Country info: Germany (Deutschland)
Rail companies: DB (Deutsche Bahn)
Train travel in Germany: train types, tickets, fares, discounts & other useful info
National Train Service:
Train types in Germany: Suburban (S-Bahn), Regional (Regionalbahn, Regional-Express, InterRegioExpress), InterCity, high-speed trains (InterCityExpress, InterCityExpress-Sprinter, TGV, Thalys & RailJet), EuroCity/EuroNight & CityNightLine (CNL)
- Suburban (marked as S-Bahn on DB website): local train service around (sub)urban areas of major German cities, no seat reservation required
- Regional (marked as RE, RB, IRE on DB website): short & medium distance regional service, no seat reservation required
- InterCity (marked as IC on DB website): medium & long distance intercity connections between major German cities, usually every hour or two, seat reservation can be made, but not required
- InterCityExpress (marked as ICE on DB website): high-speed trains serving national and international connections, seat reservation can be made, but not required
- InterCityExpress-Sprinter (marked as on DB website): high-speed services with compulsory seat reservation (4,50 euro), mainly run during peak hours with minimal number of intermediate stops & slightly higher route speed, thus at the end faster than regular ICE trains.
- TGV / Thalys / RailJet (marked as TGV, THA, RJ on DB website): international high-speed trains connecting Germany with France, Belgium, Austria & Hungary, on domestic journeys within Germany seat reservation can be made, but not required
- EuroCity/EuroNight (marked EC/EN on DB website): international daytime & overnight trains, seat reservation can be made, but not required (unless passenger travels in couchette/sleeper car)
- CityNightLine (marked as CNL on DB website): international overnight service, seat reservation compulsory for both seats & berths/beds
Discounts, special offers & ways to save money for passengers traveling by train in Germany:
- Probably the best option for passengers who want to pay less for their German rail travels is to purchase train tickets in advance. For domestic journeys (meaning within Germany, both direct or trips with train change) German Railways (DB) offer special discounted tickets called Sparpreis (=Saver Fare). Sparpreis tickets in 2nd class start from only 19 euro (<250 km journeys) or from 29 euro (>250 km). However potential passengers should keep in mind that since such tickets are being sold at discounted rates they are limited in number per each departure, thus in order to catch best Sparpreis you should try to buy your tickets as soon as possible, because the earlier you purchase your train ticket the better fare you get. DB starts ticket sale 92 days in advance. Sparpreis tickets can be refunded or exhchanged for 17,5 euro fee. For the overnight connections DB also offers somewhat similar deal called SparNight
- In case passenger can not purchase tickets in advance or it is already late to buy cheap discounted Sparpreis/SparNight tickets, it doesn't not mean that he or she needs to overpay for the full standard fare expensive tickets. Why so? The reason is simple - in many cases passengers can legally trick DB and instead of domestic tickets use discounted international tickets (so called 'Europa-Spezial') while traveling within Germany. The nuance is that discounted tickets for domestic connections (Sparpreis) usually get sold out much faster than international discounted tickets. For example, passenger needs to travel from Berlin to Munich, but all the cheap 29-39-49 EUR Sparpreis tickets are not available anymore? Not a problem, because that is exactly the type of situation when you might try looking at some international ticket like Berlin to Salzburg (via Munich). Obviously it sounds strange that passenger purchases ticket till the station which comes later than the one he or she needs, but if such minor and totally legit trick gives you much better price & saves money, then why not to take advantage?
- For regular users of DB services it is possible to consider purchase of DB BahnCards (BahnCard 25 & BahnCard 50). Rail cards work in very simple way - passengers purchase fixed price BahnCard and enjoy 25% or 50% discount on all the full fare tickets for the entire year. BahnCard 25 costs just 62 euro (2nd class) or 125 euro (1st class), while BahnCard 50 will cost you 255 euro (2nd class) or 515 euro (1st class) + children, students (<27 years of old) and senior citizens (> 60) pay only half the price for their BahnCard 50. Also since this year DB offered the so-called Trial BahnCards, which are valid for three months and cost only 19/39 euro (BahnCard 25) or 79/159 euro (BahnCard 50).
- One of the best deals for passengers traveling by train in Germany is the so-called Happy Weekend Ticket (Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket). It is a special group pass valid for up to 5 passengers travelling together on Saturdays or Sundays between 0:00am (midnight) and until 3am of the following day. Schönes-Wochenende-Ticke allows unlimited journeys over this validity period and cost only 40 euro (if you buy it online or via DB ticket vending machine) or 42 euro (when bought at DB ticket counter), any additional passenger it's just +4 euro, while children up to the age of 14 travel for free. Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket is valid for unlimited journeys in 2nd class on all the DB local services, meaning all the S-Bahn, RB, IRE, RE trains (not valid on ICE, IC, EC, CNL trains) and on many city transport networks (please check locally)
- Quer-durchs-Land-Ticket is yet another group pass which can be of use for people traveling by rail in Germany. It is valid for up to 5 persons travelling together on weekdays (Monday till Friday) between 9am until 3am following day for only 44 euro for one person or +8 euro per every other passeger, so Quer-durchs-Land-Ticket for 2 passengers will cost 52 euro, for 3 - 60 euro and so on. Quer-durchs-Land-Ticket is basically just like Happy Weekend Ticket, but for weekdays, it is valid for unlimited journeys in 2nd class on all the DB local services, meaning all the S-Bahn, RB, IRE, RE trains (not valid on ICE, IC, EC, CNL trains) and on most city transport networks (please check locally)
- Another great deal which helps to cut your travel expenses in Germany is Länder-Tickets (= day passes for different German regions). Länder-Tickets are valid from Monday to Friday for one day of passenger's choice from 9am until 3am of the following day (or on holidays & weekends for the whole day). Some tickets can also be used for night time travel (valid from 7pm until 6am the next morning). 'Länder-Tickets' can also be either Single(=one passenger) or for a group (up to 5 passengers), Länder-Tickets is only valid in 2nd class & can be used on all the DB local services (meaning all the S-Bahn, RB, IRE, RE trains (not valid on ICE, IC, EC, CNL trains) and also on most city transport networks (please check locally)
Lander-Tickets (Regional Pass) in various German regions (map of the federal states and online shop - www.bahn.de):
- Baden-Württemberg-Ticket: 23 euro for the first passenger and +5 euro for each next passenger (meaning 2 people = 28 euro, 3 = 33 euro, etc.), Baden-Wurttemberg Ticket is valid for the entire transport system of the Verkehrsverbünde Baden-Württemberg (with some exceptions). As well available Baden-Württemberg-Ticket 1st class (31 euro & +12 euro supplement per additional passenger) and Baden-Württemberg-Ticket Night valid from 6pm until 6am the next day (20 euro & +5 euro supplement per person for up to 4 further travel companions). For travelers to Switzerland it's good to know that Baden-Württemberg-Ticket is also valid till Swiss Basel, so passengers can easily save on cross-border fare
- Bayern-Ticket (Bavaria-Ticket): 23 euro for one passenger & +5 euro supplement per person for up to 4 further travel companions (2 passengers=28 euro, 3=33 euro, etc.), Bavaria Ticket can be used on the entire transport system in Bavaria, Münchner Verkehrsbund (MVV), Verkehrsverbund Nürnberg (VGN), Augsburger Verkehrs- und Tarifverbundes (AVV) and many others. Bavaria Ticket 1st class is 34,50 euro & +16,50 euro for every additional companion. Also DB offers Bayern-Ticket Nacht (Bavaria-Night-Ticket), which is valid Monday to Thursday from 6pm until 6am the next day, while Friday, Saturday and on Bavarian public holiday's eve from 6pm until 7am (23 euro & 2 euro supplement per person for up to 4 further travel companions). For travelers to Austria it's good to know that Bavaria Ticket is valid till Austrian Salzburg, so passengers can easily save on cross-border fare
- Brandenburg-Berlin-Ticket: 29 euro for one passenger or 49 euro for up to 5 passengers, valid on all the local trains (Regional-Express, Regionalbahn, S-Bahn Berlin) and the transport systems in Brandenburg and Berlin. Also available Brandenburg-Berlin-Ticket Night, which is valid Monday to Sunday from 6pm until 6am the next day, if you book online only 22 euro for one passenger or 42 for up to 5 passengers
- Bremen, Niedersachsen-Ticket (Lower-Saxony-Ticket): 23 euro for one passenger & +4 euro supplement per person for up to 4 further travel companions (2 passengers = 27 euro, 3 = 31 euro, etc.), Lower-Saxony Ticket can be used on the entire transport system of Lower Saxony & Bremen
- Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein-Ticket: 28 euro for one passenger & +3 euro supplement per person for up to 4 further travel companions (2 passengers = 31 euro, 3 = 34 euro, etc.). Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein-Ticket can be used on the entire transport system of Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Hamburger Verkehrsverbund (HVV) zone A and B.
- Hessenticket (Hesse-Ticket): 32 euro for any number of passengers (up to 5), valid on all the local trains (InterRegio-Express, Regional-Express, Regionalbahn, S-Bahn) and the transport systems in Hesse (NVV, RMV and VRN/URN).
- Mecklenburg-Vorpommern-Ticket (Mecklenburg-West-Pommerania-Ticket): 23 euro for one passenger & +4 euro supplement per person for up to 4 further travel companions (2 passengers = 27 euro, 3 = 31 euro, etc.), Mecklenburg-West-Pommerania-Ticket can be used on the entire transport system of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Hamburg.
- Nordrhein-Westfalen-Ticket (North Rhine-Westphalia Ticket): 29 for one passenger or 42 euro for a group up to 5 passengers, valid on all the local trains (Interregio-Express, Regional-Express, Regionalbahn, S-Bahn) and the transport systems in North Rhine-Westphalia.
- Rheinland-Pfalz-Ticket (Rhineland-Palatinate-Ticket)/Saarland Ticket: 24 euro for one passenger & +5 euro supplement per person for up to 4 further travel companions (2 passengers = 29 euro, 3 = 34 euro, etc.), Rheinland-Pfalz-Ticket (Rhineland-Palatinate-Ticket) & Saarland Ticket can be used on the entire transport system of Rheinland-Pfalz and Saarland. Also available Rheinland-Pfalz-Ticket night and Saarland-Ticket Night for 20 euro & +4 euro for each next passenger
- Sachsen-Ticket (Saxony-Ticket): 23 euro for one passenger & +5 euro supplement per person for up to 4 further travel companions (2 passengers=28 euro, 3=33 euro, etc.), Saxony-Ticket can be used on the entire transport system in Sachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt & Thüringen
- Sachsen-Anhalt-Ticket (Saxony-Anhalt-Ticket): 23 euro for one passenger & +5 euro supplement per person for up to 4 further travel companions (2 passengers= 28 euro, 3 = 33 euro, etc.), Saxony-Anhalt-Ticket can be used on the entire transport system in Sachsen-Anhalt, Sachsen & Thüringen
- Thüringen-Ticket (Thuringia-Ticket): 23 euro for one passenger & +5 euro supplement per person for up to 4 further travel companions (2 passengers = 28 euro, 3 = 33 euro etc.), Thuringia-Ticket can be used on the entire transport system in Thüringen, Sachsen & Sachsen-Anhalt.
* All the above fares for Lander-Tickets given for the tickets bought either online or via DB ticket machines, same tickets bought from DB counter will cost +2 euro (service fee)
Deutsche Bahn (DB) also offers German Rail Pass (valid for all the trains, including ICE):
International Train Service:
a) Regular discounts
TEE PreiseSystem (international tickets betwen Austria, Germany and Switzerland)
b) Special offers (SparSchiene)
Ticket offers with limited number of tickets per each departure (purchase in advance required):
- Europa-Spezial (Europe Special): one way discounted tickets from Germany to Belgium, Netherlands, France, Austria, Poland, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Czech Republic (start from only 19 euro on short cross-border routes & from 29/39 euro on long-distance routes); from Germany to Denmark (from 29 euro on trips starting from Hamburg or closer & 39 euro on long-distance routes); from Germany to Italy, Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, Sweden (from 39 euro)
- London-Spezial (London-Germany Special): one way discounted tickets from Germany to London (UK) via Brussels (& vice versa) from 59 euro in 2nd class or 109 euro in 1st class
c) CityStarsNot Available
German Railways (DB) as well offer a number of local cross-border tickets:
For travels from Bavaria to Czech Republic it is possible to use Bavaria-Bohemia Ticket (Bayern-Böhmen-Ticket), which is a special regional pass that combines regular Bavaria-Ticket and pass for the Western parts Czech Republic (valid all the way till Plzen/Cesky Budejovice/Decin etc.). Such ticket-pass can be used on any IRE, RE, RB, S-Bahn & ALX trains. Bavaria-Bohemia Ticket for one passenger cost 26 euro, for two it is 31,60 euro, three 37,20 euro and so on up to 5 passengers.
For travels from Saxony to Czech Republic it is possible to use Saxony-Bohemia Ticket (Sachsen-Böhmen-Ticket), which is a special regional pass that combines regular Saxony-Ticket and pass for the neighboring parts of Czech Republic (all the way to Plzen/Cesky Budejovice/Decin etc.). Such ticket-pass is valid for all the IRE, RE, RB, S-Bahn & VBG trains. Saxony-Bohemia Ticket for one passenger cost 26 euro, for two it is 31,50 euro, three 37 euro and so on up to 5 passengers.
For travels from eastern parts of Germany to Poland (<120 km) DB & PKP offer special cross-border return Regio-Spezial Polen tickets, valid for all the S-Bahn, RE, RB trains & 2nd class only on IRE and D trains
For travels from Germany to Austria & Switzerland around lake Constance (Bodensee) offered special ticket - EUREGIO Bodensee, allows daily use of public transport (including ferries Friedrichshafen - Romanshorn & Konstanz - Meersburg) in the selected zones (Zone 1 is eastern part of the lake, Zone 2 central & Zone 3 western part of lake Constance) in Germany (regional trains only) Switzerland and Austria. EUREGIO Bodensee for adult passenger is 18 euro for one zone, 24 euro for two zones & 31 euro for all 3 zones. For small groups (1 or 2 adults with up to 4 children) - 36, 45 and 58 euro respectively
For travels from Saarland to Luxembourg & France during weekend passenger can enjoy special Saar-Lor-Lux-Ticket, which is valid on Saturdays and Sundays from midnight to 3am next day & can be used on entire networks of Saarlarnd in Germany, Lorraine in France and whole network in Luxembourg. Saar-Lor-Lux-Ticket for one passenger cost 26 euro & +10 euro supplement per person for up to 4 further travel companions (meaning that 2 passengers will pay 36 euro, 3 = 46 euro, etc.)
How to Buy Train Tickets in Germany:
National (domestic) and majority of international tickets (including offers like Europa Spezial) can be purchased online via DB website - www.bahn.de
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