The Labyrinth of the German Public Transport System
Surviving Germany's Public Transport System
The german public transport system is a maze of busses, trains, fast-speed trains, subways and electric tramways at multiple bus terminals, train stations and with innumerable tracks, bus stops and stations.
I grew up with this system and know it better than many other Germans as I don't have a car and I used busses and trains to get to school, to university, to work, to my sports competitions and to visit friends. I have been fine without a car for many years.
In germany you can survive without a car. You can easily get from one city to the next by public transport in a reasonable amount of time.
The Deutsche Bahn connects all greater and most small cities by trains. You can buy your ticket on the internet, at the ticket machines at all train stations or at all ticket counters inside the stations. You have to always buy a valid ticket as tickets are controlled inside the trains by ticket collectors and fines are expensive (around 60€). There are weekly and monthly tickets as well as day tickets and weekend tickets which are cheaper than buying single tickets to every place you go. However, all tickets have special conditions concerning the number of people that can use the ticket, the distances you can travel, whether you can take your bike or not without surcharge, whether you can take children for free, at what time you can use the ticket and if you can use the ticket in busses, tramways and subways or not. I would recommend you to ask an employee at the train station or any other traveling person. Young Germans usually speak English very well.
If you are ready to pay a little more for your train ticket, a highlight is a trip on the ICE which goes as fast as 180mph while offering maximum comfort and takes you to the biggest cities of Germany in little time.
The ICE: 180mph by train
Traveling through Europe by Train
Eurail tickets allow you to travel through the European countries of your choice for very low prices. There is anything from multi-countries passes, 2 countries passes, single country passes, rail & drive passes, families passes and many more.
A Train Schedule in Germany
A Convenient App for German Public Transport
Reading the bus and train schedules in Germany can be quite confusing. My husband came to Germany with me a couple of months ago and since he started working he has had to travel from Siegburg to Düsseldorf on a daily basis. At the beginning, I was writing down all of his connections and which track he has to go to and where he has to change busses or trains because he was simply overwhelmed by the bus and train schedules. However, I have found a much easier way for him to look for a connection without having to read the complicated schedules. It is an App called DB Navigator that you can download with your smart phone and with which you can easily look for optimal connections from one city to the other, no matter where you might be or where you are going.
Riding a Bike in Germany
Germany is also a bike-friendly country. In many cities there are bikeways which make it much easier using the streets along with cars. In addition, bicycles are an eco-friendly means of transport and you should consider using your bike to run some of your errands to do the environment good on the one hand and burn some additional calories on the other hand. If you don’t have your own bike you can even rent a bike at many train stations in Germany. You simply have to register for “Call a Bike” over the internet and you can get started. There are Call a Bike terminals in Berlink, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Karlsruhe, Cologne, Munich and Stuttgart as well as at 40 ICE train stations. Prices range from 8 cents per minute to 15 euros an hour. For people riding their bikes all the time, there is even the option to ride for free for the first 30 minutes upon payment of an annual fee.
Driving on the Famous German Autobahn
If you hold a valid U.S. driver's license, you are allowed to drive in Germany for a period of 6 months after your arrival. German roads are generally in an excellent condition. However, contrary to popular belief, there are speed limits on the majority of the highway stretches which include urban areas or parts with many curves. You should be careful if you are not used to driving on German highways as the high speed, weather conditions and unknown road signs can pose risks that you are not exposed to in your home country. For more information on driving in Germany, take a look at the Travel and Driving Guide Germany.
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