PLANEs, TRAINs OR AUTOMOBILEs...
THE CHOICE - COMFORT OR PAIN
Your journey to Leipzig will depend on your home location. Most of us who require the services of this website and who live outside of
Germany will fly into Germany and then use public transport to get to Leipzig. If you live in Europe you are well served by various airlines
(many of them budget), if you live elsewhere your flights will be more restricted and I throughly recommend extending your stay to see other parts of Germany and or Europe. Fortunately Public transport in Germany is second to none, and runs efficiently and to time. Of course many people will drive to Germany and Leipzig including a small minority from the UK, its a long trip across several countries that a few die hards make every year. You can also get the train to Leipzig from the UK (via a few changes) and a number of people now choose this as an option.
FLYING TO GERMANY - THE COMFORT
Most of us that live outside of Central Europe will fly into Germany (typically into Berlin Schonefeld or Tegal). Depending on where you live will govern where you fly from and too, and how much you pay. There are generally various options from each country, and you should explore all before booking a flight, eg a few extra miles travel to a minor airport can sometimes save you a small fortune. As for flying into Germany the normal options are to fly to Berlin Schonefeld or Berlin Tegal (less so into Leipzig Halle airport).
If you fly with a budget airline you may find you cannot take as much clothing / boots etc, and you may be stung with extra weight baggage allowances (about €15 per KG for Ryan Air), therefore it may be better to pay the extra and fly with a national carrier such as Lufthansa or British Airways (or do what I do and pay extra for baggage when I book my flight)
For those of you who live in the USA it maybe cheaper for you to fly to the UK and use a budget airline to get you to Germany, again think
about your luggage allowance and the extra hassle...Slimelight the weekend before WGT is normally a good way to start the party...
SECURITY AT THE AIRPORT - BIG BOOTS AND RUBBER GLOVES
If you dress in your biggest boots when you go to the Airport you will find that you will attract the attention of airport security. Don’t worry
they are just doing their job, be pleasant and you will get through (be an arsehole and be prepared for the rubber gloves).
Your boots will have big soles, big enough to house explosives, you will be asked to take them off (don’t wear your silly Mr Man socks) and they will go through the scanner with your coat and any hand luggage. (Undo your boots when you are waiting in the queue to get to the security gate), it’s normal for them to have a joke at your expense. Don’t wear or take anything that looks like a spike or anything that is sharp either as part of your belt or necklace (no mini sword pedants), and be careful if you have big rings that could be used as a weapon. Don’t put anything sharp in your hand luggage either; it needs to go in your suitcase in the hold of the aircraft. You will be forced to part with your sharp objects if you have any. If you have spikes on your boots you may find that they have to go in the hold of the aircraft, and you will have to board the plane in your socks! Not a problem, although you might find the terminal before boarding a little embarrassing (It has been known, so be warned).
If you fly via a Large international Airport they may swab your boots with a chemical cloth. This will then be put in a small machine that can detect explosives. Again be helpful and you should be OK. This is a much better system it saves a lot of hassle and unbuckling of boots. On the way home German security is normally more strict, and taken far more seriously (don’t forget Germans don’t have a sense of humour :), they don’t make jokes at your expense they just go straight for the rubber gloves! Use your common sense and you will get through OK.
Bullet belts (or key rings) are not advised at Airports (even in your suitcase), and you may have to open your suitcase in Germany on the way home if you are flying via Schonefeld especially. Security here may ask you to a private room to inspect your luggage (its happened several times to our group).
FROM THE UK - GATWICK / STANSTEAD / HEATHROW / LUTON
Flying to Germany could not be easier from the UK, various budget airlines fly to either Berlin or one of the two Leipzig airports. The most popular route is between Stanstead and Berlin (although there are now a number of services from Gatwick and Heathrow), however there are many other routes. Your route will depend on where you live, when you want to fly, how far you want to travel in the UK before you fly, and how far you want to travel in Germany once you have landed. Cost and Airline preference may also influence your choice of route. If you fly with EasyJet Ryan Air or Berlin Air the cost of a return flight should be about £120 depending on your preferences. Fuel Surcharge's may increase the price, book early. If you are driving to airport you will need to park your car, the Long Stay car Parks all run an bus service too and from the terminal, costs are normally £40-60, if you just turn up and park you will end up paying more. My preference is Gatwick to Berlin, Easyjet have an established route that takes just an hour and forty minutes, although you do have to put up with always using the terminal furthest from the check-in desk and be prepared to be treated like cattle when you board (as per all budget airlines).
Gatwick - Easyjet to Berlin
Stanstead - Easyjet / Ryanair / Air Berlin / German Wings to Berlin
Heathrow - Luthansa and BMI to Dresden
Luton - Easyjet to Berlin
Of course your choice of Airport will depend on your location, there are probably flights from other airports including Edinburgh, Bristol and
FROM THE REST OF THE WORLD
There are too many to mention, and the list seems to change each year...there are plenty of sites out there that can help you. From the USA, it's useful to use websites such as Skyscanner, Momondo or Expedia, but it's also worth a few minutes to check the airline's website. And if you live in a smaller "large" city (Portland, Boise, Salt Lake City, Reno, etc.), it's worthwhile to check even somewhat-nearby airports for flights. People have reported saving up to $250 (and several hours) flying from Seattle to Glasgow via Reykjavik, and saved a considerable amount of money (as well as avoiding the hassle of major US airlines!) flying from San Francisco to Helsinki via Copenhagen when compared to booking direct from Portland to the same end destinations. Yes, even taking into account the cost of separately-booked "commuter" flights from Portland to those cities. It may also be worthwhile to arrive a day or two earlier than "needed" to adjust to the time difference and learn important things about getting around in Germany, such as not crossing the street mid-block, staying out of the bicycle lanes, and not crossing when the light is red.
BOOKING A FLIGHT - MY ADVICE
My advice is to use the Skyscanner website to get the best deal...
When should I buy my airline tickets?
It will really depend on where in the world you are travelling from, if its Europe to Europe and you plan on using a budget airline then the general rule is get them as soon as they are released (normally 6-8 months prior to when you want them, depending on the airline), so Easyjet flights are generally available around the end of Octoberish.
TAKING THE TRAIN - AN ALTERNATIVE WAY
So it is possible to take the train from St Pancras International to Leipzig (via a few changes).
Although you can get a special fare on the Bahn.com website from as little as €49 one way, in reality a return trip from London to Leipzig is unlikely to cost much less than €200 return. A train journey from London to Leipzig is likely to take around 12 hours and will involve at least 2 changes (eg. London – Brussels, Brussels – Frankfurt, Frankfurt – Leipzig or via Cologne or Hannover). Taking into consideration luggage costs, airport transfers, security checks etc. However there are many options and you should research them all before booking (Note: Sometimes 1st Class can be cheaper). You can of course use the trip to explore other parts of Europe, Brussels is a good night out, as are Cologne and various other places between London and Leipzig
It’s worthwhile checking all the train travel options. For example, it may be cheaper to travel via Paris. Journey time via Paris instead of Brussels is about the same and it may end up being cheaper spending a night in Paris or taking the sleeper from Paris – Berlin changing at Berlin Südkreuz to a train to Leipzig. It also may be cheaper booking some parts of the journey separately eg. booking a ticket from Paris/Brussels – Leipzig via Bahn.com and booking the train from London – Paris/Brussels via the Eurostar Website. Do your research (The Man in Seat Sixty-One also has some good advice, google to find more detail on this) and try to be flexible regarding your travel arrangements. Train travel all the way to Leipzig can be a cheap and easy option but takes a little planning and research to book (thanks to MissJade for this detail)
Of course taking the train does have a few issues, if you have a large suitcase it can sometimes be a pain to store it (that or you are constantly worrying about it), food and drink are a little restricted and of course you may end up sitting next to somebody you would rather not (this is also true about a plane, however on a plane its only for an hour and a half)...
DRIVING TO LEIPZIG - THE PAIN
You may wish to Drive to Leipzig especially if you live on the Continent or the UK. Driving time will obviously be based on where you live.
If you live in the UK and for some reason you decide to drive to Leipzig you will need to be prepared for a car journey of 24+ hours (including the ferry/Chunnel train time), the route is quite good, however it is a very long journey and I advise having a couple of drivers. Personally I have never driven, although we have discussed the possibility of taking a people carrier to be able to take more clothes and bring back more shopping, maybe one day. If you decide to drive I would advise getting to Leipzig on the Wednesday, this will give you time to rest before the events and beer on Thursday. Sat Nav will make your life even easier. Also remember you need certain accessories in each of the countries that you may pass through (such as hi-vis, spare bulbs, warning triangles, breathalisers etc you can google this to find out the extensive list for each country and be warned the French are very hot on stopping UK drivers to check this list and fine those without the right gear)
If you want to take your car from the North of the UK you can travel by P&O ferries from Hull to Europoort in Rotterdam. The price is around £250 for a return ticket and includes a 4 bed standard en-suite cabin without a window. It’s an 11 hour overnight sea crossing and after you disembark you have a 10 hour car journey through Holland and North Germany. You will find that you will need to book your ferry for the Tuesday before WGT, spend all day driving on Wednesday to Leipzig from Rotterdam and then recuperate on Thursday before WGT starts on Friday.
You can also drive via France
Driving from Calais or from the Eurotunnel should take you approx 8/9 hours (if you have an early ferry / train) and travel at a good speed
on the Autobahns (100 mph). Service stations on the Motorways are much better than they are in the UK, and it is recommended that you stop every couple of hours to stay safe. Its worth noting that the trip back will take you longer, as you tend to leave later on the Tuesday which means you hit rush hour in Holland and this can delay you by a couple of hours.
DRIVING IN GERMANY - ENVIRONMENTAL BADGE FOR GREEN ZONES
If you are driving to Leipzig and through Germany you will need to be aware that from March 2007 there are vehicle restrictions in
environmental green zones, typically in larger cities across Germany.
The areas especially threatened by fine exhaust particulate matter are marked as "environmental green zones" with the sign 270.1. Vehicles that wish to enter these zones must carry a badge else the driver will face a fine. The sign 270.2 shows where the zones end Vehicles without the environmental badge may not pass through the green zone, otherwise the driver will face a penalty of 40,00 € even if the vehicle has a low emission value. This is also valid for all vehicles registered in foreign countries. For this reason it is recommended that all drivers to understand where the zones are before driving in Germany and purchase it on time, if they wish to enter one of the increasing number of
DRIVING IN LEIPZIG - DO I NEED A BADGE?
If you are driving directly to the Agra without entering Leipzig City centre then you should not need a badge (presuming that you do not drive into any town / city on the way, if you plan on driving into Leipzig then you will need to purchase and display a badge as it joined the scheme in Jan 2011. Maps below.
FURTHER INFORMATION - IMPORTANT
German cities, under a law passed in 2006, are acquiring environmental zones (Umweltzonen); areas into which you can't drive your car unless it bears a windshield sticker certifying that it has an acceptable emission level.
There are three different stickers: a green one certifying that the vehicle is environmentally acceptable; a yellow one for less acceptable vehicles and a red one for those that are still less acceptable. Yellow and red stickers will eventually be phased out, after which all vehicles permitted in the environmental zones will need a green sticker. The stickers are hard to counterfeit and would be destroyed in any effort to remove them from the windshield.
Gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles without catalytic converters will be unable to get any kind of a sticker and will not be permitted in the environmental zones. All gasoline-powered cars with catalytic converters will get a green sticker. So will the best of the diesel-powered vehicles. Diesels, however, present a greater pollution hazard, and many will only get yellow or red stickers.
Signs that tell you you're entering an environmental zone will picture the stickers that are allowed beyond the sign. If you have a red or yellow sticker and that sticker is not pictured on the sign you must turn around. Cars found in an environmental zone without an appropriate sticker are subject to a €40 fine. The fact that your car is eligible for a sticker is no excuse.
The first environmental zones were established on January 1, 2008 in Berlin, Cologne and Hannover. Others have since been established in Düsseldorf, Stuttgart and a group of smaller communities in the Stuttgart area. Many other cities are scheduled to come on board in 2008 and early 2009.
Foreign plated cars, and those of the US forces in Europe, are also required to have the stickers. They can be had, for €5, at vehicle registration offices and vehicle inspection stations (TÜVs) on presentation of your car's registration, which usually has data on its pollution level. Authorized garages also supply them, but possibly will charge more than €5. It's also possible to order one online.
Among other places, you can order the sticker online from the cities that have environmental zones. Your car doesn't have to be registered in the city to which you apply, and a sticker, once obtained, is good for all of the environmental zones nationwide. Even a foreigner can get a sticker online, and it is advisable to seek it at least three weeks before a planned visit to Germany.