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I would like to rent a nice sports car this summer and go for a drive on the Autobahn. What is the longest stretch of the German highways that is guaranteed (short of a natural disaster) to have no speed limits?

If there's more than one such long stretch, which one is likely to have the least amount of traffic?

  • 50
    You should keep in mind that there is an implicit speed limit in §1 STVO. Whatever the posted limit, you may drive no faster than weather, road conditions, your vehicle, and other vehicles on the road safely allow. So you don't just need a long stretch; it also has to be empty and the visibility has to be good. Slow down whenever you see slower cars or before you pass any on-ramp (this might prompt motorists on the rightmost lane to go left). In the summer an early Sunday morning might be a good idea. – o.m. Jun 4 '16 at 18:06
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – JonathanReez Apr 22 '17 at 9:05
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    If you just want to go fast, consider that the ICE trains in Germany can go up to 300 kph. Granted, it's not the same as going 300 kph in a car, but there's also a much smaller chance of dying. – Kyralessa Aug 4 '17 at 8:12
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I didn’t find any maps that included the actual lengths of stretches, but I found two that at least tell you the speed limit (or absence of one). I entered the legs into Google maps to get their lengths.

I found one map on autobahn-speedhunter.com from 2012 (according to copyright) and another from autobahnatlas-online.de (link to the second map’s colours’ explanation; solid blue streches have no limit) from 2009. The autobahnatlas map is from 2009 and no longer maintained due to the work involved. The speedhunter one relies on input by users to report new (or removed) speed limits thus it may or may not be entirely accurate. To the best of my knowledge there is no official source and documentation of the beginning and ending of speed limits.

Contestants for longest stretches with the validity caveat given above, taken from the autobahn-speedhunter map:

Note that I have the feeling that the map is not entirely accurate; e.g. autobahnatlas mentions speed limits in the Landshut area on the A 92. Many people have confirmed similar issues with the A96 (a 120 km/h section in the centre around Memmingen), and the A5 (speed limit around Rastatt). I don’t know whether your information will get any better than this, though.

Traffic-wise, I would assume the A20 and A31 to be the ones with the least other cars and no significant lorry traffic (although most of these stretches are probably empty at 3 a.m. as Gayot mentioned). The A20 especially was criticised as being just some tarmac in the countryside without any cars travelling on it.


A note on the safety aspect

Other answers have already said this, but it bears repeating. Be especially careful when driving at very high speeds, especially if you are not familiar with the car! Deceleration is quadratic with respect to distance so if ‘some idiot’ decides to pull over into the left lane at 130 km/h and you shoot in from behind you’ll have some serious braking to do. Worse if there was a curve.

90 % of all drivers think that they are among the best 10 % of drivers. Go figure.

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    I can't recommend the A38. From Göttingen to around Leinefelden it's rather windy and with tunnels. From Leinefelden to Halle it's good, fairly new pavement and not much traffic on sundays, but iirc (I use it twice a year) its only 2 lanes - nice for a practice run at 160 km/h but not for much more than that. The fastest i've driven was on the A2 Braunschweig to Magdeburg, which had 3 Lanes and mostly temporary speed limits bu that was a few years ago. – Sumyrda Jun 5 '16 at 6:27
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    The A31 is where some Porsche 911 driver blew up his air-cooled engine regularly, driving that 180km stretch in 40 minutes every Sunday night. Porsche ended giving him the bigger water-cooled engine after the third blow-up. That said, you won't get to drive 300 there during the day. – Alexander Jun 5 '16 at 8:30
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    I can confirm the A31. I achieved an average well above 200 km/h from the Dreieck Bunde to the Dreieck Bottrop on a Saturday evening, mainly limited by a few small roadworks. However, driving straight ahead gets boring after you did it a couple of times. – Loong Jun 5 '16 at 10:39
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    Having driven on the A38 today, I do agree with @Sumyrda. On a nice summer day, you get to see beautiful landscapes (as co-driver), but there are multiple 120 kmh strips and it's mostly two lanes. This also applies to the A14 to Dreieck Nossen. – chaosflaws Jun 5 '16 at 15:39
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    Please note that during summer the autobahns become full of construction sites (which will eventually impose up to a 30km/h limit) and that when it rains there are some "automatic" limits which appears as electronic signs – Noldor130884 Jun 6 '16 at 11:04
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I can not comment yet on this SE, and this is not an answer to the question, but I feel like I have to warn you. And the other two answer you got (Jan's and Tor-Einar Jarnbjo's) are still pretty good.

Before you go racing, you may want to check this video about a situation identical to yours:

https://youtu.be/fUapNMXiz0k

This happened a year ago on a Hungarian highway. There are absolute speed limits in the country, but the guys did not care... The initial situation is pretty much like what you planned: they rent a Lamborghini Huracan, took it on the highway, and drove it at 330kmph., while the passenger was recording. The highway there is a really high quality one, as close as you could get to a raceway in an Autobahn. (As a Hungarian I have been there occasionally.) Still, the event happened:

They lost control of the supercar, It wrecked, turned upside down and burned completely out. The driver suffered, miraculously, only light injuries, could get out of the car and pull the seriously (permanently!) injured passenger before it burned to ashes, thus they survived the impossible. The recording they made also survived, making it possible for the Hungarian Police to submit it.

The moral is that you must be extremely careful when you do what you planned. This was an identical situation, and the result was nearly fatal. And considering most of the German Autobahns were built long before this part of highway, they might be in worse condition, making this outcome more likely.

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    I feel this is an important warning, (as such I accepted it without change for the new post review.) – Willeke Jun 4 '16 at 20:24
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    You don't even need to lose control (which everyone assumes will never ever happen to them - until it does) or make a mistake for this to go very, very wrong. If there's a car in front of you going the recommended speed of 130 kph and you are going 250 kph, that's a 120 kph difference in speeds. – YviDe Jun 4 '16 at 20:32
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    @YviDe you simply don't hear about all the people who've driven that fast and didn't crash, hence the bias. But Neinstein's point is nevertheless valid. – JonathanReez Jun 4 '16 at 20:59
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    A fun side note on the event: they also got punished for speeding only because they recorded the proof... – Neinstein Jun 4 '16 at 22:03
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    Even if it is worth considering what you are doing when driving fast on the autobahn, there is no reason to presume it to be much more dangerous than it is. The number of traffic fatalities is in Germany well below the EU average and within Germany, only about 15% of the fatalities occur on the autobahn (60% on 'normal' country roads and 25% within populated areas). Driving a car, with which you are not familiar on unknown roads in a foreign country is per se more risky than driving your own car at home, be it when driving fast on the autobahn or driving through a village. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Jun 4 '16 at 22:56
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I've had the (mixed!) pleasure of racking up many, many kilometers on German highways, also in various cars that can go faster than most other traffic. While I have no specific answer to what stretch is best, please note several caveats that might, in the worst case, get someone killed:

  • You should not go "too" fast in a car that you are not familiar with. E.g., how well does it really brake; how well does it really steer when you're braking hard; how skilled are you at high speed driving, and high speed crash avoidance?

  • If you're not used to driving above your national speed limit (130kmh in your country) then even driving "only" 170kmh is going to feel fast and it will be exhausting after a fairly short while. With experience, one can drive at 180kmh for a few hours, but it's still going to be exhausting. Driving at 230+ kmh is incredibly exhausting, even after only 15-30 minutes.

    • Note that "exhausting" doesn't mean that you start to sweat or grow physically tired. But you very quickly develop extreme tunnel vision as well as mental fatigue. This will severely reduce your ability to react appropriately in dangerous situations.
  • Don't overdo it. If you find yourself on a sweet stretch in perfect conditions, remember that even roller coasters go slow sometimes. Don't push the car beyond your(!) abilities just to see how far beyond 270kmh it will go. A "nice sports car" from Germany will probably be electronically limited at 250kmh but don't try to find out, certainly not on your first drive.

  • The stretches mentioned by others are only what the maps say. There can very easily be road works or other local circumstances that can put up unannounced limits.

  • Experience (others' and yours) might tell you that a certain stretch is fairly empty, but there is no guarantee against other idiot drivers, or big lorries, long or sharp curves, or other reasons to slow down.

  • Collision avoidance becomes much more difficult if there are only two lanes, as opposed to three lanes or more. If you're going to go fast, don't ever do it in a two-lane section (yes, two-lane stretches without limit exist).

  • Even if you would be driving the safest car in the world, and you would be the best driver in the world, don't ever count on having the road to yourself.

    • At high speeds, you can very quickly rush up on another car that you hadn't noticed.
    • Other drivers might become spooked by your speed (you weren't in their mirrors just seconds ago!) and they might do stupid things; out of surprise or even out of provocation!
    • There can be animals, objects, or side wind.

As a personal anecdote, one situation remains clear in my memory. I was driving in the middle lane in a regular car at around 160kmh when I noticed a fast car approaching in my rear-view mirror. From the moment I noticed it and until it passed me and got out of sight, only seconds had elapsed. If you ask me to describe the car, I will say it was red, it was about a meter high, it looked to be fifteen meters long, and it was blurry. I haven't done the math but whatever speed he was going, it was not safe in that traffic.

(Please excuse this bit of soapboxing. I'm not trying to talk Jonathan out of his trip but I feel it is prudent to highlight some safety aspects. Driving fast can be fatal to others, not just the driver.)

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    On a three-lane autobahn, you might find traffic on the leftmost lane doing 180 to 200 kph. Then someone doing 150 kph on the middle lane decides to overtake someone else doing 130 kph on the middle lane by going to the leftmost lane. Suddenly there is an obstacle 50 kph slower than you ... – o.m. Jun 5 '16 at 5:45
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    One more item: Posted speed limits are rarely above 140 km/h. So, when driving at a high speed, you probably cannot decelerate quickly enough between the moment you read the sign and the moment you pass it. Unlike at lower speeds, where series of signs will gradually tell you to reduce speed to 120, 100, 80, ..., you might have to go directly from 200+ to 120 km/h. And this can even happen dynamically, as many autobahns are equipped with electronic speed limit signs that suggest a speed limit based upon current conditions. – O. R. Mapper Jun 5 '16 at 10:56
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    @O.R.Mapper I can't recall ever seeing an actual speed limit sign saying more than 130. Good point about going from 200+ to 120kmh! – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Jun 5 '16 at 11:11
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    One more item for the things to keep in mind list if you are coming from an other country is to make yourself really familiär with the driving rules on the Autobahn e.g. by taking a tour on the Autobahn with a driving instructor or a local. When my friends from southern california visited me 10 years ago, they had no idea about going in the rightmost lane that matches your speed or about the necessary distance to other cars when you want to go 100 mph (160km/h). – Sumyrda Jun 5 '16 at 21:02
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    @O.R.Mapper: IIRC the A3 (Bottrop-Arnhem) goes from no limit to 80 at the border post. And the Dutch police has an habit of putting up speed traps at the border. But in general you should be able to make a controlled full stop, to zero, if you spot something on the road in front of you (such as lost cargo) which is a stricter limit on safe speeds. – MSalters Jun 6 '16 at 0:50
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There is absolutely no part of any German highway guaranteed to have no speed limits. Even if there is usually no speed limit, road works are quite common, not always announced in advance and usually bring with them a speed limit of 80 or even some time 60 km/h.

If you still want to give it a try, you can find several helpful resources online. The web site http://autobahnatlas-online.de/ (unfortunately only in German) has several maps with information about the German highway network. You can find a map of all highways with their speed limits here and an explanation of the colours here (highways without speed limits are dark blue).

My persional suggestion would be to try the eastern part of A20. Between the junction 'Uckermark', the eastern end point of the highway and Jarmen, you have about 100km without any regular speed limits. After a short stretch with 100 km/h where the highway goes through the city of Jarmen, you have another long strech of highway without any speed limits. The A20 is also one of the highways in Germany with the least traffic. I have only driven the suggested eastern part a few times, but even in the daytime, there was almost no traffic on the road.

A few disadvantages is of course that this particular strech of highway is in an area without much tourism, there is not incredibly much to see and even the scenery is rather boring.

  • Say Tor, I didn't know there was any 100km unrestricted sections ... interesting .. but listen, on corners, i mean gentle corners, you know how there are 120 signs on corners. Do you mean, for 100 km, there is not even one of those signs? That seems surprising. – Fattie Jun 5 '16 at 13:39
  • @JoeBlow I am pretty sure that the map from autobahnatlas-online.de is correct and that there are no speed restrictions at all on the entire distance between the Uckermark junction and Jarmen. The highway is relatively new and built through an almost entirely flat landscape, making it easy to prevent sharper curves where a speed restriction might be necessary. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Jun 5 '16 at 18:09
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    Regarding the not so touristy part: You could visit Berlin, Rügen and Lübeck or Hamburg when driving on the A20 is one of the goals of your travel planning. – Sumyrda Jun 6 '16 at 11:11
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As someone who has driven well past 200 km/h often, I can offer these additional suggestions, based on my own experience:

  1. You need to concentrate extremely hard at any speed above 150 km/h, because you have very little reaction time.

  2. DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS IN A CAR YOU ARE NOT FAMILIAR WITH. I cannot stress this enough.

  3. Make sure you are using the correct type of tires and they are at the correct pressure for the make and model of the car. At high speeds, the intense heat can warp the shape of the tires (that's why they are speed rated); and it can affect everything from handling, steering response and most importantly, braking response. Driving fast in a car with tires that are rated only at 120 km/h is looking for disaster.

  4. It is very unlikely you will get a clean stretch of highway for very long (at speeds above 150 km/h). So you are risking a lot for a few minutes of thrills. You'll enjoy it better if you take your car to a public racetrack.

  5. Even if you are the best driver in the world, you are on a public road with all kinds of traffic and all kinds of drivers. Practice defensive driving.

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    an excellent point about the tyres. you need, simply, the absolute very best available (most expensive :/ ) tires to drive at extreme speeds. It's a very very good point. – Fattie Jun 5 '16 at 13:38
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    Re 3, note that in Germany it would be illegal to put 120 km/hr tyres on a car with a top speed in excess of 120 km/h. Not that you're likely to find tyes rated below 190 km/h anyway. As for reaction times at 150 km/h, that's just about as bad as the usual dense traffic jam. – MSalters Jun 6 '16 at 0:58
  • @MSalters - "above 150 km/h" – Burhan Khalid Jun 6 '16 at 23:40
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There is actually a South African company that provides what they call Autobahn Blasts: driving at high speed on a de-restricted section of the Autobahn.

Now, I do not know if they're trustworthy, but they seem to have a number of high-profile sponsors. Here's a link to the relevant page on their website:

http://www.roadandrace.co.za/services/road-tours-around-the-circuit/

protected by mindcorrosive Jun 5 '16 at 16:55

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