18 things not do do in Germany

18 things not do do in Germany

When you visit Germany, there are things that you should not do. This article will tell you about 18 of these no-nos, so you can have a good time without problems. It’s like when someone tells you which fork to use at a fancy dinner; knowing what not to do helps everyone feel better.

We’ll talk about how Germans like their quiet time and why saying “Guten Appetit” is kind. You shouldn’t make fun of German beer or show the Nazi salute because that’s against the law and very rude.

There are rules for crossing streets, recycling trash, and taking trains too. Remember to bring bags for shopping and don’t plan to buy stuff on Sundays or late in the day; everything is closed then! When eating out, don’t start until everyone has their food, and asking for tap water isn’t common here.

Germans value privacy and being right on time. They also dress properly for different places. Lastly, it’s good to be polite but don’t expect people to chat much if they don’t know you – it’s just not their way.

Let this guide help you enjoy your time in Germany by fitting in just right!

Cultural Etiquette

When visiting Germany, it is important to be aware of cultural etiquette. This includes standing for the elderly, disabled, or pregnant on public transportation, observing quiet hours, and partaking in the tradition of Kaffee und Kuchen.

Not standing for the elderly, disabled, or pregnant

Give up your seat on buses and trains to older people, those with disabilities, or pregnant women. It’s a sign of respect and kindness in Germany. In fact, not offering your seat can be seen as rude.

Everyone values being thoughtful to others who might need a bit more help. So do the right thing and stand up for those who need it.

Also, check for special seats marked for these groups. They are there so people who really need them can sit down easily. If you’re sitting in one of these spots and see someone who needs it, get up quickly.

This small act goes a long way in showing that you care about German social customs.

Ignoring quiet hours

Respect the quiet hours in Germany, as loud noises in public places are not welcomed. Germans value peace and tranquility, especially during designated quiet hours. It’s important to be mindful of your noise level, especially in residential areas and public spaces, to show consideration for the local culture and community.

Keep this in mind while exploring Germany to ensure a positive experience for yourself and those around you.

Avoid disrupting the peaceful environment during quiet hours. Be considerate of others by keeping noise levels down, whether it’s at your accommodation or in public places. By respecting these quiet hours, you’ll demonstrate cultural sensitivity and contribute to a harmonious coexistence with the locals.

Not partaking in Kaffee und Kuchen

When in Germany, it’s essential to partake in the cultural tradition of “Kaffee und Kuchen,” which means having coffee and cake. This custom is deeply ingrained in German culture, often occurring in the afternoon as a time for relaxation and socializing.

It’s an opportunity to connect with friends and family over delectable pastries and rich coffee. Embracing this tradition allows you to experience the warmth of German hospitality while savoring delightful treats.

Germans highly value their “Kaffee und Kuchen” tradition, so participating in it shows respect for their customs. It’s a cherished part of daily life that offers insight into the country’s social fabric, making it an integral aspect of your cultural experience during your visit to Germany.

Ignoring Guten Appetit

When dining in Germany, it’s important to acknowledge the phrase “Guten Appetit” which means “enjoy your meal”. Respond with “Danke” or simply nod. It shows appreciation for the food and is considered polite.

Germans appreciate this gesture as a sign of respect for their culinary culture and hospitality.

Trash talking German beer

German beer is highly valued and respected in Germany. It’s better not to criticize or speak negatively about it, as beer holds significant cultural importance in Germany. Germans take pride in their brewing traditions and are passionate about their beers.

So, it’s best to appreciate and respect the German beer culture during your visit.

Remember that Germans have a strong appreciation for their beer. It forms an essential part of their social gatherings and traditions. Therefore, acknowledging the significance of German beer can help you show respect for the local culture and enhance your experience while visiting Germany.

Laws and Rules

– Jaywalking is strictly enforced in Germany, so make sure to always use designated pedestrian crossings. Additionally, showing the Nazi salute is illegal and can result in serious consequences, so be mindful of your gestures and actions during your visit.


Avoid jaywalking in Germany. This means crossing the street when the signal is red or without using a designated crosswalk. German authorities take jaywalking seriously and may issue fines for this offense to ensure pedestrian safety.

Remember, it’s essential to follow traffic laws and only cross the street at designated crossings when the signal permits.

Always use designated crosswalks and wait for the green pedestrian light before crossing the street in Germany. It’s important to adhere to traffic regulations to ensure your safety and respect local laws while exploring this beautiful country.

Not recycling correctly

Improperly disposing of trash in Germany can lead to hefty fines. It’s crucial to separate waste into specific categories like paper, plastic, glass, and organic waste. Failure to recycle correctly can result in penalties from the local authorities.

Make sure to familiarize yourself with the recycling guidelines in each city or region you visit.

Remember not throwing all your waste together as this is not only environmentally unfriendly but also goes against German laws on proper waste disposal. Be aware that it’s essential to follow the recycling rules diligently during your stay in Germany and avoid mixing different types of waste together for disposal.

Showing the Nazi salute

When visiting Germany, it is crucial to remember that displaying the Nazi salute or using symbols associated with the Third Reich is illegal and highly offensive. This includes gestures like raising your arm in a straight line with an outstretched hand.

It’s important to be respectful of Germany’s history and cultural sensitivities by refraining from any acts that could be interpreted as supporting or glorifying this dark period of the country’s past.

Avoid making any references or jokes related to World War II and the Holocaust in casual conversations as these topics are sensitive and hold deep significance for German people. By being mindful of these cultural taboos, you can show respect for the local customs while also ensuring a positive and harmonious experience during your visit to Germany.

Transportation and Shopping

Be sure to have your own shopping bags while in Germany as single-use plastic bags are not commonly provided. Also, be mindful of shopping on Sundays and after 6pm as most stores are closed during these times.

Not having your own shopping bags

When shopping in Germany, it’s crucial to bring your own shopping bags. Many stores do not provide free plastic bags, and you may be charged for them. This is part of Germany’s efforts to reduce plastic waste and promote environmental sustainability.

By bringing your own reusable bags, you can show respect for this cultural norm and also save some money on bag fees.

Make sure to pack some foldable or reusable bags in your luggage before arriving in Germany. You’ll find these essential when visiting supermarkets, small shops, or even markets. With this small gesture, you’ll seamlessly adapt to local customs and contribute positively to the environment during your stay in Germany.

Going shopping on Sundays and after 6pm

When in Germany, avoid planning your shopping on Sundays and after 6 pm. German law strictly prohibits most stores from opening on Sundays, except for a few limited exceptions like at airports or train stations.

After 6 pm on weekdays, the majority of shops close their doors as well. It’s important to plan your shopping accordingly and make purchases during the permitted hours to respect local regulations and customs.

Also, remember that it is expected for you to bring your own shopping bags when going grocery or other retail shopping in Germany. Plastic bags are chargeable in many places, so having a sturdy reusable bag with you can be convenient and environmentally friendly.

Expecting trains/trams/buses to wait

Don’t expect trains, trams, or buses in Germany to wait for you. They run on tight schedules and won’t delay departure. Be punctual and plan your journeys well to avoid missing them.

German public transportation is known for its efficiency, so make sure you have a valid ticket before boarding to avoid fines.

It is crucial not to assume that public transport will accommodate delays. Respect the timetables and plan your trips carefully to ensure a smooth travel experience in Germany.

Not having a ticket

When using public transportation in Germany, it’s crucial to always have a valid ticket. The German authorities strictly enforce ticketing regulations and fines for riding without a valid ticket can be hefty.

Make sure to purchase the appropriate ticket before boarding any forms of public transport, such as trains, trams, or buses, to avoid unnecessary trouble with the law.

Ensure you are aware of the specific rules for purchasing tickets based on your travel needs and duration. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with the ticket validation process as well, ensuring that your ticket is correctly stamped and validated before commencing your journey.

Not asking for tap water

When dining in Germany, it’s important to know that tap water is not typically served for free. Germans often prefer bottled water and may find it unusual if you ask for tap water.

If you do request it, be prepared that there might be a charge for it. Therefore, it’s best to order the kind of water you want directly, whether still or sparkling, when dining out.

Understanding this cultural difference will help you have a smoother and more enjoyable dining experience in Germany.

Interactions and Communication

Not smiling or talking to strangers can be seen as rude in Germany, so it’s important to engage with others politely. Ignoring politeness language and expecting everyone to speak English are also considered social faux pas in this cultural setting.

Not smiling or talking to strangers

When in Germany, it’s important to be open to smiling and talking to strangers. Germans appreciate polite interactions and may find it unfriendly if you don’t acknowledge them with a smile or engage in small talk.

It’s a cultural norm to show friendliness and openness towards others, so don’t hesitate to initiate conversations or respond warmly when approached.

Avoid making the mistake of ignoring people around you. A friendly smile or a simple “hello” can go a long way in creating positive interactions during your visit. Embracing this aspect of German culture will help you have more meaningful experiences and connections during your trip.

Ignoring politeness language

When interacting in Germany, it’s crucial to be mindful of the politeness language. Germans value formal titles like “Herr” (Mr.) and “Frau” (Mrs.) when addressing people, especially in professional settings.

Using “Bitte” (please) and “Danke” (thank you) is essential for showing respect and gratitude. Additionally, being aware of personal space and using proper handshakes are important aspects of German social etiquette.

Remember that being polite and respectful in speech and behavior is highly regarded in German culture. Understanding and adhering to these aspects of politeness language will help visitors make a positive impression during their stay.

Expecting everyone to speak English

When visiting Germany, it’s crucial to be mindful that not everyone may speak English fluently. While many Germans do speak English, especially in touristy areas, it’s respectful to learn a few basic German phrases.

This can show your effort and appreciation for the local culture. Additionally, using simple gestures or carrying a phrasebook can help bridge any language barriers you might encounter during your trip.

Remember that learning some common German phrases such as “hello,” “thank you,” and “excuse me” can go a long way in making your interactions smoother and more enjoyable. Understanding this cultural aspect will enrich your travel experience and show respect for the locals’ language and customs.

Expecting people to wear traditional clothing

Don’t expect everyone in Germany to wear traditional clothing. Germans dress casually in their daily lives, so wearing lederhosen or dirndls is not an everyday thing. Traditional clothing is usually reserved for special cultural events like Oktoberfest or regional celebrations.

It’s better to stick to comfortable and casual attire during your visit, as this aligns with the general dress code.

Remember that wearing traditional clothing without understanding its significance can come across as disrespectful or insincere. Additionally, it’s important to respect the cultural context of traditional attire and save it for appropriate occasions, rather than assuming it’s the norm everywhere you go in Germany.

Not being open to making small talk

When in Germany, it’s essential to be open to making small talk with locals. Germans appreciate friendly interactions and may view a lack of willingness to engage in casual conversation as unfriendly.

Small talk can lead to meaningful connections and is an important part of German social culture. Embracing this aspect of communication can enhance your experience and help you connect with the local community.

Being receptive to small talk allows you to learn more about the culture, traditions, and daily life in Germany. Whether it’s chatting with locals at a cafe or striking up a conversation while exploring the city, being open to small talk can provide valuable insights and create memorable experiences during your visit.


In conclusion, remembering the cultural customs and laws is crucial when visiting Germany. It ensures a positive experience for you and respect for the local culture. By following these guidelines, you can navigate through Germany with ease and show respect to its people.

Understanding and adhering to these dos and don’ts will help you have an enjoyable and trouble-free time in Germany. So, take these tips to heart as they are practical, easy to implement, and essential for a smooth visit.

Embracing these cultural norms not only enriches your travel experience but also fosters goodwill between visitors and locals. With this knowledge in hand, go forth confidently into your German adventure!

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