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Public Transportation in Germany

You have decided to spend your vacation time in Germany. You reserved your plane and hotel, now you need to figure out how you will get around on your trip by using local transport.

You can always rent a car but it may be costly and you are an inexperienced driver in Europe. Now you need to learn more about public transportation.

Once you arrive in Germany, if you are American, you will notice that the German public transportation system is much more efficient and cost-effective than that of America. There are many more options and for the most part, you can get anywhere at any time.

Public Transportation in Germany (Free and Paid Options)

Red tram going on Hallmarkt square in front of Marktkirche church in old town
bbsferrari / Adobe Stock

Keep in mind that you can purchase a train ticket from your current location to your destination and this ticket is valid for the train, bus, and streetcar.

Take a train from Darmstadt to Hanau then use the same ticket for a bus from Hanau to Frankfurt.

Taxi Cab

Mercedes-Benz Taxi in Germany
art_zzz –

Taxi cabs can be found around any airport or public location. If you walk up to a taxi parking area and there is a row of taxi cabs go to the front vehicle first. The price varies but can be expensive at times. The weekend taxi fees are generally more expensive than the fees on a weekday.

If you can avoid using a taxi cab I would recommend it. If you are relatively pleased with the service provided by the cab driver a one or two EUR tip would be sufficient.

Street Cars (Trolley)

Ubierring, Köln, Germany Tram
beqa / Adobe Stock

Streetcars were the first mode of public transportation in Germany. Accessible transportation to enjoy things to do in Leipzig and Germany. Streetcars make frequent stops and have a map layout of each stop. Check the route and be sure the stop you want is close enough to your destination, if not you may want to take the U/S Bahn, a bus, or a taxi.

Streetcars are relatively fast, about the same speed as a normal car in the city.


People waiting for the bus at bus stop in Friedensplatz
William Perugini /

The German bus system is one of the best in Europe. Buses run frequently and on schedule. The buses have an electronic display that shows the upcoming stops, making it very easy to find your stop.

Buses can be a great way to get around the city without having to worry about transfers. However, if you are going from one suburb to another, the bus may not be your best option because it can take a long time.


Modern regional train traveling with speed on railway tracks through nature landscape, at sunset, near Schwabisch Hall, Germany.
YesPhotographers / Adobe Stock

The European rail system is set up to be a very cost-effective and efficient means for international European travel. With a vast number of inner-city trains running constantly during the day.

The German rail system which is managed by the German National Railway Company is just as effective. When entering a train station (Bahnhof) you will need to purchase a ticket from the machine.

You can only buy a train ticket with EUR but you can use any denomination below 20 including coins or bills. Simply select your destination from the list shown on the ticket machines, enter the destination number and push the “Einzelfahrt” button.

Your change will fall along with your ticket to the tray. If you are planning to travel by train from Frankfurt to Paris, for example, you may choose to use the ICE train.

This train is designed to get you from point A to point B much faster than a normal train. ICE trains are a little more expensive but may be the smart way to travel if you are planning inter-country travel in Europe.

See Related: Geography Information About Germany

The types of Trains:

Regional Trains

These regional trains are a great option for short-distance trips and are usually very cost-effective. The train makes frequent stops, has a relaxed schedule, and is a great way to see the German countryside. These trains are like intercity trains.

ICE Trains

Front of a Deutsche Bahn Train

As mentioned before, ICE trains are high-speed trains designed for long-distance travel and can get you from point A to B much faster than a regional train. The downside to this is that you will spend more money and be charged for each stop.

Local Trains

These are trains like suburban trains that connect the small villages to the larger major cities. They are much slower than a regional or ICE train and can take several hours to get to your destination.


U-Bahn Station in St. Pauli

The U or S Bahn would be the equivalent of the subway in the States. The U-Bahn covers city areas whereas the S-Bahn covers city areas and up to 60 kilometers outside the city.

Normally you will only find U/S Bahns in bigger cities. The U/S Bahn normally makes more stops than trolleys making them the smarter choice for inner-city travel.

You can also purchase an all-day ticket which is good for trolleys, buses, and the U/S-Bahn by pressing the Tageskarte button instead of the Einzelfahrt button.

It is possible to board the train or trolley without purchasing a ticket but you will be fined 60 EUR minimum and these checks do occur regularly. You can purchase train tickets online from the official homepage of Deutsche Bahn by clicking.

Useful Tips:

  • Make sure you have EUR currency before you travel. The ticket machine only takes EUR coins and bills.
  • If you are going on a long-distance trip, it is best to purchase your ticket in advance.
  • You can purchase tickets online, at the train station, or on the train/trolley itself.
  • When entering a train station, you will need to purchase a ticket from the machine.
  • You can only buy a train ticket with EUR but you can use any denomination below 20 including coins or bills.
  • When traveling on a regional or ICE train, always validate your ticket before boarding the train. The machines are located at the entrance and exit of each carriage. If you are caught without a valid ticket, you can be fined 60+ EUR or more.
  • You can also buy a day ticket which is good for trolleys, buses, and the U/S Bahn by pressing Tageskarte instead of Einzelfahrt.
  • When entering a cabin, always say “Guten Tag” to the conductor for identification purposes. In the event of an emergency, the conductor will be able to help you.
  • Use common sense and keep alert for pickpockets.
  • Single tickets are also available for short trips.
  • In case of emergencies alert the local transport authority

Other modes of public transportation in Germany

City bus in Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Sina Ettmer Photography / Shutterstock

Germany has 335 international airports, including Frankfurt Airport, Europe’s third-busiest airport. Lufthansa has the most extensive traffic network, and Eurowings provides cheap domestic air travel services to domestic destinations.

In Germany, ferry travel is limited to just a few cities. There are no public bus transportation alternatives in Hamburg or Berlin. Bikeshare services are gaining in popularity, although they are typically managed by local governments.

Germany is bordered on all sides by seas, and it is defined by lakes, rivers, and freshwater bodies within its borders. Ferry services between North Rhine-Westphalia and Western Frisia countries are usually used for basic transportation.

Vessel services are provided on the Rhine, Elbe, and River Danur. There are also ferry services in river sections with no bridges or tiny islands, as well as some significant lake locations such as the Chiemsee, Starnberg, and Mövensee during the summer months (March through October). Several towns operate scenic river/lake tours.

See Related: Magdeburg Water Bridge in Germany


German public transport is efficient, accessible, and safe. Most German cities have train stations and bus stations available. And there are a lot of other options for public transport in Germany like U Bahn, S Bahn, Ferry Boats, Domestic Air Travel, Bikes, Taxi, and Cars.


Can you rent a bike in Germany?

Yes, you can rent a bike in Germany. Bike rental services are usually managed by local governments.

Can I take my pet on the train?

Pets are not allowed on trains, except assistance dogs.

Is there free public transport in Germany?

No, there is no free public transportation in Germany. You can get a multi-day pass which is good for the bus and train system (except ICE). And if you take a single trip on the train or trolley during your multi-day pass, you will be fined 60+ EUR minimum.

Can you drive through Germany?

Yes, you can drive through Germany. But if you come in by car or motorbike, then you must purchase a vignette before entering the country. It costs 10 EUR per day and it is valid for 7 days after purchase. And if your stay is less than 3 months, then you don’t need to purchase the vignette.

What is a vignette in Germany?

It’s a sticker that you put on your windshield to show proof of car insurance and vehicle registration.

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