Service areas on the Autobahn
The Autobahn has an extensive system of service areas (Rasthof, Raststätte) generally spaced between 40 and 60 kilometers apart. These usually feature a filling station (Tankstelle), restaurant or snack bar, convenience store, telephones, and restrooms. Many service areas also feature hotels, showers, playgrounds, conference rooms, and chapels. There are over 700 service areas in operation and they're open 24 hours a day.
Signs announcing the approach of a service area give the name of the service area, the distance to it, and one or more pictograms indicating the services available there:
Service area approach sign. The white sign at the bottom
indicates the distance to the next service area.
Smaller parking areas, many equipped with restrooms (WC), are even more abundant along the Autobahn. These are marked with signs like the one below.
Approach sign for parking area with WC
The past couple of decades has seen the proliferation of service facilities (mainly filling stations and fast-food restaurants) just off Autobahn exit ramps. Especially increasing in popularity are truck stops (Autohof). These generally offer facilities comparable to the service areas, but usually at considerably lower prices. Most are now marked by special signs on the Autobahn like the one below.
Autohof announcement sign