Transport in the city
In case you didn’t know, I LOVE city trips. For me, the more planning you have done for a jolly the better. I want to know how to get round cheaply, quickly and also where to get off for the best food / coffee / view / drinks / architecture. Using the subway system in every city is a must if you want to get out there and explore. Be a secret linguist. Get a digital subway map of the respective city, keep to the right when walking, don’t stop walking suddenly and keep out of the way of other people. Find the end line and don’t be scared of changing lines if it shortens your journey.
Le Métro (SNCF)
In Paris, the métro lines can be found quite close together; often you can see the next stop down the road as you’re choosing which entrance to take. Some are some minor stops, but others are huge and include a network of other liens across Paris and the region Ile-de-France. I was not surprised to learn that Chatelet-les-Halles is the world’s largest metro station. If you want to travel from north to south or east to west quickly, you can take the RER trains (5 lines A-E) which are double-decker trains running under and over ground meaning you can cut down the stops.
The Parisian metro itself is the 4st oldest in Europe, after London, Budapest and Glasgow. It was built in July 1900 and lots of them have art deco style entrances which make them, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful in the world. Around 4,3 billion people are welcomed onto the metro each year.
Tickets are 1,90€ per journey – no matter how far you travel. This means you could go all around Paris (without getting off) or just one stop. Your choice. I hear that they’re valid for 2 hours, some argue longer.
If you buy a carnet which is a block of 10 tickets for 14,50€.
TIPS: Download the Citymapper App to plan your journey but also to have a digital map of the metro on your smartphone. This avoids looking lost / vulnerable / like a tourist / all of the above. Alight at random stops that sound interesting to explore as your ticket allows you to do so.
Die U-Bahn (BVG + DB +S-Bahn Berlin)
In Berlin and in other German cities there is a complex and efficient public transport system. Not only is there the underground, but like Paris’ RER trains, Berlin has the S-Bahn as well as the Regionalbahn to whip your way round the city. The best thing about Berlin’s transport is that on weekends it runs 24 hours from Friday until Sunday.
One ticket is 2,70€ (AB ticket)
Travelling all to way to the airport is just 3,30€ (ABC ticket) which i think is rather incredible.
If you’re living here longer the best thing is to get a Spar-Abo which is a type of contract, by filling out a form in a BVG /S-Bahn Berlin office. You’ll need your passport, Anmeldebestätigung*, your IBAN / BIC, and maybe your employment contract. The price for an unlimited AB ticket gets reduced from 80€ to 60€pm or even 40€pm if you pay a lump sum upfront for the year or even two years. With a Monatskarte, after 8pm on evenings and on weekends you can take someone with you for free.
TIP: Download the BVG app to navigate your way around the city
*the Anmeldebestätigung is a stamped certificate which is evidence of being registered at an address in the city. This can be obtained by going to the local Rathaus and getting an appointment online via
Subway in Helsinki
– Mobile ticket 2,90€
– Ticket from ticket machine 2,90€
– SMS ticket 2,90€
There’s also a Helsinki card which includes free public transport in addition to free sightseeing tours by bus and boat, entry to major museums and sights, a guidebook and map, as well as discounts in restaurants, shops, tours, saunas, and concerts. Monthly or yearly tickets are mostly available for local residents via a card with a chip which can be loaded.
– 24h card 47€
– 48h card 59€
– 72h card 69€
In Helsinki the metro connects the city centre and the east; it consists of one line and 17 stations. The line itself looks brilliantly simple and efficient, but there are 62 million journeys made by metro each year, despite how small it is (source: www.hel.fr). The journey from one end of the line to the other takes 23 minutes in total. The tram network is more extensive with around 200,000 passengers each day using its services.
The GVB metro has 4 lines which run through different parts of the city. Three of which connect to Centraal Station. Most of the trains run until 12:15am with night buses running afterwards. When I visited I got an OV-chipkaart which seemed to be really good, especially if staying for a few days. You can get 24-, 48-, 72-hour tickets (and longer) and it looks like an Oyster card except way cheaper. A 24h OV-chipkaart was 7,50€.
The Amsterdam City Pass allows visits to different museums as well as airport transfer, transport, Van Gogh museum (definitely worth a visit) and a boat ride etc. for 38,50€ pp which saves a whole lot of money.
The Tube (TfL)
The Tube in London is the oldest metro system in Europe. Having been built in 1863, it is deep underground and includes 11 different lines. The Oyster card costs 5 GBP (refundable upon return) and is available to anyone. A typical journey cost depends on the distance you would like to travel. Machines in any tube station can be used to top up the Oyster card. Around 3,2 million passengers use the tube daily. The Night Tube has just started running since December 2016 which runs across the Victoria and Central Lines.
Single journey ticket for zone 1 is £4.90 or £2.40 with Oyster and 2.90 for zone 2. Londoners can now pay with contactless payment and there is a cap on this at £8.10 for travelcards if you do several journeys in one day.
What’s your favourite way to explore cities? Tell me which is your favourite transport system in the comments 🙂