Germany is one of the most developed countries in Europe. It has an extremely well-connected transportation network that not only makes entire Germany accessible but also connects it to its neighbours. If you are an international student sudying in Germany, there are a number of transportation options to choose from, like the subways, intercity trains, buses, bicycles and more.
Good news is that Germany is very student-friendly and there are substantial discounts for students in local transport (buses, trains, trams). Most universities include local transport ticket as a part of administrative fee per semester. For instance, students Otto Von Guericke University Magdeburg can travel in the local buses and trams, within the city of Magdeburg, while the students of Ilemanau University are eligible to travel anywhere in the state. They can use the regional slow trains for intercity travel. Some times local transport can also mean specific cities. Students of Kassel University can travel for free to Paderborn and to Fulda in slow regional trains. Higher the administrative fee, greater the discounts!
You can also get Bahn card 25 or Bahn card 50 to avail 25% or 50% discount for local train travel.
Modes of Transport in Germany
Understanding which mode of transport to use for getting around Germany could be challenging, especially if you are an international student who is visiting the country for the first time. Hence, reading this article will give you a clear idea about the different transportation options for international students to get around Germany.
Source : Wikimedia
Like most of the countries in Europe, trains are the most preferred mode of transportation in Germany. There are plenty of options to choose from, depending on your location and the distance of the travel.
U- Bahn or Untergrundbahn is an underground transit system that operates only in Berlin and other metropolitan cities in Germany. According to a survey conducted in 2017, over a million people travel daily by U-Bahn.
The U-Bahn lines run underground and rise as they reach the ground. They operate on 10 lines indicated with a letter U which is followed by a number from 1 to 9 and 55. Currently, U-Bahn has a total of 173 operating stations and has a headway of 4-5 mins.
- S-Bahn/Commuter Rail
S-train or S-Bahn, like the U-Bahn, operates in metropolitan cities of Germany. S-Bahn, U-Bahn and bus services in Germany all have the same ticket. The system has a headway of 20-30 mins. It has several stops across major cities and some in the suburbs. It runs through major stations like Berlin, Munich, Stuttgart, Frankfurt-Mainz-Wiesbaden, Leipzig-Halle, Mannheim-Heidelberg-Karlsruhe, Magdeburg, and more.
Weekdays and Saturday’s see the highest frequency of trains and the least on Sundays and major holidays. The S-Bahn lines are indicated by the letter S followed by a number.
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Stadtbahn or light rail is an over the ground railway system operating mainly in the suburbs and some major cities. The Stadtbahn is slower than some rail services, however, is faster than Trams or Streetcars. Stadtbahn follows a predetermined path and as a headway of 10-20 mins.
The following train services are owned by Deutsche Bahn
- InterCity Express
InterCity Expresses are high speed, long-distance trains that run only through some major cities. These trains are perfect for students who want to travel from one end of the country to the other and prefer a train over an airplane for getting around Germany.
The InterCity trains run shorter distances compared to InterCity Express trains. They operate at a single rake rather than multiple rakes like the express trains.
EuroCity operates internationally between major cities in Germany and its neighbouring countries.
The InterRegio-Express is a regional train that connects cities like
Berlin, Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Saxony. As InterRegio-Express is considered as a local passenger train, you can travel in an IRE with a local ticket.
Nightjets are international trains for long-distance travel that run across various countries in Europe. Australian Federal Railways own it currently after City Night Line stopped its operation in the year 2016. These trains have sleeping couches, couchettes and seated carriages; some even have a special compartment for carrying cars and motorcycles.
Regionalbahns are local passenger trains that run in the rural areas of Germany. These trains halt at all stations in their designated line, except the ones that fall under the S-Bahn line. Thus, making them the slowest in the category of rail transportation for getting around Germany.
- Regional Express
Regional Express are local, semi-fast trains that connect the rural areas to metropolitan cities. They operate between Munich and Nuremberg and halt at fewer stations than Regionalbahn.
Source : EBUSCO
Road transport in Germany sophisticated and well-connected. They are efficient for intra-city and inter-city commutes.
- Bus Services
Germany’s autobahn system or the highway system is considered the best in the world. Therefore, you will find bus services everywhere in Germany from metropolitan cities to small town to rural areas for getting around Germany. All buses run at frequent intervals during daytime and rush hours and the frequency reduces gradually by evening. However, some cities do have their own night time bus services for those who work late nights.
Some of the major provider of bus services in Germany is Flixbus or Eurolines. Bus stops in Germany are indicated by a Green H with a yellow circle around it. The H stands for Haltestelle, which means bus or tram stops.
- Straßenbahn/Trambahn (Streetcar/Tram)
Straßenbahn/Trambahn or trams can be considered as a substitute for bus services for getting around Germany. They are faster than buses as they do not depend on roads and move independently on their own tracks. They operate both on ground and underground; the ones that operate on ground are also called as the tube.
All German cities with universities have taxi services; however, it is not practical for an international student to hire a taxi every day to get to university. Considering the excellent public transportation system in the country, students will have no problem getting around Germany at a reasonable price.
In case you decide to hire a taxi, you can easily do it online through a mobile application such as MyTaxi app, Ubertaxi or get one directly at a taxi rank. Taxi in German usually has a basic fare of 3.50 euros, which is then followed by a standard fare of 1-3 euros per kilometre depending on your location and the taxi service provider.
If there is a vehicle that the Germans love after cars, it is the bicycle. Be it going to work, or riding for fitness or just for getting around the city, you will find people cycling around. Although wearing a helmet is not necessary, it is always recommended to wear one for the purpose of safety.
Bigger cities have their own dedicated lanes for bikes for the safety and convenience of the rider. Cyclists need to equip their bike with white light and reflectors and must not enter autobahns at any cost. The rental cost for a bicycle from Nextbike, one of the popular bike companys in Germany is 10 euros per month, with a billing interval of 30 minutes.
With a vaid ticket, you can travel on any public transport in the city – U-Bahn, S-Bahn, trams and buses. You can buy a ticket for single use or as daily, weekly or monthly passes. At S- Bahn and U-Bahn stations, you can buy tickets from ticket machines on the platforms. In trams, you can get the tickets from the machines inside the vehicle. In buses, you have to pay the money to the driver directly to get your ticket.
Tickets have to be validated ahead of the journey. You have to get them stamped from the yellow and red boxes in the platforms at the stations. In trams and buses, the person who is in-charge validates the ticket manually. Be aware that, if you are caught travelling without a valid ticket you will be fined around 40 Euros.
Following are some basic road rules you need to follow :
For more details on traffic laws, visit the ADAC website :
This article aims to give you a brief idea abouth the different public transportation options available for international students for commuting in Germany. Reading this information will help you choose the right transportation and also plan your journey for getting around Germany. Though the article gives you an overview of the routes and ticket prices for different transports, we recommend you to refer the official sites like for the accurate price details.
Click on the link below to learn about the different accommodation options for students in Germany.