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Main station Berlin Hauptbahnhof
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Cheap tickets Cheap Train Tickets in Germany

 

Take the train to Berlin, Germany's capital, and you'll most likely arrive into Berlin Hauptbahnhof, the major train station of the city’s five. Regular services operated by Deutsche Bahn connect Munich to Berlin in 3h 52m, Hamburg to Berlin in 1h 43m and Leipzig to Berlin in 1h 05m. You can also easily get to Berlin from the Netherlands and Czech Republic - the journey from Amsterdam to Berlin can last about 6h on fast NS and Deutsche Bahn services, while the journey from Prague to Berlin can last less than 4h on a sleek Deutsche Bahn train.

 

Trains from Europe to Berlin

Thanks to Europe’s robust high-speed rail network, it’s easy to travel from popular European destinations to Berlin. Here are some of the most popular routes into Berlin:

Route Fastest journey time Train operating company
Paris to Berlin 8h 19m Deutsche Bahn, SNCF, Thalys  
Prague to Berlin 3h 59m Deutsche Bahn
Amsterdam to Berlin 6h 03m Deutsche Bahn
Brussels to Berlin 6h 31m Deutsche Bahn, Thalys
Warsaw to Berlin 5h 26m Deutsche Bahn
Vienna to Berlin 7h 29m Deutsche Bahn, ÖBB

 

For more information on travelling in Europe by train, visit our Trains in Europe page.


Trains in Germany

The main provider of train services in Germany is Deutsche Bahn (DB), the state-owned railway company. DB runs a mixture of national and international services, long-distance and regional trains, and high-speed trains. DB’s fleet comprises of several different train types, including –

  • Intercity Express (ICE) – high-speed, long-distance trains connecting major German cities, and some running internationally to Amsterdam, Paris, Vienna, Brussels and Zurich.
  • Intercity (IC) – slightly slower than ICE, running on long-distance routes solely within Germany.
  • Regional-Express (RE) – medium distance regional trains, feeding into the long-distance network.
  • Regionalbahn (R) – local passenger trains primarily used by commuters, usually stopping at all stations on the line.

Other train companies are beginning to make inroads into the German rail market – not least Flixtrain, which runs trains on the Berlin to Cologne and Stuttgart to Berlin routes. Train companies running cross border services from Germany include Thalys, OBB and Alleo.

Ticket types

Realistically, if you’re taking trains in Germany you will most likely find yourself on Deutsche Bahn services. We’ll focus on DB ticket types here – for more information on other train operating companies, visit our Flixtrain, OBB, Thalys and Alleo pages.

  • Flexpreis – the most flexible but also the priciest tickets. You are not bound to taking a specific train, you can apply for a full refund up to one day before the travel date, and you can break up your journey – meaning you’re free to hop off the train and complete the trip on a different one later.
  • Sparpreis – these are DB’s ‘Saver’ tickets – a cheaper alternative to Flexpreis. If you’re taking a long-distance train, you will have to take the specific train listed on the ticket (ICE, IC, EC etc.). For regional and local trains, you’re not restricted to certain trains. If you request a refund, there will be a €10 fee and it will be issued as a voucher rather than cash.
  • Super Sparpreis – the ‘Super Saver’ ticket. Slightly cheaper than the Sparpreis, you’re under the same restrictions of having to take the specific train listed on the ticket. However, there are no refunds with Super Sparpreis.

Keep in mind that there’s a limited number of Saver tickets available. As such, Saver tickets work like airline tickets – becoming more expensive as the departure date approaches. On the contrary, Flexpries cannot sell out and the price is fixed, meaning it costs the same on the day as it does two months in advance.

For more information on train travel in Germany, visit our Trains in Germany page.

Connections from Berlin

Keen to explore the rest of Germany? Berlin Hbf station connects the capital to the rest of the country via high-speed and regional train services. The table below lists the most popular connections from Berlin –

Route Fastest journey time High speed?
Berlin to Munich 3h 52m Yes
Berlin to Hamburg 1h 43m Yes
Berlin to Leipzig 1h 05m Yes
Berlin to Dresden 2h 01m No
Berlin to Frankfurt 4h 00m Yes

 

If you see a journey that interests you, click on the route to head to the booking page and secure your tickets in advance!


London to Berlin Train

Taking the train is certainly not the fastest way to get from London to Berlin, but it’s a comfortable and scenic journey, leaving a far smaller carbon footprint than flying! You’ll also have no luggage restrictions and the liberty of taking food and even a bottle of wine on board. The train will take you from London through the Channel Tunnel to Belgium, arcing across Belgium and into Western Germany before speeding towards Berlin.

There are three legs to the journey – London St Pancras to Brussels Midi; Brussels Midi to Köln (Cologne) Hauptbahnhof and Köln Hbf to Berlin Hbf. The first leg is served by the high-speed Eurostar, while the second and third legs are served by Deutsche Bahn’s high-speed Intercity Express (ICE) service. Here’s a full breakdown of the journey –

Leg Journey time Train type
London to Brussels 2h 10m Eurostar
Brussels to Cologne 1h 50m ICE (Deutsche Bahn)
Cologne to Berlin 4h 17m ICE (Deutsche Bahn)

 

The total journey time is around 9 hours including stopovers.

What’s on board?

Eurostar

There are three classes on Eurostar trains – Standard class, Standard Premier class and Business Premier class. Standard is perfectly adequate for travellers on a budget – as most of us are! You’ll have access to UK and Continental plug sockets and free on-board WiFi. Feel free to bring some food and even a bottle of wine with you for the journey.

Intercity Express

There are several generations of ICE trains, with the newer ones capable of hitting speeds of 300km/h. You will be on an ICE2 – one of the older models, but nonetheless capable of hitting 280km/h. Trains are split into First Class and Second Class carriages, and the restaurant carriage. The main difference between classes is the seating. In First Class you’ll have leather seats and more legroom. Stewards will also take your food orders at seat – you won’t have to move to the restaurant carriage to eat. Standard class is perfectly comfortable, however, and eating in the restaurant carriage is part of the authentic European rail experience!


Visiting Berlin

Experience Berlin’s history

Begin with a tour of former East Berlin’s most interesting sites. Remnants of the history of the side under Soviet influence are dotted throughout modern Berlin. The Berlin Wall’s route is marked on the roads with a double row of cobblestones, while some of the pedestrian traffic signals are the East German Ampelmännchen – curious silhouettes of a man in a hat.

First, head to the East Side Gallery for a look at interesting street art painted on a section of the Berlin Wall. Next, catch an S-Bahn train to Humboldthain and visit the Unterwelten – an underground museum showcasing Berlin’s network of underground tunnels and WWII bunkers. Finally, head back into the centre to visit the Brandenburg Gate, the Tiergarten, and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Don’t miss the Information Centre underneath the Memorial, which contextualises the Memorial’s abstract design.

Berlin by night

Berlin has a thriving nightlife, supported by a lack of licensing restrictions and a strong local music scene. Nightclubs will often stay open for days at a time, only closing when the last dancer has decided to head home.

The Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg borough is home to some of the city’s best bars and nightclubs. If it’s a warm evening, try the open-air bar Club der Visionaere in Kreuzberg. The good music selection and canal-side location make it a favourite among Berliners. Chalet and Burg Schnabel are two other hidden gems in Kreuzberg. In Friedrichshain, AVA is an inclusive venue with a relaxed door policy, while Polygon is one of the newest additions to Berlin’s nightlife.

In general, nightclubs don’t have dress codes, so dress for comfort. Door policies can be very strict (read: Berghain) or very relaxed – but you shouldn’t have any trouble getting in the venues above. Berliners tend to go out late – and stay out until the early hours – so don’t expect it to get busy until after midnight. Public transport runs all night on weekends.


Visiting from the USA?

Berlin is a popular destination for travellers from the USA. Given the strands of red, white and blue that run through the city’s history – that’s perhaps not so surprising. After World War II, Berlin was split into four zones of Allied occupation, each administered by a different Allied power. The American Sector spanned several districts in the south-west of the city, including Kreuzberg, Schoneberg and Steglitz.

Areas of Berlin still bear American influence – most notably in the form of the iconic Checkpoint Charlie monument – but also in subtler ways. You’ll occasionally spot an old fin-tailed Cadillac cruising the streets of the old American Sector, and you don’t have to go far in Steglitz-Zehlendorf before finding Uncle Sam’s Diner and Liberty Pizza.

Berlin is very accommodating for English speakers. English is widely spoken as a second language in Germany and the signage at popular museums is in English as well as German. When someone tells you that they speak “a little bit of English”, they’re usually more than capable of understanding you and offering a helpful response.

The currency in Germany is the Euro (€). Debit cards and credit cards are now widely accepted in Berlin, but this wasn’t always the case. Don’t be surprised if some restaurants or bars don’t accept card. If in doubt, check the door on the way in for stickers indicating which cards are accepted inside. ATMs are commonplace throughout the city.

Tipping culture in Berlin does differ quite significantly from norms in the USA. In restaurants, the service charge is usually added to the bill – this will be marked as Bedienung. However, it’s normal to leave an extra 5-10% in cash if the service has been good. Hand it directly to the waiter rather than leaving it on the table. There’s no expectation to tip in cafés and bars but you might consider rounding up to the nearest euro if the service has been particularly good.

Finally, as a party to the Schengen Agreement, Germany allows US citizens to stay in the country for up to 90 days without a visa. Just make sure that your passport is valid for at least three months beyond the point you plan to leave the country.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get to Berlin by train from the UK?

Yes, you can! From London, the journey takes around 9 hours with two changes – at Brussels Midi and Koln (Cologne) Hbf. While it's not the quickest of journeys, you'll travel on comfortable Eurostar and Deutsche Bahn trains with no luggage restrictions – and you can even take a bottle of wine! For more information on the journey, check out our route page for London to Berlin.

What night trains can I take to Berlin?

You can catch night trains to Berlin from Vienna, Budapest and Zurich thanks to OBB – the Austrian state railway company. The Vienna service departs from Wien Hbf at 22:10 and arrives at Berlin Hbf at 09:30. The Budapest service departs from Budapest-Keleti at 19:30 and arrives at 09:16, while the Zurich service departs from Zurich HB at 20:00 and arrives at 07:54.

Are there trains from Schönefeld Airport to Berlin city centre?

Yes, the airport has its own railway station from which you can catch a train to the city centre. The "Airport Express" service runs twice hourly and gets you to Berlin Hbf in 30 minutes. Alternatively, hop on the S-Bahn metro, taking the S9 line to Berlin Hbf.

Do trains from Schönefeld Airport run for 24 hours?

The Airport Express is not a 24-hour service, running between 04:30 and 23:00. The S-Bahn runs slightly later than the Airport Express on weekdays – from 04:30 to 01:30. However, on weekends the S-Bahn service runs 24 hours.

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