Berlin is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world today, and English is widely understood. However, it is still Germany, and in order to experience the full depth of its character, it’s important to get familiar with the language. From getting around to ordering food and drinks and making friends, here are a few essential phrases that will help you feel at home in Berlin.
Greetings and essentials
Guten Tag/Guten Abend (gooh-ten tahk/gooh-ten ahh-bent ) – good day/good evening
This is a formal way of saying ‘hello’ during the day or the evening. When you walk into a café or bar, it’s nice to greet the person working behind the counter with either of these phrases, depending on the time of day.
Hallo (ha-llo) – hello
The informal or casual way to say ‘hello’ in German is Hallo. If you’re feeling particularly friendly when walking around the city, you can say this with a smile to passersby.
Auf Wiedersehen (ouf-vee-der-zey-en) – goodbye
This is the more formal version of ‘goodbye’ in German. Literally translated it means, ‘I’ll see you again.’
Tschüss (choos) – bye
You will hear this word a lot in Berlin, particularly as groups of friends part. It’s the informal way to say goodbye.
Ja/Nein (ya/nine) – yes/no
It’s very useful to know how to say yes and no in another language. It’s easy, and shows you’re making an effort.
Entschuldigung (ent-shool-dee-goong) – excuse me
If you’re meeting some friends in a busy bar, or want to exit the packed U-Bahn (underground train), it’s polite to say Entschuldigung – and it’s fun to say.
Bitte (bitter) – please/you’re welcome
Politeness will get you everywhere in a foreign country, so this easy phrase is worth remembering when fumbling with your German in Berlin.
Danke (danka) – thank you
Throwing in Danke while ordering and travelling around Berlin is simple and courteous.
Sprechen Sie Englisch? (shpr-ek-en/zee/eng-lish) Do you speak English? (formal German)
This is a phrase that every English speaker should know when travelling around Berlin. Most Berliners will speak English and will appreciate that you’re making an effort with their notoriously difficult language.
Links/Rechts/Geradeaus (links/rekts/ge-rah-da-aus) – left/right/straight ahead
Knowing these simple directions is a great way to help direct your taxi driver when getting around Berlin. It might also pop up when you’re being directed to someone’s apartment, or on your Airbnb instructions.
Wo sind die Toiletten? (vo zint dee toy-let-en) – Where are the bathrooms?
Let’s be honest, this is a pretty helpful phrase to keep in the back of your mind in case you stumble into a Berlin bar, café or shopping mall without any English speakers in sight.
Wo finde ich…? (vo fin-de ik) – Where do I find…?
A great basic phrase to commit to memory, ‘Where do I find…?’ will make your travels in the German capital a lot easier.
Wo ist…? (voist) – Where is…?
However, if ‘Where do I find…?’ is a little confusing, you can also use the simpler phrase, ‘Where is…?’
Ich bin verloren (ik bin ver-loor-en) – I am lost
Berliners are a pretty helpful bunch, so if you’re staring woefully at a map and need some help, using this phrase to get the conversation rolling is a great start.
At the restaurant or bar
Die Englische Speisekarte, bitte (dee eng-lish-e shpie-ze-kar-te bitter) – The English menu, please
While it is true that most hospitality workers will speak English in Berlin, the menus will almost always be in German, so this is a great phrase to let them know you either need their English menu, or the menu translated.
Ich hätte gern… (ik hetter gern) – I would like…
This is a great phrase to commit to memory, as it is completely interchangeable and will help you ask for anything your heart desires.
Haben Sie…? (haaben zee) – Do you have…? (formal German)
Again, this is a great phrase to know and works for a lot of different questions. This can also be asked in the informal ‘du’ German, but that requires some tricky conjugation, and it’s more polite to speak to people in the formal ‘Sie’ German when you first meet them.
Noch ein Bier bitte (nok ayn beer bitter) – Another beer, please
Germany is the land of beer, and it’s very likely you’ll be drinking a lot of it while in the capital. So why not ask for the national drink in its mother tongue?
Die Rechnung bitte (dee reck-noong bitter) – The bill, please
Even if you’ve already established with your waiter that you don’t speak German, it’s nice to have a few handy phrases anyway. So try asking for the bill in German, and remember it’s customary to leave a tip.
At the market
Wie viel kostet das? (vee feelkos-tet das) – How much does that cost?
Null, eins, zwei, drei, vier, fünf, sechs, sieben, acht, neun, zehn (nool, ayns, tsvay, dray, feer, foonf, zeks, see-ben, ahcht, noyn, tseyn) – numbers 0–10
Knowing how to count from zero to ten in German is super-easy and very helpful. Give it a go during your trip to Berlin!
Ich heiße… (ik hi-sah) My name is…
Whether you’ve made a new German friend or you’re having a small chat with the Späti worker, knowing how to introduce yourself is German will really come in handy.
Ich komme aus… (ik kom-me ows) I come from…
Again, this is a great basic phrase to help you have a conversation with German speakers around the city.
Wie geht es Ihnen? (vee geyt es een-en) – How are you?
What’s nicer than asking how someone’s day is? It might be the first step to making a new friend in Berlin.
Kann ich deine Nummer haben? (can ik day-ner num-mer hah-ben) – Can I have your number?
Once you’ve put down some of the groundwork and had a chat, why not connect with your new German pal so you can practise some more German?
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.