True DB Bahn Booking Guide (desktop)

DB Bahn Booking Guide (desktop)

This 'buying tickets' guide will point the features to look out for when booking tickets on DB Bahn on a desktop PC.

Booking on DB Bahn desktop home page


9 European language options are available. (All of the examples are taken from the English language version - and on DB Bahn/ the place and station names are translated).


You can usually choose to select specific stations, 'Frankfurt (Main) Hbf) etc - useful if the start or end point of your complete journey is close to a specific station.

Although choosing cities can be the better option if you're heading to/from city centres - and will be using public transport to complete/begin your journey.
Do this and the search results will capture a wider selection of journeys.

However, we have deliberately chosen Cologne in the example.

For despite the city having two different stations, with some ICE services departing from one (Köln Hbf) and some departing from the other ( Köln Messe-Deutz) - only the 'city' is offered as an option when selecting Cologne/Köln.
(This seems to be consistent across the language options).

It isn't seemingly possible to select Köln Hbf as a 'from' station.

So if you are looking up journeys from Cologne/Köln, pay particular attention to the journey information - see step 5.

Note that in this example it is possible to select 'Frankfurt Main' Hbf as the specific 'To' station - as it is when looking up journeys to/from most major stations/hauptbahnhofs.

Frankfurt (Main) Hbf is the only station in Frankfurt (Main) city centre that ICE trains call at.

Berlin, Cologne/Köln, Hamburg and München/Munich are cities that have more than one station served by express trains (EC, IC and ICE).

If you will be travelling to/from these cities, don't assume that the main station/hauptbahnhof, will be the optimum station for your journey.

Use Google Maps to look up the specific start/end points of your journey - it may be closer to, or have easier connections to, one of the other stations in those cities.


If you want to travel 1st class you can select 1st class/class. 1 - at the bottom left of this home booking page.

(This full  home page layout will only appear once you have selected your 'from' and 'to' stations).

If you already have a ticket or RAIL PASS that's valid for the journey and only need to book a seat reservation(s), then click the 'seat only' box.

The steps required booking a reservation will be similar to booking tickets - you will be taking to an almost identical search results page, from where you can select the specific train departure that you want to reserve a seat (seats) on.

However, if you have a rail pass and want to book a couchette or sleeping cabin on an overnight train, don't click 'seat only' - there is a different method for booking these reservations - see below.


In these two scenarios:  

(i) you will be taking your bicycle with you (non folding bikes cannot be taken on board ICE trains);

(ii) you will be making connections between express trains (particularly if you will be connecting into an international or overnight train);

always select 'further options' on the booking home page - so that you can see the screen above.

Express trains in Germany aren't exceptionally punctual, but the DB Bahn booking service understandably assumes they will be on time.

If you will be making connections into an international or overnight train - increasing the 'Duration Of Transfer' time to at least 30 minutes is highly recommended.

(iii) For JOURNEYS WITHIN Germany - the booking system doesn't usually show journey options when the connections are under 5 mins, but connections between ICE trains of less than 15 minutes are a feature of the German rail timetable.

So if you don't increase the Duration Of Transfer time to more than 20 minutes, then on the search results for your journey - you will see the direct trains ('0 changes') plus the journeys that have 1 x theoretically very simple change of train.

So don't adjust the connection time if you want to see a wider choice of journey options for domestic journeys - on many IC and ICE routes the timetable is configured, so that in alternate hours, the trains take different route for some of the journey.

Meaning that in every other hour, there won't be any direct ICE trains between two destinations, but instead a theoretically simple connection will be provided.

(iv) Note that DB Bahn does NOT have a 'direct trains only' facility - the 'prefer fast connections' option lives up to its name - it's pre-ticked because DB Bahn assumes that you will want to see the direct trains AND the journey options that involve a change of train.

So DO adjust the Duration Of Transfer time to more than 30 minutes if you only want to see the Direct trains on your search results.

(v) However, the journey options that involve a change of train can often be cheaper than the direct trains.

If you do opt to make a journey which involves a change of train and have train specific tickets and/or reservations - if a train delay results in a missed connection, your tickets will be valid on an alternative later train.

Reservations can be transferred free of charge to a later train at a Reisezentrum travel desk - don't assume that the seats you had reserved will also be available on a later departure.


On these search results because Cologne/Köln has been selected as the 'from' destination -  note the two different stations, where each journey commences, .

Also note (i) that a direct (0 change) AND an indirect train has been listed, and (ii) the big difference in journey prices.

If you wanted to opt for the €19 price, it's worth clicking the 'show details' link to check the details of the connections between trains.

If you can be flexible with your departure/arrival times then scroll up/down the search results to see more journey options.

Scroll more than a couple of hours before/after the times you entered when searching, and you'll see the 'Earlier' or 'Later' buttons - that you can use to search through the day's departures.


Using the 'saver fare finder' tool is a good option if the price of the journey is more important to you than specific arrival or departure times.

Though as can be seen, you can still specify the approximate times of your journey - but note that departure and NOT arrival times are used on the sliding scale.

Take care when using the 'saver fare finder' tool.

Note that:

(i) the search results include every possible combination of trains between the stations - including journeys that involve up to three changes of train,

(ii) the default results are ordered by price and not by 'D' (departure time).

The trick to making the most of the 'saver fare finder' tool is to use the filter triangles at the top of each column.
You can then sort the results by the criteria which is most important to you - cheapest price, 0 changes, arrival time etc.


When you click on a ticket price of your chosen journey/departure you will be taken to this page, that:

(i) clearly states the terms/conditions of each type of ticket available -- note that if you have chosen the (cheapest) 'Sparpreis' ticket, you will have to pay a €19 fee for changing your booking,

(ii) Makes clear the additional benefits of travelling 1st class which include the seat reservation.

(ii) if you want more flexibility than the 'Sparpreis' fare provides, you can choose the Flexpreis option.

Also if you want to travel 1st class and have missed the previous options to select 1st class travel, you can select 1st class tickets on this screen.


DB sells a range of BahnCards which entitles the holder of the card to a range of discounts.

So if will be making several journeys within Germany over an extended period of time (so rail cards won't be an option) - the balance tips in favour of purchasing a BahnCard - as the up-front cost, will be set off against your future discounts.

As can be seen, you can proceed with your booking if you don't have a BahnCard, but this page also spells out the amount you would save on this journey if you did have a BahnCard.


As can be seen you don't HAVE to register with DB Bahn when booking tickets.

If you will be making a one-off trip to Germany, then it can be sensible to conclude that the benefit of speeding up future bookings is superfluous.

However, a less obvious benefit of registering is that if you do so, you will be sent text messages re; the status of your journey.
If you receive a text message in your hotel room alerting you to the fact that your train is now departing 30 mins late, you'll know that you'll have more time to get to the station etc.


Receiving a code and entering into a ticket machine, is not an option when booking on DB Bahn, you have to choose one of the delivery options.

If you opt to book a digital ticket you will be sent an email comfirmation.

You can then either;

(i) Open the email on your phone and then save it to your phone as a PDF. You can then show your phone to the conductor on the train, what they will need to see is the square barcode

(ii) print the ticket and take it with you

(ii) Download the DB Navigator app - once you register your bookings will be contained within the app.

OR pay the pay fee to have tickets posted to you

This is also the the stage of the booking process when you can make or amend RESERVATIONS.

If you have selected a Klasse.1/1st class ticket, the 'any reservation' option will be pre-selected because your ticket includes your resersvation.

Though you can still optimise your reservation to suit you (choose a compartment seat instead) etc - and the reservation price will be shown as €0 (because the reservation is included in your booking).

If you have selected a Klasse.2/2nd class ticket, the reservation is optional - it won't be pre-selected so you will need to click the button to add it.

so the cost of adding a reservation to your booking is shown (the screen above is for a 2nd class booking)

This reservation process also allows the choice of seating options (irrespective of whether you will be travelling 1st or 2nd class).


You don't HAVE to choose any of these other services - though the insurance cover can be worth considering if you have booked a particularly expensive ticket.

If you don't want to choose any of these additional services, you can click, the somewhat hidden 'Proceed' button.


If you register (at step 8), this 'Personal Details' page will be pre-populated when making future bookings.


If you have a Eurail or InterRail pass and want to book a reservation on a night train from OR to Germany, don't click the 'seat only' tab at Step 3 (above).

Instead search for a night train journey using Steps 1 - 5 above - the same steps you would take if booking a ticket.

Click on the ticket price (at Step 5) - and at the foot of the ticket page you will then see;

Select the 'Pass Offer' and you will be taken to this page...

...which shows each type of accommodation on the night train - and it's respective rail pass reservation fee (and not the ticket price).

Supplement = the rail pass reservation fee.

Note that some types of accommodation (the deluxe sleeping cabins, that have a shower in the cabin) can only be booked by holders of 1. class passes (but 1.class pass holders can also choose from the 2. class options.