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Public Transportation in Germany

"I made mistakes, so you don't have to."


 
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SUMMARY: Katelyn Moree ('22) studied abroad in Heidelberg, Germany for a year through an exchange program. She offers valuable advice on cost-effective yet safe methods of transportation around the country. "For less than 30 euros I was able to go to Paris and back for a weekend!" Find out how she budgeted for that.


By Katelyn Moree ('22)

1.pngDepending on where you are traveling, public transportation is a great resource to use! I studied abroad in Heidelberg, Germany for a year through an external program. I was abroad from August 2020 to July 2021. Heidelberg is a smaller town so there was no underground metro, but instead, there were buses, streetcars, and trains. For my everyday travel, I used buses and streetcars throughout the city. For further travel within Germany and even to neighboring countries, the train was my go-to.

In my time abroad, I really never needed a car! Buses and the streetcar got me everywhere I needed to go. For longer bus rides, even to other countries, I used a Flixbus. For less than 30 euros I was able to go to Paris and back for a weekend! Flixbus drives throughout Europe and offers another cheap travel option, although it does take longer than the long-distance trains. The long-distance trains I took in Germany were the InterCity Express (ICE) trains.

Time
Public transportation is so convenient in that they come pretty regularly, usually every 10-20 minutes. In my experience, it has been 10 minutes or less. However, this can vary depending on how many bus lines are running, the time of day, technical problems, extreme weather, and more. As it gets later in the afternoon/late night, the buses and streetcars don’t run as often. With the train, the same seems to be true. I have had many trains delayed or canceled due to technical problems, which is definitely an inconvenience but there is usually always another train leaving soon heading the same direction.

4.pngI always used websites and apps to check bus, streetcar, and train schedules. Since I was in Germany, I used the Deutsche Bahn (German Railway). In my travel experience to other countries, there are so many apps and websites you can find just by searching “town name bus/streetcar/metro/train schedule”.

Price
Looking at apps and websites can also help you find the prices of public transportation. One positive aspect of public transportation is that it is relatively cheap. Since I studied abroad for such a long time, I was actually given a student semester ticket by my program. The semester ticket lasted the entire period of the semester and let me ride the buses and streetcars within the region I was living in. The semester ticket I had cost 171 euros (about $186).

3.pngFor me and the amount of time I was there, the student ticket was definitely worth it. A single bus trip ranged from anywhere from 2 – 7 euros depending on how long the bus ride was. Using the bus and streetcar as a main form of transportation, bundle tickets are definitely worth it. They offer many different kinds of bundle tickets, including anything from weekend bundles to month-long tickets. I would recommend looking into transportation bundles depending on how long you will be abroad. Because I traveled within the country as well, I also had a train card. I bought a train card that covered me for the year I was there. The train card I chose offered me 25% off of all train tickets I purchased and also allowed me to be flexible with train tickets in case of delays or cancellations.

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The train card I had can be bought for as little as 60 euros a year. There are many different options, so I would recommend looking into it before going. Simply searching “the town/country + railway” should take you to a website where you can find multiple offers.

Long-distance trains can be more expensive depending on how far in advance you buy them and how far you are traveling. I would often ride the train for 3.5 hours to visit family in Germany and a trip could range from 20-60 euros depending on how far in advance I booked it and how full it was. If you are planning any day trips, I would definitely recommend looking at train schedules first so you can get the best deal!

Below are some apps and websites that could be beneficial!

Apps: Transit, Citymapper, Omio, Trainline, Rail Europe, Rome2Rio, Flixbus

Websites:

Overall, public transportation is a great option while studying abroad! Definitely take advantage of these modes of transportation!

Happy Traveling Dukes!

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Published: Friday, April 1, 2022

Last Updated: Monday, April 11, 2022

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