Getting Around Frankfurt: Guide to Public Transportation

Ebbelwei Express tram in Frankfurt

Ingolf Pompe / LOOK-foto / Getty Images

Frankfurt is a common entry point into Germany because of its major international airport. From there, visitors disperse throughout the country and into greater Europe, but hopefully not before discovering what Frankfurt has to offer.

The financial hub of Germany has elevated itself from a purely business reputation to become a top German city to visit. It has numerous attractions from its world-class museums to events like the illustrious Book Fair to its eclectic eating and apfelwein (German apple cider) scene.

Public transportation allows visitors to easily travel all over the city and is easier, cheaper, and often faster than a car. The system consists of the U-Bahn (subways), S-Bahn (commuter trains), trams, and buses. It's run by the Rhine-Main Transport Association (RMV) and Verkehrsgesellschaft Frankfurt (VGF), one of Germany's largest public transport networks. The system is well-organized, safe, and fairly punctual, but it takes some practice to get comfortable. Use our complete guide to Frankfurt's public transport.

How to Ride Frankfurt's U-Bahn

The U-Bahn (underground) operates partly below ground and often works in connection with the tram system. Trains run every 2 to 5 minutes within the city center. Frequency slows to 10 to 20 minutes after 8 p.m., and night buses take over from 1 to 4 a.m.

There are nine combined U-Bahn/tram lines and almost 90 stations:

  • U1–U3: These lines run from the southern railway station to the north of the city on one route, then split towards Nordweststadt (U1; red), Bad Homburg-Gonzenheim (U2; light green), and Oberursel (U3; dark purple).
  • U4 (Pink): Runs from western Bockenheimer Warte through the Hauptbahnhof (main train station) to eastern Enkheim.
  • U5 (Dark green): This is a combined tram and underground line from northern Preungesheim to the city center. It shares some underground stations with the U4.
  • U6 (Blue): Runs from Heerstraße in the west to Ostbahnhof (East Station) in the east.
  • U7 (Orange): Runs from the east in Hausen in the west to Bergen-Enkheim in the northeast.
  • U8 (Light Purple): Runs from northern Riedberg to Frankfurt-Süd. It shares tracks with U1-3.
  • U9 (Yellow): Starts from the north at Nieder-Eschbach to Ginnheim in Nordweststat on the shared U2 line, as well as the shared U8 line. This is the only line that doesn't travel through the city center.

Use the RMV website to plan your trip, find timetables (fahrplan), and real-time departure/arrival information.

How to Ride Frankfurt's S-Bahn

The city's S-Bahn or Stadtbahn (city train) is the local rail which runs primarily above ground from the city center to the surrounding suburbs and cities. The area around Frankfurt is densely populated and the S-Bahn offers easy access the outskirts of the city, as well as the surrounding cities like Mainz, Wiesbaden, and Hanau.

S-Bahns run as frequently as every 3 minutes during peak times, and every 15 to 30 minutes during the night or on the outskirts. Service starts at 4 a.m for some lines, with full service from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on all lines. The last S-Bahns leave Frankfurt at 1:20 a.m. The S8 and S9 lines run 24 hours a day. The tickets offer access to the S-Bahn as well as the rest of Frankfurt's public transport system.

S-Bahn stations can be identified by the green and white "S" symbol. Enter the platform and once you have a ticket, stamp it and board the S-Bahn. Maps are available on the platform and electronic boards provide info on the next arrival.

Frankfurt's S-Bahn covers 9 lines and 111 stations.

  • S1: Wiesbaden – Frankfurt-Höchst – Frankfurt – Citytunnel – Offenbach Ost – Rödermark-Ober Roden
  • S2: Niedernhausen – Frankfurt-Höchst – Frankfurt – Citytunnel – Offenbach Ost – Dietzenbach
  • S3: Bad Soden – Frankfurt-West – Frankfurt – Citytunnel – Langen – Darmstadt
  • S4: Kronberg – Frankfurt-West – Frankfurt – Citytunnel – Langen (– Darmstadt)
  • S5: Friedrichsdorf – Frankfurt-West – Frankfurt – Citytunnel – Frankfurt-Süd
  • S6: Friedberg – Frankfurt-West – Frankfurt – Citytunnel – Frankfurt-Süd
  • S7: Riedstadt-Goddelau – Groß-Gerau Dornberg – Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof
  • S8: Wiesbaden – Mainz – Frankfurt Airport – Frankfurt – Citytunnel – Offenbach Ost – Hanau
  • S9: Wiesbaden – Mainz-Kastel – Frankfurt Airport – Frankfurt – Citytunnel – Offenbach Ost – Hanau

For a complete map for the S-Bahn routes, visit the RMV website.

How to Ride Frankfurt's Buses

Buses fill in some of the gaps in Frankfurt's public transport system. All major routes are served by rail-based modes of transportation, but stops are closer together and buses can be a good way to orient yourself with the city. Where buses are most useful is in the north between S-Bahn stations and at night.

Bus stops are marked by a circular sign with a green "H." They often have a small shelter and electronic sign updating arrivals, as well as posted regular schedules and routes. Tickets can be purchased from machines at S- or U-Bahns or directly from bus drivers. If you have an ticket that is not time-stamped, stamp it with the machine near the entrance of the bus.

Night Buses in Frankfurt

Between the hours of 1 a.m. and 4 a.m., U-Bahns and S-Bahns have reduced or paused service and night buses replace those lines as they run 24 hours a day. Nachtbus lines have numbers beginning with "N." Tickets cost the same as daytime transport.

Tickets on Frankfurt's Public Transport

Regular tickets (einzelfahrt) cost 2.75 euros (1.55 euros discounted) and allows for travel on all forms of transport. Zone 50 includes most of Frankfurt, excluding the airport.

Tickets are time-stamped and valid for 2 hours of travel beginning immediately. It allows for unlimited transfers in one direction. For example, you can travel around the city on a single ticket for 120 minutes from the time the ticket was stamped, but you can't go in one direction then come back the same way. Children under 6 do not need tickets and reduced fare is available for children 6 to 14.

There are also other ticket options:

  • All-day ticket (Tageskarte): This costs just a little more than two single journeys at peak times. The fare is generally 5.35 euros (3 euros discounted). Tickets are valid until 5 a.m. the next day. Note that day tickets purchased at price level 3 valid for use in Frankfurt (fare zone 50) are not valid for travel to Frankfurt Airport (fare zone 5090).
  • Kurzstrecke: A short-trip ticket valid for journeys up to 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) away. It costs 1.85 euros.
  • Gruppentageskarte (all-day group ticket): This day ticket is valid for up to five people and costs 11.30 euros (16.60 euros for trips including the airport)
  • Frankfurt Card: For 22 euros, up to five visitors can utilize all the transport options for 24 hours plus travel from Frankfurt Airport or Frankfurt HBF, and get discounts on main attractions.
  • Wochenkarte (weekly pass): Valid for seven consecutive days.

Tickets can be purchased via touch-screen ticket machines (fahrkartenautomaten) in S-Bahn and tram stations, RMV outlets, or on the RMV app. The app can be used in English. If traveling inside Frankfurt, the red button "Stadtgebiet Frankfurt" purchases a basic ticket.

Machines have an English language option (as well as several others). Machines accept euro coins and notes (up to 10 or 20 euros) and chip-and-PIN credit cards.

You must be in possession of a valid ticket on public transport and it's largely on the honor system. However, you need to show a ticket when entering buses and when ticket controllers—both uniformed and plain clothes—ask to see your ticket by saying "Fahrscheine, bitte" (Ticket, please). If caught without a ticket, you are subject to a 60 euro fine and controllers are infamously unsympathetic.

Accessibility on Berlin's Public Transportation

Entrance to the U-Bahn and S-Bahn is barrier-free and escalators and elevators service most stations - but not all. At www.traffiq.de there is a list of all stops and stations that are barrier-free.

On trams and buses, look for doors marked with wheelchairs or strollers for the best cars for wheeled travelers. Frankfurt's tourism board offers information for barrier-free travel for visitors with disabilities.

Other Modes of Transport in Berlin

  • Taxis: Taxis are available throughout the city at taxi stands, airport and train stations or by reserving ahead. Taxis are cream with a “TAXI” roof sign. A Kurzstrecke option allows for short trips of up to 2 kilometers at a flat rate of 5 euros, while longer journeys cost 2 euros per kilometer (up to 7 kilometers, or 1.50 euro per kilometer after that).
  • Car Rentals: Renting a car is not necessary for travel within Frankfurt, but can be helpful for traveling around the country and exploring the world-famous Autobahn. Refer to our full guide on car rentals in Germany for more information.
  • Trains: Deutsche Bahn transports millions of travelers in Germany and beyond every day. The earlier you purchase tickets, the cheaper they will be. Regional day tickets, weekend tickets, or day tickets for all of Germany are offered so check for discounts.
  • Bikes: Biking is a good way to travel around Frankfurt. Second-hand bikes are usually inexpensive, although you should get a receipt as bike theft is rampant. If you only need a bike for a short period of time, use one of the many bike-sharing programs. Also note that bikes can be taken on Frankfurt’s metro system for free, but they may be refused during peak hours.

Tips for Getting Around Frankfurt

  • Public transport vastly slows between the hours of 1 to 4 a.m. Note that some lines still run during these nighttime hours, particularly the Nachtbus.
  • Though travelling by taxi in the city center is easy to do, there are times during major conventions (like the Frankfurt Book Fair) where finding a taxi can be near impossible.
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