Sports in Germany

Updated 2022-11-09 16:30

Sport is more than a hobby in Germany — it is a lifestyle, and Germans are generally very excited about sports events, be it football, handball, basketball, or ice hockey. As a result, many major sports events are regularly held in German cities, keeping sports fans happy and giving reasons to non-German citizens to travel to Germany.

So, you can, of course, attend matches and other competitions or watch them on TV with friends and beer, but you will also find many indoor and outdoor facilities (e.g., sports clubs and gyms) to practice your favorite sports. In fact, Germany has about 100,000 registered sports clubs (Sportvereine), of which 25,000 are football clubs.

Football in Germany

Football (or Fußball, as it is known in Germany) is the country's favorite sport, and the country is one of the world's biggest football nations. The National Mannschaft, which is the German national team, won the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The Bundesliga, which is the country's first-division football league, is led by Bayern Munich. While the German national team also takes part in the UEFA European Championship, club teams participate in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. Locally, cities are proud of their association with football as the sport makes a great part of the identity. Some of the cities with excellent club identities are:

  • Hamburg (with the two major clubs Hamburger Sport-Verein (HSV) and FC St. Pauli
  • Bremen, with its local club Werder Bremen
  • Berlin, with its club Hertha BSC, and FC Union Berlin
  • Dortmund, with Borrusia Dortmund, strong in the Bundesliga
  • Cologne, with its passionate club FC Köln
  • Munich, known for FC Bayern München, which has won the Bundesliga more than 25 times

Good to know: 

If yоu like to play football, you will very easily find a club. This is one of the best ways to keep fit and find like-minded individuals.

Handball in Germany

Handball was first played in Germany and Scandinavia and remains popular. In fact, it is one of the country's dominant team sports and is practiced in most regions. The German national team has won the World Handball Championship more than once. Handball is good as it allows doing sports but without too much time spent on organizing and registering teams beforehand. Every city has clubs with members, but you can also get organized with friends. The groups meet once per week and can be organized for men, women, and kids.

Basketball in Germany

Basketball is another popular sport in Germany that is closely followed by enthusiasts. Besides, the country participates regularly in the NBA, the European Championship, and World Championship basketball. The Basketball Bundesliga (the easyCredit BBL) is the highest league in Germany. Also, there is the German Cup, in which teams from the first and the second league and the Regionalliga are allowed to participate. Basketball is also played locally. Being a famous sport, you can easily find a club in your city to join and play. There are also many schools which offer lessons for younger children.

Ice hockey in Germany

Ice hockey is another popular sport in the country but is mostly adored in northern cities such as Hamburg and Hanover, where there are many opportunities to watch a match. German Ice Hockey is divided into several leagues, among which is the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL), consisting of 14 big teams. The country has many courts for practicing.

Car racing in Germany

Germany became very famous in the worldwide car racing scene, thanks to Michael Schumacher. It is also deemed to be among the best in racing, mainly because the country is among the world's leading sports car manufacturers. At the age of 23, Sebastian Vettel became the youngest car racing driver to win the Formula 1 World Championship in 2010.

Most practiced sports in Germany

When it comes to which sports the Germans actually practice rather than watch on tv, you will get a very different picture. Cycling is considered a sport, a hobby, and a means of transport in Germany. Cycle tracks are very well developed, and many Germans even cycle to work. Hence, you can buy or rent a bike to wander around the city or in the countryside. Swimming is also popular, and many swimming pools offer monthly subscriptions or the possibility of training with a team. Jogging and Nordic walking are followed by winter sports such as skiing and ice skating. You will find indoor ice rinks, which are open throughout the year. Hiking is also quite popular, as there are many beautiful hiking spots such as the Black Forest about which you can find more information in our leisure activities in Germany article. Also, the Harz in Lower Saxony, The Eifel, which also borders Belgium, and the Bavarian Alps. Team sports such as volleyball, basketball and handball are widely practiced, as well as tennis, badminton, and squash. Last, water sports such as sailing, canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing, and paddle-boarding are pretty popular in the coastal regions and inland lakes such as Lake Constance, where you can register with water sports schools.

Good to know: 

Watch out for the local Volkshochschule (adult education center), which also publishes regional sports club activities.

Useful links:

Sportclub 321 a social network for fitness

Deutscher Fussball-Bund

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