Tips for Everyday

Mobile in Germany: Safe on the Road by Car and Bike

Before you get on your bike or behind the wheel for the first time, you should briefly familiarize yourself with the traffic rules in Germany—they also apply to cyclists! Whether you’re driving or biking, you’ll find the most important information here at a glance.

An easy way to get from A to B in the city is by bike. You can often buy used bicycles cheaply on an online platform or other private sale (e.g. a German Flohmarkt). Make sure the bike is road safe and has all the necessary functions. The German Bicycle Club has created an overview that you can use as a guide. This is not only important for your safety, but it can also help you avoid a fine due to your bike not being road safe.

The traffic regulations also apply to bicycles!

You don’t need a driver’s license to ride a bike, but you still must obey the traffic rules. Simple Germany has compiled a detailed explanation of the most important rules and tips, and you should read it. Your safety comes first! If you feel unsafe on your bike, be sure to practice first in a low-traffic area or switch to public transportation.

Driving in Germany

If you can’t get around by bike or public transportation, a car may be your only alternative. Before you rent or buy a car, you need to check the requirements about things like the transferability of your driver’s license and the rules on German roads. You can find out whether your driver’s license is valid in Germany and, if so, for how long on the website of the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport. If you want to rent a car for a short time, it is also possible to ask the car rental company for a short briefing on the most important traffic rules. However, we always recommend checking the rules beforehand. Good sources for this are the websites of German Road Safety or Simple Germany. If you buy a car, you will have to take care of other paperwork, such as registering the car and buying car insurance.

Farmers Market or Supermarket? Shopping in Germany

You can buy the most important things for your daily needs in one of the many German supermarkets or drugstores. In addition, there are a variety of country-specific supermarkets and stores where you may find your favorite products from your home country.

Typical for Germany are the weekly markets, also known as farmers markets, which usually take place at least once a week on a central square in the city center. There, you can buy fresh regional products—often directly from the producer. Grocery delivery services are also becoming increasingly popular in Germany. You can easily find out if there are any in your neighborhood by using the appropriate apps or websites.

When shopping in Germany, and especially in Bavaria, it’s important to pay close attention to the opening hours so that you don’t find yourself standing in front of closed doors. As a rule, all stores, including supermarkets, are closed on Sundays and public holidays. In addition, in Bavaria most stores are closed after 8 pm.

Please note: An easy way to save money, waste, and effort is tap water. Since it is strictly controlled and tested in Germany, you can drink it everywhere. Of course, individual factors sometimes influence the taste, but this is not harmful. One way to improve the taste is to use water filters, which can be bought in many supermarkets.

Living Sustainably with a Deposit System and Waste Separation

In Germany, waste separation is a top priority. It is not for nothing that the country’s recycling rate is one of the highest in the world. Of course, the most sustainable way is to produce as little waste as possible and to recycle the waste you do have accordingly. Here you will find the most important information for proper waste disposal.

Separate waste correctly

Generally, there are four types of waste: paper, residual (or general), plastic, and organic. In most households, universities, and businesses, there is at least one bin for each of these types of waste. All other waste, such as electrical appliances, used glass or bulky waste, is again disposed of separately. Since each city can have individual regulations, you should search the Internet to inform yourself about the local regulations in your area. For the city of Nuremberg, for example, there is an overview sheet on waste separation. The Simple Germany website can also give you a good overview.

On the waste management website, you can find out which garbage bins are collected on which days. If you live in a house with only a few tenants, you may be responsible for putting out the garbage bin. You can find out whether this is the case in the house rules or your rental agreement.

The German deposit system

The German word Pfand refers to the return system for bottles and cans in Germany. This means that when you buy certain bottles or cans at the supermarket or kiosk, you pay a deposit in addition to the product price. When you return the empty bottles or cans, you get the deposit back and the bottles can be recycled or reused. Returns are usually made at specially placed vending machines, for example in supermarkets. Wine and spirits bottles, as well as some Tetra packs, are not included in the deposit system, but are recycled via plastic waste or the designated glass containers. You can find a detailed overview with many examples on the page of Simple Germany. 

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