Eight months had passed since I obtained my driving license and bought a car to drive around Europe. To my own surprise, I have already driven the car for almost 12,000 kilometers by going to four countries: Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and France. Most of the places I visited, together with my family, were around Netherlands and Germany. The main reason is the close proximity of our home to the German border. In fact, from our home in the Netherlands, we can cross the border to Germany in 45 minutes. When going on Netherlands and Germany road trip, it is useful to know the differences in the driving style, roads, and culture between these two countries. Below I outlined the similarities and/or differences between the Netherlands and Germany, which could be handy to know if you go on a road trip in either/both these countries.
Differences between Netherlands and Germany road trip
1. The Netherlands and Germany’s driving rules and road set-up could vary.
As can be expected for neighboring countries, Netherlands and Germany are quite similar in the rules, signs, and roads except for a few situations. For instance, the highways in the Netherlands allow for a maximum speed limit of 120-130 km/hour with many roads cameras to check for over speeding. In Germany, cars are allowed to go 130-160 km/hour (even up to 200 km/hour in the region between Switzerland and Germany) while hardly ever being checked for over speeding. This difference could be related to the topography of Germany. Many highways pass by hills and mountains, thus it is much easier to drive fast on some parts of the road as compared to the flat lands of the Netherlands. In addition there is a strong cultural aversion to speed limits in Germany, similar to the US aversion to weapon laws, making speed limits a political hot potato that no party wants to touch.
Another difference is that in German roads, the lane for traffic going straight is often coupled with the turning right or turning left. Sometimes, there is no sign on the road itself. In the Netherlands the lanes for going left or right are mostly separated from the lane going straight. When you compare German and Dutch roundabouts (or rotonde), the Dutch roundabouts are much more complex. Dutch roundabouts involve bike paths, pedestrian, and cars all at once! The marks on the road are very visible showing the paths and priority for bikes and pedestrians who nearly always have priority over cars. In German roundabouts, you cannot find such markings. Most German roundabouts are strictly car oriented. So be aware if there are pedestrians or bikers nearby.
2. Netherlands’ landscapes are flat while roads of Germany are on flat lands, hills, mountains, and near lakes.
Another difference that you will notice when going Netherlands and Germany road trip is the landscapes of each country. The Netherlands is a flat country thus it is a bit monotonous when you are driving on most of its road. This is completely different in the case of Germany, more particularly if you go on South, especially if you are nearing the region of France and Switzerland. The roads are becoming steep, there are beautiful views of the mountains. Often with castles on the mountains and lakes or rivers in the valleys creating many scenic views.
3. The prices in Germany are cheaper than the Netherlands.
One of the advantage the Dutch people like in crossing border to Germany is the cheaper prices of goods, hotels and restaurants, and activities as compared to the Dutch prices. That’s one of the main reasons why we don’t mind to stay in a hotel in Heede, Germany nearby the North of the Netherlands. For 70 euros, we can have a three-course meal dinner and breakfast buffet, on top of the free stay via Hotelbon for two adults. The 70 euros is an average hotel stay including breakfast price in the Netherlands! The nice thing about Dutch tourists attractions nearby Germany is that they also offer lower prices in order to attract German visitors. For instance, Roermond has lots of discounted, designer brands with a whole day parking costing only 3.50 euro! In some places in the Netherlands, you pay 15 euros for a whole day of parking. In Slagharen theme park, you pay also good value for money. See my review of Slagharen theme park for more details. If you visit these close to German border places, you will be surprised how much German visitors there are!
4. Germany’s portions of food are larger as compared to the Netherlands.
Aside from the cheaper prices, going to Germany means eating large portions in restaurants, food shops, and hotels. Regular beers are often pint sized (0.5 Liter). The portion of foods are sometimes for more than one person based on a Dutch standard. So if you want to indulge more, Germany is a nice place to try.
5. Paying with debit or credit card is far less accepted in Germany than in the Netherlands.
After eating in a fancy restaurant, finding nice souvenirs to buy in a shop, or staying in a cozy hotel, it is time to pay. But oops, Germany is more traditional in accepting mode of payments! In the Netherlands we always pay by our bank/debit card (even with credit card), which is considered a norm in this country. However, in Germany, it happened multiple times that we wanted to pay by debit card only to end up walking to the nearest ATM to withdraw money first because most establishments do not accept debit card. In some case credit card is accepted but often additional charges apply. In short, be sure to have some cash on hand when you go on holiday in Germany.