Public transport in Hamburg (HVV)

Marle

Sep 03 • 5 minute read

You're trying to find your way back to your WG (shared apartment) in Ottensen after barhopping in Schanze with your new friends? Luckily, the dense public transport network in Hamburg (HVV) takes you just about anywhere in no time at all. Did you know that our research shows that almost two-thirds of the internationals surveyed consider the infrastructure and transport in a new city to be their biggest challenge? We promise you, public transport in Hamburg will become your constant companion instead of your evil enemy.

We'll guide you through the public transport network in Hamburg and help you get around the city most efficiently thanks to the variety of means and the ease of finding your way with the smart HVV app.

Getting around in Hamburg

Sunday morning, 5 am: you finally take it upon yourself to get a taste of true Hamburg life and discover the famous Hamburg fish market (it’s truly for early birds: the fish market is open only Sundays from 5 am to 9.30 am). And to be fair, you don't have an excuse why you can’t make it there: after all you can get around Hamburg during almost any time of the day with the HVV underground (U-Bahn) and suburban railways (S-Bahn)! There are even buses and night buses running almost day and night at the weekend.

During the week, the public transport pauses between 1.00 am and 4.30 am; but after that, their bus, underground and suburban railway services are there for you!

As you can already see, Hamburg's dense public transport network (HVV) of the suburban train (S-Bahn), underground (U-Bahn) or bus will take you to nearly any place of Germany's second-largest city. Riding from eastern Billstedt to northern St. Pauli in 20 minutes? No big deal. Best of all, the distances in each district tend to be quite close, so you can even easily explore a district by foot!

By boat or bus: How to get around in Hamburg

Hamburg boasts more bridges than Venice, London and Amsterdam combined; 2,000 to be precise! So it comes as no surprise that the Hanseatic metropolis naturally integrated ferries into its extensive and efficient Hamburg transport network (HVV) in addition to buses, underground trains (U-Bahn) and suburban trains (S-Bahn). With this elaborate network, you can hop from the bus to the ferry and treat yourself to one of the finest Hamburg fish buns at Landungsbrücken at Dock 10!

Water Bus (Fähre)

Name any other city where water busses are connected to the regular public transport network (fine, truth to be told, Rotterdam competes here as well). In Hamburg you'll find a total of six different routes along with the port and the river Elbe; water busses take you to the Landungsbrücken (this is the exit to the famous Reeperbahn), Altona, the fish market, Fischreihafen and Neumühlen (your hub for summer days: Strandperle). You're starting your new job at Airbus in Finkenwerder? Then catch the water bus 62 in the direction of Finkenwerder for a bit of sightseeing on your daily travels to work!

Underground (U-Bahn)

104 kilometres of network, 4 railway lines and 9 stations; you'll notice: the convenient underground takes you right across the city. Its fast and dense system picks you up every 5 minutes, so you’re at your destination in a blink of an eye! The four underground lines are marked on the map in yellow, blue, red and teal colours.

Suburban railway (S-Bahn)

The suburban railway (S-Bahn) will be your constant companion when coming from the outskirts of Hamburg into the city centre. The S-Bahn offers six different lines that take you far outside the city as opposed to the U-Bahn. Going back to your home country for the weekend? Then catch the S-Bahn line S1 directly from the central station to the airport.

Bus

The dense bus network will take you home almost all day from Monday to Friday. Count on the night buses with the line 600 to 688 at night.

“StadtRad” shared bike service

In almost every big city (and even in small towns!), the German government has put in place bicycle-friendly bike paths on the streets. Therefore the transportation network in Hamburg (HVV) has launched its bike-sharing model "StadtRad". You'll find bike stations all over the city where you can easily rent a bike via the StadtRad app. For a one-time fee of 5 Euros per year, you can ride 30 minutes per ride for free.

How much does public transportation cost in Hamburg?

London has it, Amsterdam too and you can find it as well in Paris: Turnstiles that allow you to access public transport upon showing a valid ticket. You'll be searching for them in vain at public transports in German cities, including in Hamburg. You might even get the impression that public transport in Hamburg (HVV) is free.

The reality is: public transport isn't free in Hamburg either. Although you don't often run into inspectors, it's quite embarrassing if they show up and you don't carry a ticket with you. Inspectors form human chains in Hamburg at the exit of tram/ train stations, so if you don’t have a valid ticket, you'll truly have the full attention of embarrassment! Worth checking out the ticket options.

So, let’s walk you through your ticket options for the HVV:

  • Single or day pass: If you don't expect to use public transport too often, you can simply buy a single or day pass at the ticket machines (HVV Fahrkartenautomaten). With the vast network in Hamburg, you can then use it for all buses, trains and ferries. Tip: Day tickets are cheaper after 9 am! Get your tickets for the underground and suburban railway at the multilingual ticket machines (Fahrkartenautomaten). For buses, you still buy your ticket in cash from the bus driver.
  • Weekly/monthly ticket pass: Will the HVV (Hamburger Verkehrsnetzwerk) become your loyal partner in your new home? Then it is worth buying a weekly ticket or a monthly ticket as a subscription. After all, this will not only save you time every morning but also up to 20% each month! Simply order your subscription online, in the app or at a sales point (e.g. at the main station). Don’t forget to bring a photo with you!
  • HVV Card: The convenient HVV customer card allows you to buy a single, day or additional cards without cash. This gives you a 3% discount on your tickets! Or you can add your weekly and monthly tickets to your HVV Card. You can order them with ease online. You'll also need a photo to subscribe!
  • HVV Proficard: Are you kicking off your career with a Hamburg-based company? Then ask your employer whether they participate in the ProfiCard programme. With this "job ticket", you can then travel back and forth between your home and a job at a significantly reduced rate. And best of all, on weekends (Saturdays from 0:00 am to 6:00 am on Sundays) you can even take one person and 3 children up to 14 years of age with you free of charge and even travel on the entire HVV transport network.

So, which ticket do you want? Once you make up your mind, you can simply order your ticket online and you’re ready to explore your new home with its extensive HVV public transportation network!

Which zones do you have to pass through?

Agreed: public transport ticket zones remain somewhat confusing, even for local Hamburger. The cost of a ticket depends on the zone through which you want to travel. The public transport network in Hamburg (HVV) is divided into five zones, ranging from A (centre) to E (region).

Rings A and B (large area) allow you to get around in the city; ring C, D, E then extends up to 60 kilometres outside the city.

Just enter your destination at the ticket machine or the HVV app and it will determine the zone for you on its own.

Let the HVV App find you the most efficient route

Sometimes it's easiest to let your HVV App plan the route. Download the HVV App, which will help you find the fastest routes - and prevent public networks from becoming a challenge for you. So you'll be on time for the famous Hamburg fish market even on Sundays at 5 am!

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