Train Travel in Germany

All About Train Travel and the German Railway

Interior of Frankfurt Central Train Station
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One of the best ways to discover Germany is by train. The German railway system is very well developed and reliable, and you can reach almost every city in Germany by train; not to mention that watching the German landscape stream by your window is a very relaxing and comfortable way of traveling.

The German National Railway is called Deutsche Bahn, or DB for short. Here is an overview of the German Railway System that will help you decide what trains to take and how to get the best tickets for your train travel through Germany.

The German High Speed Train

If you want to travel as fast as possible from A to B, take the Intercity Express (ICE - though it is not pronounced "ice" in German, it is referred to by its abbreviation). The German high speed train, which reaches speeds up to 300 kilometers per hour, is a signature silver snout takes only 4 hours from Berlin to Frankfurt and 6 hours from Munich to Berlin. It connects all major German cities.

The German Regional Train

If you want to travel at a different speed and the journey is your reward, take the regional (and cheaper) trains. They will stop more often but reach smaller German towns and villages. The regional trains are called Regional-Express or Regionalbahn.

The German Night Train

If you don’t want to miss a single day of your trip and want to save on hotels, take a night train. The trains leave in the early evening and as morning comes, you will have reached your destination. You can choose between seats, couchettes, or comfortable sleepers, and there are also deluxe suites with two to six beds, a private shower and toilet, available.

Tips for Train Travel in Germany

Where to Get Your Train Ticket:

With a standard train ticket you can board any train on the German Railway at any time. When you buy your ticket, you can choose between first and second class. Look for the large 1 or 2 next to the car door to find the right class.

There are various ways to purchase your train ticket:

  • Online:
    The official website of the German Railway is available in English. Book tickets online and conveniently print them out at home. Keep your eyes open for online deals.
  • Ticket Vending Machines:
    Almost every train station has a touch screen ticket vending machine where you can purchase tickets and make seat reservations up to the last minute. This service is available in English and five other languages. You can pay either cash or with a Maestro Card, and sometimes Visa or Mastercard are accepted.
  • German Railway Ticket Counter:
    If you want to talk to an agent and get some personal advice, maps, and timetables, head to the ticket counters of the German Railway, called DB Reisezentrum. These ticket counters are located inside most train stations.

How to Save on Your Train Tickets:

You can get huge savings on long-distance train travel in Germany if you book your tickets in advance. Special rules apply to those tickets, for example you may be restricted to a particular day and train, or your round trip journey must start and end at the same train station.

Find out more about Special Train Tickets in Germany that will save you money.

How to Reserve Your Seat:

You can travel on most German trains without having a reserved seat, but you can also spare yourself the hassle of trying to find an empty seat by reserving it beforehand.

For 2 to 3 Euro, you can reserve your seat either online, at a ticket vending machine, or at the ticket counter.

A reservation is especially recommended when you take the train at peak times, such as Christmas or on a Friday afternoon, and it is required for night trains, so make sure you plan ahead.