Motorhome Travel in Germany; Essential Facts

Top Tips for Motorhome Touring in Germany

A motorhome tour of Germany offers incredible adventures. From the stunning Alps, the Black Forest with it’s gorgeous romantic road to medieval cities, fairytale castles and magical Christmas markets this surprising and interesting country is a must-see road trip destination for campervans and motorhomes.

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Motorhome Touring in Germany

Driving a Motorhome in Germany

German drivers are confident and assured and generally drive very well, although fast.  The roads are well maintained and without speed limits on much of the autobahn network.  German campervans are generally well driven and often you will often receive the obligatory wave from fellow motorhomers.

  • Click here to see the AA’s information about what you need to carry when taking a motorhome trip in Germany.
  • Even though speed is not limited on 70% of the autobahn network, the roads are often so full that a de facto speed limit has been established. The main cause is stop-and-go traffic or congestion, so don’t expect to be barrelling down the German autobahn at 200kph on your motorhome trip!!
  • Don’t be intimidated by driving on the autobahn’s.  Drive as fast as you are comfortable with and keep right unless overtaking.  
  • Check your mirrors frequently; if a German driver wishes to overtake you or let you know they are coming up fast behind you, they will flash their lights and indicators to show their intent.
  • If you see hazard lights up ahead on the autobahn, this means there is a traffic jam.  Slow down and activate your hazard lights also, if the person behind you is travelling at high speed they will appreciate this courtesy and be able to stop in time!
  • All vehicles turning right have to give priority to bikes (on their inside) going straight on. 
  • Unless you weight more than 7500kg, there are no tolls to pay, making motorhome routes through Germany a really cost effective way to access Italy and most easterly parts of Europe. If you are in a massive motorhome that is over this weight, then head here.
  • Be aware of umweltzonen (low emission zones) in some cities and built up areas. You need an umweltplakette (sticker) on the windscreen to drive into these in your motorhome.   Click here for more detailed information.
View of the Zugspitze across the Eibsee
The Eibsee

Motorhome Stopovers in Germany

German Motorhome Aires

  • The German aire is called the stellplatz. Not all stellplatz offer a service point, their primary objective is to provide somewhere to sleep.  Use the Reise Mobil Bord Atlas to find stellplatz stops by region and map. Also check out our top motorhome apps  for finding stopovers.
  • There are over 3,600 stellplatz so the chances are there will be one for every place to visit in Germany.
  • If you use a stellplatz there will usually be a set of rules displayed.  If this is not the case, follow the usual rules of courtesy regarding noise, waste, washing and so on.  
  • Many stellplatz will only allow you to stay for a minimum period; if this is not displayed, then you should stay no longer than 2-3 nights.
  • A good alternative to motorway service stations (not recommended)and stellplatz are Autohof, a network of private-run service stations. Autohof are not directly accessible from the autobahn, but always very close to an exit and usually signposted from the autobahn. Most of them allow overnight stays, a growing number also offer sanitary stations for motorhomes and even electric hookup. Their parking areas are fenced and guarded with CCTV. Autohofs do charge a fee, but this will sometimes be refunded when buying something in their shops, restaurants or petrol stations.

Wild Camping in Germany for Motorhomes

Overnight parking in Germany in a motorhome is permitted.  This means you must not place anything outside your vehicle, or you will be ‘camping’ and this is illegal. Use Park4Night or other free motorhome apps to find good spots and always follow the tips and guidance about wild camping in general, which you can find here.

Motorhome Campsites in Germany

If you are looking to stay on a site, ACSI have over 1,100 member sites in Germany.  Usually the standard is very high, with modern and clean sanitary facilities and well managed restaurants and site shops.

German Life

German’s place a high priority on structure, privacy and punctuality. The German people embrace the values of thriftiness and hard work; life in Germany is well organised and German’s are usually very compliant with the rules. Although this may sound constraining, it means that everything works as it should; life is peaceful, the environment clean and you know what to expect, when to expect it and how to deal with it!

  • If you stay in a small rural town or village, you may come across strange rules; no hanging your washing out or vacuuming on Sundays and no load music between noon and 3pm on any day, for example.  If you are motorhome wild camping rurally, make sure you know the local rules.  German people are not known for holding back when you have done something ‘wrong’!
  • In Germany, it is considered rude to stand too close to another person; one to two metres would be a good distance.  This unwritten rule applies to people you know and also strangers, for example when you are queuing in a shop. Do not gesticulate too much when talking, this invades personal space even more!
  • Public transport in Germany will be on time, every time.  Do not allow yourself to run late or you will miss your bus or train. Oh, and once you’re on public transport, any conversation louder than a whisper will earn you stern looks, tutting and shaking of the head!
  • German people rarely admit fault, even jokingly, and don’t usually hand out compliments. This attitude may seem unfriendly, but there is a keen sense of community and social conscience in Germany; self-containment is just part of their culture.  Take the time to chat with locals and you will be rewarded with friendly, kind and helpful interactions.
  • Jaywalking (crossing the road where there is no crossing or where the lights are not green) is illegal in Germany and whilst unlikely, you may get fined if caught.
  • Shops and many bars and restaurants do not open on Sundays, even in tourist destinations.  If you need a pint of milk or loaf of bread on Sundays, the only places where you will find a grocery shop open are train stations, airports and petrol station forecourts. 
  • Despite Germany being a first-world developed country and at the fore-front of the banking world, cash is king here.  Lots of places still don’t accept credit cards, especially if you are travelling rurally in Germany in your motorhome.  Visit the cashpoint regularly!
  • If you go to any type of beer festival, you will be charged a pfand (from pfenig, the equivalent of a cent prior to the euro currency).  This is the deposit for the glass, which will not be returned until you give the glass back; if you are a typical beer festival goes this will mean a huge collection of glasses!
  • Using the Nazi salute, shouting “heil Hitler” and displaying the swastika or other symbols of the Third Reich is a criminal offence, punishable by up to five years in prison.
  • Do not be disrespectful at concentration camps or Jewish memorials by taking selfies or climbing on memorial stones or buildings.  Such places should be visited if possible; they do not always make for the most comfortable of tourist attractions but nevertheless, the holocaust and its victims must not be forgotten.
and relax...

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Food & Eating Out in Germany

German’s love rich, hearty food.  Pork is the most commonly eaten meat and any type of wurste (sausage), of which there are over 1500 types, is extremely popular. Beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage, with brandy and schnapps following closely.

  • Beer is taken very seriously; Germany is known as the birthplace of a number of beer varieties, including Pilsner, Weizenbier (wheat beer) and Alt. These beers were crafted according to Reinheitsgebot, or the “Purity Law,” a 16th-century Bavarian law that decreed that beer could only be brewed from barley, hops and water.
  • When visiting a restaurant or bar, don’t wait to sit, order or pay!   Germans are efficient and like to get things done, so find a seat and don’t linger over the menu too long; asking the waiter to return several times whilst you chat is considered rude and a waste of everyone’s time!
  • Don’t ask for tap water, this is considered stingy and a bit wierd.  Mineral wasser (sparkling water) or stilles wasser (still water) should be ordered.
  • German meal times tend to mirror the UK, with mittagessen (lunch) being between noon and 2pm and abendessen (dinner) being taken between 6 and 9pm. 
  • If the food and service has been good, then you should tip somewhere between 5 and 15%.  If the restaurant does take credit cards (not all do), it is easier to leave the tip in cash otherwise you have to tell the server the amount (awkward!) and tips taken this way do not always end up in the right pockets.
  • If you are looking for fast food, other than McDonalds et al, find a schnellimbiss (quick snack) for a bratwurst mit pommes (sausage and chips), be sure to have the chips with mayo not ketchup as is the local way.  Germany’s favourite fast food, the döner kebab, is a flatbread filled with grilled meat, onions, tomatoes, salad and various sauces. The meat can be lamb, beef or poultry, but never pork. There are over 16,000 kebab restaurants in Germany, and altogether they sell 30 döner kebabs a second. The döner arrived in Germany from Turkey at the beginning of the 1970s and has become a staple over the years. 
  • Try sauerkraut (pickled cabbage).  Yes, I know the name doesn’t do it any favours, but it really is delicious…who knew cabbage could taste so good?

If you have found this post about touring Germany helpful, then check out our other essential country guide blog posts for detailed information on driving, motorhome stops and much more.  If you’re interested in motorhome journeys and road trips, then head here.

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Top Tips for Motorhome Touring in Germany

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