Getting from Berlin to Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, or Frankfurt is possible in many ways – and here comes a full overview of all of them. (I bet you didn’t know number 4 yet!)
1. Fast trains (ICE, IC)
The flagship of the German railways Deutsche Bahn* is the ICE. On land, it’s usually the fastest means of travel, even faster than cars: Berlin – Munich in 6:07 hours, from city center to city center. But it’s also the most expensive: A normal fare ticket from Berlin to Munich costs 130 EUR.
2. Fast trains with Bahncard
The Bahncard is a pass valid for one year, giving you a 25% or a 50% discount on every normal fare ticket. The 25% version even gives discounts on the saver fare (see below).
The Bahncard 50 for 2nd class tickets costs 255 EUR, the analog Bahncard 25 62 EUR – both for one year. But there are trial version for 3 months, too, starting from 19 EUR. Just check the following link:
3. Fast trains with Saver fare (Sparpreis)
If you plan your trip in advance, you can get a saver fare, starting from even 19 EUR! And I just checked: Apparently 10 days in advance are enough to get such a ticket (unless you’re travelling on the weekend: these tickets are usually booked out quickly).
One downside on the saver fares: They are always tied to one specific train and not valid in a train earlier or later (unless there was a delay of your first train and you were not able to catch a connecting train). So be careful to use the right train!
To still find a saver fare when all of them seem booked out, you still can play around with different connections: For instance, if you restrict your connection search to only IC and regional trains (= excluding ICE trains), you often can still find a saver fare.
4. Fast trains with Saver fares from Austrian or Czech railways
And here is a little trick: Austrian or Czech railways do also have saver fares, and they are usually not booked out so quickly. But the ticket needs to start or stop in Austria / in the Czech republic.
So what do you need to do in case you want to go from Berlin to Munich? On the Czech railways, you buy a ticket
- from Děčín (last stop in Czech Republic)
- via Berlin Hbf
- to München Hbf (Munich)
Of course, you won’t use the part from Děčín to Berlin but that doesn’t matter – it only matters that you now have a valid ticket from Berlin to Munich. 🙂
Too complicated? I’ve made a video that shows step-by-step what to do:
And since apparently few people go by train from Czech Republic to Germany, there are usually always enough saver fares available. You just need to book 3 days in advance, since that is the condition of the saver fare. In our case, we pay 524 CZK = 19 EUR.
The same principle can also be applied at the Austrian railways. Here you should rather pick the destination in Austria, so your ticket would go
- from Berlin Hbf
- via München Hbf (Munich)
- to Kufstein (first stop in Austria)
All border stations you can make use of:
- Czech railways:
- Děčín (for Dresden, Leipzig, Berlin)
- Cheb (for Nuremberg)
- Furth i Wald (for Munich)
- Austrian railways:
5. Regional trains (IRE, RE, RB)
If your trip is shorter, less planned in advance and you are travelling in a bigger group, then you might consider going with regional trains. This might not be a good idea from Berlin to Munich, as it takes nearly 10 hours – but it is worth considering for instance when going from Berlin to Hamburg (3 hours).
Here, the following tickets pay off: The Quer-Durchs-Land-Ticket* (working days after 9am) and the Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket* (Saturdays and Sundays, whole day) are day passes, working in all regional trains operated by Deutsche Bahn in Germany:
- The Quer-Durchs-Land-Ticket starts at 44 EUR for 1 person, increasing by 8 EUR for every following person (up to 5). So 5 people go for 76 EUR.
- The Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket starts at 40 EUR for 1 person, increasing by 4 EUR for every following person (up to 5). So 5 people go for 56 EUR.
And for Berlin–Hamburg, the Deutsche Bahn offers a direct regional train (IRE) with a special ticket: Berlin-Hamburg-Spezial* for 19 EUR single and 29 EUR return.
By bus and car
6. Long-distance bus (Fernbus)
Long-distance bus are a pretty new way of travel in Germany. Yes, you heard me right. Until 2013, an old law still applied in Germany, not allowing companies to offer a bus connection on routes where a train connection exists. And so, with Germany’s dense train network, virtually no long-distance bus routes existed.
This changed two years ago, a complete new market of bus connections emerged, with all these new players still fighting for their position. Which means: Price battles with pretty low fares.
To do a meta-search over all bus companies, use Qixxit*. It will find you the cheapest offer given a route and a date.
7. Ride share (Mitfahrgelegenheit)
Before the long-distance busses came up, a very popular way to travel in Germany were ride shares: People who were driving somewhere with their own car and had some seats left, offered them on the Internet.
And this model still works pretty well for connections that are not well covered by busses. And a very popular platform, even in all of Europe, is BlaBlaCar*: Just register there and find ride shares starting from 30 EUR. (What, more expensive than busses? Yes, but often also a bit faster, since the busses mostly stop at cities in between, leaving the highway.)
Yes, this is also pretty popular in Germany. And no doubt: It is the cheapest – if you are lucky or you don’t value your time. 😉
A very popular spot to start your hitchhike is the gas station near S-Bahn Nikolassee (line S7). A lot of west- and southbound trips start there, so it’s the best place to chat up drivers at the gas station or to wait with a sign at the station’s exit.
Find a lot, lot more tips on hitchhiking from Berlin on the Hitchwiki!
9. Car rental
There is a popular, local car rental in Berlin: Robben & Wientjes. You might have already noticed their pickup trucks in the city – a lot of people use them when moving. But they also have normal passenger cars.
And finally, the probably fastest way: flying. Also not necessarily the most expensive. Ryanair just opened a new base in Berlin-Schönefeld, offering a direct flight to Cologne, then there is Air Berlin with many national routes and also Germanwings.
To find the best offer, check Skyscanner*. Use BER to search with both Berlin airports at the same time.
… then leave a comment. 😉
* Affiliate links.