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Expats shouldn't have any problems getting around in Munich. The city features a sophisticated public transport network and prides itself on a well-planned web of roads and highways (Autobahns) that make navigating the city smooth and easy.
That said, there seems to be constant road maintenance, and travelling by car can sometimes be a test of patience, especially during peak congestion.
Public transport in Munich
Munich has an integrated public transport system that consists of buses, trams, and U-Bahn and S-Bahn trains – so expats living in the city are spoilt for choice. While all public transport services in Munich are relatively efficient, they can be distinguished by their speed and accessibility.
The local transport authority Münchner Verkehrs- und Tarifverbund (MVV) operates an integrated ticketing system that covers all modes of transport. There are various ticketing options that include single tickets, group tickets and daily, weekly and monthly passes. Ticket prices depend on how far commuters need to travel, and they can be bought at any U-Bahn or S-Bahn station and various other outlets.
The U-Bahn is Munich's network of underground trains and the S-Bahn is the wider network of suburban trains. Most people use these services to commute to and from work on a daily basis. The main advantage of the U-Bahn and S-Bahn is that they're by far the fastest mode of transport. They're also very extensive and accessible from most places in the city.
Expats in Munich should find local trains to be comfortable, efficient and easy to use. They're usually on time and operate at regular intervals, with the schedule and frequency of trains differing according to the particular line.
Munich's bus network is also quite vast and it can be used to get to outlying suburbs that the S-Bahn and U-Bahn don't reach. Bus services are less regular than trains but most of the busier routes operate 24 hours a day. The frequency of buses varies according to the route and time of day.
Travelling by bus in Munich will give new arrivals the chance to see more of the city, but they are subject to delays caused by traffic.
Trams are another option for travelling around Munich. The city's tramway network consists of 13 daytime routes and four that run through the night.
Tram services operate every 10 to 35 minutes, depending on the route. While the tram network does cover a fairly large area, most people only use them to travel short distances.
Taxis in Munich
Taxis in Munich can easily be spotted by their beige colour and the yellow and black taxi sign on the roof. They can be found throughout the city centre at designated taxi ranks, hailed in the street or booked in advance – which is usually a good idea when travelling to or from the suburbs.
They're a viable option for travelling short distances in the city centre, but fares can add up over longer distances, so they're most cost-effective when travelling with a group.
Ride-hailing services such as Uber and Free Now are also a super convenient way to get around. Expats can simply download the app, link their credit card and start riding.
Cycling in Munich
Cycling is one of the best ways to get around in Munich. With more than 125 miles (200km) of bike trails, a good network of cycle lanes and bicycle rental outlets scattered throughout the city, it's safe to say that Munich is cyclist friendly.
Active expats will especially enjoy taking to the bike paths that run alongside the Isar River and through the city's leafy parks.
The downside to cycling in Munich is that, even though the authorities have strict rules in place for motorists and cyclists, accidents do happen. That said, cyclists caught ignoring traffic lights, cycling under the influence, or without a light while riding in the dark risk hefty fines and even detention.
While wearing a helmet isn't compulsory, expats are advised to wear one at all times.
Driving in Munich
Public transport is a popular and attractive option, but getting around by car has obvious benefits, including independence and ease of access.
Two distinguishing features of Munich's road network make buying a car a justifiable decision:
The Mittlerer Ring is a high-capacity road that encircles the city centre, making it easy to get around in every direction
The Autobahn is a network of multiple-lane highways that links Munich to other cities
These networks are effective, but the city is constantly maintaining its roads, so traffic jams are a common occurrence, especially during rush hour, which is usually between 7am and 9am, and 4pm and 6pm.
Parking, especially in the city centre, can be difficult to find. And unless their employers assign them a parking space at work, expats should bear in mind that parking fees can be quite expensive.
Driving in Munich can be a pleasurable experience, as local motorists are generally patient and courteous. But this is largely because the city is governed by strict traffic laws and the Polizei patrol the city – sometimes in unmarked cars – to make sure everyone sticks to the rules.
►See Transport and Driving in Germany for more on getting around
►For an overview of the city's neighbourhoods, see Areas and Suburbs in Munich
"The public transport is excellent, cheap and fast. Train, bus, underground train. I don’t need to own a car, but do or rather own a campervan, more for going away in the weekend. During the week, the campervan doesn’t get used at all." Read more of Phil's (a New Zealand expat) thoughts on expat life in Munich
Are you an expat living in Munich?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Munich. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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