German Travel Tips: Do’s & Dont’s

By NH | 16:09

 

When we travel somewhere new, it is important as well as useful, to learn about our destination’s cultural and social norms. This is one of the most basic tips we can give for responsible travel! Lapses in etiquette cannot only be uncomfortable but depending on the situation, they can generate unwanted “trouble”.

So, in order to make your next trip to Germany less bumpy, here are 12 simple rules, plus some extra and curious travel tips, that will ensure a culturally immersive trip to the country of poets and thinkers.

1. Address people with the formal “you”, Sie.

When you talk to strangers, a work colleague ranked in a higher position, the waiter or people you don’t know very well, make sure to address them as Sie. “Du” is only used when speaking to family, friends, or a child.

2. Many establishments don’t accept credit cards.

Make sure you visit the ATM before you start your sightseeing tour!

3. The handshake is the established greeting.

The way people greet each other can change a lot depending on where you are. In France for example, it is customary to kiss cheeks while Tibetan monks stick their tongue outs to great each other. German etiquette is not as innovative; brief and firm handshakes are the way to go for greeting someone in Germany, and as a goodbye, once you leave.

4. Respect the bike lane.

Last year, Germany opened the first stretch of its “bike highway”, a cycle route that will cover, once it’s finished, 100 kilometers between the cities of Duisburg and Hamm. As in any cycle-friendly city, Germans treat bicycles with respect and have designated cycle paths for them to circulate on, and pedestrians may not occupy, walk or remain in them!

5. No jaywalking.

One thing Germans are world-renowned is their devotion to following rules. If you want to avoid stern looks, yelling grannies and even a fine, make sure you cross the street when the little man in the “Ampel” is green.

6.Remove shoes before entering German house.

There are some countries, like Sweden, Finland or Indonesia, where it is common courtesy to take off your shoes when entering someone’s home. The same thing happens in Germany, when visiting someone it is polite to take your shoes off and leave them by the door. Make sure you wear nice socks!

7.The German Spa Experience is different.

Indeed, it might be a little bit different than what you’re used to. If you’re a newbie, know that swimming suits are not allowed for hygienic reasons. Yeap, everyone enters the sauna nude. The idea is to relax and unwind, and Germans are much more comfortable showing skin than other nations but if you’re not so comfortable with the idea, try to go off-peak hours.

nhow Berlin

8. Lost & Found.

People in Deutschland really do look out for one another. Although they don’t brag about it, and that is why, when finding an item that someone could have lost, they hang the item on a tree branch. Curious, isn’t it?

9. No pillow-fights.

According to German law, a pillow can be considered a passive weapon. So think twice before getting into a pillow fight with a German! FYI, Berlin and other German cities celebrate the International Pillow Fight Day every year, an interesting and fun opportunity to make those feathers fly.

10. Play the piano during the day!

If you’re close to a piano at night, make sure you don’t tune it after midnight. Inspiration can wait till the morning, 08:00 am to be more specific. Germans love their silence and the Federal High Court of Justice will be after you if you don’t respect it!

11. Maintain eye contact when toasting.

When drinking beer, schnapps or wine you’ll see people toasting with Prost! or Zum Wohl!. Germans believe that if you don’t look your companions in the eyes when clinking glasses, you’ll be punished with seven years of bad luck. Plus your politeness will be questioned.

12.Don’t point your finger at your head.

This might seem a bit of a weird advice but the fact is that by gesturing that way, you’re basically telling someone they’re crazy.

And last but not least, here’s a small sample of basic German vocabulary and phrases you’ll need to during your trip. Gutte Reise!

Thank you → Danke (pronounced DAHN-kuh)
Please → Bitte (pronounced BIT-tuh)
You’re welcome → Bitte (pronounced BIT-tuh)
Yes → Ja (pronounced yah)
No → Nein (pronounced nine)
Excuse me→ Entschuldigen Sie (pronounced ent-SHOOL-de-gen zee)
Good day! → Guten Tag (pronounced GOO-ten tahk)
Goodbye → Auf Wiedersehen (pronounced owf VEE-der-zeen)
My name is → Ich heisse… (pronounced ich HYE-suh)
Do you have…? → Haben Sie (pronounced HAH-ben zee)
A room → Ein Zimmer (eye-n TSIM-air)
A rental car → ein Mietwagen (eye-m MEET-vahgen)

Your hotel in Germany

 

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