Five do’s and five don’t’s on German public transport


1) Do stare Eye contact is avoided at all costs on public transport in the English-speaking world, but in Germany passengers love a good stare. It can be awkward at first but don’t be shy, look your fellow passenger in the eye and get ready for the staring contest. They’ll (probably) respect you for it. Photo: Flickr/Wolfgang Sterneck

2) Do have a drink
Drinking rules on public transport vary from city to city, but passengers tend to ignore the signs banning alcohol and drinks and do it anyway. In Berlin, for example, the M10 tram in has been nicknamed the Sterni-Express on account of the vast quantities of Sternburger Pils consumed by its passengers.
Photo: DPA

3) Do bring the right change If you’re taking the tram and don’t fancy being caught without a ticket, make sure to bring the correct change. The machines don’t accept card and getting them to take your notes can leave you tearing your hair out. On the U-Bahn ticket machines also dislike large denomination notes. Photo: DPA

4) Do sit upstairs
London may be home to the red double-decker bus, but double-decker trains in Germany are a novelty for British passengers. Go nuts and sit on the top floor. In Berlin sitting on the top floor of buses on the 100 route offers a great, cheap tour of the city’s main landmarks.
Photo: DPA

5) Do use the right door Get on the bus at the front and leave it at the middle. Otherwise you’ll be swimming against the tide and become a victim of the German fondness for telling off complete strangers. Photo: DPA



1) Don’t schwarzfahren As tempting as it is, travelling without a ticket, schwarzfahren, can land you with a costly fine. Glancing around the U-Bahn it is easy to presume that half the passengers haven’t paid. But trust us, they have. And although it might take a while before you are caught, when you are – and everybody sees – it’s pretty embarrassing and expensive. Photo: DPA


2) Don’t take your bike In most German cities you are allowed to bring your bike on public transport but don’t take it on at rush hour. You’re not supposed to and you’ll just get in everyone’s way… and probably receive a lecture from a rule-abiding passenger. Bicycles are also unwelcome on buses. Photo: DPA


3) Don’t ignore the homeless Providing shelter from the elements, it is not surprising that a lot of homeless use the U-Bahn and its stations. Buy a paper from a homeless man or leave them your empty bottles for the deposit. Photo: DPA

4) Don’t be scared of musicians German public transport is not short of musical entertainment – some good, some bad, some hilarious. Passengers’ reactions to it can sometimes be equally amusing and awkward. But the best way to get rid of them is to drop a few cents into the cup. Photo: DPA

5) Don’t expect to be given a seat Passengers are not always quick to give up their seat to the pregnant or the elderly. The rule seems to be: If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Photo: DPA


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