Professional drivers have to pay attention to their break times, and not just for legal reasons. There are many ways to relax on German autobahns – from Feng Shui rest stops to art rest stops and wellness for the feet. You can find out all about this in this second part of the Fun Facts about the transport sector in Germany. Click here for the first part.
Around 400 of Germany’s 430 freeway service stations belong to one operator: Tank & Rast. According to its statistics, hardly anyone rests here for more than half an hour; one in five leaves again after ten minutes at the latest. The A5 has the highest density of rest stops. The average distance between stops is 18 kilometers. At the bottom of the list, the A4, drivers have to travel further: 29 kilometers lie between two establishments here.
The most popular rest stops
At Bergler’s Autohof in Windischeschenbach near the Bavarian A93, long-distance drivers are particularly fond of stopping. It scores highly in surveys for its delicious food, parking facilities, friendliness, cleanliness and good value for money. Shell-Autohof Berg and Hoyer-Autohof Soltauer Heide share second place.
Good value for money
Speaking of Autohof. Drivers can get away with much better value than at the service stations. Testers found a price difference of 300 percent for half a liter of water. This is probably one of the reasons why many drivers leave out schnitzel, burgers and soft drinks at rest stops. The most popular snacks are sandwiches and fruit, plus coffee from a thermos flask.
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- Wellness for the feet is available on the A7 near Würzburg at the Gramschatzer Wald service station with a three-kilometer barefoot path.
- The first highway Feng Shui rest stop is located on the A8 in Gruibingen between Stuttgart and Ulm.
- The art rest stop Illertal-Ost on the A7 Memmingen – Ulm pleases the eye with artistic design à la Hundertwasser and birdsong on the toilets for the ears.
- A great view of Frankfurt’s skyline and the Taunus Mountains from a height of 25 meters is provided by the tower of the rest stop on the A5 between the Bad Homburg interchange and the northwest Frankfurt interchange, which is modeled on Roman fortifications.
- The inn on the A9 near Rodaborn became a highway rest stop in 1936, making it probably the oldest rest stop in the world. However, the pub is now separated from the freeway parking area by a fence. When the landlady sold original Thuringian bratwurst over this fence, it caused a bizarre legal dispute.
Parking spaces are scarce
Parking spaces for all the trucks on Germany’s roads are scarce. Nationwide, there is a shortage of more than 30,000, according to the Freight Forwarders and Logistics Association. According to the Federal Ministry of Transport, there were around 51,600 truck parking spaces directly on the highway in 2018, and 19,200 more next to it, such as at truck stops. And drivers also have a hard time finding accommodation where they can spend their mandatory rest periods. Düsseldorf-based start-up Roatel has developed a business model out of the shortage: It converts overseas containers into mini-hotels that are set up at truck stops, service stations and gas stations.
What’s your experience with parking on German highways? Could you imagine staying overnight in a Roatel? Feel free to write it in the comments!