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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The Euraxess Portal also provides information on daily life in Germany.

Another excellent source for information and explanations of life in Germany in the form of short videos can be found at "Handbook Germany" (https://handbookgermany.de/en/videos.html). Scroll down to "Explainer videos" and "Information videos".

Practical advice and information especially for Tübingen district can be found at https://integreat.app/tuebingen/en (also available as an app for smartphone - downloadable from google play store or app store).

Emergency Phone Numbers and Assistance

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

  • 112 - this Europe-wide medical emergency number puts you in touch with the closest emergency station. They will also put you through to the fire station and the police right away if that's what you need.
  • 110 - direct line to the police. They will connect you to medical and fire emergency teams if needed.
  • Out-of-hours medical assistance - if you need to speak to a medical professional out of hours or on the weekend, but do not have an emergency, you can dial 116117 to reach the closest on-call medical team nationwide. There is also a specific hotline for Tuebingen and surroundings (7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.): (07071) 791071.
  • 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

Shops in Germany are generally closed on Sundays and public holidays, even supermarkets. In big cities, you may find supermarkets and other shops at big railway stations or airports that are open on Sundays. In Tuebingen, however, there are no such options, so do shop ahead!

During the week, including Saturdays, you can expect supermarkets to open by 8:00 a.m. and close between 8:00 and 10:00 p.m. In Tuebingen there is one large supermarket (at Schleifmühlenweg 36) that opens until Midnight. You can normally find the opening hours of your local supermarket on-line by just searching "Supermarkt Tuebingen".

Small shops will open later in the morning (usually around 10:00 a.m.) and close earlier (usually between 6:00 and 7:30 p.m.). Specialty shops such as bakeries and butchers often open earlier in the morning but close around the same time. Clothing chains and other larger shops or department stores are often open until 8:00 p.m. Specialty shops and small privately-owned shops close very early on Saturdays, often by 1:00 p.m. - make sure you check!

Gas stations often have a convenience store and tend to be open late as well as on Sundays. In Tuebingen, there are 24-hour gas stations at Bebenhäuser Str. 8 and at Reutlinger Str. 72.

Restaurants

Fast food restaurants and take-aways are usually open seven days a week. Most other restaurants open six days per week. They are often closed one day during the week, frequently on Mondays. This day is called "Ruhetag". Many restaurants do not serve dinner on Sundays.

Restaurants normally serve lunch between 12:00 (Midday) and 2:00 p.m., although some serve hot food all day or you can get cold snacks (like sandwiches) in between. 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!

Upmarket restaurants tend to be less child-friendly than cafés or more casual places.

Public Holidays

Public holidays are often associated with religious festivities (the two big ones being Easter and Christmas). Germany's national holiday, Reunification Day, is celebrated on October 3 and commemorates the constitutional unification of East and West Germany in 1990.

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. Some of the Christian holidays, for example Easter and Pentecost, are associated with days of the week. Their dates vary every year. You can find calendars on-line that will tell you when they fall each year, just search "Feiertagskalender Baden-Württemberg" or "public holidays Baden-Württemberg".

Some public holidays are national, but some vary by Federal State. In Baden-Württemberg, where Tuebingen is located, the following holidays are legally observed:

  • New Year's Day (Neujahr), January 1
  • Epiphany (Three Kings' Day; Dreikönig), January 6
  • Good Friday (Karfreitag), date varies, normally late March to mid-April
  • Easter Monday (Ostermontag), date varies, Monday following Good Friday
  • May Day (Labor Day; Maifeiertag/Tag der Arbeit), May 1
  • Ascension of Christ (Christi Himmelfahrt), always a Thursday, date varies, usually in May
  • Pentecost (Pfingsten/Pfingstmontag), always a Monday, date varies, usually second half of May or June
  • Corpus Christi (Fronleichnam), always a Thursday, date varies, usually in June
  • Reunification Day (Tag der deutschen Einheit), October 3
  • All Saints’ Day (Allerheiligen), November 1
  • Christmas (Weihnachten)
    • Christmas Eve (Heiligabend), December 24
    • Christmas Day (Erster Weihnachtsfeiertag), December 25
    • Boxing Day (Zweiter Weihnachtsfeiertag), December 26
  • New Year's Eve (Sylvester), December 31

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

Tuebingen has a Central European continental climate. This means that it can get quite cold in the winter, and quite hot in the summer. In the winter, temperatures can sometimes go below -20°C, although this is very rare. In the summer, they can be as high as 40°C, which is also very rare. The average temperatures are as follows:

  • January: min. -3°C, max. 3°C
  • February: min. -2°C, max. 5°C
  • March: min. 0°C, max. 9°C
  • April: min. 4°C, max. 14°C
  • May: min. 8°C, max. 18°C
  • June: min. 11°C, max. 22°C
  • July: min. 13°C, max. 23°C
  • August: min. 12°C, max. 23°C
  • September: min. 9°C, max. 20°C
  • October: min. 5°C, max. 14°C
  • November: min. 1°C, max. 8°C
  • December: min. -2°C, max. 4°C

It rains quite frequently, so it is advisable to carry an umbrella, although nice and dry spells can last for several days or even weeks. Search “Tuebingen Wetter” in your search engine to find the weather forecast.

Religion

Most people in Germany belong to a Christian church or other religious community, although many people do not regularly practice their religion. The German Constitution, the Basic Law, guarantees the freedom of religion, which is also protected by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Traditionally, the largest Christian communities in Germany are the Catholicism and Protestantism (Lutheranism), and they are still very influential in society and daily life. 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). When you first register your residency in Germany, it is important that you opt out of this if you do not belong to either of these religious denominations! Doing it later can be extremely complicated. You can also find further information under Taxes. A list of communities that may charge Church Tax is on the back of your registration form (more information on registration is available under Official Registration).

Religious Education is a subject in German schools. Students are taught separately according to their denomination. In the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg various options are available depending on the school. Generally, schools offer Catholic and Protestant Religious Education. Some schools offer Religious Education for other communities, including Jewish or Muslim Religious Education. Parents who do not want their children to take part in Religious Education can have them opt out (children older than 10 must be heard in the decision, and from 14 years they may decide on their own). For students who have opted out, most schools offer Ethics as a secular alternative. In these cases, participation in Ethics is mandatory for students who do not participate in Religious Education. Religious communities whose denomination is not on offer in schools often provide religious instruction on weekends or during after-school hours.

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

Alcohol and Smoking

Alcohol

Alcohol is legal in Germany. The legal 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, so do be prepared to see people drinking alcohol in a professional context. 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, and can be rather complicated. 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.

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