How to use Public Transport in Germany without Schwarzfahren

How to use Public Transport in Germany without Schwarzfahren
© Pixabay

Getting around in a city you don’t know can’t be much easier than by just using public transport. Every major town and almost all the smaller ones have such a way of traveling without the need of an own car – is it by U-Bahn, S-Bahn, Stadtbahn, Tram or Bus. The varieties are wide in Germany, and quite often, you will find a mixture of many ways. But don’t miss to buy a ticket – otherwise “Schwarzfahren” (“riding black,” i.e. using the public transportation system without having a ticket) will get you in some trouble.

You need to be aware of local Rules in Public Transport

It can be rather confusing when you are visiting an unknown city for the first time, and you are trying to get a ticket for the Bahn. Whereas in buses you might or even have to buy it at the driver’s, using an U- or S-Bahn can assume a bit of preparation. For example, you should be aware of whether you have to devalue your Ticket before entering the train. As an example: In Berlin, you have to shove your card into a particular yellow machine on the platform before entering the train, in Hamburg, you don’t. It is valid from the moment you buy it.

But what happens when you get caught without a valid ticket? And how do they catch you? There are inspectors wearing uniforms, but also such who don’t. Don’t feel too safe while riding without a ticket when you don’t see any inspectors. They might occur out of nowhere. And don’t expect them to look like the average public officer. They try to look as inconspicuous as possible.

What happens when you get caught without a valid Ticket?

When they catch you, you probably won’t get out of the situation without paying a fee. The inspectors on public transport are used to people who try to talk them out of the situation. Perhaps as a stranger without any knowledge of the language, they might be lenient. Otherwise, 60 Euros will be your fee, payable cash or via transfer. But even if you have enough money, don’t get caught too often: They can give you “Hausverbot” which means that you are not allowed to use the public transportation in this city anymore. If you do, you may get in deeper trouble. Another bad idea would be to fake your identity when asked – it is fraud. So it is better to pay your fee. If you don’t, you can even go to jail.

Any free Public Transport around?

But what’s the deal about free public transportation? Some political parties, for example, Die LINKE in Germany, are willing to introduce it. But as of now, only one city in Germany where you could ride the bus for free is Templin near Berlin. The project thus was stopped in 2003 (here you can find the cities where this is still possible outside of Germany) So better save nerves and money and buy a ticket before you enter the Train, Tram or Bus. People will always be helpful if you just ask them how the system works in that particular city you. Don’t be shy!

5 Things you didn’t know about Driving in Germany

5 Things you didn't know about Driving in Germany
© Pixabay

Germany is known for its automobile-loving culture. From prestige cars like Porsche to the everyman’s Volkswagen, the Germans have claimed their place in any car lover’s heart. If you’re ready for a spin, make sure you know the following facts to stay safe and legal.

Can You Drive in Germany?

Germany accepts all international driving permits if your stay is temporary. EEA and EU license holders can usually keep driving after they become residents, though other licenses often need be converted. Check out this helpful page from the Federal Ministry for more details.

1. Compulsory First Aid Training for Everyone

In Germany, your path to getting a driving license is complex. It’s compulsory to show evidence of 14 hours of theory lessons and several driving hours with an instructor, depending on the driver’s experience level in different conditions (night drives and Autobahn drives for example). You may also have to complete a sight test, and after that it’s time to take the two driving exams: theory and practice. When you take a practical test, you will be accompanied by a driving instructor and the examiner, and have to complete a set of standard maneuvers like reversing, parallel parking and turning around.

All drivers are also required to complete the course Lebensrettende Sofortmaßnahmen, a modified first aid certificate for the road. This course is offered nationwide and teaches life-saving actions any driver can take in case of accidents.

2. There Are Speed Limits on the Autobahn

Most of my non-German friends believe in the legendary land of no speed limits: the German Autobahn. This is partly true as the Autobahn has no national speed limit, so you should prepare to witness some very high speeds. The law recommends a maximum speed of 130 km per hour (approx. 80mph), meaning you don’t break any laws if you drive faster but will be considered partly at fault for any accidents that may occur.

In reality, there are countless Autobahn stretches that do post a local Geschwindigkeitsbegrenzung (speed limit) which is absolutely compulsory, so remain vigilant and drive carefully.

3. All Our Sins Are Recorded in One City

Like many other countries, Germany operates a driving record system for offences like speeding, keeping no distance to other drivers, or running red lights. This system is officially called the Fahreignungsregister, but most people simply call it the Verkehrssünderkartei (traffic-sinner-register). All of a German driver’s sins are registered here, run by the Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt in the Northern city of Flensburg since 1951. When you hear a German friend referring to their “points in Flensburg”, they are talking about those notes on a driving record. If you’re planning to drive in Germany, get yourself up to speed on all penalties today.

4. Flashing Your Lights Is a Problem

In many countries, flashing your car lights at a fellow drivers is considered good road etiquette. You may be thanking them for letting you pass, or offering right of way. But when in Germany, hold back on those flashes and observe how other drivers use them. Flashing your lights indicates “you’ve got a problem” and may mean they’ve noticed a problem with your car or even that they’re just an aggressive tailgater.

5. You May Not Need To Drive At All

With a public transport system in the world’s top 10, chances are you never have to drive at all. Our country is connected by the Deutsche Bahn train network and each metro area boasts frequent and reliable buses, trams and commuter trains.

And if you’ve got a little time, discover Radnetz Deutschland, the national cycling network which connects every corner of the country to get you places in a healthy, environmentally friendly way.

Whichever transport method you choose, make sure you stay safe and respectful of other drivers. Gute Fahrt!

Live in Germany – Travelling between cities

Travelling between cities
© Pixabay

Germany has many beautiful places worth visiting. But besides the beauty of the country, it is also one of the largest in the European Union. So what to do if you are planning to travel Germany, to see as many places as possible and all this perhaps even in a very short time? Don’t waste time by making yourself an overview how to travel from city to city: Here you can get all the possibilities at once.

Travelling by Car

Germany is a nation of car drivers and also car manufacturers. The inventor of the car was German, just as the man who thought out the engine. You know BMW, Audi, Mercedes and of course the Autobahn. The last one is the reason why traveling by car is an excellent opportunity to come around in the Bundesrepublik. The country has one of the largest and also best-equipped highway systems in the world. You can get everywhere by using a car (watch Tom Hanks talking about his experiences on the Autobahn here). There are many areas where you can drive as fast as you want, and the Autobahn is (still) free of toll. So it is always a good way to get around very quickly – at least if you don’t get stuck in a traffic jam. As an alternative, you can also use the Landstraßen where you can see much more of the countryside.


If you don’t have an own car, there is the possibility to join a Mitfahrgelegenheit (car pooling). There are many different platforms like on the internet that offer those lifts. They cost about 5 or 6 Euros per 100 Kilometers.

Travelling by Hitchhiking

If you are on a low budget trip, hitchhiking can also be a possibility. Germans are rather open to pick up hitchhikers, and it is common to do. Also, it is mostly very safe to ride with a stranger. But beware: If you are hitchhiking on an Autobahn, only do it from the service areas. It is forbidden to catch rides on the Autobahn itself or the motorway slip. A sign with your direction can be helpful.

Travelling by Bus

A rather new way of traveling in Germany is the so-called Fernbus. These modern and comfortable buses connect almost every major city and also the smaller ones getting better connections every month. Those buses are equipped with Wifi and toilets, but can be very crowded on weekends. But after all, they are a cheap way of coming around. Of course, they are also delicate to get stuck in traffic.

Travelling by Plane

There are many international and even regional airports in Germany, but mostly only the long distances, for example from Munich to Hamburg, are worth flying. Germany is just too small to go by plane inside the country. There are cheaper ways that are also more environmentally friendly. If you are flexible and booking a few weeks before, you can get a domestic flight for about 120 Euros.

Travelling by Train

The German railroad system is very well established. There are not only regional trains but also high-speed trains called ICE that connect the major cities of Germany. Unfortunately, the Deutsche Bahn is rather expensive and has a very complicated pricing system. An excellent way to get a cheap ticket is to have a look on There you can get cheap tickets always from one week before the date of travel. If you are flexible and not fixed on Friday or Sunday, you can get a one-way ticket even all the way through Germany for 27 Euros.

This site uses cookies

By continuing to use our site you are agreeing to the terms of our privacy policy. You can review our privacy policy and edit your cookie settings.

Privacy policy
Scroll Up