Are you planning a trip to Germany? Twenty-five million people visit Germany each year to explore its picturesque scenery, quaint towns, and delicious foods.
From Berlin to Munich to Hamburg, there are a ton of German cities to explore. What’s more, Germany is home to some of the most spectacular celebrations and festivals, such as Oktoberfest and Carnival.
Germany has a rich and diverse history, with varied landscapes and a range of cultural traditions. As an English speaker, you’ll find that many Germans have a good grasp of your language, especially in cities like Berlin. Still, it’s a good idea to learn some German before you visit.
There are plenty of interesting facts about Germany that will inspire you to learn more about the language and culture. Before you jump on the plane to embark on your German adventure, why not explore some of the quirkier German culture facts that are out there? We’ve picked over 50 of our favorite fun facts about Germany to fuel your own interest in this beautiful country!
Interesting Facts About German History
- Before Berlin, there were five other German capitals including, Aachen, Regensburg, Frankfurt-am-Main, Nuremberg, and Bonn.
- Those who hate daylight savings time (DST) can blame the Germans, as they were the first to adopt it in 1916.
- Although the population is on the decline, Germany boasts the largest population in the European Union with 81 million people.
- If you look at a satellite image taken of Germany at night, you can clearly see where East and West Germany used to be. That’s because the majority of the streetlights on each side were installed before the wall came down and appear as different colors due to the bulbs’ chemical makeup.
- Almost one-third of Germany is powered by renewable energy, such as solar panels and windmills. Many Germans consider the amount of energy that the average American uses to be wasteful.
Fun Germany Facts: Language
- German is the official language of five countries, including Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein. These dialects can be quite distinct from one another!
- German is the third most commonly taught language in the world.
- In German, the word “danke” or “thanks” actually means “no.” If someone asks you if you would like a drink, make sure you say “bitte” or “please,” as this means “yes.”
- The German alphabet has more than 26 letters. The German pronunciation of these extra letters ä, ö, ü, and ß don’t exist in the English language.
- There are two principal divisions of the German language: High German, or “Hochdeutsch,” and Low German, or “Plattdeutsch.”
- Looking to take your own German skills to the next level? Online German lessons make it easy to connect with a native Deutsch speaker from anywhere in the world!
German Culture Facts and Superstitions
- Most Germans believe that open windows will cause illness, such as achy joints or the flu. Because of this, the window panes stay tightly shut even in the most beautiful weather.
- Germans consider it bad luck to celebrate birthdays early. They believe in a philosophy that roughly translates into “don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” An early congratulation for a birthday reminds the recipient that he or she could die before the actual date occurs.
- In Germany, it’s thought that if you bury your deceased dog under your doorstep, its ghost will guard the house.
- Rather than wave to your German friends, greet them by knocking on the table. It’s believed that knocking on oak is good luck because the devil isn’t able to touch the “holy” wood.
- Whatever you do, don’t cheers with water. Doing so means you’re wishing death upon your drinking buddies, and you definitely wouldn’t want to do that.
- The Weihenstephaner Brewery just north of Munich has been operating since 1040, making it the world’s oldest brewery.
- There are 1,300 beer breweries in Germany, producing over 5,000 types of beer. No wonder why Germans are the world’s second biggest beer drinkers.
- In Germany, beer manufacturers are required to follow the purity law, also known as “Reinheitsgebot,” which allows only water, barley, and hops to be used in the production of beer.
- 6.7 million liters of beer are consumed at Oktoberfest, the world’s largest beer festival, which ironically takes place in September.
- Germans order their beer very differently. To order a single beer, raise one thumb. If you want to order two beers, raise your first finger. Be careful not to confuse your fingers and thumbs unless you want to order the whole pub a round of drinks!
Germany Facts: Geography
- The capital of Germany, Berlin, is nine times larger than the city of Paris, and actually has more bridges than Venice.
- Germany has the world’s narrowest street in the city of Reutlingen. Called “Spreuerhofstrasse,” the street is approximately one foot wide at the narrowest point, and nearly twenty inches wide at the widest.
- Love the good outdoors? Approximately one-third of Germany is still forested.
- Germany has close to 700 zoological gardens, wildlife parks, aquariums, and animal reserves. The Berlin Zoological Garden is also one of the world’s largest zoos, with 84 acres and 1,500 species of animals.
- There are over 20,000 castles in Germany, most of them being at least 100 years old. Many of these castles were turned into museums, hotels, or cultural art centers for people to enjoy.
German Culture Facts
- Germans are sticklers when it comes to following the rules. This is especially true when it comes to the rules of the road. While it might be okay to jaywalk on the streets of New York City, you’ll get nasty glares if you illegally cross the street in Germany.
- Germans can be quite direct. In fact, they have no qualms about calling you out for unknowingly or knowingly making an inappropriate comment or gesture. Try not to take offense to this, as Germans do it to each other as well.
- While it may be normal for you to chat with the mailman or your neighbor, Germans aren’t fans of small talk. They don’t see the point in making pleasantries. Although, they will greet people with a “Guten Tag” (Good day) or “Guten Abend” (Good evening).
- If you don’t want to get the evil eye from your waitress and other patrons, then never ask for tap water at a German restaurant. The German word for tap water is “Leitungswasser,” which means plumbing water. Gross.
- Like Americans, Germans like their privacy. Don’t greet someone with a hug unless you are close friends and stay at least an arm’s distance or more away when having a conversation with another person.
German Arts and Education
- Looking for a cost-effective college education? Colleges in Germany have been tuition free since 2014, even for international students.
- Some of the most well-known philosophers were from Germany, including Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche.
- Germans have made major contributions to classical music with the likes of Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig von Beethoven.
- Popular fairy tales, like “Hansel and Gretel,” “Snow White,” and “Rapunzel,” were created by German brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. The collection of German fairy tales are commonly know in English as Grimm’s Fairy Tales.
- Germany hosts some of the largest music festivals in the world, including Rock am Ring, Wave-Gotik-Treffen, and Wacken Open Air.
Fun Facts About German Law
- In Germany, there is no punishment for a prisoner who tries to escape from jail because Germans believe it’s a basic human instinct to be free.
- Germany is one of 22 countries that have outlawed the declawing of cats, as they find it to be unnecessarily cruel. Meow.
- Keep your gas tank full! It’s illegal to run out of fuel on highways.
- According to German law, an infant’s gender must be obvious by his or her first name. The civil registration office has the right to refuse names that don’t comply.
- Don’t even think about mowing your lawn or fixing up that old shed on a Sunday afternoon. German law states that Sundays are a day of rest and silence. Neighbors are expected to keep quiet, and all grocery and other retail stores are closed.
- In Germany, it’s against the law to address a police officer with the informal “du.” You might want to take one or two German lessons before you arrive to avoid the hefty fine of up to €600.
Interesting Facts About German Inventions
- The magazine was first invented in Germany in 1663. Called Erbauliche Monaths Unterredungen, the magazine was a literary and philosophical edition.
- During World War II, Coca-Cola syrup was difficult to import into Nazi Germany. As a result, Germans created the insanely sweet orange soda, also known as Fanta.
- The Christmas tree was first created in Germany during the Renaissance era. Rather than being draped with illuminate lights, the original Christmas tree was decorated with apples, nuts, and other foods.
- You can credit the Germans for inventing the accordion, which remains a staple in the German culture.
- You can thank German entrepreneur Hans Riegel for your love of gummy bears. After seeing trained bears at festivals, the owner of Haribo created the delicious treat.
Fun Facts About German Sports
- Including the Winter Games of 2014, Germany has won a total of 1,681 medals, 547 of them being gold.
- In Germany, professional soccer games draw an average of 25,000 fans. That’s one loud stadium.
- Germany used to be a breeding ground for the world’s best tennis players. Famous players, such as Boris Becker, Steffi Graf, Anke Huber, and Michael Stich are all Germans. The Deutsche Tennis Bund, which boasts 1.8 million members, is the world’s largest tennis association.
- Handball, a game in which two teams pass a ball using their hands with the aim of throwing it into the goal of the other team, was first invented in Germany.
- Many Germans are active in sports clubs. In fact, one in three Germans is a member of the German Olympic Sports Federation.
We hope that these fun facts about Germany have made you even more excited to visit the country or study the language. Perhaps you’re even inspired to book your flight! Since Germans are well known for their efficiency, it makes sense to learn German in the most efficient way possible. Private German lessons, whether in person or online, are by far the best way to master the language!
As you sharpen your German skills, you’ll be sure to uncover more interesting facts about Germany. These will only inspire you to dive deeper into the language and culture!
Whenever you discover a new fun fact about Germany, come back to this page and let us know in the comments below!