Hamburg and it’s great means of transport?

Today another article supporting the Unofficial MathMods & InterMaths package. Hamburg is a great place to live. Green, multicultural and HUGE. Jorge wrote down some tips and info you will find useful when getting around and searching for the right means of transport. Muchas gracias Jorge!

Contributor: Jorge [Mexico]

Missing Italy already? Fortunately, Germany has its perks too. One of the first ones you will notice, with great pleasure, is the transportation system. Let me give you a brief guide about it.

DB Navigator

So, where to start? Download the “DB Navigator” app. This is not even a recommendation, it’s Hamburg Survival 101. It’s a truly wonderful app: you can choose where from and where to go, either stations that you know beforehand, specific addresses, or even your current position. You can also choose a specific expected time of departure or arrival, or a time range (such as “in 15 min” or “in 1 hr”). And voila, it will give you all the different options you can take, even the walking times between stations or stops and a map so you don’t get lost. Furthermore, you can download a route, which comes handy when you don’t have access to mobile internet. It’s really beautiful.

 Some Apps to download

So go ahead and download it, it’s totally worth it. I’ll wait for you.
Done? Ok it takes some time. We’ll get back to that later.


You’ve probably heard that stereotype about how Germans are very punctual. Well in this case it’s totally true. Even the buses operation goes like a clockwork. So no more excuse to be late to class!
The only main exception to this is: either they are on time, or they are not coming at all. That is due to one of the few downsides of transport in Germany: the strikes. They actually happen relatively often, mainly for the Regional Bahn. But don’t worry! There are always workarounds, and that’s thanks to…

Variety, Frequency, and Availability

You might actually feel a bit overwhelmed when you realize all the options you have. But once you get your feet wet on how each one works, you’ll move easier than a fish in the sea.


  • RB, Regional Bahn (regional train)
This a must for you. It’s the one in charge of connecting a city with outer regions, just like ARPA does in Abruzzo. So this is the main way to go from Rahlstedt to Hamburg and viceversa. Usually it passes every 30 min and it takes around 20 minutes to get to Hauptbahnhof (Hbf), the central station that you’ll get to know better than the palm of your hand. You’ll start to feel some affection for that route.
There are nine lines that can take you to nice places in the area within some bounds, e.g. Ahrensburg in the north.


  • S-Bahn, Schnellbahn (rapid train)
With 6 lines, this is the suburban train, perfect for middle distances, i.e. suburbs. Usually it passes every 10 minutes during the day, and every 20 minutes before 6:00 and after 23:00. Which is less often than the U-Bahn, but it makes less stops. Another important fact is that the connection to the airport is through the S1 without having to buy any special ticket, unlike many other cities.


  • U-Bahn, Untergrundbahn (underground train)
This is the proper subway/metro, with a better coverage of the city thanks to four lines with more stops and higher frequency. A very important line U3 (yellow), because that one goes to Schlump, which is the closest station to Geomatikum, where you’ll have most of the classes. Also this line forms a ring, which is actually an enjoyable ride through many touristy places, such as Rathaus, St. Pauli, or the harbour. Another important line is U1 (blue) because it goes through Farmsen station, where you can take Bus 26 that takes you to Rahlstedt. This is quite convenient when the RB availability is not optimal, e.g. during the aforementioned strikes.


  • Buses
In order to reach places not directly covered by the trains, there will always be a bus handy. For starters, your own residence. Although it’s a very nice walk from there to Rahlstedt Bahnhof (the train station), it’s good to know that Bus 462 makes that trip much faster, hopping on/off in Heckende station, right next to the students residence. You can easily identify a bus station by a round sign with a green H in a yellow circle, which stands for Haltestelle (stop).
Something great are also the night buses during weekdays, so you’re not stuck in the city. If you’re in Reeperbahn/Rathausmarkt/Hauptbahnhof and it’s too late for the RB, just take Bus 608 and it will comfortably take you back to your cozy bed in Rahlstedt. Sweet, isn’t it?
You can see more about these four transportation methods here:


  • Ferries
Yep, you read it right. You have access to the six public ferry lines, giving you the chance for a charming ride along the harbour and the Elbe river. Do you realize now how awesome that ticket is? Just make sure you don’t try to hop on one of the private ferries, unless you’re willing to pay. Nevertheless, it’s very easy to recognize the proper ones, since they have two digit numbers starting with 61 and, well, it’s easy to tell the difference.


  • Bikes
This one is not for free, but is worth mentioning. Hamburg has an excellent public bike system called “StadtRAD Hamburg” (CityBike Hamburg), with which you can take a bike in one of the over 80 stations and use it to move around, as long as you lock it back in another one of those stations. The first 30 minutes are free of charge, and afterwards you can pay per minute or per day. Hamburg is a highly bycicle-friendly city so you might want to give it a try. Additionally, try not to walk on the red lanes reserved for bicycles.


What about that app? It should be already installed. Isn’t it as good as I told you? I know, I know, you’re welcome. I felt the same when I got this information from the previous MathMods generation.


Because of the high quality of this whole system, tickets are not really cheap. Fortunately, students don’t get to worry about it. By now you should have already received your student ID and a ticket for one month. During the first month you’ll have to pay your semester fee, after which you’ll get the proper semester ticket. Take care of it as if it were your first child. And always remember to carry a personal ID, such as your residence permit, since the inspector might ask you for it. “Jorge” might not be the most German name but they’ll still make sure that that name in the ticket corresponds to my face.
Also, if for some unlikely reason you don’t get your semester ticket by May 1st, all you have to do is go to the HVV (Hamburger Verkehrsverbund, Hamburg Transport Association) offices in Hbf, explain them you need a weekly ticket in the meantime before the arrival of your semester ticket, and they’ll sell you a ticket with your name on it (hence, bring both the one-month ticket and you residence permit or passport). You do the same for the second week (and so on) if your semester ticket doesn’t arrive yet, which is very improbable. And once it does, you go to the HVV central stations offices, which are nearby (the people in Hbf will tell you the exact location), and they’ll refund you once you show them the weekly ticket(s), the new semester ticket, and your residence permit/passport.


So there are no excuses to go and explore such a beautiful city. Have fun!


A crazy happy hard-working passionate traveller, mathematician, yoga fan and cocker lover. Welcome to my world of a lame blogger, that didn't hire anyone to help to start with and is now going through all this fails and bails.. And as well welcome to this public piece of myself, where I keep my updates about travelling through living a happy life - mostly in a foreign language.

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About Mel

A crazy happy hard-working passionate traveller, mathematician, yoga fan and cocker lover. Welcome to my world of a lame blogger, that didn't hire anyone to help to start with and is now going through all this fails and bails.. And as well welcome to this public piece of myself, where I keep my updates about travelling through living a happy life - mostly in a foreign language.

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