Practical Advice

At a glance

These pages provide an overview of some practical issues - where to call in an emergency, when supermarkets, shops, and restaurants are open, public holidays and more.

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This page provides an overview concerning some practical issues - where to call in an emergency, when supermarkets, shops, and restaurants are open, public holidays and more.

For more general information on daily life in Germany, please also see the EURAXESS Portal.

Another excellent source for information and explanations of life in Germany in the form of short videos can be found at "Handbook Germany".

Practical advice and information for the administrative district surrounding Tübingen can be found at https://integreat.app/tuebingen/en. Integreat is also available as an app in the Play store or App store.

Emergency Phone Numbers and Assistance

If you need assistance in an emergency, here are some helpful phone numbers.

  • 110 (Germany-wide): Police.
  • 112 (EU-wide): Ambulance services and fire brigade. This number should be called in case of a fire, or for severe injuries and any medical emergency that could be life-threatening, such as a suspected heart-attack or difficulty breathing, allergic shock etc.
  • 116 117: Out-of-hours medical assistance. If you need to speak to a medical professional after 6 p.m. or on the weekend, but do not have an emergency, you can dial this number to reach the closest on-call medical team nationwide.
  • Out-of-hours pharmacies - if you need to get medicine late at night, on weekends or on holidays, you can find out which pharmacies are on duty by clicking here: Aponet.de (German only, but with a map)
Opening Hours - Supermarkets, Shops and Restaurants

Shops and Supermarkets in Germany are generally closed on Sundays and public holidays. For more details please see our Shopping page.

Fast food restaurants and take-aways are usually open seven days a week. Most other restaurants open six days per week, with Monday being the most frequent closing day.

Restaurants normally serve lunch between 12:00 and 2:00 p.m., although some serve hot food all day (durchgehend warme Küche). Some restaurants close in the afternoon and open again around 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. for dinner, which is normally served until around 10:00 p.m.

Restaurants are usually open on public holidays, but do check in advance, especially during Christmas!

Public Holidays

Public holidays in Germany are often associated with religious festivities, the two big ones being Easter and Christmas. People generally do not work on public holidays, with the exception of emergency services, other basic public services, and public transport. Shops are closed.

Those public holidays associated with certain dates, such as Labor Day and Reunification day, are always celebrated on that date, even if it falls on a weekend. If a holiday falls on a Sunday, there is no compensatory day off on the following Monday. Some of the Christian holidays, for example Easter and Pentecost, are associated with days of the week. Their dates vary every year.

Some public holidays are national, but some vary by Federal State. To find out which holidays are observed in Baden-Württemberg and which date they will fall on in any given year, simply search for "Feiertage Baden-Württemberg" or "public holidays Baden-Württemberg" online.

Public service employees, e.g. at Universities and public research institutions, also do not have to work on December 24 (Christmas Eve) and December 31 (New Year's Eve). On these days, big shops and supermarkets are open only in the mornings, but small shops may be closed all day. Public authorities are closed.

Climate and Weather

Tübingen is located in Europe’s temperate climate zone. This means that it has four distinct seasons, with daytime temperatures in winter averaging around 0-5 °C (though they might fall below -15 °C in extreme cases), and warm summers with average daytime temperatures around 20-25 °C (upper 30s °C during heat waves). Humidity levels are moderate, averaging about 80 % in winter and 70 % in summer. Rain can be expected during all seasons, changing to snow in winter.  

German houses usually have central heating and are well insulated, so staying warm during winter is not hard. At the same time, this means that homes will stay warm during heat waves as well, as air-conditioning is not common in private homes. To learn more about how to keep temperatures at home comfortable please see the At home page.

Religion

The German Constitution guarantees the freedom of religion. Nowadays almost half of the population doesn’t officially belong to any religious community anymore, and even those who do often don’t regularly practice their religion.

Nevertheless, Christianity is still the most culturally and socially influential religious community in Germany. The largest Christian communities in Germany are Catholicism and Protestantism (Lutheranism). They do a lot of charity work, run schools, kindergartens, and care facilities including hospitals. Many public holidays are also based on the Christian tradition (see Public Holidays above).

Several religious communities have some special agreements with the State. For example, they can charge a contribution from their members through the tax system, the so-called Church Tax (Kirchensteuer). Further information on this can be found under Taxes.

Even though many people don’t actively practice a religion anymore, Religious Education is still a mandatory subject in German schools. For more information please see the Schools sub-page.

You can find a list of churches, mosques, synagogues, and other denominations' congregations in Tübingen here (German only).

Alcohol and Smoking

Alcohol

Alcohol is legal in Germany. The drinking age is 16 for beer and (sparkling) wine, and 18 for spirits. While many people do drink alcohol, it is perfectly acceptable to refuse drinking it and say so - do not feel pressured to accept alcohol or obligated to give a reason for why you don't drink. Public attitudes towards alcohol are more relaxed in Germany than in many other countries, and it is quite normal to offer wine, beer, or sparkling wine at receptions and celebrations, also in an academic setting. There will always be non-alcoholic alternatives on offer.

Alcohol is sold at supermarkets, gas stations, and specialty shops. Most bars and restaurants serve alcohol; cafés sometimes do not.

Smoking

Smoking is also legal in Germany (from 18 years of age), but where you can smoke is quite restricted. This includes e-cigarettes. Smoking in public buildings and on public transport is prohibited, at train stations there are restricted smoking areas and airports have smokers’ lounges. Most covered spaces such as shopping centers prohibit smoking. In most of these places there are ashtrays placed right outside the door, and there are no legal requirements for keeping a certain distance from building entrances.

Accommodation - including private flats and apartments - must legally be fitted with smoke detectors for fire safety reasons, so you will likely find yourself smoking outside even when you are at home.

Regulations for smoking in pubs and bars vary between Federal States. In Baden-Württemberg, the following regulations apply:

  • Smoking areas: Some bars or restaurants have designated smoking areas that must be completely closed off from the non-smoking part of the establishment.
  • (Beer) gardens or tents: Smoking is allowed in open-air areas such as beer gardens and terraces, as well as in tents at popular festivals.
  • „Smoking bars“: Small establishments with just one room can allow smoking, provided that they restrict access to adults (over 18) and do not serve hot food.

If you’re considering quitting local help is offered by the University hospital’s Smoking Cessation Consultation.

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