Public transport in Karlsruhe - and beyond
Moving around Karlsruhe day-to-day - studying, shopping, leisure - is quite easy, as the public transport system with its trams and buses is exemplary. Indeed, the so-called "Karlsruhe model", a combination of tram and railway for regional transport purposes was developed here. Thus, you can use Karlsruhe trams not only for public transport within the city but also visit quickly and easily several nearby cities and leisure places in the Black Forest and Kraichgau area.
Limited semester ticket
The obligatory membership fee for the Studentenwerk (Students' Services) includes a limited semester ticket for the Karlsruhe Public Transport System KVV, which is valid from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. In order to use this, please print out the "KVV-Bescheinigung" after registering as a student.
Full semester ticket "Studikarte"
For an additional 151,10 Euros per semester students may purchase the "Studikarte", which allows students unlimited use of all public transportation in Karlsruhe and its surroundings for six months (September to February or October to March, and March to August or April to September). You can buy this ticket at the following places; please bring your CampusCard and student registration documents with you:
- International Student Center at the Mensa of the University of Karlsruhe KIT.
- KVV Centres
- Railway station
For those who do not want or need a "Studikarte": you can also buy individual tickets or day passes for different regions/zones at numerous ticket machines. You will have to validate your ticket upon entering the bus or tram, by putting the ticket into the validation machine. If you are caught without a ticket, you will have to pay a fee of 40 Euros.
Using a bike to move around Karlsruhe is a good alternative. There are special bicycle routes in Karlsruhe, parking is not a problem, and especially for students this is a cheap and easy way to move around. Used bikes are not too expensive - but a lock is a must.
For taking bikes on the tram, you do not need to buy a ticket. However, bikes are not allowed on the tram during the rush hour from 6 to 9 a.m.
Traveling for fun
Travel within Germany and western Europe is easy and, for the most part, pleasant. Distances are manageable. The most reliable and a very developed mode of transportation, especially in Germany, is the train. The German railroad is called the Deutsche Bahn (DB). The Bahn offers a discount card called the Bahncard, which gets you substantial discounts (25%, 50%, or even 100%) on tickets. You can pick up a booklet with all the city connections ("Städteverbindungen") at the Karlsruhe train station, and the DB website provides convenient information on fares and schedules.
Please make sure to purchase the ticket before entering the train. Depending on the type of train, it is not possible to buy a ticket inside the train, or there is a vending machine but you should have the price ready in coins, or you can buy the ticket but it is more expensive.
Another valuable ticket is the Schönes Wochenende Ticket, which is a great way for you and a group of friends to take a weekend trip at an affordable price. It costs only 39 Euros, is valid for one weekend day, and can be used by up to five people for all of Germany. However, it is only valid on slower trains (Regionalbahn, Regional Express and Inter Regional).
There are offers suited for different travel plans, therefore better get detailed information at the information center at the railway station, or at the DB website.
Another option for cheap travel in Germany is to use a "Mitfahrgelegenheit", which is essentially an organized carpooling system for the entire country. Here you can catch a ride with people driving to the same destination as you, and you only chip in on the price of gas (normally a fraction of a train ticket price, even with a Bahncard). For many foreigners, the idea of getting a ride with a complete stranger sounds dangerous or suspicious at first. However, this service is commonly used throughout Germany by all people, young and old. Portals are e.g. www.blablacar.de or www.bessermitfahren.de .
Alternatively, you can rent somebody's car via a carsharing platform.
Where to go?
At the Karlsruhe Stadtwiki, you will find some suggestions for excursions - and you can update them, too.
This is a fairly new and usually cheap alternative to train travel. There are various companies with different routes and services, as well as search engines for the cheapes provider, if you search for "Fernbusse". Long-distance bus companies in and around Karlsruhe include:
Student Agency, for bus routes in direction Czech Republic
Publicexpress, for bus routes in direction Netherlands
Orland Reisen, for bus routes in direction Poland
Miller Reisen, for bus routes in direction Russia
Eberhardt Reisen, for bus routes in direction Serbia
Onebus, offers routes within Germany and to Italy
FlixBus, for travel Germany-wide, as well as Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Italy, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Switzerland
Fernbus der Bahn, for travel within Germany
Eurolines, for travel across Europe
Also see www.checkmybus.de to compare fares.