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Guide to German Travel Phrases for Tourists and Travelers

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When you’re traveling outside of your home country, there’s a very good chance that you won’t speak the language of that country. For that reason, it can be really helpful to learn some basic German travel phrases before going to Germany, Austria, or even parts of Switzerland, Belgium, and Luxemburg.

In this article, we’ll provide you with German phrases for tourists that will help you survive basic daily situations.

For instance, when traveling to the center of Europe, you’ll probably have to take a train at some point. (And if you don’t have to take one, we suggest you take one anyway. This experience is part of traveling to Germany.)

Once you’ve bought your ticket at Deutsche Bahn (the German railway company) and you’re ready to discover a new city, the conductor may want to see your ticket or ask some questions. If you didn’t know, even though this is an international company, their staff isn’t one-hundred percent trained to speak English. Trust us, you don’t want to come into this situation unprepared. You’ll need to know phrases for travelers in German.

But no worries. To prevent you from this embarrassing situation, we have free courses for beginner, intermediate, and advanced students. You can even find free bonus material on our website.

Without a lot of hustle and bustle, let’s just get straight to it. Here are the most useful German phrases for travelers.

Table of Contents

  1. Why Should You Learn German?
  2. German Pronunciation Specialities
  3. Greetings
  4. Basic Questions and Their Perfect Answers
  5. Restaurants and Ordering Food
  6. At the Hotel
  7. Locations and Transportation
  8. Working Through Communication Barriers
  9. How GermanPod101 Can Help You Master Urgent Travel Situations

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1. Why Should You Learn German?

Preparing to Travel

We know that learning another language can be frustrating and hard, and this may be more true of German than some other languages. But here are some facts that should convince you to learn German:

  • Studying in Germany is free - While you have to pay for a college education in most countries, studying in Germany is free of charge.
  • Germany is Export King - Germany is the country with the biggest export market in Europe, and the third biggest worldwide.
  • Easy for native English speakers - English and German belong to the same language family, which makes it easy to learn (and vice versa).
  • Startup hotspot - The startup scene is growing rapidly in the cities of Berlin, Munich, Cologne, and Hamburg.

Knowing even just the basic German travel phrases for beginners can greatly help you make the most of your time in Germany.


2. German Pronunciation Specialities

Airplane Phrases

Before we move on to learning German phrases for travelers, you should have a little information on German pronunciation specialties.

As already mentioned, German is really close to the English language, which makes it easy for good English speakers to adapt to German. But there are some combinations that require special effort in terms of pronunciation. On the left, you see the letter combination; on the right, an English equivalent to that sound.

ei line
ie lean
ö Worm without the ‘r’
ü Tea with rounded lips
ä get
eu / äu boy
sch shoe
sp shp
st sht
ß boss
z cats


3. Greetings

Survival Phrases

Now, onto the most basic German words and phrases for travellers: Greetings. These are the most common German travel phrases, and always important to have at the ready.

  • Hallo!
    Hello!
  • Guten Morgen!
    Good morning!
  • Guten Tag!
    Good day!
  • Guten Abend.
    Good evening!
  • Bitte.
    Please.
  • Danke.
    Thanks. / Thank you.
  • Tschüss.
    Bye.
  • Auf Wiedersehen.
    Goodbye.
  • Ich heiße …
    My name is …
  • Ich bin in Deutschland für … Wochen.
    I am in Germany for … weeks.
  • Ich komme aus …
    I am from …
  • Wie geht’s?
    How are you?
  • Mir geht es gut.
    I am fine.


4. Basic Questions and Their Perfect Answers

Basic Questions

To help you out with the pronunciation and some practice for these questions, you can find a free lesson on our website. Also feel free to click on the links in the chart; they’ll take you to relevant German vocabulary lists on our site to help you answer the questions yourself!

Question Answer
Wo ist die Toilette
Where is the bathroom?
Die Toilette ist neben der Küche.
The toilet is next to the kitchen.
Wo kommst du her?
Where are you from?
Ich komme aus London, England.
I am from London, England.
Wie geht es dir?
How are you?
Mir geht’s gut und dir?
I am fine and you?
Wie alt bist du?
How old are you?
Ich bin 25 Jahre alt.
I am 25 years old.
Wie ist dein Name?
What’s your name?
Mein Name ist … . Wie ist dein Name?
My name is … and yours?
Wie lautet deine Telefonnumer?
What’s your phone number?
Meine Telefonnumer lautet: 555-555-555.
My phone number is: 555-555-555.
Was hast du gesagt?
What did you just say?
Ich habe dich nicht verstanden.
I didn’t understand you.
Wo arbeitest du?
Where do you work?
Ich arbeite bei … .
I work at …
Was ist das?
What is this?
Das ist ein … .
That is a … .
Was ist dein Lieblingsessen?
What is your favorite food?
Ich esse am liebsten Pizza.
My favorite food is pizza.


5. Restaurants and Ordering Food

A Cook Seasoning a Plate with Food.

  • Einen Tisch für zwei/drei/vier Personen, bitte.
    A table for two/three/four persons, please.
  • Wir haben eine Reservierung.
    We have a reservation.
  • Die Speisekarte, bitte.
    The menu, please.
  • Ich hätte gerne das Steak mit Pommes.
    I would like the steak with fries.
  • Haben Sie ein veganes Gericht?
    Do you have a vegan meal?
  • Können Sie etwas empfehlen?
    Can you recommend something?
  • Noch ein Glas Wasser, bitte.
    Another glass of water, please.
  • Getrennt oder zusammen?
    Together or separately?
  • Guten Appetit.
    Enjoy your meal.
  • Die Rechnung, bitte.
    The check, please.

We have a complete vocabulary list for you, with words for the restaurant.


6. At the Hotel

A Couple at the Front Desk of the Reception.

  • Wir haben eine Reservierung.
    We have a reservation.
  • Haben Sie noch freie Zimmer?
    Do you have free rooms available?
  • Wie viel kostet ein Zimmer pro Nacht?
    How much is a room per night?
  • Ich möchte ein Zimmer reservieren.
    I would like to reserve a room.
  • Ist das Frühstück inklusive?
    Is the breakfast inclusive?
  • Zimmerservice.
    Room service.
  • Um wie viel Uhr ist Check-Out?
    At what time is the check out?


7. Locations and Transportation

World Map

1- Asking for and Giving Directions

Entschuldigung, wo ist die Bank / der Supermarkt / das Stadtzentrum / die Tankstelle / der Bahnhof / der Flughafen?
Excuse me, where is the bank / the supermarket / the city center / the gas station / the train station / the airport?
Norden / Süden / Westen / Osten
North / South / West / East
In welcher Richtung finde ich … ?
In which direction can I find … ?
Oben / Unten / Vorne / Hinten
Upstairs / Downstairs / Forward / Backward
Ist es noch weit von hier?
Is it still far from here?
Sie müssen geradeaus laufen.
You have to walk straight.
Kann ich dorthin zu Fuß laufen?
Can I get there on foot?
Sie müssen links / rechts abbiegen.
You have to turn left / right.
Welche Straßenbahn, Metro oder Bus muss ich nehmen?
Which underground or bus do I have to take?
Zum Flughafen / Bahnhof, bitte.
To the airport / train station, please.
Ist es in der Nähe von … ?
Is it close to … ?
Um die Ecke.
Around the corner.
Wo ist der Ausgang / Eingang?
Where is the exit / entrance?
Halten Sie hier an, bitte.
Stop here, please.

2- Transportation

  • Wo ist die Haltestelle?
    Where is the station?
  • Wo kann ich eine Fahrkarte kaufen?
    Where can I buy a ticket?
  • Fährt dieser Zug / Bus nach … ?
    Is this train / bus going to … ?
  • Können Sie es mir auf der Karte zeigen?
    Can you show me on the map?
  • Muss ich umsteigen?
    Do I have to change?

Again, we’ve prepared for you a free vocabulary list with words that you can use when asking for directions and locations.


8. Working Through Communication Barriers

Just in case you don’t know what to say or you didn’t understand anything someone just said to you, here are some phrases that can get you out of this sticky situation:

  • Sprechen Sie Englisch?
    Do you speak English?
  • Können Sie das bitte nochmal wiederholen?
    Could you please repeat that again?
  • Ich spreche kein Deutsch.
    I don’t speak German.
  • Ich verstehe Sie nicht.
    I don’t understand you.
  • Können Sie das bitte übersetzen?
    Could you please translate this for me?
  • Hilfe!
    Help!

Maybe you’re asking yourself if you can go to Germany without speaking any German. Sure you can, you can live there even without speaking the language.

Getting along as a tourist with just English will be more than easy for you. Everybody knows at least the basics of English. And as long as they can see that you’re patient, they’ll be patient with you.


9. How GermanPod101 Can Help You Master Urgent Travel Situations

In this article, we showed you the most helpful phrases that you can use on your travels. We covered some basic pronunciation specialities of the German language, greetings, numbers, situations in a restaurant and hotel, and asking for directions.

While you can survive traveling Germany with only English, Germans will be really grateful when they see that you’re trying to speak their language. We know that German is a hard language, but to see someone trying makes us happy.

This article was just the beginning; take a look at our free resources. But if you really want to get to it and become a good German speaker, then we can offer you a private teacher to help you learn based on your needs and goals with the German language.

Before you go, let us know in the comments how you feel about using the useful German travel phrases outlined in this article. Feel free to reach out with questions in the comments below, and know that the more you practice and use these essential German travel phrases, the easier it will become.

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The 5 Longest Words in German and Their Meanings

Longest Words in German

The German language is currently the 15th most spoken language in the world. The number of first language speakers according to the 21st edition of Ethnologue is 76 million. Speakers of German are found in 28 countries, located in 6 continents. German has official language status in Belgium, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Austria. You’ll also find German speakers in Kazakhstan, Russia, Brazil, Namibia, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, South Africa and Australia.

Being part of the Indo European language family, the English language and the German language share around 60% of their lexicon. Like most languages, the German language has its own set of quirks and unique features, which at times add to the confusion of German language learners.

Quirky German Language

1. Quirky German language

  • German is a language that is known for being logical. However, the language also has many characteristics that make it confusing as well as inspiring. Here are some of these interesting characteristics.
  • Among the languages in Europe, German is the most spoken. It still ranks first among the most common European languages, besting English, Spanish, French and Italian. German is spoken as a first language by 16% of the population in Europe.
  • In the past, German and English have three genders, but with the changes in English grammar, it uses masculine and feminine and use a gender-neutral nouns and pronouns for persons of undetermined gender. German on the other hand retained the old rule, so it has masculine, feminine and neuter genders.
  • Telling time in German is a bit tricky for language learners. When a German tells you that it’s halb drei or half-three, this does not mean that it is half past the hour of two. Rather, this means that it is 30 minutes to three.
  • Germans are also known for their propensity in creating compound words – words that contain several consonants. Here are a few examples:
    1. der Kühlschrank. The literal meaning of this is cool cupboard, but technically, this refers to a refrigerator.
    2. das Weichei. This is not a very complimentary word. Literally, it’s translated as soft egg, but wimp is its real meaning.
    3. der Tagedieb. You might have guessed correctly. This translates to day thief, but it does not really mean that someone is stealing the day. What it actually means is someone who dawdles, someone who is a layabout or somebody who wastes the day doing nothing.
    4. der Handschuh.This is somewhat understandable, isn’t it. If you guessed that it meant the hand shoe, you got it right! But your hands do not wear shoes. Instead you wear gloves, which is the correct translation of the term.
    5. das Fingerspitzengefühl. This is definitely not the last in the list of German compound word, but this one is quite meaningful. Its literal meaning isthe fingertip feeling. The accurate translation of this phrase is intuitive instinct or flair. It also means tactfulness.
  • Depending on which study results you are looking at, German can be the third or the seventh most studied language in the world. It is safe to say that it belongs to the world’s top 10 most taught languages.
  • The Koreans may have invented the movable printing type but Germany introduced mechanical printing to the world. It printed the first book in movable metal type – the Gutenberg Bible. Contrary to what some people believe, the Gutenberg Bible is not German but rather written in Latin.
  • The German alphabet has 26 letters just like the English language, but it has three umlauted (letters with two dots on top) letters, ä, ö, ü as well as a ligature, ß that is called ein scharfes (sharp S or double S). It is a peculiar letter. If you use double S for ‘Masse‘ when you do not have a German keyboard, it translates to mass. But if you write Maße, it refers to dimensions.

Despite the confusion that is natural to the German language, do not let this deter you from learning German.

Because Germans love using compound words, it is easy for them to construct very long words by combining these compound texts, resulting in words that could be about 30 to over 60 letters in length. At the same time, expect to see lengthy meanings for these words.

Longest Word

2. Longest words in German

Creating compound words is not exclusive to the German language. There are several more languages where you’ll encounter compound words, although German is legendary for having very long words. Even Mark Twain said that due to their length, some of the German words have their own perspective.

1- Siebenhundertsiebenundsiebzigtausendsiebenhundertsiebenundsiebzig

This word contains 65 letters and looks like you’ll run out of breath before you finish saying it. If you look carefully, you might have a clue as to what it actually is. That’s right; it’s about numbers and number 7 to be precise. Because all numbers can be expressed in long words in German, this one is the compound word for seven hundred seventy-seven thousand, seven hundred seventy-seven or 777,777.

2- Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz

This 63-letter term refers to the law for the delegation of monitoring beef labeling. It is officially the longest word that appears in government documents. The law which was passed in 1999 was meant to protect beef consumers from bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease. However, the law has been dropped as the EU declared that testing is not needed anymore. Hence the word will now be a part of history.

3- Rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaften

There are only 39 letters in Rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaften, which translates to insurance companies providing legal protection. It’s included here because it holds a Guinness Book of World Records recognition as German’s longest word that is commonly used.

4- Kaftfahrzeug-Haftpflichtversicherung

At 36 letters, it is one of the shortest compound words in German. Kaftfahrzeug-Haftpflichtversicherung equates to motor vehicle liability insurance. It is the longest word that is included in the Duden German dictionary.

5- Sozialversicherungsfachangestelltenauszubildender

This 49-letter word is a modern term. It refers to a trainee assistant social insurance broker.
Some of these are not even the longest words Germans ever came up with, but they are quite distinct. Several more are truly unique and tongue twisting.

For example, Betäubungsmittelverschreibungsverordnung (regulation for requiring a prescription for an anesthetic), Massenkommunikationsdienstleistungsunternehmen (companies providing mass communications services) and Nahrungsmittelunverträglichkeit (food intolerance).

Keep Learning

3. Keep Learning German!

Don’t stop learning a new language. German is similar to English so in time you’ll be able to pick up the pace as you learn to recognize the German words and their English equivalent. Find the most suitable online lessons on the German language to support your formal language learning. If you need language translation services, find the best translation company that will meet your requirements.

Author’s bio:
Sean Patrick Hopwood is a polyglot whose interests include technology, the Internet, education, and positive thinking. He is the President and CEO of Day Translations, Inc., a company serving international clients with a wide range of language services including translating, interpreting and website and app localization.

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Happy Holidays and Happy New Year From GermanPod101.com!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from everyone here at GermanPod101.com! We’re grateful to have listeners just like you, and we’re eagerly waiting for the upcoming year to learn German together!

And when the New Year comes around, be sure to make a resolution to study German with GermanPod101.com!

Have a healthy and happy holiday season.

From the GermanPod101.com team!