Traveling with Public Transport in Germany

German Railway Network (Deutsche Bahn)

Ticket in German Railway can be purchased before arrival. Tickets can be purchased online through Deutsche Bahn website or Deutsche Bahn phone app (DB navigator). Please also make sure to reserve your seat in the train as on weekends or during holidays there may be extra rush on trains.

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Tickets can be cheaper if booked 2-3 months earlier. The online links allow advance booking up to 3 months. Tickets can also be purchased from ticketing machines on Rail stations or DB sales points. Tickets from officials can cost up to 3 Euros extra. Ticket machines have English language available and are easy to operate. These machines accept both cash in Euro and cards.

Click on the following official link to get details about your rail route and ticket purchases.
Link to DB ticket purchase and route information

or following official compact view link.
Link to compact view DB ticket purchase

DB navigator phone app

Link to online seat reservation

Cheaper Options for Traveling in German Trains

Traveling with only Local Transport

On the online booking page mentioned above or on Ticket machines, while booking a ticket if “only local transport” is checked, it will not include the fast moving ICE and IC trains and ticket will be cheaper, but of course journey can take more time.

Germany railway ticket booking
Screen shot from booking machine

Bahn Card (Rail Card)

Bahn card is for the people who intend to stay for longer period in Germany or who are frequently traveling in Germany. Bahn card has 3 different categories, 25 card, 50 card and 100 card. They provide 25%, 50% and 100% discounts on all rail routes and in all trains, including ICE.
A BahnCard 100 holder can use all local public transport free of charge in towns and cities. That includes busses, trams, subways and in some cases S-Bahn. Please ask the person at Deutsche Bahn information center at railway staion, or call at the contact number given on DB website. Futher about City-Ticket is explained on this page .

Further information about Bhan card is available on the following official page.
DB page about Bahn Card

Important: In order to claim the Bahn Card discount, Bahn Card option must be checked while purchasing a ticket online or from a ticket machine. Please see the image below.

Weekend Ticket(Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket)

Weekend ticket (Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket ) is valid in whole Germany on Saturday, Sunday and up to 3a.m. on Monday. This ticket is not valid on ICE and IC, but valid in all S-Bahns, trams and underground city trams (U-bahns), as well as in city busses. Up to 5 persons can travel on Weekend ticket.

Day Ticket

Day ticket is also valid for 5 persons, but every extra person than buyer has to pay some additional charges (8 Euros in 2018). Its validity time starts from 9 am to 3 am of following day except weekends and public holidays it’s valid from midnight.

Regional Day Ticket

Regional day ticket is similar to Day ticket, only difference is that its validity is limited to a state. This ticket is cheaper than Day ticket. Both Day ticket and Regional day ticket are valid on Germany trains accept ICE and IC.

For more information about Weekend Ticket, Day Ticket and Regional Day Ticket, please click on the link below.
DB info page about Weekend Ticket, Day Ticket and Regional Day Ticket

German Rail Pass

These passes are available as 3, 4, 5, 7 and 10 days pass. They are to be used within 4 weeks period. Passes are available for first and second class separately. ICE (Inter City Express, the fastest train in Germany) is allowed on these passes. This pass can be purchased for a single person or for a couple (twin pass). There is a special pass for youth.

Please click on the link below for details and purchase.
DB official page about German Rail Passes

Group Ticket

Group ticket is available for minimum 6 persons traveling together. It costs 19.90 Euros per person for 2nd class and 29.90 Euros per person for first class section. Ticket can be purchased online from the link given below or from machines on railway stations, as well as German railway travel centers or from Phone service at +49 (0)180 6 99 66 33.

Please click on this link for further information and booking.

Other passes are:
Interrail Pass: Discover all of Europe
Eurail Pass: Unlimited travel across Europe

Types of Trains in German Rail Network

1. Long route trains:

ICE(InterCity-Express)

ICE(InterCity-Express) is the fastest long route train in Germany. It may reach speed above 300 km/h (186 m/h). Weekend ticket, day ticket, regional day ticket and tickets bought with only regional options selected are not valid in this train.

However, for cheaper options tickets can be purchased 2-3 months earlier. German rail pass is valid in this train. All Bahn cards are accepted for their respective discounts.

EuroCity (EC), InterCity(IC), EuroNight

EuroCity (EC), InterCity(IC) and EuroNight are also long route trains. Their normal fare structure is lower than ICE but tickets regulations are same as in ICE.

2. Medium to short route trains:

IRE(Interregio-Express) and Regional-Express(RE)

IRE (Interregio-Express) and Regional-Express (RE) has speed range from 70km/h to 150km/h depending on the region. It is considered Medium route train. It stops at more stations than IC and ICE but not at every station. Weekend ticket, day ticket, regional day ticket and tickets bought with only regional options selected are valid in this train, as well as on all other medium to short route trains.

Regionalbahn(RB)

Regionalbahn(RB) normaly stops at every station and slower speed than Regional-Express (RE). Many of Regional-Express are diesel operated machines, as also link cities to surrounding villages.

S-Bahn(Stadtschnellbahn)

S-Bahn (Stadtschnellbahn) is suburban rail services mostly works only inside a local transport network. It’s not to be confused with Stadtbahn, which is a form of tram and only works within a city, while S-Bahn though operates in very limited area but still is a train. Hence, rail tickets are valid on S-Bahn.

The U-Bahn or Untergrundbahn (Underground Railway or Subway)

The U-Bahn or Untergrundbahn (underground railway or subway) are conventional rapid transit systems that run mostly underground. They are sometimes considered trains and other times trams. But either way they are suburban network works mostly inside a city or up to a neighboring city.

S-Bahn tickets are valid in U-Bahn and U-Bahn tickets are valid in S-Bahn. But rail tickets are not valid in U-Bahn.

Stadtbahn(Light Rail/Tram)

light rail(Stadtbahn) is part of rail network but more integrated into tram system.

German Transport Associations and Traif Zones

A transport association (Verkehrsverbund) is an association of public transport operators in a given region (zone). A ticket purchased in a zone (eg single ticket, day ticket) is usually valid for all means of transport (subway, S-Bahn, bus, tram, etc.) of local transport in the entire zone.

For example, take the city of Mannheim. It is located in the state of Baden Württemberg but the zone of a transport association is normally much smaller than that whole state. Here in case of Mannheim, the transport association in the zone is called VRN and the zone is called VRN zone (please check VRN zone in the below given link). Similarly, Berlin is in VBB zone.

Transport association tickets (zone tickets) are much flexible and cheaper than Deutsche Bahn day ticket or region day ticket.

If you are planning a longer stay in a specific area and want to travel with public transport, a transport association ticket or zone ticket (Verbundkarte) of several days would be a cheaper option for everyday travel.

Please check the official link in German below to see the zones of different transport associations (Verkehrsverbünde).
https://www.bahn.de/p/view/angebot/verbuende/index.shtml#uebersicht

In addition to the above mentioned Deutsche Bahn webpage, each transport association has its own website, with an option of the English language.

More information about transport association tickets or zone tickets (Verbundkarte) can also be obtained from information centers at railway stations.

Important: Single tickets for U-Bhan(subway), S-Bahn, Busses and Stadbahn(tram) must be validated. The validation machines are located near the passenger doors of all these vehicles.

Additional ticket (Zusatzticket)

Additional tickets are tickets offered in public transport for the use of additional services or as a supplement ticket to already purchased ticket

For example, if a passenger has a ticket from the above-mentioned zones and wants to travel further to some stations, which are out that particular zone for which he/she possesses a ticket, then there is the cheaper option of an additional ticket. The German names for additional tickets are Zusatzkarte, Zusatzticket or Anschlusskarte.

There is also an additional ticket for bicycle and pets.

City-Ticket

This option is available in addition of the normal rail ticket at railway stations to travel in busses, trams, subways and S-Bahn of a city. City ticket option is cheaper for a single trip or very short stay. Please click on the link below for further details.
https://www.bahn.com/en/view/offers/germany/tickets-for-local-transport.shtml

Deutsche Bahn Bus Routes

Germany railways (Deutsche Bahn) also operates buses on few long routes. In the last century, many long bus routes were abandoned in order to facilitate Rail Network. These remaining bus routes are fully incorporated with rail routes. Seat reservation is must in these long route buses. To learn more about bus routes, please click on this link.

Traveling with Taxi

A taxi can be booked before arrival on German Airport. All taxi firms accept credit cards and some even other means of electronic transfers. Please check the contacts of city taxi links given below to book a taxi before arrival. Moreover, there are taxi ranks (taxi stands) outside every airport and railway station.

Taxi can be called through telephone numbers, apps and their websites.

The phone number 19410 assigned as a nationwide taxi number. However, if necessary, the prefix of the nearest major town or city must be chosen in advance, as conversations on speed dial 19410 are not automatically forwarded to the nearest taxi office. The nationwide uniform taxi number for calls from the mobile network is 22456, it automatically connects to the nearest taxi center.

Following app is recommended by the taxi association of Germany.
https://www.taxi.eu

Links to other major taxi-apps working in Germany are given below.

https://www.bettertaxi.com

https://www.clevershuttle.de/en

https://www.shuttlepool.com

https://www.taxi.de

https://taxi-deutschland.net

Below are the links to the taxi association of Germany. This provides information about member taxi companies in major cities.

1. Link to Taxi Association of Germany

2. Link to Taxi Association of Germany

The web link given below contains contact numbers of most major taxi services in Germany.

Contact Numbers of Major Taxi Companies

Taxi Tariffs

The tariffs are determined by the Governor and apply to the entire district. Taximeters are required in cities over 50,000 inhabitants. In smaller cities and towns, entrepreneurs can choose their own fare and no taximeters are required.

By regulation, the tariff should be clearly marked on both rear side windows or the rear window.

Share Taxi

Share taxi is a new developing concept in Germany. Please click the link below to see more details.
https://www.allygatorshuttle.com/en/operational-info.html

Carpooling in Germany

Carpooling (car-sharing or ride-sharing) is common in Germany. Following are some links to search for shared ride.

https://www.mifaz.de

https://www.blablacar.de

https://www.mitfahren.de

https://www.drive2day.de

http://www.hitchhikers.de

http://www.mitfahrangebot.com

Air Transport

Nationwide high-quality networks of roadways and railways make the air transport less favorite choice for passengers. Before 2003, air transport had only 1% share in nationwide passenger mobility. After 2003 airlines had introduced several attracting offers and cuts in fares and the number of passengers traveling through air transport significantly increased. But still, the air transport sector is under pressure due to the introduction of newer high-speed trains and also, many people only visit Germany to experience Autobahn driving.

This high competition also caused the bankruptcy of some regional airlines like famous Air Berlin and caused some other to cease operations entirely or on certain routes.

Lufthansa Regional is the biggest association of airlines that operates inside Germany and also in some neighboring nations. There were initially five companies but three have ceased their operations and till today Lufthansa Regional includes two companies namely: Air Dolomiti and Lufthansa CityLine. On some routes, Air Dolomiti operates separately under its own brand name.

Other cheaper options are Eurowings and an Ireland based company, Ryanair.

Charter and leisure airlines are Germania, TUI fly Deutschland, SunExpress and Condor.

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