20 Things Not To Do In Berlin, Germany

No matter how much I research my travel destination, there is always something I learn along the way that I should or shouldn’t do again. German’s take rules in Berlin very seriously. While you are visiting you will too. Here is what NOT to do in Berlin, Germany. 

1.) Think you are going to see everything in one day

Berlin is chalked full of sights and sounds visitors should take in. Though I could maneuver around the city in one day, however, I quickly realized it will take months to see everything Berlin has to offer. 

rules in Berlin you need to follow

2.) Do a Nazi salute or wear their symbol

This action is frowned upon in most places in Germany however, it is a crime. This infamous salute and symbol represent all the tragedies that occurred during WWII. If you don’t take this seriously, you could easily end up behind bars. Carrying a swastika logo, saying “Heil H***ler”, or denying the Holocaust could put you in the slammer.

In Germany and other neighboring countries such as Slovakia and the Czech Republic have all banned Nazi propaganda. They take what happened during the Holocaust seriously. Please don’t break this rule, whether you are serious or not. 

3.) Walk everywhere

German’s public transportation is extremely efficient so, there is no need to walk everywhere. Most train tickets are fairly inexpensive and will take you all over the city. If you are only in town for a couple of days this will save you time. Especially in the winter when the weather is chilly, it is best not to walk everywhere. 

4.) Miss the Christmas markets

The Christmas markets are a must-see when in Germany. The markets sell mouthwateringly flavorful German dishes, locally brewed beer, and sweet treats. The Christmas Markets are fun and festive. If you get the chance to ever visit Germany I would plan my trip around the opening of the markets. 

What rules in Berlin you need to know

5.) Arrive late 

Germans are on time, and they want you to be too. This is a harder one for me to follow. While chatting with some locals they expressed to me that being late is one of the most disrespectful things to do in Germany. If I were staying in Germany long term I would certainly need to learn better time management skills. 

6.) Climb on memorials

It is extremely inconsiderate and rude to climb on memorials and take selfies, but visitors continue to do so year after year. These memorials are intended to honor others who have lost their life. Even though the memorials have beautiful architecture, please be respectful of what the memorials mean and don’t take smiling selfies with them. 

7.) Throw trash on the ground

Germans like to keep a clean city, and visitors should help keep it that way. Throwing trash on the ground is considered a crime and it is taken much more seriously than it is in the United States.

8.) Only visit popular destinations

Seeing the touristy sites is always a must, but exploring with locals is better. One of my favorite ways to do this is to visit a local grocery store and see what normal residents eat in comparison to the US.

9.) Expect things to be open on Sunday 

My last day in Germany was a Sunday. Walking around I am shocked at how it looks like a ghost town on Sunday. I was so confused I asked around to see if it was a local holiday or something. Nope, just a Sunday. Germans take their day of rest seriously, so don’t make plans around things on Sunday unless you know for sure they will be open. 

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10.) Skip taking a walking tour

Taking a walking tour will help you figure out what it is that you want to see for the rest of the trip. Tour guides help give you an informational tour of their city. On walking tours, you will gain information from the locals who know the hot spots.

11.) J-walk

As I mentioned before German’s take rules very seriously. While living in North Carolina and Washington D.C., it is common This is one of the most important rules in Berlin because it can be dangerous if broken.

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12.) Drive in the left lane- it’s just for passing

When driving in America staying in the left lane isn’t a huge problem. In Germany, however, the left lane is only used for passing. Since cars whiz by on roads at high speeds staying in the left lane can cause accidents. This is another one of the crucial rules in Berlin to know because if not you or someone could get hurt.

13.) Think you will get ice in your beverage or free refills

If you order a drink at a restaurant don’t expect it will be served cold, or that the server will refill your drink for you. Even if you specifically as for ice, servers will typically only give you one cube of ice.

14. ) Not call servers over when you are ready for the check 

Typically in America, we expect servers to check on our table every few minutes. However, in Germany servers won’t bug you. If you are finished with your meal it is perfectly acceptable to call them over. The wait staff won’t think you are rude. They will be expecting you to let them know when you are ready to leave.

15.) When driving you slow down to a stop at yellow lights

To me, yellow lights have always meant speed up before it turns red. When taking a driving test in America a yellow light means caution- not slow down. In Germany, however, yellow lights do mean slow down.

16.) Address a police officer incorrectly

Another one of the interesting rules in Berlin is the strictness of speech. Police officers have to be addressed formally. If not addressed correctly it could result in a 600 Euro fine. Be sure that you know the formal way to approach a police officer before trying to speak to one.

17.) Expect to have air conditioning in a private home

If you are staying in a private home Airbnb you can assume that the home does not have AC. Most office buildings in Germany have air conditioning, but individual residents do not.

18.) Illegally wash your car in the street

There are designated spots for you to wash your car. The biggest reason for this is that Germany wants to recycle the water that is used, and they don’t want the detergent to get into the main drains and cause pollution. Be aware of the areas where it is acceptable to give your car a spritz.

19.) Talk about taboo topics 

Some topics are considered inappropriate in Germany. Avoid casually chatting about the war or money. Talking about salaries can be too personal and many Germans find it rude. We all know what happened during WWII and Germans don’t usually like to sit around and discuss. If you can avoid these two topics or anything else to personal you will be golden. Typically Germans aren’t known for small talk, so don’t be surprised if the person checking you out at the grocery store doesn’t want to shoot the breeze about the weather. 

21.) Not know that beer is about the same price as water 

German beer is so good they have a whole festival for it in October. Before I went to Germany my friend warned me that she was dehydrated the whole time in Germany. When beer and water are the same prices might as well drink beer. In America, a glass of beer usually costs between $5-10 and can be the price of an entire meal. 

Learning the rules in Berlin over three days

Hopefully learning these local rules in Berlin will help you be better prepared for an incredible trip.

Best,

Morgan

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