The MVV, Munich's public transport network, includes buses, trams, an underground network and suburban rail network. It's divided into 16 rings and 4 zones.
For tourists, the first thing to think about is normally how to get out of the airport. The S-Bahn (suburban rail) is normally the best way to do this. Trains run every five or so minutes, and for a trip to the city centre it's best to buy a Gesamnetz ticket (covers all four zones for one day). These tickets come in single (one person) or partner (up to five people). Day tickets (Tageskarten) work the same way, for most tourist sites and starting in the city centre you'll need an Innenraum (rings 1-4). You can also buy 3-day tickets.
Tickets need to be validated in the blue boxes you see on buses, trams and before you get to the platform of train stations - poke them into the machine with the arrows pointing forwards and be prepared to show the ticket if someone asks for it but don't let them take it from you. Ticket inspectors are relatively rare and may or may not be in uniform, but fines start at 40 euro for travelling without a ticket and Schwarzfahren (travelling without one) is heavily frowned upon.
For trips outside of Munich the Bayern Ticket will get you as far away as Salzburg or Regensburg on local trains (not ICE trains - check before you board) and again has the single/partner option.
Munich possesses a public transport system that manages to be both efficient and stultifyingly confusing at the same time. On one hand, the city has an impressive network of suburban trains (S-Bahn lines), subway trains (U-Bahn lines), trams, and buses, which run regularly throughout most of the day connecting the city's major tourist attractions, and which are all covered by the same ticketing system. However, it is this ticketing system that causes visitors considerable confusion. Munich's public transport system operates on an honour system - whichever type of ticket you have bought, you have to validate it before travel, by inserting them into the blue Entwerter (E) boxes on buses and trams, and at the top of escalators leading down onto U-Bahn and S-Bahn platforms. Plain-clothed ticket inspectors on the platforms and on the trains, buses or trams check tickets at random, and there are substantial fines for not having a validated ticket. Don't even think about playing the "dumb tourist" card - they've heard it all before, and you'll still get the fine. On the positive side, the system has been unified, so that a validated ticket for public transport travel can be used on any of the different systems (S-Bahn, U-Bahn, buses and trams). However, there are four different types of ticket on the Munich public transport network - "single tickets" (Einzelfahrkarte), "strip tickets" (Streifenkarte), "day tickets" (Tageskarte), and "3-day tickets" (Karte für 3 Tage). Although each of these four options seems pretty self explanatory, there are numerous sub-options for each, it's probably easiest to look at the options for each type of ticket in turn. - EINZELFAHRKARTE ("single tickets") This type of ticket covers a single journey, as you've probably guessed. However, there are two different types of Einzelfahrkarte - the "short journey&q
uot; ticket (Kurzstrecke) and the longer single journey ticket. If you look on a ticket machine, when you're going to buy a single journey ticket, there's a list of destinations for which you need only buy the cheaper Kurzstrecke, which will cost a mere 1 Euro. If you're going further afield, then your best bet is to look down the list of stations, and see which zone your destination falls in. Each ticket machine has an extensive list of destinations along with three columns. The orange column tells you which zone your destination is in. Simply press the numbered button with the zone number next to your destination, and the screen displays the cost. In general, a single ticket will cost 2 Euros, plus a further 2 Euros per zone you have to travel. The Einzelfahrkarte allows you to break your journey, however, it only covers you for the most direct route to your chosen destination. If you accidentally travel beyond your destination, and decide to travel back, you're going to have to buy a new ticket, or run the risk of a fine... again. - STREIFENKARTE ("strip tickets") If you've been to Copenhagen and used their public transport system, you'll be used to how the Streifenkarte works. Essentially, you buy a 10 strip ticket, which costs 9 Euros, and validate the ticket a certain number of times at the Entwerter boxes on the trams or buses, or before going onto the train platforms, depending on how far you want to go. Before making a journey, using a Streifenkarte, check the list of destinations on the ticket machines. The number in the blue column next to your destination tells you how many strips you need to stamp to go to that destination. Where the Streifenkarte differs from the Copenhagen strip ticket system is that a single ticket can be used to cover several people. For example, if two of you want to travel to a destination two strips away, simply validate the ticket fo
ur times. - TAGESKARTE ("day tickets") As a tourist, this is likely to be the sort of ticket you'll use most. However, inevitably, it's not just a simple case of buying a simple day ticket to cover the whole city. There are four different zone-types of Tageskarte; the Innenraum, the XXL, the Ausenraum and the Gesamtnetz. There are 16 zones on the Munich area public transport system (apparently distinct from the zones used in calculating Einzelfahrkarte fares). Fortunately, the plans of the network aren't covered with concentric rings showing you where all these zones begin and end. There are only two borders that a visitor to the city need worry about. One is the border between zones 4 and 5, which represents the edge of central Munich - this is either represented by a white background on the map (as opposed to the red, yellow or green backgrounds representing outer zones). The other is the border between zones 6 and 7, which is more ambiguously represented by a blue box around the names of the stations on the border. The reason why these two borders are so important is because they will allow you to determine which of the types of ticket you need for the place you're going to. The "Innenraum" ticket covers you only for journeys within the central four zones. The "XXL" ticket covers you only for journeys within the central six zones. The "Ausenraum" (which is unlikely to be used by most tourists, and cannot be purchased from ticket machines in the city centre) covers journeys only within the outer zones five to sixteen. Finally, the "Gesamtnetz" ticket covers the entire sixteen zone area around the city. For most sightseeing in Munich, the "Innenraum" ticket will be adequate. However, visiting the site of the concentration camp at Dachau will require an "XXL" ticket, and the bus journey from the S-Bahn stop there isn't included. You
'll need a "Gesamtnetz" ticket to travel to and from the airport on either the S1 or S8 S-Bahn journeys. If you're uncertain about which of the zone-types of ticket you want, look at the yellow column next to the furthest destination you want to go to on the ticket machine - this will say either "I", "XXL", "A" or "G" depending on which zone-type of Tageskarte you'll need. Now, in addition to offering these four zone-types of the Tageskarte, there are two different types - the Single and the Partner tickets. A Single Tageskarte will cost between 4.50 and 9 Euros, depending on the zone-type, and covers a single person. A Partner Tageskarte costs between 7.50 and 15 Euros, and covers up to five people (two children count as a person). The Partner Tageskarte probably represents the best value for money for tourists, at only 9 Euros (about £5.60) for the "XXL" zone-type. The Tageskarte remains valid until 6am, the day after its validation. - KARTE FÜR 3 TAGE ("3-day tickets") Essentially, this type of ticket is identical to the Tageskarte - but is only available for the "Innenraum" zone. There are both Single and Partner versions available, costing 11 or 17.50 Euros respectively. - TICKET MACHINES Ticket machines for the public transport system can be found throughout the city - in U-Bahn and S-Bahn stations, at many bus and tram stops, and even on trams. In addition to this, you can buy "single tickets" or "strip tickets" from bus drivers as you board. Some of the machines, apparently only the ones on trams, do not accept notes - so if you leap on a tram without a ticket, you'd better make sure you've got enough coins to pay for one. The ticket machines, unlike those of Berlin (the only other German city I've been to), are spectacularly hostile for the non-German spea
ker. There is no option to display information on the machine's screen in other languages, so you're left to struggle with the overwhelming amount of information, buttons and codes. It's not uncommon to see a crowd of puzzled tourists standing around the ticket machines in the Hauptbahnhof, or the airport. - SERVICE In general, the service offered by the city's S-Bahn, U-Bahn, buses and trams are very good. The S-Bahn and U-Bahn run consistently to time, and some of the more central stations have digital displays telling you how long it will be until the next train arrives. Display boards also tell you how many carriages long the U-Bahn trains will be, so you can make sure you're waiting on an area of the platform where the train will stop. Like the Berlin U-Bahn and S-Bahn networks, it's worth knowing what the last stop is on the line you want to use, in the direction you want to go, as rather than labelling the platforms "Eastbound" or "Westbound", instead they are labelled with the trains' ultimate destinations like "U7 Rotkreuzplatz" or "U5 Laimer Platz". En route, announcements on the train tell you what the next stop is going to be as soon as you leave each station. For a few stops in central Munich, the message is repeated in English. Doors on the U-Bahn and S-Bahn trains do not open automatically when the train pulls into a platform. Users either have to press a little button on either side of the doors, or manually pull open the sliding doors. The doors do close automatically before the train moves off though. Mobile phone users will be surprised to find that their networks continue working on the U-Bahn system, explaining how that girl is able to receive a phone call on her Nokia 5510 while singing on a U-Bahn platform in that television advert. Tram stops are either in the middle of the road, on either side of the tra
mlines, or at the side of the road. They resemble bus stops, with large green "H" symbols in a yellow circle. Trams stop at every stop en route, and boards by the side of the stop give the name of the current stop and the next stop. Central tram stops have a digital display board telling you how long you'll have to wait for different numbered trams. Bus stops are by the side of the road, and are also indicated by large green "H" symbols with a yellow circle. Buses will not stop at every stop en route, so you should press one of the buttons to alert the driver that you want to get off at the next stop. Neither buses nor trams will wait for you if you're running to catch them - they're determined to stick to their tight schedules! TAXIS There are several taxi ranks throughout central Munich - most notably to the east of the Hauptbahnhof, on Karlsplatz, and on Odeonplatz. Taxis are easy to identify - they are all cream-coloured Mercedes cars. Taxi fares aren't too dear for a major city, but obviously work out more expensive than public transport. A taxi to the airport from the Hauptbahnhof takes about 25 minutes, and will cost about 50 to 60 Euros (£30-37) depending on traffic. CONCLUSIONS Once you get used to the idiosyncrasies of buying a ticket on Munich's public transport system, you realise what a supremely well-organised and efficient network it is. Getting around the city is remarkably easy, and all four systems (S-Bahn, U-Bahn, buses and trams) run promptly, and are scrupulously clean. It's also very cheap to get the Partner Tageskarte to explore the central Munich area, if there are two or more of you - just make sure you get one that covers all the zones you'll want to visit. The main problem is unquestionably the confusion of trying to work out which ticket you want, which is nigh-on impossible if you don't understand German, partly bec
ause the ticket machines don't offer the option to display messages in other languages, and partly because of the dizzying number of options available.