One of the first, and most fun, things to do when you arrive in Stuttgart is find out how to get around! And luckily for you, Stuttgart has an excellent public transportation system with multiple options to get from A to B. We’ll take a look at these various transport systems, from buses to trains and the underground metro system! We’ll help you figure out how to travel quickly and affordably in no time.
Stuttgart is a city that is notorious among drivers for its car-unfriendliness. Parking can be a major hassle and many areas in the city centre are designed for pedestrians, so moving around the city solely using public transport isn’t a bad idea at all! You’ll have access to an extensive network of bus, train and metro stations that will easily take you from a to b in Stuttgart itself, but also easily take your further out, if you’re looking to explore Germany itself!
The most important and easily accessible means of getting around in Stuttgart are:
The Stuttgart S-Bahn railway system is a 200+ km railway system that serves Stuttgart and its surrounding districts. That means it services almost 3 million people, seeing an average of 435.000 travellers on weekdays and almost 130 million travellers a year! It does that with its 83 train stations across its 7 lines.
All seven S-Bahn lines travel under the downtown area to Schwabstraße. Three lines continue on to Vaihingen through a dual-track tunnel. This tunnel (Verbindungsbahn) creates a bottleneck in the system that limits train headways (the distance between vehicles in a transit system measured in time or space) to two and a half minutes, meaning that trains on each line can only run in 15-minute intervals. There are a number of expansions and improvements of the railway system planned scheduled to be finished sometime in 2025.
The operational hours are 1 train per hour (early in the morning and late at night). During the day, the frequency is increased to one train per half an hour, down to 1 train per 15 minutes during the rush hours.
Here’s a nice clean schematic overview of the Stuttgart S-Bahn and U-Bahn systems
The Stuttgart Metro Stadtbahn (known as the U-bahn) is the successor system of the tram network (called the Straßenbahnen) that was symbolic for public transport in Stuttgart up until 1985. The Stadtbahn metro network covers most of stuttgart with its 14 main lines. It has an impressive 203 stations divided over 257 kilometres of track. It’s one of the major transportation hubs with over 180 million travellers a year!
The Stuttgart Stadtbahn operates from 04:00 - 01:00, so there are only 3 hours without service.
For short distances, no public transport beats the bus! If you don’t have a bike and the weather would make a bike miserable, the bus will take you within strolling distance of almost any destination in the city! The Stuttgart city region is home to more than 100 city bus routes. On top of that, more or less all of them are connected to one or more of the subway and train stations, making it possible for travellers to travel between any two parts of the city. Most of the buses are low-floored, allowing relatively easy access for disabled travellers. They’re also equipped with Air-conditioning and information screens to help you figure out your next connection.
It’s not uncommon for people to bring their pets or their bikes along for the ride! The rules for doing this vary, however. If you’re bringing a guide or official support dog, they’re allowed onto Stuttgart public transport for free! If you’re bringing a large pet outside a carrier or your bicycle, you might need to purchase a children’s ticket. Additionally, you’re not allowed to bring bicycles onto a train during the rush hours I specified earlier.
Like in many cities, the public transport system is divided into zones. Thankfully, the zones around the city centre were simplified in 2019, turning the inner city into a single zone. You can view the zone map right here!
You can get tickets for the Stuttgart public transport at the machines found near train stations and transport hubs. Additionally, you can also purchase tickets online, using the Deutsche Bahn or VVS Stuttgart app. If you’re a student or professional, then there are also long term subscriptions available at a discounted rate. You can arrange these through your educational institution or employer.