ABELLIO (http://www.abellio.de) Bochum - Gelsenkirchen, Essen - Bochum - Letmathe - Iserlohn / Siegen
Albtal-Verkehrs-Gesellschaft (http://www.avg.info) Bad Wildbad - Pforzheim, Bruchsal - Bretten - Mühlacker, several lines through Karlsruhe
Altona-Kaltenkirchen-Neumünster Eisenbahn (http://www.akn.de) Eidelstedt / Norderstedt - Ulzburg - (Elmshorn - Altona / Hamburg / Neumünster)
Bahnbetriebsgesellschaft Stauden (http://www.staudenbahn.de) Gessertshausen - Fischach - Markt Wald, Günzburg - Krumbach
Bayerische Oberlandbahn (http://www.bayerischeober...) München - Lenggries / Tegernsee / Bayrischzell
Bayerische Zugspitzbahn (http://www.zugspitze.de) Garmisch-Partenkirchen - Grainau - Schneefernerhaus/Zugspitzplatt
Bodensee-Oberschwaben-Bahn (http://www.bob-fn.de) Friedrichshafen Hafen - Aulendorf
Borkumer Kleinbahn und Dampfschiffahrt (http://www.borkumer-klein...) on the North Sea island Borkum
Breisgau-S-Bahn-Gesellschaft (http://www.breisgau-s-bahn.de) Freiburg - Breisach, Riegel - Endingen - Breisach, Riegel - Gottenheim, Freiburg - Elzach
Brohltal Schmalspur-Eisenbahn (http://www.vulkan-express.de) Brohl - Engeln
Busverkehr Ober- und Westerzgebirge Bahn (http://www.bvo.de/bahn) Cranzahl - Oberwiesenthal, Radebeul Ost - Radeburg
Chiemseebahn (http://www.chiemsee-schif...) Prien(DB - Hafen Stock)
City Bahn Chemnitz (http://www.city-bahn.de) Chemnitz - Stollberg, Stollberg - St. Egidien - Glauchau, Chemnitz - Burgstädt, Chemnitz - Hainichen
Connex Sachsen (http://www.lausitzbahn.de) Cottbus - Görlitz - Zittau, Leipzig - Bad Lausick - Geithain, Görlitz - Bischofswerda - Dresden
Dessau-Wörlitzer Eisenbahn Dessau / Ferropolis - Oranienbaum - Wörlitz
Döllnitzbahn (http://www.doellnitzbahn.de) Oschatz - Mügeln - Kemmlitz, Nebitzschen - Glossen
HKX (https://www.hkx.de/de) Hamburg - Köln
InterConnex (http://www.interconnex.com/) Leipzig - Berlin - Rostock Warnemünde
Netinera Alex (http://www.mobil-mit-alex.de) Hof / Praha - Schwandorf - München / Nürnberg, Lindau / Oberstdorf - Kempten - München
German transportation runs with German efficiency, and getting around the country is a snap — although you'll need to pay top price for top speed. The most popular options by far are to rent a car, or take the train. If the train is too expensive for you, travelling by arranged ride-sharing is often a viable alternative in Germany.
All major cities are linked by DB's ICE InterCity Express and regular InterCity trains. ICE is a system of high speed trains going up to 300 km/h within Germany the top speed of 320 km/h is only reached in France, when going to and from Paris. Top speeds are only reached on newly built or upgraded parts of the network; on "old" tracks the ICE will only go as fast as regular IC trains. On most main lines you will arrive significantly faster than by car. Full-fare tickets are a bit expensive, with a one hour trip Frankfurt to Cologne, around 180km costing around €67 one-way normal price without any discount. However when you book the ticket on-line in advance, you can get a considerable discount see Discounts. Interrail or Eurail pass holders can use domestic ICE trains without supplement except for for international ICE trains.
Reservations are not mandatory, but are recommended at peak times like weekends or holidays.
Next are the regular InterCity IC and EuroCity EC trains. The latter connect the larger European cities and are virtually identical to the regular ICs. These trains are also fairly comfortable, even if they lack the high-tech feeling of the ICE.
On the major lines, an ICE or IC train will run each hour or so during the day, and even certain minor cities of touristic importance like Tübingen or Heringsdorf are connected on a daily or weekly basis. Before you shell out the money for the ICE ticket, you may want to check if it actually makes a significant time difference. There are also long distance trains operated by other companies than Deutsche Bahn, usually running over secondary routes. These are usually comfortable enough and sometimes considerably cheaper, but most of them stop at almost every station en-route.
In addition to being fast, modern and highly profitable, German railways are not known for delays, trains usually do not wait for one another most local trains normally do for up to 5min so you should not rely on connecting times of less than 15min.
Regional and local trains in Germany come in several flavors:
IREInterRegioExpress. The same as RE, but goes between two regions Bundesland.
RERegional-Express. Semi-express trains, skips some stations. On many routes, this is the highest available train category.
RBRegional-Bahn. Stops everywhere except that it may skip some S-Bahn stops.
S-BahnCommuter network for a city or metropolitan area but can travel fairly long distances. Only very few older S-Bahn trains offer the comfort of a toilet, which, however, often does not work.
Urban transportation systems are usually ran by local companies that are publicly held: these may include subways, city buses, light rail and even regional trains. In larger urban areas, the local companies will often form a Verkehrsverbund or VB integrated public transport system: you will be able to travel in and between all participating cities using the same tickets and fares. These urban transport networks are often but not always integrated with the DB network and Verkehrsverbund tickets are valid in local trains.
There are a few different locations where you can get your tickets:
On-lineThe engine will automatically look up the fastest connections. It will automatically offer the cheapest possible fare, including any applicable early-booking discounts in addition to the regular fare. Note that the fastest connections are not necessarily the cheapest ones - but you can exclude types of trains e.g. ICE to check for better deals.
Depending on the connection tickets can be obtained as a "mobile" ticket that can be downloaded to your smartphone app, "online" tickets that can be printed out at home and via mail. Since 2015 you can even show "online" tickets on a notebook or tablet screen if you didn't print them out, something that wasn't allowed before.
At a vending machineIf already at the station, find a new touchscreen ticket machine, tap the British Union flag, and then navigate through the menus. Like the on-line engine, they will automatically suggest the fastest routes, and credit cards are accepted. The machines sell all DB train tickets including some international tickets, network tickets and tickets for local VB. The new touchscreen machines accept credit cards, but the old ones do not. Ticket machines for the local Verkehrsverbund are yellow, white or grey. They can be used on all local transport in the area, including DB trains, but are not valid outside it. On secondary routes, vending machines placed inside trains are becoming a common sight, usually leaving smaller stations without vending machines. If a station is not equipped with a vending machine, you are allowed to buy your ticket inside the train. If there is no vending machine either, you are obliged to ask staff what to do: the same applies if the ticket machine is not working.
At a manned ticket counterHead to any major train station Hauptbahnhof and find the Reisezentrum. You will need to queue and some cheap on-line offers may not be available. It has become quite uncommon to buy tickets at the counter, because ticket machines are situated at every DB train stop - even at the smallest whistle stop. Still, if you need help buying a ticket, just go to the counter as staff there speak English and can be very helpful to new arriving visitors.
On the trainIf in a hurry, just run onto a ICE, IC or EC train and grab any non-reserved seat, then buy a ticket from the conductor for about 10% extra. Almost all conductors speak English. However, tickets are not sold on regional and local trains so you need to buy them at the station. Signs on the platform or on the train itself saying Einstieg nur mit gültigem Fahrausweis mean that you have to have a ticket before you board or pay €40 extra. Drivers on buses and trams, though, usually do sell tickets, but the assortment may be limited .
Now, if you're travelling on local trains, things can get confusing. The basic unit of confusion is the Verkehrsverbund VB, or "tariff union", which is basically a region around a large city or sometimes almost the whole Bundesland federal state that has a single tariff system. Those tariff systems can be totally different from city to city.Examples include VBB around Berlin and RMV around Frankfurt. Any travel within a single Verkehrsverbund is "local" and usually quite cheap; but any travel between Verkehrsverbunde requires either a special within North Rhine-Westphalia or the full DB fare and will usually be considerably more expensive. The catch is that DB trains often cross between Verkehrsverbunde with no warning at all, and your "local" ticket then stops being valid the instant you cross the invisible line.
With many local machines and old DB machines in the Frankfurt area, figure out the four-digit code for your destination, found on a panel of densely packed print nearby. Poke the flag button to switch to English, punch in the code for your destination station on the keypad, then hit the appropriate button in the left "adult" row below to pick your ticket. The first button is always one-way single Einzelfahrausweis. A price will be displayed: feed in your money (quickly, since the time-out is quite fast, and the machine will spit out your tickets and change. For new blue DB machines, select the local tariff union in the top menu, and the rest is easy.
If you buy a local VB ticket, you will usually have to validate it by time stamping it at the bright yellow punch machines located on platforms. If you have no valid ticket or an un-punched ticket, you will be fined as a fare dodger. Ticket validity varies randomly from one VB to another: usually, there is either a zone system the further you travel, the more you pay, a time system the longer you travel, the more you pay, or most commonly a combination of these two. Unlimited transfers between trains, buses, etc. are usually allowed as long as your ticket remains valid. Discounts may be given for return trips, and one-day tickets Tageskarte are usually cheaper and much less hassle that single tickets, although zone limits apply to them as well. You can often pick up brochures attempting to explain all this, usually with helpful maps, and occasionally even in English, at a local Reisezentrum ticket office.
Regional train tickets are point-to-point, with the destinations written on the ticket. They are valid only on trains but in North Rhine-Westphalia, they are also on certain other means of public transport, although for long-distance tickets, you may have the option to add on a local transport ticket at your destination for a few euro extra.
As standard fares are relatively expensive, there is a sometimes confusing set of special promotions and prices the rail companies offer at various times tests showed that even many railway employees at ticket counters failed to find the best bargain. Your best course of action is to check their website or to ask at a train station or their telephone hotline for current details. If you search a connection with the on-line timetable, it offers you automatically a most favourable discount for desired journey. Try several departure times as discount tickets are limited and may be sold out for your initial choice. If you plan to travel a bit more extensively, a BahnCard or rail pass may be the better choice.
Sparpreis are low-cost one-way tickets, that cost from €19 for journeys up to 250 km, or from €29 for longer journeys. The actual price varies according to the demand on various days and relations. You should purchase it on-line at least three days in advance. Use a Preis Finder in German to find a cheapest Sparpreis variant for your journey. The international version of this is call Europa-Spezial, which is available for certain connections to and from neighboring countries. These tickets are valid only valid for the connection indicated on the ticket and have a special cancellation policy.
Gruppe&Spar is a discount for groups of six or more people. Depending on the demand you can get 50-70% discount. For short journeys, the network tickets can be cheaper.
Children up to fourteen years travel free when accompanied by at least one of their parents or grandparents.
L'Tur L'Tur offers long distance tickets for €26 for off-peak trains. Note that like all other electronic tickets, for foreigners these L'Tur Tickets are only valid in combination with a credit card.
HKX, the Hamburg-Köln-Express - a train pretty much as fast as IC trains run by an independent company is sometimes way cheaper than DB trains - but only available on its route between Hamburg and Cologne via Düsseldorf and several towns in the Ruhrgebiet. Note that HKX trains skip Bremen.
If you plan to travel a week or two around Germany, there is a trick with Europa-Spezial that allows you to travel to several places with one ticket for 29Euro or 39Euro, if you book it some days in advance. Because of international regulations the only on the train booked-validity applies only to the train you cross the border with, but not for local trains used in Germany afterwards. The ticket itself is valid for two weeks, and you may interrupt your journey as often as you wish. So just find both a town close to the border in a neighbouring country to start, select a destination and book a discounted ticket that includes a stopover after the border and uses only local trains for the rest of the journey. After reaching that first stopover, you may freely travel on local trains as long as they go into the general direction of your final destination. Some conductors may be a bit suspicious, but the ticket will clearly indicate that it's valid for two weeks and that for the section where you use local trains the only on the train booked doesn't apply. Note that this only works when you travel into Germany from another country, not the other way round.
BahnCard (http://www.bahn.de/i/view...) is a good choice, if you plan to travel by train a lot. It's valid for one year from the date of purchase and gives you discounts on all standard tickets. Long-distance BahnCard tickets frequently do include one single journey on public transport in many destinations look out for City ticket. However, you have to keep in mind that once you sign a contract for the card, they will automatically renew your card at the end of its time period unless you cancel it in writing before the last three months of the card starts. The DB employees may not tell you about this stipulation when you buy the card, thus there's a petition against this practice online at change.org.
The BahnCard discount doesn't apply to network tickets, but some transportation networks do offer their own discounts for BahnCard holders.
BahnCard 25costs €61 reduces: €41 and gives you a 25% discount on all standard tickets. Spouses and kids of BahnCard 25-owners can get additional cards for €5. Bahncard 25 discount can be combined with the Sparpreis and Europa-Spezial.
Jugend BahnCard 25costs €10 and gives children and teenagers up to 18 years of age a 25% discount on standard and discounted tickets in first and second class. Unlike regular BahnCards it is valid for three years or until the young person turns 19, whichever comes first.
BahnCard 50costs €249 and gives you a 50% discount on all standard tickets. You can get this card for €127 if you're a pupil or student in Germany up to 26 years of age, a pensioner of more than 60 years or disabled.
A Probe BahnCard 25 is periodically introduced under varying names, and this entitles the bearer to the BahnCard 25 discount for themselves and, on occasion, up to four accompanying riders for four months and costs €29.
The German network tickets are valid for one day in all DB local trains S, RB, RE and IRE, local private trains and public city transport. They are often a cheaper alternative to single or return tickets, because on many shorter relations local trains are not much slower as long-distance trains IC, EC, ICE. Check the travel time at the on-line timetable and select the Only local transport button.
If you need a network ticket for long-distance trains, use some of european rail passes or German Rail Pass.
Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket translated as 'Lovely Weekend Ticket' lets you travel anywhere in Germany on a Saturday or Sunday until 03:00 the following day. If you have time on your hands, it is very inexpensive at just €42 for up to 5 people. The Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket is potentially an ultra-cheap form of long distance travel: You can get from Munich to Hamburg for as little as €8.40 per traveller, taking 12 or more hours, but still faster and more comfortable than taking the bus.
Quer-durchs-Land-Ticket is another one-day network ticket valid on working days 09:00-03:00 the following day. Ticket costs €44 for one person and €6 for every other up to 5 people.
If your travel is contained within a single Bundesland state, then you can buy a Länder-Ticket valid in one state, plus, usually, a few short links across the border. Time validity is 09:00 to 03:00 on the following day on working days and 00:01 to 03:00 the following day on weekends. Tickets begin at €22 for 1 person and €29 - €38 for a group of up to five people.
All network tickets can be purchased on-line and at ticket machines at railway stations. You cannot buy them from the conductor.
Some locals look for other people at stations to share a journey with to reduce costs there is a website for searching for a travelmate. Some even sell their network ticket for a discount after arriving at their destination to recoup some of their funds. In response, the German Railway now requires you to write your name on the ticket in order to validate it, thus making it harder to sell the ticket to someone else once your journey is over. However the conductor hardly ever checks your identity.
German Rail Pass (http://www.bahn.de/i/view...) allows for unlimited travel throughout Germany in all trains on 3-10 days within 1 month. There is an interesting "twin" discount for two people travelling together. The pass is available only for residents outside Europe, Turkey and Russia and you can purchase it on-line at the website above or from travel agencies outside Germany.
Eurail offers a pass for 3-10 days of travel does not have to be consecutive throughout Germany (http://www.raileurope.com...)
In many Verkehrsverbünde, you can carry a bike on a train with normal ticket without supplement at off-peak hours. For short journeys outside Verkehrverbund you can buy a bike supplement ticket for €4.50, valid on all local trains for one day. On long-distance trains the supplement costs €9 for a day €6 with BahnCard. On international routes the supplement is €10 for one journey, €15 for CityNightLine to France and Belgium.
On local trains you can carry bike usually in the open area near doors, especially in the first/ last coach of a train - usually the side without the locomotive. Long-distance trains have special section with bike holders. Follow up the bike symbols near the car door. Bikes are not allowed on high-speed trains ICE, Thalys, TGV.
There are several railways of special interest in Germany.
Rasender Roland on Rügen
Mecklenburgische Bäderbahn Molli in Bad Doberan
Lössnitz Valley Railroad
Wuppertaler Schwebebahn in Wuppertal, the world's oldest monorail
H-Bahn in Dortmund
Transrapid (http://www.transrapid.de/) maglev test track in Emsland
Cog railways are in Stuttgart, up Drachenfels, up the Zugspitze Mountain and up the Wendelstein Mountain.
For an almost complete list, see de:Sehenswerte Eisenbahnen in Deutschland.
Burgenlandbahn (http://www.burgenlandbahn.de) Artern - Nebra - Naumburg, Zeitz - Teuchern - Weißenfels / Naumburg, Querfurt - Merseburg, Merseburg - Schafstädt
Usedomer Bäderbahn Usedom/ Baltic Sea
Germany offers a fast and, if booked in advance, affordable railway system that reaches most parts of the country. Unless you travel by car, rail is likely to be your major mode of transport. Crossing Germany from Munich in the south to Hamburg in the north will usually take around 6h, while driving by car will take around 8h.
Almost all long-distance and many regional trains are operated by Deutsche Bahn "German Rail" , the formerly state-run railway company. DB's website, available in many languages, is an excellent resource for working out transport options not only in Germany generally all modes except air travel; bus, ship and branch line timetables being incomplete but also pretty much anywhere in Europe train and a few selected long-distance bus routes only. An interesting gimmick is the carbon dioxide emission comparisons for different train journeys.
The turnstiles known from underground rails in London, New York, Paris and many other big cities in the world do not exist in Germany. This means nothing and noone will tell you your ticket is not valid in the moment you get on the train. On most trains some kind of staff will come around more or less randomly to check you have a proper ticket.
On long distance trains they are easy to spot with their uniforms. On IC, EC and ICE trains it is possible to buy a ticket from the conductor for cash or Credit Card but no other cards!.
In all other trains you are usually in deep trouble if you board with no ticket - unless there is one of the rare onboard ticket vending machines which have to be used immediately after boarding. Inform whether you have to validate stamp your ticket when boarding the first means of transport at a machine on board or at the platform, or if the ticket is already pre-validated. If you have to validate it, it is invalid without the validation stamp. If it is pre-validated on purchase, and you use it after the validity period starting with the purchase has elapsed, it will not be valid for your travel, even if you insert it into a validation machine and stamp it that way. Even more confusing might be that there are transportation companies which use both "systems" at once; whether your ticket is pre-stamped might depend on the machine where you bought it, or on your selection of the ticket type on the machine touchpad e.g. "use now" vs. "use later". Even Germans who travel in a city about which they do not know such details may get confused, so be advised to ask some official staff or at least a local in any case of doubt.
On local trains or S-Bahn anything is possible: There may be uniformed conductors that usually do not sell tickets, inspectors that resemble doormen at a club and also may throw you out or they are simply "stealth" casually dressed "passengers". The 'stealth'-inspectors should show a ticket inspector ID before starting their checks.
Make 100% sure you have the right ticket before you get on a train because some ticket inspectors are very strict in particular with foreign looking and youngster passengers.
Whatever happens, in no case, any ticket inspector may expel unaccompanied kids below 18 from a train. This applies especially at remote stations during nighttime. If this happens to your kid call the police!
Ride-sharing or pre-arranged hitchiking - MFZ is popular in Germany and the fare for a ride is often much cheaper than the railway fare.
There are several websites which put drivers offering to share their vehicles in touch with passengers willing to share the costs of that journey. Popular websites are Mitfahrgelegenheit, blablacar, mitfahren.de, Fahrgemeinschaft, Mitfahrzentrale, bessermitfahren.de, raumobil.de or hitchhikers.de.
Shared rides for trips by train can be arranged, too so as to take advantage of group discounts.
Offline agencies like Citynetz (http://www.citynetz-mitfa...) or ADM (http://www.mitfahrzentralen.de) do have offices in major cities, mostly near the city centre or the main railway station. These offline agencies do charge a commission to the cost for fuel you need to pay for the driver.
It is possible to hitchhike in Germany and most Germans speak basic English, so you will be understood if you speak slowly. Drivers rarely expect you to give them any money for the ride. The first letters of the German number plate before the two seals indicate the city in which the car is registered. If you know the code for your destination (http://de.wikipedia.org/w...), it will increase your chances of stopping the right vehicle.
It is illegal to stop on the Autobahn itself, but hitchhiking from service areas or petrol stations is a good way of getting long rides 100-200 km. The hard part is getting onto the Autobahn, so it pays off to sleep near the gas stations if you are going far. At the gas stations, you can get a free booklet called Tanken und Rasten with a map of the Autobahn and its gas stations. When getting a lift, agree with the driver where to get off, and make sure there is a gas station. Try to avoid the Autohofs.
Another form of hitchhiking available in Germany is to share group tickets on regional trains. To hitch a ride with other travelers, first figure out which regional transportation you will need to take in order to reach your destination, and which group discounts are available. Then you ask people seemingly doing nothing at the ticket machines around 20 minutes before regional trains between major stations depart, they may be willing to share a ticket with you.
Consider finding a group through the "Mitfahrzentrale" or similar services mentioned above in advance, many people list their travel plans online.
Domestic flights are mainly used for business, with the train being a simpler and often but not always cheaper alternative for other travel. The boom of budget airlines and increased competition has made some flight prices competitive with trains to some major cities. However make sure that you get to the right destination. Low-cost airlines in particular Ryanair are known for naming small airports in the middle of nowhere by cities 100km away e.g. "Frankfurt-Hahn" is actually in Hahn, over two hours away by bus from Frankfurt city.
The following carriers offer domestic flights within Germany:
Lufthansa Germany's traditional flag carrier has cut down domestic and inner-european routes - keeping only those that feed its international hubs at Frankfurt, Munich and Düsseldorf and turning the rest of the domestic network over to its low-cost subsidaries Germanwings/Eurowings. Lufhansa is a member of the "Star Alliance", and still offers a few anemities that the discount carriers don't have.
germanwings/eurowings germanwings' operations are currently being taken over by eurowings and being rebranded is Lufthansa's low-cost subsidary with an extensive domestic and european network. The carrier is not part of an alliance, but is integrated with Lufthansa's "Miles and More" program. The airline also offers "premium" fares which include access to Lufthansa's lounges.
Air Berlin is the second biggest German airline and also flies to most airports in Germany with hubs in Berlin-Tegel, Düsseldorf and Nuremberg. Luggage and standard services are also included in the fares. It is a member of the Oneworld airline alliance.
Cirrus Airlines(http://www.cirrus-world.de) Focus on smaller business traveller routes within Germany and Europe. Close cooperation with Lufthansa on selected routes.
OLT(http://www.olt.de) Selected niche routes in Germany with base in Bremen, serving eg: Borkum and Helgoland.
InterSky(http://www.intersky.biz) Small but well-kept airline with few routes in Germany and Europe, based in Friedrichshafen near Lake of Constance.
By Recreational Vehicle And Campervans
German campgrounds like most others in Western Europe usually offer a full range of amenities. You always have your own electricity hookup, and water and sewer hookups for each are common,. Every campground has restrooms and showers as well as kitchens, washing-machines and a spin dryer.
The yellow pages of camping, or, if you like, the German camping bible, is the ADAC Campingführer, a campground guide by Germany's largest automobile club ADAC. It lists almost all campgrounds along with prices, type of location, size, opening hours, amenities, you-name-it. Since the guide uses lots of symbols which are explained in a number of languages, it is suitable for travellers from abroad, too.
In 2012 the Germany liberated the market for long distance buses. A law, which was designed to protect the national railway, had previously restricted long distance buses mostly to services from and to Berlin.
Since the law was repealed, lots of new bus services have been created and are fighting for their share of the market. This often means great deals for travellers, even though the pricing can be somewhat confusing at times. Only time will show which of the you companies survive and how prices will turn out in the long run. The major contenders, some of them just founded in 2013, include:
FliXBUS Connects most towns and cities in Germany, in addition to providing international services
ADAC Postbus By the Deutsche Post in cooperation with the automobile club ADAC
BerlinLinienBus A company owned by DB, mostly going from & to Berlin
Onebus.de Privately held company operating two routes across Germany
EuroLines / Touring Before 2013 this company already offered serious long haul connections eg to England, Spain or Ukraine.... Now they also offer domestic bus routes.
Megabus now offers a sizeable domestic network in Germany in addition to its international services.
The major routes are connected by several companies, partly in a intense competition. Apart from the above mentioned companies, there are often regional operators as well. The prices tend to vary a lot, comparison websites help to identify the best offers, try busliniensuche.de or busticket.de
As many companies are relatively new, they don't always have coaches with their own logos painted on them - they often charter buses from other local bus companies. Also, bus stop are partly in a bad condition or barely noticeable. Be sure to check the exact location of the bus stop in advance.
Apart from these, there is a very dense network of regional and local bus lines. In rural areas, though, many lines run only once per day. Regional and local express bus line designators usually contain the letters CE local, E regional around Hamburg; in other areas, E is used for special runs, S regional, SB regional and local or X local within Berlin, city bus line designators may contain the letters BB "Bürgerbus", not integrated within tariff unions, C or O. Always check the departure boards carefully: sometimes, especially at night or in rural areas, you have to order your bus by phone.
Germany has a world-famous network of excellent roads and Autobahnen motorways with no toll or fees for cars trucks have to pay, but gasoline prices are kept high by taxation. As of November 2015 prices float around €1.30 per litre for petrol 91 and 95 octane, and around €1.10 per litre for diesel. Oddly, normal petrol and "super" is the same price in Germany. At petrol stations, you have the choice between Diesel, Benzin 91 octane, not very common, Super 95 octane, Super E10 95 octane also, but higher share of biofuel; inquire with car rental or petrol station since it might damage your car and SuperPlus 98 octane or Ultimate 100 octane. Also, LPG liquefied petroleum gas is available with few problems on highways. Here and there, you might find "Erdgas"; this is compressed natural gas not gasoline. In Germany, you may first fill up your tank and pay afterwards only if the petrol station is staffed, of course. Some stations will not release the fuel to pump unless you pay first or at least hand over a credit card in advance.
Fuel stations situated at the autobahn are quick and convenient and usally accepts international debit/credit cards, but as a rule, fuel is generally more expensive. Less expensive are stations announced as "Autohof" at Autobahn exits, which are situated a kilometer or less from the exit and often also provide cheap, mostly low-quality food for professional drivers. You may also save a few euros by filling up your car at fuel stations situated in smaller cities or on the countryside - just be aware that small petrol stations does not always accept international debit/credit cards, so keep some cash on hand!
All German airports offer car hire services and most of the main hire firms operate at desk locations
Car hire and pool cars are also available in most cities, and one-way rentals within Germany are generally permitted with the larger chains without an additional fee. When renting a car, be aware that most cars in Germany have manual gearbox stick-shift, so you might want to ask for a car with an automatic gearbox if you are used to that type. Drivers with an endorsement in their licence that restricts them to driving automatic transmission vehicles will not be allowed to rent a manual-transmission car.
Most car rentals prohibit having their cars taken to eastern European countries, including Poland and the Czech Republic. If you plan to visit these countries as well, you might chose to rent your car there, as those limitations do not apply the other way round.
Another great way to get around without your own car is using one of the popular carpool services. You can arrange many connections over their respective websites if you speak some German or have a friend that can help you out. Making contact is free of charge and getting a lift is often the cheapest way to get around. The two most popular hosts are Mitfahrgelegenheit (http://www.mitfahrgelegen...) and Mitfahrzentrale (http://www.mitfahrzentrale.de), for second one you have to pay an extra charge. If you have your own car, taking other people is also a great way of saving money and protecting the environment.Another very good site is (http://www.verkehrsmittel...) which compares different means of transportation.
All foreign licences are accepted for up to six months or 12 months for a temporary stay only, but a translation may be necessary. If you want to continue driving after this period, you must obtain a German licence. These rules do not apply to driving licences issued in EU member states.
Traffic LightsTurning right on red is only permitted when there is a sign with a green right arrow on the traffic light. Traffic lights flashing yellow are out of operation. Driving through the lights at red carries a fine up to €200.
Passing only on the leftOutside urban areas, and on any Autobahn it's forbidden to pass on the right, except in slow-moving congested traffic. In cities, you may pass other cars on the right on multi-lane streets.
Mobile phonesUsing, or even picking up, your mobile phone for any purpose while driving is forbidden, unless you use a hands-free set.
ChildrenChildren under 12 years of age, who are shorter than 150 cm approx. 59 inches have to use a child safety seat. The seat has to be appropriate to the child's height and weight and must be approved by the EU. For older children, booster seats are sufficient.
Cyclists and road markingsNormal road markings are white. Yellow road markings invalidate any existing white markings, observe the yellow markings. Cyclists often have dedicated cycling lanes, either on the road or the sidewalk, and have the right of way when you are turning into their lane. Watch out for cyclists going in the "wrong" direction as well.
Pedestrian crossingsStopping at "Zebrastreifen" literally "zebra stripes" is mandatory when there are people waiting to cross the street and German drivers virtually always stop. Accordingly, many pedestrians will not wait for the car to stop before they use the pedestrian crossing.
Traffic PoliceIf you get pulled over, stay calm and friendly, and hand over the driving license and car papers when asked to. It is common in Germany although not mandatory to call the police for even minor accidents to have them fill out an accident report. This report is sometimes needed for insurance purposes, e.g. when using a rental car.
The 'alcohol limit is 0.05% 0.5‰ (permille), and zero for anyone under 21 or holding their license for less than two years. Even below the limit, you may face severe fines if you seem unfit to drive.
Speed limitsare the following in Germany unless otherwise shown:
5 km/h on "Spielstraßen" marked by a blue/white sign showing playing kids, pedestrians have priority 30 km/h in most residential areas within cities marked with a "30-Zone" sign; 20-Zone and 10-Zone also exist 50 km/h inside towns and cities including "Kraftfahrstraßen" (marked by a sign showing a white car on a blue background, except where another speed is indicated) 100 km/h outside towns and cities Then, there is the famous Autobahn. And yes, there is no general speed limit here, just a "recommended" speed of 130 km/h the same goes for "Kraftfahrstrassen" with a barrier between the lanes. However, you still have to obey the posted speed limit, if there is one. Also, the lack of a speed limit is no excuse for reckless driving, and you will be held liable if you cause an accident by going too fast. Autobahn speed limits are the same for other roads with at least two lanes per direction and any road signed as a motor vehicle road only, also called expressways.
Very often speed limits are enforced by automated speed cameras, and it is illegal to have any "detection" device with you, which includes GPS devices which warn you about static cameras. While fines for severe infractions can be substantial, they are usually lower than in most neighboring countries.
Only vehicles with a maximum speed of more than 60 km/h are allowed on the "Autobahn" or "Kraftfahrstraßen".
Low emission zonesAll cars driving into a low emission zone Umweltzone need a badge Feinstaubplakette indicating their pollution category. This also applies to cars which are not registered in Germany. Badges come in green, yellow, and red. Signs marking the zones--typically the central parts of a city--show the colours allowed into the zone. Entering without a badge is fined even if your vehicle is eligible for the badge. Unfortunately the police often have no qualms pulling out and fining foreign drivers who didn't know about that scheme.
If you rent a car, make sure it has a Feinstaubplakette. If you travel in your own car, you can buy your badge for a small fee from vehicle registration offices, technical inspection organizations such as TÜV you can request a badge online or Dekra and many car repair shops.
German drivers tend to drive faster and more aggressively than you might be used to, especially on the parts of the highway system without a speed limit, which is taken literally.
Some people will drive really fast and expect everyone else to accomodate them by getting out of the way. They may flash their headlights and aggressively drive up to you if you are "in their way". In that case, stay calm. Let them pass as soon as you can, but don't be bullied into unsafe maneuvers. You can set your right indicator to tell them that you are planning to leave the left lane as soon as you can.
While most passenger vehicles have only a recommended speed limit of 130 km/h 80 mph, some buses have a speed limit of 100 km/h 62 mph, and most vehicles towing a trailer, along with buses in general and non-passenger vehicles with a gross weight of greater than 3.5 t 3.8 short tons, are limited only to 80 km/h. Some newer trailers have a speed limit of 100 km/h.
Before switching to the left lane, make very sure no one is coming up from behind you. Remember, people there may be up to 100 km/h faster than yourself.
Road signs on the Autobahn show possible destinations mostly city names. They do not show the direction of the road east/west, unlike in some other countries. However every odd-numbered Autobahn will go north/south e.g. A49, whereas the even-numbereds go west/eastwards. Furthermore single digit Autobahn numbers indicate a very long Autobahn such as the A7 which goes from the border to Denmark all the way down to the Austrian border.
An important phrase to know is bei Nässe, which you will see written under some speed limit signs. This means that the speed limit indicated applies only when the road is wet. Some limits have Lärmschutz - meaning that the speed limit is in place, usually for a short distance, to reduce the noise pollution from the road.
You must not pass vehicles on the right side, except in a traffic jam. Also, you are supposed to use left lane only for passing other vehicles: The rules of the road state that you must return to the right lane when possible. However, if the Autobahn has three or more lanes, you can stay in the middle lane as long as there are a few slower vehicles on the right.
The emergency lane is to be used only for real emergencies. If you stop for "avoidable" reasons including 'out of fuel', the police may fine you when they find you. If you are in an emergency: Make sure you are safe. Leave the vehicle and stay off the road including the emergency lane. Then set up your emergency triangle and call help from the nearest orange emergency phone. The small arrows on the posts will guide you. You may also use your mobile, but the emergency phone will transmit your position.
In some areas, emergency tracks are used as extra lanes in times of heavy traffic. This is always announced by electronic light signs.
In case of a breakdown, you may also call the ADAC, the world's largest automobile club. The number is +49 180 2222222 from fixed lines and 22 22 22 from mobile phones regardless of network. On the Autobahn, the ADAC must always come to you free of charge, and you don't have to become a member either. In other situations, there may be costs involved if you're not a member. If you're a member of a foreign AA or automobile club, you may want to check if the ADAC honours your membership.