Transports in Germany

Travelling around Germany
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Updated 2022-11-07 04:06

Once you have settled in Germany, familiarising yourself with your new city and the region will happen gradually as you are going out to work, university, or for leisure activities. The big cities such as Berlin, Hamburg, and Munich have efficient public transport networks, and the whole country is well connected through air and land, as well as with the rest of the world.

Wherever you are in Germany, it's very unlikely you will feel cut off thanks to the country's renowned Autobahn (i.e., highway). For many, the Autobahn is a motivation to ship their vehicle to Germany and obtain a German driving licence. In this article, we will explore different means of transport in Germany and ways to commute fast, cost-efficiently, and in an environmentally friendly way. 

Traveling by air in Germany

If you are on a business trip in Germany, aircraft will probably be the fastest and most convenient way to travel, whether you have to move from one city to another or neighboring countries. Most of the German cities, such as Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, and Cologne, have their own airport. You are likely to find several airline companies offering domestic, regional, and international flights. Some of these companies also offer reduced rates during particular seasons, so make sure to compare prices before purchasing any tickets. The most famous airline company in Germany and one of the most successful worldwide is Lufthansa.

Good to know: 

In 2020, a new airport opened in Berlin, namely the Berlin Brandenburg Airport — Willy Brandt, which has replaced the already closed Tegel and Tempelhof airports. Schönefeld airport will also close in 2025, but for the time being, it hosts Terminal 5 of Brandenburg airport, which is expected to be one of the busiest airports in Europe. 

Useful links: 

Lufthansa

Berlin Brandenburg Airport 

Traveling by train in Germany

You can make long trips across Germany by train, both during the day and at night. There are different types of trains in the country, and these are managed by the Deutsche Bahn. Among regional and intercity trains, you will find the Regional-Express, S-Bahn, and InterCity, which connect the major German cities and regions to one another. InterCity also makes international routes. Moreover, high-speed trains such as the Railjet, Thalys, and ICE connect major German cities to neighboring countries such as France, Belgium, Austria, and Hungary.

Note that German trains are punctual and comfortable. You can purchase your tickets at ticket machines which are located at train stations, and you will receive monthly or annual discounts and special deals for you and your family if you purchase the Bahn Card, Monatskarte, or Jahreskarte cards. Check for regional ticket offers such as Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket or Länderticket, which offer opportunities to travel around the country on a budget. 

Good to know: 

Many Germans travel by train on the weekends to visit family. Deutsche Bahn doesn't require seat reservations on ICE speed trains and doesn't stop selling tickets even when overbooked. As a result, trains can be packed on Fridays, and crowds are rather impatient.

Attention: 

To avoid fines and penalties, validate your tickets before getting on the train.

Useful links: 

Deutsche Bahn 

InterRail

Stuttgart Strassenbahnwelt 

S-Bahn 

BVG

Bus services in Germany

The bus is one of the most affordable means of transport in Germany. Some companies not only connect the various German cities and suburbs but also provide longer trips to neighboring countries such as the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Italy, and Turkey. Through the years, traveling by bus has become very comfortable and technologically advanced, as bus services are punctual, offer WiFi, regularly stop for breaks, and have comfortable seats. Also, it is now common to book your bus tickets online via the company's website or mobile application, in which you can receive real-time updates. 

Good to know: 

Until 2013, public bus transport was restricted to regional areas and short distances. Since Deutsche Bahn lost its monopoly in 2013, many long-distance bus lines have opened at very competitive prices. Hence, it is a preferred way of traveling by many young people.

Useful links:

FlixBus

Euro Lines

Taxis in Germany

You are likely to find taxis in most major German cities. When on the street, to stop a taxi, you have to wave at it. However, nowadays, the most common way of booking a taxi is via a mobile app. In general, rates are fixed in advance by local transport authorities, and all taxis must be equipped with a meter. In smaller towns, rates can be negotiated with the driver. As public transport is so well developed in Germany, taxis tend to be used less frequently by the public. 

Good to know: 

Germany has set up a safe taxi system for women, known as the Frauen-Taxi. This system aims at making women feel safe to travel alone at night. The Frauen-Taxi is available from 9 PM, and rates are equal to those of buses.

Tip: If you wish to explore Frankfurt in an unusual way, you can also try the velotaxi, an eco-friendly bike taxi ideal for tourists and anyone who is not in a rush to get somewhere.

Useful links: 

City Funk 

Taxi Funk Berlin 

Taxi Muenchen 

Taxi Frankfurt 

Hansa Taxi Hamburg

Renting a car and car-sharing in Germany

If you have a valid driving license, you can also consider renting a car. You can find car rental agencies all over Germany and at airports. To rent a car in Germany, you will have to produce your driver's license, identity card, and payment card. If you are unsure, enquire about road traffic regulations, classifications, and speed limits beforehand. According to the amendment to the Schedule of Fines and Penalty Points Regulations that came into force in 2021, “the unauthorized use of an emergency lane is prosecuted and punished in the same way as the failure to create an emergency lane.” Fines vary between 200 and 320 euros, as well as a 30-day driving ban and two points on the driver's license. 

In addition, according to the latest German vehicle safety systems, all cars are to be equipped with reversing detection systems and a system to help the driver comply with the statutory speed limit and stay focused on the road traffic. Also, in the future, vehicles will have to be fitted with an event data recorder, which will capture driving data (in conformity with the EU personal data protection provisions) to help accident research, a similar concept to the black box of airplanes.

Good to know: 

According to the Federal Statistical Office, the percentage of deaths due to road accidents was reduced by 6% in early 2022 compared to 2020. 

Useful links: 

Rental Cars 

Europcar 

Hertz 

Avis 

DriveNow

Carpooling in Germany

Car sharing or Mitfahrgelegenheit has been a widespread practice in Germany for many years in an effort to share costs and reduce the effects of environmental pollution. What started off at a university student pinboard to help students share their travel costs has morphed into huge car-sharing agencies, which are available in most major German cities. Car-sharing companies offer daily ride opportunities not just in Germany but all over Europe.

Good to know: 

When arranging a lift, you're not obliged to arrange payment in advance. Also, be aware that some people may try to make a profit and invite four passengers in the smallest cars for long-distance journeys.

Useful links: 

BlaBlaCar

Cycling in Germany

Cycling can be part of the solution to many environmental and urban challenges, as it has a positive impact on the environment (if used as a public transport), as well as on citizens' health and quality of life. Currently, over ten percent of all trips in Germany are made by bike, while in the Netherlands, the number is 27 percent, whereas in Denmark, cycling amounts to 18 of traffic. So, even though cyclists are a common encounter in Germany, there's still space for increasing the number of cyclists, and each state works towards the promotion of cycling by designing cycling tracks to facilitate access by bike. If you want to buy a bike in Germany, you can opt for a second-hand bike, but not having a bike is not an excuse not to cycle because you can rent a bike or use one of the several bike-sharing networks.

Good to know: 

As of 2021, the new National Cycling Plan promotes the development of smart cycling infrastructure and increase in cycling commuters in urban and rural areas. 

Useful link:

Nextbike

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