Why Germans Don’t Drink Tap Water

When you go to a restaurant in Germany, a waiter will NOT bring you a complimentary glass of water. In fact, it’s almost impossible to get a glass of tap water in a German restaurant even if you ask for it.

Now the tap water in Germany is generally safe to drink, but the Germans usually don’t drink it, and the restaurants definitely won’t serve you a free glass of German water. The only water you can get at a restaurant will be bottled water with carbonation, or bottled water without carbonation.

What is the reason why no-one drinks tap water in Germany when it is perfectly safe to do so?

The reason is at least in part the word for tap water. In English, lots of good things come from taps. Beer comes from a tap, soda can be on tap, and of course the other meaning of tap, as in tap your fingers on the table is also positive.

But the German word for tap water is Leitungswasser which literally means plumbing water. Now if you offered someone plumbing water, well that’s slightly better than sewer water but it isn’t something you would do.

One of my biggest cultural mistakes in Germany was offering a friend of mine (who was probably very thirsty) a glass of ordinary tap water (Leitungswasser) and being surprised and somewhat offended when she wouldn’t take a sip.

So when you go to a restaurant, plan on ordering mineral water, with or without carbonation (gas) and never offer a German friend a glass of tap water.

The Comments Below are Excellent

Occasionally an internet article attracts all the right people who leave their comments and by doing so add clarity, depth, and understanding.

When you read the comments below you will understand a lot more about Germany, and perhaps love it more too.

You Probably Need to Learn German — Right?

If you are reading our page about tap water in Germany, you are probably either already in Germany or you are going there soon. In either case, before you read the comments below, (which are great), I recommend that you try my  free German lesson.

It’s fast and you don’t have to sign up for anything.  Danke.

Leave A Comment

102 Comments to “Why Germans Don’t Drink Tap Water”

  1. Richard Timmons

    visiting my son in law at USAF soon and plan to carry a water filter. We don’t drink alcohol so water will be our option. I use an REI model with a crank pump. the filter is good for thousands of liters have used it for years. We use Nalgene bottles about two each and have two full ones in fridge.

  2. thomas

    Richard –

    Thanks for the info! Carrying your own water filter as you travel is an excellent idea.

    Thomas Wyse

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