Are you planning a trip to Germany on a budget? Don’t miss out on the top advice for frugal Germany travel! Keep reading for all the details.
This post about planning a trip to Germany on a budget was co-written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
Guest post by Emma Erichsen of Emma Adventures
Germany is a fairytale-like country nestled in Western Europe that truly has something for everyone. It’s a family-friendly destination with plenty of things to see and do with so much history, art, culture, and good food.
There are castles and gorgeous little towns to explore, but it can be a little on the expensive side. The good news is that you can travel to Germany on a budget by being savvy!
Below I’ll share what I’ve learned during my extensive travels across Europe and give you my top 4 tips for budget travelers.
Priceless Advice for Traveling Germany on a Budget
Your Money Matters
The currency in Germany is the Euro (EUR), much like most countries in the European Union.
Credit and debit cards are accepted most places these days. But it’s wise to always carry some cash, especially for smaller purchases, such as markets and food stalls.
ATMs are common in all central areas in Germany but be aware that some banks may charge fees for foreign transactions.
And it’s a good idea to notify your bank of your travel plans before you leave. This way you’ll avoid annoying issues with your card being blocked for suspicious activity!
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Getting Around on a Budget in Germany
Getting from place to place is often the most expensive part of traveling. All the expensive internal flights can add up! Instead, save money by using Germany’s great regional trains, DB train line!
This is Germany’s excellent long-distance train system. They make getting around a whole lot cheaper and run between all major cities in Germany.
DB trains are cost-effective and time efficient too. You should book online in advance, and book standard tickets.
The carriages and seats have plenty of room and are comfortable. And for longer trips, just pick up some snacks from the local stores at the train stations.
Through the train system, you can do just about any route you like between major cities. For example, you could take Frankfurt to Cologne, Frankfurt to Munich, and Munich to Nuremberg.
Once you are in each city, there are plenty of options for getting around. Car rentals are popular but can be pricey. In the big cities, trams are the way to go! They’re fast, efficient, and only cost a few euros.
Trams are public transportation that runs on rails, similar to street cars in the US. Often tram stops are combined with bus stops in the cities and they’re easy to find.
They run frequently between the most popular spots and tickets are affordable. Plus, if you plan on using the tram to get between several places, you can buy multi-trip tickets to save some money.
In smaller cities, you’ll find most things are within walking distance. This is especially true if you opt to stay in accommodation that is centrally located.
Dining Out in Germany
When you visit Germany, you realize really fast that food and drink can get pricey, especially if you don’t know where to go. Often, restaurants and cafes in major tourist hot spots are extremely overpriced, and it’s easy to get sucked into these traps.
The best way to save money on your next dine-in meal is to venture a little out of the major tourist areas. Find places that are slightly off the beaten path.
I guarantee you’ll still get an excellent meal! But you’ll be saving money while also enjoying a more authentic experience.
Street food and market food are also great ways to eat for less without missing out. Market eats in Germany are amazing and cheap. And can get all the German street food favorites for half the price you would in a restaurant.
My suggestion is to make sure you book a hotel with breakfast included. Fill up on that before leaving your hotel in the morning and for lunch, stop for market food.
Then for a memorable dinner, pick a spot slightly out of the main tourist area!
There’s just about any style of accommodation in Germany, with no shortage of options. Traditional hotels and hostels are the most popular, and you can find something at every price point!
If you’re looking for a legal vacation rental in Germany, you might be able to find them, but they’re rare. There’s been a debate for decades on whether it’s ethical to have short-term vacation rentals in the country because of housing shortages.
Even if the price is tempting, I don’t suggest them! Save yourself any potential headache! Especially when traveling with kids, go with a dependable hotel.
My recommendation for family-friendly accommodations without breaking the bank is a boutique-style hotel. They’re often just as nice as chain-style hotels, but cheaper. And they always have a breakfast included option.
Budget Sightseeing by City
German cities all have amazing and unique things to do! They each have their own personality and they all have different ways to save money.
It can be hard to decide where to go in Germany, with so many spectacular cities to choose from. They’re all so beautiful with their own history and points of interest.
Below you’ll learn some of the best free and budget-friendly things to do in some of the most popular cities in Germany.
Berlin on a Budget
The great thing about Berlin is that there are heaps of free things to do, as well as lots of ways to save money. Germany’s history-filled capital is incredible, and although it seems pricey, there are lots of ways to do it cheap.
Free things to do in Berlin include visiting East Side Gallery, Brandenburg Gate, the Holocaust Memorial, Berlin Wall Memorial and Check-Point Charlie.
You can also save money by opting to admire some of Berlin’s architecture without going inside and paying admission fees. The Berlin Cathedral is a great option here, being absolutely beautiful from the outside!
Berlin also has some incredible museums, many of which offer free entry for kids under a certain age. And many have free museum days at certain hours during the week.
The Germany History Museum offers free entry for kids under the age of 18. Hamburger Banhof and Martin-Gropius-Bau both offer free entry for kids under the age of 16. These are just some of the many amazing things to do in Berlin with kids.
Munich on a Budget
Munich is the heart of Bavaria, and a must on any Germany trip. But because it’s a tourist hot spot, prices can be quite high.
So, I recommend avoiding eating out in the central spots (such as Marienplatz and the area around Hauptbanhof) to avoid increased prices on meals.
Instead, wander a couple of streets away from these busier areas. If you take the time to walk out a bit further, you’ll find plenty of amazing dining choices for better prices.
Munich is a larger city, so the cheapest way to get around without spending lots of money is to use local transportation, like train and trams.
The trams are cheaper for shorter distances. Plus, you can buy multi-trip tickets which will save you money if you plan to use the trams or trains frequently.
Munich also has lots of amazing things to do that are free or budget friendly. For free things to do, check out Marienplatz, Englischer Garten, and Olympia Park.
You can also enter Asam Church for free to see the gilded baroque interiors. Or take a trip to Nymphenburg Palace. Although you have to pay to get in, it’s only a few Euros, and kids under 17 are free.
This is one of my favorite things to do in Munich. Plus, you can admire the architecture and gardens without entering the palace, which is just as good!
Frankfurt on a Budget
Germany’s bustling transport and business hub is the heart of the action in west Germany. And it’s a great city with plenty of things to enjoy on a budget.
The city itself is a little cheaper than some of the bigger tourist hot spots in Germany. So, you’ll find that food and accommodation are slightly cheaper!
Frankfurt has excellent transportation systems in place. Both the tram system and train system in Frankfurt are great ways to get around quickly and cost less than if you used a car rental or cab.
Some of the best things that Frankfurt has to offer are free! I recommend exploring Romerberg and Hauptwache. You can walk along the River Main and admire Frankfurt Cathedral.
For amazing views of Frankfurt from above, get a family ticket for less and go up to the Observation Deck of Main Tower. Or check out the Frankfurt Transportation Museum and see vintage trams!
Cologne on a Budget
Cologne is a beautiful historical city just an hour north of Frankfurt. It’s a great place to get a feel for a traditional German town without breaking the bank.
Most things in Cologne are really close together. This is a big plus because you can easily walk between all the main attractions without having to pay for transport.
Cologne Cathedral is the city’s biggest attraction, and it’s incredible! Plus, it’s free to enter. Spend time admiring the cathedral from every angle outside before heading in to see the stunning interiors.
If you wish to climb to the top of the cathedral, the cost is only 3 Euro. However, you can definitely experience Cologne Cathedral without spending a cent!
You can also visit Hohenzollern Bridge (the famous love locks bridge), and explore the old town, both of which are completely free to do!
Nuremberg on a Budget
Nuremberg is a gorgeous medieval city with a whole lot of history. It’s located an hour north of Munich, which makes it worth a visit when you travel Germany.
Basically, all of the main attractions in Nuremberg are within walking distance of each other, so you’ll save tons of money on transport. The tram system is also excellent, and it’s cost-effective for traveling longer distances.
One of the best things about Nuremberg is all the quality cultural experience you can soak up on a budget! The city is packed with medieval architecture, history, and that traditional German feel visitors want.
One of Nuremberg’s top attractions, Nuremberg Castle, is free to visit. And there are stunning views across the city from the top. You can also wander the Old Town and Bridges for free and walk the Way of Human Rights.
But I think one of the best things to do in Nuremberg is just wander the Old Town and surrounding areas. There are hidden gems are around every corner, and the best part is, it’s completely free to do!
My 4 Top Money-Saving Tips for Traveling in Germany
Now you have solid advice from someone who has been all over the Germany countryside! But to make things super simple, here are my 4 most essential travel tips for saving money in Germany.
- Travel between destinations by the DB Trains. Hands down, this is the easiest and most affordable way to travel Germany.
- For a cheaper accommodation, go with a boutique-style hotel slightly out of the city center. And when booking, make sure you choose a listing with breakfast included.
- For cost-effective (and the yummiest!) food options in Germany, eat street food and always explore the popular outdoor food markets.
- Check for free museum visiting hours. Also, look for museums that have free admission for kids.
- When in doubt, look for historical sites. They’re the most likely attractions to be free. Historic squares in Germany are another great free option guaranteed to be full of German history and culture.
FAQ about Germany on a Budget
It’s true, flights to Germany can be mind-blowingly expensive! But there are a few ways to save. You’ll find the cheapest flights in the off-season, which is January through February and October through November. Also try to fly mid-week rather than the weekends for the best deals.
Frankfurt is definitely the most walkable big city in Germany! All the major sights you’ll want to see are around the Frankfurt Am Main, which can be easily walked. This city is great if you’re looking for free activities, like exploring historic squares. And the Frankfurt Cathedral is a must-see with the River Main close by.
Skip the car and save money by using the country’s quality public transportation system to get around. Most locals that live in the cities don’t even have a car! If you stick to the bigger cities, you can use trams and busses to get around. And the small towns are very walkable.
Visit Germany on For Less with Advice from a World Traveler
Germany really is the perfect travel destination, and I guarantee you’ll fall in love with it like I did! It’s both a family-friendly and budget-friendly place, if you know what to do.
For more ways to advice on what to do in Germany, check out these Germany travel tips!
Emma writes the travel blog Emma Adventures. Follow her on or Facebook.