Guide to Discount Train Tickets in Germany

Save Money With Discount Train Tickets and Passes in Germany

A German ICE high speed train in Cologne station.
Julian Elliott Photography/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Want to explore Germany by train and travel on a budget? It is totally doable.

Trains in Germany are (usually) punctual and one of the best ways to travel the country. You can step on a train right from the center of town in the Hauptbahnhof (central train station) and cruise to anywhere in Germany and beyond at speeds up to 300km/h (186m/hour). At its best it is comfortable and leisurely, and with a little planning it can be very inexpensive.

All train tickets can be purchased either online, at ticket vending machines at the stations, or at ticket counters of the German National Railway (called Deutsche Bahn) which are located in most German train stations. Here is a complete guide to finding discount train tickets in Germany.

Buy Train Tickets in Germany in Advance

Tickets are sold at sparpreise (discount prices) from 3 months to 3 days prior to the travel date. Discounts can be up to 63%. Outside of those times, or once all the discount tickets are sold, tickets are sold at normalpreis (standard fare).

For this lower price, there are a few restrictions. For example, they are zugbindung which means you must take the train printed on your ticket - it is not flexible.

Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket (Happy Weekend Ticket)

With the Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket, the weekend is all yours - you can take the train as often as you like within one weekend (Saturday or Sunday and is valid from midnight up to 3 am the following morning), anywhere in Germany, and on any regional (RB, IRE, RE) and S-Bahn train (no high-speed Intercity Express). The ticket costs 44 euros plus just 6 euro per person for up to 5 people. 

To give a little perspective, you can ride from Munich to Berlin on this ticket with 4 of your friends. It is crazy cheap, but will cost you in time. This journey is usually only 4.5 hours, but can stretch to 12 hours on regional trains. Plan your time versus money accordingly.

Länder Ticket (State Ticket)

Every federal state in Germany offers a Länderticket, which allows you to explore their Bundesland by train for one whole day. Travel anywhere within Bavaria or Saxony or Berlin-Brandenburg.

With only one pass, you can travel with up to 5 people and explore a German state of your choice on a shoestring budget starting at 23 euros plus 6 euros per additional traveler up to 5 people.

Group Travel

Group saver fares allow groups to travel within Germany for as little as 19.90 euros per person. Groups can range from 6 to 30 people in size and tickets are available up to 12 months in advance. There is also a group saver fare Europe that offers travel to more countries in Europe.

German Rail Pass

With the German Rail Pass, you can travel on all trains on the German Railway including the Intercity Express (also known as ICE) for 5 to 15 days within the period of one month. The German Rail Pass is available for both first and second class travel (as well as youth options) and for consecutive days or flexible.

Prices start at 145 euros for 2 consecutive days up to 280 euros for 7 days within a month.

An important note: This offer only applies to people with permanent residence outside Europe, Turkey and Russia. If you are European and live outside Europe you must have left more than 6 months ago (indicated by the stamp in your passport).

BahnCard

The German Railway offers frequent train travelers the chance to buy a card that offers discounts on every train journey.  There are three different options:

  • Bahncard 25 - This card provides a 25% discount on flexpreis (flexible fares) and sparpreis for one year. The card costs just 62 Euros for second class.
  • Bahncard 50 - This card provides a 50% discount on Flexpreis and 25% discount on sparpreise within Germany. The card costs 255 Euros for second class. Students, senior citizens and children only pay half the purchase price. 
  • Bahncard 100 - For the constant traveler, this card provides all-inclusive travel for one year. The card costs 695.52 euros for private customers.