Travel to Germany and you’ll be met with stunning architecture, fascinating museums, wondrous natural landscape, hearty local dishes, and memories to last a lifetime. But before you hop on a plane bound for Germany, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re up-to-date on the basics.

From etiquette and customs that should be followed to culture shocks to prepare for, there are just a couple of things you should know about Germany before you go. They’ll help you to get the most out of your trip and avoid making any embarrassing mistakes. Check them out below!

10 The Cashiers Are Very Fast

If you’re planning on visiting any supermarkets while in Germany, then you should know that the cashiers are very fast. Tapped Out Travellers explains that not only will you have to bring your own bag to the store, but you’ll also have to keep up with how quickly the cashier scans all your items.

It’s easy to get flustered if you’ve bought a lot of items and you’re trying to keep up with the cashier piling them all up. The best thing to do is buy as few items as possible (it’s better to visit more frequently and actually be able to pack and carry it all without feeling stressed).

9 It’s Best To Learn A Few Words In German

Before you leave for Germany, it’s a good idea to learn some very basic German. You probably won’t have to use it in Berlin, since you’ll encounter all kinds of languages here, and nearly everyone speaks English. But if you’re off to smaller towns and cities throughout the country, a lot of people won’t speak English and you’ll need at least some German to get by.

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Plus, when you know a little German, you have a better chance of understanding all the signs! Though German can seem daunting to an English-speaker, you’ll find that some words are very similar.

8 Jaywalking Is Taken Seriously

 

Jaywalking is prohibited in many places around the world, and this rule is taken more seriously in some countries than in others. Germany is one of the countries where it’s taken seriously, so to avoid any trouble, it’s best to cross only at the lights.

Not only will jaywalking land you a small fine if you happened to be caught by the wandering Polizei(police), but you might also find that other pedestrians tell you off. It makes for a very awkward moment! Play it safe instead and wait for the green man.

7 Don’t Expect Smoke-Free Venues

Smoking laws tend to be different in some countries in Europe compared to how they are in the United States. While smoking is prohibited in bars, clubs, and restaurants in some countries, Germany tends to have more lenient laws, according to The Culture Trip. Don’t be surprised if you visit a bar and there are people smoking inside.

For a non-smoker who’s not used to smoke inside public buildings, this can take some getting used to. You can’t change the law to make yourself more comfortable, but you can mentally prepare yourself before you go so it’s not so much of a shock.

6 Make Sure You Bring Cash

If there’s one thing you’ll want to bring with you to Germany, it’s cash. Although you can get away with using card at some outlets in the bigger cities, many places still only deal in cash. We Go blog explains that credit cards aren’t as widely accepted in Germany as they are in other countries. It’s best to be prepared by having a little cash on you.

Naturally, you don’t want to walk around with tons of cash, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the locations of trustworthy ATMs near your accommodation. You’ll probably have to make a few visits before you leave!

5 The Public Transport Is Not Free

It’s easy to get tricked into thinking that the public transport system is free when you get to Germany. In Berlin and other cities, you often won’t have to go through security gates or pass a person who’s checking your ticket. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to buy a ticket though. Often ticket checkers will ride the trains and then check everybody’s tickets once on board.

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In addition to buying your ticket, you also have to remember to get them validated before you get on the train. If you don’t, you could still be slapped with a fine by officials.

4 Watch Out For The Bike Lane

Germany is home to a strong cycling culture. In many cities throughout the country, you’ll notice that the bike lanes are on the sidewalks. They’re often marked by a picture of a cyclist or red bricks. In any case, you do not want to accidentally walk in the bike lane.

You’ll be expected to understand that it’s a bike lane and not a place for you to walk. So if you accidentally wander into it by accident, there’s a high chance you’ll be met with ringing bike bells and then a telling off.

3 It’s Worth Getting Out Of Berlin

Full of iconic landmarks, Berlin is one of the most impressive cities in the world. While you should definitely include Berlin on your German itinerary, it’s also worth venturing outside the city and seeing what else Germany has to offer.

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There are several day trips you can take from Berlin and visit locations such as the charming town of Potsdam or the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. But there are plenty of other places to visit around the country too, including the Black Forest, the Bavarian Alps, and other cities like Munich and Dusseldorf.

2 Forget The Hitler Jokes

Joking about the Second World War is viewed as insensitive in many locations around the world, but perhaps none more than Germany. As Luxury Backpacking points out, Germans definitely do have a sense of humor, but Hitler jokes aren’t the way to go.

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Germans are taught concepts like Kollektivschuld (inherited collective guilt) and Vergangenheitsbewältigung (coming to terms with the past) from a young age. It’s a very big issue—one that you probably don’t want to start unpacking with an insensitive joke. Also remember that a Nazi salute, even done in jest, is a criminal offense.

1 There Might Not Be Much Open On Sunday

The cities of Germany are thriving hubs where there are endless things to eat, see, and do. But don’t be surprised if there’s hardly anything open on a Sunday. In many places throughout the country, most shops, supermarkets, and even pharmacies are closed on Sunday, the day of rest.

To avoid getting caught out, make sure you take care of all your shopping needs by Saturday. Just because the shops aren’t open doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy your Sundays in Germany. You can still visit museums and cafes, or simply stroll around the stunning cities.

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