Sundays in Germany are rest days. And no, this isn’t really a suggestion! It’s been codified in law, that with a few exceptions, trade and other work activities come to a halt. Pretty much everyone in Germany is off from work and shops are closed! Expats and international students are probably wondering: So, what do you do on Sundays in Germany? We’ve already talked about the quiet time rules and restrictions, so now let’s talk about what you should be doing instead!
A quick reminder before we dive in: Germany has designated periods of rest hours (Ruhezeit), where you’re not allowed to disturb other members of your community with noise, activity or trade (work). With some exceptions, these times are:
So, I’ll share some suggestions on how to spend your time on Sundays and the weekly Ruhezeit, as well as how you can adapt your general activities to make them complaint-proof. After all, the quiet time is mostly about making sure your activities won’t bother your neighbours or community.
So, as a new arrival in Germany, it’s best to go with German Sunday flow. Whether you’re religious or not, make Sunday a day of relaxation! Even if you’re not willing to sit still, there are plenty of things you can do to make Sunday a day where your worries are for Monday-you.
First of all, almost everyone in Germany is off on Sundays! That means it’s the perfect time to hang out and/or make plans with your fellow expat- and German friends! And if you’re completely new, you can use these activities to get to know some new people. Or, if you’re all out of social energy for the week, you can tackle some of these activities on your own as well. Here are some of the most popular activities to do on a Sunday in Germany:
What are two things almost everyone likes? That’s right, Good food and sleeping in! If you combine the two, you get the German Brunch culture! Whether it’s at home with your roommates, or out at a restaurant, Germans love to get together to start their Sunday with a table full of food and drinks. If you’re planning to go to a restaurant, make sure you make a reservation, as you won’t be the only one with this plan! If you’re chilling at home, you can kick back with freshly brewed coffee and pancakes with jam. Or, if you’re lucky, the local bakery will be one of the few shops open on Sunday morning, so you can score some delicious fresh bread. Can you think of a better way to start your day?
Now that you’ve gobbled up your brunch, it’s time for an activity! Thankfully for us, cultural institutions like museums and galleries are open on Sundays. So, take some time to explore your new home’s local cultural scene, or make use of the excellent public transport system to see more of the wider expanse of Germany by visiting a real castle (Schloss). Whether it’s art, film or history: it’s an interesting and educational way to spend your Sunday in Germany!
Not every German Sunday needs a lazy start or an educational afternoon. Sometimes it’s best to just blow off some steam! Many Germans use their Sunday to really get in some exercise. A run around the block with your friends, a steel pumping session at the gym, or a nice walk in a local park alongside your pet, you still get to decide the tempo throughout the day. Or, if you’re already a fitness fanatic, you could use Sunday to do your stretching and give your muscles some time to rest.
For leisure or for education or to further your career, I’m sure pretty much everyone has a reading list they have to catch up on. So open up that 1200 page fantasy epic or read all about how to make the next move in your career! Reading can use up as much time as you like, so focus on getting to the next chapter, or the next volume. It depends on you! It’s also a great way to enjoy a steaming cup of coffee while watching the sunrise or sundown from a comfy spot in town, or your own balcony.
No matter which one of the aforementioned activities you choose, you’re always free to finish your Sunday with a good meal! Thankfully, most restaurants are open on Sundays. Do make sure to make a reservation if you’re planning on going anywhere super hip. Catch up with friends over dinner at your favourite restaurant, or get your guilty pleasure slurp on by yourself at that little out of the way noodle stand that only you seem to know about. It’s an excellent way to reward yourself for your hard work that week, while simultaneously getting ready for the week that’s coming up.
Whatever you plan on doing, make sure you’ve already taken care of your (loud) chores around the house. You’d have to be reported to get in trouble during Ruhezeit, but it’s best not to make noise unless you have no other choice. So keep your lawn mowing, vacuuming and drilling for another time! By making sure it’s all taken care of, you can gift yourself a stress-free day without any ‘guilty’ relaxing.