Public Transport in Germany
German Railway Network (Deutsche Bahn)
German Railway tickets can be purchased before arrival. Tickets can be purchased online through the Deutsche Bahn website or Deutsche Bahn phone app (DB navigator). Please also make sure to reserve your seat on the train as on weekends or during holidays there may be an extra rush on trains.
Tickets can be cheaper if booked 2-3 months earlier. The online links allow advanced booking for up to 3 months. Tickets can also be purchased from ticketing machines on railway stations (in German Bahnhof) or DB sales points. Tickets from officials can cost up to 3 Euros extra. Ticket machines have the 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
Cheaper Options for Traveling in German Trains
Traveling with only Local Transport
On the online booking page or the ticket machine, 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, the journey can take more time.
Screen shot from a ticket booking machine
Bahn Card (Rail Card)
Bahn card is for those people who intend to stay for a longer period in Germany or who are frequently traveling the German railway. 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 Bahn card 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 the Deutsche Bahn information center of any railway station, or call at the contact number given on the DB website.
Further information about the Bhan card is available on the following official page.
DB page about Bahn Card
Important: To claim the Bahn Card discount, the Bahn Card option must be checked while purchasing a ticket online or from a ticket machine. Please see the image above.
Weekend Ticket (Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket)
Weekend ticket (Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket ) is valid in the whole of Germany on Saturday, Sunday and up to 3 a.m. on Monday. This ticket is not valid on ICE and IC, but valid in all S-Bahns, trams, and underground city trams (U-Bahn), as well as in city busses. Up to 5 persons can travel on the Weekend ticket.
The day ticket is also valid for 5 persons, but for every extra person than the original buyer, there are some additional charges (8 Euros in 2018). Its validity time starts from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. of the following day except for weekends and public holidays it’s valid from midnight.
Regional Day Ticket
The regional day ticket is similar to Day ticket, only difference is that its validity is limited to a state. This ticket is cheaper than the Day ticket. Both the Day ticket and the Regional day ticket are valid on German trains exceot ICE and IC.
For more information about the 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 for 3, 4, 5, 7, and 10 days. They are to be used within 4 weeks. Passes are available for the first and second classes 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 a couple (twin pass). There is a special pass for youth.
Please click on the DB link below for details and purchase.
DB official page for German Rail Passes
Group ticket is available for a minimum of 6 persons traveling together. It costs 19.90 Euros per person for the 2nd class and 29.90 Euros per person for the first-class section. The ticket can be purchased online from the link given below or from machines on railway stations, as well as German railway travel centers, or Phone service at +49 (0)180 6 99 66 33.
Please click on this link for further information and booking.
Types of Trains in German Rail Network
1. Long route trains:
ICE (InterCity-Express) is the fastest long route train in Germany. It may reach a speed of 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 on this train.
However, for cheaper options tickets can be purchased 2-3 months earlier. The German rail pass is valid on 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 ticket regulations are the same as in ICE.
2. Medium to short route trains:
IRE (Interregio-Express) and Regional-Express (RE)
IRE (Interregio-Express) and Regional-Express (RE) have a speed range from 70 km/h to 150 km/h depending on the region. It is considered a 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) normally stops at every station and travels at a slower speed than Regional-Express (RE). Many of these trains are diesel-operated machines, as these trains also link cities to surrounding villages.
S-Bahn (Stadtschnellbahn) is a suburban rail service. It mostly works only inside a local transport network. S-Bahn should not be confused with Stadtbahn, which is a form of tram and only works within a city, while S-Bahn though operates in a very limited area but still is a train. All regional and long route rail tickets are valid on the S-Bahn.
The U-Bahn or Untergrundbahn (Underground Railway or Subway)
The U-Bahn or Untergrundbahn (underground railway or subway) is a conventional rapid transit system that runs mostly underground. They are sometimes considered trains and other times trams. But either way, they are a suburban network that works mostly inside a city or up to a neighboring city.
S-Bahn tickets are valid in the U-Bahn and U-Bahn tickets are valid in the S-Bahn. But rail tickets are not valid in the U-Bahn.
Stadtbahn (Light Rail/Tram)
Light rail (Stadtbahn) is part of the rail network but more integrated into the tram system.
German Transport Associations and Traif Zones
A transport association (Verkehrsverbund) is a partnership 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, if consider 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 of the whole state. Here, in the case of Mannheim city, 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 the VBB zone.
Transport association tickets (zone tickets) are much flexible and cheaper than Deutsche Bahn day tickets or region day tickets.
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 the German language below to see the zones of different transport associations (Verkehrsverbünde) in Germany.
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 local 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.
Additional ticket (Zusatzticket)
An additional ticket is a ticket offered for the use of additional services or as a supplement ticket to an 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 of that particular zone for which he/she possesses a ticket, then there is the cheaper option of an additional ticket. German names for additional tickets are Zusatzkarte, Zusatzticket, or Anschlusskarte.
There are also additional tickets for bicycles and pets.
This option is available in addition to the normal rail ticket at railway stations to travel in busses, trams, subways, and S-Bahn of the city. The city ticket option is cheaper for a single trip or a very short stay. Please click on the link below for further details.
Deutsche Bahn Bus Routes
The German railway (Deutsche Bahn) also operates buses on few long routes. In the last century, many long bus routes were abandoned in order to facilitate the rail network. These remaining bus routes are fully incorporated with rail routes. Seat reservation is a must in these long route buses. To learn more about bus routes, please click on this link.
Traveling by Taxi
A taxi can be booked before arrival at German Airport. All taxi firms accept credit cards and some of them 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, 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 is the recommended app by the taxi association of Germany.
Links to other major taxi-apps working in Germany are given below.
Below are weblinks to the taxi association of Germany. They provide information about their member taxi companies in major cities.
The weblink given below contains the contact numbers of major taxi services in Germany.
Tariffs are determined by the Governing body and are applied to the entire district. Taximeters are required in cities with over 50,000 inhabitants. In smaller cities and towns, entrepreneurs can choose their own fare and no taximeters are required.
By the regulation, the tariff should be clearly marked on both rear side windows or the rear window.
Share taxi is a newly developing concept in Germany. Please click the link below to see more details.
Carpooling in Germany
Carpooling (car-sharing or ride-sharing) is common in Germany. Following are some links to search for a shared ride.
Nationwide high-quality networks of roadways and railways make air transport less favorite choice for passengers. Before 2003, air transport had only a 1% share in nationwide passenger mobility. After 2003 airlines had introduced several attractive offers and cuts in their fares. The number of passengers traveling through air transport significantly increased after 2003. 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 the famous Air Berlin and caused some others 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. They were initially a union of 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.