How to have a barbecue in a public space in Germany

As soon as the first rays of sunshine appear, you know the ones that already create a little bit of warmth, people in Germany fire their barbecues. In Germany, to have a barbecue is called: grillen. As in every other country on earth, Germany also has a few regulations when it comes to cooking in public spaces.

Public stonewalled barbecue with ash on the lower level and a cast-iron form on the tray on top.

How to barbecue is completely up to each individual. You decide what to best throw on the barbecue. You decide whether you would like to do that on a portable luxurious grill. You decide whether you like to use charcoal (that harms the environment). So, to decide about the usual stuff is up to you.

In Germany, you’ll often find public barbecues in parks where it is perfectly all right to cook, but you can also go and make yourself at home in the many designated public green spaces. As long as the well-being of people and the environment stays intact, literally, everything goes.

Where can I barbecue in Germany?

In cities, barbecuing is generally permitted in all urban green spaces. Public playgrounds, dog spaces, football grounds, and wooded parkland are, you might have already guessed, for children, dogs, grandparents, runners, soccer players, and so on and on. All publicly designated barbecue areas can be found on the respective websites of the city administration. Please note that in some places, registration is necessary. You are on the safe side if you set up your camp at a distance of at least 100 meters to trees, residential areas, and the woods.

Use a portable barbecue that way the lawn stays intact. Disposable barbecues are bad for the environment. An open campfire and fluids to light the barbecue aren't great either. Supervise the barbecue at all times and extinguish the fire completely as soon as you finished cooking.

All wastes, yes, that also includes the ashes, must be disposed of. And please take food scraps (and all other rubbish/packages) with you and put them in your rubbish bin at home. That way public rubbish bins won't overflow and that will attract fewer rats. 

Can I barbecue on the balcony in my apartment building, or in the garden?

It is also pretty straightforward if you live in a tenancy/apartment building or in terraced housing and want to cook on your balcony or on the terrace in your backyard.

According to the German tenant’s association cooking on the balcony is okay as long as it is not otherwise stated in the lease or in the house rules. First, think of all the ones around you, and you are good to start cooking (you wouldn't want to sit in thick barbecue smoke for hours). 

As a rule of thumb, in the months from May to September, it is okay to barbecue five to twelve times per month, between 7am and 10pm. When in doubt, simply talk to your neighbours.

Websites with barbecue spots in Germany

Please note: Due to extensive heat and extreme drought, barbecuing with open fire might not be possible in all public barbecue areas at certain times.

Where not to barbecue in Germany?

A good idea is to pay attention to information on safety signs and to check park regulations.
If you make a fire in a non-designated area, fines can be up to EUR 100,000. According to the Nature Conservation Act, it is (for example) illegal to make a fire in a forest area. 
And finally, if you cause a fire, as in a wildfire, or if you set fire to a property due to your own laziness (silliness) you will get fined between EUR 35 and EUR 750. 

Have a happy summer. Happy barbecuing and 'grillen' in Germany.

From Berlin with love