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Revealed: This is what Germans do (and don’t do) in their free time

Germans are becoming increasingly reliant on their smartphones – and it's even affecting their sex lives. But TV is still the most popular past time.

Revealed: This is what Germans do (and don't do) in their free time
Less sex, more smartphones? Photo: DPA

What do Germans do when Feierabend comes? Well, according to the annual Freizeit-Monitor 2019 study, the most popular leisure activity is watching television.

But researchers of the study, which is published by the “Stiftung für Zukunftsfragen” say the smartphone is increasingly becoming more popular every year – and digital media will no doubt take over the top positions of German leisure activities in the coming years.

Smartphones are used by the majority – 57 percent – of the population.

In fact, the popularity of chatting, playing games or surfing the Internet with a mobile phone has more than doubled in the last five years alone and citizens are spending more of their free time online.

The study also found that many people had forgotten how to enjoy their leisure time.

“The Germans are a very media-oriented people who, however, often use their leisure time in the wrong way and don't do what would be good for them or what they like,” said Professor Ulrich Reinhardt, scientific director of the Freizeit-Monitor.

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'Passive not active'

Right now the undisputed number one leisure activity in Germany (which has been at the top for over 30 years) is watching TV. Yes, almost every German (94%) switches their TV on regularly – at least once a week – to catch up on the likes of Tatort or Babylon Berlin.

Listening to the radio is also hugely popular, with 88 percent of Germans doing it regularly.

Chatting on the phone from home (87 percent) is also very popular – closely followed by listening to music (83 percent), surfing the Internet (81 percent) and calling people with a smartphone (73 percent).

Does the Internet make Germans more inclined to stay indoors in their free time? Photo: DPA

Germans are known for their love of the outdoors. But the survey shows that Germans are inclined to stay in more often.

Only 35 percent of those surveyed said they did sports at least once a week, while 25 percent said they did gardening regularly – and less than every tenth person said they regularly went to restaurants, pubs or church.

Reinhardt said: “The everyday leisure life of German citizens is quite routine. After work, people relax on the sofa, inform themselves and chat. 'Passivity instead of activity' is the motto.”

Germans are also having less sex, which could be partly down to the rise of smartphones and Internet usage.

According to the study, only every second person (52 percent) has sex at least once a month. Five years ago the figure was 56 percent.

Stress is a major factor

“Stress in spare time has continued to increase,” said Reinhardt, scientific director of the leisure monitor . “As a result, Germans are taking less and less time for sex.”

Perhaps surprisingly, parents are the group who still have the most sex. A total of 59 percent of mums and dads in the 25-49 age group have sex at least once a week and 82 percent at least once a month. Just behind them are couples without children (58 percent weekly and 85 percent monthly).

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So who has the least sex? A total of 27 percent of single people have sex at least once a week, 49 percent at least once a month. And seven percent of pensioners (over 65) have sex at least once a week, while 23 percent do this monthly.


For many Germans, leisure time is increasingly becoming a stressful time. For example, 58 percent of Germans – especially young people and singles – say they do too much in their free time. It shows they may be suffering from FOMO or fear of missing out.

As a result, the time spent on individual activities decreases, while at the same time the number of different leisure activities goes up.

For the survey, more than 2,200 people over the age of 14 were interviewed about their leisure behaviour in July.

What makes Germans tick?

Here are 10 facts from the study:

1. Netflix and chill

More than one in five Germans now watch series and films from streaming providers such as Amazon Prime, Netflix, Maxdome and Sky on a regular basis (at least once a week).

2. Health is important

Almost every second retiree does something for his or her fitness and health every week – in no other phase of life is this value higher.

Retirees are doing something for their fitness and health regularly. Photo: DPA

3. Friendships

A total of 17 percent of Germans meet in person with friends every week, three times as many (51 percent) keep in touch via Facebook, Instagram and other networking apps.

4. Shopping

Women go shopping almost twice as often as men – 11 percent do it regularly compared to six percent of  men. Meanwhile, eight percent of men shop online at least once a week compared to seven percent of women.

5. Sex

Only about every second German citizen (52%) has sex at least once a month. Five years ago it was 56 percent.

6. Volunteering

Every fifth person is involved in doing volunteer work at least once a month (20 percent) and every third person (33 percent) gives support or help to their neighbours.

7. Culture

Just four percent go to a theatre, opera, ballet or classical concert at least once a month, 14 percent to the cinema and 28 percent to a sports event.

8. Church

Every third western German never goes to church (31 percent). In the east there are more than twice as many who never attend church (71 percent).

9. Boredom

Almost one in three young adults (31 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds) is often bored in their free time and does not know what to do – the national average is only 18 percent.

10. Singles

More than three quarters of all single people (76 percent) feel they don't have enough free time (for the total population that figure is 56 percent).

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REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. German is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, comes with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.