Social rules. Germany’s got a lot of ‘em, and ignoring etiquette yields a puckered brow, pronto. But don’t fret – our tips will get you on the right track.
- Shake hands when you’re introduced to someone – it’s impolite not to.
- Say Prost! (cheers!) before you sip your beer – and look your drinking buddy in the eye when you say it.
- Feel free to have serious discussions in social settings – Germans like talking politics and philosophy. They don’t relish idle chit-chat or small talk.
- Say your name at the beginning of a phone call, even if it’s followed by 'do you speak English?'
- Address people with the formal 'you' (Sie). If the familiar 'you' (Du) is cool, they’ll let you know.
- Hit the ATM – cash rules in Germany and many restaurants don’t take credit cards.
- Be late – everyone else will be on time.
- Send a German friend lilies – they’re for funerals. Carnations symbolise mourning, too.
- Dig into that Sauerkraut before your host says 'Guten Appetit' (good appetite).
- Stroll in the bike lane. You’ll get bruised or yelled at (or both). It’s marked red for a reason.
- Jaywalk. Nobody else does, and you might get fined.
- Drink yourself into a stumbling fool. We know the beer goes down easy, but public drunkenness is frowned upon.
This article was updated in June 2012
Tempted to test our tips in country? Get inspired with Lonely Planet's Germany travel guide.
For more travel tips on Europe, click your way to these great articles: