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Using Uber Or Taxi's in Europe - Help Calm My Fears!

I was looking at some examples for transfer from a train to hostel, and on the lists, Uber and Taxi prices were way out of line. Trams, shuttles, etc were in line with what you'd pay in any average USA city - (I use UberX pool ride share (here in the USA) however the price for a taxi and/or Uber/Taxi were listed as between $160.00 - $200.00 !! Maybe I'm looking at the the wrong charts?

Is Uber available freely in Europe and how much do they cost? The charts I've been looking at seem to indicate that Ubers are pretty much stationed at the Airport and do very little "side work" (getting me to an activity on time instead of walking 12 minutes)

What can you tell me about using Uber/Taxi's in Europe? Any help, ideas or insight will be greatly appreciated (trust me!)

WhateverLA

Posted by
2516 posts

What cities are you going to? Some have Uber, some ban it, and some only allow the more-expensive luxury car version.

I have never seen a taxi or Uber that expensive just to go into the city from airport. Except maybe Uber surge price during a storm or something. As an example I pay under 50Euros (fixed) for a taxi into central Rome from the airport.

Posted by
8889 posts

Europe is not a country! Each country has totally different laws, including about taxis. And in most countries taxis are licensed by local government (cities etc.) So no general answer is possible.
Which cities were you looking at?

The normal way to get from a station to your hotel is walk, or take a bus or the metro. Railway stations are usually on the edge of city centres and have many hotels nearby. And are usually public transport hubs.

Not sure what you mean by "Trams, shuttles etc.". Shuttles (shared minibus-taxis) are not very common, as people use public transport. And you say "hostel", so I guess you have a restricted budget, which would normally mean no taxis.

Posted by
6750 posts

Uber doesn't get the same lax treatment in Europe as in the US, so I wouldn't count on it. It's been banned in many places (go on the website and see where it operates, it's that easy). Walking 12 minutes is totally normal. Public transit (subways, trams, etc.) are inexpensive. I wouldn't make any generalizations about "Europe" as a whole....each city may have its own idiosyncrasies.

Posted by
1483 posts

Agree that walking from the train station to your hotel is totally normal - and it's a whole lot easier if you pack light. You might want to pack your bag and practice walking around with it in your own town, to see whether that's feasible. Also a good idea to read the RS packing forum. Plus, there's a whole section on packing light in the Travel Tips section.

Posted by
373 posts

We used Uber in Paris, Strasbourg, and Nice last summer and it was very much like our uber experience here in the US. But, like others have mentioned, it's different in different countries and cities. (And we often use public transport, too...just depends on the situation)

Posted by
21249 posts

Everyone is just whistling unless we know exactly the airports and cities you are looking at. Sometimes it is expensive since the airport maybe an hour or more from city center. Many airports have fixed rates from airport to city center. So I have no idea if a taxi is way out-if-line or not. More information -- please!

Posted by
1483 posts

Another thing - airports in Europe are much more likely than those in the U.S. to have reasonably-priced and frequent public transportation (often including trains) into the city. If you look up '________ Airport transportation' online, you'll find what's available. I tried it for Frankfurt, and found that there's a train for 4.65 €.

Posted by
489 posts

I can't tell you about many Euro cities, but I do know about a few.
We were in Munich in the fall and the uber was about the same or more expensive than taxis. However, since not knowing the language ordering an uber is easy. However, one uber ride was totally unreliable and we canceled.

Now transferring from train or airport to hotel/hostel can be interesting. Since you use Uber, I would also bet you have google maps that you could use to find the easiest and least costly mass transit to your location.

Posted by
12551 posts

And Uber is not legal everywhere. Taxi from Budapest Airport to city center is about $27. Transit is under $10.

Posted by
26058 posts

You won't find a lot of Bob's pick'em up driving for Uber in many parts of Europe (again - 3 dozen countries with 3 dozen sets of laws and every city within different too). The pooled Uber is not in many places this side of the pond, and for example only highly licensed professional limousine drivers are allowed to operate what I think is called Uber Black in and around Rome and no other levels are legal. In most cities they are not allowed to pick up at the airport so another place has to be agreed to.

In London, for example they continue to operate although the city has declared them not in compliance with law and has withdrawn their license to operate. Many drivers are now operating in London from Portsmouth, 85 miles and a 2 hour drive away, even though the only one in the car with a clue about where they are is the GPS - Sat Nav.

Personally I don't go anywhere near them.

but until you come back with specifics no answer here can possibly be accurate for your circumstances.

Posted by
5011 posts

In addition to all the valid points above, here's one more:

You will need a mobile device with local country cellular service and a local phone number to use Uber. Using Uber via wifi will NOT work.

Not Europe, but I bet it works the same: I was recently in Mexico City, where Uber is popular, cheap, safe and reliable - everyone says it's a great alternative there to taxis. Maybe so, but even though we had multiple devices with the Uber app on them, solid wifi connectivity at our hotel (and even a pocket wifi device that, ironically, works via the local cellular network), all our attempts to use Uber always failed because we did not have a local telephone number. We ended up using taxis.

Posted by
2488 posts

David, not true. I had my Verizon iPhone with my phone number on their plan. Uber worked fine in Portugal.

Posted by
31303 posts

As the others have mentioned, it's impossible to provide an answer without knowing which cities you'll be visiting. The rates you quoted seem a bit pricey for either Uber or Taxis.

There are generally good public transit options from most airports in Europe.

Some further information would be helpful......

Posted by
5011 posts

I had my Verizon iPhone with my phone number on their plan. Uber worked fine in Portugal.

I've actually used Uber more outside of the US than in, never had a problem.

@ Alan and @ Kaeleku - Thanks for the correction.

Not to hijack the thread, maybe this will clarify a bit...
I believe the distinction is that you must have a working telephone connection via a cellular network - either a local cellular network or your home network that works overseas. That is, if you are planning to rely on wifi only for connectivity (which many people do), then I don't believe that would work. That was essentially our situation in Mexico: all our devices had internet connectivity via wifi, but we had no direct cellular connectivity - and no working phone number - so Uber failed for us each time. We actually could connect to the Uber app without any trouble, but when we tried to get a ride, we get messages requiring we enter our phone number (we didn't have a local SIM and we had our cellular service from home explicitly turned off).

Anyway, back to the primary discussion about how well Uber works in Europe (or doesn't) for others. Play on...

Posted by
104 posts

I'll be traveling in the following cities:
Oslo
Stockholm
Malmo
Copenhagen
Amsterdam
Berlin
Munich
Venice
Milan
Zurich
Paris

Thanks for the link to the Uber Fares

ChrisF, I am staying in Hostels, not because I'm on any restricted funds reason. Quite the opposite. I want to get to know people from different cultures who stay in Hostels. They're more interesting that hiding away in a hotel room. I can fully afford 5 star hotels, but why? Especially when you want to get the feel of people from everywhere! I also know that Europe isn't a country!

Posted by
12551 posts

WhateverLA if your goal is to meet locals you might do as well in short term rentals. As for taxis, I've been in cities where they were spotless and cities where they were "interesting". On uber, some have been spotless, others not so much. I have met and had good conversations with Uber and Taxi drivers. It's more preference than anything else. If we are going to discuss choosing one over the other based on moral grounds, one might want to do the same when considering the countries choose to visit.

Posted by
12400 posts

As mentioned above (I think it pertained to Frankfurt airport), there are trains from the airport to the main train station or subways, depends on the your arrival airport. Forget about Uber. If you're flying into London Gatwick, there's the Thameslink train to St Pancras Station, to Munich airport, the S-Bahn 1 or 8, etc. From the airport I always take public transport, at least to a train station in the city in Europe. I've used taxis in Europe, sparingly, (Paris, Berlin, Germany) but would never consider Uber in Europe.

Posted by
104 posts

The countries I listed are on exact order that I'll be traveling in. So Oslo is my first stop.

As for the Hostels, It's not exactly about the "locals" but meeting people from far flung countries. In any case I feel like that will be my best bet to meet folks, and such!

I'd also be using Uber/Taxi on the fly- if I needed to. Big rain storm etc, I don't want to walk through the pounding rain for 15 minutes get to somewhere I would like to go and visit.

Try having plan A, B & C

Posted by
12400 posts

@ James, you're too kind. I return the compliment regarding Budapest. In Budapest so far I've only take the Metro, no buses or trams.

Posted by
104 posts

Thanks to almost everyone for the help and guidance, the link, etc

Posted by
18022 posts

You will be going from Berlin to Munich? How? If you are flying, the Munich airport is way out of town. With the S-Bahn, which travels very fast, it takes 40 minutes, plus or minus, depending on to what station. From the nearest S-Bahn station, it could be a short walk to your hotel. If your hotel is in town, take a taxi. Whether you come into town on a train from Berlin or by S-Bahn from the airport, there are a lot of Munich hotels within a short taxi ride from the Hauptbahnhof.

I haven't looked at it in a while, but last time I checked, a taxi to town from the airport was over 50€, probably higher today.

What is wrong with this list?
Oslo
Stockholm
Malmo
Copenhagen
Amsterdam
Berlin
Munich
Venice
Milan
Zurich
Paris

All big ciities (average population over 1 million).

But Europe is not a few big cities separated by vast uninhabited wasteland. It is full of small towns, which are the place to really met locals. My favorite places to stay in Germany are called "Privatzimmer", rooms in a private home. Here the host brings you breakfast in the morning, and if he speaks English, or you speak the local language, you can have meaningful conversations.

In the last 18 years, I've spent 34 nights in 11 stays in 9 homes (2 twice). The night weighted average town population was 7500 inhabitants.

Posted by
104 posts

I'll be taking the train on all legs of my travel, except for Copenhagen to Amsterdam, when I'll fly between the two. Taking the train between Berlin and Munich (6 hours approx) Please tell me more about the S-Bahn? Should I take the 6 hour, lazy, good for staring at the scenic villages, etc or can I see the same thing on the S-Bahn?

ICE Train

Thank you Lee

Posted by
8889 posts

S-Bahn = StadtschnellBahn = Urban Express Railway.
It is a commuter/suburban system on steroids. Most German big cities have them. It has numbered lines, S1, S2 etc. The trains operate at high frequency, hourly or usually more, 7 days a week. When the trains get to the city centre (main station), they dive underground and act as an express limited-stop U-Bahn (Underground/metro/subway) under the city centre, then emerge on the other side and head back to the suburbs.
It is common for S-Bahn routes to include stops at the airport, this is done in Munich, Berlin and other cities.

In Paris and other French speaking cities, a similar system is called "RER" (= Réseau Express Régional = Express Regional Network). You use the Paris RER to get from Charles de Gaulle airport into the city centre.

London has a similar North South line called "Thameslink" which includes Luton and Gatwick airports. An east-west line called "Crossrail" is due to open this year, and when it does trains from Heathrow will no longer terminate at Paddington but continue to new underground stations in central London.

Posted by
104 posts

The 10 hour trip was my mistake, that would be going through Prague. Otherwise I see that it's a 6 hour journey on the train. Man in Seat 61 says:

ICE stands for InterCity Express, Deutsche Bahn's (German Railways) premier high-speed train, running at up to 175mph (ICE1 & ICE2) or 186mph (ICE3) on special high speed lines and up to 130 mph over upgraded conventional lines. The ICE is arguably the most comfortable, civilised and impressive high-speed train in Europe, with a very high-spec interior designed to lure German businessmen out of their BMWs. There are several versions, ICE1, ICE2, ICE3 & two tilting versions, the electric ICE-T & diesel ICE-TD.

So I have things to learn about the train systems, this is my weak spot in my travels. Thank you

Posted by
6750 posts

I would use the Deutsche Bahn website. I don't know if Man in Seat 61 has caught on to all the newest services, including the ICE Sprinter. I think Man in Seat 61 is a good site to get the basics, but I would not overly rely on it for specific info. It's best to go to the system's own websites because they have the most current info.

Posted by
104 posts

Thank you. I'll be looking up individual train trips, starting in Oslo (my starting point) at the carriers websites, individually. Are there any other High Speed trains on my route, that you can see at a glance?

Oslo
Stockholm
Malmo
Copenhagen
Amsterdam
Berlin
Munich
Venice
Milan
Zurich
Paris
I'll assume (never a good strategy) that all trains - high speed /regular speed will be covered by my Eurail Global Pass?

Chris F, did you see the post where I explained why I am purposely choosing Hostels over other kinds of accommodations?

Posted by
181 posts

Back to the original topic........my wife and I used Uber in Paris a few times last fall with no problems at all.

Posted by
8889 posts

WhateverLA, Yes, but I was answering your question "Please tell me more about the S-Bahn? Should I take the 6 hour, lazy, good for staring at the scenic villages, etc or can I see the same thing on the S-Bahn?"
You seemed to be thinking the the S-Bahn was a national network. When it is a number of local networks around and within each city.

Posted by
12400 posts

The day train ride I took from Krakow to Berlin in 2001 was a few minutes short of 10 hrs....very interesting ride through some very interesting countryside.

Posted by
104 posts

Lots to see on a slow train, right Fred? That's what I'm thinking of doing, the slow train.

Back to the Uber questions, I now have the fare calculator and if you type in say, Berlin, nothing comes up, so I know that Germany isn't on the list of Uber countries. Most everywhere I'm going has Uber services and at a descent rate. I'm just looking for an alternate to walking, in case I'm running late or there is rain, etc. I'm used to walking for long distances.

My final question hasn't received an answer yet. A Global Eurail Pass should get me on the slow train or the high speed train, correct or not?

Thanks for all the help understanding the train systems, etc. I'd rather have more info than I need, than not enough!

WhareverLA

Posted by
4556 posts

I was looking at some examples for transfer from a train to hostel.

All of these cities will have excellent public transportation (e.g., underground, bus, tram, etc.) . There will be stops at the train station and it is highly likely that there will be a stop close to your hostel. There will be little need to take an uber because you can take another form of transportation very cheaply. If you simply check the hostel website, it will brobably have instructions on how to get to the hostel.

For Stockholm, you can plan your local journey on
https://sl.se/en/

Every city will have a website with transit info.

For trains from Oslo - Stockholm, Stockholm - Malmö, and Malmö - Copenhagen, you can use the SJ site:
https://www.sj.se/en/home.html#/

Posted by
2488 posts

Glad you can use Uber in some places. We used it extensively in Portugal last year. Fast, efficient, inexpensive and we met some great drivers and learned from them. Not sure what the anti-Uber sentiment voiced here is about. Uber and Lyft have changed our lives for the better at home and we were glad to have Uber in Europe. We love to dine out and have a cocktail and wine with dinner. But the fear of a DUI really put a crimp in that. Now we can go to those downtown restaurants guit free (except for the calories). This ride sharing is displacing the inefficient taxi business and for good reason.

Posted by
104 posts

Thank you Laura and Alan!

Alan especially. You've illustrated perfectly a scenario where Uber is the best way to get home! There is a kind of "anti Uber" sentiment here. I noticed that too! Well, to each his own...

Posted by
6750 posts

Uber and Lyft have changed our lives for the better

Unfortunately, that doesn't apply to everyone and perhaps their lives have some meaning too that is worth considering. If you don't know why there's anti-Uber sentiment, check out the countless press articles, the criminal investigations by the Justice Department, and really think about how they've implemented their business model. It's not a case of sour grapes, there are legitimate reasons to look at Uber critically that have nothing to do with protecting the cab industry. It's one thing to say "yeah, but I don't care because it benefits me" vs. "see no evil, hear no evil head-in-sand" response. Just because the taxi system was ripe for disruption doesn't automatically make Uber a savior. They're done plenty wrong (perfect example is their CEO and the multiple reasons why he was ousted - he was totally untethered from any sense of ethics).

Uber isn't even profitable - what they charge doesn't even cover their costs. Let that sink in. The customers are benefitting, sure, but someone's getting screwed in this ruthless clawing for market dominance. They can afford to take losses just to gain market share because investor money keeps pouring in from a seemingly endless spout. If they can finally get driverless vehicles to work (without killing someone in the process), they can finally get rid of their contracted drivers....and they look forward to getting those costs off their balance sheets.

Posted by
8954 posts

...also Uber isn't a proven business model. Last year Uber lost 4.5 billion dollars. Uber's cheaper rates are unsustainable. Every Uber ride is subsidized by investors by at least 50%. Unless there is a very quick breakthrough in driver-less technology, Uber is on track to be one of the biggest startup failures in history. In addition it's driver turnover rate is horrendous, very few stick with them in the long-term, even fewer earn a living from Uber. They are the Walmart/McDonalds of the taxi industry. They are a classic example of the continuing decline of the working class.
I prefer to spend my money on taxis, where the money mostly stays in the community and livable wages, not venture capitalists in California.

From the Big Apple Times:
https://nyti.ms/2wj7UvD

Posted by
2488 posts

To the anti-Uber folks I have one word for you: Amazon. Amazon is gaining market share because the standard retail model failed. Are they evil? Uber as a company has lots of flaws, culture issues, a jerk of a founder (why Lyft is succeeding and gaining market share) but the ride share model is here to stay. They are disrupting transportation, giving individuals who want to make a few bucks a great opportunity. If you are in Manhattan a taxi is easy. Hair raising ride but easy. For me I have a choice of calling a taxi, waiting 1/2 to 1 hour (or longer) paying double or more, or pressing my Lyft or Uber app, having someone here in 10 minutes or less (constantly) and off we go. For airport transportation alone its been a game changer. No brainer from my perspective.

Posted by
6750 posts

If you can't acknowledge some of the parallels between Uber and Amazon and at least try to look at them objectively (the good and the bad, apart from how convenient they've been to "me", "me", and "me"), I can't help you. Commercial ride-sharing models will only stick around if they're truly sustainable and they pay for themselves. The jury's still out on which are truly sustainable because they haven't matured enough or turned a profit. Non-commercial ones seem to work well in some areas, like "slugging" in Northern VA.

Sorry for the thread diversion..that's it from me on this topic.

Posted by
8954 posts

I have one word for you: Amazon

Apple and Oranges. Their is no economy of scale in the taxi industry until driver less cars are a real thing...not experimental. Despite what Uber says, most experts in the research are now saying it won't viable commercially for another 20 years. I'll believe it when I see it when a driver-less car can deal with the streets of Manhattan or Paris.

Posted by
2488 posts

Good and bad-very subjective. I think to the retailers disrupted by Amazon they are as bad as they come. To me, a convenient way to get stuff. It’s all about where you are sitting. Just as Amazon lost scads of money for years, had many twists and turns, failures (Fire Phone) and unexpected successes (Amazon Web Services) ride sharing will find a footing. Maybe it won’t be the company known as Uber or even the number 2, Lyft, although this article gives it some credo http://fortune.com/2017/07/19/uber-vs-lyft-race/. And will it be driverless cars that saves the business model? I’m not sure but I don’t bet against technology anymore. I never thought I’d see anything like an iPhone in my day. But if you think Uber is evil, you know what to do: call a cab!

Posted by
18022 posts

So you will probably come into Munich at the Hauptbahnhof (main station). I don't know where your hostel is (you didn't tell us), but it could be withing walking or taxi distance from the Hauptbahnhof. If you need to go to another S-Bahn station, a Eurail pass will cover the S-Bahn, but no other conveyances in the Munich metro (MVV).

Posted by
12400 posts

That's exactly what I do on those rare occasions in Germany, when not taking public transport, I know what to do.... I call a cab. It's absolutely certain I won't be calling Uber or Lyft in Calif.

Posted by
7947 posts

Taking a taxi is easy in Germany as is using the public transportation system, which is why we don't need Uber. Most of the US has nothing comparable to most of Europe when it comes to public transport.

Meeting Locals. There are just as many locals living in big cities as small villages. There is no difference.
If you like meeting people from all around the world, go on walking tours or bike tours in each of these cities. Cafe culture exists everywhere and everyone sits outside, go to festivals, sit at a long table, chat up the people sitting next to you.

Posted by
104 posts

I really like the challenge of trying Europe on a shoe-string budget. It will be an adventure for me, having already done the old 4-5 star Hotel deal (back in the day)

The Berlin Hostel is: HOSTELO Berlin Mitte Going Here Too: Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp ($21,38 for the transport and tour also through Viator.com - Lasts 7 Hours)

The Munich Hostel Is: A&O München Hackerbrücke Going Here Too: Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site Tour from Munich by Train (booked through Viator.com for $35.27 everything included too - 3 hour trip)

Does this help any?

Posted by
7947 posts

Viator sells other peoples tours, they are not a tour company at all.
Look on Trip Advisor to find the real tour company that is doing your tour. Read their reviews, read other company reviews to see what fits you the best.

Posted by
104 posts

Viator sells other peoples tours, they are not a tour company at all.
Look on Trip Advisor to find the real tour company that is doing your tour. Read their reviews, read other company reviews to see what fits you the best**

Yes, I'm aware of this, that's why I said "I booked through "Viator"**
I've been using them for years to get inexpensive trips/sightseeing, where if something doesn't work out, Viator will make it right, refund money, etc!

Is there some problem you've had with Viator before? You seem to have a problem with them or the concept of what they're doing or something?

Posted by
55 posts

WhateverLA, you can sometimes find local taxi apps with a little searching that provide similar functionality to Uber/Lyft, but use the regular, licensed local taxi companies. If you choose to use Uber/Lyft for whatever reason, I don't think you should feel guilty about going with a service that fits your needs. Seems like you're doing your background research in good faith and you'll find as many have mentioned in this thread that public transit or taxis will be the better option in some or even many places.

[Off topic, but related to other off-topic posts in this thread: there are US cities where the taxi system is awesome, with clean vehicles, very professional drivers, and fare rates: IME Chicago and NYC fall into this category. There are also US cities where the taxi system is broken, run by monopolies which provide crappy service at very high rates: Detroit and Orlando being to two that spring to mind. If Uber/Lyft convince MetroCab and Mears to get off their collective butts and improve, I am all for it.]

Posted by
104 posts

Thank you k-anderson, I appreciate the kind words and advice! I didn't expect for this thread to blow up into a pro-Uber or anti-Uber debacle!

Posted by
12400 posts

"...which is why we don't need Uber." Prima !

Posted by
7947 posts

Yes, I do have a problem with Viator and their business model. They charge tour companies a 25% commission on all of their tours.

Having spent years on this forum, Trip Advisor and Fodors , I have read plenty of complaints with people getting their refunds from Viator when tours didn't work out for some reason or another. Dealing with a 3rd party reseller of tours is simply not as easy as dealing with the tour provider themselves if there is a problem and I don't understand the reason for using them at all. All the tours you want to go on are easily found on Trip Advisor or in the RS guidebooks.

Posted by
12551 posts

and they do nothing for that commission! and vendors are forced to do business with them!

Posted by
300 posts

No Uber in Venice just lots of walking and bridges but a great town to get lost in. A friend exclusively used Uber in Paris. Said it was great as you input address you wanted to go into phone and no mix-up with driver.