Happy holidays all. I've been refining our trip based on some of the great suggestions on the board. Would like to solicit another question. Planning to fly into Amsterdam from LAX and stay a couple days with friends then on to Berlin (first time there) for the remainder of our trip. About 10 days total. Would you recommend the train to Berlin or a flight? My friends live about a 10 min walk from the central train station so it is certainly handy. For the Berlin portion of the trip, was planning to see the city for a few days and then perhaps a day trip to Potsdam. Am I leaving us with too much time? Should we plan another day trip? Haven't yet booked air so very flexible at the moment. We are planning on going mid May. Open jaw return to LAX. Thanks as ever -- Todd
Take the train to Berlin; it's a six hour journey. When you factor in all the airport hassles, it's a wash time-wise. Plus the train will be more comfortable, take you city-center to city-center and is more environmentally friendly. Check schedules at the German Rail site rail.de
Fly. Use Air Berlin. It's a long trip by train to Berlin. Tegel airport is close to the city and a taxi to the hauptbanhof isn't very expensive.
I think we'll do the train from Amsterdam to Berlin. As I mentioned, my friends live about a 10 min. walk from the central station and according to the DB website, the train is about 6 hours. Also, a nice change of pace from flying. One question -- there seem to be a couple of choices of train types -- on the IC train, there are no stops. On the ICE, it changes trains in Hannover, but still about 20 min faster. I'm guessing the ICE is not only faster, but probably nicer? (I found that to be the case this summer in Salzburg/Munich route)
Hi, "...recommend the train to Berlin or a flight?" I recommend the train. If you can time it right, I suggest doing the ride like this: Amsterdam to Duisburg Hbf. on the ICE, then Duisburg-Berlin Hbf direct on the ICE. This way depends on how flexible on time you are, but you avoid taking a regional train, transfering in Hannover, and riding the IC when the ICE is available. Between Berlin and Potsdam you have a very full itinerary.
Todd, I'd also highly recommend taking the train. It may actualy be slightly faster than a flight, when all is considered. I travelled that route last year, and it's a very pleasant and easy trip. Regarding your reference to your friends living near "the central station", I assume you're referring to the relatively new Berlin Hauptbahnhof? It's HUGE and very impressive! I assume you'll be staying with your friends, so won't need hotel suggestions? There's not much difference in time between the IC and ICE trains. My preference would be a direct IC train (no changes). The ICE routes appear to have one change. One important point to note - if you're planning to buy your tickets at Amsterdam Centraal, be sure to take cash as they ONLY accept "Chip & PIN" credit cards. On the topic of touring in Berlin, there are LOTS of options. I'm sure your friends will have some suggestions. You could take some of the interesting walking tours with Original Berlin Walks, visit a few Museums, the Reichstag (reservations required as I recall), a day trip to Potsdam as you mentioned or a day trip to Sachsenhausen (if you're interested in the history). You might find it helpful to buy a copy of the Snapshot Berlin Guidebook ($10). I believe it's available as an E-book as well. Happy travels!
Take the train. Sit back and relax in a comfortable seat and enjoy the scenery. You can't see much from 30,000 feet. If you book ASAP (up to 92 days allowed) on the German Rail site, you can get a Europa-Spezial Niederlande fare of €44.00 on a direct IC train. The standard 2nd class fare for that train is €115.20. Be aware that discount fare tickets are for a specific departure date and time. They are non-exchangeable and non-refundable so be sure you can commit before booking. Although you won't have to change trains if you take a direct IC train, they make quite a few stops.
Thanks all! I knew this would be the place for great info and ideas. My friends are in the Netherlands not Berlin so yes I would appreciate hotel suggestions.