Don’t Be a Stranger! Learn How to Make Friends in Germany
“Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit.”—Aristotle
No one likes being ein Fremder (a stranger), do they?
If you’re planning a solo trip to Germany, you might already be anticipating feeling like ein Fremder in a new country.
But don’t fret—even if you’re overwhelmed by the crowds at Germany’s busiest airport in Frankfurt—your friendless status is only temporary.
Whenever I’m in an airport, I always notice children. They’re usually trailing behind their parents but manage to enjoy their adventure nonetheless. And they’re typically chatting it up and laughing with fellow travelers.
One of the talents of being a child is being able to make friends easily and quickly.
Aristotle’s slow-ripening fruit theory seems tailor made for us grown-ups! Adults tend to find forming friendships a bit more difficult—and a lot slower.
But while it’s not always as easy for adults to form friendships, it’s certainly not impossible!
Whether you’re going to Germany for an employment opportunity, educational stint or just for the adventure, you’ll want to find some chums to share the experience.
Moving is exciting. Making new friends can be exciting, too!
And you’re in luck. Germany is a very friendly country. There are potential new friends everywhere. And I do mean everywhere!
Let’s see where to find them!
Don’t Be a Stranger! Learn How to Make Friends in Germany
How to Lay a Firm Foundation for Friendship When You Arrive in Germany
Look for a few specific things to help begin your new friend list.
Choose the Right Location
Friendship-building opportunities will vary by location. But wherever you are, there are plenty of prospects for meeting people.
Düsseldorf is famous for its fashion, Berlin is of course the busy capital city and Munich is steeped with history.
Every other place in Germany—including quaint small towns!—has its own “something special” to offer. That affects the cultural availability of activities in each location. Look for the prime cultural sights and activities in your new city or town and make a note to visit those spots!
That’s right. Curate a list of places to go and things to do. You’re sure to find intriguing people in those locations.
Whether you’re poking through stacks of books in an antique book stall or admiring a painting in an art gallery, you won’t be alone. And those who browse and admire alongside you are all potential chums!
Find the Perfect Home Base
If you’re not set on a rental yet, why not consider Airbnb or Couchsurfing? Both options will put you in touch with German homeowners who are, by the nature of their house-sharing ventures, very obviously welcoming!
Scout out the neighborhood. Do a bit of reconnaissance to see what’s near your home base.
Find the essentials like the grocer, bank, cinema or church. Look for a nearby gym or park—and set yourself up to meet locals who enjoy the same activities you do.
Increase Conversational German Skills
Hopefully you picked up some basic German language skills before you grabbed your passport.
But if you’re just learning to speak German, you might be wondering if your less-than-fluent conversational skills will make your stick out like a sore thumb.
Let’s face it: They probably do.
But that’s not a bad thing! The fact that you’re speaking the language is enough to make most locals appreciate your effort. And they’ll likely give you some pronunciation tips or add to your vocabulary list.
To really get the language ball rolling, pick up a bit of slang or local lingo to fit in with your new friends. A smile and “Was geht ab?” (“What’s up?”) or “Moin!” (means “Hello!” in Northern Germany) goes a long way toward encouraging conversations with people. And conversation? That leads to friendship!
Land a Job or Educational Gig
Consider grabbing a part-time job—that is, if you’re not in Germany for an employment opportunity already. Workplace friendships often turn into after-work meetups.
Look at the educational venues available to foreigners. The DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst) is the German academic exchange service. There isn’t one detail about foreigners attending school in Germany that isn’t covered by their site. So if you’re thinking of pursuing your education and meeting friends in class, check them out!
How to Make Friends Throughout Your Time in Germany
Once you’re settled in, it’s time to full-on tackle the friend issue. The best way to do that? Go out and meet people!
Check out Local Events
Wherever you are, there are local events that are teeming with new faces.
If you’re lucky enough to be in Munich during Oktoberfest, Berlin for their world-famous Film Festival or Leipzig for the Bach Fest, even better! These events draw visitors from all parts of Europe as well as from across the globe, so it’s almost a sure thing that you’ll meet people who share your interests.
Most museums and theaters are friend-making hubs. Not only do they offer a cultural window on life in your new home, but they often host special events.
Want to be viewed as a superhero? Volunteer to help during an event! You’re sure to make friends—and positively impact the local community.
Connect Through Chat Sites
All across the globe, people meet over common interests using Meetup. Browse groups near your location to find others who share your passions, then join a group or two!
Mobifriends is another great tool for meeting new people in Germany.
Every member profile highlights a little bit about themselves and what that person is looking for. Some specify they’re hoping for some casual flirting or dating while many others request online chatting in the hope of making new friends.
Attend Sporting Events
Sporting events are super spots for meeting people!
Bundesliga is the German football (soccer) league, and if you’re a fan of the sport, you’ll have no trouble meeting other football aficionados. Head to the stadium or watch the game in a pub to cheer the team on with your new-found friends!
Skiing in the Alps is on many travel bucket lists. If it’s on yours, sign up for a ski tour (look at local message boards or call the nearest ski shop for dates and times) and grab your skis.
I’ve never ridden a gondola or chair lift without chatting with others sharing the trip to the top of a mountain. And if you’re up to it, check out the après ski fun at the lodge. Hot tubs and hot chocolate? Perfect for striking up friendships!
Sample German Cuisine
Dining out on your own can feel intimidating. But if you choose a cozy restaurant with a homey feel (I just described most of Germany’s eating establishments) you’re sure to be warmly welcomed.
Try popular German foods like Spätzle if you’re vegetarian or Bratkartoffeln if you’re not. Many restaurants in Europe seat single diners with others dining solo. It’s a nice way to share a meal and chat with some locals.
Enroll in Language Courses
If your language skills aren’t as fluent as you’d like them to be, enroll in German language course. There are courses everywhere, from local high schools to libraries, and many are offered free of charge.
If you’re thinking of something more standardized, consider a Berlitz course. They have locations scattered across the country and are a prime activity for meetups. Don’t discount the potential for after-class coffee klatches, either. Practicing your German while getting to know someone could lead to even more friendly fun!
EF has German immersion programs for everyone. They even have immersion activities for business professionals!
Enroll in Language Courses with a Little Something Extra
Nothing brings people together quite like meal preparation, does it? Casual chatting while chopping vegetables or baking cakes has a special feel. Why not combine language and cooking lessons?
Take a German language cooking course to master the art of strudel, make cooking buddies and bolster your language skills. It’s a total win-win situation!
Find a Hot Date
Germany is a dater’s paradise. There are so many quaint streets to wander along and endless romantic sights to linger over… it’s tough not to feel a tug at your heartstrings.
If you’re solo and inclined, why not try a dating site like Parship to meet a potential romantic love interest?
Hit the Beach
And if you’re still looking to make friends and are feeling comfortable in your own skin, nude beaches are extremely popular in Germany.
Leave your self-consciousness—and your bathing suit—at home and take in some gorgeous beachfront views while, perhaps, making a new pal!
You’re not going all the way to Germany to sit home alone, are you? Nein! (No!)
You’re definitely not becoming a couch potato whose bestie is the guy who delivers Sauerbraten to your rental. The way to avoid that trap is to get out and socialize!
Remember the children in airports and look upon this adventure with as much optimism as they show.
Viel Glück! (Good luck!)