I am practicing up for advance booking on bahn.de to get the best prices for our travels in Germany in September. It is too early to book, so I am looking at prices within the 90-day window, just to see examples. Looking at Berlin to Bamberg on a Sunday, if I look at June 2, when tickets have just become available, I see the early train (7:54) for 89 euro (for 2 people) and a later one (9:52) for 99 euro in 1st class. If I look earlier, in May, I see better prices: on May 19, 49 eur (for 2) for the early train and 61 euro (for 2) for the later. If I look even earlier in May, on May 2, those tickets have gone up a bit (61 and 69 euro) but still are much less than the June 2 tickets. In other words, prices at around 60 days are better than the 90-day prices. So how does this work? The lowest prices are not offered right away as with other train systems (Trenitalia, Renfe) I have used. Is this usual, that the lowest prices come aboutr 2-3 weeks after the 90-day booking period opens?
My guess (guess only) is that June 2 is in more demand and the best prices have already sold out for that date. Maybe June is vacation time for some Germans. I don't think school vacations are in May. There is a national holiday at the end of May. Maybe some people are taking off at that holiday and staying a week, coming back in early June, like some people here do for major holidays. Perhaps our German residents can offer some insight. It is my understanding that the Sparangebot prices are tiered, with prices starting at 29€ for one person. The lowest priced tickets are sold first; when they are all sold, it goes to the next tier. The lowest priced tickets are never again offered.
OK, that makes sense. I wasn't expecting it to be so busy on a Sunday, but there must be something going on that weekend, with lots of people traveling. I'll just be sure and mark my calendar for the 90-day mark and jump on the tickets right after midnight in Germany on the date.
June 2 is the last day of Pentecost school holidays in Bavaria this year. All those families returning home from Berlin have already snatched up the cheapest tickets.
I think Pentecost was on the last weekend in May last year (2012). I was traveling on Monday and the trains were packed. I was in Dresden the previous Saturday, and the town was swarming with tourists.