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Living in Germany, from Japan

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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 and owning a car, trains, and various types of public transportation, please consult our section on Transport and Driving in Germany

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.

Whiz along the Autobahn

There are a variety of transportation options, which can bring you to these wonderful sites. Germany is famous for its Autobahn, where car fanatics can speed along without restriction — at least on some stretches of the road. 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 traveling 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 journeying to work every day.

This does not come as a surprise since there are around 33,400 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, 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 international trips.

Planes: The Traditional Means of Arrival

The cheapest and probably most convenient way of traveling long distances within Germany as well as for getting there in the first place is, however, taking an airplane. You will find an airport in most major cities in Germany. 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.

Well-Organized Local Transportation Networks

The quality of public transport within a city often depends on its size, although even 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 (U-Bahn) and commuter rail systems (S-Bahn), 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 transportation (mostly buses).

These modes of transport are generally preferable 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 inexpensive.

Things to Keep in Mind When Bringing Things from Home

If you want to bring your car to Germany, make sure to double-check import regulations 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. With 230V, 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.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

InterNations Expat Magazine