5 mistakes first time visitors make when traveling to Germany

GOERLITZ, GERMANY- JUNE 04: View across the Altstadtbruecke and the Neisse river to the Vierradenmuehle and the Peterskirche on June 04, 2021 in Goerlitz, Germany. (Photo by Frank Hoensch/Getty Images)
GOERLITZ, GERMANY- JUNE 04: View across the Altstadtbruecke and the Neisse river to the Vierradenmuehle and the Peterskirche on June 04, 2021 in Goerlitz, Germany. (Photo by Frank Hoensch/Getty Images) /

There are a lot of marvelous places to visit around the world, particularly in Europe. A favorite for many travelers in Germany. That’s no surprise as it has a lot of great food, museums, and history that goes back centuries.

But rookie visitors to this country make a lot of mistakes, many of which can be avoided. Just do the research and make sure you know what you’re getting into. Germany is an amazing place but it’s still important to know the written and unwritten rules.

Take recycling seriously

As a general rule, Germany has a strong reputation as a green country. This starts at the top with the government and extends down through the entire population. And it’s something they expect visitors to their country to care about, too.

Recycling is serious business here. It’s not an “if you feel like it” scenario, and everyone participates. If you’re planning on traveling to this country, make sure you are aware of how all of this works because it can seem a little complex to tourists.

Be on time for appointments

HUENXE, GERMANY – APRIL 23: (BILD ZEITUNG OUT) The empty lane of the A3 motorway in the direction of Arnhem is seen due to an accident on April 23, 2020 in Huenxe, Germany. (Photo by Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images via Getty Images) /

There are a lot of cultures around the world where being punctual is endemic. It is a sign of respect as everyone’s time is valued. But the reverse is also true as being late is disrespectful and can cause serious problems in a variety of situations.

This is certainly true in Germany. If you have appointments, keep them. It’s just that simple. Don’t show up late for a movie or a tour because this will not be received well. In many cases, once the doors are closed they are closed and that’s the end of it.

Follow all road rules in Germany

Driving in a different country can test the intestinal fortitude of even the most experienced motorist. This is certainly true of Germany where speed limits just barely exist in some cases and outright don’t in others.

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Make sure you know the rules. It’s actually against the law to run out of gas on the highway. At the same time, being a pedestrian also comes with caveats. Jaywalking is a crime in many countries but German law enforcement takes it incredibly seriously. Just find a crosswalk.

Tipping is a fine balance

BERLIN, GERMANY – NOVEMBER 14: (EDITOR´S NOTE: Drone Point of view next to subway station Schlesische Tor) In this aerial view the Schlesische Strasse in the district Kreuzberg stands during a four-week semi-lockdown during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic on November 14, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. Germany has closed restaurants, bars, cinemas, museums, theatres, concert halls, gyms and nail salons throughout November in an effort to rein in daily coronavirus infections rates that have spiralled to record highs. The government has promised to compensate affected businesses of 50 employees or less with 75% of their November, 2019, income. Schools, child day care centers, shops and factories are remaining open. (Photo by Christian Ender/Getty Images) /

This can be an especially difficult issue for anyone from North American traveling to other parts of the world. Tipping is not the cultural norm in a lot of places. In some countries, like Japan, tipping is actually considered to be an insult.

In Germany, tipping is acceptable and even expected in some situations. Just be conscious of how much you tip. Tipping too much can be as big a problem as tipping too little. Do the research and make sure you understand the conventions before you go.

Being loud in public places

Some cultures are incredibly loud when in public spaces. Looking at us, North Americans. We don’t realize it because we’re loud and boisterous pretty much everywhere. Unfortunately, a lot of other world cultures don’t take too kindly to that particular habit.

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Germany is definitely one of those places. Don’t get me wrong as Germans can get pretty energetic at times, especially when football is on. But they keep their cool in most public places and expect the same from their guests.