The German Autobahn – A High-speed Racetrack?

Categories: General Travel Info

The autobahn
The autobahn

[ source: Wikipedia]

The German autobahn is famous all over the globe and often glorified as some kind of fun fair racetrack for adults by car lovers. The appeal of the German autobahn is so great that there is a considerable amount of — especially American and Asian — millionaires, who regularly come to Germany solely to rent one of the equally famous German luxury cars, like a Mercedes or BMW, and speed cross—country Germany for a couple of days. Admittedly, Germany is the only country in the world that has highways with no speed limits and therefore can seem like paradise to a car fan. But, remember, even paradise had its downside. So, if you plan to have a go at the German autobahn, beware of some often unconsidered peculiarities, so your dream holiday doesn’t turn into a nightmare.

Americans are used to everything being big. The typical American car looks like a mini bus to most Europeans and also streets, above all highways, are much wider in the US than in any country in Europe. Especially if you live in the Midwest, you might be used to cruising around for hours without coming across any other cars or trucks. On German streets, even in the most remote areas, there is always traffic. Germany is only a tiny bit bigger than New Mexico. With this in mind, it is easy to imagine that there are no long stretches of highway where you can just drive undisturbed. Every couple of miles there is some kind of on—ramp or exit and you always have to be aware of other vehicles changing lanes, slowing down or passing you to get on or off the autobahn. From an American point of view the German autobahn can easily seem like an obstacle course.

Therefore, you probably already guessed, the myth of no speed limits is only partly true. Of course, there are stretches of road, where you can drive as fast as you like and you will always have people in fancy cars passing you at 130 mph and even more. However, most street sections do have speed limits for various reasons, like on—ramps, exits, because it is a winding road, there is too much traffic, a construction zone, the street is in a bad condition and many, many other issues. You should also have in mind that the advisory speed limit is about 80 mph (130 km/h), which certainly is fast enough for most first—time autobahn users.

Finally, because the speed limit varies so much, the German autobahn is usually full of radar traps. Especially on stretches of road that only temporarily have a speed limit — let’s say because they are under construction — the police loves to install speed traps to make sure everybody sticks to the rules.

All in all, driving on the German autobahn can be an interesting and fun experience but it certainly is no racetrack and shouldn’t be abused as such. And, bear in mind, if you actually come to Germany to get to know the beauty of this country, it is much nicer to take the scenic route along smaller country roads.

About this Article

Kathrin Wagner

This travel guide has been written by Kathrin Wagner.

She grew up in a small town in Bavaria and then studied Media studies, Literature and History in Erlangen and Munich. As a student she already spent half a year in London and moved back there after graduation in 2006. She is still living in London, where she works in publishing.

Find and book quality Germany Vacation Rentals and Holiday Apartments ...

By Vacation Theme: Alpine Villages, Beach Vacations, Farm Vacations, German Castles, Historic Old Towns, Lake Vacations, Metropolitan Cities, Small Villages, Spa Towns, Themeparks, [ + ] more ...

By State: Aargau, Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Appenzell Innerrhoden, Baden-Wurttemberg, Basel-Landschaft, Basel-Stadt, Bavaria, Berlin (region), Bern (Canton), Brandenburg, Bremen (region), Burgenland (Austria), Canton of Jura, Canton of Uri, Carinthia (Austria), Fribourg (Canton), Geneva (Canton), Glarus, Graubünden, Hamburg (region), Hesse, Lower Austria, Lower Saxony, Lucerne (Canton), Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Neuchâtel, Nidwalden, North Rhine-Westphalia, Obwalden, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, Salzburger Land (Austria), Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Schaffhausen (Canton), Schleswig-Holstein, Schwyz (Canton), Solothurn, St. Gallen (Canton), Styria (Austria), Thurgau, Thuringia, Ticino, Tyrol (Austria), Upper Austria, Valais, Vaud, Vienna (Austria), Voralberg (Austria), Zug (Canton), Zürich (Canton), [ + ] more ...

Location, Map, and Driving Directions

Location: Germany, Germany

[ view larger map ]

Related Links

Wikipedia: Autobahn

Nearby Destinations Where You Can Find Nice Germany Vacation Rentals



With almost 500,000 residents, Kassel is located on the Fulda River in northern Hesse. This city is home to numerous parks and palaces, including Bergpark Wilhelmshoehe, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Having first been mentioned in written sources from…  [ + ] More Details

Related: Kassel Vacation Rentals



Königsee is a town in the district of Saalfeld-Rudolstadt, in Thuringia, Germany. It is situated 12 km east of Ilmenau, and 35 km south of Erfurt.  [ + ] More Details

Related: Königsee Vacation Rentals



Göttingen is a college town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is the capital of the district of Göttingen. The Leine river runs through the town. In 2006 the population was 129,686.  [ + ] More Details

Related: Göttingen Vacation Rentals



Although Thuringia may not be on the itinerary of most American tourists, this state offers an array of very interesting cities, not the least of which is the small city of Weimar. Weimar's fame is warranted on various counts, including the fact that…  [ + ] More Details

Related: Weimar Vacation Rentals



Located in the state of Thuringia, Eisenach is situated between the northern foothills of the Thuringian Forest and the Hainich National Park. As of 2006, the city's population was about 44,000. Automobile manufacturing is an important part of Eisenach…  [ + ] More Details

Related: Eisenach Vacation Rentals

Feedback, comments, questions?

Bettina Kraft

If you have visited here please share your experiences with our readers on Facebook. Or, if you have other cool trip suggestions and would like to contribute a travel guide here, please drop me an email. We also are encouraging free-lancers, travel guide writers or publishers who have great Germany related content to send us an email and get in touch with us.

Subscribe to the latest Germany travel guide articles in a reader (RSS)

Ask a Local for special travel insider tips!

We make it easy for you to post your travel questions and get them answered by local residents and our property owners in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. This way you get unqiue travel tips, personalized to your needs. Just type in your destination in the search box and go to your desired destination guide. From there look for the "Ask a Local" box, type in your question and submit. Typically you'll get 2-3 responses within less than 24 hours.

Download free eBook: 10 Tips on how to Live Like a German during your Germany Vacation!

Download free eBook: 10 Tips on how to Live Like a German during your Germany Vacation!Register for our free monthly Germany travel newsletter and download as a gift this valuable eBook: "10 Tips on how to Live Like a German during your Germany Vacation" - written by Bettina Kraft, owner of the Live Like a German site.
[ + ] More Details

Add the "Best of Live Like a German" to your web site or blog!

Best of Live Like a German Badge

Get the Best of Live Like a German badge, which shows the latest Germany travel tips, popular vacation packages, special trip plans, and a selection of travel guides. It can be integrated easily into your web site or blog.
[ + ] More Details