Taking public transit in Germany is so easy, it’s amazing more visitors don’t take advantage of it. Yes we are married to our cars for their comfort and convenience, but making it a point to use one of the many buses, trams and trains here really makes you feel a part of German society and after all, it’s just better for the environment.
The vast network of high-speed trains (Deutsche Bahn or DB) makes it easy to travel long distances without a rental car. Tickets can be purchased online at www.bahn.de or at the main train stations.
But even for shorter trips around town, the city buses and trams can come in handy. If you’re visiting the Heidelberg area, you can plan your route at the Verkehrsverbund Rhein Neckar website www.vrn.de by inputting your departure and destination points from the home page. (A little German comes in handy here as the site doesn’t have an English option).
Depending on your preferences, the system comes up with a detailed plan, listing the bus, tram or train numbers, pickup times and overall travel time. There is also a great app you can download for Androids or iPhones, which can be quite useful if the bus schedule is conspicuously missing from its holder at the bus stop.
Check the VRN site for specials too, as they often run limited tram/bus combinations to large events like Mannheim’s Maimarkt in May and the Wurstmarkt in Bad Dürkheim in September.
A regularly priced single ticket on a bus or tram is €2.20 but if you purchase a pack of ten at a stationery store, you can get them for cheaper. These are good for a 90 minute period and you can make one transfer. Children under six years old ride free with you. If there are two or more people in your group, consider a Ticket 24 Plus for €9.30 which is valid for a 24-hour period for up to five people.
There are many other ticket options, including weekend passes and season tickets, so check out one of the blue ticket machines found at major tram and train stations or consult the website for more information.