Visas: EU citizens can enter on an official identity card. Americans, Australians, Canadians, New Zealanders and Japanese just need a valid passport (no visa).
Public holidays: New Year’s Day; Good Friday; Easter Monday; Labour Day; Ascension; Whit Sunday; Whit Monday; National Day (17 June); Day of German Unity (3 Oct); Day of Penance (Nov); Christmas Eve; Christmas; Boxing Day.
Good buys: Warm winter clothes, sausages, schnapps and wine.
Local dishes: This is very much a meat-and-potatoes kind of country. Even at breakfast you are likely to be served cold meats along with your hard boiled egg, rolls, jam and coffee. Many main dishes include sausages and dumplings and are usually washed down with beer, the national drink.
Good reading: Sorrows of Young Werther by JW von Goethe is arguably the first great tragic novel of European literature. For a comical look at German life, read Mark Twain’s A Tramp Abroad.