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What is Germany Known For? 15 Famous Things to Know

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Whether you know it or not, when you dream of fairytale castles, you’ve likely created a vision inspired by Germany in your head. Whether it’s the iconic Neuschwanstein Castle or letting your hair down at a rave in Berlin, Germany’s culture has extended its grip worldwide.

This guide will cover the most famous things that Germany is known for. Tighten up your lederhosen, grab a Hefeweizen, and let’s dive in.

TL;DR: Fast Facts to Know

Interesting facts about German culture:

  • German engineering is renowned worldwide, with over 50% of automobiles produced in Europe coming from Germany.
  • Approximately 13% of the world’s scientific articles are written by German researchers, highlighting their contributions to various fields.
  • Germany boasts a world-renowned beer culture, with over 1,500 breweries producing a staggering variety of over 7,000 different types of beer.

Famous cultural places, landmarks, foods, and events:

Best FestivalOktoberfest
Coolest Museum:BMW Museum
Most Popular Sports Team:Bundesliga (Soccer/Football)
Best Christmas Markets:Nuremberg, Cologne, Munich
Popular food:Schnitzel, Bratwurst, Apple Struddle

Germany in a Nutshell

Rotes Rathaus, Berlin, Germany
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Before getting into the nitty-gritty, let’s look at some basics. Germany has a lot of impressive features and accomplishments that are well-known around the world. For example, it’s known for its advanced infrastructure, economic strength, high standard of living, and excellent education system.

According to the European Commission, Germany’s population is over eighty-three million. Another fun fact is that no European country has as many direct neighbors. Germany shares a border with nine other countries, which are:

  • Austria
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Switzerland
  • Belgium

A Brief History of Germany

Tourists at Brandenburg Gate with Quadriga under a cloudy sky
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Upon the conclusion of World War II, opposing political ideas led to the country’s separation into East and West Germany. The Soviet-influenced GDR (German Democratic Republic) ruled the east, and the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) ruled the west. 

Map of the States of Germany
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

On October 3, 1990, Germany was finally reunified. Currently, 16 federal states (locally known as Bundesland) are governed under one centralized Germany. 

Today, Germany has become a top-rated travel destination. According to WorldData.info, Germany saw 11.69 tourists in 2021. As travel bounces back post-pandemic, that number is only expected to grow. 

What is the Standard of Living in Germany Like?

Vintage bike on Museum Island waterfront, Berlin
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Germany is known for its high standard of living. This is evident in its strong economy and numerous business startups. 

According to KPMG, Germany has the fourth strongest global economy and the strongest economy in Europe. Whether you want to start a business or work for a company, there are plenty of opportunities in Germany. The country is home to some of the world’s most famous brands like:

  • Aldi
  • Audi
  • BMW
  • DHL
  • Heckler & Koch
  • Mercedes-Benz
  • Siemens.
  • T-Mobile
  • Volkswagen
  • Walther 

Additionally, Germany has an excellent infrastructure. Their highways nicknamed the Autobahn, connect all major cities and towns across Germany. The efficient public transportation system makes getting around the country easy, safe, and convenient. 

In 2018, Forbes named Munich the “Most Livable City in the World.” There are about 80 museums in Munich, and this charming city is also known for its fantastic beer gardens.

What is Germany Known For?

From fairy tale castles to the iconic Oktoberfest, Germany has abundant culture, many attractions, and famous landmarks that continue to captivate visitors worldwide. Let’s dive into the most interesting things Germany is famous for.

1. One-of-a-Kind German Cities

Berlin, Germany is one of Europe's top cities to visit
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Although Germany is a relatively small country by land mass, it’s home to some of the most influential cities in the world. From Berlin’s world-famous party culture to Frankfurt’s financial epicenter, Germany has offered numerous global contributions through its iconic cities. Some of the most influential and famous German cities include:

  • Berlin
  • Cologn
  • Dresden
  • Frankfurt
  • Munich
  • Nuremberg
  • Stuttgart

See Related: Best Places to Visit in Germany

2. World-renowned German Culture

Bustling Oktoberfest scene with amusement rides and festive crowds in Munich.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Deutschland has a long and distinguished history of famous Germans. German culture has always prioritized education and exposure to the arts, and its contributions clearly show for themselves.

The culture has produced renowned classical musicians like Ludwig van Beethoven and Johann Sebastian Bach. The most famous German authors include Thomas Mann and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Plus, celebrated scientists like Albert Einstein.

3. Beer

Authentic German Rauchbier and pretzel in a tavern
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

This list would be completely remiss if we did not include a section on Germany’s world-class beer. From Witbiers (wheat beers) to Hefeweizen, German beers are water in these parts.

In Germany, it’s common to order a beer with lunch–maybe even breakfast! Drinking beer in Germany is a social norm, and you’ll see everyone, from young adults to seniors, enjoying a pint or two at a meal. 

Popular German breweries include:

  • Hofbräuhaus Brewery
  • Erdinger Brewery
  • Karlsberg
  • Klosterbrauerei Andechs

4. German Cuisine

Authentic Franconian sausage meal with potato salad at Bratwursthäusle, Nuremberg
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

When you think of German food, your brain probably goes “meat and potatoes.” Well, that’s pretty spot on.

While they do mix some sauerkraut in there, many of the traditional dishes are hearty meat dishes like their famous German sausages. Regardless, here are some of the dishes that Germany is famous for: 

  • Apple Strudel
  • Bratwurst
  • Currywurst
  • Kartoffelpuffer
  • Kirschenmiche
  • Sauerbraten
  • Sauerkraut 
  • Schnitzel
  • Spätzle

5. A UNESCO World Heritage Site for Every Interest

Aachen Rathaus, Germany
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

At the time of publishing, Germany has 52 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Ranging from entire city centers to gems from the Roman Empire, Germany is brimming with world history. While the list is too exhaustive to include all of them here, be sure to consider adding a few of these spots to your Germany itinerary:

  • Aachen Cathedral
  • Bamberg Old Town
  • Berlin Museum Old Town
  • Cologne Cathedral
  • Lorsch Abbey
  • Maulbronn Monastery Complex
  • Old Town of Regensburg
  • Upper Germanic-Rhaetian Limes
  • Wartburg Castle
  • Würzburg Residence Palace & Court Gardens

See Related: UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Europe You’ll Want to Visit

6. Castles

Schloss Drachenburg, Germany
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

If you’ve been dreaming of your Cinderella moment–this is it. There are estimated to be about 25,000 castles still standing in Germany

Of course, not all these are grandeur; some are unrecognizable ruins. On the other hand, iconic structures like the Neuschwanstein Castle (built by King Ludwig II), Hohenzollern Castle, and the Heidelberg Palace still stand firm.

Many of these German castles are open to the public and offer guided tours. Book the Neuschwanstein & Linderhof Castle Full-Day Trip to knock two items off your Germany bucket list.

7. Efficient Public Transportation

Red commuter train arriving at Nuremberg Station at sunset
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The Germans are famous for their love of efficiency, which shows in their public transportation system. The trains and buses usually run on time, and the network is extensive.

This makes getting around Germany a breeze throughout city limits and the entire country. I’ve had a lot of success using Omio to purchase my public transportation tickets in Germany (and throughout Europe).

8. An Exceptional Automotive Industry

BMW Museum
Cait Kontalis / ViaTravelers

German excellence is practically synonymous with German cars. The first car was built by Karl Benz (Yes, that Benz) in Germany in 1885. 

Companies like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, and Porsche claim German roots. On your trip to Germany, be sure to visit the BMW Museum in Munich or the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart. There are many great car museums in Germany–check them out!

9. The German National Team

German and American Sports Fans at a Bar

The German national football team (that’s soccer to us, Yanks) is one of the most successful in the world. They have won four World Cups (1954, 1974, 1990, and 2014) and were close in 2002.

 Football (soccer) is by far the most popular sport in Germany (and the world, if we’re honest). Today, the German Bundesliga is tied with Italy, and just one World Cup win behind Brazil. 

10. Incredible Landscapes and Nature

Aerial View of Alpsee Lake in Bavaria, Germany

Germany offers some of the best forests on the continent. Germany is a haven for nature lovers between the Black Forest and the Bavarian Alps.

Bavarian towns, such as Garmisch-Partenkirchen, offer endless hiking trails, ski resorts, climbing routes, and bike trails. Additionally, it’s not unusual to spot a castle or two while you’re out and about. 

11. Christmas Markets

Düsseldorf Christmas Market at the Rathaus
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Germany is famous for its Christmas markets. These markets pop up in cities and towns nationwide in the weeks leading up to Christmas

They are great places to buy traditional Christmas presents, take home a mug of gluhwein, and even be chased by Krampus. The city of Nürnberg has traditionally been the largest Christmas market in the country. However, you can also find fantastic markets in these German cities:

  • Berlin
  • Cologne
  • Dresden
  • Frankfurt
  • Hamburg
  • Heidelberg
  • Munich
  • Rothenburg ob der Tauber
  • Stuttgart

See Related: Top Christmas Markets in the World

12. Oktoberfest

Paulaner Festzelt (Paulaner Tent), Oktoberfest
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Oktoberfest is the world’s largest Volksfest (German beer festival). It is a 16-18 day festival in Munich, Bavaria. In 2023, 7.2 million people from all over the world come to celebrate German culture and drink lots of beer. 

However, Oktoberfest is more than just drinking. The festival grounds include countless rides, stalls, and shows to attend.

It’s actually a very family-friendly event. Tie up your Lederhosen and dirndls, and plan to attend this bucket list experience. 

Tables at Oktoberfest can be extremely hard to get. To eliminate that problem, book a Guided Oktoberfest Experience with Beer and Lunch.

13. Fasching and Karneval

Men at Karneval in Germany
Günter Hentsche / Flickr

Fasching and Karneval is essentially the German equivalent of Mardi Gras. Much like Fat Tuesday, it’s a pre-Lent celebration with parades, over-the-top costumes, and top-notch street parties.

These traditions, deeply embedded in German culture, vary by region but generally include loud music, dancing, and the crowning of a carnival king and queen. Cologne’s Karneval is especially renowned for its elaborate celebrations. Be sure to learn the local chant, “Kölle Alaaf” (Cologne above all), to join in on the fun.

14. The Berlin Wall

Fraternal Kiss mural, Berlin Wall, East Side Gallery attraction
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

While Germany holds centuries’ worth of world significance, perhaps the item Germany is most famous for in modern times is the Berlin Wall. Today, the Berlin Wall is a powerful reminder of a bygone era.

Built in 1961, the wall effectively split the city of Berlin into East and West. It was a physical manifestation of the ideological divide between communism and democracy. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 marked a pivotal turning point in German history and was a crucial moment in the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union. 

Today, visitors can explore various remaining sections of the wall, such as the East Side Gallery. The East Side Gallery is adorned with murals and artwork symbolizing the triumph of unity and freedom over separation and oppression.

A great way to experience the wall is to chat with a local. Book the Berlin Wall & Cold War: Personal Life Stories Private Tour to talk with a Berliner who lived through it.

15. A World-Class Techno Music Scene

Party at Club AIR, Amsterdam
Management / TripAdvisor

Berlin and a good party go together like bread and butter. And in Berlin, electronic music is king. The city’s vibrant techno scene has been a mainstay since the late 1980s when the Berlin Wall fell.

Today, clubs like Berghain and Tresor attract party-goers from around the world with their industrial vibes and thumping beats. Berlin also hosts several major electronic music festivals, including Love Parade.

A great way to experience Berlin’s thriving music scene is with a Premium Underground Party Tour. Clubs in Berlin are notoriously hard to get into, and a guide will minimize your interactions with those intimidating German bouncers. Alternatively, check out one of the many summer outdoor events and open-air clubs.

Tips for Visiting Germany

Yellow building in Munich
Cait Kontalis / ViaTravelers

1. Don’t Mention the War!

Unfortunately, people typically associate Germany with World War II. If it isn’t that, it’s World War I or the Cold War. Don’t be boorish while there, and don’t mention the war. Any of them!

If you have to talk about them, be extremely sensitive about it. And do not talk about Adolf Hitler or the Nazis.

2. Try the Local Cuisine

As we discussed, Germany is known for its hearty and delicious food–so try some traditional dishes there! To immerse yourself in the culture, try a Bavarian Food Tour with 3-Course Meal.

3. Learn Some Basic Phrases

While many Germans speak English, it’s always appreciated when visitors attempt to speak the local language. Learning basic phrases like “hello,” “please,” and “thank you” can go a long way in showing respect for the culture and German people.

4. Be Punctual

Germans are known for punctuality, so it’s important to be on time for scheduled events or tours. Being late is considered disrespectful and can leave a bad impression on locals. The last thing we need is to reinforce any American stereotypes!

5. Prepare for Unpredictable Weather

When considering what to pack for Germany , remember that the weather can be quite unpredictable. Bing clothing for both warm and cool temperatures, as well as rain gear.

Additionally, if you’re planning on visiting outdoor attractions or going hiking, make sure to pack appropriate footwear. Also, don’t forget to check the weather forecast before your trip so you can be prepared

6. Never Cross the Street on Red

For some reason, Germans feel very strongly against jaywalking. If no cars are coming from either direction, do not cross the street until there is a signal. If you do, be prepared to get scolded (or even a ticket!).

FAQ

What is Germany famous for?

Germany is famous for its rich history, architectural landmarks, and pioneering classical music with composers like Beethoven and Bach. Additionally, it’s celebrated for engineering innovations, particularly in the automotive industry, with brands like BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz.

What is German Culture most known for?

It’s no secret that Germany offers a rich culture, but Oktoberfest may be its most well-known attraction. Grab a traditional lederhosen and join in on the Bavarian beer-drinking festivities.

What food is Germany famous for?

Germany is famous for its beer, sausages, and schnitzel. However, German cuisine can be diverse and vary by region.

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