Please sign in to post.

Germany Trains

I'll be in Germany for 12 days. I was looking at purchasing a German Rail Pass, but wasn't sure if I needed it for the entire time or just certain days. It depends on which trains it is valid for. I know its valid on the DB trains, but are the local inner-city trams and subways part of the DB train system, thus the German Rail Pass? Or will I need to pay separately on those.

Also, if I have the Rail Pass, do I need to make a reservation for the longer trains I want to take or do I just present my pass and walk on? Longer trains would be Munich to Berlin for example.


Posted by
3198 posts

but are the local inner-city trams and subways part of the DB train

No, they are usually run by some local transport authority. Like BVG in Berlin.

if I have the Rail Pass, do I need to make a reservation for the
longer trains I want to take

No, very few trains in Germany require a seat reservation. And even on the ICEs you can just hop on any train you like if you have a pass. And the trains often have small displays above each seat that shows if the seat is reserved and which parts. And if you travel in rush hour, a seat reservation can be a good idea.

Posted by
21050 posts

The pass may be a waste of money for you. Those things usually don't pay off unless the traveler is zipping back and forth across a country, making a lot of long trips. You mentioned Berlin, which is a city where many people (for good reason) to spend a lot of time--days when a railpass would be worthless. Germany also has some very good deals on regional tickets.

Even for longer trips, if you're able to buy ahead of time, you may snag discounted tickets. To the extent that you know which trips you want to take you can go to the Deutsche Bahn website and price them out.

Posted by
12882 posts


I always buy a rail pass but certainly would not if my trip were only 12 days.

The local trains in Germany (Regional Bahn and Regional Express ) do not accept reservations. If you board one and it's full, you stand, sit on the steps, whatever, everyone else is doing likewise.

The ICE trains do not require reservations to board if you have the pass but finding a seat may be another story, depending on the route, say Frankfurt to Munich is just seats. That one I would definitely suggest reserving a seat.

You could Munich to Berlin on a night train with a transfer in Hannover. Doing Munich to Berlin (day), it's best to get a reservation, some are direct, others require a change of trains ,say in Jena.

Posted by
27713 posts

If you will be in one land (state) for a day trip or local journey you may well save shedloads of money on Laender tickets which give you all day on regional trains for one small charge. If you were clearer on your planned trips and possibles, we could give you specific advice.

Posted by
113 posts

Congratulations you are going to Germany! I never use passes as they are rarely cheaper than point-to-point tickets. Download the DB Navigator app on your phone (Deutsche Bahn). Don't worry it's in English. Buy your tickets through the app and it will apply all available discounts based on age, regional tickets, etc. Additionally, you won't need paper tickets you will have a scan code on your phone. This will also provide seat reservations as well. You can also use their website and if you sign in it corresponds with the app. Good Luck!

Posted by
2580 posts

no one mentioned that guy in the seat who knows all about rail passes?

Posted by
1216 posts

Definitely look on DB website, sometimes they have great deals farther ahead of time. In my cancelled trip to Germany I was able to get First Class ICE ticket for a little bit more then the cost of Standard Class. And definitely pay to get a seat assignment.

Posted by
18301 posts

In twenty years of traveling in Germany, all by rail, I have only had to stand on a train three times. Two times were regional trains, where no reservations were possible. the third time was on an ICE from FRA Fernbahnhof to Karlsruhe. It was a busy holiday. All seats were filled, but few seats were actually reserved. After half an hour, we got to Mannheim, and lots of people got up to get off. Before other people got on, we took open seats.

It will cost you about $5 for a single seat reservation in 2nd class. Decide if the trip is long enough to warrant spending $5 not to take a chance of standing the whole time.

Posted by
18301 posts

In 1988, on my first self-planned trip to Germany, I bought a German Rail Pass, $160 16-day, and I'm sure it paid.

Twelve years later, I came back to Germany and bought a German Rail Pass, also for about $160. I believe it was a flexi-pass for about 6 days. When I came home, I looked up the price of all the trains I used, and I found I just barely came out ahead, but I could have saved money with a few less expensive, slower trains. Since then, as I have learned how to use the Länder-Ticket and advance purchase tickets, I have never been tempted to get another rail pass. I always save money with individual tickets.

Case-in-point: In 2017, two of us spent 20 days in Germany, with 6 major days of rail travel (arrival, 4 changes of venue, departure) plus two major excursions. 8 days. We spent $308 on one Savings Fare, 3 regional passes, 2 Verkehrverbund passes, and 2 local tickets, all for two people. German Rail only sold GRPs in 7 and 10 day versions. A seven day twin pass plus the least expensive single day would have cost $657, so I saved half by not buying a pass.

Now, admittedly I tend to travel shorter distances with local and regional passes, but even so, 8 times my longest day of travel, 6½ hours, would have only cost $442, for 2.

Posted by
1764 posts

Like Lee, I tend to use mostly the Lander tickets, except when I am making a long jump between destinations. For those I try to reserve in advance to save.

There are also a variety of tickets for smaller regions that might save a few Euro. In the Tuebingen area, we used a couple of other tickets that were cheaper. Similarly, near the Bodensee we also used a couple.

Asking questions about specific locations on these and other forums is a good way to get started to find out about them.