Seven Things To Know About Taking The Trains In Germany
The German domestic and international train network is quite extensive and very efficient. You can get from say Brussels, Belgium to Frankfurt, Germany in about two hours on the ICE (InterCity Express). So if you can’t make that nonstop flight to Frankfurt, then consider flying into say Brussels or even Amsterdam and taking the train form there.
If you are going to take the train though, here are a few things to consider.
1. Book three days in Advance
If your travels permit, book at least three days in advance as most special offer have this requirement. The fares do increase dramatically inside the three days to departure window. You can book online or at the kiosk at the train terminals. It’s pretty intense when using the kiosks as there’s so much information. But you can print the routings study them and then come back to the kiosk to buy. the machine will take credit cards, but don’t be alarmed if your card does not work. Luckily there are ATMs at almost all of the stations to help you out. So ensure you have a card that has no international transaction fees.
2. Book Online
You can book online at www.Bahn.de or www.Bahn.com. Here you can check the schedules, reserve your seat and really check out the services offered. The different options are sometimes perplexing though. So take you time and understand it all.
3. Consider a Bahn Card
If you’re traveling a few times on the trains, look into buying a Bahn Card. This card is a discount card that offers 25% or 50% off. You pay a onetime charge, but it pays for itself if you are making many trips. If this is just a one time trip, then its not really worth it.
With this pass, you travel for specified time periods continuously for a set price. It’s a great way to see Germany.
5. If traveling long distance, book a seat
It usually costs about 4.50 EUR to reserve a seat, but its worth it as the trains do fill up and quickly. This is especially true on busy routes such Cologne to Frankfurt. Certainly if you want a table, its best to reserve. Note that you will be sitting across from another person possibly two persons since the area seats four. Additionally, if a train does not operate, the next train will be overcrowded and finding an open seat can be next to impossible. Incidentally, there are power ports at the seat on the high speed ICE trains. Don’t cut it close, i.e. take the last possible train to make your flight. If you can give yourself some cushion. You don’t want the reason you missed the flight be because your train was delayed.
6. Consider A First Class Ticket
This does cost considerably more on select routes, but it may be worth the experience. Plus you have to deal with less people and on select routes it comes with a meal which is never a bad thing :-).
7. Take A Regional Train
Regional trains are slower and cheaper than the Intercity Express (ICE) trains. Note though that some are older trains, so in addition to being slower, you may not have any in-seat power if that’s important. But if speed is not your issue, then the price is just right.
I hope the next time you have flight issues, i.e. one city is full and you have to fly into an alternate or you just want to try the trains, you bear these tips in mind for a better experience.
If you’ve have any additional tips to add, please do so below in the comment section below.