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The green country.

Germany is slowly becoming a much more popular tourist destination than ever before thanks to its wonderful scenery, Oktoberfest, and alpine villages. Cities such as Berlin, Stuttgart, Munich, Dusseldorf, and Hamburg all offer excellent museums, galleries, and hotels as well as fascinating architecture and other attractions.

That's why, with so much to see and do, driving in Germany is a great way to get around. Organise a hire car and enjoy the freedom that the open road can bring, allowing you to personalise your holiday exactly to your tastes.

Read our Germany travel guide for more tips on where to go. You may also like to view information about destinations in Germany.

Tips for driving in Germany

Which side of the road do they drive on?

Drive on the right, overtake on the left. Unless otherwise indicated, vehicles coming from the right have priority at junctions. Traffic in a roundabout has right of way, except when signs say otherwise. You must not indicate as you enter a roundabout; but you must use them when leaving the roundabout.

Seat belts

If fitted, seat belts must be worn at all times by all occupants of the vehicle. Failure to comply can result in a fine of €30 for not wearing a seat belt and a €30-40 fine for carrying an unsecured child. You can also be fined €30-35 if using an incorrect child restraint system.

Driving with children

Children under the age of 12 and less than 1.50m tall must always travel in a child seat or restraint. Use of child seats in the front seat is not permitted unless the air bag has been deactivated.

Blood alcohol limit

The blood alcohol limit is 50mg alcohol per 100ml blood. If you are found to exceed the blood alcohol limit, you may face fines and be banned from driving in Germany.

New drivers who’ve held their licence for less than 2 years and for drivers under 21, there is a zero tolerance policy in place. Absolutely no alcohol is tolerated when driving, punishments for breaking the law include a €250 fine, 2 penalty points, and a 2 year extension of the probationary period.

Can I use a mobile?

Using a mobile phone whilst the engine of the vehicle is running is not permitted.

Reflective vests, triangles & other essentials

A reflective vest must be kept in the vehicle at all times. It is compulsory to carry a warning triangle whilst it is recommended you carry a first aid kit.

Driving on the Autobahn

Contrary to popular belief, there are some enforced speed limits on the autobahn. These are to be found in urban areas, accident hot spots or areas under construction. Unless signs indicate otherwise, you must give way to traffic entering from the right.

In areas with no speed limit, it is recommended you don’t exceed 130kph (80mph).

Parking

You are considered to have parked your car if it remains in the same spot for 3 minutes or more.

In some areas, you may park using a Parkscheibe - a cardboard disc which you can buy at petrol stations. It can be used in marked areas of limited but un-metered parking to indicate the time you parked.

Parking is usually allowed only on the right except in a one-way street.

On the spot fines

German police can impose and collect on the spot fines of up to €35 if traffic regulations have been violated. You must pay the fine within a week otherwise legal proceedings will start.

The police can also collect an amount exceeding €35 as a security deposit for a higher expected fine, and in that case, legal proceedings will start. If you refuse or are unable to pay a deposit, your vehicle can be confiscated.

Horns and headlights

It is recommended to use dipped headlights or daytime running lights at all times. The use of dipped headlights is compulsory during daylight hours if fog, snow or rain restricts visibility. Driving with sidelights (parking lights) alone is not allowed. Vehicles must have their lights on in tunnels.

Trams

Operational trams must be overtaken on the right. If there isn’t enough space, you may overtake on the left. In one-way streets, trams may be overtaken on either side. Passengers boarding or alighting from stationary trams have priority.

What should I do if I breakdown?

If you breakdown, you must put on a reflective jacket and place the reflective triangle 30m behind the vehicle to warn other drivers. Call the car rental provider who will be able to advise you further. It is recommended you contact ourselves at the same time to ensure you follow the correct procedure.

What should I do if I have an accident?

If you’re in an accident, you MUST notify the Police and the car rental provider and get an accident report for insurance purposes. Failure to do so may result in you footing the whole bill. It is recommended that you contact us at the same time to ensure you follow the correct procedure.

Toll roads

Tolls are payable when passing through certain motorway tunnels in Germany.

Current Toll Roads in Germany

A9 - Pyhrn Motorway: Bosruck Tunnel, Pyhrn Motorway: Gleinalm Tunnel. 

A10 -  Tauern Motorway: Tauern and Katschberg Tunnels.

A11 - Karawanken Motorway: Karawanken Tunnel.

A13 - Brenner Motorway: Entire route, Brenner Motorway: Exit Stubai.

S16 - Arlberg Motorway: Arlberg Road Tunnel.

Driving distances

Graz to Vienna – 200km (2hrs)

Innsbruck to Salzburg – 186km (2hrs)

Innsbruck to Graz – 458km (4hrs 35mins)

Salzburg to Vienna – 295km (2hrs 55mins)

Salzburg to Graz – 277km (2hrs 50mins)

Vienna to Innsbruck – 476km (4hrs 40mins)