Please sign in to post.

Should I fly from Berlin to Amsterdam or take a six-hour train ride?

Hi everyone,
We plan to spend two nights in Berlin and then another three nights in Amsterdam. I've always thought we'd take the train (cos we're gonna do that from Munich to Berlin) but when I started checking out flights for fun, I'm thinking "Why be on a train for six hours and reach Amsterdam in the late afternoon when we can be in Amsterdam at noon if we fly?" Of course, there's the whole issue with getting in and out of airports, but this is my first trip to Europe so I'm looking to hear from people who have experience in settling this first-world dilemma :)

Posted by
12400 posts

What dilemma? It is a very common question whether to ride the train 6-10 hrs or fly...depends on one's travel style and an existing discount carrier route. In your case of spending two nights in Berlin and assuming the price is right, I would fly but would take the night train Munich to Berlin via Hannover. That I've done a couple of times.

Posted by
2487 posts

It's a relaxing ride through a not very spectacular, but also not boring landscape. And indeed not the hassle of getting to and from airports, security checks, luggage belts and those other things which make flying such a nuisance. Take the 8.34 from Berlin Hbf and you're in the centre of Amsterdam at 15.00.

Posted by
1990 posts

My threshold is about 6 hours. For 6 hours or so, I opt for the train as I really hate flying and the trains take me, generally, right into the city. Once it gets up towards 7 hours, I'll usually fly.

Posted by
16878 posts

You can't get around security checks, but Amsterdam Schiphol airport is an easy connection to/from the city, with frequent trains taking 14 or 18 minutes travel time. Easy Jet flies to Berlin Schoenefeld and local transport time will vary depending on your destination neighborhood. If you have Rick's book covering Berlin, then see a few route notes at the end of that chapter, or see http://www.berlin-airport.de/en/travellers-sxf/to-and-from/buses-and-trains/index.php.

Posted by
6584 posts

I'm not a big fan of trains and limit myself to 3 1/2 hours. Any longer and I'm flying a budget European airline.

Posted by
11613 posts

Six hours is where I may decide to fly, but I have taken trains for ten hours with no regrets.

Posted by
21356 posts

Six, seven hours is the bench mark for consideration of plane over train. Train travel and seating is so much better and relaxing than a plane.

Posted by
11450 posts

Longest train ride I took was almost six hours .. and that was just about my limit. I was ready to get off.

I did a night train 30 years ago. .. sucked.

In your situation I would consider price and time.. and still probably fly.. but it depend... sorry cant be much more help than that.

Look at Tuifly , and AirBerliner.. and consider your luggage.

Posted by
14458 posts

I had a similar decision, fly or train from Venice to Naples. I compared total time door-to-door (costs were about the same) and opted for the somewhat longer train journey because [1] I really don't like anything about the "flying experience" and [2] the flight departure time was very inconvenient.

You have cities with easy, cheap access to the airports so flying sounds like a better choice for you (in spite of the hassles). Be sure to check the carry on limits for your flight - assume they will be strictly enforced.

Posted by
715 posts

Think about the environment. Take the train.

Posted by
333 posts

Another consideration is budget and luggage! My friends and I are planning to spend a week in Germany before our RS tour next September. Our main flight lands in Munich, but we intend to then go to Berlin for a few days before coming back to Munich for Oktoberfest. We originally had planned to take a local flight to Berlin and back, as well as to Paris a week later for the start of our tour. Those local flights were advertised around 35-60 euro. However, once we looked more closely, those cheap prices didn't include any luggage! You could only bring a small 17 pound or less carry on. Anything more than 17 pounds needs to be checked and as soon as you start checking luggage, the price goes up tremendously! In our case, we'll have a small roller bag (more than 17 pounds), a backpack (more than 17 pounds), plus a purse or computer bag. In the long run, we decided to rent a car between Munich and Berlin and back. When it comes time to leave Munich for Paris, taking the train is going to be much cheaper. And while it takes longer, the pluses outweigh the minuses- at least in our case. So unless something even better pops up, we're enjoying the train! Explore all your options, pros and cons, and then decide. Have a great trip!
Lisa

Posted by
2778 posts

I would take the train. IMO, if you take a train you are still on vacation. If you fly, you've left your vacation for a few hours for hassle...why do that?

PS, I like JKC's reason as well...the environment needs to be considered. Don't fly unless you have to do so.

Posted by
2508 posts

We took a 6 hour train, Paris to Barcelona, last summer. The seating was great, watching the world go by (very quickly on this high speed train) was fun. We chatted, snoozed, read, walked around, visited the dining car, played cards. It went by quickly and we all agreed it beat the airport experience by a mile. I would agree with other posters-a six hour train is a great alternative to flying.

Posted by
19519 posts

I've taken 8- to 10-hour bus rides in Europe. A 6-hour train trip is nothin'.

Posted by
532 posts

I also vote for train. We opted for a flight to Berlin from Munich - thinking that we would use the 'saved' time . Well, had to get up early to get to airort, go thru security etc... Arrived in Berlin exhausted. In contrast, that same trip, took a 10 Am train, six hours ride and arrived at our next destinantion, relxed and refreshed.
And enjoyed the scenery and a chat with our train mates.

Posted by
12400 posts

In taking the train (day) for 6 to 8 hrs, I know I'll sleep at least one hour, if not more. . That's the advantage. I can't be sure of that on a two hour flight plus all that wasted time going to, waiting at, going through security/baggage claim, etc connected with airports.

Posted by
6372 posts

Like many others on this forum a 6 hour train ride is about my limit, longer than that I would look at flying. But when looking at flying, you have to consider the whole mess (in my opinion) of getting to the airport, waiting to board, the actual flight (often in uncomfortable seats and not able to walk around), then getting to your destination from the final airport. A couple of times I opted for train rides of 7-8 hours because the airports were inconvenient and costly to get to/from, or the flight times were not convenient for me (late night arrivals, etc) and costs were greater because of checked luggage (as noted by other poster).

The final decision of flight vs train needs to be made based on all of the components, not just the actual travel time. You're the only ones that can make that decision based on which meets your criteria better - time, cost, convenience.

Posted by
37 posts

Thank you everyone for your input. I was wondering how ironic it would be if we decide to fly only to end up with a flight cancellation and/delay...how common are those, especially in the summer? I don't suppose trains have the same issues with delays?

Posted by
19519 posts

I've spent 7-1/2 months taking buses and trains around Europe over the last 2 years. Regional/local trains sometimes lost a bit of time, but I only had two rail delays significant enough that I remember them. One was on a train from Romania to Bulgaria. The other was on a night train from Rome to Sicily; there was track work near the Straits of Messina.

I assume flight delays are more likely but haven't gone looking for on-time stats.

Posted by
37 posts

Side question but is it worth it to buy a BahnCard? It keeps on popping up when I'm doing dummy bookings on the Deutsche Bahn website. Also, when does the Sparpreis rates end? Would the fares increase say, a month from now? We will be travelling in Germany in mid-May.

Posted by
12400 posts

Hi,

The closer it gets to the date on which you want to travel, the more expensive the ticket becomes. No, the Bahncard doesn't apply to tourists in a practical sense.

Posted by
14458 posts

I wouldn't take into consideration possible unlikely events, like a mechanical malfunction. If you start down that path, you'll end up in a rabbit warren.

Posted by
12400 posts

"I don't suppose trains have the same issues with delays." If you had been in Germany in the summer of 2015, I would have bet your trains (many) were delayed and if it did not happen to you personally, you would have heard it happening to someone else when listening to the announcements of train departures and arrivals while standing on the platform. Likewise, if you had looked at the blue electronic board, there would have been listed numerous trains late, delayed ie, more than 20 mins, in departure or arrival.

In 2016 I was back again in the summer (June), this time the trains were much more on time, when looking at the electronic board, listening to the announcements in the Hauptbahnhöfen. It seemed to me over the years of increasing delays, cancelled trains, their frequency, how pervasive, and so on, what I saw/experienced in June 2015 was the absolute worst. Much better in 2016.

Posted by
2487 posts

In case you miss a train as a result of a delay, it isn't such a disaster as with flying: just wait for the next train.