Germany — Transportation
Germany Taxis and Car Rental
Many visitors are surprised that most German taxis are Mercedes Benz. Licensed companies are cream or off-white in color and have a ‘taxi’ sign on their roof. Taxis are metered, with some routes having fixed prices, such as from downtown to the airport. Tipping is a must, usually 10 percent of the fare and the driver will charge extra for each passenger and piece of luggage. Taxis are generally not flagged down and have to be picked up at a stand. Outside the main cities, it may be necessary to call for a taxi. Taxis in Frankfurt are available from Frankfurt Ruf Taxi (+49-69-23-00-01) and in Berlin, from Taxi Berlin (+49-30-20-20-21-220). Taxis can become expensive, so using them for long-distance travel is not recommended.
Driving in Germany is easy, as roads are in excellent condition and are well-labeled. There are no toll roads and autobahns (highways) are wide and easy to drive on. Speed limits, when in place, are strictly enforced, so make sure to proceed within legal limits. In residential areas, speed limit is 30 kph. Most international car rental companies are present at the various international airports, as well as in city centers. Non EU-visitors must have an International Driving Permit to operate a vehicle in Germany. The driving age is 18, but rental companies may require the driver to be over 21 years.
Germany Trains and Buses
Germany boasts excellent train and bus networks, which are great ways to explore the country and cities. The Inter-City (IC) trains offer clean and comfortable, high-speed connections to all major cities in Germany, as well as to other European outposts. However, long-distance trains are not cheap and international visitors should look into obtaining a Eurail pass prior to arriving which allows for unlimited travel on German and European trains. There are also long-distance buses that offer cheaper inter-city connections and discount air carriers that may be a better option.
Most German cities have public buses as well as S-Bahn (street cars) and U-Bahn (metro trains). The transportation networks are extensive and well-connected, and a good way to explore cities. However, buying tickets is not always straightforward and visitors should obtain day passes to save on multiple trips in one day. Most German S-Bahn and U-Bahn systems use the ‘honor system’, so there is no monitoring whether riders have bought a ticket or not. Instead, inspectors randomly check passengers for tickets and fines are levied on the spot for non-ticket holders. It does not pay to ride the train without a ticket so if you’re unsure how to purchase one, ask a local for help.