Exploring Germany: Rail passes for local train services

Posted in: Train


Salzburg, Austria

June 30, 2010. As we have said before, it is not compulsory to take the fast train. On most routes through Europe, there are plenty of slow train alternatives, often more scenic and sometimes much cheaper.

A great weekend bargain in Germany

On the weekends, for example, travelers can roam the length and breadth of Germany by local and regional trains using the Schönes Wochenende Ticket (SWT), which allows unlimited travel for just €37. And the beauty of the SWT is that you can take along up to four other travelers without having to pay an extra cent.

We have friends who last Sunday traveled from Aachen (on the Belgian border) right across Germany to Salzburg using the SWT, effectively paying €7.40 each for a journey of over 500 miles that took in the Rhine gorge and much more fine scenery. The SWT can even be used to selected stations beyond Germany’s borders (i.e. Salzburg in Austria, Schaffhausen in Switzerland, Wissembourg in France and Szczecin in Poland).

Cheap regional tickets in Germany

While the German SWT is a weekend-only deal, regional tickets in Germany give the freedom to roam within a more limited area on any day, but only after 9 a.m. Mondays through Fridays. These tickets are named after the federal states (Länder in German) in which they are principally marketed. These tickets are typically priced at €20 for one person or €28 for a group of up to five people traveling together.

Roaming Germany’s Baltic coast

The Länder tickets are often valid for substantially larger areas than the federal states after which they are named.

You might expect the “Schleswig-Holstein” ticket only to be valid in the state of Schleswig-Holstein. Think again. This ticket also covers the German states of Hamburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, not to mention selected cross-border stretches of railway into Denmark and Poland. This validity area thus covers Germany’s entire Baltic coast and offshore islands (several of which have causeways carrying railways to the mainland). So devotees of branch lines can use the Schleswig-Holstein ticket to travel very cheaply along rural rail routes from Padborg in Danish Jutland to the Polish town of Swinoujscie.

Similarly, the Sachsen ticket is valid far beyond the borders of Saxony. It can be used over a huge area that encompasses part or all of five German states, two cross-border routes into Poland, and one through the Czech Republic.

As with all Länder tickets, and with the Schönes Wochenende Ticket (SWT), just buy the ticket at the ticket machine before hopping on your first train. You can book a ticket online, but there is really no need to do this. The online tickets are no cheaper than those sold at station ticket machines.

Criss-crossing borders

In many border areas of Europe,  special rail passes are available, even to non-residents, to promote mobility in frontier regions. These are superb deals, often covering not merely the immediate border region but substantial areas well beyond the frontier.

The following are particularly good bargains for one-day tickets:

1. The Euregio Bodensee Tageskarte gives unlimited travel around Lake Constance (called the Bodensee in German) including ferries and selected rail routes in Austria, Germany and Switzerland: €28

2. The Euregio Maas-Rhein Tageskarte permits rail and bus travel throughout parts of eastern Belgium, the Limburg area of the Netherlands and over the German border to Aachen and beyond: €15.50

3. The EuroNeisse Ticket covers a large part of northern Bohemia (Czech Republic), part of Silesia (Poland) and eastern Saxony (Germany) and affords unlimited travel on trains, buses and trams: €10

All the passes mentioned in this post give travelers the chance to really explore a region or make longer hops at a bargain price. Local trains with frequent stops along the way often give a sense of engaging with landscape and communities in a way that is less possible on fast express services.

About the author


About the authors: Nicky and Susanne manage a Berlin-based editorial bureau that supplies text and images to media across Europe. Together they edit hidden europe magazine.

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43 thoughts on “Exploring Germany: Rail passes for local train services”

  1. .
    Hello Vivienne

    Direct trains from Amsterdam to Berlin runs every two hours. Here is the new schedule, applicable from 9 Dec:

    from AMS Centraal at 07.02, 09.02, 11.02, 13.02 and 15.02. The journey takes 6.5 hours.

    Book online three months in advance (via NS-HiSpeed or DB) and the one-way fare will be €39. Tickets for these trains for travel on or after 9 Dec go on sale on 16 Oct (subject to the normal three month rule).

    It will NOT be cheaper to take a Dutch local train to the border, and then join the Amsterdam to Berlin train there.

    Hope this helps.
    Susanne and Nicky
    hidden europe magazine

  2. Viviene urquhart

    Hi, could you help please, we are 2 ladies travelling from amsterdam to berlin in 2013, would it be cheaper to travel to the border of netherlands/ german and catch a german train from there? I seem to remember reading this somewhere but cann’t find it again. If it is what would be time table and cost, thanks in advance.

  3. Hi

    I am planning to travel in Europe for two weeks at the end of November and trying to find out the most cost effective method of travelling. The route I want to take is roughly Warsaw, Krakow, Prague, Berlin, Frankfurt, Geneva. I will be flying in to Europe from South Africa, and it seems the best may be to get a return ticket to Frankfurt, as it does not require any layovers in other countries.

    I have looked at flights between cities, but they are not very cheap. I had wanted to use a rail pass but there is no eurail ticket for the 4 countries that I want to visit!

    Can you offer any advice?



  4. .
    No, Daniel, if you’ve opted for a German cheap discount train fare (one that requires you to nominate and stick to a specific train), and if you then miss your train then you have to book a new ticket. Specific exceptions apply – as for example for travellers making a long train journey across Europe and thus using many trains. Many European operators collaborate in an alliance called Railteam. If one operator’s train is late, then of course other operators in the Railteam alliance will still honour your onward train ticket.

    But the case you cite is clearly different. You choose to fly. But if your incoming flight is late, then expect no mercy from the rail operator. You really will have to buy a new ticket. That’s one reason why we have, so often here on Eurocheapo, emphasised that for flight to rail connections you really need to allow three or four hours leeway. Land, go have a coffee, meditate (reflecting perhaps on why flying is nowadays so awful), allow your soul to catch up with you and only then head for the train.

    Best of course not to book tickets tied to specific trains on the same day as a flight arrival. There are often good value local passes, as we said in our original post. These don’t need to be prebooked, and you are not committed to using specific trains.

  5. Here’s a new question: If I buy a discounted German rail ticket ahead of time, and miss my train, what can I do? Can I use it on a later train? I’m flying into Germany, then want to catch a train, but flights can of course be delayed.

  6. Hey Hidden Europe,

    Thanks so much for your constructive answer buddy. I still have one request left :) Is there a forum or a group where i can contact people to share with me the fees of the slow train?



  7. Two options (for Wael above)

    Overnight bus, run by Deutsche Touring €25 one way (per person): takes 7 hrs

    Slow train, using Schönes-Wochenende Ticket €40 one way (ticket valid for group of up to five people travelling together): takes 8 hours

  8. Hey Guys,

    I need to go from Frankfurt to Hamburg in July 22nd and i’m looking of course for the cheapest way to make it.

    Can you advise please?

    Many thanks!


  9. Frankfurt Lass hiddeneurope

    Hi Manthan (above)
    Hey, what a remarkable coincidence…. I used to live in Hölderlin Str, which is the next road to Theobald-Christ-Str. (Not the smartest area of Frankfurt, and I couldn’t wait to get out).

    Your journey in from the airport is easy. Just buy a one-way ticket into town. It costs €4.10. Take the S8 or S9 local train from the airport to Konstablerwache. (These trains would normally be bound for Hanau or Offenbach as their final destination). At Konstablerwache change from the S-Bahn to the U-Bahn. You want the U6 or U7 to Zoo station. T-C Str is just two mins walk from the U-Bahn.

  10. i want to travel Frankfurt airport to Theobald-Christ-Str.19,Zentrum-Alts tadt, Frankfurt am Main,60316…

    please help me to find cheapest way to reach their..

  11. The question you pose, about travelling from Memmingen to Leipzig, is not easy to give a straight answer to. It depends when you are travelling, how long in advance of travel you can book tickets and how many of you are travelling.

    For any longer-distance journey within Germany over this summer (including your Memmingen to Leipzig example) here are some general guidelines on price levels you might expect.

    If you can book three months in advance, when tickets first go on sale then you should easily manage on most routes to get the Sparpreis fare of €29. Additional passengers travelling with you will pay €20 each.

    Leave booking till just a month or two before travel and the cheapest fares will be gone. But if you can avoid the busiest services there are still some great deals available. You’ll perhaps pay €39 or €49 one way (and anyone else travelling with you will still get a €9 discount).

    Leave booking to the day of travel and you’ll pay the full fare if you wish to use the premium trains (ie. those prefixed ICE, EC and IC). For Memmingen to Leipzig, that full fare is €89 to €115 depending on quite which route you take.

    But Germany also has a network of cheap local services. You can use these to travel from Memmingen to Leipzig and it’ll take up to two hours longer than on the premium services. And you’ll need to change three times along the way (usually at Augsburg, Nürnberg and Chemnitz). On these services there are cheap one-day passes that allow you to roam Germany at will. For Saturdays and Sundays, use the Schönes-Wchenende Ticket. It costs €40 and can by used by one person travelling alone, or by a group of up to five. So five people could travelling Memmingen to Leipzig for €8 each!

    On other days of the week, use the Quer-durchs-Land ticket. For one person travelling alone this ticket costs €42, plus €6 per each additional traveller up to a maximum of €66 for five people.

    In short, this boils down to two key options for price-conscious travellers. EITHER book three months in advance and get the lead-in €29 fare for long distance express services OR don’t book in advance at all and just take the slower regional train services. The latter are comfortable and a great way of seeing Germany.

    For shorter journeys of just 200km of so, the lead-in fare on the premium services may be even cheaper than €29. We just travelled yesterday in ICE comfort from Leipzig to Berlin for €19 each, and in truth we only booked that four weeks in advance.

    Hope this helps.
    Nicky and Susanne

  12. Hi!
    This may be a bit trivial but I am not very familiar with the system in place so I’d like to know the best way to travel from Memmingen to Leipzig. The Bahn website says around 49Euros but is it possible to get a cheaper fare? Time of travel won’t be an issue unless it exceeds 12 – 16 hours..

  13. .
    1. for Neupaned (above)
    Nice of you to report back on what sounds like a great journey.
    2. for Stef (above)

    Some of these journeys are short. Weimar to Erfurt costs just about €5. Weimar to Arnstadt about €8. But Leipzig is way off to the north-east of the other three cities you cite.

    The Deutsche Bahn’s Sachsen Ticket allows unlimited travel for one day on local trains throughout three states: Saxony, Sachsen-Anhalt and Thuringia. It costs €29 and is valid for a group of up to five people travelling together. It covers all the places you mention. Erfurt, Arnstadt and Weimar are all much further west than Leipzig, so in a way Leipzig is the worst place to base yourself. It maximises your aggregate travel time if you want to visit all four cities. Weimar would be a more central choice. But we are not talking huge distances. Here are some sample travel times, using only those trains on which the Sachsen Ticket is valid:

    Leipzig to Arnstadt 3 hrs
    Leipzig to Weimar 2 hrs
    Leipzig to Erfurt 2 hrs

    Weimar to Erfurt 20 mins
    Weimar to Arnstadt 35 mins
    Wemar to Leipzig 2 hrs

    Hope this helps. Stef, why not take a look at our magazine, hidden europe, which regularly carries features on eastern Germany? Other good days out from the Bach region would be 1. Quedlinburg and 2. the Harz Mountains.

    Nicky and Susanne
    hidden europe magazine

  14. Any advice, please, about travel cards: I want to visit Bach sites in Leipzig & the surrounding area. What’s best to do if I base myself in Leipzig but want to travel to towns nearby (Erfurt, Weimar, Arnstadt &c) during a stay of about a week?

    Thanks for your help!

  15. Hi friends,

    It was so much fun in ‘planning and arranging’ the trip; even more fun to realise that everything worked out. At some point I was challenging myself- why doesn’t something go wrong? Well, hardly anything did.

    Here is a short description of how my trip went (time given are rounded).
    Day 1: Flew from Oslo to Paris. arrived 9 am. Paris beauveas airport to somewhere in the city centre (Porte Maillot) €15, ca. 1 hr. Enjoyed the day in Paris- Eiffel tower, from arc de triumph to Louvre. Took TGV to Rennes at 9:00 pm €22, 2 hr. Met a very nice person who happened to be my friend for the following evening’s outing.
    Was picked up, drove to the northern Brittany. slept 12:30 am.
    day 2: Nice trip around the beach and met some friends/relatives.
    day 3: went early morning to St. Malo- it couldnt be a better trip to a beach across the English channel. Great sea food, swimming, bathing. Drove back to Rennes. Early evening- Rennes tour. late evening- irish bar.
    day 4: TGV for paris €35 arrival 9 am. Yet another day in Paris- lunch, strolling, montparnasse tower, notre dame cathedral. took TGV for luxembourg at 4 pm, 35€. Got a ticket for Igel for JUST €1.5 (one simple ticket) stamped by the conductor. met a mate who suggested to continue until Trier on the same train. Extra time there. And one thing I have to say here, this cheapest train ticket gave me the most fabolous sceneries I have ever seen in life- between Luxembourg and Trier and a bit further. Perfect time of the day- late afternoon, sunshine, very clear weather. I would happily pay €50 for this trip if I have chance again… changed with DB for Bonn (€21 region train for Saarland and Rheinland Pfall) ca. 4 hrs from lux to bonn. Bonn nightlife.
    Day 5. local train for Cologne 30 minute. fantastic cathedral and the town. took regional trains- changed at 5 stations to get to berlin in ca. 10 hours. €39 for the whole day ticket (happy weekend ticket). My friends called it a crazy ride- I wanted to experience it that way. Comfortable. Stayed at Meininger hotel just beside the Berlin station. Had booked 10 days back. quite reasonable- perfect location-fine service. 1.5 days in Berlin. .5 days in Potsdam. transport in berlin and potsdam was quite cheap. Took the flights late evening day 7. Back in my bed in Oslo at midnight.
    It was absolutely great fun and couldnt be better.
    Thank you guys for suggestions. Some of my plannings might be useful for other backpackers. Happy travelling. Cheers this time Bernauer Schwarzbier!

  16. As to Luxembourg to Igel, we know for certain that the day-return fare from Luxembourg to Trier – some way beyond Igel – is €8.40 (and you can buy that at the ticket office at the gare de Luxembourg when you arrive there from Paris). So the estimate of €5 for Luxembourg to Igel as a single fare is a fair guess.

    Yes, you are absolutely correct that you can buy a Rheinland-Pfalz ticket from the Automat at Igel. And that ticket does not require you to pre-book. But do be aware that you cannot use it on trains with an EC, IC, ICE, EN or CNL prefix. So it’ll be local trains from Igel to Bonn, leaving Igel 19.51, changing Trier and Koblenz and reaching Bonn at 23.29. You can use your Rheinland-Pfalz ticket on trains with the prefix RB, RE, MRB and other slow services.

    Glad you could get the €35 fare from Paris on the 16.09.

    All stacking up to be a very long and quite expensive journey, a far cry from the “cheapest possible” option for which you were first looking. But you’ll see some great places along the way, and it’ll surely be fun.

    Why not let us know how it goes?

  17. OK. Travelling is adventure! Thank you for such innovative ideas! Let me share with you my itinerary now.

    29th July 2011 Friday
    Rennes to Paris Montparnasse 1 et 2 (0705-0913) : TGV8080, 1st class €35
    Enjoy the day in Paris. Scenic Paris- Luxembourg (1609-1815): TGV 2831, 1st class €35
    Breathe some Luxembourg air around station. Lux-Igel (1841-1916) Lux-Bonn (1951-2242) (intercity/regional trains): €24. Arrival in Bonn 10:42 pm-received by a friend- experience Bonn’s night life. Sleep at her place.

    30th July Saturday
    Bonn main attractions in the morning. Brunch with friends. SWE (happy weekend) €39. tickets Bonn-Berlin (12:32-22:47 see as much as possible, changing 5 trains) arrival Berlin before midnight Saturday.

    This way, I ‘travel’ as I go, and I think I also save both time and money. The budget would then be total €133. It is €28 more than your suggestion , but I think it worths many times this value. I am sure I can earn a congratulation from you for the ticket (par-lux, first class €35), which I managed to buy today!

    I have purchased tickets until Lux. Do you mean I can buy the ticket Lux-Igel at the station in Lux as I arrive with same minimum price (you guessed €5, i checked normal prices DB=€14, SNCF=€12.6)?? I heard from a friend that regional train tickets for Rheinland Pfal (Igel-Bonn) would cost me €21 and can purchase any time from automat. Is this true? If the tickets are available no matter what, and if they cost no more than this amount, I would not bother to buy these now (and pay for DB’s ticket delivery). What do you suggest here?

    Thank you, guys! sunny wishes from Oslo!

  18. Hi Neupane

    Really creative thinking there, Neupane. There are a couple of things you may want to check out.

    1. Are you really sure the €35 first class fare is available on the 14.09 from Paris to Luxembourg. We think that would be valid only on the 16.09. So it’ll be €70 from Paris to Luxembourg on the 14.09.

    2. The connection at Luxembourg is too tight. Deutsche Bahn says a minimum of 10 mins to connect into their trains from a TGV from Paris. This isn’t a show-stopper, but just means you need to get the following train. If you do book the 16.24 and miss it, you will need to buy a completely new ticket. Better to be safer and take a slightly later train from Luxembourg. Say at 17.15. For this buy a one-way DB saver fare from Igel to Bonn Hbf now, online (for €19), and just buy Luxembourg to Igel (about €5) at Luxembourg when you change trains.

    3. You suggest the travel time Luxembourg to Bonn is 56 minutes. It is much longer. It is over three hours. So you’ll arrive in Bonn at 20.42, some 14 hours after leaving Rennes. But, as you rightly say, it’ll be a very fine journey, and you’ll have a five hour Paris break. Sounds brilliant.

    We think the total fare Rennes to Bonn with four different tickets as mentioned above will be €129. But we’ll be the first to congratulate you if our info is wrong and you really can travel from Paris to Luxembourg for €35 on the 14.09 departure.

    NG / SK

  19. Hi Neupane
    Now we are totally confused. We thought the issue was that you needed to travel by the “cheapest possible way”. Now it seems time is more important. So, yes, you are absolutely correct. The best timings would be as follows:

    Rennes to Paris Montparnsse at 09.05 on 29th July
    Paris Est to Saarbruck at 13.09 on 29th July
    Saarbruck to Trier at 16.01 on 29th July
    Trier to Koblenz at 17.21 on 29th July
    Koblenz to Bonn Hbf at 19.26 on 29th July

    Okay, it is five trains rather than one bus, but if you are in a rush, it fits the bill.

    Buy the Rennes to Saarbruck ticket on the TGV-Europe website and just pick up a Saarland ticket in Saarbruck / Saarbrücken when you change trains there on the Friday afternoon. That way the total fare from Rennes to Berlin will be €161 (or if you book only later this week then €203 one-way, for cheap seats are now very limited on the Friday moring journey from Rennes to Paris). So quite a lot more than the free travel option (viz. by hitch-hiking) or the bus / train option of €105 (though the latter would be cheaper of course if you are eligible for student / youth / senior discounts.

    Whatever you decide, hope you have a really good trip. Why not report back to the EuroCheapo community on what you decide and hows it goes?
    NG / SK
    editors / hidden europe magazine

    1. Thank you, that was an expert suggestion.

      You will agree that I travel ‘my way’. What I’ve decided is a bit of multi tasking. I take a train Rennes-Paris (7-9am) Eur 35. Then take a short walk in the city of Paris, find a nice restaurant, eat and drink some wine. Then take a train to Luxemberg (14:09-16:17pm) Eur 35 first class. Then I rush to catch Luxembourg-Cologne-Bonn train leaving 16:24 (this route costs Eur 24). I get to Bonn at 17:20.
      I think this way I save money (Rennes to Bonn= Eur 94) to Berlin = + Eur 39 wochenende ticket), and use the time to do something in between in Paris. And also enjoy what I read a better scenic rail route via Luxembourg. Adventure I do.

      I checked youtube videos of lux station- doesnt seem so big. Do you think I can manage to change the trains in about 5 minutes, I shall have?

      Happy holidays!

      Neupane, Sudan Prasad

      1. Interesting!

        I wanted the answer about possibility of transfer at Lux. from you before I made the purchase. I am 100% sure, it was 1st class deal I have a clip from it. But as I proceeded with the payment, at the last moment, message in french: couldnt complete transaction, sorry. I check tickets again: its now shooted to Eur 70. I am a bit upset since I waited in this great deal. But now, will look for smart ways of travelling Paris-Bonn anyways. Lets see what comes. Here is the clip:

        Attention, vous avez sélectionné 2 voyages identiques
        PARIS LUXEMBOURG 1 Passager
        Montant:35.00 €
        Aller : Départ à : 14h09 DE LA GARE DE : PARIS EST Arrivée à : 16h17 À LA GARE DE : LUXEMBOURG GARE Transporteur Numéro du train : 02827 Services à bord :
        Confort 1e classe Date du trajet : 29 Juillet 2011

        Sudan Prasad Neupane Sudan
        TGV PREM’S – OFFRE 1ÈRE CLASSE : Billet non échangeable, non remboursable.
        Voiture 12 – Place 15
        Fenêtre – Sens de la marche
        Duo côte à côte
        SUPPRIMEZ Ajouter une voiture Détails
        L’Assurance avec

  20. Thank you. I think I am too restless to take a bus for 22 hours.

    I found out that I could take a regional train at Euro 21 from Saarbrucken in Germany towards Bonn (4hrs in total; I don’t mind changing trains a couple of times).

    All I need now is a cheap train from Rennes to Saarbrucken in the morning of 29th july 2011. suggestions?


  21. The cheapest possible way to undertake this journey would be to hitch. You will be travelling on one of the busiest weekends of the year in France, so trains and other transport will all be quite full (with hgigh fares to match).

    If you are prepared to pay money to travel, then the Deutsche Touring / Eurolines bus from Rennes at 07.15 on Friday 29th will get you to Köln at 05.15 next morning. Full fare is €66, but there are student / youth / senior discounts. Then from Köln you can travel by train to Bonn and on to Berlin the same day. Use a Schönes-Wochenende Ticket which will cover unlimited travel on Nahverkehr trains all day on that Saturday. That costs €39.

    In summary, the fares:
    Rennes-Köln €66
    Köln-Bonn-Berlin €39
    TOTAL €105

    You could be in Bonn by 6.30 am, and you’d need to leave just after 1pm to get to Berlin on that Saturday evening.

  22. Hi,
    I need to go from Rennes in France to Bonn in Germany on Friday July 29th. Then I stay one night in Bonn before going to Berlin on Saturday 30th. What is the cheapest possible way of arranging this travel?

    Thank you so much!

  23. Ohna (above)

    There are several options here. Salzburg to Interlaken is quite a haul, really an eight hour journey via the fastest route. So detours that offer lower fares but take very much longer may not be quite what you are looking for.

    The Bayern Ticket option is certainly possible. You could use it to travel from Salzburg via München to Lindau. Leave Salzburg at 9 in the morning and you’ll be in Lindau by 4 in the afternoon (with just one change at München). And you’re still not yet in Switzerland. But it’s cheap, just €29 covers the two of you for that long hop through Germany. From Lindau, there are boats over the lake to Switzerland, or buy a local ticket for the short onward journey by train (traversing Austrian territory very briefly), to the first station in Switzerland at St Margrethen. But all in all this is a slow option.

    Here are two other ideas:

    1. Just buy a Europa-Spezial Schweiz fare from Salzburg to Interlaken-Ost. €39 per person if you book three months in advance. No discount for having the Swiss pass, but you save a day of pass usage.

    2. Buy an ÖBB discount ticket on one of the direct Railjet trains from Salzburg to Zürich. Again very cheap if booked well in advance (ideally a month or two in advance, rather than merely a week or two). €29 per person. Then use your rail passes for the onward journey through Switzerland to Interlaken.

    Better still, take a day or two over the journey. The ride from Salzburg via Zell and Innsbruck to Liechtenstein can be done using an Austrian Einfach-Raus ticket (€29 and that covers both of you). It’ll take about ten hours. Then stopover in Liechtenstein, get the bus (frequent, cheap and fast) next morning over the Rhein to Buchs train station in Switzerland. And then start using your Swiss pass early in the day. A very fine route would be Buchs – Pfäffikon – Luzern – Meiringen ZB – Interlaken Ost.

    Hope this helps.

    Nicky and Susanne
    editors / hidden europe magazine

  24. We (2 people) want to travel from Salzburg to Interlaken by train. We’ll have a Swiss Pass in our posession.
    What will be the best and most cost effective route;
    (1) do we have to travel through Germany with for instance the Bayern ticket which is cheap, and where do we cross the border into Switzerland? Will it be direct to the German border or change in Munich? Will we stay on the same train all the way to Interlaken and does the Swiss Pass then kick in from the Swiss side? Can we validate the Pass on the train when in Swiss territory?
    (2) Alternatively, Can we travel from Salzburg through Austria direct to Interlaken? And what will the cost per person be Salzburg up to the border? (keeping in mind we will have a Swiss Pass). Again, Do we stay on the same train? How long is the ride? Is it direct or do we have to change?

    Will appreciate some feedback. thanks.

  25. Anand (above)
    Basel to Frankfurt takes 6 hours with 3 changes on local trains. On these trains you can use the SWT (on Sats and Suns) or its weekday equivalent, the Quer-Durchs-Land-Ticket (on Mondays to Fridays). The QDLT has just been reintroduced after having been discontinued early last year.

    With a group or 6 or more, though, you could get a handsome discount on the regular fares, particularly if you book three months in advance. If you commit yourself to specific long distance trains (ICE, EC or IC) well in advance, that option may be little more expensive than the slow train SWT or QDLT options. Fast trains, hourly from Basel to Frankfurt, do the journey in just less than three hours. So twice as fast as the slower trains, and without the need to change trains en route.
    NG / SK

  26. I am staying in Basel. I would like to travel to Frankfurt in a group.
    Is SWT a good option? How much time would it take to reach Frankfurt from Basel?

  27. For ‘stanya’ (above), travelling from Netherlands to Italy via Germany:

    These are all very easy journeys. You can book all these trips online at http://www.bahn.de and tickets go on sale 92 days prior to departure.

    If you do book 3 months in advance, then the fares will be as follows:

    From Amsterdam to Hamburg:
    EITHER €29 per person if you use the IC train route (which involves changing at Hilversum and Osnabrueck). Journey Time: 5hrs 20mins
    OR €39 per person if you use the ICE train to Duisburg and change there. This takes 1 hour longer than the cheaper journey above, but requires just one change.

    From Hamburg to Verona (with a two day stop in Hannover and a two day stop in Munich):
    €39 per person.

    If you wish to stop for more than 48 hours along the way, then the fare of €39 will apply from your last stop in Germany (presumably Munich from what you say) to Verona. If you do that, then Hamburg to Hannover will cost €29 for two. Hannover to Munich will cost €49 for two.

    If you do not book well in advance, prices will much higher. The full fare ticket, if you book on the day or just a few days prior to travel, will be:

    Amsterdam to Hamburg (via Osnabruck): €84
    Amsterdam to Hamburg (via Duisburg): €108
    Hamburg to Verona via Hannover and Munich: €176.

    So for your overall five-city itinerary, the overall fare per person could be as low as €78 or as high as €284. This a fine example of the general precept that you reap great benefits by booking in advance.

    No discounts for seniors, I’m afraid.
    Nicky & Susanne

  28. my husband and i ( 2 seniors) will be vacationing in amsterdam, then off to hamburg, then to hanover, then to munich and then to verona from the end of june into july and we’re having trouble figuring out how we should do this without it costing a fortune and with few hassles. we prefer to go by train. any suggestions?

  29. Hi,

    Need help. Wish to travel to Germany for 6 days starting from Munich and end point Berlin….The places I have shortlisted/planned are Munich – Stuttgard – Frankfurt – Cologne – Hannover and Berlin. My point of entry and exit are fixed and the idea is to see all the places on the way.

    Please suggest a cheap/good option. Its leisure travel and I am on a shoestring budget. Also, I am 26, but do hold a youth card as I am a student . . can i still avail youth fares ?

    Please help


  30. .
    Carrie (above)

    We’ll try and answer both your questions.
    1. What is the cheapest way from Germany (any region) to Warsaw please?

    ANSWER: If you are in areas of Germany close to the Polish border, you can reach Warsaw for less than €20 without the need to book in advance. From the border town of Kostrzyn (on the River Odra), a slow train ticket (valid only on the slowest trains) to Warsaw is 56 Polish zloty. That is about €14. Add on €2 for the short hop on the hourly train over the border from Germany to Kostrzyn and you are still looking only at €16 in all. From border towns like Kostrzyn, Slubice and Zgorzelec you will also find bus connections to Warsaw (sometimes with a change of bus en route) for less than €20.

    2. Train from Berlin to Warsaw, will it be cheaper will I book it in advance online? Or is it the same price when I buy it at the station?

    ANSWER: If you take the direct express train from Berlin to Warsaw and just pay on departure, it will cost €48.60. That is the regular one-way fare. If you book online three months in advance, you will pay €29. And if you book online just a month in advance, it will most likely still be €29. Nearly the travel date, as the train fills up, the online fare increases to €39, and once that is sold out you have to pay the full fare of €48.60.

    Another tip: There is a €39 Europa-Spezial Polen fare valid from ANY German station to Warsaw. This covers rail travel from anywhere in Germany to Berlin to connect with the fast train to Warsaw mentioned above. You really have to book this fare ages in advance (eg. 2 to 3 months before travel). There is also a €29 overnight fare on the sleeper trains from Germany to Warsaw, but again to pay just €29 you must book at least a couple of months in advance. So Cologne to Warsaw for €29 really is possible.

    Hope this helps.
    Nicky and Susanne

  31. Hi!

    I am considering taking the train from Berlin to Warsaw, will it be cheaper will I book it in advance online? Or is it the same price when I buy it at the station?


  32. .
    An easy journey, with one change of train in Munich city centre. If you use fast trains from Munich to Salzburg, the complete journey from the airport to Salzburg Hbf takes 2 hrs 30 mins. If you use the regional trains from Munich to Salzburg, it takes 10 mins longer. Your fare options are as follows:

    Pre-book now on http://www.bahn.de, still plenty of availability on the dates you mention, and the return fare for two people for the entire journey is 58 euros. But do note that you MUST travel from Munich to Salzburg and back on the precise trains specified on your ticket. Quite some restriction. What happens if your plane is late in? I wouldn’t recommend it.

    No need to pre-book, no need to specify which trains you’ll travel on, so really much the better option for you. Purchase two Bayern Tickets – one for each travel day. You can buy this at the ticket machines at Munich Airport station. Take care to ensure you specify the exact travel day for each ticket as you purchase. It costs 28 euros for one day’s unlimited travel for a group of up to five people (valid on all local and regional trains). That means you and your husband travel out to Salzburg for 28 euros (for the two of you, one way), and back a few days later for the same amount. Take three friends along and it’ll not cost one cent more.

    The Bayern Ticket is valid all day on Sats and Suns, after 9 am on other days of the week. You can criss-cross Bavaria to your heart’s content and it is also valid for cross-border journeys to selected stations in Austria (including Salzburg).

    As the fast trains from Munich to Salzburg only shave a few minutes off the regular travel time taken by regional trains, it is hardly worth paying the extra to use the fast trains. In truth, the fast trains are intended for passengers making much longer joureneys (eg. Munich to Vienna or Villach). So do as the locals do, buy a Bayern Ticket, and take the regional train.

    Who needs a senior discount when the two of you will travel from Munich Airport to Salzburg and back for just 56 euros return? Not bad for 440 miles of rail travel.

  33. My husband and I want to go from the Munich airport around noon on Saturday, December 4 to Salzburg, Austria and return to Munich December 7 for two nights.
    How do you suggest the least expensive train tickets? are there any senior rates?

  34. Yes, you can use your rail pass to the border and then simply purchase the excess fare on the train after the border. The Polish ticket inspector will charge a penalty fare (just about €3) for having been so impudent as not to pre-purchase your ticket.

    If you wish to avoid a bit of emotional grief and save the excess fare, you can pre-purchase the onward ticket in Berlin from the last station in Germany. Of course the actual fare will vary according to where you cross the border, and your destination. So from Forst to Wroclaw is €21.20 and from Görlitz to Wroclaw is €18.40. Katowice will be much more of course, for it is much deeper into Poland.

    If cost is of the essence, train to the last station in Germany, walk over the border on foot (or take a bus), for the fare per km on domestic tickets sold in Poland is much less than the fare per km on international tickets involving a cross-border train journey. So, as an example, train to Görlitz, bus over the bridge into Poland to Zgorzelec station (an easy 15 min ride, buses run at least hourly), and then the fare Zgorzelec to Wroclaw (valid on exactly the same train you might have come on from Görlitz just 2 km away to the east) plummets to 27 Zloty. That is about €8.

    All these fares I’ve mentioned here are regular fares with no need to prebook. So the full tariff.

    In addition there are many special fares from Berlin to Poland because of the close contacts across that border. For example a Europa-Special Polen fare which if prebooked some weeks in advance is as little €19 to stations nearer to Germany (including Wroclaw) and €29 for more distant stations in Poland. And there is a great one way fare of €10 from Berlin to Szczecin, valid on any train, which does not need to be prebooked at all. Use these sorts of tickets and you may find that a ticket the whole way from Berlin may obviate the need to use a valuable rail pass day (if you have a flexi-pass).

    Hope this helps.

  35. I will be traveling in Germany with a Germany-only rail pass. I will be taking a train from Berlin into Poland (Wroclaw or Katowice). Can I use the pass to the border and then buy a ticket for the Polish section of the trip? If so, how would I do that? Buy it on the train or in Berlin? Will that be cheaper than buying a Berlin-Wroclaw ticket?

  36. Cammi

    Just as the wise women at hidden europe said, you buy the ticket from the ticket machine at the station. It costs €37. You can follow through to purchase it on that website, but then you’ll need to pay postage on top and provide an address in Europe to which it can be mailed. You say you are travelling standby, so why bother purchasing the ticket in advance? I think the two OPs are as close to infallible as it is possible to be when it comes to rail travel in Europe, and as they say no need to bother bying n advance, I would just trust them. Note that most tickets cannot be purchased more than 3 months in advance, anyway.


  37. I’m thinking about buying a SWT pass. We’re planning a trip to Europe, starting in Germany, arriving on approx. 6/11 (I’m an airline employee, so I fly standby). I clicked the link above for SWT, then click the link at that page that states “Buy a Ticket for your Happy Weekend Here,” but I can’t figure out how to get the SWT for 37 Euros. Can anyone help?? I cannot see the option for the SWT at all. It just asks starting points and ending points, and when I fill that in, it comes out with high, individual prices. Thanks in advance!!


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