy-to-follow connections are enough to ease the anxiety of any newbie exploring the country. It did for me.

I was all about the public transportation during my time in Germany. Except for biking around in cities like Munich and Berlin, which was, let’s be honest, more fun (and cheaper!) than sitting on a bus or a train. 

In fact, biking is arguably one of the most used form of transportation. Germany’s bike friendly vibe allows locals and visitors to get around in an easy and trendy fashion. Berlin on Bike offers rentals starting $12 per 24-hours and Pedal Helden in Munich has a great collection of city bikes for $22 per 8-hour rental. 

Bus and Trams are easy to use and are reliable ways to see a city. However, each city runs its transportation slightly different, but prices are fairly consistent throughout the country. In Munich you can get Munich Card from Turbo Pass starting at $15.50 and includes 24-hour unlimited public transportation (bus, tram, regional trains and trams), reduced admission fees at various attractions and 70% off discounts. You can choose a single or a multi-day pass. I purchased a two-pass and found it very useful and thrifty. 

The Frankfurt Card is comparable in price with a $13 price tag for an unlimited 24-hour pass with various discounts on museums, zoos and tours. If you have friends, you’re in luck! A single-day group pass goes for $27 (total) for up to 5 people. 

Railway System

S-Bahn, or Stadtschnellbahn which means ‘rapid train’ in German, is independently owned and operated in big cities such as Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich. A single ticket from Berlin Railways is $3.50, a 24-hour pass is $10.50, and a 7-day pass is $43. 

U-Bahn, or underground railways, are the fastest way to get from place to place within big metropolises. BVG is a wonderful routing and ticketing app, or website if you are on your browser, that allows you to plan and purchase tickets with ease. A one-way ticket in Berlin will set you back $3 but you can get a 24-hour unlimited pass for only $7. When purchasing, keep in mind that you get so much more for your money when you buy a multi-day pass.

When it’s time to leave one city to venture to the next, the process will likely be a smooth one. Intercity Express (ICE), Intercity (IC) and EuroCity (EC) all connect larger urban areas in a clean and safety environment. Trail Line is a great resource for filtering through operators to find the best and most reasonable ride. See below for some trusted routes from one popular destination to another:

THE AVERAGE COST OF TRANSPORTATION IS $22 PER DAY

Food at a German Christmas market

The Cost of Food in Germany

Germany’s traditional cuisine has been laced in their heritage from the beginning of time but the fare has taken on some modern techniques and new ingredients to make it what it is today. Many might describe German food as simple yet hearty, and they wouldn’t be far off, Germans love meaty and dense foods. Some of the most popular dishes include schnitzel, smoked pork, bratwurst, brezels (pretzels), Käsespätzle (their take on macaroni and cheese), Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes) and beer.  

Although you can find many options in restaurants and cafes that are moderate in price, the most inexpensive way to eat in Germany is by doing your own shopping at the grocery store. You can get a liter of milk for less than a dollar, a dozen eggs for $2 and loaf of bread for $1.50. And, If you drink alcohol, grocery stores are the way to go. Expect to pay $6 for a mid-range bottle of wine and $1 for a 12-ounce beer. 

Of course, if you are looking to explore the culinary scene, not every meal should be prepared in your hotel room. German eats are too good to ignore. Keep in mind as you visit restaurants, hosts and hostesses do not typically seat patrons, you seat yourself and sometimes that means dining at the same table as strangers. 

A basic breakfast costs between $6 and $10 and might include a cappuccino ($4.50) and a croissant ($1.50). Lunch is the biggest hot meal of the day and normally consists of three courses: a soup, a main dish and a dessert. Each dish is typically bought a la carte, so you have the option to pick and choose depending on your budget and your growling stomach. Tomato cream soup is $5, pork and potatoes runs at $14 while a piece of cake is $5. 

Dinner is the lightest fare and is usually made up of sandwiches, breads with cheese, cold cuts, desserts and yogurts and averages $12. 

When it’s time to drink, Germany knows how to get it done. Known for overflowing steins, bars and restaurants don’t limit their offering to only beer. Expect to pay $8 for a cocktail, $5.75 for a glass of wine and $5.75 for a bottled beer. I found beer on tap ran substantially cheaper at $2.50 a pint in pubs throughout the country. 

And finally, don’t forget to tip! Rules about tipping in various European destinations are fuzzy, but in Germany good service should be reflected with a 15% tip at the end of the meal. 

EATING OUT AVERAGE PRICE PER DAY: $46

SHOPPING AT THE GROCERY STORE AVERAGE COST PER DAY: $11

COMBINATION OF BOTH: $29

Frankfurt Christmas Market
Frankfurt’s Christmas market is the absolute best

The Cost of Activities in Germany

Germany is a playground for a range of activities depending on the time of year you go; but one thing is for certain, the beauty in sightseeing is year-round.

Castles are native treasures in Germany which makes it easy to feel like you’re floating through a fairytale as you encounter each stunning fortress on your sightseeing journey. The Schloss Neuschwanstein in Bavaria is jaw dropping while Heidelberg Palace is probably where Cinderella lived at some point. It’s truly gorgeous and unforgettable- especially during the Heidelberg Castle Festival. The fortress is transformed into a stage beneath the summer stars, lending its magic to the performers through theater and orchestras. Tickets range from $16 to $59, depending on the performance of choice and your seat location. 

If you are a lover of Christmastime, plan your trip during the month of December and even a bit into January- the official Christmas season in Germany ends on January 6. Christmas markets pop up all over the country in honor of the holiday, offering sweet treats, hot cider, beer gardens, gifts, games and rides. It’s free to roam the markets but it’s likely you will spend some dough. It’s a challenge to not let the Christmas spirit get ahold of your wallet at these festive gatherings. 

This list of must-dos wouldn’t be complete without the mention of Oktoberfest. Despite the name, the fest actually kicks off in September of every year and takes over Munich for 16 days. Six million people come for the festivities during the two-week span to celebrate the German tradition with music, games, rides, Bavarian eats and an all-around great time. The cost to attend Oktoberfest if free but beware: a single beer can cost up to $17.

If you aren’t able to make it during Oktoberfest, don’t fret, the legendary Hofbraeuhaus Munich is open year-round. Self-proclaimed as the “the most famous tavern in the world” the establishment doesn’t disappoint. Overflowing steins, gigantic (and shared!) wooden tables and traditional German songs in this oversized restaurant make it impossible to do anything but clink the stranger’s stein sitting next you. Spilt beer is a thing there but it’s totally worth it.    

The Berlin Wall is one of the nation’s biggest attractions but don’t expect to find much of it left. Although full of a tangible past, the wall itself has morphed into a canvas for artists and taggers, alike. However, for all the history buffs don’t write it off just yet, the seeping history is worth a visit- and it’s free. The East Side Gallery is the largest remaining segment of the wall and is accessible for tourists to stroll along and take in the significance that once was. But if you prefer to leave Berlin with a history lesson, opt for a tour for a reasonable fee ($18). 

Below is a list of various activities that Germany has to offer:

Germany is a country that is beautiful throughout, with cities full of personality and a countryside full of heritage, making it easy to get your money’s worth simply by exploring the various regions and the deep history. As always, your experience (and budget) is what you make it.

THE AVERAGE COST OF ACTIVITIES IS $41 PER DAY  

Is this the most German photo ever? This is Rothenburg ob der Tauber, in Bavaria, and it’s well-worth paying it a visit

The Cost of Travel Insurance in Germany

Travel insurance: If you’ve read any other posts on Never Ending Footsteps, you’ll know that I’m a great believer in travelling with travel insurance. I’ve seen far too many GoFundMe campaigns from destitute backpackers who are unexpectedly stranded in a foreign country after a scooter accident/being attacked/breaking a leg with no way of getting home or paying for their healthcare. In short, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.

Travel insurance will cover you if your flight is cancelled and you need to book a new one, if your luggage gets lost and you need to replace your belongings, if you suddenly get struck down by appendicitis and have to be hospitalised, have your camera stolen and need to buy a replacement, or discover a family member has died while you’re overseas and now you need to get home immediately. If you fall seriously ill, your insurance will cover the costs to fly you home to receive medical treatment.

I’ve used World Nomads as my travel insurance provider since 2012 and have nothing but wonderful things to say about them.

I’ve personally made two claims with World Nomads (once when my partner broke his brand new phone in Thailand, when World Nomads paid for the repair cost, and once when crashing a rental car in New Zealand, when World Nomads paid out the full $1,500 to repair the front bumper with no excess or fees to pay from my end). Because of these great experiences, I feel comfortable recommending them to you.

Can you believe that this is in Bavaria, too? This is Lake Eibsee and Mt. Zugspitze (Germany’s tallest mountain)

How Much Does it Cost to Travel in Germany?

Accommodation: $116 per day
Transportation: $22 per day
Food: $29 per day
Activities: $41 per day

Total amount spent per day: $208

[Photo of market stall via: By Marbury/Shutterstock]

25 Comments

  1. Amelia
    October 17, 2016
    Reply

    Great post! It looks like Germany is very affordable for Western Europe, which is lovely to hear. And the photos are stunning! Who knew that Germany had such beautiful countryside? I didn’t! Right, time to look at some flights ;-)

    • October 19, 2016
      Reply

      Flights to Germany? If so, yay! You’re going to have the best time, Amelia! Visit all the castles and eat all the food :-)

  2. Andrew
    October 17, 2016
    Reply

    Nice post. Finding the balance between ultra budget and ideal comfort isn’t always easy but it looks like you’ve nailed it with those hotel recommendations. I spent three months living in Berlin and your price ranges are spot on.

    • October 20, 2016
      Reply

      I’m so happy to hear that! It always makes my day when a local, or semi-local, confirms that everything I say is legit, haha.

  3. Erica
    October 17, 2016
    Reply

    Perfect timing. Berlin is one of my oversights in Europe and I really want to visit it next year. I’m relieved to find out it probably isn’t going to be as expensive as my recent trips to London and Paris.

    • October 17, 2016
      Reply

      You can continue to relax — Germany is inexpensive in comparison to much of Western Europe, and definitely not as expensive as either London or Paris! Have a wonderful trip, Erica!

  4. PK
    October 17, 2016
    Reply

    Berlin is definitely on my list of top places to go in Europe so I’m glad to hear that you like it a lot. I’m a Cold War-era buff and so it’s definitely a place I have to go – the lower prices are just an added bonus.

    • October 19, 2016
      Reply

      In that case, you’re going to love it! There’s so much history to dive into and learn about. And when you’re not in the museums, you can sip cold beer in the sunshine, which makes it a winning destination in my eyes.

  5. Loura
    October 17, 2016
    Reply

    I have a question about your backpacking days! I’m planning on spending two weeks in Germany while spending as little money as possible… where are the cheapest destinations for me to go?

    • October 18, 2016
      Reply

      To be honest, I find the big destinations to have the lowest prices because there’s simply more options available. So the bigger the city, the cheaper you can travel! In Berlin, for example, you’ve got dozens of hostels to choose from, across a whole range of prices (and quality, haha), and so many restaurants in the city — again, so many options that you can find much cheaper prices.

      In the more remote areas, where you don’t encounter tourists, you’d expect prices to be lower, but it’s usually the opposite.

      So I’d recommend hopping from city to city and eating all of the street food while staying in the cheapest hostels.

      • Loura
        October 18, 2016
        Reply

        That makes sense. Thanks Lauren!

  6. Brandy On Her Way
    October 18, 2016
    Reply

    What a useful resource! It puts my travel blog to shame. Love Germany though and especially hiking around the Black Forest. I prefer the scenic countryside to the cities I think.

    • October 20, 2016
      Reply

      Thank you! That’s a tough call! I think I’d go for the cities over the countryside, but ask me again tomorrow and I’ll probably have changed my mind.

  7. Alison
    October 18, 2016
    Reply

    Nice post! It’s always fun and interesting reading your reflections, and I’m glad that you enjoyed your time in Germany. I have been to Berlin six times over the last decade and always had a fun time. As always, looking forward to reading more :)

    • October 20, 2016
      Reply

      That’s so kind of you to say! Thank you :-)

  8. Garcia
    October 18, 2016
    Reply

    I have a fun tip for you. I recommend trying blablacar.de in Germany. It’s similar to Uber – it’s a rideshare with locals app – but so affordable, and with it, you’ll be able to travel from one city to another for roughly €20-25. I used it all over my time in Germany and saved a lot of money while bringing more comfort to my life. I recommend checking for rides while you’re already in the city, as most of the offers are last-minute ones. It’s a great way to meet the locals and so much fun!

    • October 19, 2016
      Reply

      That’s a great tip, Garcia! I’ll add it to my blog post to ensure my readers see your advice.

  9. Kyle
    October 18, 2016
    Reply

    Dear Lauren
    First, I must say that I love your blog and your writing style! It inspired me to start a blog of my own (once I find the right topic to write one on^^) .
    I am from berlin, so I was happy you wrote something on my country! Germany is really great for budget travelers, in fact, it’s one of the cheapest Western European countries to travel to. And Berlin, especially, can give travelers all the flair for half of what you would pay in Paris or London or Rome.

    • October 18, 2016
      Reply

      I wholeheartedly agree! What a wonderful and inexpensive country. You’re lucky to call it home!

  10. Chloe
    October 18, 2016
    Reply

    Good for you! It sounds like you loved your time in Germany. Will you write about what you did in Berlin?

  11. Sam
    October 23, 2016
    Reply

    Just a note to say I’m so glad you didn’t sell out and get a comped hotel stay in Germany like 95% of other travel bloggers would have done! The fact you always pay for everything out of your own pocket gives your blog so much more integrity. Thank you!

    • March 2, 2017
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Sam! I always want to show my readers that travel is affordable and attainable and I can’t do that if I don’t pay for everything myself :-)

  12. Valerie
    November 7, 2016
    Reply

    Hi Lauren! I am from Berlin and I am so happy that you enjoyed your many trips in Germany. Next time you’re in Berlin, I recommend you to just stroll around Prenzlauer Berg especially Kastanienallee and enjoying a beer in a Biergarten. Recommend you the very girly pink beer which actually tastes more like rasberries than beer, its called Berliner Weiße (i love it :) ), or a Radler, beer mixed with sprite.

    • September 30, 2021
      Reply

      I’ve definitely had a Radler before, but the raspberry beer sounds right up my alley! I’ll have to make my way back soon :-)

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