Trains in Germany are the best way to move: They are comfortable, fast, reach almost every corner and even use 100% green energy. But…
Trains in Germany are NOT cheap at all… Or at least at the normal price. Here are those tricks I’ve learned over the years that i live in Germany.
Let’s start… How to travel by train without being a millionaire?
1- Book in advance (Spar-Preis)
This is the best and most obvious trick: The Spar-Preis is your best friend!
In this case, the same dynamics apply as with aircraft: Buying a ticket in advance saves you a lot, up to 70% approximately. Let us say that for each train there is a limited number of tickets at special prices, which are running out.
Not everything is so beautiful: The problem with discount prices is that it is not allowed to change or modify the ticket.
In the English version they call it “Saver Fare” (in the Spanish version “localizador de ofertas”)
How far in advance?
Two or three weeks early is fine. By buying earlier you may find more options at that price and booking later, chances are that only the trains that no one wants, at the beginning or end of the day, will remain at those prices.
For example, if you want to take a train on Friday at 3pm, which is when there is more demand, the prices will be more expensive and you will have to buy more in advance to take the train at a specific time.
How? Entering the Bahn.de website in English
For journeys to or from outside Germany:
2- Make Scales
You can make a stop for a few hours and continue your journey with the same ticket (and the same price). This can be used when making a route through Germany to visit some small city or destination, of which only one day is required, for example Weimar, Erfurt, the castle of Wartburg or Neuschwanstein, Münster, etc. and then arrive at your next destination. Example below.
It also serves to go to a city, sleep and take a train to the airport the next day.
The ticket Erfurt-Munich hbf (central train station) is 44,90€
The airport transfer from Munich is 11.60€ in this case.
If I combine the two as if it were a single ticket with a 12-hour sleeping stopover in Munich, the total ticket will still cost €44.90.
My Best TRICK with another example makes it clearer:
The route is from Frankfurt to Berlin by train. You can make a stop at Erfurt of a few hours to visit the city and then continue your trip to Berlin, for the same price.
How does it work?
Once you have more or less seen the prices, you go to the normal Deutsche Bahn search engine and enter the same destinations: Frankfurt to Berlin and select “More options”.
Once in the advanced options the stopover is introduced. In this case, I add Erfurt and time for the scale of 10:00 hours.
By pressing the “Previous” and “After” keys you can search the results until you get a cheap price.
As we can see in the details of the trip.
3- Take advantage of Delays
Claim part of your ticket if your train is delayed:
- More than 60 minutes –> 25%
- More than 120 minutes –> 50%
A delay is not something desired, but you can recover a good part of your ticket, for the inconvenience, of course.
Claiming is as easy as filling out a form and delivering it to any train station or sending it by post. 100% of the time I’ve had the money without saying anything.
Extra: if someone who travels with you (or not) gives you (or you find) their original stamped ticket you can claim their share.
What do you mean?
Travelling from Erfurt in Graz we were 2 or 3 hours late. Waiting I was talking to two guys who were protesting a lot. I told them that they could claim part of the ticket, but they didn’t want to “make the arrangements”. When I arrived they gave me their tickets, I filled out the form and processed everything and Deutsche Bahn reimbursed me for everything.
People are very comfortable, and don’t like to do “the paperwork”. But it’s very easy! Just fill out a form. Here I explain how to do it step by step (coming soon).
Here is an example of my last refund I got after a delay:
4- Travels in regional and group trains
Use the so-called “Ländertickets” or the “Schönes Wochenende-Ticket” to travel only with suburban trains and in group (more than 2 people to start being rentble). Here is an overview of the offers. It is a slower, but cheaper way to travel and if the distances are relatively short, travelling nearby is fine.
The cost of the ticket varies depending on the people travelling (from 1 to 5 passengers). There is a fixed value plus one variable for each additional passenger. For example the “Schönes Wochenende-Ticket” is 44€ + 6€ for each extra person (1 traveller: 44 euros, 2 travellers: 50 euros, 3 travellers: 56 euros, 4 travellers: 62 euros, 5 travellers: 68 euros)
Basically there are 2 zones:
- Ticket for the whole of Germany (“Schönes Wochenende-Ticket” or “Quer-durchs-Land-Ticket”)
- Ticket for 1 single Federal State
With this type of banknotes, you can only take regional banknotes. To see the combinations, go to the website and select “suburban only”:
5- Use Bahncard 25 discount cards
If you are going to travel in Germany, at least 6 or more times, I think it pays off to pay the 62€ Bahncard to receive an extra 25% discount on each trip. There are several cards, but the most cost effective is the BahnCard25.
6- Checks international prices
If you want to buy a ticket from or to Germany to another neighbouring country such as Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Holland, Belgium or Denmark, check the prices from both websites.
For example if you go from Germany to Austria, check the prices from the Austrian page and the German page: From Erfurt to Graz we check prices for the same date and connection and we see that in one it costs 59€ while in the other 39€.
So before you buy something, check connections from both sides (origin and destination)
The train search engines for different neighboring countries are:
7- The Picaresque of Flexpreis
I was hesitating to comment on this trick, as it helps the idea they have of Spaniards or foreigners in those countries. This was taught to me by a German friend, too “Spanishized”, although I have never done it, I know firsthand that it works.
Buying the ticket at the normal price or “Flexpreis” you can take any train at any time between the cities you have paid. The FlexPreis fare is the most expensive and gives you a lot of flexibility, even canceling the ticket the same day.
By buying with the application, and if you have not been ordered and scanned the ticket, you can return the ticket upon arrival. Since they don’t know if you took the train or not.
For example Frankfurt-Erfurt, in flexible ticket price is 100€, buying at offer price (SparPreis) would have been 45€. You get on the train and when it passes the conductor asks the new riders for the ticket. You play crazy, read or use headphones. When you arrive you return the ticket with the application.
For this it is better to travel alone, in addition to having mounted several times in train to know how the trains and the reviewers work. For example that the ride stop should not be the beginning of the line, since in that case they ask everyone for the ticket.Preparing a trip through Germany? Reed my Full Guide to Travel Germany with tricks, itineraries, transportations, destinations, German culture, food, etc.All for organize your trip to Germany