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Driving in Germany - 10 tips for your road trip

Driving in Germany - 10 tips for your road trip

  • Are you going to drive in Germany? Here are my 10 best tips and tricks on the things I wish I had known the first time we went to Germany!

For all vacationers on their road trip in Europe, Germany is one of the first countries to pass through. For many, the experience of driving in Germany becomes just one long autobahn that you want to graze on your way to the Mediterranean, but for us, Germany's roads are always part of the experience. Regardless of whether you (like us) love small roads and like to let the journey take a little time or if you love to blast along on the autobahn, we always learn something new every time.

Det finns en massa lagar och regler kring vad du behöver ha för utrustning i bilen, regler kring bilbarnstolar, promillegränser eller vad det är för hastigheter som gäller i tätbebyggt område – de reglerna hittar du exempelvis hos Motormännen. Här har jag istället samlat mina tips och trix – de där restipsen som jag själv skulle ha önskat att någon berättat för mig inför min första bilresa till Tyskland!

1. Environmental zones – Environmental zones

Inom EU har man infört miljözoner och dieselförbudszoner i en stor mängd städer i Europa och då även i Tyskland. I vissa fall gäller zonen (än så länge) bara kommersiella fordon, men i många fall gäller det även personbilar. För att köra in i en zon krävs att du har skaffat en officiell klassificering på din bil genom ett klistermärke – så kallad Feinstaubplakette – som du fäster i framrutan.

We hadn't had time to get an environmental sticker before we left, which meant we couldn't drive into Germany's major cities without risking a fine - even though our car would be ok on paper. To be sure that you can drive into your booked hotel in Cologne, before you leave, you can order an environmental sticker from Dekra. Then you don't have to rebook the hotel at the last second, which we had to do...

A tip: To find out in which cities there are environmental zones, I use the IPhone app Green-Zones. The app has good maps and descriptions of what applies in the environmental zones in each city.

Interesting views along the way
Interesting views after the autobahn

2. Free speed on the autobahn? Well

Germany's autobahn is known for its free speed, but nowadays many sections have speed limits. Often there is a speed limit of 130 km/h or less, but sometimes you pass a crossed-out white speed sign. This means that the previous speed no longer applies and that no new speed is regulated. So "free speed" on the autobahn to the next speed sign. Although the recommended speed on the autobahn is always 130km/h.

3. Raststätte och Autohof

There are plenty of places to stop and stretch your legs along the autobahn, but there are different types of rest stops. The service at the rest stop is usually shown with symbols under the road sign.

Ett Raststätte ligger nära vägen och har oftast restaurang, kiosk och toalett. Här är bensinen oftast riktigt dyr!

En Autohof ligger längre från autobahn – ibland flera kilometer – och har oftast liknande service som ett Raststätte. Här är det mer förmånligt att tanka, det kan vara flera kronor billigare per liter jämfört med ett raststätte.

There are different symbols on the road signs if there are chargers for electric cars or if there is petrol. Don't drive too fast, then you won't have time to see the small "power cord" by the tank symbol :)

A tip: Toilet visits usually cost 70 cents, but then you get a coupon for 50 cents to shop for. So buy sweets after you visit the toilet.

Rest area Lipperland about 5 km with electricity and petrol/diesel

4. Stau

Ett ord som är bra att kunna är Stau – kö. Och det är ofta stau på autobahn. Speciellt kring storstäderna. Vägarna kring München och Hamburg har jag upplevt som värst. Kör med försiktighet och använd Google maps eller Waze för att få alternativa vägar och slippa köa.

It is common for the person who is last in the queue to turn on their hazard lights so that those coming behind at high speed must pay attention to the queue in time.

NOTE: If you use a GPS app, remember that it is forbidden to have speed camera alerts turned on.

5. The left lane on the autobahn

You only stay in the left lane if you have to overtake – and it has to be fast! In this file, you don't grind your way past slowly. Check the rearview mirror all the time - not just once.

NOTE: There is a great risk that a car will come in the left lane at 200 km/h with flashing headlights. Then it's just a matter of quickly changing the file.

6. Brown signs = Sights

Along the entire autobahn there is a fantastic service for us tourists – the brown sightseeing signs! Sights are shown here that are within a few miles of the autobahn and are often places that you have never heard of.

Read more
The tower in Freiburg surrounded by beautiful houses

A tip: As a passenger, you therefore have the obvious task of quickly Googling what kind of attraction it is, so that you can spontaneously discover new exciting places!

Brown sign for attractions
Did you know there are volcanoes in Germany?

7. Sundays are truck-free (almost)

During weekdays, the trucks line up along the autobahn. On Sundays (and holidays) there are restrictions on truck traffic, so it is usually (almost) empty of trucks. A clearly nicer day for long drives and usually with fewer queues.

Tip: During July and August, it is also truck-free on many roads on Saturdays too! (However, not on all roads as on Sundays - you will find a map of the affected roads here)

8. Bei nässe – Olika hastigheter vid regn

Ofta kan du se hastighetsskyltar som har en underskylt som säger ”bei nässe”. Det betyder att den lägre hastigheten gäller ”vid regn”.

9. Studded tires prohibited

Studded tires are prohibited, in winter road conditions you need studless winter tires. Even if you are going to the Alps.

10. Cars/trucks

Sometimes you come across signs and files with the letters LKW and PKW at gas stations and ferries. LKW are trucks. PKW are passenger cars.

Those were my 10 tips for you who are going to drive in Germany! Do you have any more tips I've missed?

Have you been here? What did you think of the destination?
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Read comments (4)
  • Hello!

    Can add with regard to queues that they are helped to form a "Rettungsgasse" where the waiting lane goes as far to the left as possible and the right lane goes as far to the right as possible so that the rescue vehicles can easily arrive in the middle. Practically!
    Really like the Autobahn otherwise, usually very good roads and you get there quickly. Thanks for a lot of great tips!

    • Great tip and agree that it is practical! Have started to see it here at home in Sweden on motorways, hope it is something that will "contagion" to more motorists!

  • Hi, thinking about this with environmental zones and the purchase of decals. Can I who have diesel Euro 5 buy myself "free" with a sticker and still go into the city? Or how the scar intended? etc. Peter

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