Getting around (by public transport)

28 May

If you can commute by bike to your job, why have a car? For a lot of expats the expense of buying, insuring and running a car in Germany, sometimes for the short period of time that you actually live in the country can prove to be unviable economically.

The good news is that Public transport, biking and walking will get you around for a fraction of the cost and shouldn’t even take you too much longer.


EC – EuroCity Express -These are the fancy grey trains you see at the station. These trains will connect with other neighbouring European countries. Best to book online for the best price, only get on this train if you have a specific EC ticket.

ICE – The InterCity Express – Again, these will be the fancy grey trains. Best for long trips  to cities as they travel nationally. They are expensive but you will change less and you can find offers sometimes on the D-Bahn. You will need a specific ICE ticket to use this train.

RE (Regional Express) – Look out for the red trains (generally, and sometimes double decker), they are generally very regular but as the name suggests travel regionally not nationally.

Regionalbahn – Your lovely basic local train, it will probably stop at every stop so can be slower than the RE. These are also red, think buses on a rails.

S-Bahn – Comparable to the RE but the trains can sometimes be pretty old, they are pretty regular though and good for the Erlangen-Fürth-Nürnberg trip.


Buy a ticket when you travel and buy it before you get on the train. Most train stations, will have an automated machine and bigger ones will have actual real live people to buy a ticket from old school style.

The Bayern ticket – This ticket is a wonderful wonderful thing.

  • You can, for the princely sum of 23 euro, travel throughout the whole of Bavaria (on train, tram,bus, underground) between 9am and 3am the following day Monday -Friday!
  • And 0am to 3am (27 hours) on Saturdays, sundays and on public holidays
  • And for and additional 4 euro each this ticket can be valid for up to 5 adults
  • Sign the ticket on the dotted line to make it valid and you may have to show the inspector ID too, to prove it’s yours, since these tickets are valid for so long a lot of people pass or sell them on when they are finished with them.
  • You can travel as far as Salzburg on this ticket!
  • For families, two adults can also travel with an unlimited number of children under 15
  • A ticket bought at a counter from a person will cost you an additional 2 euro
  • More useful info can be found  here on Toytown Germany

Tages ticket (Day ticket)

  • Buy on a Saturday and this ticket is also valid on the Sunday of that weekend too!
  • Valid on Train, tram, bus and U-bahn (all trains except the EC and ICE)
  • Solo -Valid for one person for the whole day until 3am the following day
  • Prices start at 3.70 euro and increase depending on how far in the region you want to travel
  • Plus – Valid for 2 adults and up to 4 children (under 18)
  • Prices start at 7.60 euro up to a maximum of 17.50 euro for a network wide ticket
  • On some services you may take your bike in lieu of a person using this ticket
  • Your dog travels for free

For any sizeable events that are going on in the region, special transport links will be available to get you to your destination. Events like the Frühlingsfest and Bergkirchweih for example have great public transport links and even special routes to get you there and back safely and efficiently.

The regional travel provider here is VGN (Verkehrsverbund Großraum Nürnberg) and they deal with everything that Deutsche Bahn doesn’t (basically). Their website is great for route planning, maps, local large events and is available in English! Their App is invaluable and free and gives you access to tickets cheaper than at a machine if you buy online, just show the conductors machine your QR code and your golden, get it.

I already blogged about my massive love for biking and how to go about buying a bike and using it as your main form on transport here so I won’t go through that again. And as for walking? well it’s safe and good for you, need I say more?

Happy traveling in Bayern and beyond!


3 Responses to “Getting around (by public transport)”

  1. Expat Eye May 28, 2014 at 9:05 pm #

    I’m already terrified of buying the wrong ticket, or forgetting to scan it or something – I hear they’re very strict! I hope I’ll be biking/walking mainly!

    • The Erlangen Expat May 29, 2014 at 11:09 am #

      They really aren’t too fierce, it’s the woman on the ticket desk I avoid like the plague! and most machines have an English option button until you get into the swing of it

      • Expat Eye May 29, 2014 at 11:16 am #

        I’ll just be super-careful until I get the hang of it!

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