10 smart tips for cheap train travel in Germany

10 smart tips for cheap train travel in Germany

10 smart tips for cheap train travel in Germany

The Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket is no more, but there are still many other ways you can travel cheaply by train in Germany - perhaps even faster and cheaper than ever before! Take a look at our top 10 tips for securing the best train ticket prices in Germany

1. Book as early as possible

Okay, this one might be obvious, but did you know that you can book train tickets up to 180 days before departure? Prices are calculated according to how busy the train is expected to be, so if not as many tickets are booked as expected, fares may be lowered. However, this is generally the exception rather than the rule, so early booking should be your guiding principle. 

2. Book online or at vending machine

We all like a bit of face-to-face contact. But when it costs you two euros extra? No thank you! Save yourself on “consulting fees” by booking online or via a ticket machine in the station. Often there’s a helpful soul standing nearby to help you find the cheapest fares anyway! 

3. Select less popular travel days

Mondays, Fridays and Sundays are the most popular travel days in Germany, as well as those just before and after school holidays and national holidays. Save yourself a couple of euros (and avoid the crowds!) by travelling on Tuesdays, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturdays. 

4. Deselect ICE

This one really depends on how highly you value your time. If you can afford to dawdle a little on the way, travelling without ICE connections is a cheaper alternative. If you’re a tech-whizz dependent on charging your laptop, however, you’d best stick to premium trains, as there are no power outlets anywhere else. 

5. Change to regional traffic

If you know your route well and are not afraid of changing trains a couple of times, hop off the ICE and do a stretch of your journey on a regional train. It may be cheaper, for example, on the route Berlin - Frankfurt to take the high-speed train to Kassel and then switch onto regional transport

6. Switch off “Prefer fast connections”

This is a tricky little feature on the Deutsche Bahn website that may elude you. If you cannot find a ticket at the price you were hoping for, deactivate the search option “Prefer fast connections.” You will then be shown some slower, cheaper options that were hidden from you before. 

7. Choose alternative route

This follows the same principle as switching to regional traffic - by breaking up your journey or travelling a slightly strange route, you can make some huge savings. For instance, if you’re travelling from Munich to Bremen, you will usually change in Hannover. If you continue to Hamburg and change there, however, the price suddenly drops.  

8. Don’t bother with seat reservations

If you don’t mind scrambling for a seat, this is a way to save a cool 4,50 euros each way. This is an especially good option if you are getting on the train right at the start of its journey, where there are still plenty of free seats to choose from in the unreserved carriage. Just be sure to arrive in plenty of time to secure a space, or you may find yourself standing. 

9. Use group offers

You might still be mourning the Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket, but there are still cheap group options available via the Cross-Country and Länder tickets from Deutsche Bahn. And the more people you travel with (up to a maximum of five), the cheaper it gets. If you’re more than five, you can get groups savings tickets, starting at 19,90 euros each. 

10. Use a third-party vendor

Deutsche Bahn doesn’t always have the cheapest options. This is especially the case if you have no choice but to book your tickets last-minute. For example, train companies sell a small amount of their discount tickets to other websites such as L’Tur. It might even be worth seeing if anyone’s selling an unwanted ticket on eBay!

On your way!

Try out a few of these tips, and you’ll be sure to make some significant savings on your transportation! Know any other hacks for securing a Deutsche Bahn bargain? Let us know in the comments below!



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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