In Bavaria, it is easy to get around your city thanks to reliable, easy-to-use public transport. Bavaria is also extremely safe, making walking and cycling great travel options. And with an extensive network of regional trains and several large airports close by, you’ll easily be able to explore the region and visit other countries.
Bavaria is well located for international travel: it has several airports close by—including Munich, Nuremberg, Memmingen, and Frankfurt as well as a broad network of trains. Once you arrived by plane, you can easily continue your journey by train and can reach all university cities comfortably within a maximum of two and a half hours.
Travel within Europe is also very easy, thanks to freedom of movement regulations. You will be able to travel abroad for short-term research stays and business trips without hassle. If you are living in Bavaria on a residence permit and you are planning a longer stay outside of Germany, you should inform the local Foreigners Office (Ausländeramt) of your trip so that you can reenter easily.
Train travel is very common throughout Germany, and in Bavaria you can get almost anywhere by train. Whether you are looking at a quick weekend getaway or a longer city-to-city break, trains are a comfortable—not to mention green—way to travel. If you want to do more than just a daytrip, it is a good idea to plan in advance. This is because last-minute tickets for long-distance high-speed trains tend to be expensive.
The best place to start your ticket search is through the Deutsche Bahn’s official website. Here, you will find all the information you need regarding schedules, routes, and bookings.
Seat reservations are not automatically included when you book a ticket but you can book seats for a small additional fee. On some long-distance trains, it is even possible to reserve a family compartment where there is space to store a pram and your children can play.
Bavarian cities have excellent, safe, and easy-to-use public transport networks. Trams, buses, and trains are all good options, whether you’re on your way to the lab or doing your weekly grocery shopping. Underground trains might be the quickest way to get from place to place, but trams and buses offer a far more pleasant (if slower) way to travel around the city.
Depending on which city you move to, there might also be night trams and buses—these are a safe way to travel home late at night. To better plan your journeys, download your city’s official local transport app.
As a PhD candidate enrolled at a Bavarian university, you will be able to get a semester ticket that gives you access to local public transit. Students can also take advantage of other special offers on regional and international travel. University employees sometimes get special rates on year or month passes for local transportation. Check with the Welcome Center at your university to see what your university has to offer to staff, professors, and postdocs in Bavaria.
You will quickly notice that bicycles are an important part of life in Bavaria and are very popular. Many people use their bikes to commute to work or to get around, and most cities have extensive bike paths and special lanes for cyclists on larger streets. You can even take your bike on the train (but you’ll need a ticket for your bike, too). Most cities now offer bike-sharing services, making it easy to rent a bike if you don’t already own one.
If you decide to use a bicycle, you should be aware of German traffic regulations since you will often be sharing the street with cars.
With extensive public transportation and well-marked bicycle lanes, you’ll be able to take a break from driving. But if you have been dreaming of driving on the Autobahn, make sure you have a valid driver’s license before you arrive. Driver’s licenses are expensive here and require driving lessons that are quite time consuming.
Even if you are not planning on driving much, having a valid driver’s license is still a good idea. You will certainly need one if you want to rent a car or use a car-sharing service. If your license is from an EU or EEA country, it should be valid in Germany—ask the local authorities about any special restrictions. Licenses from other countries are valid for six months. After that, you will need to convert your driver’s license to a German one or apply for a six-month extension (if you are just staying a year).
Depending on where your license is from, you may need to provide certain documents (along with German translations of your documents) and perhaps take a written test and/or a driving exam. If you plan to stay longer and own a car, you will need to arrange car registration and insurance, which are mandatory. Check with your local licensing office for specific details.
- Right-of-way: This rule is very literal in Germany. Vehicles coming from the right have the right of way. You have to stop for them—unless another sign tells you otherwise. That goes for bikes and cars.
- Check your blind spot: With so many cyclists on the roads, it is very important for drivers to check their blind spot when entering traffic or switching lanes. Don’t just turn your head to check—go ahead and turn your shoulders too! It’s called the Schulterblick (“shoulder glance”) in German.
- Stop at red: Pedestrians in Germany take traffic signals seriously. Usually people wait for the green pedestrian signal even if there are no cars in sight—and especially if there are children present.
- At pedestrian crossings, cars must give pedestrians right of way.