Can you drink tap water in Germany?

As you settle into Germany, one of the questions that might arise is whether you can drink tap water in Germany. You will hear a lot of different opinions on the topic from locals and internationals alike. In this article, we’ll explore the safety and quality of German tap water. We will also answer the popular question: “Can you drink tap water in Germany?”

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Is tap water safe to drink in Germany?

The short answer is “Yes!”. But there’s more to it than just that:

Germany has stringent regulations in place to ensure the tap water is safe and of good quality. The German Drinking Water Ordinance (Trinkwasserverordnung) has strict criteria that limits various substances, including heavy metals, nitrates, pesticides, and contaminants.

Water suppliers in Germany are obligated to conduct regular testing to monitor the water quality. Any issues are quickly addressed to maintain the highest standards. There may be slight regional variations in taste, but overall, you can confidently drink tap water in Germany.

When is the tap water not safe to drink?

Generally, tap water in Germany is safe to drink because of the high standards set by the authorities. However, there are rare instances where tap water is not safe for consumption.

Pay attention to any advisories from your local water supplier or landlord. They are obligated to inform you if there are any concerns about water safety.

If you notice an unusual colour or sediments in your water, it is advisable not to drink it. In such cases, you should inform your local water supplier about it. Similarly, if the water has a sudden unpleasant taste or odour, this could be a sign that something is wrong.

Some older buildings with outdated plumbing systems may experience poor water quality. Therefore, if you suspect your building has old pipes and you see signs of bad water quality, contact your building management.

In public places, whenever you see a sign with the words “Kein Trinkwasser”, this means the water is not safe for consumption. The direct translation for this is “not drinking water”.

Where does the tap water come from?

Tap water in Germany primarily comes from groundwater and surface water. The source varies by region as different areas rely on one or both sources.

Groundwater is obtained by drilling wells into natural underground water reservoirs. This water source is of high quality and purity. This is because it is naturally filtered as it trickles through layers of soil and rock.

Surface water typically comes from rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. Surface water is often used in urban areas where groundwater is not available. Water from this source goes through rigorous purification to ensure it meets the stringent water quality standards.

In both cases, the water is treated and monitored to meet the standards set by the German Drinking Water Ordinance. This ensures that contaminants, impurities, and microorganisms are removed.

How you can improve your tap water quality

If you would still like to act to further purify the tap water in your home, you have a few options.

You may use a water filtration system. Various types of filters include pitcher filters, faucet-mounted filters, and under-sink systems.

Additionally, you may boil the tap water to further remove impurities. However, this may not help against an unusual taste or mineral content.

If you have hard water that causes limescale (Kalk) build-up in appliances, consider installing a water softener. Water softeners reduce the concentration of minerals like calcium and magnesium, improving the taste and reducing scale buildup.

Before drinking tap water after being away, it is advisable to let it run for a few minutes.

Tap water vs bottled water

Despite tap water in Germany being safe to drink, there still are many who prefer to buy bottled mineral water. A few factors influence the choice between the two.

This table highlights various pros and cons for both tap and bottled water for the different factors. This could help you decide on what you are more comfortable with.

FactorTap waterBottled water
AccessibilityYou constantly have access to tap water in your home and in most places you go.Bottled water is less accessible as you always have to stock up on it.
EnvironmentDrinking tap water is environmentally friendly as it reduces the use of plastic bottles.Most bottled water comes in plastic bottles which have a significant negative impact on the environment.
Hard water and limescale (Kalk)Many regions in Germany tend to have (very) hard water, which leaves limescale deposits in appliances and can be uncomfortable to drink.Water used is bottled water is not hard water and therefore contains little to no limescale.
PricingYou do not have to pay extra for tap water as you always have it running in your home.While bottled water is affordable, depending on your income, it could negatively impact your budget.
TasteTap water may have a different taste depending on the region and source.Bottled water is almost always tasteless and odourless

Keep in mind that most cons of tap water could be eliminated by taking steps to improve the water quality.

How to go about ordering water in a restaurant

Restaurants in Germany generally serve bottled water when you order water. Therefore, if you would like tap water (Leitungswasser) you need to specifically ask for it. Typically, tap water is free, while bottled water on average costs 3.50 € for a small bottle and 8.00 € for a large bottle.

If you choose bottled water, you must also specify if you would like still or sparkling water. In Germany, if you do not ask for still water, the waiter may bring you sparkling water as it is more popular here.

Here is an overview of the terminologies:

  • Ich hätte gerne Leitungswasser, bitte = I would like tap water, please.
  • Eine kleine/große Flasche stilles Wasser, bitte. = A small/large bottle of still water, please.
  • Eine kleine/große Flasche Sprudelwasser, bitte. = A small/large bottle of sparkling water, please.


If you come from a country where drinking tap water is a no-go, it might take some time to get used to it. But you can rest assured that tap water in Germany is safe, pure and healthy. Therefore, in most cases, you do not need to buy bottled water.

If you see any strange colour, smell, or taste, notify your water supplier or building manager.

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The Fintiba Companion: Guiding your way to Germany step-by-step

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Last update: October 31, 2023

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