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German Travel Phrases: Cheat Sheet For Getting Around

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While many of the younger generations of Germans are taught German in school, many people in the country still do not speak English. So, learning a few of the more common words and phrases will go a long way in helping you have the trip of a lifetime while traveling to Germany. These are the most essential German travel phrases to know for your trip.

Below is a handy infographic containing the most common phrases and other valuable information as you plan your future trip to Germany. If you are a savvy traveler, you already know the importance of learning a few key phrases in the language of the country you will be visiting.

So, as you plan your trip to Germany, there are key German travel phrases, words, sentences, and greetings you should know to help make yourself less vulnerable as a traveler and tourist and to allow you to get so much more out of your trip abroad.

Why You Should Learn German Travel Phrases

germany parliament building berlin

Still not convinced you need to learn more German phrases? Let’s look at a few beneficial reasons for doing just that.

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Native German Speakers Are More Appreciative

Whenever a native German speaker sees that a tourist has put more effort into learning the language, you will find that they are much more appreciative. It shows a level of respect and demonstrates to them that you want to reach out and connect to as many people as possible on your trip.

No Need to Clutch Your German Phrasebook

As a tourist, you probably have all the travel guides and German phrasebooks you can carry.

Well, when you take the time to learn common German travel phrases, you won’t have to rely so much on your phrasebook. You will have the chance to respond more quickly when you are spoken to, and you might be able to meet a couple of locals during your trip.

Avoid Being Taken Advantage Of

When you can express yourself with common German travel phrases, there is less chance that you can be taken advantage of by taxi drivers, souvenir shops, or restaurants you visit.

Not All Germans Speak English

Finally, despite some people’s perceptions, not all Germans speak English. Even when visiting the larger and more touristy German cities, you will find many people who know little English.

It can disrupt your trip if you need to hunt down an English speaker whenever you have a question or want to reach out and meet new people.

See Related: What Does Sprechen Sie Deutsch Mean?

Learn Your Basic German Phrases and Greetings

handshake of two German friends in city

Now that you know the importance of learning key German phrases, let’s break it down a bit more before getting to the handy German travel phrase cheat sheet at the end.

Start with Hello

Hallo! Guten Morgen! Guten Tag! Guten Abend! Hello, good morning, good day, and good evening!

This is the best place to start when meeting new people in Germany. Then quickly follow this greeting with Ich heiße and insert your name.

A few other key phrases that will help with an opening conversation include:

  • Wie heißen Sie? – What is your name?
  • Wie geht’s? – How are you?
  • Wie geht es dir?  How are you?
  • Wie geht es Ihnen?   How are you? (informal)
  • Ich komme aus? – I am from…
  • Auf Wiedersehen – Goodbye 
  • Tschüß Bye!

Now for Some Shopping

Geschlossen (Closed) Sign at a German Shop
Marc Bode / Shutterstock

Once you have learned and nailed down your greetings, consider the activities you will participate in on your trip. We are willing to bet you will do a little shopping while you are away!

To help, we have a few basic German phrases to help make your shopping experience easier and more memorable.

Haben Sie Andenken? Do you have any souvenirs? This phrase will be useful when you want to find neat knickknacks to bring home to your family and friends.

You can also say Verkaufen Sie… and input the name of the specific item you may be looking for. Once you find the item and need the price, Wie viel kostet das? This means, how much is that?

Other common basic German travel phrases you may want to practice:

  • Haben Sie das in einer [kleineren/größeren] Größe? – Do you have that in a smaller/bigger size?
  • Darf ich mit Bargeld bezahlen? – May I pay with cash?
  • Nehmen Sie (Visa/Mastercard, etc.)? – Do you accept (Visa/Mastercard, etc.)
  • Wo ist der nächste Geldautomat? – Where is the closest ATM?
  • Wo sind die Toiletten, bitte? – Where are the restrooms, please?
  • Wo ist die Toilette? – Where’s the restroom?
  • Ist es weit? – Is it far?

Asking for Directions

road train in germany

Ahh, directions. As a tourist in a new location, you will most likely find yourself getting lost and needing directions occasionally.

One of the more important parts of traveling in a foreign country is ensuring you safely reach your destination.

Here are some of the more common transportation you will want to learn:

  • Wann fährt der nächste Bus nach …? – When does the next bus leave to…?
  • Wann fährt der nächste zug nach …? – When does the next train leave to…?
  • Wann kommt dieser Bus an? – When does this bus arrive?
  • Wann kommt dieser Zug an? – When does this train arrive?
  • Was kostet eine Fahrkarte nach …? – How much is a ticket to…?
  • Sprechen Sie Englisch? – Do you speak English?
  • Sprichst du Englisch? – Do you speak English? (informal)
  • Ich habe mich verlaufen – I’m lost. 
  • Ich verstehe nicht – I don’t understand.
  • Ich verstehe Sie nicht – I don’t understand you.

Restaurant and Take Out Phrases

a German restaurant

Once you figure out how to go from point A to point B, you have probably worked up quite a hunger and thirst. Let’s learn a few basic German travel phrases to help you order at a restaurant.

You will love being able to order your meal like a local!

  • Ich habe eine Reservierung auf den Namen… – I have a reservation under…
  • Die Speisekarte, bitte – The menu, please
  • Haben Sie… – Do you have….
  • Ich bin Vegetarier – I’m a vegetarian
  • Leitungswasser – Tap water
  • Suppe – Soup
  • Bier – Beer
  • Wein – Wine
  • Um die Ecke – Around the corner.
  • Guten Appetit – Enjoy your meal.
  • Wo ist die Toilette? – Where’s the restroom?
  • Darf ich eine Quittung haben, bitte? – Can I have a receipt, please?
  • Die Rechnung, bitte – The bill, please.
  • Guten Abend – Good night.

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Lodging Phrases

Now that your belly is full and you have seen some of the amazing sights that Germany has to offer, it is probably time to rest.

Here are a few more common German phrases for the lodging you want to learn before your trip.

  • Sind noch Zimmer frei? – Do you have any rooms available?
  • Einzelzimmer – Single Room
  • Klimaanlage – Air Conditioning
  • Ist Frühstück inklusiv? – Is breakfast included?
  • Ich bleibe [eine Nacht/zwei Nächte/drei Nächte] – I am staying (one night, two nights, three nights)
  • Ich möchte auschecken – I would like to check out

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Emergency German Phrases

Finally, let’s review a few important but simple German phrases for emergencies to prepare you for anything.

  • Sprechen Sie Englisch? – Do you speak English?
  • Hilfe! – Help!
  • Feuer! – Fire!
  • Ich brauche Hilfe – I need help.
  • Ich brauche die Polizei – I need the police.
  • Ich brauche einen Arzt – I need a doctor
  • Wo ist das nächste Krankenhaus? – Where is the closest hospital?
  • Kann ich dein Telefon benutzen? – Can I use your phone?
  • Es ist ein Notfall – It’s an emergency
  • Wie komme ich zur [amerikanischen/kanadischen/australischen/britischen] Botschaft? – How do I get to the (American/Canadian/Australian/British) embassy?

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How to Learn Travel Phrases in German

You can learn travel phrases in German while you are on the go. There are some great ways to learn German travel phrases. One way is to use an app on your phone or tablet.

Many different apps offer this service, with our favorite being Babbel or Rosetta Stone. You can also find audio files you can download to listen to while driving or walking.

Another great way to learn German is to find a website that offers free audio files. Many different websites offer this service. This can make learning German much easier as you can do it while working or relaxing.

One of the best ways to learn German travel phrases is to find a course that offers this service. While you are on vacation, it can be helpful to know some key phrases in the language of the country you are visiting.

This way, you can communicate with the locals and get around easier. German is a great language to learn for this purpose, as it is spoken in many different countries.

There are many different ways to learn, so don’t be afraid to try a few different methods to see which one works best for you. Just be sure to get started soon so that you can start enjoying your trip even more.

Which Basic German Words Are Used in English?

As you learn German, many basic German words, like kindergarten, iceberg, angst, sauerkraut, and Volkswagen, are also used in English. Like other languages, English has many words taken and adopted from other languages.

If you are a native speaker, you already know and understand the words we mentioned, but did you know they came from a foreign language?

How Quickly Can You Learn German?

German is currently rated a category two language, similar to English. For this reason, it is estimated that you can learn the German language in approximately 30 weeks or over 750 classroom hours. To learn German fast, you need to find a motivating factor.

For example, maybe you have a trip planned in the future. Make it your goal to learn the language before you board your plane. When learning, it is important that you also learn all the fundamentals involved with the language.

Don’t steer clear of slang words, funny words, or idioms to keep things interesting and keep you learning. Go all the way and learn everything you can to the more common German phrases.

See Related: Things to Do in Frankfurt

What Is Considered Rude in Germany?

Did you know that Germans are known for their punctuality? Many consider it extremely rude and deem you unreliable if you arrive late. So, if you are running late for an appointment or reservation, make sure you call ahead of time and apologize.

You also want to avoid jaywalking, entering a home, wearing shoes, and walking in the bicycle lanes.

How Many German Words Do You Need to Know to Be Fluent?

Most fluent speakers should have a passive German vocabulary of around 20,000 words and an active German vocabulary of approximately 5,000 words.

To achieve a higher level of fluency in the German language, practice, practice, practice. Spend as much time as you can speaking German phrases and words daily, which is the easiest and most effective way to start learning German.

Many students learning the language will spend around 25 hours a week on practice in class combined with three hours each day of their practice.

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Where in the world is German spoken?

In central and northern Europe, mostly in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. So, if you plan a trip around Europe, you will want to know at least the basics of German words and phrases.

Absolute beginners might want to consider a course that offers online learning so they can start with the basics and work their way up.

See Related: Top German Food Dishes to Try

Abschließend (In Closing)

Learning useful German phrases and words before visiting the country can help ensure a smoother and more enjoyable trip.

You won’t find yourself clutching your German phrasebook, and you can respond much faster than if you had to flip through phrases. You won’t look like a tourist and can meet many friendly people along the way.

As you can see, you can learn the German language in many different ways. What’s important is finding a method that works best for you.

FAQ

What are popular German phrases?

There are many popular German phrases, but some of the most common ones include: Good morning = Guten Morgen, Hello = Hallo, Good Day = Guten Tag, Ich heiße… = I’m…, and Thank You = Danke.

What is the most beautiful German word?

The most beautiful German word is Gemütlichkeit, which means comfort. It generally translates to comfort but is coined as a distinctive feeling that encompasses the feelings of home, family, and community rather than just physical comforts.

What are some fun German words?

Some fun German words are Schweinhund, which means pigdog; Torschlusspanik, which means gate closing panic, and Lebenszeit, which means life tired. These words are all translated to English quite literally, so they can be a lot of fun when speaking German. Additionally, there are several other humorous words in the German language that can make for a more enjoyable experience when speaking or learning the language.

How can I learn German quickly?

Learn German easily by doing this! Find the right motivational reason for it start learning the German basics, and keep it interesting with fun words or jokes. Practice daily, but do so in practical real life and try to speak German as much as possible.

Download this German travel phrases cheat sheet: Easy German Travel Phrase Guide [Infographic]

German Phrases (Infographic)

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