Germany, land of beer, brat, Bach and Benz, is home to the legendary autobahn. Roughly 60 per cent of the 12,845km of autobahn has no speed limit and these unrestricted sections attract speed demons the world over who come to push their cars to the max. However, driving in Germany isn’t all about pedal to the metal; get off the autobahn and there are over 80 themed routes for tourists that are every bit as thrilling without the revs. Well, almost.
On your marks:
There are four main types of roads in Germany with the following speed limits:
Type of road Speed limit
- Motorway Variable – 80mph (130km/h) suggested
- Dual Carriageways Variable – 80mph (130km/h) suggested
- Single Carriageways 62mph (100km/h)
- Built-up Areas 31mph (50km/h)
- Residential Areas 19mph (30km/h)
By law, you must:
- Have a full drivers licence, no learners allowed
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have at least third party insurance
- Buckle up and wear a seatbelt in the front and rear at all times
- Not use a mobile phone whilst operating a motor vehicle
- Seat children less than 12 years old and shorter than 1.5 metres in a child seat or use a child restraint and ensure deactivation of any airbag if fitting a child seat in the front of the vehicle
- Not have a BAC exceeding 0.5g/l or, if under 21 years old or holding a licence for less than two years, the BAC is 0g/l. German law deals harshly with driving under the influence – you have been warned.
Zee Germans are some of the best drivers in the world and have to sit a rigorous test in order to get their driving licence so they take their driving very seriously, which usually means a very pleasant motoring environment, as long as you bear some rules in mind.
Drive on the right and, if not otherwise indicated, give way to traffic coming from your right. Remember this and you should be fine!
It is illegal to undertake on the autobahn. Slow moving vehicles must always move to the right and faster vehicles may pass on the left only. However, there is an exception to this rule: when both lanes are moving under 60km/h (35mph) drivers can pass on the right, but no faster than 20km/h (12mph) than the traffic in the left lane.
The only vehicles permitted on the autobahn are those that can sustain 60km/h (35mph) on the flat.
The Autobahnpolizei can fine you for going too fast on the autobahn, (yes really) if they deem you to be travelling too fast for the driving conditions.
If driving in Germany in the winter you must, by law, have winter or all-season tyres fitted. The polizei will fine you if caught driving on summer tyres.
Many German towns and cities are low emission zones (Umweltzone) and in order to drive through the area without risking a fine, cars are required to display an environmental zone sticker to indicate that the car complies with emissions regulations. You can purchase these stickers in advance from https://www.berlin.de/labo/mobilitaet/kfz-zulassung/feinstaubplakette/shop.86595.en.php
Places to Visit:
With huge historical and emotional resonance, Checkpoint Charlie is one of those ‘must-see’ places in Berlin, one of many. Checkpoint Charlie is the best-known border crossing of the Cold War era and until the fall of the Berlin Wall signified the border between East and West, Communism and Capitalism, restriction and freedom. Today, a manned U.S. guardhouse marks the spot as does the famous sign ‘You are now leaving the American sector’, as well as a museum housing fascinating documentation and artifacts surrounding its history.
Every year 1.4 million people visit “the castle of the fairy-tale king”, which was Disney’s inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle. King Ludwig II of Bavaria commissioned this stunning building, built into a rugged hillside in Bavaria, and its lavishly decorated interior pays tribute to German composer Richard Wagner.
Billed as the world’s largest funfair, Oktoberfest, held annually in Munich for two weeks in, er, October, is a massive festival that has been going on for over 200 years and it just keeps getting bigger and better with fairground attractions, concerts, parades and, of course, huge beer tents filled with hundreds of people eating, drinking and being merry. Prost!
The Black Forest High Pass: running from Freudenstadt to Baden-Baden it may be short at just 60km long (37 miles), but like the cake, it sure is sweet. Rising 250- to 1,000 metres above sea level this mountain pass affords magnificent views of the Black Forest valleys, but the final stretch of road goes deep through the forest with plenty of tight switchback turns making it feel like you are on a race track. Start your engines!
Bundesautobahn 95: the A95 autobahn route connects Munich with Garmisc and if you are looking to let rip and go fast then the last 20km (12 miles) of this unrestricted road are for you. Traffic here is usually light, visibility good and the road cuts through the countryside with moderate radii, meaning many nice long flat stretches of road for you to get lead-foot happy.
Nürburgring: want to really test your driving skills? Then why not tackle this infamous 21km (13-mile) stretch of public ring road with no enforced speed limit. The road is one way and offers flat out straights, blind bends, huge cambers, twisting turns and steep up- and downhill sections, everything really. You can then wear that bumper sticker with pride and legitimacy.
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