Public transport in Hamburg and the metropolitan area is operated by the HVV, which means “Hamburger Verkehrsverbund”. On its website, you can download an informative brochure in English about public transport in and around Hamburg. It provides you with a comprehensive introduction to the available ticket types and also explains different ways to buy them. Tip: The brochure contains a map of the rapid transit rail system, which is a helpful guide while you explore the city and change lines. Moreover, if you want to know the best way to move from one location to another, as well as the corresponding price and duration of the ride, you can create a personal schedule by entering an address, a station, or a point of interest.
Overview of Public Transport Tickets in Hamburg
In the following, I want to highlight the most interesting tickets for tourists and add some tips and recommendations. In general, it is important to know that the ticket prices are based on (unfortunately quite confusing) fare zones instead of a certain number of stations. In the vast majority of cases, for example if you arrive at Hamburg Airport and want to reach your hotel, you will be traveling in the so-called Greater Hamburg Area (fare rings AB). Moreover, children under the age of 6 years can use Hamburg’s public transport free of charge!
A single ticket is the right choice if you plan to use public transport one-way or for a short distance. This ticket is not transferable and only valid for one journey. You are allowed to change lines within the selected fare zone(s) as long as you stay on the direct route to your destination, i.e. round trips or return journeys are not permitted but you can continue your one-way trip across different trains and buses.
|Ticket:||Single Ticket Adult||Single Ticket Child|
|Greater Hamburg Area
including Hamburg Airport to Hamburg Central Station
|3,20 €||1,20 €|
|Short or Local Journey
valid for a varying number of a few stations
|1,60 € – 2,20 €||1,20 €|
|Details||For one adult.||For a child aged 6–14.|
If you plan to use the HVV several times a day or at least twice for a larger distance, it pays off to select a day ticket. It offers you unlimited public transportation services and the highest flexibility – you can simply hop on and off. Tip: The cheaper 9 am day ticket, which is time-wise restricted from Monday till Friday, is valid all day on Saturday, Sunday, and public holidays.
|Ticket:||9 am Day Ticket||All Day Ticket|
|Greater Hamburg Area||6,20 €||7,60 €|
|Details||For one adult and three children aged 6–14. Valid Monday – Friday from 0.00 am – 6 am and from 9 am – 6 am the following morning.*||For one adult and three children aged 6–14. Valid all day until 6 am the following morning.|
*From Monday till Friday, it basically means that the commuter rush hours from 6 am – 9 am are excluded, you can still purchase the ticket during that time it is just not valid to be used. For Saturday and Sunday, the 9 am Day Ticket is valid all day, so there is no need to purchase the more expensive All Day Ticket (a fact that many people don’t know). Both types of Day Tickets are valid on the day of purchase until 6 am the following morning, which allows you to return to your hotel even after midnight.
If you travel in a group of up to 5 persons of any age, the 9 am group ticket represents the cheapest option. This ticket starts to pay off for two adults since you already save money compared to two single 9 am day tickets. Tip: Like the single 9 am day ticket, this group offer is also valid all day on Saturday, Sunday, and public holidays.
|Ticket:||9 am Group Ticket|
|Greater Hamburg Area||11,80 €|
|Details||For up to five persons of any age. Valid Monday – Friday from 0.00 am – 6 am and from 9 am – 6 am the following morning.|
You will stay in Hamburg for a whole week and plan to use the HVV regularly? In that case, a week ticket is the right choice for you. Unfortunately, you cannot purchase a week ticket at the ticket vending machines. Instead, you need to visit a HVV service center, e.g. located at:
- Hamburg Central Station (entrance Kirchenallee):
open Monday – Friday from 6 am – 9 pm; Saturday – Sunday from 8 am – 9 pm
- Hamburg Airport (Terminal 2):
open Monday – Sunday from 6:30 am – 11 pm
You can also purchase a week ticket online up to 14 days in advance through their Onlineshop or via the HVV App for iOS or Android. This printed or mobile ticket will be personalized with your name, and you need to show it along with your ID if there happens to be a ticket check. The only potential barrier is the German booking process. Either you know a little German, or maybe Google Translate is of help if you would like to book in advance instead of visiting a HVV service center once you arrive.
|Greater Hamburg Area||27,70 €|
|Details||For one person. You are free to choose the exact period of validity as week tickets do not need to start at the beginning of a week, but will be valid for seven days counting from the date of (scheduled) issue.|
Hamburg Card & Hamburg City Pass
In case you plan to do a lot of sightseeing while exploring the city, you might want to buy the Hamburg Card to combine free travel on Hamburg’s public transport with up to 50 % discount on harbour cruises, Alster cruises, sightseeing tours, guided walks, museums, musicals, theatres, restaurants, and many more attractions.
|Ticket:||Single Hamburg Card||Group Hamburg Card|
|One Day||9,90 €||18,50 €|
|Two Days||18,90 €||32,90 €|
|Three Days||25,50 €||44,50 €|
|Four Days||33,90 €||58,50 €|
|Five Days||41,50 €||73,50 €|
|Details||Both tickets are valid in the Greater Hamburg Area. A regional version for the entire HVV network is also available.|
You can also go for the All-inclusive Hamburg Pass for 1, 2, 3, or 5 days and visit as many of the cooperating museums, exhibitions and attractions in Hamburg as you like, with free entry to all attractions and free public transport:
|Hamburg City Pass:||Adult||Teen (15-17)||Child (3-14)|
|One Day||39,90 €||29,90 €||19,90 €|
|Two Days||59,90 €||39,90 €||29,90 €|
|Three Days||79,90 €||49,90 €||39,90 €|
|Five Days||99,90 €||59,90 €||49,90 €|
Free Sightseeing Tips using your HVV Ticket
You are surely going to visit the unique port of Hamburg. As a HVV ticket holder, you have the opportunity to go on board on six harbour ferries that are part of the public transportation network. Therefore, you can enjoy exciting harbour boat trips on the Elbe river for free using your day ticket! Ferry line number 62 in particular has a beautiful route starting at Landungsbrücken Brücke 3 and stopping at four interesting locations along the way to Finkenwerder. As for all HVV services, children under the age of 6 years can accompany you free of charge.
In order to get to the port, I would recommend to either walk if you are starting from the central shopping area Mönckebergstraße or Jungfernstieg (approximately 30 minutes, passing by the impressive church ruins of the memorial St. Nikolai – currently under construction but still open), or to choose the yellow railway line U3 to reach the station Landungsbrücken, because this train runs above ground in the port area and provides a wonderful view while you arrive.
Once there you could also hop on and off the bus line 111, which has a great sightseeing route from the architecturally fascinating HafenCity to Altona. It goes from Überseequartier via Marco Polo Tower, Magellan-Terrassen, Speicherstadt, Elbphilharmonie, Baumwall, Hamburg’s Michel, Landungsbrücken, Davidstraße, Reeperbahn, Große Freiheit, Fischmarkt, Containerhafen, Altonaer Balkon and Altonaer Rahaus to Platz der Republik and operates every 20 minutes. You can download the “111-Stadtplan” as PDF file – there is only a German version, but it shows you the bus route and illustrations of the main attractions on one page.
Frequency and Hours of Operation of Hamburg’s Public Transport
Trains and buses usually run every 5 or 10 minutes within the inner city. On some less frequented routes, e.g. concerning regional buses, you might have to wait 20, 40, or 60 minutes for the next bus to arrive. Once you know where your accommodation is located, it’s a good idea to check which station(s) is/are nearby and to check the station timetable to spend more relaxing time enjoying your breakfast instead of hurrying and then waiting at the bus station.
In addition, it’s important to know that public transportation in Hamburg is only provided in an all-night service from Friday to Sunday and before public holidays. From Monday till Friday, they pause between approximately 00:30 am and 5 am, in that case you could use one of the night buses or prefer to take a taxi. You can download the HVV night bus map from Monday to Friday or the HVV night services map on weekend nights as PDF files if you wish to see the covered routes at a glance.
Image © Bernd Sterzl (1) / PIXELIO; Travel to Hamburg (2)