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!
The German rail network is one of the most complete in Europe. The company that manages the train traffic in the country is Deutsche Bahn, connecting most cities and regions of the country. Although one of the largest countries in the continent, high-speed services make the journeys between the main German cities and other European cities just a few hours apart. For example, it's possible to travel from Frankfurt to Paris in 3 hours and 40 minutes.
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.
Germany is an incredible country. Bathed by the waters of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, it has more than 2,000 kilometres of coastline and several mountain systems. To the south, it delimits with the Alps, the highest mountain range of central Europe. These are some of its well-known festivals and regions.
History / Tradition / Beer / Music
The Oktoberfest is the most important popular party in the country. Famous all over the world, it is known for gathering every year more than 6 million people dressed in lederhosen (leather pants) in the Theresienwiese park in the city of Munich. With an approximate duration of between 16 and 18 days, the Oktoberfest, or October fair in Spanish, is dedicated to the most famous drink in Germany: beer.
The festival was held for the first time in 1810 to celebrate the marriage between Prince Ludwig I of Bavaria and Therese of Saxony and Hildburghausen. Although more than two centuries have passed since the first edition, the Oktoberfest only ceased to be held on 24 occasions for major causes, such as wars or epidemics.
There are several curiosities that you probably did not know about the Oktoberfest:
Trekking / Nature / Culture
The mountain range of the Black Forest extends to the southwest of the country. Formed by dense forests and snowy peaks in winter, it is a regular destination for travellers interested in culture, hiking and adventure sports.
In addition to beautiful cities such as Freiburg or Baden-Baden, the Black Forest has impressive lakes -Titisee or Schluchsee-, picturesque villages -Gengenbach, Saasbachwalden or Triberg- and amusement parks -Europapark, the largest in Europe- attractions for any tourist.
Moving through the Black Forest is especially interesting thanks to two of the most famous rail routes in Germany: the Black Forest line (Schwarzwaldbahn) and the Hell Valley line (Höllentalbahn).
Currently closed for renovations on the tracks, the Höllentalbahn line connects the city of Freiburg (Freiburg im Breisgau) with the municipality of Donaueschingen, where the famous Danube river is born. Because the regional train covering the route must exceed more than 600 meters of level, the Höhentalbahn is the steepest railway in the country. The works are scheduled to finish in November 2019.
Water sports / Gastronomy / Holidays
After crossing the famous and mystical Black Forest by train, what could be better than relaxing on the shores of Lake Constance?
Located north of the Alps and on the Rhine River, Lake Constance (Bodensee) acts as the natural border between Germany (north), Switzerland (south) and Austria (east).
Thanks to its beaches and marinas, Lake Constance has become a German Cote d'Azur. The sun and the good temperatures of the area attract tourists of high purchasing power that are entertained in luxurious mansions, museums and haute cuisine restaurants.
The enormous extension of the lake (572 km2) allows the practice of sailing and diving sports. In addition, a good idea is to walk the banks of the lake by bicycle.
The main German city on the shores of the lake is Friedrichshafen, home of the Zeppelin museum.
Oenology / Culture / Nature / Cycling
The Deutsche Weinstraße, or German Wine Route, is one of the oldest wine routes in Germany. Created in 1935 to promote tourism in the Rhineland Palatinate region, part of Wissembourg, on the border with France, and crosses the whole state to the city of Bockenheim.
Along the way, vineyards, villages and forests dot the landscape. From the starting point, under the German Wine Gate (Deutsches Weintor) in Schweigen, the route is marked by yellow signs with a bunch of grapes.
The best time to carry out the wine route is in October, the month in which the grapes are harvested, an activity known as vintage.
In case you did not know, the prices of train tickets in Germany increase as the departure date of trains approaches. As our goal is to help you save, we explain how you can find cheap tickets to travel through Germany and other European countries. And, according to our statistics, train tickets bought in advance are, on average, 43% cheaper than normal tickets.
Deutsche Bahn tickets for travel through Germany, France, Denmark, Switzerland or the Czech Republic, among other countries, usually go on sale at least 3 months before the date of travel. To travel at reduced prices, make sure you buy the tickets with time as they are usually the first to run out. The same goes for travelling Germany by bus – which can often be a cheaper option.
If you travel by train in Germany, try to avoid rush hours. And it is that early in the morning and between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. the tickets are usually more expensive and the trains are more congested.
Check out our section of offers and discounts. If you travel with your family you can benefit from the rates for groups and children. Always try to specify your date and time of return, since flexible tickets tend to be more expensive.
The German railway company Deutsche Bahn offers train tickets at special prices to travel around Europe.
Since the number of discounted tickets is limited, they are usually put up for sale 6 months in advance.
For that reason, when the cheapest tickets are sold out, the price of the rest usually increases progressively until the day of departure of the train.
There are two types of Deutsche Bahn Sparpreis Europe tickets depending on the length of the journey:
- From € 19.90 for short trips. Example: Munich (Germany) to Innsbruck (Austria).
- From € 39.90 for long distance journeys. Example: Hamburg (Germany) to Mayrhofen (Austria).
Book tickets to travel by train in Europe may be different depending on the country in which you are. The prices and types of tickets vary from one railway company to another. To travel from Berlín to París, for example, you'll have to buy a Deutsche Bahn ticket to get from Berlín to Frankfurt, and then a joint DB-SNCF ticket to travel from Frankfurt to París.
To avoid the inconvenience of making several reservations, it is best to buy your tickets through Trainline. If you download the Trainline app you can look at timetables, and buy tickets for different German train operators all in one go.
If you already know where you're going, have a look at our Deutsche Bahn page. There you can collect information about tickets, services, schedules, routes and types of trains of the German operator.
If it's your first time travelling by train in Germany, don't worry. In most European stations there are staff who will help you find your train and platform.
We normally suggest arriving well before your train departs. Although trains in Germany are quite punctual, there can sometimes be delays or last-minute changes to the timetable. For that reason, always try to keep on top of your journey by looking out for live updates and possible cancellations.
In Germany almost all railway stations they have electronic panels where you can consult schedules, see where your train part as well as the delays or cancellations suffered by the services. In addition, many stations communicate relevant information to travellers through public address. The main stations (known as Hauptbahnhof or Hbf in German) usually have box office of information and sale of tickets, storage compartments luggage, toilets, stores and restaurants where you can do a bit of shopping before your train leaves.
With more than 80 cities with at least 100,000 inhabitants, Germany is by far the most populous country in the European Union. Although many of them were totally or partially destroyed during the Second World War, the reconstruction work carried out mainly by the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s tried to return the old city centres as Dresden, Berlin or Cologne to its original state. Today, Hamburg, Munich or Berlin itself are an architectural and cultural reference not only at a European level but worldwide.
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.
With the Eurail Pass you can travel by train to more than 10,000 destinations in Germany and Europe. To be able to enjoy the experience and visit the cities and cultures that coexist on the continent, you must first decide which Eurail Pass is the best for you, depending on whether you want to visit a particular country or several within a month. Below we explain each of them:
The Eurail Global Pass is the ticket for the most adventurous. With it, you can get on trains and ferries from 30 different European countries.
For more information, visit our Eurail Global Country Pass page.
If your idea is to visit several countries, then buy a Select Pass and travel by train in 2, 3 or 4 different countries saving 20% on each of them.
Are you one of those who prefers to immerse themselves in the history and culture of one country? If the answer is yes, get a One Country Pass and discover the ins and outs of the country in question.
Are you younger than 27? Are you over 60 and eager to travel? Do you travel as a family with children?
Visit our page on Eurail and discover how you can save when buying your Eurail Pass.
The Deutsche Bahn high-speed train service is called Intercity Express (ICE). Circulating at speeds of up to 320 km / h, they connect the main cities of the country with each other, as well as with others abroad. Deutsche Bahn has a collaboration agreement with the French SNCF through which both companies operate services between both countries.
Also, trains from other foreign operators such as ÖBB, SBB or Thalys cover journeys between Germany and Austria, Switzerland or Belgium.
These are Deutsche Bahn trains that travel long, medium distances or between cities in the same region. Although there are many types of trains, the main ones are:
Intercity (IC): a little slower than the ICE. They only make stops at main stations.
InterRegional: connections between regions.
Regional Express (RE): services between main cities and regional destinations.
Regional Bahn (RB): they connect locations at a lower speed than REs.
S-Bahn: urban transport trains that cover metropolitan and, occasionally, regional traffic.