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Die Stadt: German Vocabulary for Getting Around Town

written by: Gillian Hendrie • edited by: Tricia Goss • updated: 1/17/2012

Learn vocabulary to help you get around in a German-speaking area. Ask for and understand directions to specific places around town.

  • slide 1 of 9

    Getting Started

    Obviously you're planning to buy a map, right? But first you have to find your way to the taxi rank / bus stop / bathroom / map shop! Knowing a few phrases to ask for directions and, crucially, to understand the directions given to you, will save you a lot of time, trouble and embarrassment.

    In the pronunciation guide for the German words and phrases below, the following characters have been used:

    • X - the guttural "ch" sound (pronounced as in "loch" in Scotland)
    • ö - like "eau" in French

    Apart from these, the pronunciation given should be read as for English.

    Note that β is a special symbol used in some words (according to grammatical rules) for "double s".

  • slide 2 of 9

    Excuse Me ...

    First of all, you need to get someone's attention.

    • "Entschuldigen Sie bitte" [ent-SHOOL-di-gin zee bi-ttu] (formal and polite, to one or more adults) and
    • "Entschuldigung" [ent-SHOOL-di-goong] (to anyone)

    Both mean "Excuse me."

  • slide 3 of 9

    Asking the Questions

    The nicest way of asking for directions is:

    • Wie komme ich am besten nach / in (+ town or area name) ? or
    • Wie komme ich am besten zu / in (+ building or street name)?

    [VEE kom-ma iX am bes-ten naX / tsoo ... ]

    which translates as "What's the best way to...?" (literally: "How do I best get to ...?")

    • Wie komme ich am besten nach Berlin?
    • Wie komme ich am besten in die Stadtmitte*? ("die" words)
    • Wie komme ich am besten zur Kirche*? (Use "zur" with "die" words.)
    • Wie komme ich am besten zum Rathaus*? (Use "zum" with "der" and "das" words.)

    Less used is:

    • Kennen Sie den Wag nach (+ town or area name) ? / zu (+ building or street name)?

    [Ken-nun zee dayn vayg naX / tsoo ... ]

    meaning "Do you know the way to ... ?"

    • Kennen Sie den Wag nach Wien ?
    • Kennen Sie den Wag zum Rathaus*?

    * These words are listed in the "Destinations" section below.

  • slide 4 of 9


    Here is a list of places you may want to visit (also available as a download).

    • die Bank = bank
    • das Café= café
    • der Campingplatz=campground
    • die Disko=disco, nightclub
    • der Dom=cathedral
    • das Freibad=open-air swimming pool
    • der Hauptbahnhof=main railway station
    • die Jugendherberge=youth hostel
    • das Hotel=hotel
    • das Kino= cinema
    • die Kirche=the church
    • das Krankenhaus=hospital
    • das Museum= museum
    • die Oper=opera house
    • der Park =park
    • der Platz=plaza, square
    • die Post = post office
    • das Rathaus=town hall
    • das Restaurant=restaurant
    • der Sportplatz=sports field
    • die Stadion=sports stadium
    • der Supermarkt= supermarket
    • das Theater=theatre
    • das Verkehrsamt=tourist information office
  • slide 5 of 9

    Streets and Other Characteristics

    • der Allee = avenue
    • die Autobahn = motorway
    • die Brücke= bridge
    • der Fluβ= river
    • die Fuβgängerzone=pedestrian zone
    • die Kreuzung=crossing, crossroads, intersection
    • der Parkplatz=car park, parking space
    • die Stadtmitte= the town centre
    • die Straβe= street
    • der Tunnel= tunnel
    • der Verkehrskreis= traffic circle, roundabout
    • das Zentrum*=the town centre

    *sometimes spelled “Centrum"

    (Get the list as a download.)

  • slide 6 of 9

    Understanding the Answers

    • I don't know = Ich weiβ nicht. [iX vice niXt]

    Bad luck!

    Hopefully you will hear something resembling the following:

    • geradeaus [ge-ra-du-ows] = straight ahead
    • links = on the left
    • rechts [reXts] = on the right

  • slide 7 of 9

    More Complex Answers

    Turn ...

    • umkehren [oom-kay-rin] = turn around
    • links abbiegen [links ap-bee-gin] = turn left
    • rechts abbiegen [reXts ap-bee-gin] = turn right

    Take this street

    • die erste Straβe links abbiegen/nehmen [dee er-stu stra-ssu links ap-bee-gin / nay-min] = take the first street on the left
    • die ........straβe entlang gehen, bis zu ....... [dee ... stra-ssu ent-lang gay-hin bis tsoo ...] = go along .... street until ......

  • slide 8 of 9


    • danke [dan-ku] = thanks / thank you
    • danke schön [dan-ku shön] = thank you very much
    • danke sehr [dan-ku zayr] = thank you very much
    • vielen Dank [fee-lin dank] = many thanks
    • (in Austria) danke vielmals [dan-ku feel-mals] = thanks a lot
  • slide 9 of 9

    And Goodbye

    • auf Wiedersehen [owf vee-dir-zay-in] = goodbye
    • (in Austria) auf Wiederschauen [owf vee-dir-show-in] = goodbye
    • ciao / tschau [chow] = 'bye
    • tschüβ [choos] = 'bye

Die Stadt

These lessons in German will help you find your way around town. Learn to read a German language map, ask for and understand directions, and buy items in shops.
  1. Die Stadt: German Vocabulary for Getting Around Town
  2. Using Prepositions in German: The Accusative Case