Germany is a country with a unique culture and history so it is always good to know some facts about Germany before you visit the country. After all, having some information about a country allows you to have a deeper understanding of the nation. It helps you to determine what you want from your trip.
There are so many ways to explore Germany. And it is up to you if you want to explore it from a historic, foodie, or cultural angle. And of course, you could also be looking for a great adventure in Germany’s beautiful national parks, cities, or the alpine region. The choice is yours. And hopefully, this list of 33 facts will help you choose your approach to exploring the country.
I know that there are a lot of lists full of facts about Germany out there and that you might be wondering why should you read this specific list. And the answer is quite simple: This one was written by someone who grew up in Germany and who has been to most of the major German cities. And in addition to that, I asked several others which facts about Germany they tend to share when they talk about their own country.
I might have studied history as a minor, but you will find no historic facts on this list, as including even a small amount of historic facts would exceed the extent of this list. And in addition to that, it is a lot better to learn about the countries history while exploring the great German cities or by reading a history book.
Fascinating Facts about Germany
1. Germany shares borders with 9 countries. The neighboring countries are Denmark, Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands. A trip to the nearest different country is rarely more than 3 hours long. Therefore most Germans have left their own country for the first time at a very young age. And sometimes a trip to another country is a mere trip to the supermarket or a garden center.
2. Germany has a lot of castles. Believe it or not, but there are over 20.000 castles. My personal favorite, aside from the popular ones like Schloss Neuschwanstein in Bavaria and Burg Eltz near Koblenz, is Burg Satzvey close to Eifel National Park.
3. Most still reigning royal families in the world have German roots. But Germany got rid of monarchy back in 1918.
4. The capital of Germany was changed several times. Back in the days of the German Holy Roman Empire, the city of Aachen was the capital city and the place where new kings were crowned. Then there is Frankfurt which was the capital for a very short time in the early 19th century. Several other cities were the German capital for a short time. Before Germany was divided after the war, Berlin was the capital city. Then Bonn took on the role from 1949 to 1990. After the reunification, the German government once again moved to Berlin where it remains to this day.
5. The biggest cities are Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, and Frankfurt. All of them offer a lot of great things to see, so be sure to spend several days in Berlin or another big German city. However, you should also visit much smaller places in Germany while exploring the country. Hereby I recommend Aachen, Saxon Switzerland National Park close to Dresden, Berchtesgaden, and the low-mountain region of the Bavarian Forest.
6. Germany has many lakes. There is no official count of all lakes, but the amount changes all the time due to the mining industry. Famous lakes in Germany that are must-sees include Lake Constance ‘Bodensee’ in the south, the Eibsee, the Tegernsee, the Chiemsee, and the Königssee in Berchtesgaden.
Interesting Germany Facts
7. German highways have no speed limit. At least if there is no sign that says otherwise. While it is only 65% that have no speed limit, it is still a lot as the German highways are the world’s oldest and longest motorway network. This makes road trips on the highways a great adventure for everyone that loves to drive relatively fast. However few people drive faster than 180 km/h (112 mph) even if there is very little traffic on the road.
8. The first book was printed in Germany. Gutenberg invented the printing press, making the very first printed book the Gutenberg bible. If you want to see it while exploring Germany, you can do so at the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz
9. There are German parts of the Way of St. James – also known as the Camino de Santiago trail. That is why waiters in pubs in Cologne are called ‘Köbes‘. For a long time, pilgrims walking the trail stopped in Cologne to earn some money for the rest of their journey to Santiago de Compostela. And over time the Cologne name for James ‘Köbes‘ was forevermore connected with the occupation the pilgrims used to have while in the city.
Facts about Germany for Travelers
10. Most things in Germany are on time, but trains usually aren’t. Delayed trains are so common in Germany that is always recommended to plan for a delay of at least 15 minutes when traveling on intercity trains. In addition to that, some cities how the unofficial rule of ‘1 snowflake and its game over’ for all trains of the s-lines. So do not be surprised if a local train is suddenly canceled once it starts knowing. It makes no sense, but it is best to accept it as an indisputable fact about Germany.
11. Unlike in other countries, tipping is not required in Germany. After all, Germany does have a minimum wage that ensures that those waiters and waitresses do not have to depend on tips. However, it is a custom to round up the bill if you were satisfied with the service. Therefore many Germans pay 10€ when they have to pay 9,10€ at a restaurant.
12. Stores are closed on Sundays. It might be an unfortunate fact about Germany if you want to go shopping on the weekend, but if all else fails and you need food, you can always get it at a fuel station. Restaurants and attractions are usually open.
13. Most of the time you have to pay to use the toilet. At least at shopping malls, subway stations. More exclusive restaurants have free toilets as long as you eat there.
Food Facts about Germany
I did a lot of research to get these numbers right and noticed that a lot of English sources do not use the same numbers as German sources. Therefore the numbers you will find in this post might not correspond with what you see elsewhere. However, I promise you that I checked the numbers behind the facts about Germany.
14. There are more than 3000 varieties of bread specialties in Germany. Old studies used to say that there are 300 types of bread in Germany, but the German bread institute has since confirmed that there are a lot more. try several of them to see how much they vary. most German households have bread boxes or bread cupboards full of several different bread types.
15. Germany also has more than 1500 kinds of sausages. There are 500 raw sausages, 800 scalded sausages, and 50 different kinds of bratwurst. Hereby most regions have their own variety of the bratwurst, whereby the Nuernberger and the Thueringer are the most famous ones.
16. Additionally, there are more than 5000 beer types. In some parts of Germany – namely Bavaria – it is essentially considered food and no one will mind if you drink it during a university lecture. According to the Reinheitsgebot’ of 1516 German beer can only contain the following three commodities: water, barley, and hops. Yeast is not listed, but it is meant to be used to brew the beer.
17. There are over 1300 breweries in Germany. Therefore it should not surprise you that Germany is the home of the oldest brewery in the world. Weihenstephan Abbey has been brewing beer since 1040. It started out as a monastery brewery of the Benedictine monks and is now a state-directed company of the Bavarian state government. Today they brew 14 different beer types.
18. The legal drinking age in Germany is 16. At least when it comes to wine and beer. The legal drinking age for other alcoholic drinks with a higher percentage of alcohol is 18 years.
19. Germans love Christmas Markets. Usually, there are around 2500 Christmas Markets per year. Bigger cities like Cologne and Munich have various markets. Visiting a Christmas Market is a must if you are exploring the country in December. Be sure to drink mulled wine and to eat printen while at a Christmas Market!
20. Germans also like sweets, so it is no wonder that the city of Bonn is where Haribo invented gummi bears. Additionally, Germans eat an average of 11 kg of chocolate per year. Hereby milk chocolate is the national favorite. And in addition to that, Germany is also the home of the biggest sweets trade fair in the world. I worked at the trade fair for a season and let me tell you that it was amazing to be surrounded by so many sweets.
21. There are many wine regions in Germany. With a total of 13 major wine regions, Germany was the 9th largest producer of wine in 2019. Hereby the some of the most popular German wines are Riesling, Pinot noir, Dornfelder, and Pinot blanc. If you want to go on a vineyard tour, I personally recommend the Mosel vineyards. The area happens to be the location of Germany’s most beautiful train line the ‘Moselle line’.
22. Sparkling water is quite popular. Many Germans like to drink carbonated water and if you do not want it, you have to order ‘Stilles Wasser‘ (still water). Also, keep in mind that there is no free water in restaurants, so do not forget to order water if you want to drink something while you eat.
More Funny Germany Facts
23. The famous Oktoberfest does not take place in October but in September. The original festival in Munich dates back to 1810 when Crown Prince Ludwig celebrated his wedding to Princess Terese. These days the 16-days long festival, locally known as ‘Die Wiesn‘, gets more than 6 million visitors per year. Be sure to ride the Olympia Looping roller coast if you visit it. Preferably before you start indulging in the Bavarian wheat beer. Otherwise, you might just become one of the many stories locals tend to share when talking and laughing about the Oktoberfest.
24. Germans love football. Current 11% of all Germans play football in a club and the vast majority of Germans watch football games on TV or in the stadium. If you love sports, you have to be sure to see at least one game if you are traveling in Germany. Otherwise, you will never understand why a German football song of the 70s says ‘football is our life because king football rules the word’. Should you be in Germany during a World Championship or a European Championship, I recommend going to a public viewing event.
25. Germany is the country of poets and thinkers. And of course also the country of composers. Therefore it should not surprise you that it is actually possible to tour the house of Schiller, Goethe’s house as well as his garden house. All of them are located near each other in the city of Weimar. And if you take the train to get there, you have a fun real-life version of the German Monopoly version.
26. There are some weird superstitions in Germany. For example, it is not okay to wish someone a ‘Happy Birthday’ before it is actually their birthday. Otherwise, the person is bound to have bad luck. The only way to prevent misfortune if someone does it anyway is to throw salt over your shoulder
27. The tradition of setting up a Christmas tree comes from Germany. The use of evergreen dates back to a tradition of the Germanic people and the oldest proof of a decorated tree dates back to 1597. Originally the tree was decorated with apples, nuts, and similar items.
Interesting Facts about Germany and its language
28. German is the official language of five countries. These countries are Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein.
29. Additionally, German is the 12th most spoken language in the world. And I personally can only clap my hands if you are willing to learn it as a second language. After all, it is not the easiest language to learn, and with all the ongoing changes in spelling and even grammar it can be hard to say if it is der, die or das yogurt. Spoiler: These days all noun markers are allowed for this specific word.
30. The German language has more letters than the Latin alphabet. While all 26 letters are used in the German language, German also has letters with two umlauts. Originally written as ‘ue‘, ‘oe‘ and ‘ae‘, they are now ‘ü‘, ‘ö‘, and ”ä‘. And in addition to that, there is also the letter ‘ß‘, which is essentially a double ‘s’ or ‘sz’ and covers the /s/ phoneme in the German language.
31. There are 53 dialects in the German language that are spoken in Europe. I know that a lot of English sources will tell you that it is only 35 dialects, but it is not true from a German point of view. This discrepancy can most likely be attributed to the fact that the differences between some dialects are not that noticeable, but they do exist. Trust me when I say that someone that grew up around the dialects of North Rhine-Westphalia will notice that even cities that are only 44 km apart like Cologne and Dusseldorf have different dialects.
32. In addition to that, there are also a lot of local words. And said local words tend to ignore regional dialect borders. While some local words are used in several states, some of them are only used in one city. A fact that can lead to some fun conversations if you move within Germany. After all, there is a good chance that a speaker of the German language knows at least one word that might not be understood elsewhere. Hereby some of the most common local word changes are the words ‘Brötchen‘ and ‘Semmel‘, which mean bread bun, and the alternatives ‘Diesel‘ or ‘Spezi‘ for ‘Mezzo‘. There are also a lot of different words for meatballs generally known as ‘Frikadelle‘.
33. The German language has some crazy long words like the wonderful ‘Donaudampfschifffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft’. No one ever really uses this word that means ‘Danube Steam Shipping Company’, but it does exist. I personally tend to think that it exists just so we Germans can brag about having long words.
Which of these facts about Germany did you already know?
I really hope you enjoyed reading this list and that at least a few of these facts and short stories made you laugh.
Of course, there are many more facts about Germany, but these 33 are the ones you should know before you travel to Germany. Be it because it helps you as you travel or because these facts allow you a better understanding of the country.
More about Germany
If you are making plans for your Germany trip, these Germany travel guides might be useful to you:
Exploring Munich like a Local
The Best Viewpoints in Munich
Germany’s Bluebell Forests
Fantastic German Christmas Market Food
Great Weekend Trips in Europe: Germany
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