Which German cities have the rudest locals?
Perceived impoliteness is one of the major culture shocks that foreigners have after moving to Germany, but are some places worse than others? One survey has ranked the rudest cities in the country - and, in a surprise twist, it turns out that Berlin isn’t the worst.
In what German cities are you likely to get smug, snotty, or even completely absent answers to standard, polite questions? Where are you most or least likely to get bumped in the street without a clear apology afterwards? Who is most likely to be noisy in public, not respect personal space, not leave any tip money, be rude to service personnel, or cut in line?
British market research firm Censuswide, commissioned by language learning platform Preply, asked those questions and more in a survey of over 1,500 people in 20 large German cities. Based on the answers, it aggregated results and gave each city a politeness score and ranked them alongside other major German cities.
Berlin isn’t the worst!
In what might come as a surprise to many people in Germany - not least to Berliners themselves - Berlin is not actually Germany’s most impolite city. The city famous for Berliner Schnauze — or abrupt and rude directness — doesn’t even make the top five, although it does make the top ten.
According to the survey’s politeness score, Essen is far and away the most impolite city in Germany. It also performed the worst across many behaviours, including loud talking in public, discourteous driving, watching videos loudly in public, not respecting personal space, closed body language, line jumping, and not tipping service personnel.
Dresden and Frankfurt round out the top three most impolite cities, followed by Cologne in fourth place and Dortmund in fifth. Munich, Berlin, and Stuttgart then follow, in that order — although all three have almost identical politeness scores in the survey, indicating the three cities are essentially equally impolite.
North-Rhine Westphalia: Germany’s most polite state?
Aside from Cologne and Essen, cities in Germany’s most populous state - North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW) - could well teach the rest of the country some manners.
Five of the top ten most polite cities in Germany are there, including Bochum - the survey’s winner. Bonn, Münster, Duisburg, and Düsseldorf - all cities in NRW - make the top ten, in contrast to Düsseldorf rival Cologne, which is the fourth most impolite city in the country.
Bremen and Hannover came second and third in the most polite category. In contrast to impolite city Dresden, its fellow Saxon neighbour Leipzig is rated the seventh most polite city in Germany. The top ten nicest German cities also include Hannover and Hamburg.
Politeness and tipping
The survey considers not tipping service personnel as impolite. But ironically, some of the country’s most impolite cities, according to the survey, also have some of the better tippers.
Although Bremen, the country’s second-most polite city, comes in first on tipping, impolite German cities make up the rest of the top six, including Munich, Essen, Berlin, Dortmund, and Frankfurt.