1. Getting naked on the Ostsee
Actually when truth be told, many Germans choose to be naked just about everywhere they are allowed when the weather is right. Around lakes and beaches, you'll see plenty of people fully embracing the Freikörperkultur (FKK) movement, or Free Body Culture. On the Ostsee (Baltic Sea) you’re never too far from an FKK-friendly beach where you can catch a glimpse of Deutsch folk in their birthday suits.
And while you might not be surprised to see babies au naturale in public parks, you should be equally nonplussed when an adult strips off to catch some rays in the same locale.
2. Singing ‘Schlager’ in Ballermann on Mallorca
The word Ballermann is German slang for a gun and is also connected to the word ballern – to ‘get wasted’ – so the name fits perfectly with the drunken excess that carries on inside this infamous bar on the coast of Mallorca.
Drinking, sex and drugs are all on the cards – but most crucial is singing along to Schlager – cheesy party hits about drinking, sex and lying on the beach. This music has come to be known as Ballermann Hits and even back in Germany, if you're missing the Spanish coast, you can find ‘Ballermann Parties.’
3. Drinking on bridges
The Admiralsbrücke in Berlin is always full of people enjoying a casual summer evening. Photo: DPA
In the summertime, the bridges over Berlin’s Landwehr Canal become the centre of the city’s social life as locals and tourists take over the Kreuzberg waterway to get an unbeatable view of the sunset – washed down with a cool beer.
Actually, due to the fact that it’s totally acceptable to drink in public in Germany, you’ll find people enjoying a cool one on benches, in the park, on their way back from work – pretty much anywhere they get a chance!
4. Building fake beaches
People relax at a bar with a man-made beach along the River Elbe in Hamburg. Photo: DPA.
Most of the country has a bit of a trek to reach the shores of the Baltic or the North Sea, but German residents still have a hankering in the summer to feel sand between their toes. That’s why dozens of restaurants and bars will build their own artificial beaches in the summer, complete with sand, deckchairs and volleyball nets to give customers that beachy-feel, while being miles away from the sea.
5. Taking kids to beer gardens
Men spend time with their children at a beer garden. Photo: DPA.
Beer gardens: a staple of German culture characterized by overflowing pints of brew, sausages on the grill – and baby buggies? Germans don’t mind schlepping Junior along to hang out with friends at their regular beer garden, so don’t be shocked to see groups of rowdy students flanked by whining tots. Beer gardens even serve up colloquially termed Kinderbier (children’s beer), which is really just a malt beer drink without any alcohol.
Many parents in Düsseldorf were outraged recently to see this tradition ruined by a riverside beach bar that started forbidding children from entering certain sections of the beer garden.
6. Sitting in traffic on Italian motorways
While east Germans hit the Baltic coast and under 30s are partying in Mallorca, the more refined Wessies tend to prefer a holiday in the idyllic beauty of the Italian Adriatic coast. Or so they like to tell themselves.
But because many people make the trip across the Alps by car, it sometimes seems like half of Germany is stuck in a traffic jam during the summer months somewhere between Munich and Milan.