Germany: 5 mistakes to avoid as a tourist

Germany: 5 mistakes to avoid as a tourist

So you’re planning a trip to Germany, and
obviously you want to get the most out of it. But if you’re new to the country, it’s not easy
to recognise and avoid mistakes that can really detract from your enjoyment. So here are five of them,
beginning with the most obvious. Don’t make stupid jokes about Hitler and the Nazis; and generally, don’t trivialize the Third Reich. This was a very dark chapter in German history, and one which modern Germans find
far too horrific to laugh at. They will take a very dim view of, for example, tourists performing the Nazi salute
at Holocaust memorials. That’s not just grossly disrespectful: it can actually result in a substantial fine. Or at least a stern lecture
by some very annoyed police officers who really didn’t join the force
because they enjoyed interacting with idiots. Not having enough cash is
another trap that people fall into. Europeans in general, and Germans in particular,
don’t much like credit cards, and are very suspicious of contactless payments. Cash is still king in Germany, and many places don’t even accept credit cards. That’s not to say you can never pay by credit card, but don’t rely on being able to. Related to that, another mistake
is paying in US dollars. In some touristy areas, there are places
that will accept dollars, but they’re quite rare, and it’s a rip-off. First of all, the exchange rate is exhorbitant. Secondly, any change will be given in euros, so you’re going to end up with
a bunch of euro coins anyway. What you need to do is to take your credit card
to a cash machine, an ATM, to withdraw enough euros for the next day or two. It’s possible to pay in a foreign currency
by credit card, but that’s also a rip-off. It’s called “Direct Currency Conversion”; and it’s sold as a convenient method, because it means you know exactly how much
you’re being charged in your own currency. But it is in reality just a sneaky way
to add a 5% charge to everything. Instead, pay in euros,
and let your bank do the conversion. Don’t think you’re getting an authentic experience. As a tourist, you’ll be doing touristy things,
and that’s absolutely fine: but most of it was actually invented for
your entertainment as a tourist, and is only very loosely based
on the real culture. Take the famous Schuhplattler dance: that’s the one where they leap about
slapping their thighs and feet. They will tell you that it originated
in the 11th century, but it’s much more likely to be the 19th century. It’s what the intellectual urban classes thought
represented rural Alpine culture, and they were way off the mark. By all means go and enjoy
that kind of stuff: it is fun. Just don’t be fooled into thinking
Germans normally spend their time this way, or ever did. Finally, perhaps the most common mistake
I see tourists make is an over-ambitious itinerary. It is easy to understand the temptation:
there is so much to see and do, and you want to sample as much of it as you can. But so many people plan a ridiculous journey that involves spending each night
in a different hotel. And that means that
every morning they have to pack; and then they spend most of their time travelling, either waiting for trains
or sitting in traffic jams. It’s exhausting and stressful, and they never get to really experience
the places they go to. Instead of just zipping about the entire country, pick one or two places, and base yourself there. Give yourself time to relax and explore. I recently spent three days in Erfurt
and another day in Eisenach just getting enough footage for two videos. And I was just walking around those places
pointing my camera at things. Sometimes, I found time for lunch. I’m not saying you should spend
an entire week in one city, although it is possible to do that
and not get bored. I am saying: pick and choose your destinations. Don’t try to do everything. You can’t. So these are five things that
I think every visitor to Germany should remember when planning a trip. Apart from that, the most important
advice I can offer is: enjoy your stay, and don’t forget your camera. Thanks for watching. If you’d like to
send me a postcard, here’s the address. And don’t forget to visit my website
and follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Also, if you’d like access
to special bonus content and help with the costs of running this channel, please consider making a small
monthly donation on Patreon.

About the author


  1. Pro Tipp: Forget your camera! Not everyone enjoys being filmed or photographed by you and there are laws against public photography. Some Germans will sue if phorographed or filmed! 🙂

  2. Advice: Make in Germany jokes about Donald Duck, no Trump, sth. like he ist a clever and smart man.
    We can laugh about it – so far. And donT stress his routs are in Germany.

  3. Good set of mistakes to avoid! The cash thing (not being able to pay with credit cards) would have tripped me up if I hadn't done research before my first trip.

  4. What? I make Nazi jokes all the time and I'm german. Nazi jokes are the best! :O
    Rather don't make them at parties or in public, if you're just with a friend, it's fine, pubs MIGHT be fine but might not be as well, depending on where you are (generally more acceptable in metal pubs and rural areas, people are usually not as uptight about humor there, especially metalheads). Also nazi imagery doesn't only get you fined, but might get you in prison depending on the severity.
    Cards, well, in supermarkets your usually able to pay with your banks debit card.
    Yeah, Gamsbarthats and CooCooclocks in Rothenburg o.d.T. very "authentic". +rolls eyes+

  5. What is your favourite way of getting to know a new country?
    I buy a guide book, select destinations, put them on an itinerary, leave enough space to my obsession with railways, a bit of free space here and there, but so far I've always prepared myself rather well. Some just travel somewhere and decide the rest spontaneously; I'd be afraid to miss too much in that case.
    The first impression is superficial of course but it gives you an idea what to spend more time on the next time you visit.

  6. One tip for people thinking about visiting the famous "Oktoberfest" of Munich: Oktoberfest is an overcrowded amusement park with beer halls. The whole place usually reeks of urine and vomit. A far better option to this is the Frühlingsfest (Spring festival, usually at the end of April, Google for more info). This is practically the same thing as Oktoberfest and takes place at the same location as Oktoberfest with the same rides and beer halls. The advantages of Frühlingsfest is, as it is less known by the tourists, there are always less people, it is much easier to find seats at the beer halls and the hotels cost much less. The beer however costs the same as Oktoberfest, around 10 Euros for about a liter. (Tip: You will almost never get the full liter because the waiters and waitresses pour the beer directly from the tap and it foams up before the glass is full.) (One more tip: The beer is only served as a full liter. You cannot get a smaller glass in the beer halls.) There is one more thing about Oktoberfest: Since either 2015 or 2016, the amount of people inside the festival grounds been limited to reduce risks after the attacks throughout Europe.(As far as I know, this limitation does not apply to the Frühlingsfest(Correct me if I'm wrong).) If you want to get in, you might want to get there early, and definitely make a reservation at a beer hall of your preference. Another thing that I want to point out is that the beer mugs belong to the beer halls. You can buy these mugs if you wish to (they cost around 7 Euros), but if you are seen by the police carrying one outside of the beer hall without the proof of purchase(they hang a red tape around the handle), you will get in trouble.

  7. hey my man! love your stuff! have been watching your channel since about a year and i think thatyour work would be a enrichment for any culture you live in. keep going !!!

  8. You need to quit with the stereotypical German phobia of credit and debit cards! Perhaps you haven't been to the larger cities like Munich and see the difference?

    The new EU directive in 2015 has capped the transaction fee to 0.2% for debit and 0.3% for credit.

    Consequently, that is quickly changing in the past few years, and the credit and debit cards are more widespread than you would assume. Many supermarkets and restaurants now have those new card readers with NFC function for contactless payment. Even Aldi Süd, Rossmann, and others have promoted the contactless payments as faster and more convenient way of paying. In addition, the minimum amount for using card has become less common now. The lowest amount I ever paid with debit card was €1 at the public toilet facility in the Nürnberger train station.

    I hardly pay with cash here in Germany nowadays since I can use Apple Pay for card transactions (yep, Apple Pay works here in Germany since October 2014). I absolutely hate it when the tightwad Germans mine in the wallets forever for those elusive coins at the check-out aisles, holding us hostage before we could be freed to flee the supermarkets.

  9. One piece of advise for tourists visiting Germany: Just visit Heidelberg, Neuschwanstein and Rothenburg o. d. T.. The reasons: 1. Your friends expect You to do so. 2. Your friends wouldn't know what You are talking about if You visited another place. 3. These places are well-suited to handle any tourist who shows up. 4. These places have got a great experience in meeting the expectations of any tourist.

  10. I love the Idea that only Americans are loud and obnoxious (true some are). But many tourist from other countries are the same way. This is not just an American thing. Could it be there is a lot of jealously that we are Americans. I am going back to Germany for two weeks and spending time with friends I have met . I find the best way to visit Germany is with people from the area. But Americans are not the only loud and rude tourist

  11. Schon interessant, wenn gesagt wird, dass man hier Kreditkarten "immer noch nicht" mag und lieber mit Bargeld zahlt. Es sagt ja auch keiner, dass man in den USA "immer noch nicht" mit EC-Karte zahlen kann. Wie rückständig 😛

  12. Thanks for telling us about the things we need to know when visiting Germany Andrew.

    Seeing though as you have seen a lot of Germany how about 10 recommendations of must see things in Germany, as opposed to what is suggested by tourist agencies. If you were visiting Germany for the first time what would be the things you would want to see?

    That aside I was shocked to hear that some tourist attractions are not what they seem. Next I'm sure we will find out that the centuries old Oberammagau passion play was in fact written by Rogers and Hammerstein!

  13. UK has over 50% of total transactions with credit cards and has contactless for amounts under £30. so not all Europe doesn't like cards.

  14. If you can't laugh about your own country's dark history, you are either being professionally offended or are hilariously unfunny. Both of which, I can assure you, most Germans are not. Especially with the younger generations, chances are you get so rekt by the German's comebacks you will end up thinking they are rude. Germans do have a sense of humour and if you are not pointing a camera at them, it's pretty dark and politically incorrect.

  15. The need for cash did catch us out from time to time. Also agree with the last point, Berlin especially needs a week long visit itself.

    Also, do try speaking some German. Everyone was quite patient and some of my best memories came from these conversations. Chatting to a lady about her dog on the Munich underground, discussing riesling with local wineries at the Bad Dürkheim Wurstmarkt. My favourite experience was running into a beekeeper when my wife and I were hiking in the Tirol forest (Austria not Germany I know). I'll now never forget how I learnt the word Imker!

  16. Is it inappropriate to put other mistakes on the list? Here's one – Don't forget your dictionary, as only few Germans have good English skills that make for a good conversation. Plus, 'false friends' can easily lead to total confusion.

  17. Who the hell goes to another country and just expects to be able in their own currency cash? That would never even have occured to me tbh 😀

  18. Contactless payment has become quite popular. For instance, the supermarket chains Aldi and Lidl accept this way of payment, up to 25€ per purchase and up to a total of 100€ per day without entering your pin. Also many petrol stations and other shops do.

  19. Good tip there concerning the currency conversion rip-off. Although that may apply for foreign tourists travelling Germany, European citizens travelling neighbor countries need to pay close attention too. Choosing Euro is really only a good idea in countries where Euro is the common currency. In Poland you will be given the choice to pay in Euro or in Sloty for instance, with Euro usually being the more expensive choice. Very confusing indeed. The same applies for vpay purchases by the way.

  20. Dont use ATMs in front of small shops. There are a number of banks which install ATMs in front of small shops or cafes. They are rip offs. They charge an abstruse fee, and you will only be informed in the last step before handing ot cash. Allways use the ones in front of a real bank or post office.
    Those ATMs are not allways ripoffs but chances are high that they are.

  21. Very informative as ever Rewboss. I love the fact people don't like contactless payments in Germany. In England people even use contactless to buy beer when they are already blind drunk.

  22. Yes, very bad idea showing the Nazi Salutation in Germany. It is illegal and police has to react.
    The fine based on daily rate on earnings and can go over 4,000 EUR.

  23. About the credit card thing – when I first went to Germany in 1994 there were a lot of places that did not accept credit cards but the last time I was there in 2016 I could pay for everything that I wanted with a card so this is has changed a lot.

  24. First thing to do is to learn arabic.Then you can put some walnut juice on your face,chant Allah" and then you can rape as many women as you want and get away with it.Have a good time there.

  25. Would say it is possible to visit more or less all parts of Germany if you do have some month to spare and the money you will need, so you do not waist time on earning it.

  26. Nice video – as always. Since the check-out with a "geldkarte" is nowadays as quick as through cash (if not even faster) at least I'm paying more and more often with card. I guess it had been just the angst of annoying the people behind you. In the last year they dit some construction work just were I used to commute. So some of the tourists arriving at "Flughafen Schönefeld" got an authentic experience: Chaos on Berlin's rail roads and a German stottering her/his ass off to explain how they get were they want to.

  27. On the same note, don't make Nazi jokes when you meet a German tourist in your country. I've once been in Maastricht, and there was that old granny. Saw may camera,
    "Where are you from?"
    "I'm from Germany."
    "Ahhh! (dutch dutch dutch) Hitler (dutch dutch) Nazi (dutch dutch dutch) Hitler (dutch dutch)…."

  28. Small correction: It's called Dynamic Currency Conversion, and, as you pointed out, it is a complete rip-off.

  29. Many stores don't accept credit cards because they have to pay a pretty high charge to their bank. So there will be more costs than earnings.
    But the times are changing. contactless payment is going to become more and more attractive.especially when people are buying thinks that cost only a few $ or € (a bread, a coffee, and so on). People can see the advantages, and will use it.

  30. As a tourist ripp off "Rothenburg ob der Tauber" comes directly to my mind. A medieval looking town that was build from scratch after WWII because the original town was bombed to the ground. Completed by the original Schäfertanz (shepherds dance) that is artificial as well. I know, many of the bombed cities of Germany have reconstructed buildings in their center (for example "Der Römer" in Frankfurt) but no one has gone for a complete city center including the town walls.

  31. What's so surprising about the cash thing? Can you use your credit card to pay at the local butcher's or bakery in the US? Is it usual to use your credit card to pay for food, cigarettes or a coffee to go on the street?

  32. Germans cannot take Nazi jokes because many of them are whiny "Gutmenschen" who subconsciously believe in inheritable guilt. Irrational and pathetic!

  33. The Schuhplattler dance is thought to date as far back as 3000 BC. And it was first officially mentioned mentioned all the way back in 1030 AD by a Bavarian Monk. And yes, people DID dance like that all over Bavaria. It isn't "artificial" culture. Even in this modern day there are still plenty of communities in Bavaria that DO this dance in private. Go to Southern Bavaria and you will still see men walking around mountain villages in Lederhosen and women in Dirndl.

  34. Well, I make Nazi jokes quite often. It's not so much a topic tourist should make fun of, though. As a German or someone who has been living in Germany for a decent amount of time, for example, you normally know how far you can go. Still, Nationalsocialism, like many other politically incorrect topics, shouldn't be something you make fun of in the public, at least not among strangers. But if you tell a Nazi joke to someone you know and you know he or she is not super sensitive to the topic (unfortunately, there are people who are!), it's really not a problem.
    To be honest, I don't think that Germany despite being the root of Nationalsocialism is any different than most countries in that regard. See, normally, you don't make jokes about politically incorrect topics in the public. In Germany, it might be a bit different thanks to the Nazi salute being illegal, for example, but it's not sooo much different than you would think it is. Germans don't lack a sense of humour and if you get to know them more personally, many can laugh about Nazi jokes, too. Just don't do it in public and don't do it when random persons are around. It would make them feel quite uncomfortable. And as with every joke: They should be funny!

  35. I pay with my Card all the time and find it pretty inconvenient to carry around cash – but I get the note, it's still not common in every place to pay by card.

  36. As a coach driver in Sweden/Norway I see this "trying to see as much as possible" thing all the time. I mean, i drive them there.
    1 hour at the Vasa Museum is not enough. 3 hours at Skansen? Come on!
    When I travel I choose the things I want to see and plan my stay after that.
    Like when me and a friend travelled in Germany. Yes, we did stay in different hostels/hotels/night trains. But our purpouse was to travel by trains. Same in Wales. Two nights in Llandudno so we could see the railways around there, and then drive to Tremadog and then two nights in Cardiff. I wanted to see more, but really did not have that much time so I had to choose.
    I rarely do the touristy stuff because I work with tourists so when I'm on vacation I want to do things I like.

  37. I live in Holland where nobody pays with cash anymore. I take regular trips to Germany, even in Berlin, you usually have to pay with cash which I always forget to have with me. If they do take bank cards they will usually only take German bank cards. So, always have cash with you in Germany!!!!

  38. They should have watched your video.

  39. I think some Chinese tourists got arrested for doing the nazi salute but were relaesed after China threatened Germany

  40. Hi, Schuhplattler dancer here.
    I have to correct something: On one hand, origins of those dances and customs may be not as traditional as they seem. But on the other hand, they have become tradition and are performed and loved by the locals at least for the last 100 years. If you see some Schuhplattler dancers don't think you're watching a tourist show or even a kind of circus performance. It's true culture nowadays. Enjoy!

  41. My advice would be: go to small villages, especially when they have local festivals/agri events/music concerts/wine festivals on. Stay in hostels/guest houses, not huge hotel chains, visit local pubs (especially if attached to where you're staying). Eat in small businesses and if you feel the need for a bigger city, I recommend Munich and the Industrial Museum.   German people are very polite and we've found them unfailingly helpful.  Nigel in Ireland.

  42. so you're saying that 'touristy' stuff is just invented for tourists and has not been there before?
    thats not true. ofc there are some specific things, that get shown in places, where they're not originated. like bavarian stuff in berlin or so. but the origin indeed is back in another century and a long-lasting tradition.
    you do experience german culture, but on a touristy way, thats right. in the end it IS german cultur afterall, even tho not in its pure form and in the place where it originated

  43. And if you will be visiting a festival, a carnival, an amusement park or any such gathering and you are from a country where they drive on the right side of the street, make it a point to go to the left to do your shopping. You may not be consciously aware of it, but marketers are. Since you habitually drive on the right, you are wired to habitually go to the right, which means that the prices will be higher there, but the merchandise there will typically not be better. Go to the left and save.

  44. Die 5% Gebühr – meinst du damit eine Auslandseinsatzgebühr? Es gibt doch inzwischen auch deutsche Banken die keine eigenen Gebühren auf Fremdwährung erheben. – oder ist der Mastercard-Umrechnungskurs generell zu hoch?

  45. maybe to add that we dont like it by strangers spoken to with our surname. just call us sir except young folks and kids. we are dont that easy going to tourists as we seem. i am bavarian and i hate the fucking oktoberfest. it has nothing to do with the real bavarian folks. it was a huge marriage ceremony back then where the avarage people had to starve and were then inveted to this perverted feast..
    we have not all been nazis.period.the younge generation gives a shit like the white european invaders give a shit about the american natives. and yes we are not that fucking lazy to go by car to even to the closest location. we dont have open shops 24hrs., we dont need and want it. the family time is a precious gift, we dont work on sundays except nurses, police etc.
    we dont want to be overrun by another lifestyle. we already have one. what we do like is that people bewonder what we have done so far.but dont mind us when making jokes about our fellow folks from another destrict, we dont even like us each other. seems normal to me. no fancy cultural melting pot avaible over here. we are used to people with another skin color, but they still dont belong to us. Some folks over here pretending that…

  46. personally im fine with nazi jokes as long as they are GOOD and not like:" you said a bad thing about a black person you have to be a nazi!" if you do that i'd say there is a 50% chance to get punshed in the face.

  47. doing the tourist trail in Germany will result in me getting a fast food job, renting a flat, renting a bike, and also renting a fast car to tear up the autobahn. I will basically refuse to speak English, which means I will wait until I've gotten some German under my belt.

  48. By far the biggest problem is getting caught in Berlin Ring road works where signs contain entire German sentences that you have 1 second to read as you pass them. I guess some non-German speakers are still stuck in those works years later.

  49. i spent the time hanging about at museums, art galleries, restaurants, and a small concert… pretty much what i do on a weekend in my home city? seems authentic enough to me? where do people even find Lederhosen clad dancers?

  50. 0:25 well that depends a little on the standpoint..? or might ? ach jöG # pröpagandhä düe ^ ^
    first höhlökkAüst zen nö cash XD i $üRenD€R im pheelync oudshininG ^ ^

  51. I can understand why CREDIT card payments aren't popular. But what about DEBIT cards? After all, that involves a payment direct from my bank account, its not credit. Are debit cards not acceptable either? I don't especially want to carry sizeable amounts of cash around with me…

  52. I wouldn't say all Europeans are card averse, it does seem to be a central and southern European thing. The Nordic countries adore plastic, even market stalls will accept credit cards. Some places won't accept cash.

  53. @0:20 Please, just do it, since only idiots would be offended.
    @0:23 The same thing applies to Third Reich.
    @0:26 That's right, WAS, but you will find very few people who are really enlightened about that part of history. Conversely, you will find a lot of brainwashed and propagandised folks who, for the most part, cannot think for themself.

    @0:40 Yeah, he really should because it is a memorial of shame that is build to stigmatise people. People should be enlightened/educated instead of stigmatised.

    @0:46 Yeah, that memorial is grossly disrespectful to any reasonable person and should be mocked. Fining or incarcerating people for that is totalitarian.

  54. Regarding number 1 – Apparently in the right circumstances – Have you seen John Cleese's comment about being recognised whilst in transit at Frankfurt/M Airport? Large numbers of people were goose-stepping up to him saying 'Don't mention the war" whilst holding a finger across their upper lip!

  55. I must say I really disagree the first point.
    Germans (younger more than older) make relatively often jokes about the 3rd Reich. I really don't like the fact that the world thinks we are ashamed of our history. Come on mates, it is the past. You can make jokes about it. As long as you don't take it seriously.

    But if you know the person next to you is left wing, you rather don't say a word about german history bevor 1949. They take it fare to seriously .

  56. tbh I'm pretty sure performing the nazi salute anywhere, especially in a holocaust memorial, will probably get you beaten up when you're unlucky

  57. Stay in one or two places suggestion:
    Deutsche bahn has day tickets for all the states that let you travel the whole state (or 2 or 3 states in some cases)
    these are 24 euros and upo
    From Munich: wurzburg, Augsburg, Fussen, Salzburg Austria, Ulm, Bamberg, Nuremberg, Passau, Regensburg,
    From Hamburg: Bremen, Hannover etc
    Inside BW: Stuttgart, Heidelberg, Frieberg, Hohenzollern Castle, SAchaffhausen Switz., Konstanz and I think Lindau. Or kehl and hop the tram into Strasbourg
    Saxony+Thuringia+ Saxony Anhalt share a tcket
    Berlin + Brandenburg- includes Lutherstadt Wittenberg
    Mecklenburg's ticket includes Stettin and I think Hamburg

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