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Germany By Train

Germany is filled with interesting destinations, like the dynamic capital Berlin, the enchanting Neuschwanstein Castle or major cities like Cologne, Hamburg or Munich. You can also explore the dense forests, mountainous regions, river valleys or sea coast. In short – Germany has it all.

Trains types in Germany

Germany map major rail connections

Regional and intercity trains in Germany

The main rail network in Germany is made up of the following regional trains and intercity trains:

  • Regional Express trains connect regional destinations with larger cities. It makes frequent stops and connects with high-speed ICE trains.

  • Regional bahn trains link all local towns. These trains are slower than Regional Express trains.

  • InterRegional trains connect Germany’s regions.

  • S-Bahn (suburban trains) is a network of trains that operate within most big cities, including Berlin and Munich.

  • InterCity trains operate domestically and internationally between key cities. They are slower than the high-speed ICE trains as they make more stops.

 
On the Eurail timetable regional trains appear as 'RE', 'RB', 'IR', and 'IC'. Reservations are not required for regional and intercity trains.
 

Your Eurail pass is also valid on various private railway companies in Germany. Find out which ones in this PDF or on this page.

High-speed trains in Germany

International high-speed trains in Germany

These high-speed trains operate to and from Germany:

  • RailJet connects Munich to Vienna, Salzburg (Austria), Prague (Czech Republic) and Budapest (Hungary)

  • Thalys links Cologne to Paris (France) and Brussels (Belgium)

  • TGV connects Munich to Paris (France)

  • ICE connects Frankfurt to Paris (France) and Hamburg to Copenhagen (Denmark)

  • EuroCity connects Munich to Venice, Verona and Bologna (Italy)

 

Domestic high-speed trains in Germany

These high-speed trains operate within Germany:

  • ICE (InterCity Express) is the most popular train in Germany, connecting key cities. These high-speed trains travel at speeds of up to 200 mph (320 km/h).

 

ICE trains include an on-board restaurant. Snacks and drinks can also be served to your seat.  In 1st class there may be extras, like newspapers, power sockets, audio channels and video screens.

Night trains in Germany

The following night trains connect Germany with other European countries:

  • ÖBB Nightjet (EN)
    Connects Germany to key cities in Austria, Italy and Switzerland. Key routes include:
    Munich - Salzburg - Florence - Rome
    Hamburg – Berlin - Basel - Zürich
    Hamburg - Hanover - Vienna
    Düsseldorf - Cologne - Frankfurt - Vienna

  • EuroNight Berlin Night Express
    Berlin – Malmö

  • EuroNight 420/421
    Cologne – Frankfurt – Vienna

  • EuroNight Kálmán Imre
    Munich – Salzburg – Vienna – Budapest

  • EuroNight Metropol
    Berlin – Prague – Bratislava – Budapest
    Berlin – Prague – Vienna

  • EuroNight Lisinski
    Munich – Ljubljana – Zagreb

 

Domestic night trains in Germany

  • ÖBB Nightjet connects several German cities by night

  • Hamburg - Berlin - Munich

  • Düsseldorf - Cologne - Frankfurt/Munich

Scenic train routes in Germany

There are 2 scenic train routes that run in Germany:

Train stations of bordering countries

With a Eurail pass valid in Germany you can travel to the following train stations of countries that border Germany:

  • Basel (Switzerland)

  • Salzburg (Austria)

 

Popular connections

In Germany it's not mandatory to have a seat reservation on the ICE trains. However, we recommend you to buy a seat reservation, especially if you're traveling in a group. This way you can not be asked to leave a seat, which might happen if you don't have a reservation. We'll explain you more about reservations in Germany a bit further down on this page.

 

View approximate train travel times between Germany's key cities with high-speed ICE trains.

 

From / To ICE high-speed train

Berlin - Munich

6hr

Berlin - Frankfurt

4hr 10min

Berlin - Hamburg

1hr 45min

Berlin - Cologne

4hr 30min

Hamburg - Frankfurt

4hr

Hamburg - Cologne

4hr

Hamburg - Munich

6hr

Frankfurt - Munich

3hr 35min

Frankfurt - Cologne

1hr 15min

Munich - Cologne

4hr 35min

We suggest the following routes to travel between Germany and other European countries:

  • Austria – Germany
    Travel by day from Munich to Innsbruck (1hr 50min) on EuroCity (EC) trains or to Vienna (4hr 15min) on Austrian RailJet trains.

  • Belgium – Germany
    Travel by day to Brussels from Frankfurt (3hr 15min) with ICE trains.

  • Czech Republic – Germany
    Travel with EuroCity (EC) trains from Berlin to Prague (4hr 40min), or the DB Express Bus from Nuremberg or Munich (3hr 35min).

  • France – Germany
    Travel by ICE from Frankfurt to Paris (4hr), by TGV from Munich (6hr) to Paris. 

  • Italy – Germany
    Travel from Munich to Venice (9hr) or Rome (12hr) on the ÖBB Nightjet night train, or travel by day on EuroCity (EC) between Munich and Venice.

  • Netherlands – Germany
    Go by day from Frankfurt (4hr) or Düsseldorf (2hr 10min) with an ICE train.

  • Poland – Germany
    Get to Warsaw (5hr 35min) from Berlin with the Berlin-Warsaw Express.

  • Switzerland – Germany
    Go by night with ÖBB Nightjet to Zurich from Hamburg (11hr 50min) via Berlin. There are various ICE and InterCity (IC) trains crossing the Swiss border into Germany.
  • Denmark – Germany
    Travel by ICE and IC to Copenhagen (4hr 45min) or Aarhus (4hr 30min) from Hamburg.

International ferry connections to and from Germany

You can also travel to and from Germany by ferry. Get a discount on specific routes with a Eurail pass.

  • Finland – Germany
    Sail with Finnlines from Rostock or Travemünde to Helsinki (Finland). Get a 30% discount with Eurail passes.

  • Poland – Germany
    Sail from Rostock to Gdynia with Finnlines and get 30% off with Eurail passes.

  • Sweden – Germany
    Travel from Travemünde to Malmö (Sweden) with Finnlines. Get a 20% discount with Eurail passes.

On the Eurail timetable RailJet trains are shown as 'RJ', ICE trains simply as 'ICE', Thalys as 'THA' and TGV as 'TGV'. Reservations are compulsory for Thalys and TGV trains. The international ICE route Frankfurt to Paris also has a compulsory reservation. For RailJet and ICE, reservations are optional but we recommend making reservations during weekends and busy periods.
ÖBB Nightjet trains appear on the Eurail timetable as "EN", same as the EuroNight trains. On these trains you're required to book seats or sleeping accommodation in advance.

 

Reservations

What trains require reservations?

  • No reservations: Germany’s regional (RE, RB, IR) trains do not require reservations. 
  • Optional (but recommended during high-season and holidays): InterCity (IC), EuroCity (EC) and ICE trains 
  • Required: all night trains

  • Required: trains from and to Denmark in the summer season (about €4, from 18 June until 21 August)

  • Required: Eurocity (EC) trains to/from/within Italy. Optional for routes that don't start, end or run within Italy

 

All the trains listed above are included in Eurail passes (where Germany is a chosen country), you only need to make reservations for those trains mentioned. For international trains, the Eurail pass must be valid in all countries the train runs through.

 

Please note that the number of seats available for Eurail pass holders is limited on the ICE Paris-Frankfurt train. We advise you to reserve this train as far in advance as possible especially during peak season (May-September).

 

How to make reservations for German trains

You can make reservations for domestic and international high-speed trains and night trains:

  • Through our Reservation Service.

  • Through the Rail Planner App

  • At a ticket desk or self-service machine at local train stations.

  • Online through the DB website.
    Please note that you can only make reservations for domestic trains and international night trains departing or arriving in Germany.

  • By phone through the Deutsche Bahn call center.
    Phone number: +49 1806 996 633
    Opening hours: 24/7

    When you call, you'll hear a German menu. Select extension "9" for an English menu, then "1" for train information and bookings. This call center does not charge a booking fee. Delivery costs are €3.50 to every country.

    You can also pick up your reservations at larger German train stations. Just take the order number you received on the phone, to a ticket window or a 'self-service' machine in the station.

 

Find out more about reservations

Reservations for Thalys trains can no longer be made through the Deutsche Bahn website. You can instead make a reservation via a call center, a DB agency or at the ticket desks at German train stations. Find out how to make your Thalys reservations.

 

Get your Pass for Germany

German Rail Pass


Germany is not available as a Eurail One Country Pass.

If you only want to travel in Germany, check out the German Rail Pass.

 

Standard prices from $ 201

Global Pass

 

Be free to visit Germany along with the other 32 Eurail countries.


Standard prices from $ 191

 

Pass benefits

Get around with the S-Bahn

Eurail Pass holders can travel for free on the S-Bahn (suburban metro railways) networks that DB operates in major German cities. The S-Bahn can be recognized by its logo (a white S on a green background).

 

Ferry buses to and from Germany

Free bus travel (reservation only) is an extra benefit of the German Rail Pass. Travel from Germany to Italy, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands and many more countries.
 

See all Pass benefits in Germany

 

Good to know

Quick facts

  • Capital: Berlin

  • Population: 81.1 million

  • Language: German

  • Currency: Euro (EUR)

  • Dialing code: +49

Spelling of city names

On German train timetables and at train stations in Germany, you'll usually find the local spelling of German cities and stations.

Here is the local spelling of some popular German cities:

  • Hannover = Hanover

  • Cologne = Köln

  • Munich = München

  • Nuremberg = Nürnberg

German hub stations

Germany's main hub stations are Berlin Hbf, Köln Hbf (Cologne), München Hbf (Munich) and Frankfurt Hbf. At these train stations, it's possible to connect to trains to Germany's main cities and many international destinations.

 

Station facilities

Stations in Germany usually have excellent facilities, often including:

  • Luggage lockers

  • Foreign exchange desks

  • Restaurants and cafés

  • Tourist information offices

  • ATM cash machines

  • Elevators and escalators

  • Access for disabled passengers

 

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