Brian's Guide to
Getting Around Germany

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[!] Warning From 15 July to 14 December, the main rail line between Frankfurt and Mannheim will be closed for reconstruction. This will result in numerous service changes and likely delays. More details (in German) here.
Local Transport
Taxis and Ridesharing

This page last updated January 6, 2024


There are over 50,000 taxis in Germany, and using them is much the same as in most other locales.

German taxis are cream-colored with a black and yellow taxi sign on the roof. In the birthplace of the luxury sedan, it should be no surprise that a large number of the taxi fleet is comprised of sleek and plush Mercedes and Audis. For larger parties or payloads, you'll find equally comfortable minivans and station wagons.

As with many aspects of German life, the taxi industry is heavily regulated, so foreigners need not worry about "being taken for a ride."

Typical German taxi

Typical German taxi
(Photo by Brian Purcell)


Hiring a taxi
The best way to hire a taxi is to find one at a taxi stand. You will find these at major activity centers such as train stations, airports, large hotels, shopping areas, etc. Usually you will find several taxis waiting at these locations. Generally, you should hire the first taxi in the line, but you can pick any of them waiting at the stand, especially if you need a larger vehicle than the first one. If there are no taxis waiting, see if there is a "taxi phone" (Taxirufsäule) nearby. These call boxes will connect you to the central taxi dispatch office, which will then send a cab to your location. You will often also find taxi phones at transit stations and sometimes even inside trains so you can have a taxi waiting for you when you get off the train.

You can also order a taxi using your own phone. Every city has a taxi hotline — search for "Taxi-Zentrale" and the name of your city. In larger hotels, the concierge or front desk staff can also arrange a taxi for you.

Most cities now also offer online ordering of taxis through the web or mobile apps, with the "FREENOW" app being the most widespread.

Theoretically, you can hail a cab on the street, but most of the time, one of the previously mentioned options will be more reliable.

By law, taxi drivers cannot refuse to accept a customer for travel within the municipality or official local taxi tariff zone unless the customer is obviously excessively intoxicated, dirty, sick, carrying a weapon, traveling with an aggressive dog, or is appears unable to pay (many of those being obviously subjective.)

If you don't speak German and the driver does not speak English (which is a bit rare nowadays), the best way to tell the driver where to take you is to write the address on a slip of paper and hand it to the driver when you get in. You can read the fare on the meter when it's time to pay.

Taxi stand

Taxis queued at a taxi stand in Munich
(Photo by Brian Purcell)

All taxis in Germany are required to have a visible meter and fares are regulated by local laws within a designated local tariff zone (Pflichtfahrgebiet). Rates vary by city, but generally there is a €3-5 "drop charge" or basic fee (Grundpreis), then a rate of €1-3 per kilometer with slightly lower rates for longer distances (typically in excess of 2 to 5 kilometers.) Time spent waiting (Wartezeit, which includes waiting in traffic and at red lights) is also charged at a typical rate of around €0.50 per minute, with some cities allowing for a minute or two of idling free of charge and some with higher fees for longer waiting times.

Some cities have reduced fares if you're making a round-trip. Fares may also vary by time of day and/or day of the week.

For trips over 50 km, you must negotiate the fare in advance. International trips are permissible. The tax rate of 7% for trips of less than 50 km and 19% for longer trips is included in the fare, but must also be itemized separately on the meter and receipt.

Unless you specify the route, the driver is required to chose the shortest route.

In addition to the fare, taxi drivers are also permitted to charge an additional service fee for special services including nighttime (typically defined as 10 pm to 6 am) and Sunday or holiday service; transporting of baggage, animals, or of wheelchair-bound persons; courier service; and use of credit cards. Minivan and station wagon taxis also typically add a surcharge.

Taxis in Germany are almost always quite clean and well-maintained, and drivers are professional, courteous, honest, and knowledgeable. If you ever experience bad service, note the vehicle's number located near the meter and/or in the rear window (it might be a bit difficult to see through tinted windows) and report the experience to the local Taxi-Zentrale.

It's customary to tip 10% of the fare. If the driver was especially helpful, add a couple of Euros.


Despite its popularity in many other countries, ridesharing is rather limited in Germany. This is a result of Germany's transportation regulations and successful legal challenges from the taxi industry. Uber, for example — despite being a German word — has a very limited footprint in Germany, operating bare-bones service in just eight cities. And where they do operate, the pricing is often the same or sometimes even more than for a taxi.