The Germans are good at moving people around the country, and their public transport network is one of the best in Europe. There are many ways to move by transport, but the best ways to move around Germany are by train and by car.
Flights in Germany are only useful over long distances. If you do not fly from one end of the country to another, for example, from Berlin to Munich or from Hamburg to Munich, airplanes are only slightly faster than trains, if you take into account the time it takes to arrive at airports and back. The German government is also beginning to encourage travelers to miss short-haul flights in favor of trains. Most large and many small German cities have their own airports, and numerous airlines operate domestic flights within Germany. Lufthansa has the densest route network.
Germany has a wide network of long-distance and regional trains with frequent departures. They are quite expensive, but special offers are often available, especially if you book in advance. The Deutsche Bahn system is almost exclusively operated by Deutsche Bahn, whose website contains detailed information in English and other languages, as well as a function for buying tickets. Flixtrain offers low-cost trips on several routes.
Tickets for Deutsche Bahn trains can be purchased by credit card at least 10 minutes before departure for a surcharge. You must present the printout of your ticket, as well as the credit card used to purchase it. Smartphone users can register with Deutsche Bahn and download the ticket via the free DB Navigator app. Tickets can also be purchased at the vending machines and through the travel center at the stations. The latter f maintenance fees, but are useful if you need help with route planning.
Tickets sold on board are available at an additional cost and are not offered on regional trains. Agents, executives and vending machines usually accept debit and main credit cards. With a few exceptions (the station is not staffed, the machine is broken), you will be fined if you are caught without a ticket.
The German roads are excellent and driving on rough terrain can be a lot of fun. The pride and joy of the country is its 6800-mile network of highways (highways). Approximately every 30 miles you will find refined service areas with gas stations, bathrooms and restaurants, many of which are open 24 hours a day. In between there are stops (resting place), which usually have picnic tables and bathrooms. The motorways are supplemented by a branched network of federal roads (secondary roads of category “B”, motorways) and smaller country roads (country roads). There are no charges for public roads.
If your vehicle is not equipped with a navigation system, it is important to have a good map or road atlas, especially if you are talking about winding country roads. Navigation in Germany does not take place at the compass points, which means that you will not find pointers that say “north” or “west”. rather, you will see pointers that will show you the direction to the city, so make sure you have a map.
Driving in German cities can be stressful due to traffic jams, but also because of the costs and the lack of parking space. In city centers, parking is usually limited to parking lots and garages. Some parking lots (car park) and garages (multi-storey car park) are closed at night and are paid per night. Many have special parking lots for women, which are especially well lit and are located near the exits.
Buses in Germany are affordable and slower than trains, but the country’s long-distance transport network is being expanded. Regional bus services fill gaps in areas not served by rail. Since the bus network has grown significantly in recent years, it is easy, inexpensive and popular to travel around Germany by bus. The buses are modern, clean, comfortable and air-conditioned. Most bus companies offer snacks, drinks and free Wi-Fi on board.
Given the fact that Germany borders on two seas, and its internal territories are filled with lakes and rivers, you should not be surprised if at some point you find yourself in a boat. For basic transport, ferry connections are mainly used when traveling to or between the East Frisian Islands in Lower Saxony, the North Frisian Islands in Schleswig-Holstein, Heligoland, which also belongs to Schleswig-Holstein, and the islands of Poel, Rügen and Hiddensee in Mecklenburg–Vorpommern.
Regular boat flights run along the rivers Rhine, Elbe and Danube. There are also ferry connections to river sections where there are no or only a few bridges, as well as to large lakes such as Lake Chiemsee and Lake Starnberg in Bavaria and Lake Constance in Baden-Württemberg.
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Germans like to ride a bike, whether they are running errands, going to work, doing fitness training or having fun. Cycling is allowed on all roads and highways, but not on motorways (highways). Cyclists must observe the same traffic rules as cars and motorcycles. Helmets are not mandatory (even for children), but wearing them is common sense. Dedicated bike paths are common in large cities.
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German cities and larger cities have efficient public transport systems. Larger cities such as Berlin and Munich combine buses, trams, underground trains (U-Bahn, U-Bahn) and S-Bahn trains (S-Bahn) into a single network. Tariffs are determined by zones or the time traveled, sometimes by both. A multi-ticket strip or a day ticket usually offers a better price than a single ticket. As a rule, the tickets must be sealed when boarding so that they are valid. Penalties will be fees if you are caught without a valid ticket.
An inexpensive and sometimes environmentally friendly way to move around Germany with a private car is to share cars. It’s not Uber-style to share travel elsewhere; instead, you travel as a passenger in a private car in exchange for some money for gas. Most events are organized via free online message boards such as BlaBlaCar and ride-sharing. You can advertise the trip yourself or contact the driver who will go to your destination.
Taxis are expensive and are not recommended, given the excellent public transport, unless you are in a hurry. Taxis can actually travel slower than trains or trams if they get stuck in traffic jams. Taxis are measured and paid on a principle (flagfall) plus a fare per kilometer. These fees are fixed, but vary from city to city. Some drivers charge additional fees for taking bulky luggage or night trips. Smartphone owners can order a taxi via the Mytaxi app (it can be downloaded for free via iTunes or Google Play) in more than 30 cities in Germany.
Uber was not widely used in Germany after a court ruled in 2019 that it did not have the necessary licenses. While the matter is being tried in a higher court, Uber continues to work in seven German cities – Berlin, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich and Stuttgart – but, unlike some other countries, Uber enters into contracts with German taxi companies to offer its rides.