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I've always been confused about this:

Ich gehe zur Haltestelle Einsteinstraße.
Ich gehe in die Bank.

Is there a rule on when to use zu/in with gehen?

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marked as duplicate by Raphael, christian.s, Ingmar, Emanuel, Wrzlprmft Jun 5 '14 at 20:32

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

This will answer your question. – Em1 Jun 5 '14 at 13:49
up vote 4 down vote accepted

As the answers in the similar question linked in Em1's comment indicate correctly, the meaning differs:

In is used to indicate that you actually enter some place/building instead of just walking to the location and stopping outside (for example to wait there for someone).

Ich gehe ins Kino.

I probably intend to see a film there.

Ich gehe zum Kino und warte dort auf euch.

There are several bars and a café there, I'll be there but probably won't enter before you arrive there too.

As always, there are exceptions, especially with regard to idiomatic expressions. For example, to ask a kid where it attends school, both versions are in use (usage varies among regions):

Wo gehst du zur Schule?

Wo gehst du in die Schule?

In welche Schule gehst du?

Note that none of these ask for the way to school, it's just about which school the child attends.

So, to come back to your examples:

You usually wouldn't use in with bus stop because there isn't any building to enter. You may use both with the bank, depending on what you wish to express - in if you want to stress the fact that you enter the building, zur if you just go there without entering (e.g. to withdraw money from an ATM accessible from outside).

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Thank you for the very detailed explanation. After reading this I feel like I've finally understood something I was struggling with for a long time. – kidster Jun 6 '14 at 7:40

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