Munich is a beautiful place, with an even more beautiful public transport system. It’s well connected with timely and frequent departures. So let’s take a look at how it works, so you can explore Munich as soon as you arrive from the airport!
Munich has 7 different transport zones, but if you’re in or near the city centre, the large M zone is the most important. If you’re moving to- or from the Airport, you’ll be going into zone 5, for example.
Since you’ll staying in Munich for a while, a weekly or monthly ISARcard will be the best and most affordable option if you regularly use public transport to get around Munich. For students, the ISARcard is also available as a semester card.
If your use of public transport is more sporadic, a one-way or day ticket might be more down your alley. You can buy these at pretty much any ticket machine in Munich. If you’re using a day-ticket, make sure you validate them at the validation machines on any platform.
No matter which ticket type you use, it's going to be made out of paper (unless you get a virtual ticket). So be careful and keep it safe! Also, make sure you always bring your ID when you’re on public transport, in case you get checked by a ticket inspector.
The Munich S-Bahn is the train system that connects Munich and its districts with further away towns. It services over 150 stations over 8 S-lines, carrying over 850,000 people a day!
On weekdays, most trains run until 1 a.m., and start up again in the morning as early as 4 a.m. On Fridays, Saturdays and the nights before public holidays, trains are available all night. The only exception is the connection to Munich airport, which runs 24/7.
The S-Bahn trains are available every 20 minutes, down to every 10 minutes during peak hours. For the more outlying stations, the times might be different, with less frequent trains and wait times between 20-40 minutes.
The Munich U-Bahn is the city’s underground metro system made up of lines U1 through U8 (only U5 and U6 have sections that are above ground). It has close to 100 stops and runs from 4 in the morning up until 1 a.m. on weekdays. On weekends, the lines run until 2 AM, with exceptions for special holidays like new year’s eve.
Most U-lines will see a train at intervals of every 5 minutes during peak hours, but because some lines overlap, you can find a train to your destination as often as every 2 minutes during peak hours. Outside peak hours and in the evening your wait can increase to up to 20 minutes, so be sure to check your travel planner!
Due to its frequency and availability, the U-Bahn is probably the most flexible way to get around Munich over medium to long distances.
In the northern part of the city, you’ll find Munich’s famous bus and trolley tram system! The Munich tram network is made up of 14 daytime routes and 4 night routes servicing over 173 stops. With that many bus- and tram stops, this system is ideal if you need to get somewhere in the city with pin-point accuracy! So, get to the right district using the U-Bahn and then hop on a tram on bus to take you within a few minutes of your destination!
The 13 daytime tram lines operate from 4:45 a.m. to 1:30 a.m., departing every 10-20 minutes and the 4 additional nighttime routes run daily from 1:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. at a much-reduced frequency. The Munich buses follow a similar schedule, operating between 5:00 a.m. and 1:00 a.m., with night buses covering the main arterial routes outside regular hours.
Couple this with a monthly or annual ticket for the lines you travel most and you're all set to navigate Munich, even as an expat fresh from the airport!
In all major cities, the U-Bahn metro lines and the S-bahn train systems are the arteries that connect the various districts of the city. Munich is no exception!
You can either live in a nearby town and commute to Munich for your studies or work. This often means cheaper rent and spacious rentals. Or you could live in Munich and use the city's public transport system since parkimng or owning a car can be an expensive hassle. Either way, living close to the U-Bahn or S-Bahn is useful.
Before you find your new home in Munich, you need to know what kind of neighbourhood you want to live in and, more importantly, if it's nearby amenities like public transport, hospital, restaurants, etc. So, if you spot an appealing place, hop on Google Maps and make sure you use the following queries: ‘Public transport near me’, ‘Supermarkets near me’, and ‘Where can I have lunch near me’.
Lucky you! The Münchner Verkehrs- und Tarifverbund GmbH (MVV), the people running the show in Munich’s public transport have their own free app that allows you to plan your journeys, check departure times, delays and disruptions, and purchase virtual tickets. If you’re running into issues using the MVV app, the popular Öffi app is a good alternative, although it doesn’t offer virtual tickets.
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