Etiquette

Germany is a fairly formal society but in Hamburg you can generally get away with a little more. Even so, the following tips will help you avoid faux pas.

  • Greetings Shake hands and say Guten Morgen (before noon), Guten Tag (between noon and 6pm) or Guten Abend (after 6pm). Use the formal Sie (you) with strangers and only switch to the informal du and first names if invited to do so. With friends and children, use first names and du.
  • Asking for Help Germans use the same word – Entschuldigung – to say 'excuse me' (to attract attention) and 'sorry' (to apologise).
  • Eating & Drinking At the table, say Guten Appetit before digging in. Germans hold the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right hand. To signal that you have finished eating, lay your knife and fork parallel across your plate. If drinking wine, the proper toast is Zum Wohl; with beer it's Prost.