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Munich's U-Bahn and S-Bahn

How to buy tickets and ride the trains

From: Munich Guide: Transportation

U-Bahn station at Marienplatz

ABOVE: A U-Bahn train enters the Marienplatz station.

Munich's public-transportation system, the MVV, has two rapid-transit networks:

  • The U-Bahn, which is an underground or subway system for the city of Munich, with stations at or near such attractions as the Schwabing district, the major parks, the BMW Museum, the Allianz Arena, and the Oktoberfest grounds.
  • The S-Bahn, which serves both Munich and its suburbs. S-Bahn trains run between the city's two central railroad stations (the Hauptbahnhof and the Ostbahnhof), serve outlying places of interest such as the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial, and provide frequent transportation between the city and Munich International Airport.

U-Bahn trainS-Bahn train

The two systems are tightly integrated and use a common ticketing scheme. The most obvious difference between the two is the color of the trains: U-Bahn trains are blue and white; S-Bahn trains are red and white.

How to ride the U-Bahn and S-Bahn:

1 U-Bahn ticket machine

Buy a ticket.

You can purchase tickets from a vending machine in any U-Bahn or S-Bahn station.

Tickets come in four basic types:

Einzelfahrkarten, or single-journey point-to-point tickets are the most expensive. You can break your journey and use different modes of transportation (e.g., S-Bahn, U-Bahn, and tram or bus) if you wish. Within Munich, press "1" on the machine for a single zone; for longer trips, you'll need to choose a ticket for the appropriate number of zones. (See the explanatory text in the top left section of the machine.)

Streifenkarten, or stripe tickets, are cheaper than single-journey tickets. They can be used for multiple trips, or by several people at once. You validate one or more stripes per journey, depending on your destination and the number of travelers sharing the ticket. (Again, see the machine for instructions.)

Single-Tageskarten and Partner-Tageskarten, or single and partner day tickets, allow unlimited transportation from the time they're stamped until 6 a.m. the next day. You can buy them for individuals or for a group of up to five people.

Finally, the CityTour Card comes in one-day and three-day versions, for either the city proper or the entire Munich area. In addition to unlimited public transportation, it entitles you to discounts at many museums and other attractions.

2 Validate your ticket or City Tour Card.

Use one of the blue time-stamping machines near the station entrance. (If you travel with an unstamped ticket or card, you'll be subject to a hefty fine.)
3 Take the stairs, escalator, or elevator to the train platform.

You won't need to insert your ticket in a turnstile; once you've validated your ticket, you're on the honor system (although you'll have to show your ticket to an inspector if asked).
4 Check the electronic sign.

U-Bahn electronic sign

Signs above the platform indicate train numbers, destinations, and where to stand on the platform for the train (look for the overhead sector signs labeled A, B, C, and D).
5 Board the train when it arrives.

If necessary, press the button on the doors to open them, and let other passengers get off before you get on.
6 Exit the train on the left or right, depending on where the station platform is.

In a few central locations, such as the Hauptbahnhof, there are two platforms: you leave via the right-hand doors, and new passengers board through the doors on the left.
  For more information about Munich's U-Bahn, S-Bahn, trams, and buses, pick up a multilingual Hin und Weg in München brochure at the tourist office or visit the MVV (Munich public transportation) and City Tour Card Web sites.

Back to: Munich Travel Guide: Transportation


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