Getting Around Hamburg
The best way to get around in Hamburg is by foot and the city's extensive and competent public transportation system. A suburban train (S-Bahn), a subway (U-Bahn) or a bus can take you everywhere your own two feet cannot. In fact, the system can take you from Hamburg Airport (HAM) into the city center with relative ease and for only a few euro. Taxis and MOIA, a ride-share service that operates similar to Uber, are available. Rental cars, though an option, are not recommended.
Many of the city's top attractions are located centrally and within walking distance to one another, so it just makes sense to stroll. And for the farther-flung sites, you can hop aboard Hamburg's über-efficient public transport system.
There are a variety of biking trails in Hamburg and the surrounding area. In fact, the Hamburg tourism website offers a variety of biking itineraries. StadtRAD Hamburg is the city's bike-sharing program, with more 220 stations around the city. A day pass costs 15 euros (or about $16.75).
Nowhere is German efficiency better exemplified than in its well-organized public transportation system, which includes a number of trains: the S-Bahn (suburban train), the U-Bahn (city subway), the A-Bahn (a farther-reaching suburban train) and the R-Bahn (a regional train). Hamburg is broken into different zones, by which the fare is calculated. Fares start at about 3.40 euros ($3.75) and tickets can be purchased at HVV stations. Visitors tend to stick with the U-Bahn subway trains, which connect with the S-Bahn trains out to the suburbs. A ticket is required for riding. If you're caught on the train without a validated ticket, you may be fined as much as 60 euros ($65).
Buses are another way to get around, and you'll find that the main bus station – Zentral Omnibus Bahnhof – is located right next to the main train station. Tickets are a couple of euro, except if you're traveling on the all-evening night buses, which are a bit more expensive. And you can buy these at HVV stations throughout the city or from bus drivers.
Hamburg is a watery city – with a river, a lake and numerous canals – all within its bounds. Accordingly, ferries are another way you can get around. The HADAG ferries (part of the HVV system) travel a number of different routes along the River Elbe. Ferries run more frequently during the summer high season than they do the rest of the year. You can purchase tickets in HVV stations.
You can hail metered taxis on the street, but you can also find them queuing up in ranks throughout the city. Official taxis are white and have a yellow "Taxi" sign on their roof. The meter starts at a little more than 3 euros ($3.30), and you can expect the 30-minute ride from the airport into the city to cost about 25 euros (around $28). MOIA, a ride-sharing service, is another option that can be accessed by downloading the corresponding smartphone app. It operates much the same way as Uber.
You'll find rental car agencies at Hamburg Airport, but in our opinion, driving adds unneeded hassle to a Hamburg trip. And why drive when the public transportation system is so good? If you do decide to drive, you can do so in Germany for up to six months without acquiring a German driver's license
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