Germany is a fairly small country in Western Europe, but despite its size, it’s big on history and culture and there are plenty of interesting facts about Germany to learn. The country is an amazing mix of large, bustling cities and sprawling countryside with incredible scenery featuring mountains, lakes, forests, valleys and meadows. There are even beaches on the northern border!
Germany is known for world-class attractions, breweries and, of course, its world-renowned festivals such as Oktoberfest.
Germany has more than two thousand years of history so you can bet there are many museums. Culture is big, too so art galleries and nightclubs are everywhere you turn. Then you have the food and beer that the country is so renowned for.
Germany is a vacationer’s paradise! There’s so much to see and do and so many interesting things to learn about this amazing country. Before you set out to explore it, let’s take a look at some fascinating facts about Germany.
Interesting Facts About Germany
1. A Highway System With No Speed Limits
This is one of the best facts about Germany, that many people already know! Imagine the open road, the wind through your hair and the pedal to the metal. This is a possibility on 65% of Germany’s highways that are a part of a system of highways known as the Autobahn. Don’t get too carried away though. Excessive and dangerous speeds can get you pulled over and fined despite what you might have heard!
2. The Story Behind German Surnames
In Germany, many surnames were historically based on a person’s profession. Becker is the German word for Baker, Schmidt is the German word for Smith (as in blacksmith) and so on. The name Muller is the most common surname in the country. It’s the German word for Miller and more than 900,000 people have it.
3. A Very Big Train Station
It’s not the busiest train station in Europe, but Leipzig Hauptbahnhof in the capital city of Berlin is the largest train station on the continent as per its measurements of 898,400 square feet.
4. Beer is Sacred in the State of Bavaria
One of the best facts about Germany for beer lovers! In the Bavaria region of Germany, beer is so sacred that it’s actually considered a food – talk about one of the coolest German facts. Beer seeps into every aspect of life here.
People drink it with meals, they drink it while socializing, they drink it while relaxing and they even drink it while working in some cases. On average, 150 liters of beer is drunk by the average Bavarian and about half of the country’s breweries are in this little area!
5. Baked Goods are Everywhere in Germany
It’s no secret that Germans love their carbs and sweets, but did you know that there are more than 300 different types of breads that are made in the country? Pretzel, Milchbrötchen, Pumpernickel, Fünfkornbrot and Brotchen to name a few. And that’s not all; there are more than 1,200 types of pastries, cakes and other sweet treats.
6. Germany is Home to One of the Largest Cathedrals in the World
The Cologne Cathedral is a Gothic church that has the distinction of being the largest cathedral in Germany and one of the largest cathedrals in the world. It’s the enormous spires that help give it that title.
It’s also very old with construction having started in 1248. I wonder if it also holds the title of the longest church to complete; it wasn’t finished until 1880!
7. It’s Perfectly Legal to Try to Escape Imprisonment in Germany
Imagine being incarcerated. Even if you’re guilty, your first instinct is to try and figure out how to get out! Well, in Germany, the law respects that human instinct so if you attempt to escape, it won’t be held against you, which is one of the most interesting facts about Germany we have found!
You might get caught but you won’t be charged. However, be warned; any carnage you cause during your short-lived freedom will result in additional charges.
8. There are Castles Everywhere
Not only are some of the most beautiful castles in the world located in Germany, but this small country is home to more than 20,000 of them.
Some are well-known like, Neuschwanstein Castle, Schwerin Castle and Wartburg Castle, and these are some of the best places to visit in Europe. Others are a little off-the-beaten-path but there’s nothing like a castle-hunting adventure in the German countryside.
9. Call the Bomb Squad!
Germany is peaceful now but during WWII, thousands of unexploded bombs were left in various places around the country.
Every year, more than 2,000 tons of these explosives are found. Fortunately, a well-trained crew of experts is on-hand to ensure they are removed safely without them detonating in populated areas.
10. Germany’s Legal Drinking Age is 16
In Germany, you can enjoy your first beer legally at the tender age of 16. This works in a country where the focus of drinking alcohol is more on culture than on getting tipsy!
It’s customary to have a glass of wine or beer with a meal so why not allow the young adults at the table to indulge? Spirits, on the other hand, can’t be enjoyed legally until the age of 18.
11. Large Areas of Germany are Covered in Forests
Although Germany has some of the biggest cities in Europe, forests cover a surprisingly large area of this small country. Just over 30% of the land is forest which is equal to about 11 million hectares. It’s no wonder camping is so popular!
12. Sausage is King in Germany
There’s no doubt that Germans love sausage, but did you know that there are more than 1,000 different types of sausages that are made in the country? Some of the popular types include Bratwurst, Weisswurst, Frankfruter Wurstchen, Leberwirst and Thuringer Rostbratwurst.
However, the Currywurst is the most popular of all with over 800 million being consumed each year in Germany alone. When in Berlin, be sure to check out the museum dedicated to this tasty sausage.
13. All About the German Language
While it might not be surprising that German is the most common language in Europe, you’ll likely be surprised to learn that it’s also the 11th most commonly spoken language in the world. It has about 35 dialects and 60% of the German vocabulary is shared with English.
14. A Cherished National Sport
Despite its widespread popularity and the fact that it’s Germany’s national sport, football started to be played in the country only in 1974. Germany is home to the most fan clubs in the world and fans even have their own football chant.
15. A Big City With Lots of Bridges
Paris is big, but Berlin is bigger. Who knew? In fact, it’s nine times bigger, but the most incredible thing is Berlin has an astounding 1,700 bridges!
16. Germany Was Once Much Smaller
Prior to the German Reich in 1871, the country was made up of many small kingdoms before being united into one bigger country.
17. Germans Love to Explore the World
This is one of those facts about Germany we experience first hand as we travel the world and meet plenty of Germans. Millions of tourists arrive in Germany every year, but despite it being a great place to visit, Germans have a penchant for exploring far and wide, more so than any other country in the world!
18. That’s a Lot of Cars
Germans love to drive and they love their cars. The country is among the biggest producers of cars in the world, but it’s also one of the industry’s biggest consumers with more than 6 million cars sold every year.
19. A Publishing First
The first magazine in the world was unveiled in Germany in the year 1663. It was called Erbauliche Monaths-Unterredungen and was started by Johann Rist.
20. The Birth of Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest didn’t start as a beer festival; it started in 1810 as the marriage celebration of a royal couple. It took place over five days and grew into a yearly celebration which eventually grew into a yearly two-week celebration.
It’s currently the largest beer festival in the world. Despite its name, the festival actually starts in September. Oktoberfest is one of the best experiences to have in your 20s, or anytime in your life!
21. Where Your Flight is (Almost) Always on Time
Despite its size and the number of passengers who pass through it daily, the international airport in Munich is the second most punctual in the world.
22. A Land of Inventions
X-rays, diesel engines, electron microscopes, MP3s, coffee filters, tape recorders and portable hand-held electric drills. What do all these items have in common? They were all invented in Germany!
23. Culture is Everything
In Germany, culture is at the forefront and Germans love to put their culture on display. The country is home to more than 6,000 museums, 820 theaters, 130 orchestras and 8,800 libraries.
24. One Long Word
Probably one of the most interesting facts about Germany! The word Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz was the longest word in the German language with 63 letters! A few years back, it was officially thrown out because its meaning became obsolete in modern times. I think perhaps many people just got tired of trying to pronounce it!
25. A Time-honoured Tradition
Perhaps you give no thought as to where that warm and fuzzy holiday tradition of setting up a beautifully-decorated tree came from, but it’s true that the tradition started in western Germany.
26. A Very Narrow Street
It’s only one foot across. I’m talking about the narrowest street in the world and it happens to be in the city of Reutlingen.
27. A City With its Own Language
While varying dialects are common throughout Germany, not many vary as much as Kolsch, which is the common dialect spoken in the city of Cologne.
28. Marking a Memorable Event
A child’s first day at school is exciting and memorable, but it’s also a scary experience. To mark the occasion and help ease first-day jitters, a cone filled with goodies is presented to the child. This tradition dates back to the 1800s and today, kids get a range of items in their cone including candy, toys, video games or even a new cell phone.
29. You Can Drink Alcohol in Public…Legally!
The laws surrounding booze are not as strict in Germany as they are in many other countries. It’s not frowned upon to sip on an alcoholic beverage in public and in many cases, it’s even legal. Of course, some boundaries shouldn’t be crossed if you don’t want to spend the night sleeping it off in a jail cell.
30. Free Education for All
Education is very expensive unless you live in Germany where it’s free! You don’t even have to live there because it’s free for international students too.
31. What’s in a Name?
The German government can reject the legal status of a baby name if it doesn’t meet certain criteria. In order to be legally recognized, a name must ensure that the person’s gender is obvious. This is why traditional names are more common in the country.
32. It Matters When You Say it
In Germany, it’s considered bad luck to wish someone a happy birthday before the actual day. This is rooted in the old superstition that wishing someone a happy birthday before it arrives could jinx them into not having one at all.
33. No More Nuclear
After the nuclear disaster in Japan, a pledge was made by German officials to eliminate nuclear power by the end of 2022.
34. Don’t Open That Window!
Nothing beats an open window on a nice spring day, but in some parts of Germany, some people believe that an open window can bring illness into the house based on old folklore.
35. Keep Your Anger in Check While Driving
In some places in the world, a person’s first instinct might be to wave a middle finger at a rude driver who cuts you off at an intersection or neglects to use their turning signal. In Germany, it’s illegal to do this. It’s common for drivers to report anyone they see doing it by taking down their license plate.
Driving in Germany, particularly in the larger cities, can be hectic, but it’s best not to let your middle fingers get the best of your good judgment!
We hope you enjoyed these fun facts about Germany! See below for more facts around the world!
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