How to make the most of German culture while social distancing

If you are craving some German art, music, language learning or sport, we've compiled a list of activities you can do from the comfort of your own home during this period of social distancing.

How to make the most of German culture while social distancing
There's lots you can watch or do from the comfort of your sofa. File photo: DPA

Germany has introduced strict 'no contact' measures aimed at stalling the spread of coronavirus.

Since that means we are all now spending more time indoors as we socially distance ourselves, it's more important than ever to take care of our minds as well as our bodies,

So what better time to soak up some Deutsche Kultur (German culture)? Luckily, there are numerous opportunities for experiencing this from your own room.

Here's a few things to try:

READ ALSO: You are not alone – living abroad in the time of corona.

Watching German Film and Television Classics 

When you exhaust all that TV streaming websites have to offer, the German film industry has a pretty expansive list of award winning movies to explore.

For example, ‘Das Boot’ (The Boat) is a 1981 WW2 film that follows a German U-Boat and its crew still holds the most Oscar nominations ever for a German film – receiving 6 Academy Award nominations, including Best Director.

For a more light hearted watch, ‘Good bye, Lenin!’ – released in 2003 – has a surprising comical standpoint considering it tells the story of a family in East Berlin between 1989 and 1990.

For more inspiration, you can check out our list of ‘10 epic German movies that you have to watch’.


There is also an array of German TV shows that you could really get into, seeing as day-to-day some of us might find ourselves with some extra time on our hands.

Alongside some cult classic films, you can find some of our favourite television programmes in our ‘Ten Top films and TV shows to discover Germany from your couch.

Watching Live Streams

Tip Berlin has put together a comprehensive list of all the live streams occurring across Berlin during this period. The live streams range from opera, to clubbing, to comedy and theatre – there really is something for everyone. You can find this list here

One particularly popular live stream movement gaining a lot of attention is  #Unitedwestream. It's a movement and hashtag adopted by many of Berlin’s clubs, who are continuing to live stream events with DJs playing to empty dance floors amidst the coronavirus crisis.

Berlin clubs have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic, as social distancing paralyses all operations. However, live streaming platforms provide an opportunity for the clubbing culture to continue for now in this uncharted digital space.

Exhibitions, festivals, films and publications are also being live streamed. Berlin Art Link substituted their weekly round-up of events for a piece detailing all the events which are available online, which can be found here. They will be continuously updating the piece throughout this period.

The basketball team ALBA Berlin, are providing live stream lessons which aim to bring exercise and movement to children and young people daily. “ALBA’s Sports Lesson” can be completed within the four walls of your own home, with a varied program such as fitness, coordination and yoga, in addition to various challenges to try. 

After the live stream, all the videos are then available on their YouTube channel.

Check out Library Websites

It is worth checking both your local and regional library portals to see what elements of their sites are free of use; many have even extended such usage to content that was previously behind a paywall.

You can borrow courses, books, films and music from many libraries using the online loan services across Germany.

For example, the ZLB Berlin is tweeting with the hashtag #closedbutopen, as they are promoting the vast number of e-resources that they have available. 

Düsseldorf City Libraries also have an online library with many e-books and online offers.

Additionally, Hamburg's electronic library service eBücherhallen currently offers close to 9,000 pieces of literature in nine different languages as eBooks and audiobooks. You can check out their website to explore these resources here.

Reading German Classics

Just because the libraries are physically closed, it does not mean you cannot indulge in reading some German classics such as Die Blechtrommel (The Tin Drum), Die Verwandlung (Metamorphosis) and Im Westen Nich Neues (All Quiet on the Western Front) are all world renowned classics and can easily be ordered online.

For a longer list of books, we published an article a few months ago featuring our 10 must read German books.

Learning German

Finally, many expats move to Germany full of the motivation that they will ‘learn the lingo’ but for many this dream quickly fades usually due to a myriad of different life factors that come with moving to a new country; learning German tends to take a back seat. 

READ ALSO: How I stopped worrying and learned German in 6 months

If that sounds like a familiar tale then perhaps now is your chance to dedicate that extra hour you are saving from not commuting, to learning the native tongue.

Language learning website Chatterbug is offering free German lessons every weekday at 5pm in a bid to give language learners a chance to connect with other people and brush up on their skills.

To register and take part, students should enter their name, location and email address at Chatterbug Live.

Recently, language app and online site Babbel have been promoting a limited time offer for students of one month subscription for free. The app has been hailed as one of the best language learning platforms due to their multi-angled approach.

Online language learning site Lingoda recently launched their #StayHomeKeepLearning initiative, which is designed to provide digital resources to offline institutions on both a nationwide and global scale.

Lingoda is offering these institutions free access to all of its online learning resources and full assistance in setting up online classes, in addition to a range of masterclasses and guides in English and German on running online classes successfully. Its regular live classes are also open for a small fee to all language learners, level A1-C2.

If your German is already at a relatively high conversational level, then there are also opportunities to speak with native speakers, through sites such as Preply and various Facebook groups.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


Eight amazing German museums to explore this spring

With thousands of years of history in Germany to explore, you’re never going to run out of museums to scratch the itch to learn about and fully experience the world of the past.

Eight amazing German museums to explore this spring

Here are eight of our favourite museums across Germany’s 16 states for you to discover for yourself. 

Arche Nebra

Nebra, Saxony-Anhalt

One day, around 1600 BCE, local Bronze Age peoples buried one of their most precious objects – the Nebra Sky Disk, a copper, gold, and bronze disk that acted as a calendar to help them plant crops. This was a matter of life and death at the time. 

Over three thousand years later, in 1999, it was uncovered by black market treasure hunters, becoming Germany’s most significant archaeological find. 

While the Sky Disk itself is kept in the (really very good)  State Museum of Pre- and Early History in nearby Halle, the site of the discovery is marked by the Arche Nebra, a museum explaining prehistoric astronomy and the cultural practices of the people who made it. 

Kids will love the planetarium, explaining how the disk was used. 

Atomkeller Museum

Halgerloch, Baden-Württemberg

From the distant to the very recent past – in this case, the Nazi atomic weapons programme. Even as defeat loomed, Nazi scientists such as Werner Heisenberg were trying to develop a nuclear bomb. 

While this mainly took place in Berlin, an old beer cellar under the town of Halgerloch, south of Stuttgart, was commandeered as the site of a prototype fission reactor. 

A squad of American soldiers captured and dismantled the reactor as the war ended. Still, the site was later turned into a museum documenting German efforts to create a working reactor – one that they could use to develop a bomb.

It’s important to note that you don’t need to be a physicist to understand what they were trying to do here, as the explanatory materials describe the scientist’s efforts in a manner that is easy to understand. 

German National Museum

Nuremberg, Bavaria

Remember that scene at the end of ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’, where an unnamed government official wheels the Ark of the Covenant into an anonymous government warehouse? This could possibly be the German equivalent – albeit far better presented. 

The German National Museum was created in 1852 as a repository for the cultural history of the German nation – even before the country’s founding. In the intervening 170 years, it’s grown to swallow an entire city block of Nuremberg, covering 60,000 years of history and hundreds of thousands of objects. 

If it relates to the history of Germany since prehistoric times, you’re likely to find it here.

Highlights include several original paintings and etchings by Albrecht Dürer, the mysterious Bronze Age ‘Gold Hats’, one of Europe’s most significant collections of costuming and musical instruments, and a vast display of weapons, armour and firearms. 

European Hansemuseum

Lübeck, Schleswig-Holstein

In the late Middle Ages, the political and economic centre of the world was focused on the North Sea and the Baltic German coasts. 

This was the domain of the Hanseatic League, one of the most powerful trading alliances in human history. Centuries before the Dutch and British East India Companies, they made in-roads to far-flung corners.

The European Hansemuseum in the former Hanseatic city of Lübeck tells the story of the league’s rise and eventual fall, its day-to-day operations, and its enduring legacy.

This museum is fascinating for adults and kids. It uses original artefacts and high-tech interactive elements to tell tales of maritime adventure. Younger visitors will also be enchanted by the museum’s augmented reality phone app that asks them to help solve mysteries. 

Fugger & Welser Adventure Museum

Augsburg, Germany

The Hanseatic League was not the only economic power in the late Middle Ages. The Fugger and Welser families of Augsburg may have been the richest in the world until the 20th century.

From humble beginnings, both families grew to become incredibly powerful moneylenders, funding many of the wars of the 16th century and the conquest of the New World.

The Fugger & Welser Adventure Museum not only explains the rise of both patrician families but also the practices that led to their inconceivable wealth—including, sadly, the start of the Transatlantic slave trade. 

The museum also documents the short-lived Welser colony in Venezuela, which, if it had survived, could have resulted in a very different world history.

This museum has many high tech displays, making it a very exciting experience for moguls of any age.

Teutoburg Forest Museum

Kalkriese, Lower Saxony

Every German child learns this story at some point: One day at the end of summer 9 AD, three legions of the Roman army marched into the Teutoburg forest… and never came out. 

Soldiers sent after the vanished legions discovered that they had been slaughtered to a man.

Arminius, a German who had been raised as a Roman commander, had betrayed the three legions to local Germanic tribes, who ambushed them while marching through the forest. 

Today, the probable site of the battle – we can’t entirely be sure – is marked by a museum called the Varusschlacht Museum (Literally ‘Varus Battle Museum’, named after the loyal Roman commander). 

The highlights here are the finds – made all the more eerie by the knowledge that they were looted and discarded from the legionaries in the hours following the ambush. 

German Romanticism Museum

Frankfurt, Hesse

The Romantic era of art, music and literature is one of Germany’s greatest cultural gifts to the world, encompassing the work of poets such as Goethe and Schiller, composers like Beethoven and artists in the vein of Caspar David Friedrich.

Established in 2021 next to the house where Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born, the German Romanticism Museum is the world’s largest collection of objects related to the Romantic movement. 

In addition to artefacts from some of the greatest names in German romanticism, in 2024, you’ll find a major exhibition exploring Goethe’s controversial 1774 novel, ‘The Sorrows of Young Werther’, and another on the forest as depicted as dark and dramatic in the art of the period. 

Gutenberg Castle

Haßmersheim, Baden-Württemberg

Sometimes being a smaller castle is a good thing. The relatively small size and location of Guttenburg Castle, above the River Neckar near Heilbronn, protected it from war and damage over eight hundred years – it’s now the best preserved Staufer-era castle in the country.

While the castle is still occupied by the Barons of Gemmingen-Guttenberg, the castle now also contains a museum, that uses the remarkably well-preserved castle interiors to explore centuries of its history – and the individuals that passed through it.

After you’ve explored the museum—and the current exhibition that uses Lego to document life in the Middle Ages —it’s also possible to eat at the castle’s tavern and stay overnight!