GPS navigation in Germany | das Navi
Rent or buy a GPS.
During my last lengthy stay in Germany I didn’t have a car of my own, but on several occasions I traveled with friends in the Berlin area and went on a few road trips to various parts of Germany. Almost all the Germans had a portable GPS Navi in their car to help them get around.
Even a native Berliner can use some help finding his or her way around greater Berlin. On a hiking trip in the Thuringian Forest we could have used some GPS help at several points along the trail, but for driving, a GPS unit can be even more helpful and save gas. (Not a bad idea in a country where gasoline costs about $8.00 a gallon!) I was also impressed how the GPS seemed to know where construction zones were located and even reminded the driver to slow down if he was going over the posted speed limit. (If you switch the GPS to German, you can even learn quite a bit of the language — at least “directional” Deutsch.)
What Can a GPS Unit Do?
Among other things, a portable GPS unit in Europe can...
- Show you where you are in relation to a detailed local or regional map,
- List or speak directions as you travel,
- Calculate the shortest or easiest route to a specific address or location, and...
- Tell you where to find points of interest, restaurants, ATMs, gas stations, hotels, etc.
In German a GPS (Global Positioning System) unit is called ein Navi, short for das Navigationssystem. Although you can get a rental car with a Navi, most European auto rental companies charge a flat $10-12 per day fee for that option. Only more expensive cars may have a GPS navigator built in.
But there is another solution. Prior to your trip you can rent or buy a GPS unit that is set up for Europe and take it with you. Here are the details:
The TomTom XXL 540-TM comes with European maps and has a large 5-inch screen.
Option 1 | Rent a GPS navigator
Firms like Lowergear.com rent out GPS units on a short-term basis. The Garmin nüvi portable GPS navigators for rent come with complete maps for Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and most of the major countries of Western Europe. This can be much more economical than buying a GPS unit that will work in Europe. You can rent a GPS unit for various periods from a week to a month, or longer.
The Garmin nüvi 1370 portable GPS navigator features a 4.3-inch display, maps for North America and Europe, Bluetooth for hands-free calling, text-to-speech, voice announcements, traffic alerts, and more. (See our GPS links below.)
Option 2 | Buy a GPS navigator
GPS units that work in the U.S., Canada, and Europe retail for prices that range from about $400 to $900, but they are usually heavily discounted. The so-called “street price” for a good GPS unit from Garmin, TomTom or Magellan that also works in Europe ranges from about $160 to $500. See our featured Europe-ready GPS units below!
From Amazon.com > Garmin nüvi 1370/1370T - 4.3-inch widescreen Bluetooth portable GPS navigator with traffic; pre-loaded with City Navigator North America and Europe NT maps. About $184.
From Amazon.com > TomTom XXL 540TM World Traveler with 5-Inch screen (Lifetime Traffic & Maps Edition) with maps for North American, Mexico and Europe. About $220.
From Amazon.com > TomTom XXL 540S with 5-Inch screen (World Traveler Edition) with maps for North American and Europe. About $160.
From Amazon.com > Garmin nüvi 370 with 3.5-inch screen, Bluetooth and maps for North American and Europe. About $500.
Do you also need a mobile phone in Europe? Will your current US wireless phone work in Germany? See our “Handy” page for the details.
For more about GPS in general, see the GPS article at Wikipedia.
NEXT > “Handy” Cell Phone Tips
- Driving - What you need to know about driving in Germany and Europe.
- “Handy” Cell Phone Tips - First-hand tips on using a wireless phone in North America and Germany / Europe
- Internet and Modem Tips - What you need to know before you plug your US modem into a German phone jack.
- Telephone Tips - Do you know how to use a German coin or credit card phone?
- Electrical Tips - Some shocking facts about electrical appliances in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland.
- Travel Tips for Germany and Europe
- Expat Page - Advice and links for expats in German Europe.
NEXT > “Handy” Cell Phone Tips