Getting Around Nuremberg: Guide to Public Transportation

Train on Railroad Bridge Nuremberg Bavaria
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Getting around Nuremberg is pretty easy—if you’re coming for the Old Town, pretty much everything you need to access is within walking distance. However, if you’re exploring more far-flung corners of the town, the Ver­kehrs­ver­bund Groß­raum Nürn­berg (helpfully abbreviated to VGN) is both comprehensive and easy to to navigate in the city and within the region. Best of all, tickets work across the region, so you can use the four-pack of tickets you bought in Nuremberg as well as regional cities you might day trip to, like Bamberg. After all, the VGN has 746 routes, so chances are high it’ll get you where you’re going. 

As long as you know where you’re going—and even if you don’t, there’s a VGN journey planner to help—public transit is pretty easy to navigate, with flexible pricing structures for whomever you’re traveling with. In Nuremberg proper, there are three underground lines (U1, U2, U3), three tramways, four S-Bahn (local train) lines, and plenty of bus routes to take you where you need to go. The U2 line runs to the airport every 10 minutes with a journey time of 12 minutes. 

In general, the validity of a ticket is determined by the amount of time a ticket has been “active”—and that starts the moment the ticket is purchased. For most tickets within Nuremberg, they’ll be valid for 90 minutes (some are 60), and that means you can travel as much as you want, with as many stops as you want, in one direction for an hour and a half (you just can’t use the ticket as a return fare). While there’s no guarantee someone at a sale point will speak enough English to assist you with questions, travelers can download the VGN app or buy tickets online, either of which are available in English and also offer a slight discount over buying an in-person fare. 

If public transit isn’t an option, or if you’d rather use a cab, Free Now is a safe way to call a cab, manage a journey, and pay.

How to Ride the VGN

You can buy tickets on your mobile browser or with the VGN app, as well as at vending machines, from bus drivers, and other sale points—just keep enough cash on you for in-person transactions (if buying from a bus driver, have exact change). Tickets are good for buses, trams, the underground, and the S-Bahn, or local train. 

Visitors commonly have a few options to choose from with their tickets (all of which are priced below for travel within Nuremberg): 

  • Einzelfahrkarte: This is the one-way ticket, and it’s 2.75 euros for adults and 1.37 euros for children if you buy online, 3.20 euros and 1.60 euros respectively otherwise. It’s good for one person going one direction, with as many stops along the way as you’d like (you just can’t use the same ticket as return fare to get back again). 
  • Four-trip ticket: This fare, good for within local city limits, combines four single rides into one ticket. 
  • All-day ticket: The “solo” version of this ticket is good for one person for a full day or weekend and costs 8.30 euros. If you’re traveling in a group, you can take up to five more people with you for 12.30 euros.  
  • Hotel ticket: Available from the reception desks of many hotels in the region (though not all), this 10.80-euro ticket is good for unlimited rides for one person over two consecutive days—perfect if you’re just spending a night or weekend in Nuremberg. It’s only valid with a room key though, so be sure not to leave that behind. 

You’ll also want to keep the following in mind: 

  • While night buses and late-night S-Bahns and U-Bahns do run until late, not all branches of the transit system are available around the clock. Use the VGN journey planner (or download the app) to be sure that the route you’re looking for is available at the hour you need it. 
  • Day tickets are valid until either the last bus or train or until 3 a.m.
  • If you have a paper ticket, you must validate it at machines (usually orange) or face a fine. Ticket controllers are not known for giving special dispensations for tourists who forget this. 
  • Children ride for free until they turn 6; be sure to look for discounted fare rates if they’re older than that but not of adult age. 
  • Accessibility: Every underground station (designated by “U”) has at least one lift that goes from ground to platform level. Wheelchair users, if possible, should get in the first door behind the driver: On the U1 line, they can assist with boarding/departing the train; on the U2 and U3, there are automatic ramps at each door. Buses are low-floor busses and can “kneel” to one side. Wheelchair users should use the middle door and press the button marked with a wheelchair symbol so the driver can pull out a folding ramp for departure. 

To make sure you’re getting the right ticket for your journey, download a map and plan your route on the VGN website before you go.

Getting to and From the Airport

It’s easy to get from the airport into the city center—just hop on the U2, which goes through the main parts of town and pulls into the Hauptbahnhof (central train station) in just 13 minutes. From there, you can change to the U1 (direction “Fürth Hardhöhe”) and get off at "Lorenzkirche" or "Weißer Turm” to be right in the middle of it all. (All of this can be done on Fare Zone A.) 

Traveling Out of Town

The VGN runs both in the city center as well as to surrounding areas like Erlangen and Bamberg via the S-Bahn and R-Bahn. Be sure to check what fare zone you’ll be traveling to before your journey as these are generally far outside Fare Zone A (local travel) boundaries. Use the VGN app to plug in your starting point and destination, then purchase the correct ticket on there. 

BlaBlaBus and FlixBus, two reputable and popular cross-country bus companies, have domestic rounds within Germany that extend to major cities like Munich and Berlin, as well as smaller cities along the way. Each company has three departures daily and also have international routes available. 

Taxis

Free Now is one of the most popular apps for taxis in Germany, and it’s great for getting around Nuremberg if walking or transit aren’t options. You can download the app for free and book your ride. Then, select your vehicle type, tip the driver, and pay using the app as well. 

Taxis are available around the clock from the airport, and the approximate fare to get into the city is about 21 euros. Drivers are generally trustworthy and will have the meter visibly going, but if you have doubts, don’t be afraid to ask. 

Bicycle Rentals

Nuremberg is generally not very hilly, and if you don’t mind bumping along over cobblestones, it’s quite cycleable—in fact, the city has eight great bike rides planned for tourists that are clearly signposted and available in a brochure from the BürgerInformationsZentrum in the town hall in the central market square. Bikeshare programs are fairly inexpensive ways to go about sightseeing if it’s taking you from one part of town to another and you’d prefer fresh air to public transit. 

VAG-RAD has more than 1,500 bikes with about 32 standing locations around Nuremberg and its outer areas (you can use major credit cards to pay for your rides), with bikes bookable via its app. NextBike, another popular bike-sharing company in Germany, also offers a similar concept with the plus of being able to drop off and pick up the bikes anywhere you’d like versus having to return them to stands (it also accepts credit card or PayPal). 

Car Rentals

While public transit can likely take you many of the places you’d like to go in Nuremberg and its surrounds, car rentals are available through a standard array of reputable companies like Hertz, Europcar, Alamo, Enterprise, and Sixt, with prices starting around 20 to 25 euros per day. Starcar, a German-born company operating domestically, is also trustworthy, and offers discounted rentals that also include electric cars. Pickups and drop-offs are available at the airport, as well as in select locations in town (Enterprise’s branch is located in the city west, for example).

Tips for Getting Around Nuremberg 

  • Nuremberg, like other areas in Germany, is very safe, especially in the heart of the city and tourist areas. But use common sense: If you’ve had a few drinks or you’re unfamiliar with the town, and it’s late at night, take a taxi home. 
  • Many Germans speak great English, especially in popular tourist destinations like this. Nevertheless, be a courteous traveler and try to learn at least a few common phrases before you go. Don’t be surprised if you try out German and they answer you back in English—they realize it will likely save everyone time. 
  • Transit is a little sparse between the early morning hours, with quite a lot of it shutting down between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. or so. However, night buses exist and taxis operate 24/7 if you get caught out—download the apps when you arrive in town just in case. 
  • You generally won’t need to plan to rent a car unless you’re going somewhere very remote; the public transit system will get you to most major sightseeing points both in Nuremberg proper and in the surrounding towns. 
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