Where to? (Wohin?)

A German Lesson in Going Places

Berlin street style portrait
lechatnoir Getty

When you want to get around in a German-speaking country, you'll need to know some basic travel vocabulary. In this lesson, you'll learn the German names for common places like the bank, hotel, and school. You'll also find out how to ask and respond to the question, "Where are you going?"

It's a very useful lesson for travelers and one that is relatively easy because you can practice as you go places around your own town.

Pair this lesson with one that teaches you how to ask for directions and you'll be on your way.

Where to? (Wohin?)

Before we dive into the vocabulary, there are a few important reminders to take care of. First of all, when some one asks you Wohin? in German, they're asking "Where to?" 

Then, there is the little matter of in (meaning "in") versus zu (meaning "to"). What is the difference between saying Ich gehe ins Kino and saying Ich gehe zum Kino? While both state that "I am going to the movies," there is a distinction.

  • Using ins Kino implies that you are going inside (to see a movie).
  • Using zum Kino implies you are going to that location (to meet someone out front, etc.).

Places to Go in Town

There are many common places to go "in town" (in der Stadt). You will find many of those in this first vocabulary list and you might even notice many similarities to the English translations.

Both the basic word and the "to" phrase are given for each location.

For example, die Bäckerei is "the bakery." When you want to say "to the bakery," it's zur Bäckerei (the short form of zu der Bäckerei). 

Some of the phrases may have more than one way to say "to." In these instances, the most common way is used in the chart.

You will also want to keep the following contractions in mind: 

  • ins = in das
  • zum = zu dem
  • zur = zu der
EnglischDeutsch
bakery
to the bakery
die Bäckerei
zur Bäckerei
bank
to the bank
die Bank
zur Bank
bar/pub
to the bar/pub
die Kneipe
in die Kneipe
butcher
to the butcher
der Fleischer/der Metzger
zum Fleischer/zum Metzger
hotel
to the hotel
das Hotel
zum Hotel
market/fleamarket
to the market
der Markt/der Flohmarkt
zum Markt/zum Flohmarkt
cinema
to the movies/cinema
das Kino
ins/zum Kino
the post office
to the post office
die Post
zur Post
restaurant
to the restaurant
das Restaurant
ins/zum Restaurant
   to a/the Chinese restaurant   zum Chinesen
   to an/the Italian restaurant   zum Italiener
   to a/the Greek restaurant   zum Griechen
school
to school
die Schule
zur Schule
the shopping center
to the shopping center
das Einkaufszentrum
zum Einkaufszentrum
the traffic light/signal
(up) to the signal
die Ampel
bis zur Ampel
the train station
to the station
der Bahnhof
zum Bahnhof
work
to work
die Arbeit
 zur Arbeit
the youth hostel
to the youth hostel
die Jugendherberge
in die Jugendherberge

Going Elsewhere (Anderswo)

There are times when you will want to go somewhere else, so a quick study of other common places is a good idea as well.

EnglischDeutsch
the lake
to the lake
der See
an den See
the sea
to the sea
die See/das Meer
ans Meer
the toilet/restroom
to the toilet/restroom
die Toilette/das Klo/das WC
zur Toilette/zum Klo/zum WC

Questions and Answers (Fragen und Antworten)

Next, we'll study a few sample questions and answers related to asking and giving directions. This is an introduction to German grammar as well. What's most important is to learn the patterns for the various articles (der/die/das) for each gender (masculine/feminine/neuter).

Keep in mind that if you are walking, you will use gehen. If you are driving, use fahren.

EnglischDeutsch
Where are you going? (driving/traveling)Wohin fahren Sie? / Wohin fährst du?
I'm going to the lake tomorrow.Ich fahre morgen an den See.
I'm going to Dresden tomorrow.Ich fahre morgen nach Dresden.
How do I get...
...to the bank?
...to the hotel?
...to the post office?
Wie komme ich...
...zur Bank?
..zum Hotel?
..zur Post?
Go two blocks (streets) and then right.Gehen Sie zwei Straßen und dann rechts.
Drive down/along this street.Fahren Sie diese Straße entlang.
Go up to the traffic light and then left.Gehen Sie bis zur Ampel und dann links.

Extra Expressions (Extra-Ausdrücke)

In your travels you will also find these phrases to be very useful. They tell you how to get where you're going and can be used within some of the answers used above.

EnglischDeutsch
past the churchan der Kirche vorbei
past the cinemaam Kino vorbei 
right/left at the traffic lightrechts/links an der Ampel
at the market squaream Marktplatz 
at the corneran der Ecke 
the next streetdie nächste Straße 
across/over the streetüber die Straße 
across the market squareüber den Marktplatz 
in front of the train stationvor dem Bahnhof
in front of the churchvor der Kirche