All that residents of EU member states require to enter Germany is an up-to-date passport. The same requirement applies to citizens of the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand but they will also require a visa if staying for longer than three months. South African citizens do need a visa to travel to Germany and nationals of all other countries should contact the German Embassy in their home country before travelling.
The currency used in Germany is the Euro which is made up of 100 Cent. Notes come in denominations of €100, €50, €20, €10 and €5 and the coins in use are €2, €1, 0.50C, 0.20C, 0.10C, 0.05C, 0.02C and 0.01C.
The language spoken in Hamburg is German but English is also widely spoken.
Due to its proximity to the German coast, Hamburg has a temperate oceanic climate. This means that it sees warm, wet summers and cold winters. July and August are the hottest months in Hamburg and usually see temperatures of around 18ºC. Hamburg also experiences its wettest weather in July and August, when rainfall averages out at around 82mm for each month. January is generally the coldest month, and temperatures can sometimes drop below zero.
Hamburg uses Central European Time which is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and six hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.
Most shops in Hamburg are open from Monday to Saturday between 9.00am and 6.00pm. They also tend to open on Sundays for shorter hours, and late night opening usually takes place on Thursdays.
The main tourist office is located in St. Pauli at Landungsbrücken 4/5.
Foreign currencies can be exchanged at banks around the city. Euros can be withdrawn from the numerous ATM machines scattered around, using international debit cards displaying the Cirrus symbol and also with a number of international credit cards.
Electricity in Germany is 220 Volts AC/50 Hz and 2-pin round plugs are used.
The international calling code for Germany is +49 and the area code for Hamburg is 040. To dial from abroad you dial 00, followed by 49, the local area code 40 and the local number. If you wish to call abroad from Germany, again you dial 00, followed by the international calling code for your particular country, the local area code and then the local number.
Hamburg’s central post office is in the Postbank Finance Center at Alter Wall 38.
If the service charge is not included on the bill, you should leave a tip of between ten and fifteen percent. If it has already been added on, you will see the word Bedienung at the end of the bill. For taxi fares, you should round up the total to the nearest euro and, with regard to luggage, you should tip €1 per item.
In Germany they take place on January 1st, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Ascension Thursday, May 1st, the first Monday in June, October 3rd and December 25th and 26th. It is worth noting what the public holidays are before travelling as the majority of businesses, banks and shops usually shut for the day.