Is there a good English translation for Fernweh? dict.leo.org suggests wanderlust and itchy feet, but they are both more about travelling around rather than going away.

  • 12
    it's funny that one of the few options here is another German word (even if it's not used that much anymore.)
    – splattne
    May 24, 2011 at 20:49
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    I'd say it's one of the words like "Angst" or "Weltschmerz" that are just not understandable to Non-native German speakers and impossible to translate accurately :-) May 25, 2011 at 9:57
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    I am not familiar with Fernweh but itchy feet is very much a term used to describe someone who wants to "go away". From what you've said, it sounds like that might be accurate.
    – BudgieInWA
    May 25, 2011 at 10:35
  • @SeanPatrickFloyd, everything can be translated and understood, albeit not literally. It's only human languages, let's not mystify them. Just not that easy sometimes. In this case, what about »yearning«? Yearning for places abroad … Sounds like a good enough working translation for me. But then I'm German, and YMMV.
    – Lumi
    Aug 7, 2014 at 21:11
  • 1
    @Lumi obviously you can translate the symptoms, but not the implied cultural background that causes them Aug 9, 2014 at 9:37

8 Answers 8


I think "wanderlust" and "itchy feet" are the best translations. If you're using it in combination with a specific location, e.g.

Wer Fernweh nach Australien hat, ...

you could translate it to

Anyone with a longing for Australia...

  • Wanderlust is a very good option imho, and it has a nice echo of German romantism.
    – Yves
    Aug 7, 2014 at 17:00

Another suggestion from LEO:

She's got the travel bug.

See here.

  • 10
    A programmer would never say that. :)
    – fuxia
    May 25, 2011 at 2:39
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    I'm a programmer and I say that a lot. (Not now thow since I am currently travelling) Jun 3, 2011 at 23:33

Itchy feet is an urge to get away/move on from where one's current location, whereas wanderlust is an urge to travel in a more continuous sense.


I love the word Fernweh. Wanderlust means the desire to travel. Fernweh elevates that urge to a need. Others say it is the opposite of homesickness. That means one feels sick when at home too long; lethargic and sad. A person who has Fernweh feels best when not at home.

There is magic in being completely separated from one’s cultural and personal environments. Untethered, free, fully engaged and completely relaxed.

  • Since you mention "homesickness" - this could be literally translated as "Heimweh" which has the opposite meaning of your description. "Heimweh" means you are missing home and want to get there as soon as possible. "Fernweh" is close to your description of "homesickness". You are sick being home and want to leave as soon as possible.
    – user22338
    Jul 15, 2016 at 11:09

When I first heard of this term, I thought of it more as something deeper than run-of-the-mill wanderlust. I thought of it as that pang you get when you see a place you've never been to, yet feels like you belong there, like in another life that was your home, and you long to reclaim it. Perhaps that is inaccurate, but it's how I first learned the word and how I've thought of it ever since. But yeah, not the simplest translation, haha.

  • +1 for pang, it's useful to explain the concept at least
    – fifaltra
    Dec 31, 2013 at 9:10
  • I think that explanation is wrong. Fernweh is the feeling that you can't bear anymore to stay at your current place/ home, so you need something new, you need to travel!
    – Iris
    Feb 19, 2016 at 7:24

I'd translate Fernweh (somewhat literally) as "a longing for the faraway." It would be the opposite of "homesickness."


"Fernweh" is actually kind of opposed to "Heimweh" - Which has a direct English translation - "homesick".

So it probably translates literally to "Farawaysick" ;)


I once heard "Far Cry" but I don't find something about it on the Internet.

  • I've only seen far cry used as a measurement of distance. (M-W)
    – Tim
    May 25, 2011 at 9:53
  • 4
    This is a far cry from a reliable answer.
    – Phira
    May 30, 2011 at 11:31

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