The HVV, Hamburg's public transportation system, includes the U-bahn (subway), the S-bahn (commuter train), ferries, buses, and express buses (which cost an additional €1.90). Distance determines fares; a single trip costs €3.10 for longer journeys (such as the airport into Hamburg’s main station); €2.10 for shorter distances (for instance, from St. Pauli or Altona into the center of town); and €1.50 if you’re only traveling a couple of stops. If you’re planning to make multiple trips about the city, then you may want to get the Tageskarte, or day pass, which for an adult and three children under 15 costs €7.50 when purchased before 9 am and €6 after that. An €11.20 Gruppenkarte is the best option for those traveling in a group. A group of five adults can use this card after 9 am on weekdays and all day on weekends.
Tickets and passes are available on all buses and from vending machines in every U- or S-bahn station. HVV is partially based on the honor system. You only need to show a ticket to the bus driver after 9 pm and all day on Sunday, but not on trains or ferries unless asked by a ticket inspector during random checks. Those caught without a ticket are fined €60 on the spot. Subway and commuter trains run throughout the night on weekends, but stop running around 12:30 am during the week. After that, night buses (Nos. 600–688) take over.
Information is available in English on the HVV website. The trip planner function gives the times, prices, walking directions, and maps for each journey. If you don't know the address of a site, you can simply type in the name of the popular destination, such as "Hamburg airport." Prepared commuters can buy tickets and passes from the website and print them out, or use HVV’s smart-phone app
Don't be afraid to take the bus. Buses have dedicated traffic lanes, and most of their stops aren’t too close together, so travel tends to be fast. It’s a good way to see more of this beautiful city.
Hamburg's intercity bus station, the Zentral-Omnibus-Bahnhof (ZOB), is located diagonally across from the south exit of the main train station.
HVV. Johanniswall 2, Altstadt, Hamburg, Hamburg, 20095. 040/19449; www.hvv.de/en.
Zentral-Omnibus-Bahnhof. Adenauerallee 78, St. Georg, Hamburg, Hamburg, 20097. 040/247–576; www.zob-hamburg.de.