Transport in Germany is one of the most developed in Europe and is very diverse: from low-cost airlines and bus routes to high-speed trains and first-class autobahns. Today, you can comfortably travel through the country, and the love of the Germans for railway transport is manifested in the incredible richness of routes even in the most peripheral regions of the country. Comfort and speed are not cheap, so the article contains tips on how to save money even if you are planning to travel across the country.
Which transport is cheaper in Germany?
|Munich — Frankfurt||~ 400 km||25+|
> 3 h.
> 5.5 h.
USD ~ 1 h.
|Berlin — Munich||~ 550 km||35+|
> 4 h.
> 7 h.
|Hamburg — Stuttgart||~ 650 km||25+|
> 5.5 h.
> 1 h.
|Cologne — Frankfurt||~ 180 km||25+|
> 1 h.
> 2.5 h.
|Berlin — Dresden||~ 180 km||25+|
> 2 h.
According to the official German statistics, every year in Germany more than 190 million people use air travel, about 130 million people use trains, and only 20 million people use intercity buses. This is due to the different levels of comfort, speed and, of course, the availability of these types of transport. Buses and low-cost airlines seriously competed with Deutsche Bahn in the last 10 years, forcing from time to time to reduce the prices for railway tickets.
The most comfortable transport in Germany
Almost all transport in Germany is characterized by high standards of comfort and cleanliness. All long-distance routes have air conditioning, and the passenger seats are always equipped with armrests and tables. Also, on trains and buses, there is always a place for luggage, the cost of which, unlike when traveling by air, is always included in the ticket price. There are more and more personal power plugs for comfortable work or relaxation along the way.
Due to the massive proliferation of high-speed trains, in Germany, night trains with sleeping cars were recently canceled, with the exception of transit night trains EN — from France, Hungary, Poland and other countries.
The cars of regional, interregional and international trains are usually divided into two classes: second and first. However, it should be kept in mind that the differences can be small, and sometimes even be in favor of the second class. For example, many EC and ICE trains have insulated compartments in first class, where passengers sit opposite each other. This is an ideal option for traveling with a company — when traveling alone, you will have to look at a stranger for the entire journey. However, in first class the passenger will have more legroom and the ability to book a specific seat in the carriage on the Internet. On interregional routes, food is provided for an additional fee: it can be provided either in a separate dining car, or delivered by a staff member.
Buses offer the minimum level of comfort, but today all intercity routes have lavatories with holding tanks, separate places for hand luggage and, sometimes, Wi-Fi, but power plugs near the seats are extremely rare.
|-||Luggage||Food||Business class||Seat reservation||Group tickets|
|Train||+||Depends on the train||+||Added service||+|
|Low-cost airline||Added service||Added service||_||Added service||-|
Trains in Germany: how not to get confused?
Rail transport in Germany is comfortable and popular, but it is easy for a newcomer to Germany to get confused by its varieties.
|Straßenbahn||Tram||City||Low||More than 55 cities|
|Stadtbahn||City railway||City||Average||45 cities|
|S-Bahn||City train||High||16 cities|
|RE||Express train||Regional||Average||All regions|
|IRE||High speed train||Regional||High|
|ICE||High speed train||Very high|
High speed trains in Europe
|High speed trains are those that can maintain speeds above 200 km/h over a large section of the route. One of the main advantages of such trains is that there is no need to go through airport formalities and arrival directly in the city center. Given the small distances between European cities, this particular type of transportation seems to be the most interesting for a tourist who would like to travel through Western Europe on their own, without the services of travel agencies. The main operator of high-speed trains in Germany is ICE (Intercity Express), which is owned by DB, but French TGV and Austrian Railjet also can be found in Germany.|
|Frankfurt — Paris||TGV||3 h 40 min||50 USD|
|Munich — Vienna||Railjet||4 h 15 min||30 USD|
|Cologne — Amsterdam||ICE||3 h 20 min||20 USD|
|Karlsruhe — Zurich||ICE||2 h. 50 min.||20 USD|
|Frankfurt — London||ICE + Eurostar||6 h. 40 min.||90 USD|
How to save money on transport in Germany?
Use a daily ticket that allows you to make an unlimited number of trips throughout the day. Such a ticket is valid for all transport, including the metro, city trains and trams. For example, in Bavaria, the daily ticket is called Bayern Ticket. It allows you to travel all over the land, plus stop by the Austrian Salzburg and adjacent to Bavaria Ulm.
- The cost of such a ticket is 23 USD in the evening and at night, and 25 USD in the morning and afternoon.
- Sometimes the price of such a ticket can be even lower than the cost of a single trip from point A to point B.
- Up to 5 people can be attached to the ticket, increasing the ticket price only by 6 USD, so it is cheaper to travel in companies.
- On weekends, use the Wochenend-Ticket — it is similar to daily tickets, but applies to the entire weekend.
- If the traveler is not a citizen of Russia, Turkey or the European Union, then he can use the Rail Pass — an unlimited ticket for the entire rail network of Germany. A 3 day ticket will cost 190 USD, 7 day ticket — 270 USD.
- It makes sense to buy tickets in advance when traveling by bus or long-distance trains. On suburban and regional routes, all prices are fixed, and the number of tickets is not limited.
- You should not buy tickets at a regular ticket office — it will be more expensive because a service fee will be included in the price.
When buying a ticket for a long-distance train, you should pay attention to two categories of tickets. The difference in price between them can reach tenfold:
- Sparangebote — a ticket for a fixed date without the right to sell;
- Flexpreis — a ticket with the option to change the date and cancellation.
- It can be more advantageous to buy tickets through mobile apps. DB and Flixbus have such an opportunity.
- Don't use German railway companies exclusively. Austrian and Czech carriers sometimes offer cheaper fares.
- If the word "Sparpreis" is written in front of the cost when searching for a ticket on the website, then at the moment a discounted ticket is available and it is unlikely to find a ticket cheaper than that. These tickets are sold out quickly, so don't hesitate when buying one.
- Use alternative methods of traveling around the country: hitchhiking and searching for fellow travelers online is a good bet, since the level of security allows you to travel safely with strangers.
|From Germany, you can easily make a quick trip to a neighboring European country. You will not need a visa to cross the border. The table shows the possible routes for day-long trips from the largest German cities.
Book a hotel
|Dresden — Prague||Czech Republic||12 USD / 2 hours||15 USD / 2 hours 13 min|
|Munich — Salzburg||Austria||7 USD / 2 hours||20 USD / 1 hour 40 min|
|Dusseldorf — Antwerp||Belgium||11 USD / 3 hours||15 USD / 3 hours|
|Berlin — Szczecin||Poland||7 USD / 2.5 hours||36 USD / 1 hour 40 min|
|Stuttgart — Zurich||Switzerland||9 USD / 3.5 hours||20 USD / 3 hours 8 min|
Urban transport in Germany
- Railway stations in cities are considered the ideal places for transfers: usually there are stops of city and intercity buses, metro, trams and all types of transportation available in the city near them. From the city's main station you can always get to any part of a German city, to the nearby airport or to the capital of the German state.
- There are several types of tickets in German cities: single trip, 1 hour ticket, one day ticket, three days ticket, one week ticket, one month and one year tickets. The longer the ticket lasts, the bigger is the discount.
- By purchasing a ticket for city transport, a tourist buys a ticket for all types of transport present in that city, without restrictions.
- You should be aware of regional buses and unplanned trips outside the city, especially to remote settlements. In such places, you should not count on a regular schedule.
- For almost every German city with a population of more than 100 thousand people, there are apps (official and unofficial) that help to plan your route, display timetables or track transport using GPS, for example, MVG Fahrinfo for Munich or HVV for Hamburg. There are also transport apps for entire lands (eg Bayern-Fahrplan for Bavaria), or apps for the entire Germany (eg Offi — Journey Planner).
Where to buy a ticket?
|Where to buy||Type of transport|
|Ticket machine at a stop or a station||ground city transport, trains, metro|
|Ticket machine in transport||ground city transport|
|City website||ground city transport, metro|
|Website of a common carrier company||trains, long-distance buses|
|Ticket booth||city ground transport, trains, metro|
|Driver or conductor||city ground transport|
|Mobile app||trains, long-distance buses|
City trains in Germany
Other transport: car rental in Germany
There are several car rental services in Germany. Some of them have franchises all over the world, while others are local companies. You can book a car both online and directly at the agency. In case of ordering online, the choice is much greater, because the distributor has the opportunity to have time to bring the exact car that he needs for the driver. When renting a car, there are a few things to pay attention to.
- The minimum age for obtaining a license in Germany is 18 years old, but some agencies only allow you to rent a car after you turn 21. In some cases, drivers under 25 will be charged an additional fee for car insurance — about 13 USD per day. A similar fee exists for drivers over 70 years old.
- An additional fee may apply if more than one driver intends to use the car during the rental period. For each new driver you will have to pay 15-25 USD.
- In order to avoid problems on the road, drivers are advised to apply for an international driver's license before the trip and have it on hand as an addition to the main document. Especially if you intend to use car rental services.
- In Germany, rental cars of all possible classes are available: from city minis to trucks and sports cars.
- With a rented car, you can safely cross the borders of the EU countries, but some companies may charge an additional fee for this.
- The higher the class of the car, the higher the cost of its insurance will be, especially if it is supposed to cross the border — insurance companies do not doubt the quality of German roads, but they may not be so sure about the roads of some neighboring countries.
- Car rental offices exist in all major international airports without exception.
- Upon receipt of the car, make sure that there is a small green sticker on the glass called Umweltplakette — it confirms that the car meets environmental requirements and can enter the so-called Green zones inside some German cities. In the absence of a sticker, the fine may be 40 USD.
Step-by-step process of booking a car online
Popular car rental services
|Company||Origin||Day of Rent|
|Global Rent-a-Car||Germany||25 USD|
Interesting facts about transport in Germany
- Wuppertal suspension railway is one of the most interesting engineering structures in the world, built in 1901 (long before the appearance of the first monorails). Suspended trains literally float over the streets of a small Rhine town. The beauty of this road was praised by Wim Wenders in the movie Alice in den Städten.
- Public transport is mostly low-floor and has special ramps for wheelchairs.
- Navigation at German international airports is always presented in two languages — English and German. All staff are also fluent in English.
- At large train stations and central metro and city train stations, there are many elevators, which are easy to use with a large amount of luggage.
- Berlin and Hamburg subway systems are among the oldest in the world. The first lines were built before the First World War.