On our trip to Europe we primarily traveled by train, but for our time in Germany we were ready to get out of the city, so we rented a car. Here are a few things to keep in mind when driving in Germany.
Automatic transmission – most cars in Europe still use standard transmission, so when you’re booking your car, make sure you select the option for automatic.
Size – make sure you get a smaller car, this is a place where bigger is not necessarily better. The roads are narrow, especially in medieval cities.
Insurance – insurance will be a huge chunk of your car rental. I would recommend using a credit card that offers rental car insurance on it. But make sure to call them in advance and make sure that your insurance is valid in Germany. You will need to get a letter of coverage dated within 30 days of your trip.
Back-up camera – check to make sure your rental car has a back-up camera. Most of them do, but you don’t want to get stuck with a car that doesn’t.
Tip: There is a hefty fee for dropping off a rental car in another country. We returned the car in Germany and took the train to our next stop to avoid that fee.
Getting to Places
Gas – gas in Germany is expensive. Sometimes as much as 2 times of that in the US. Also, be aware that a lot of cars in Europe use diesel, so be careful when filling the tank. I forgot to ask at the rental car place which fuel the car used, then found myself in a small German town where nobody spoke English. I now know that it’s written on the gas cap.
Driving in the city – we picked up our rental in Munich. The drive out of the city was a bit scary with almost as many bicycles on the road as cars. Be careful.
Tip: There is a lot of traffic in Germany so give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination.
Speed Limit– the Autobahn has no speed limit but I found that most freeways do have speed limits. They do however, seem to be somewhat optional. I didn’t see a single police car while driving in Germany.
Tip: Remember to stay to the right always.
Other Driving-Related Items
Parking – most lots require Euro coins to pay for parking so be prepared.
Google Maps – make sure you download off-line maps since you may not have reception or want to pay international fees. Even if your phone is in Airplane mode, off-line maps for navigation will work. You won’t be able to find new places though, so make sure you starred all of your destinations. Do not use Apple Maps. Locations on Google Maps will be much more accurate and up-to-date.
Chargers – don’t forget your car charger or USB cord for your phone.
The roads in Germany were in great shape and we didn’t have any problems adjusting to the signs and road rules. I would definitely rent a car again when I return to Germany.
Want to find out more about our time in Germany? European Itinerary Part 3 – Munich, Bavarian Alps and the Rhine Valley