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Words and Phrases You Will Need

On this page are a few German words and short phrases that relate to bicycle touring in Germany.

Assuming you do not speak German, the best thing to do is buy a phrase book and/or a German/English dictionary and carry them with you. For years, I carried a small German/English dictionary in my pocket but I have to admit, the most help came from my wife, native German speaker Maxa.

If you have a phrase book it helps to study it before you arrive. Germans, as do all people, appreciate your attempts at speaking their language – even if they can speak yours. It is always a great help to know your numbers and the days of the week. Otherwise, if you were invited for, "Ein Bier Dienstag um Zwei" you might miss out on a good thing. You would probably guess it had something to do with beer but you would go thirsty at 2:00 on Tuesday.

For more general blather on the German language, see Language section under German Culture.

Other words you need to know are:
German Word English Meaning
Abfahrt Departure, as in trains or busses
Abflug Departure for airplanes
Absteigen Dismount
Achtung Attention!
Altstadt Old town area
Ankunft Arrival, as in planes, trains, or busses etc.
Apotheke Pharmacy that can dispense prescriptions (see Drogerie below)
Aufpassen Pay attention
Ausfahrt Exit from a freeway (or sometimes a driveway to keep free)
Ausser Betrieb Out of order
Bahnhof, Hauptbahnhof (Bhf ,Hbf) Train station
Bäckerei Bakery (filling station for cyclists)
Bar Cash money
Belegte Brötchen An open face sandwich on a hard roll
Berg Mountain
Belegt or Besetzt Occupied, busy, or full up (a sign indicating "no vacancy")
Bett und Frühstrück Bed and breakfast
Bier Beer (the most important word in German)
Bitte / Bitte schn Please, you are welcome (sometimes)
Brücke Bridge
Burg, Wasserburg Castle on a hill, castle with a moat
Campingplatz Campground
Danke, Danke schön Thank you
Dom Cathedral
Drogerie Drug store with “over the counter” remedies
Einfahrt Entrance to a freeway or a building
Entschuldigung Sorry
Etage Duche Shared shower in the corridor or hallway
Fähre / Rundfähre Ferry
Fahrkarte / Ticket Ticket
Fahrrad / Rad Bicycle
Fahrrad freundlich Bicycle-friendly
Ferienwohnung (FeWo) Vacation apartment abbreviated FeWo (See here)
Freilichtmuseum Open-air museum
Frühstrück / mit Frühstrück Breakfast / breakfast included
Feuerwehr Fire Department (dial 112 from any phone anywhere in Germany)
Fremdenzimmer Overnight accommodation

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Gasthaus Normally a restaurant but it may have rooms to rent too
Gästezimmer Overnight accommodation
Gaststättte Restaurant (some have overnight accommodations)
Gefährlich Dangerous
Gesperrt Closed (such as a road closed)
Getäglich warme Küche Warm food from the kitchen served daily
Gleis Track (in a train station or just a RR track)
Guten / Morgen /Tag / Abend Good morning, good day, good evening
Gute Nacht Good night
Imbiss Snack bar (actually a snack or small meal)
Innenstadt City center
Ja / Nein (Ja-ein) Yes / No (yes and no)
Jugendherberge Youth hostel
Kaffee Kännchen A small pot of coffee (about 2 cups)
Karte / Radtourenkarte Map / bicycle-touring map
Kirche Church
Kloster Monastery or Convent (there is no such thing as a Nunestery)
Konditorei Bakery (filling station for cyclists)
Krank Sick or ill
Krankenhaus Hospital
Landstrasse Primary road between towns second only to Autobahn in traffic
Links / Rechts Left / Right
Markt / Marktplatz Market place or farmer’s market
Mittagspause Lunch or lunchbreak
Münster Minster / Cathedral
Nord / Süd / Ost / West North / South / East / West
Ortsmitte / Stadtmitte Town center / City center
Pfad Path
Polizei Police (dial 110 from any phone anywhere)
Privat Zimmer Private room for rent

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Rad A Rad is a wheel but also a bicycle
Radweg / Radfahrer / Radfernweg or Fernradweg Bike path / bike rider / Long-distance bicycle path
Radverleih - Verleih Bicycle for rent - short term rent of whatever
Radwanderweg Bicycle path
Radweg schäden Bike path is deteriorated and probably needs repair
Reform Haus Health food store
Richtung (Re) Direction (used on public transportation to indicate destination)
Ruhetag Day off during the week. On this day, the business is closed
Schlechte Wegstrecke - Radfahrer absteigen Bad road stretch bike riders dismount
Schloss Palace small castle
See Lake
Sorry (It is English but you hear it) I am sorry
Spur Lane as in lane in a road
Stadtzentrum City Center
Täglich warme Küche Hot food every day (sign on a guest house or restaurant)
Tal, (as in Wesertal) Valley, or Weser Valley
Tor / Stadttor Gate / city gate
Tschüβ / Ciao (Ciao is Italian but common) good bye
Übernachtungsmöglichkeit Over night possibility
Umleitung Detour

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Verboten Forbidden
Verkehrsamt / Fremdenverkehrsamt Tourist information office
Verleih - Radverleih Bicycle rental firm or station
Vermieten / Fahrrad Vermietstationen Rent / Bike rental station
Vorsicht Be careful or Look out!
Wald Forest
WC Water closet (Toilet)
WC / Etage Duche Toilet in room but a shared shower in the corridor
Weinprobe / Weinstube Wine tasting / Wine drinking room
Zelt / Zelten Tent / Camping or Tenting
Zimmer / Zimmer frei Room or rooms for rent
Zimmer Vermieten or Zimmervermieten Room or rooms for rent (does this sound like an echo?)
Zug / Eissenbahn / Bahn Train

I thank Nadine Slavinski of the Mountaineers from whose book, Germany by Bike, I borrowed heavily for this list. Her book is out of print but may be purchased through The Mountaineers Books, 1011 SW Klickitat Way, Seattle, WA, 98134, USA or from

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