With only 288 km (180 miles) separating Berlin from Hamburg, both cities are just a day trip away. Whether you want artsy capital city or dynamic seaside metropolis, the two are within easy reach and should both be visited.
So what’s the best way to get from Berlin to Hamburg (or vice versa)? Here are your options, from plane to train, to car and bus.
Berlin to Hamburg by Train
The best option is taking the train to Hamburg. Train travel is the best way to move around Germany and - with a little planning - one of the cheapest.
Train tickets start at $75, and the Intercity Express train (ICE), which reaches speeds up to 300 kilometers per hour, takes you to Hamburg in only 1.5 hours. The Eurocity (EC) train is another option which may offer discounted tickets but is slightly slower. You can book your ticket, look for special online sales, and reserve your seat on the website of Deutsche Bahn (German Railway in English).
A slower but cheaper option is the Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket which allows up to 5 travelers for just.40 euro. And while usually booking in advance is the best way to get a low price, you can also try last-minute train tickets which go for as little as 26 Euros per ticket. More on discounts on German train deals.
Berlin to Hamburg by Car
Another great way to get to Hamburg? The world-famous Autobahn. Driving on this motorway is usually an orderly fair, but may offer the opportunity to check something off your bucket list.
If you go by car from Berlin to Hamburg, you will need between 2.5 and 3 hours, depending on traffic. Getting to Hamburg is easy: From Berlin, take the B 114, then the A 10, which merges into the A 24. Follow the Autobahn A 24 all the way to Hamburg (there are also plenty of signs along the way).
For car rental, base rates vary wildly depending on the time of year, duration of rental, the age of driver, destination, and location of rental. Shop around to find the best price. Note that charges usually do not include the 16% Value Added Tax (VAT), registration fee, or any airport fees (but do include the required third-party liability insurance). These additional fees may equal up to 25% of the daily rental
- The legal driving age 18, but usually drivers have to be over 21 to rent a car. Depending on the company, they may pay a premium until the age of 25.
- Reserve your car in advance (14 days beforehand ideally) for the best deals.
- Sign up for major company's (such as Hertz, Sixt, etc) newsletter or follow on social media for deals.
- German cars usually come with a manual transmission (gear shift). If you prefer an automatic transmission, ask the rental company and most can accommodate you. This may - like so many things - result in an extra charge.
If you feel up to hitching a ride, the site mitfahrgelegenheit.de (now known as BlaBlaCar) allows you to arrange ride-shares. These can be very cheap and organized just a few days in advance. On the downside, realize these are less secure than official options and last-minute cancellations do happen.
Berlin to Hamburg by Bus
The cheapest option to get from Berlin to Hamburg (and vice versa) is by bus. Tickets start at 30 (with some special discounts as low as 10 euro), and it takes a bit more than 3 hours to reach Hamburg. Bus tickets are a real bargain!
Plus, comfort levels are boosted by bus services like wifi, air-conditioning, toilets, electrical outlets, free newspaper and sleeper seats. air-conditioning, toilets, a board kitchen, and sleeper seats. Coaches are generally clean and arrive on time - again barring issues with traffic. A recommended bus company is Berlin Linien.
Berlin to Hamburg by Plane
Getting from Berlin to Hamburg by plane is one of the most expensive options – and not the fastest either. Most flights from Berlin to Hamburg have layovers in other German cities, such as Düsseldorf or Frankfurt - compared to a train or car ride, flights to Hamburg will often take twice as long. Plane tickets usually start at $250 ( roundtrip).