A huge positive to life in Germany is that you can get most places thanks to public transportation. We live in a decent size city outside of Stuttgart, Germany and can take a train and be in downtown Stuttgart in 20 minutes. It is fabulous. Plus, you never have to worry about who is going to be the sober driver.
Public transportation is convenient, easy to use and relatively quick. If you’re coming to Germany, knowing what to expect when taking trains or buses will help eliminate stress and allow you to focus on enjoying your vacation!
Download the App
This app saved me. I use the VVS app, which is for my area, and shows me the best route to take to get where I need to go and even has my credit card information so I can buy a ticket from there.
If you’re going to Berlin, the BVG Fahrinformation is the app to get. For Munich, it’s the MCC app. All work relatively the same. You just enter the departing location and the arrival destination. The app will then give you all the options of travel within the next hour.
A bonus of using the app, you get a small discount on the ticket price.
Utilize Google Maps
If downloading the app isn’t an option because you can only use WiFi, look up your route on Google Maps before you leave. Google Maps will show you the pubic transit option and then you can take a screenshot on your phone and then have it always. Make sure you know your stop closest to where you’re staying so you can easily ask someone if you get lost.
Buying a Ticket at the Train Station
If technology isn’t your thing, you can buy a ticket at the train station at an automated ticket counter. Many have the option to change the language to English, which is very helpful, as well. You just enter your destination, select the train you want to take, pay and take your ticket.
The biggest thing to keep in mind if you do purchase a physical ticket is that you have to validate it. You put your ticket into the machine and it stamps the date and time onto your ticket. This way it shows when you actually rode the train or bus and then it counts for one ride.
There are several different ticket options that you can purchase for your trip. When we travel to a different city for a long weekend, we usually buy a three-day pass so we don’t have to worry about buying a ticket each time we hop on a bus or train. It usually saves money in the end, too.
You can also buy per ride if you’re just hopping on after a night on the town.
Beware Ticket Patrol
When you take the bus, you need to show your ticket to the driver. When you take the train, there isn’t someone there checking tickets to make sure you have a ticket. Everything is on the honor system. There are, however, train employees who will check your tickets at random times. If you don’t have a ticket, they will charge you on the spot and it will be extremely expensive, like about 30 Euro penalty.
Overall, taking public transit is the easiest way to get around Germany. It is safer than before and there are police and security all around the stations and I’ve never had an issue. I really enjoy taking the public transit in Germany and spend time reading, listening to podcasts or studying German.
Do you take public transit where you live?