Travelled to 40 countries / regions

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Worked in Germany for 2 months



Europe > Germany > Useful Info
Updated on Jun 27, 2019 Useful Info

Getting around Germany with English as a tourist

  • Germany has a fairly high level of English proficiency compared to most countries, but there are regional variations
  • In general, you should have no problem in 99% of the situation as a tourist
  • Regionally speaking:
  • Major cities in the former west Germany, including Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Stuttgart, etc. have the highest level of English proficiency. Most people you will come across in these cities will have a conversational level of English
  • Major cities in the former east Germany, including Berlin, Leipzig, Dresden, etc. is hit and miss. Younger people can speak good English, but many older folks do not (they speak Russian). You will be met with frequent blank stares if you try to speak English in these cities. I've come across plenty of people when I was working outside of Berlin who don't speak a word of English
  • In rural areas, aside from major tourist spots like the Neuschwanstein Castle, English ability will be much lower. You can probably still get around if you try really really hard, but it won't be easy
  • However, just like anywhere else in the world, it helps to not be so arrogant as to start speaking English to locals right away. Try to at least greet them in German before you start speaking in English. Some useful basic and everyday/informal greetings and phrases that got me through 99% of the situations include:
  • Morgen/Guten Tag/Abend: good morning/hello/good evening
  • Hallo: hi
  • Danke (pronunciation): thanks
  • Entschuldigung (pronunciation): excuse me
  • Sprechen Sie Englisch? (pronunciation): do you speak English
  • Ich spreche kein Deutsch: I don't speak German
  • Tschüss (pronunciation): bye