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Outdoor and Indoor Sports in Germany

You don’t want to become a couch potato? Don’t worry: expat life in Germany isn’t lacking in opportunities for hobby athletes. Our brief guide to sports in Germany talks about popular spectator sports, huge sports events, as well as fun activities both indoors and outdoors.
The “Müllersches Volksbad” in Munich, with its art-deco interior, is one of Germany’s most beautiful indoor pools.


There are over six million members of soccer clubs in Germany. Teams belong to a huge nationwide association and are divided into different leagues. If you would like to play soccer, just go to a local sports club. They have teams for players of all ages and skill levels. Groups of friends and families with children also play soccer casually, e.g. when relaxing in a public park.

Track and Field

Germany has a great number of well-kept dirt tracks. Many of these are open to the public, or the presence of casual athletes is at least tolerated. However, if you are interested in track-and-field sports that require special equipment (e.g. javelin or shot-put), you need to join a sports club.

There are also lots of gravel paths and marked trails for running in parks and forests. If you prefer company, you should look into joining a running club. Open competitions are available for everyone, from long-distance running for beginners to professional ironman triathlons. Hundreds of marathon events take place in Germany every year, often together with additional competitions, such as half marathons, short-distance runs for children, and inline-skating races.

Inline Skating

Inline skating has become very popular in Germany over the past couple of decades. Nowadays, inline skaters are allowed to use bicycle lanes. If you intend to join them, please familiarize yourself with local traffic regulations.

In many cities, skaters have become a familiar sight. Skating clubs regularly organize so-called skate nights. For an evening, there are road blocks on certain streets, so a crowd of skating enthusiasts can enjoy their parade on rolls in peace.


Unlike skating, Germans consider cycling not only a sport, but also a means of transportation. In good weather, lots of people ride their bike to work instead of using public transport in Germany. Lots of German cities are fairly bicycle-friendly, with good road conditions, lowered curbs, bicycle lanes, and low-traffic areas. Car drivers are used to cyclists on the roads and usually pay attention to them.

But Germany is also a great country if you enjoy riding your bike as recreation. There are many beautiful routes in parks, through woods, and along rivers. The website Bicycle Germany offers plenty of valuable information for cycling enthusiasts.


Golfing has increased in popularity in Germany. Since the 1990s, the number of golf courses has risen sharply: There are now more than 800 golf courses in Germany. Not all golf clubs require you a membership for you to use their course.

However, most clubs do require the so-called Platzreife. This is a golfing license showing proof of basic skills such as driving, chipping, and putting, of rules and etiquette. Many clubs offer courses to obtain this license. You have to take a written test in German and complete a course together with the local pro.

You do not need the license to use a driving range, though. If you already have a handicap, most clubs will accept your membership card from abroad as sufficient proof of proficiency.

Workouts and Martial Arts

German cities offer plenty of opportunities for indoor sports. There is a variety of gyms and health clubs with saunas. Prices vary a lot, and it is definitely worth comparing different offers: A basic membership in a 24/7 self-service gym may cost less than EUR 20 a month, while you can easily pay ten times that sum for an all-inclusive luxury gym.

Sometimes, martial arts training or yoga classes are included in a gym membership. If you have a more serious interest in these sports, you should opt for a proper martial arts studio or yoga school. Nearly all these clubs offer free or cheap try outs (Probestunden). Don’t hesitate to take advantage and try several clubs to find the one that suits you best.


Public swimming pools (Schwimmbäder) are often run by the local administration. There are usually several indoor and outdoor pools of different quality standards in every major German city. The dire financial situation of some towns, however, has unfortunately caused rising entry fees as well as the closure of public pools all over Germany.

On the other hand, German spa towns (Kurbäder) often offer huge wellness complexes with various pools, saunas, steam baths, etc. Some of these include waterslides and other fun activities for the younger crowd, too. However, the entrance fees for this kind of swimming pools are pretty steep.

For example, if you attend one of Munich’s public pools, you pay EUR 4 for the entire day. For a day at the nearby water park in Erding, you have to spend EUR 26 or more. Here your leisure time can add pretty quickly to your cost of living in Germany.

Team Sports

Basketball is one of the most widespread indoor team sports in Germany. Every school usually has its own basketball court. In the evening, these locations are used by sports clubs as well. There are public outdoor basketball courts of varying quality: they may be ideal for a quick match among friends. Other indoor sports popular in Germany include handball, volleyball, and ice hockey.


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