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Guide to driving in Germany

Hallo und wilkommen in Germany. With some of the best road systems in Europe, it's almost rude to say "nein" to a road trip here.

brandenburg gate
Luke Ratzlaff

Getting started

The autobahn is free to use and has no speed limit – although you’re advised not to exceed 130 km/h.

It's a dream for any speed-loving drivers who'd normally never find out how fast their cars can get.

Hit the road

Andreas Levers

Driving on the autobahn can be satisfying but you need to keep your wits about you. Some have only two lanes and vehicles in the fast lane can appear very quickly in your rear-view mirror.

Check your fuel gauge before setting off as it’s illegal to run out of petrol on the autobahn.

Unless signs indicate otherwise, you must give way to traffic entering from the right. Don’t let confusion turn to road rage - you can face an on the spot fine for using “derogatory signs”.

Star drive

alpine road

The Deutsche Alpenstraße is a monumental feat of engineering that carves 450km across the Alps from Lake Constance to Bad Reichenhall in the Berchtesgaden region.

You'll see a series of dramatic bridges, tunnels and viaducts takes you past historic spa towns, castles and mountain lakes.

For more recommended stops and information on local customs, take a look at out Germany travel checklist.

Best of the rest

The Deutsche Märchenstraße stretches 600km between Bremen and Hanau, along the picturesque Weser river.

It traces a route through the historic villages, castles and countryside immortalised by the Brothers Grimm.

Laws of the land

  • Always give way to trams.
  • Horns should only be used in built-up areas in cases of “extreme danger”.
  • A warning triangle must be carried. You should also have a first-aid kit with disposable surgical gloves.
  • Don’t pass a school bus that has stopped to let passengers on or off.
  • Motorcyclists must dip their headlights during the day and wear crash helmets.
  • Germany has a high concentration of Low Emission Zones (LEZs). Check whether your car meets the requirements as you could ger fined if it doesn't.

German speed limits

Road type

Speed limit

Urban areas

50 km/h (sometimes 30 km/h)

Urban stretches

100 km/h

Dual carriageways

130 km/h

Outside built-up areas

80 km/h - 100 km/h (check local signage)


None (though some local restrictions)

Local knowledge


Most German drivers fit winter tyres to cope with snow and ice. These aren’t easy to find in the UK so it’s worth buying a set of snow chains as an alternative.

If you’re involved in an accident in snow and have neither winter tyres nor snow chains you’ll automatically be considered at least partially at fault.

The maximum speed limit with chains is 50km/h.

Planning on driving to another country? Take a look at our section on driving in Europe.

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