Ruhr Area

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The Ruhr Area

The Ruhr Area, also called simply Ruhr, (German: Ruhrgebiet) is an urban area in , Germany, consisting of a number of large formerly industrial cities, including Duisburg, Oberhausen, Bottrop, Mülheim an der Ruhr, Essen, Gelsenkirchen, Bochum, Herne, Hamm, Hagen, Dortmund, Wesel, Recklinghausen, Unna and Ennepe-Ruhr. It has about five million inhabitants and is thus significally bigger than Berlin, Hamburg or Munich.

Altough, there is a very high density of motorways, hitchhiking there is quite tricky because of the maze of minor motorways. Major motorways in this area are the A1, A2 and A3.

On the one hand, there is a lot of local traffic and even though there will be a lot of cars and usually many traffic jams, the most cars won't go in your direction.

Even worse is the fact, that there are almost no service areas or gas stations directly at the motorway, which means, no good places to get dropped of, and no good places to start. The service areas that are there can be found on the site of Tank & Rast, click anywhere between Bielefeld and Aachen for the detail map of the Ruhrgebiet.


Long distance traffic usually tries to drive round this area and this is what you should try when transiting, if possible.

When coming from the south, heading to north or east, you should take the A1 until Kamener Kreuz, and then follow the A1 for north or transfer to the A2 for east. Close before Kamener Kreuz, there is one of the few service areas (Lichtendorf), which is great to get a ride in direction of Bremen, Hamburg, Hannover, Berlin and Cologne.

When coming from the East on the A2 and having a ride that goes to somewhere into the Ruhr Area, it's recommended to get dropped at Rhynern, a big service area close before the Ruhr Area. From there you can get a ride to south (direction Cologne), or maybe to the Netherlands.

When coming from the West, it is quite difficult to cross the Area. Resonable places are

  • the service area Ohligser Heide, close to Düsseldorf, which is difficult to reach by hitching, but easy to reach by public transport.
  • the service area Aachener Land, just east of Aachen, which is just after the Dutch and Belgian borders.
  • the service area Frechen, close to Köln, if your driver, most likely coming out of the Netherlands or Belgium, goes past Aachen, but not further in your direction than Köln.

Hitchhiking out

Good places to hitch out of the Ruhr Area are few and far between. You'll usually have to find a sympathetic person to drop you off there, or spend a bit of time on the VRR website to figure out what buses/trams to take and where to change.

Towards Cologne and the South

The A52 runs through Essen and Mühlheim and joins the A3 running between the Dutch border in the North and Cologne/Frankfurt in the South. There's a good on-ramp onto the A52 near the Essen/Mühlheim air strip, reachable by bus (to a stop called "Abzweig Flughafen"); with dense traffic even on Sundays. Take a sign saying A3 south. There's service areas before Cologne, so you'll have the chance to change rides there.

Towards the Netherlands (North-west)

Compare instructions to go to Cologne, just have your sign say A3 north.

Towards Bremen/Hannover, the North and the East

Public transport

The public transport in this area is coordinated in a transport network (called VRR), which means that you can take any bus/tram/subway/supension railway/train (execpt IC and ICE) with one ticket. For about 9 euros, you can get a ticket to get from anywhere to anywhere.
Tickets for only one city are about 2,20 Euros.