Horseback riding in Germany

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Equestrian tours in Germany

Germany Mini Guide
    Source: World Travel Guide

Overview

Misunderstood by many, Germany is one of the most varied and charming countries on the continent. Anyone expecting a homogenous nation conforming to old Teutonic stereotypes is in for a shock.

As a destination, it offers a clutch of truly lovely cities, culture served up in hefty portions and rural scenery so pretty you'll wonder why it isn't on every tourist hit list.

The country occupies a prime position at the heart of Europe - both literally and figuratively. It is home to the biggest economy on the continent, has more inhabitants than anywhere else in the EU and shares land borders with no less than nine other nations.

It's no surprise, then, that today's Germany is more diverse and cosmopolitan than old stereotypes suggest; mixing time-honored nationalism and tradition with multicultural modernism and self-confidence.

It's the nation's urban highlights that immediately draw the attention. Berlin is the definition of dynamism, having forged a good-time reputation for groundbreaking creativity while still keeping sights of its past.

Elsewhere, the likes of Cologne, Munich and Hamburg provide the capital with able support. Not only are they rich in history, whether in the forms of classical music, fine art or medieval architecture, but they also put pay to the notion that Germans don't do gastronomy. These days, you can dine and drink extremely well in Deutschland.

Then, there's beautiful German countryside. From the sky-scrapping peaks of the Bavarian Alps and pale cliffs of the Jasmund National park to the castles of the Rhine and moors of the Mecklenburg Lake District, it's nirvana for hikers, cyclists, boaters, motorists and skiers alike.

Travelling around the country is a piece of Black Forest cake. Costs are manageable, overcrowding is rare and, despite its size, it could not be easier to get from A to B thanks to incredibly efficient public transport network. Which proves some of those old German stereotypes do hold true.

Passport/Visa

Passport Required?

British

Yes

Australian

Yes

Canadian

Yes

USA

Yes

Other EU

1

Visa Required?

British

No

Australian

No

Canadian

No

USA

No

Other EU

No

Return Ticket Required?

British

No

Australian

No

Canadian

No

USA

No

Other EU

No

 

Passports

A passport valid for three months beyond the length of stay and issued within the past 10 years is required by all nationals listed above except (1) EU nationals holding a passport or national IS card which is valid for the duration of stay.

EU nationals are not required to possess a return ticket or show sufficient funds.

Passport Note

Germany is a signatory to the 1995 Schengen Agreement.

Visas

Not required by all nationals referred to in the chart above for the following durations:
(a) nationals of EU countries for an unlimited period;
(b) nationals of Australia, Canada and the USA for stays not exceeding 90 days in a six-month period.

Note:
Nationals not referred to in the chart above are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements (see Contact Addresses).

Types and Cost

Schengen visa: €60/ £51.40. Nationals of a few countries pay €35/ £30.00; check with the consulate for a list.
Children under six years of age, Spouse of EU/EEA national: no fee.

Validity

A Schengen short-stay visa is valid for up to 90 days within a six-month period.

 

Money

Currency

Euro (EUR; symbol €) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of €500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of €2 and 1, and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents.

Currency Exchange

Foreign currencies and traveller's cheques can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change, post offices, airports, railway stations, ports and major hotels at the official exchange rates.

Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs

These are widely accepted in most shops, petrol stations, mid- to upmarket restaurants, and hotels. All major credit cards are accepted, but it is advisable to carry cash as well. Cheques are every rarely used. Cashpoints compatible with international banking networks are located in all towns and cities, as well as airports, major train station, and other spots. They charge a minimum fee for withdrawals.

Traveller's Cheques

Traveler's cheques are not longer being used as a payment method in Germany.

Banking Hours

Generally Mon-Fri 0830-1300 and 1400-1600, Thurs 0830-1300 and 1430-1730 in main cities. Main branches do not close for lunch. Bureaux de change in airports and main railway stations are open 0600-2200.

Exchange Rate Indicators

Date

April 2018

£1.00=

€1.14

$1.00=

€0.81

 

Health

Vaccinations

 

Special Precautions

Diphtheria

No

Hepatitis A

No

Rabies

No

Malaria

No

Tetanus

Yes

Typhoid

No

Yellow Fever

No

Inoculation regulations can change at short notice. Please take medical advice in the case of doubt. Where 'Sometimes' appears in the table above, precautions may be required, depending on the season and region visited.

Other Risks

Tick-borne encephalitis is present in forested areas of southern Germany; vaccination is advisable. 

There is a risk of tick-borne Lyme disease from March until October. Preventive measures include insect repellents and skin-covering clothes.

During the summer months, sunburn can be a problem. The southwest generally draws the highest temperatures. The usual precautions apply: use a generous amount of sunscreen and be sensible about how long you spend in direct sunlight. Be aware that a breezy day can sometimes mask high temperatures.

If walking over a long distance in warm weather, it’s advisable to drink – and carry – plenty of water and wear appropriate clothing, including a sun hat. Blisters can be another problem for hikers. These can often occur if new walking shoes are being worn across a long distance. Ideally footwear should be worn in before the trip.

As a counterpoint to the balminess of the summer, German winters can be fairly severe. This is generally truer the further east you travel. If you’re arriving during the coldest months of the year, ensure you have adequate clothing. At any time of year, in fact, temperatures can be unpredictable – even in July and August, it makes sense to have a sweater (and maybe a brolly too) to hand.

Other health problems that inexperienced travellers might reasonably encounter are the various knock-on effects of too much alcohol consumption. The risk, unsurprisingly, is particularly prevalent among those attending Munich’s Oktoberfest. Be aware that some beer’s ABV levels can be 6 or 7%, so should be treated with respect.

Health Care

For European visitors who are taken ill or have an accident during a visit to Germany, free or reduced-cost necessary treatment is available – in most cases on production of a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). For non-EEA citizens, insurance is highly recommended. 

The emergency telephone number is 112 – this should be used for requesting an ambulance (Krankenwagen). 

The overall standards of healthcare in Germany are, in most cases, excellent. Hospitals and surgeries are well equipped and staff are proficient. In pharmacies, over-the-counter advice is given and standard medicines are sold. In major cities, you’ll usually find at least one 24-hour pharmacy. Elsewhere, most stay open until 1830 on weekdays, opening on Saturday mornings but remaining closed on Sundays. Many pharmacists speak English. 

The German obsession with spa waters has been well documented, and significant numbers of people still swear by their restorative health qualities. You should be able to sample them for yourself at any town with Bad or Baden in its title. The city of Baden-Baden in the Black Forest translates literally as ‘Baths-Baths’. Today, many health spas are equipped with sauna worlds, spa areas, and fitness areas. While in some health spas children are not allowed, others aim to attract children with animation areas and facilities like water slides and current canals.

 

Getting There

Getting There by Air

The national airline is Lufthansa (LH) (website: www.lufthansa.com). Low-cost carriers flying to German airports from the UK and the United States include Eurowings (www.eurowings.com).

The new Berlin Bradenburg Airport is scheduled to open in 2018m around 18km (11 miles) south of central Berlin.

Approximate Flight Times

From London to Frankfurt is 1 hour 30 minutes, and from New York is 7 hours 40 minutes.

Main Airports

Frankfurt/M (FRA) (Rhein/Main) (website: www.airportcity-frankfurt.com) is Germany's major air transport hub, 13km (8 miles) southwest of the city. To/from the airport: Regular buses connect the airport with the city centre (main railway station). S-Bahn (website: www.rmv.de) rail lines S8 and S9 go to the city's main rail station (Hauptbahnhof) from directly beneath the Terminal 1 arrival hall (journey time - around 15 minutes). S8 also goes directly to Mainz and Wiesbaden (journey time - 40 minutes). Intercity ICE trains also stop at the airport station. Taxis are available around the clock (journey time to city centre - 20-30 minutes). Facilities: Left luggage, medical facilities, duty-free shops, banks, restaurants, bars, conference rooms, post office, tourist information and car hire.

Berlin-Tegel (TXL) (website: www.berlin-airport.de) is Berlin's international airport, located 8km (5 miles) northwest of the city centre (journey time - 25 minutes). To/from the airport: Buses go to the city every 5 to 10 minutes from 0500-2400. Facilities: Duty-free shop, banks/bureaux de change, left luggage, 24-hour medical facilities, post office, restaurant, bars, tourist information, conference rooms and car hire.

Munich (MUC) (Franz Joseph Strauss) (website: www.munich-airport.de) is 28.5km (18 miles) northeast of the city (journey time - 45 minutes). To/from the airport: Direct links with the S-Bahn S8 and S1 run every 10 minutes from Hauptbahnhof (main railway station) from 0330-0030. The Airport City Bus runs every 20 minutes from 0700-1930 to the Hauptbahnhof and every 30 minutes from 0800-2100; further bus services are available. Coach Oberbayern runs every 10 minutes to the city centre. Facilities: Duty-free shop, left luggage, 24-hour medical facilities, snack bar, restaurants, post office, banks, conference centre, car hire and bars. The airport also has a Visitors' Park, an aircraft simulator, cinema and a play area.

Departure Tax

None

Getting There by Water

Main ports: Bremen (website: www.keyports.de), Bremerhaven (website: www.cruiseport.de) Hamburg (website: www.hafen-hamburg.de), Rostock (website: www.rostock-port.de), and Kiel (website: www.portofkiel.de).

The following shipping lines serve routes to Germany (via other countries) from the UK:
DFDS Seaways (tel: +44 871 522 9955, in the UK; website: www.dfdsseaways.co.uk): Newcastle-Amsterdam, Newhaven-Dieppe, Dover-Dunkirk, and Dover-Calais.
Stena Line (tel: +44 8447 707 070, in the UK; website: www.stenaline.co.uk): Harwich-Hook of Holland.
P&O Ferries (tel: +44 800 130 0030, in the UK; website: www.poferries.com): Dover-Calais, Hull-Rotterdam, Hull-Zeebrugge.

There are also year-round ferry services to Germany from Scandanavia.

Getting There by Rail

There are excellent connections between Germany and other main European cities. For more information, contact Deutsche Bahn in the UK (tel: 0871 880 8066; website: www.bahn.co.uk).

Eurostar (tel +44 1233 617 57, in the UK; www.eurostar.com) is a service provided by the railways of Belgium, the UK, and France, operating direct high-speed trains from London (St Pancras International) to Paris (Gare du Nord) and to Brussels (Midi/ Zuid). It takes approximately 2 hours 15 minutes from London to Paris and approximately 2 hours to Brussels (via Lille).

InterRail: offers unlimited first- or second-class travel in up to 29 European countries for European residents of over six months with two pass options. The Global Pass allows travel for 22 days, 15 days, one month, five days in 10 days, or 10 days in 22 days across all countries. The One-Country Pass offers travel for three, four, six or eight days in one month in any of the countries except Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro. Travel is not allowed in the passenger's country of residence. Reductions are available for travelers under 26. Children under 12 are free when traveling with an adult using an Adult Pass. Supplements are required fro some high-speed services, seat reservations, and couchettes. Discounts are offered on Eurostar and some ferry routes. Available from Voyages-sncf.com (tel: +44 844 848 5848, in the UK; www.voyages-sncf.com).

Eurailpass: Offers unlimited train travel in up to 28 countries. Tickets are valid for 15 days, 21 days, one month, two months, three months, five days in 10 days, 10 days in two months, or 15 days in two months. The Global Pass allows travel across all participating countries. The Regional Pass lets you travel in two bordering countries. The One Country Pass offers travel on one of 27 countries.

Adult passes are valid for first-class travel, while youth passes (under 26) are valid for second-class travel. Children under 12 are free when traveling with an adult using an Adult Pass. The passes cannot be sold to EU citizens or residents. Available from Eurail (www.eurail.com).



Getting There by Road

From the UK, Eurotunnel (tel: +44 8443 353 535, in the UK; website: www.eurotunnel.com) runs shuttle trains for all types of vehicles between Folkestone in Kent, and Calais in France. The journey takes about 35 minutes from platform to platform. Road access across to Germany is then relatively easy, if a little time-consuming.

 

Climate

As with most European countries, Germany is a year-round destination but not especially dependable weather-wise. In general terms though, it's a temperate climate with warm summers and cold (more and more often mild) winter- prolonged periods of frost or snow are rare. Rain falls throughout the year, with much of Germany experiencing its maximum rainfall over high summer months. Unpredictability, then, is a major factor.

The average January daytime temperature is 3 Celsius (38F) and in July is 22 Celsius (72F). Extremes commonly reach -10 Celsius (5F) in winter and 35 Celsius (95F) in the summer months. The highest annual temperatures tend to be in the southwest, where there's almost a Mediterranean feel to the landscape at time and where new heat records are reached almost every year. Unsurprisingly, this is where much of Germany's wine is grown.

May through September are the most popular months in terms of tourist numbers, and certainly hold the most appeal for visitors aiming to spend significant periods of time outdoors. However, the spring and autumn shoulder seasons also hold real attraction for those who want the promise of decent weather without the tourist levels. The winter holidays are also a big draw in their way, due in no small part to their attendant Christmas markets. Peak season for ski areas is form December through to the end of March.

Away form the mountains, January through to April will appeal to those who enjoy the benefits of uncrowded attractions, although be aware that cities like Berlin rarely witness slow periods at any time of the year. Prices tend to be slightly higher over the summer months. One other thing to bear in mind is that hotel rates can increase when large trade shows are in town.

Required Clothing

European clothes according to the season with light- to mediumweight in summer, medium- to heavyweights in winter. If you're intending to visit the mountains- and particularly if you're planning a long-distance hike- it's best to take waterproof gear and extra layers with you, no matter what time of year.

 

Contacts

Embassy of Germany in the UK

23 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8PZ, UK
Tel: (020) 7824 1300 (general enquiries).
Website: www.uk.diplo.de/Vertretung/unitedkingdom/en/Startseite.html
Opening times: Mon-Fri by appointment only.

Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in the USA

4645 Reservoir Road, NW, Washington, DC 20007, USA
Tel: (202) 298 4000/ 4224 (visa and passport enquiries).
Website: www.germany.info 
Opening times: Mon-Fri 0800-1145.Visa and passport applications by appointment only.

British Embassy in Germany

WilhelmstraBe 70/71, Berlin 10117
Telephone: 49 (0)30 204 570
Website:
www.gov.uk/government/world/Germany

Opening times:
Daily except Wed 0900-1730



 

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