directions in german

How to Give Directions in German

Say there is a stranger on the street heading towards you.

There is high chance he wants the answer to one of the following questions:

Excuse me, can you tell me what time it is?

or

Excuse me, can you tell me how to get to…?

You can learn about how to tell the time in German here. But today, we are going to look at some useful German phrases for giving and asking for directions in German. 

Must-Know Vocabulary – Directions in German

  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช gehen ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ to go
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช fahren – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ to drive
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช zurรผckgehen – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ to go back
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช zurรผckfahren – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ to drive back
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช folgen – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ to follow
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช abbiegen – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ to turn
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช rechts – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ right
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช links – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ left
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช geradeaus – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ straight ahead
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช umdrehen – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ to turn back
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช aufwรคrts –  ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ uphill
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช abwรคrts – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ downhill

When starting a conversation, you should first get the attention of the person you want to ask. People value their personal space, so try not to tap them on their shoulders (or only if it is really necessary). 

Instead, choose one of these phrases:

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Entschuldigung, โ€ฆ
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Excuse me, โ€ฆ

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or a little bit more formal:

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Entschuldigen Sie, โ€ฆ
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Excuse me, โ€ฆ

and then you can add:

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Ich habe eine kurze Frage.
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Iโ€™ve got a quick question. 

Asking for Directions in German

What if you are the stranger on the street asking for directions? Imagine being on a trip to Cologne, Berlin, or Munich and getting lost. 

Your friends have suddenly gone, and your phone battery is empty. 

Luckily, you agreed on a meeting point beforehand, just in case something like this happened. 

Now you have to ask some locals about a way to get there.

Here are some handy phrases on how to ask for directions in German:

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Entschuldigung, wie komme ich zur Peter und Paul Kirche?
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Excuse me, how do I get to the Peter and Paulโ€™s church?

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Entschuldigen Sie, wie weit ist es bis SchillerstraรŸe?
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Excuse me, how far is it to Schiller street?

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Wo ist das Brandenburger Tor?
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Where is the Brandenburg Gate?

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Was ist der schnellste Weg, um zum Kรถlner Dom zu kommen?
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Which is the fastest way to get to the Cologne Cathedral?

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Wie finde ich den Bahnhof?
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ How do I get to the train station?

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Entschuldigung, ich suche den Berliner Fernsehturm. Kรถnnen Sie mir helfen?
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Excuse me, I am looking for the Berlin Television Tower. Can you help me?

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Wo finde ich den Marienplatz?
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ How do I get to Maryโ€™s Square?

In every city, there are some buildings or places that will help you get your bearings in a foreign city: 

  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช die/eine Apotheke – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ a pharmacy
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช das/ein Kino – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ a cinema
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช das/ein Museum – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ a museum
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช die/eine Kirche ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ a church
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช das/ein Theater – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ a theater
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช das/ein Denkmal – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ a statue
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช das/ein Rathaus ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ a town hall
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช das/ein Krankenhaus – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ a hospital
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช die/eine Schule – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ a school
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช die/eine Universitรคt – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ a university
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช die/eine Bibliothek – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ a library
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช der/ein Bรคcker – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ a bakery
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช das/ein Restaurant – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ a restaurant
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช die/eine Brรผcke – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ a bridge
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช der/ein Friedhof – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ a cemetery 
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช das/ein Hotel – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ a hotel
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช die/eine Bank – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ a bank
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช das/ein Einkaufszentrum – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ a shopping centre
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช der/ein Fluss – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ a river
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช der/ein Bahnhof – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ a train station
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช der/ein Flughafen ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ an airport
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช die/eine U-Bahn Station – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ an underground station
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช der/ein Marktplatz – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ a market square
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช die/eine Bushaltestelle – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ a bus stop
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช das/ein Schloss – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ a castle
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช die/eine Kreuzung – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ a crossroads
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช der/ein Kreisverkehr – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ a traffic circle/ roundabout

These words will help you describe the way if you are asked or understand the answer if you are the one who is lost. 

Giving directions in German

Now you know how to ask for directions, letโ€™s have a look at some possible answers:

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Gehen Sie geradeaus.
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Go straight ahead. 

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Biegen Sie rechts/links ab.
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Turn right/left. 

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Sie mรผssen den Weg aufwรคrts folgen.
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ You have to follow the street uphill.

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Das ist die falsche Richtung. 
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ That is the wrong direction.

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Sie mรผssen umdrehen.
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ You have to turn back. 

These are the easy ones. But it is more probable that the way to your destination will be described in a more complex or figurative way:

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Gehen Sie bis zur Kirche und biegen dann links ab. 
Go to the church and then turn left. 

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Das Hotel ist zwei StraรŸen weiter.
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ The hotel is two streets further on. 

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Das Kino liegt unten am Fluss. 
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ The cinema is down the hill by the river. 

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Der Marktplatz befindet sich hinter dem Bahnhof.
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ The market square is behind the train station. 

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช An dem Kreisverkehr nehmen Sie die zweite Ausfahrt.
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ You take the second exit at the traffic circle/ roundabout.

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Zwischen dem Krankenhaus und der Brรผcke biegen Sie rechts ab.
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ You turn right between the hospital and the bridge. 

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Das Theater befindet sich gleich neben der Universitรคt.
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ The theatre is directly next to the university. 

As you might have noticed, it is helpful to describe the way by saying the position of one object or place in relation to another. Here are some handy words:

  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช vor – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ in front of
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช hinter – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ behind
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช zwischen – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ between
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช gegenรผber – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ opposite 
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช unter – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ under
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช รผber ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ over or above
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช neben – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ next to
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช auf – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ on
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช in ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ in 
  • ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช an – ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ at or by 

Now you know not only the exact directions but realize itโ€™s too far to go on foot. Thatโ€™s why you should read about how to call a taxi in German. 

You have to keep in mind that not every person on the street will know the answer to your question, even though he or she looks like a local. 


So it could happen to you. Here are some appropriate replies for this case:

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Es tut mir leid. 
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ I am sorry.

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Ich bin nicht von hier. 
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ I am not from here.

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Ich komme nicht aus dieser Stadt.
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ I donโ€™t come from this city. 

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Ich kann Ihnen leider nicht helfen. 
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ I am afraid I canโ€™t help you. 

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Ich kenne mich hier nicht aus.
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ I donโ€™t know my way around here.

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Vielleicht kรถnnen Sie bei der Touristeninformation nachfragen.
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Maybe you can ask the tourist information office. 

And what do you say after such an answer? You might be disappointed, but stay polite and say:

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Kein Problem.
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ No problem. 

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Danke trotzdem!
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Thanks anyway!

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Trotzdem vielen Dank!
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Thank you very much, anyway!

Example of a Dialogue: Directions in German

Here are some short dialogues to sum up what we have learned today:

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช
A: Entschuldigung, kรถnnen Sie mir sagen, wo ich eine Eisdiele finde?
B: Das beste Eis gibt es oben am Schloss.
A: Wie komme ich dahin?
B: Folgen Sie einfach diese StraรŸe aufwรคrts und biegen Sie hinter der Schule links ab.
A: Alles klar, vielen Dank!
B: Gerne!
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ
A: Excuse me, can you tell me where I can find an ice cream parlor?
B: They have the best ice cream up the hill, at the castle.
A: How do I get there?
B: You have to follow the street uphill and turn left behind the school building. 
A: All right, thank you!
B: No problem!

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช
C: Entschuldigen Sie, ich habe eine Frage. Wie komme ich am schnellsten zum Bahnhof?
D: Das ist nicht weit weg. Sie mรผssen bis zur nรคchsten Kreuzung gehen und dort rechts abbiegen. Dann sehen Sie den Bahnhof am Ende der StraรŸe. 
C: Vielen Dank fรผr Ihre Hilfe!
D: Kein Problem!
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ
C: Excuse me, I have a question. How do I get to the train station the fastest?
D: It is not far away. You have to go to the next crossroads and then turn right. You should see the train station at the end of the road then.
C: Thank you very much for your help!
D: No problem. 

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช
E: Hi, weiรŸt Du wo ich hier ein gรผnstiges Hotel finde?
F: Ich fรผrchte, ich kann Dir leider nicht helfen. Ich bin auch nicht von hier. 
E: Oh, schade. Trotzdem danke!
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ
E: Hi, do you know where I can find a cheap hotel here?
F: I am afraid I canโ€™t help you. I am not from here either.
E: Thatโ€™s a pity. Thanks anyway!

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช
G: Entschuldigung, ich suche den Zoo. Kรถnnen Sie mir helfen? 
H: Sicher, aber der Zoo ist etwas weiter weg. Am besten wรคre, wenn Sie den Bus 7 nehmen. 
G: Und wo ist die Bushaltestelle?
H: Ein hundert meter weiter in diese Richtung auf der anderen StraรŸenseite. 
G: Vielen Dank und einen schรถnen Tag noch!
H: Danke, gleichfalls!
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ
G: Excuse me, I am looking for the zoo. Can you help me?
H: Sure, but the zoo is a bit far away. The best way would be with bus number 7. 
G: And where is the bus station? 
H: One hundred meters away from here, on the other side of the street. 
G: Thank you! Have a nice day!
H: Thanks, you too. 

Now I am sure you wonโ€™t get lost in an unfamiliar German city anymore!

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Weronika Olszewska

Weronika Olszewska

Living and studying in Germany for as long as she can remember. German tutor by day, Italian learner by night. When she's not learning new languages, you can find her enjoying great rock bands on stage.

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