German Language for Travellers: Learn German Travel Phrases

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If you are planning a short holiday stay or a business trip to Germany you do not need to learn any German as most people you are going to meet will speak some English anyway. But, it will not hurt if you learn some basic German phrases, such as greetings, just to sound nice. However, if you are traveling to Germany or any other German-speaking country more often, learning a few essential German travel phrases and expressions may help you get along in situations when there are no English speakers around. Below you will find an overview of free Internet resources that largely focus on German for travellers.

German for Tourists on YouTube

  • German Phrases for Travelers is a 20 min video that will teach you the very basics of the German language that any foreigner travelling around Germany will find useful.
  • Basic German Travel Phrases from expertvillage is a collection of fourteen youtube videos that will not only teach you essential German travel phrases like those used when greeting people, asking for directions, travelling through airports, seeking accommodation, ordering in a restaurant, renting a car or expressions used in emergency situations, but will also give you a couple of useful travel tips on must-see German locations for foreign visitors.

Interactive Online Courses for Travellers to Germany

  • LingoHut offers a free German course suitable for tourists as most of their 109 lessons focus on travel topics such as understanding directions, airport and hotel conversations, moving around town, sightseeing, shopping, ordering food at a restaurant, etc. You will learn basic vocabulary and phrases related to each topic. Each lesson includes vocabulary training, flashcards, and matching, tic-tac-toe and concentration games as well as a listening game.
  • Goethe Verlag has prepared a German course for beginners as part of their series called 50 languages. This course contains many lessons that frequent travellers to German-speaking countries may find useful. In the first 80 or so lessons you will learn basic German phrases related to the most common conversational topics whereas the remaining lessons provide examples of sentences illustrating the use of German grammar (this part may be difficult to understand without further explanation, though). You can access this course online for free, download all of its 100 lessons as mp3 files or try it on your mobile device. However, only the first 30 lessons are free in the mobile application. Complete course for portable devices will cost you $2.99.

German for Travellers on Mobile Apps

  • Bravolol is a mobile application for foreign visitors to Germany who wish to learn some basic German phrases and vocabulary most frequently used when traveling around. You will be listening to the speaking parrot and repeating the phrases and expressions you heard. Whenever needed you can search for phrases by keywords. This app can also be used offline. The basic version is free but the full version will cost you $4.99.

German Travel Phrases on PDFs

  • German for Confident Travel is a free downloadable German travel phrasebook in the PDF format. It contains hundreds of German phrases with English translations and explanations on when to use each phrase. This phrasebook also provides pronunciation guidance for English speakers. The main focus is on travel-related topics such as greetings, food, accommodation, shopping, transportation and socializing.

Social Platforms for Travellers

  • PolyglotClub is a social platform where people can find conversation partners in foreign countries who are native speakers in the language they are trying to learn. However, this platform is also used by travellers who wish to connect with natives in the country they are planning to visit. They can ask them all sorts of questions about their country, language and culture to become more familiar with the place before they leave on a trip. Likewise, travellers can ask their language exchange partners before they go on a trip to teach them correct vocabulary to be able to take a taxi, check at a hotel, ask for directions or order meals and drinks at a restaurant.
  • Interpals brings together people from all over the world who are learning foreign languages and/or are looking for travel buddies abroad that will show them around when visiting their town. Although this platform is not specifically designed for teaching travel phrases, it is very likely that these will be some of the first expressions you will learn before and during your visit to another country.

Other Great German Learning Resources for Travelers

Also, do not forget to check out our section on German beginner courses where you will certainly find additional lessons that teach vocabulary and phrases you can use on your next trip to Germany or any other German-speaking country. Alternatively, for making friends in foreign countries who can help you learn their native language and introduce you to their culture see the list of free language exchanges. Your German language exchange partner will not only help you learn some basic German travel phrases but may also want to meet you in person and show you around their town next time you are visiting Germany.

Travel German FAQs

How do you say yes and no in Germany?

‘Ja’ (yaa) and ‘Nein’ (nain).

What are the most basic words in German?

The first words you may want to learn before your trip to Germany should include: ‘Ja’ (yes) and ‘Nein’ (no), greetings such as ‘Hallo’ (hello), ‘Guten Tag’ (good day), ‘Auf Wiedersehen’ (good bye) and a couple of words to sound polite such as ‘Bitte’ (please), ‘Danke’ (thank you), ‘Entschuldigung’ (sorry, though many Germans also say sorry) and ‘Gesundheit’ (bless you).

What is bitte in German?

‘Bitte’ is one of the most frequent words you will hear when visiting Germany and usually means ‘please’ or ‘yes, please’. As an interjection it can also translate as ‘you are welcome’, ‘here you go’ or ‘go ahead’. ‘Die Bitte’ is also a noun meaning a ‘plea’, ‘request’ or an ‘appeal’.

What does bitteschön mean?

‘Bitte schön’ are actually two words used most often as a polite response to someone saying ‘Danke schön’ or ‘Danke sehr’ (i.e., different ways of saying thank you such as ‘many thanks’ or ‘thanks a lot’) and it means ‘you are welcome’, ‘my pleasure’ or ‘not at all’.

How do you casually greet in German?

The most common casual German greetings are ‘Grüß dich!’ and ‘Hallo!’.

What is the German word for tip?

The German word for tip is ‘Trinkgeld’ which literally means ‘drink money’, suggesting that you usually tip the waiter. It is a kind of gratuity, not a service charge. Hence, if you were happy with the service, you round up the bill by adding up to 10% extra. But, if you were not satisfied, there is absolutely no reason to leave a tip.

What is gerne in German?

You may hear people say ‘gerne’ quite often while travelling in Germany, especially as a response to saying ‘thank you’ to them. It is a polite expression that translates as ‘gladly’ or ‘with pleasure’, meaning that the person enjoyed helping you.

Why do Germans say genau so often?

Genau literally means “exact(ly)”, “accurate(ly)” or “precise(ly)”. However, its other meanings are “that’s right”, “yes, that’s it”, “yes, that’s correct” or simply “right” or “yes”. This broader meaning is the main reason why German speakers use the word “genau” so much.