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If you’re looking to explore the wonderful country of Germany by rail, then you’ll need some DB train tickets. Short for Deutsche Bahn, these trains are known for their brilliant levels of comfort and efficiency. As Germany’s largest railway company, you’re likely to board a Deutsche Bahn service at some point if you’re travelling around the country. Offering both high-speed, long-distance services as well as regional routes, travelling by train with Deutsche Bahn is one of the most convenient ways to get around. Read on to learn about Deutsche Bahn tickets, trains, and the top destinations you can visit in Germany by train.

Travelling onwards from Germany? Learn about the other major train companies in Europe, including Eurostar, Flixtrain, Trenitalia and SNCF.

DB tickets

DB tickets are easy to understand. Whether you travel in First Class or Standard, there are two different types of ticket you can buy – Sparpreis and Flexpreis. Check out our brief overview of each type below for more info.

Deutsche Bahn Sparpreis

The Sparpreis is your best option for cheap train travel on the DB network, and also the most commonly sold. There are some limitations to its use though, so make sure to be aware of these before travelling. Similar to an Advance ticket in the UK, if you book a Sparpreis ticket for a certain time (for example an 11:00 departure), then you’ll only be able to catch that train and not a later or earlier one.

If you want to refund or exchange the ticket, there will be a fee, usually in the region of 19 Euros. Another thing to bear in mind is that Deutsche Bahn will raise the prices of Sparpreis tickets for certain routes depending on demand, so it’s highly recommended that you book your ticket as far in advance as possible.

Deutsche Bahn Flexpreis

With a Deutsche Bahn Flexpreis ticket, you’ll have more freedom regarding the times you can travel. Unlike the Sparpreis, you’ll be able to travel on any train departing on the date of travel. Also, DB will give you a full refund for the ticket up until the day before departure, should your travel plans change.

The cost of this DB ticket will depend on the journey, class and type of train you travel on. Similar to the Sparpreis, we recommend you buy this ticket as far in advance as possible, to get the best possible deal.

Deutsche Bahn First Class

The ideal train travel experience, travelling in First Class with Deutsche Bahn means you get to relax in large, comfortable seats and enjoy a bundle of great amenities. From complimentary snacks to free newspapers and fast WiFi, you’ll have everything you need for a convenient and enjoyable train journey.

DB map

With ICE (high-speed), Intercity and Regional services in operation, the Deutsche Bahn map is one of the most extensive in all of Europe, so it’s a good thing it all runs like clockwork! See the rail network in full below, broken down by region.

As the number one long-distance passenger transport service in Germany, Deutsche Bahn can get you around the country with minimum fuss. Travel is made easy when the majority of your journeys are with one well-organised provider, and with over 13 million passengers travelling on the service every day, DB certainly lives up to its reputation as a reliable service.

Use this Germany train map to see which regions which Deutsche Bahn trains travel to, and if you’re looking for inspiration on where to go, have a peek at our trains in Germany page! You’ll find info on some of our favourite cities and how to get to each one by train.

DB trains

There are three main types of DB train in operation, including the ICE (Intercity Express), Germany’s iconic high-speed train service. Intercity trains, meanwhile, conveniently connect many of the major cities across the country. Finally, DB also provides Regional Express and Regional Bahn services, which connect quieter towns and villages to nearby cities. Read on to discover more about each type of train, including what kind of features you can find on board, and where they can take you.

ICE Trains

Able to reach speeds of over 300 km/h, DB’s ICE trains cover the hugely popular long-distance routes across the country, serving major cities like Munich, Berlin and Frankfurt. You can also take the ICE train to neighbouring countries such as France and Austria, making it a great option if you’d like to city (or even country) hop!

Onboard, you can expect to find WiFi on most trains, as well as quiet zones, family carriages and much more. ICE trains feature two seating classes, both of which are incredibly comfortable. In First Class, passengers are treated to free newspapers, hot and cold drinks and snacks, and unlimited WiFi. To find out more, visit our ICE trains and DB Bahn First Class pages.

Intercity

Providing a similar service to the ICE trains, Intercity services also ferry passengers between Germany’s major cities – just at a slower speed. You’ll get many of the same comforts on these trains, including the spacious seats. In fact, some Intercity trains also feature double-decker carriages, enabling them to carry more passengers per journey than ICE trains.

Regional Express and Regionalbahn

Regional Express and Regionalbahn trains provide some of the most important commuting routes in Germany, connecting towns and villages to major cities. So try to avoid travelling on these trains during peak hours, as they can be quite busy. On the other hand, if you’d like to explore some slightly different areas away from the beaten path, then regional trains are incredibly useful. Much like the Intercity trains, some of these services also feature double-decker carriages for extra space.

How to buy cheap Deutsche Bahn tickets

Deutsche Bahn tickets usually increase in price the longer they’re available. The cheapest fares available are Sparpreis tickets, which you can buy from up to six months before the departure date – we’d recommend booking these tickets as early as possible to save money on your journey. 

You can also now book a SuperSparpreis ticket on certain DB journeys. Introduced to help people travel by train for less, prices start from €19.99. These tickets are limited though, so book early to benefit from this offer.

Other cheap DB tickets include the Länder-Ticket and the Quer-durchs-Land-Ticket. The Länder-Ticket, whose price can start from €22, allows you to travel in a specific region and in some neighbouring ones with up to 5 people on any DB regional train in Second Class, and for as many journeys as you wish on the travel date you select. The Quer-durchs-Land-Ticket has the same benefits as the Länder-Ticket, although it allows you to travel across the whole country with a starting price of €42.

Visit our cheap train tickets in Germany page to learn more.

ICE Trains - routes & onboard facilites

ICE stands for Intercity Express. These are DB’s flagship high-speed trains, capable of speeds up to 320/h (198mph). You’ll hear most people in Germany referring to them by their shortened ‘ICE’ moniker, pronounced ‘eet-ze-eh’.

The first generation of ICE trains was trialled in 1985, but it wasn’t until 1991 that the fleet of high-speed trains officially entered service in newly reunified Germany. Since then, eight different models of ICE have entered service and the service has transported around one-and-a-half billion passengers in total.

Routes

ICE services run between all major cities in Germany, including Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt and Leipzig. The network also runs into neighbouring countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and France.

ICE trains run on 1,435mm track, the Standard Gauge most commonly used by high-speed trains in Europe.

Catering on board

ICE trains usually have a restaurant car (where you can have a sit-down meal) and a bistro-area where you can buy food to take back to your seat. You don’t have to reserve a seat in the restaurant car; simply find an unoccupied seat and sit down. If you’re in First Class, a member of staff will take orders at your seat and you’ll be able to eat from the comfort of your seat.

Note: Deutsche Bahn have suspended on board catering due to COVID-19 until further notice.

Classes

There are two classes on board; First and Second. Like most trains in Europe, seating in First Class is arranged in a 2+1 formation, while Standard are arranged in a 2+2 formation. First Class seats are spacious, with leather upholstery and more legroom. However, Standard Class is also perfectly comfortable and usually provides excellent value for money.

If you're feeling hungry, Standard Class passengers can go to the restaurant car or cafe-bistro. First Class passengers benefit from the at-seat meal service (currently suspended due to COVID-19).

Good to know

Travelling with Deutsche Bahn? Find out everything you need to know about luggage allowance, pets and other onboard Deutsche Bahn facilities here

Yes, you can. All trains are free to use with your pass, no matter the time or length of the journey. On some high-speed trains, such as the ICE train, a seat reservation may be required, which could mean an additional cost. This also applies for upgrades to sitting in First Class. If you have the One Country pass, then you will not be able to travel on any DB train that travels cross-border.

The Sparpreis ticket will allow you a refund, but it will cost you up to 19 Euros to either cancel or exchange the ticket. With Flexpreis tickets, there’s no charge for refunding or exchanging the ticket, up until the day before you travel.

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