Stuttgart has a very reliable public transport system that consists of commuter trains, light rail or trams, buses, a cog railway and a cable car. However, all the different lines and ticket options might confuse newcomers at the beginning. That’s why I put together this short guide to public transport in Stuttgart. [This article contains non-paid advertisement as I point out the services of VVS Stuttgart]
Public transport in Stuttgart – the different means of transportation
Let’s talk about the different means of transportation we have available here in Stuttgart:
U-Bahn in Stuttgart
The U-Bahn is known by different names: It is also called “Stadtbahn” or “Strassenbahn” (which translates to “lightrail” or “tram”) – but never “underground” or “subway train” – even though there is a “U” in it’s title and on the sign. I know, that is that this is initially a bit confusing.
How do I recognize the U-Bahn in Stuttgart?
The U-Bahn uses yellow cars and it runs mainly within the city borders and some of the surrounding areas. Just look for the blue signs with a white “U” in order to find its stations.
Where do I buy a ticket when I take the U-Bahn?
You have to buy your ticket before you enter the light rail at the ticket machine at the respective station. If you buy a single ticket, you don’t need to validate it. If you buy a ticket for four trips you have to validate it for each trip. You can do so inside the tram using the yellow machines adjacent to the carriage doors.
Is there a special ticket for short trips?
Yes, there is. If you intend to travel no more than three stops by light rail you can also buy a short-trip ticket (named Kurzstrecke in German).
S-Bahn in Stuttgart
The S-Bahn is our commuter train. It runs longer distances than the U-Bahn and connects cities like Esslingen, Bietigheim-Bissingen, Herrenberg, Filderstadt and other towns to Stuttgart.
How do I recognize the S-Bahn in Stuttgart?
The S-Bahn uses red carriages and the sign shows a green “S” on white background.
Where do I buy a ticket when I take the S-Bahn?
You have to buy your ticket before you enter the S-Bahn at the ticket machine at the respective station. You can select a language by pressing the appropriate national flag. If you buy a single ticket, you don’t need to validate it. If you buy a ticket for four trips you have to validate it. However, you can’t validate it inside the S-Bahn, you have to use the machines at the station. They are often located on the platform or next to the stairs.
Is there a special ticket for short trips?
Yes, there is. If you intend to travel only one stop by S-Bahn you can also buy a short-trip ticket (named Kurzstrecke in German).
Buses in Stuttgart
Buses in Stuttgart connect short distances and are very reliable as well. Of course, they are more vulnerable to traffic because they share the road with cars and bikes. But in general and if there’s no major accident, they are mostly on time. Make sure you enter the bus at the front and show your ticket to the driver.
Buses are yellow and the sign shows a green circle with a green “H” (for “Haltestelle”/”stop”) on a yellow background.
Where do I buy a ticket when I take a bus?
You can buy your ticket at the ticket machine at the respective stop where available or directly from the bus driver. If you prefer the driver, make sure you pay in coins and not in big notes. If you have a ticket that needs to be validated you can use the yellow machines in the bus.
Is there a special ticket for short trips?
Yes, there is. If you intend to travel no more than three stops by bus you can also buy a short-trip ticket (named Kurzstrecke in German).
Public transport in Stuttgart – the different zones and ticket options
You must have a valid ticket in order to use trains and buses. If you travel without a valid ticket, you will be fined 60 Euros. Travelling without a valid ticket may lead to charges filed against you. Children under the age of 6 travel free.
Please note that with April 1, 2019 a new price and zone system was introduces by VVS: using public transport in Stuttgart got cheaper and easier for most of us. For more information please visit my post New prices for public transport in Stuttgart
Selecting the right zone
Since April 1, 2019 you only need a ticket for 1 zone if you are travelling within the city of Stuttgart.
If you are travelling for a longer distance, you need to buy a ticket for as many zones as you are passing through – including the zone from where you start your trip and your destination zone.
This map might help you. On the left you can see the old zone system that was in place before April 1, 2019. On the right you can see the new zones.
You have different ticket options when you take public transport in Stuttgart. No matter what ticket you buy, always make sure you have selected the right number of zones.
If you intend to travel no more than three stops by bus or light rail (or one stop by S-Bahn), you can also buy a short-trip ticket/Kurzstreckenticket.
If you only want to travel into one direction, a single ticket/Einzelticket might be your choice. It is valid for three hours and you are allowed to change trains if you’re still going into the same direction.
If you don’t want to buy a single ticket every time you take the bus or train, you can purchase a ticket that is valid for four separate trips/4er-Karte. Each trip is valid for three hours and you are allowed to change trains (traveling in the same direction) but not go back or take a round-trip. You have to validate the ticket each time before you start your trip. Either on the machine at the station (S-Bahn) or inside a bus or U-Bahn.
If you plan to travel a lot in one day you should consider a day-ticket/Tagesticket. It is valid from the moment you buy it until 7 am the next day. A day-ticket is only valid for one person.
If you’re traveling with a group you might want to buy a day-ticket for a group/Gruppentagesticket. It is also valid from the moment you buy it until 7 am the next day. You can take up to five people on this ticket (a bike or a dog counts as one person). Moreover, families can make use of this ticket, as it is also valid for parents and all of their children up to 17 years of age.
If you make use of public transport in Stuttgart on a regular basis you should consider getting an “Abo”. You can choose from many different options:
- there are monthly or annually “Abos” for students and seniors (e.g. “ScoolAbo”, “Studiticket”, “Seniorenticket”…)
- the monthly or annually 9-AM-EnvironmentalTicket (“9-Uhr-Umweltticket”)
- the annual company ticket (“Firmenticket”)
- the monthly or annually ticket for everybody (“Jedermannticket”)
Fun fact: You can buy tickets right on your mobile phone. Whether you’re interested in single tickets (including short-trip tickets), day, weekly or monthly tickets, or 9-AM-EnvironmentalTickets – get your “HandyTicket” easily, conveniently and cashless on your mobile phone – and you get a discounted price compared with tickets bought at a ticket machine!
You will receive the “HandyTicket” via the VVS app or HandyTicket app. Download the apps free via the App Store, Google Play Store or Windows Phone Store.
Public transport in Stuttgart – dogs and bikes
Police dogs, guide dogs and small dogs in transport boxes travel for free. All other dogs are also allowed to take public transport in Stuttgart, but you have to buy a child ticket for them. If you’re travelling with a group and have purchased the day-ticket for groups, the dog counts as one of the five people you can take on this ticket.
You are allowed to take your bike (including e-bike) with you for free when you take the S- or U-Bahn in Stuttgart. However, limitations apply for the following timeframes:
- If you take the S-Bahn during rush-hour between 6 and 9 am on weekdays, you have to buy a child ticket for your bike.
- You are not allowed to take your bike with you into a U-Bahn between 6 and 8:30 am and 4 and 6:30 pm.
The cog railway, that commutes between Marienplatz and Degerloch, offers a designated platform outside the railway where you can lock your bike and take it with you uphill. This service is free throughout the whole day.
Bikes are not allowed on buses in Stuttgart.
Please note: I have written this post in February 2018 and updated it in March 2019 to my best knowledge. But things can change. If you have any questions conserning prices, zones and ticket options, please turn to the contact points mentioned blow.
For more information – and an online journey planner, visit:
If you have specific questions you may visit:
Königstraße 1 A
Phone: 0711 19449
Mo – Fr 9 a.m. – 6.30 p.m.
Sa 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.