Travel Germany by train and experience one of the best railway networks in the world. Home of the first international railway route (Cologne to Antwerp), Germany has always been one step ahead of the game when it comes to transport. Nowadays, getting around the country at high speed is easier than ever, with fast trains and efficient services operating smoothly every day. Read on for info on German routes, train tickets, train companies and to see the German railway map, as well as some inspiration on where you should travel!
Booking train tickets for German rail travel with us is a straightforward, stress-free process. If you live in the UK or have been there before, you’ll be glad to know the German ticketing system is far superior, with fewer variations of tickets – meaning less confusion over the rules. Take Deutsche Bahn, for instance, the country’s main train company. Their tickets are split into two main types, Sparpreis and Flexpreis, with First Class tickets also available.
If you want to buy one of these tickets, simply search for your desired route using our Journey Planner – you’ll usually see Sparpreis and Super Sparpreis tickets under the ‘cheapest’ section, while you can find Flexpreis tickets under the ‘flexible’ option.
Wondering if there are any tips for getting low-cost tickets? Why not check out our cheap train tickets in Germany page?
Sparpreis tickets are ideal if you’re a bargain hunter – these tickets are the cheapest available on the DB network, along with Super Sparpreis tickets. They act similarly to Advance tickets in the UK, as you can book a Sparpreis ticket for a certain date and time only. You won’t be able to board an earlier or later train with the same ticket, and there’s no chance of a free refund or exchange (you can do both of these for a fee), so be sure before you buy!
With a Flexpreis ticket, you’ll have much more freedom when it comes to catching earlier or later trains. You’ll generally pay a bit more than you would for a Sparpreis ticket, but you’ll be able to catch any train you want for your specified route on the day of travel. On top of that, Deutsche Bahn will refund you or exchange your ticket for free so long as it’s before the day of departure on your original ticket.
If you’d rather not think about individual tickets while travelling in Germany, then you’ll be after some sort of German rail pass. Thankfully, such a thing does exist! There are two, in fact, one for European residents (Eurail Pass) and one for those living anywhere other than Europe (Interrail Pass).
Let’s say you want a Eurail pass for Germany – you can simply select the ‘Eurail One Country Pass’ for unlimited use the rail network. There’s also some extra coverage in bordering countries if you fancy exploring even further! And, as a bonus, certain attractions and shops will grant you a discount if you’re a Eurail Pass holder. What’s not to like about that?
If, on the other hand, you’re not an EU resident, you’ll be wanting to grab the Interrail One Country Pass. The premise is similar to that of the Eurail Pass, as you can get up to eight days of unlimited travel throughout the German rail network. There’s nowhere in Germany you can’t go with this pass, and those under 28 can even travel with the further discounted Youth Pass.
Stereotypes about efficiency aside, the German rail network is one of the most complete in Europe – have a look below at our German train map (each line, both bold and feint, represents a train route). As already mentioned, the main train company that manages most of the rail traffic in the country is Deutsche Bahn – with them, you can get from major city to major city in no time at all, thanks to the amazing high-speed services on offer.
If you plan to explore large portions of Germany in a short amount of time, we recommend doing it by train. Not only will you be able to city-hop like a boss, but you can also even reach other countries in sub-five hours, which is comparable to air travel when taking into account check-in and waiting times.
Let’s say you’re landing at Frankfurt Airport to start your adventure. From the German financial capital, you can travel to Berlin in only 3h 52m! You can then see the Brandenburg Gate and have a walk down the river all before sunset (assuming you’re an early riser). The next day, you could even hop on a high-speed ICE train and be in Amsterdam in six hours… the possibilities are endless.
Journey time: 4h 16 minutes
Deutsche Bahn has several daily connections between Berlin and Prague, capital of the Czech Republic. The journey lasts just over 4 hours and the Sparpreis tickets (the cheapest) cost from €39.90.
Journey time: 3h 52 minutes
At least 2 ICE high-speed trains depart every hour from the Frankfurt Hbf and Berlin Hbf stations. Travel comfortably between two of the country's major cities with Deutsche Bahn.
Journey time: 3h 26 minutes
The European train company Thalys offers several direct connections every day between the capital of France and the German city. If it's your first time in Cologne, put on good shoes and go up to the bell tower of the cathedral. The view from up there is spectacular.
Journey time: 5h 45 minutes
If you like cities, do not forget to take the Prag Spezial train from Deutsche Bahn. Several trains depart daily from the Munich Hbf station to the Czech capital. Also, DB offers direct bus services between both cities through its subsidiary IC Bus.
If you’re not tired of hearing it yet, the leading train company in Germany is Deutsche Bahn, but there are a few others that operate in the country or are cross-border services originating from other countries. Check out all of them (that we sell tickets for) in the list below.
ÖBB’s Railjet services are high-speed trains that connect Austria to main cities in Germany, such as Munich.
The German equivalent to the bullet train is known as ICE (Intercity Express). These trains can reach eye-popping speeds of over 300 km/h, so it’s no wonder they offer such quick travel times between most of Germany’s main cities. Whether it’s east to west or north to south, ICE trains are comparable with flights in terms of overall journey duration, but they’ll always win out on comfort.
Like an ICE train, just a little slower. You’ll get many of the same onboard comforts, from spacious seats to WiFi service. If you’ve got time to spare, or you’re on a slightly shorter journey, these trains will be the better choice as they can be slightly cheaper. Look out for the double-decker editions too, for a unique train travel experience!
These trains generally serve commuter routes from quieter suburban areas into main cities, so do your best to avoid these during peak hours in the mornings and afternoons on weekdays. Otherwise, these trains are great for exploring the less-beaten paths. Take a Regionalbahn train and explore the countryside for a traditional German rail experience. If you want to reach your destination a little quicker, opt for the Regional Express service.
Germany features over 80 cities with populations of 100,000 people or more, making it so difficult to pick a favourite destination. There really is something for everyone, sausages and beer for the foodies, endless culture for those who are into the arts, and vibrant nightlife for the party animals. If we had to pick just three cities to check out on a short trip to the country, these are the ones we’d recommend you check out.
Capital of the Federal Republic of Germany
Berlin is the capital of Germany and the largest city in the country. With more than 4 million inhabitants, it is one of the largest cities in Europe - in fact, its size is geographically 9 times bigger than Paris.
After the Second World War, Berlin, like Germany, was divided in two. Although it remained the capital of the German Democratic Republic (RDA), the Rhenish city of Bonn became the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). In 1989, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall, German reunification began (1990) and Berlin regained its status as the country's capital.
Nowadays, Berlin has become an avant-garde city, where the vestiges of the past are mixed with modern buildings, parks and green areas and a multicultural population that continues to grow.
Berlin is synonymous with history, politics, culture and creativity.
From the Tiergarten station in the west of the city, visitors can enjoy a pleasant walk through the Großer Tiergarten, the largest and oldest park in Berlin, on the way to the Reichstag building, home of the German Parliament.
The Brandenburg Gate, symbol of the city, stands a few minutes away on foot, and from there it is easy to reach Checkpoint Charlie, one of the border crossings used to cross from East Berlin to West Berlin during the Cold War.
Among the dozens of museums in Berlin include the Jewish Museum, the Topography of Terror and the Pergamon Museum, dedicated to classical art and the most visited in the city.
With almost 2 million inhabitants, Hamburg is the second most populous city in Germany. Its port, located on the banks of the River Elbe, is the second largest in Europe - the 1st is that of Rotterdam - and the ninth in the world and one of the sources of wealth of the city.
Connected to the North Sea through the Elbe and the hundreds of canals that cross the city, Hamburg is a very green city with two very different parts and linked by the Jungfernstieg boulevard: the Neustadt, or new city, and the Altstadt, or old City.
Hamburg is a seafaring city that has no sea, although it does have an immense lake, the Alster. The central railway station of the city, Hamburg Hbf, and the Kunsthalle art museum stand nearby.
The immense Rathausplatz, or town hall square, can be reached from a few minutes on foot, from which travelers can visit monuments such as the Chamber of Commerce, the churches of St. Nikolai and St. Petri or go shopping through the streets Jungfernstieg and Mönckebergstrasse.
Two other must-sees are the port and St. Pauli, the liveliest district of the city and home to the red-light district of Hamburg, located along Reeperbahn Street.
Located on the banks of the River Rhine, Bonn is a university city that for four decades was the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). Chosen by the then Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, a native of the region, the city became the capital of West Germany and lived a huge urban development during the 1950s and 1960s.
Bonn, in addition, is the city where the German composer Ludwig van Beethoven was born. In the old quarter (Altstadt) it is possible to visit the museum house where the famous pianist spent several years.
The city has been growing on both banks of the Rhine River and, to cross from one side to another, there are several bridges. One of them, the Kennedybrücke, connects the neighbourhood of Beuel with the Altstadt.
Although the nearby cities of Cologne and Düsseldorf are larger than Bonn, the former German capital receives thousands of tourists every year. Heerstrasse (pictured) is a magnet for photography enthusiasts who, especially in spring, walk their sidewalks to take snapshots of the cherry blossoms.
In addition, Bonn has several museums devoted to art (Kunsthalle and Kunstmuseum) and German history (Haus der Geschichte), a cathedral (Münster) dating back to the 11th century and the Rheinaue park, one of the largest urban parks in Germany.