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Germany at a Glance

Transportation and Driving in Germany

A move to Germany is your chance for expat life in a well-organized, modern country with a rich historical heritage and great regional diversity. Our InterNations expat guide on Germany provides you with all you need to know about favorite expat destinations, visa types, and transportation.

In the following you will find a short overview of the different modes of transport available within Germany. For more detailed information on driving, owning a car, trains, and various types of public transport, please consult our section on Transport and Driving in Germany

Driving

Germany offers a variety of beautiful old cities, historic landmarks, and breathtaking scenery. It is thus certainly worthwhile to take a trip across the country. Its geographical diversity in particular will amaze you, from the mountainous Alps region up to the vast flatlands of Schleswig-Holstein.

How you get around to seeing all these wonderful sites depends on you. Germany is famous for its Autobahn, where car fanatics can speed along without restriction. Were you aware that there are over 644,000 kilometers of highways and rural roads in Germany? Getting from one city to the next by car should not prove to be a problem at all. The road network is well-maintained and does not lack in traffic signs and signposts.

Taking the Train

If you prefer to gaze at the scenery while travelling through Germany, trains will be your best bet. The German train company Deutsche Bahn does not only serve tourists and Germans visiting other cities, but it is essential for thousands of commuters travelling to work every day.

This does not come as a surprise since there are nearly 42,000 kilometers of railroad tracks that zigzag across the country. The Bahn has become increasingly more expensive over the years. Fortunately, it offers some good alternatives in the form of group tickets or weekend fares or discounts on monthly commuter tickets.

It may also be more relaxing than driving a car for longer trips, as the different types of trains offer various levels of comfort. This depends on your budget, of course. Another positive aspect about the Bahn is that they often cooperate with other countries’ train companies, such as those of Switzerland or Austria, in providing special offers for cross-country trips.

Flying

The cheapest and probably most convenient way of travelling longer distances within Germany is, however, taking an airplane. There are over 540 airports throughout the country, and many of them serve larger airlines. This is also a good way to travel to other countries within Europe as well, as many international flights have stopovers in cities such as Frankfurt or Munich.

Public Transportation

The quality of public transport within a city often depends on its size, although smaller cities such as Nuremberg do frequently have good public transportation systems. Most of the larger cities in Germany have an extensive transport network. Berlin and Munich, for example, offer underground trains, trams, and buses to get their inhabitants from one end of the city to the other. Smaller towns usually only have one or two forms of public transportations (mostly buses).

These modes of transport are generally preferred to driving in cities, as time spent in traffic jams and looking for parking may take you twice as long. In addition, public transportation is comparatively cheap compared to current gas prices in Germany.

Things to Keep in Mind

If you want to bring your car to Germany, make sure to have it checked at a vehicle inspection agency beforehand. Many German cities now have environmental zones which may prevent certain cars from driving closer to the historical city center. Contact the ADAC, the German automotive society, in your city for a list of said zones. The ADAC is also a good address to get information concerning technical requirements and possible changes you need to make when planning on importing your car to Germany, while simultaneously offering support in case of accidents or technical emergencies.

Also be sure to think of which appliances you want to bring. The voltage in Germany is much higher than, for example, in the US and may ruin your electrical appliances. As a general rule, it is usually a better idea to travel light when moving to another country. Attempting to maneuver larger items through customs may prove to be a waste of time and money.

InterNations Expat Magazine