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From a Regio train in The Black Forest

Germany by train

Welcome to the guide on how to save money, time and confusion when travelling in Germany by train.

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A Regio train at Hamburg Hbf A Regio train at Hamburg Hbf
A Wagenreihungsplan poster on a gleis/platform showing in which zone each coach of a train should be located A Wagenreihungsplan poster on a gleis/platform showing in which zone each coach of a train should be located
The next departure indicator on a gleis/platform/track - note the zone information under the departure time The next departure indicator on a gleis/platform/track - note the zone information under the departure time
One of the main departure screens above an ICE 1 train at Munchen Hbf One of the main departure screens above an ICE 1 train at Munchen Hbf
ICE trains await departure from Koln Hbf ICE trains await departure from Koln Hbf
The view of The Rhine Valley from the train The view of The Rhine Valley from the train
Germany's fastest train - the ICE 3 Germany's fastest train - the ICE 3
One of the relatively new Intercity 2 trains One of the relatively new Intercity 2 trains

Travelling by train in Germany can be an incredible experience.
It can boast some of the fastest and most fabulous trains in Europe, has impressive and efficient stations and offers a multitude of spectacular journeys.

Temporary Covid-19 changes;

This is the coronavirus information page published by DB, the German national rail operator and it has also published travel advice guide (use Google Translate if need be).

The key requirement worth noting is that FFP2 face coverings are mandatory on all long-distance and Regio trains.

The overwhelming majority of day and night train services to and from Germany have now resumed, but the Berlin <> Moskva/Moscow remains suspended until further notice.

The entry regulations into Germany can be looked up from here.

Travelling on the trains:

German train services are placed into these four categories: ICE, IC, Regio and S-Bahn.

DB (Deutsche Bahn) is the German national rail operator, but it doesn't manage all of the train services in the country.
Regional (Regio) services in particular can be operated by other companies, but train tickets for these services are interchangeable.
Meaning that if you book a ticket at a station valid for a Regio train, then it can be used on any 'Regio' train to your destination, no matter which company is providing the service.

the ICE (Inter City Express) services:

Five different types of ICE trains are now used on routes within and to/from Germany.

The ICE services are express trains that spend some of their end-to-end journeys travelling on a high speed line.
ICE trains travel on high speed lines for most of the journey between these cities:

  • Berlin <> Hannover
  • Hannover and Wolfsburg <> Frankfurt (Main) and Wurzburg
  • Leipzig/Halle <> Erfurt
  • Erfurt <> Nurnberg*
  • Nurnberg <> Ingolstadt (on route to Munchen/Munich)
  • Koln/Cologne <> Frankfurt Flughafen/Airport*
  • Mannheim <> Stuttgart
  • Mannheim <> Offenburg
    *Trains regularly travel at more than 285 km/h on these lines, but up to 270 km/h is the more usual speed on the other lines.

Note that there are no high speed lines between these cities:

  • Koln/Cologne <> Hamburg
  • Koln/Cologne <> Hannover
  • Hamburg <> Hannover
  • Hamburg <> Berlin
  • Stuttgart <> Munchen/Munich
    but ICE trains still operate on these routes.

the IC services:

The IC services ae more conventional express trains, which are mainly used on long cross country routes that don't involve travelling on the high speed lines.
Though IC trains can use the high speed lines for comparatively short sections of their journeys.

When there are no high speed lines between cities, the IC services often share the route with ICE services.

Two different types of train used for the IC services; one of which is the new double deck Intercity2 trains.

the EC services within Germany:

International EuroCity (EC) services provided by other national rail operators are slotted into the regular German train timetables.

If you will be taking a train journey between Berlin and either Dresden or Hamburg, you could be travelling on a Czech or Hungarian train.
Or if you make a journey between north-west Germany and south-west Germany, you could find yourself boarding a Swiss train.
And these are just some examples of when this can occur.

the Regio services:

The Regio services comprises a broad range of trains because they provide these different functions:

1 Longer distance 'commuter' routes from/and to major cities including Berlin, Koln, Hamburg and Munchen.
Regio services often share these routes with IC and ICE trains and when they do so, they can be a cheaper, but slightly slower alternative, to taking those express trains.

(2) The local and branch line services outside the major cities.

(3) Journeys of up to three hours which link smaller towns to regional capitals.
On these routes some Regio services can be faster than others because they skip more stations - and those faster trains are usually designated as 'Regio Express' (RE) services.
So check the timetables (the yellow Abfarht sheets at stations) before boarding Regio trains - taking the next train to depart MAY not be the quickest option.

the S-Bahn services:

The S-Bahn services are the local trains in urban areas of Germany.

Similar to the RER trains in Paris and Thameslink trains in London, the S-Bahn trains in Berlin, Frankfurt(Main), Hamburg and Munich/Munchen travel across the city centre, providing faster alternatives to the equivalents of taking the metro from the main 'hauptbahnhof' stations.

Quiet zones:

'Quiet' and 'Phone' seating areas/zones are available on all ICE trains and on most IC services
You can choose whether you wish to travel in these zones when booking 1st class tickets, or making a reservation for 2nd class.

Catering:

Some form of on board catering will be available on all ICE and IC services and on the EC trains within Germany, but not on Regio services:

In summary:

  • Restaurant cars = some ICE trains and the EC trains,
  • Bar/bistro counter = all ICE trains, all EC trains, some IC trains
  • Trolley services of refreshments = some IC trains (those which don't have bar/bistro counters).
  • On demand at seat service in 1st class = all ICE trains

A more detailed overview is available on our GUIDE to using German trains.

Bicycles on German trains:

How you travel with a non-folding bike in Germany depends on the type of train service you will be traveling by.
Standard (non-folding) bicycles can be taken on all DB trains except the ICE 1, ICE 2, ICE 3 or ICE-T trains, but special tickets usually have to be purchased prior to boarding.

ShowMeTheJourney's guide to booking these bike tickets for German train journeys is available here

An ICE 2 An ICE 2
An ICE 3 An ICE 3
An ICE-T An ICE-T
An ICE 1 An ICE 1

Scenic Journeys:

Seven beautiful journeys through river valleys and gorges:

  • Bonn > Koblenz > Bingen - (Mainz)
  • Koblenz <> Trier
  • Dresden > Bad Schadau > over the Czech border to Decin
  • Regensburg <> Passau
  • Ulm <> Tuttingen
  • Heidelberg <> Neckarelz
  • Naumbrg > Jena > Saalfeld

Five lovely routes through forests:

  • Offenburg > Singen > Konstanz
  • Stuttgart <> Singen
  • Freiburg <> Donaueschingen
  • Seebrugg <> Titisee
  • Platling <> Bayerisch Eisenstein

Six wonderful Alpine journeys:

  • Rosenheim <> Berchtesgaden
  • Kempten > Immenstadt > Lindau
  • Ulm <> Goppingen
  • Kempten > Reutte > Garmisch
  • Murnau > Garmishch > Mittenwald > Seefeld~
  • Murnau <> Oberammergau
Offenburg <> Singen Offenburg <> Singen
Stuttgart <> Singen Stuttgart <> Singen
Kempten <> Lindau Kempten <> Lindau
Koblenz <> Bingen Koblenz <> Bingen

Notes on using the major stations:

Six things that are good to know:

1. The main central stations in Germany cities are named ‘Hauptbahnhofs’ and this is universal across the country.
The names of landmarks or notable people etc are not used for the names of hauptbahnhofs.
'Hauptbahnhof' is usually shortened to 'hbf' on timetables, departure screens and the DB website

2. In some cities including Berlin, Hamburg and Munchen/Munich, long distance trains can call at other stations in the city, before they arrive at the hauptbahnhof/hbf.

So avoid seeing the name of the city on the signage at a station and assuming you've arrived in the city centre.
In German cities anything but 'hbf' in a station name indicates that the station is NOT the main, city centre station.

3. All hauptbahnhofs house Reisezentrum (travel desks) at which tickets and reservations on most European international trains can be arranged - without paying booking fees.
European train services that can be booked at a Reisezentrum desks include trains that DON'T travel to/from Germany.

Therefore Reisezentrums can be a great resource if you're following a Eurail or InterRail pass itinerary.
You can avoid the booking fees payable on the Eurail and InterRail online reservation services; AND the booking fees payable when arranging reservations at stations in Belgium, Switzerland and The Netherlands.

4. You won't go hungry at a hauptbahnhof.
The largest German stations usually house 'food courts' with multiple dining options, though 'fine dining' restaurants are less common.
Numerous take-away outlets will sell food that is of better quality than you will find on any train.

5. All hauptbahnhofs have coin operated left luggage lockers, which can be accessed during the stations opening hours

When depositing bags you must pay for an initial 24 hours - even if you will be only depositing a bag for a couple of hours.
Then on collection you pay the balance if you have left your bag for more than 24 hrs; the charge will rise per day, but keep in mind that you may have to pay in excess of 20 euros in coins, you can't use cards or notes.

Change machines for converting notes into coins can be available, though in our experience they tend to be unreliable.
What we do is to collect coins during a trip and put them wherever we have stashed the key, which will open the locker.

6. The German word for platform/track is 'gleis'.
At non terminal stations the gleis will be divided into zones.
There will be information on the gleis showing in which zones each coach on the trains using that gleis will be located.

So if you have a reserved seat, or want to travel in a specific part of the train, then you can wait in the corresponding zone.
You can usually only find out the specific zone info when you are on the platform/track/gleis.

Hamburg Hbf Hamburg Hbf
Munchen Hbf Munchen Hbf
Berlin Hbf Berlin Hbf
Leipzig Hbf Leipzig Hbf

Notes on the ticketing:

If you will be buying tickets at the last minute, looking up the train times on the DB website, before you set off for the station can be a good idea.

On most ICE routes the trains depart no more than hourly; and this also applies to some IC routes, and on most Regio routes too.

Though between some destinations the direct trains only depart every other hour; and some very long distance IC services only operate once per day.

Discounted prices:

The cheapest type of discounted tickets for journeys by the express ICE and IC services are the 'Super Sparpreis' tickets.
They can be booked from 6 months ahead of your travel date - the further ahead you can book, the cheaper the prices will be, because only limited numbers of discounted tickets will be available at the very cheapest prices.

On the majority of ICE and IC journeys within Germany the cheapest 'Super Sparpreis' ticket price is now €17.90, this is a newly lowered price.
Whether these prices will be available when you book depends on how quickly the tickets at the lowest prices sell out.
On the longer distance routes those €17.90 fares can be hard to find if you're not booking at least 3 months ahead.

They will sell out fastest on the most popular departures, so trains leaving at different times on the same day can have different ticket prices.
Therefore if you can be flexible re: your departure times then it’s usually worthwhile searching through ‘earlier/later’ departures to find the cheapest fares; or use the ‘Saver Fare’ facility on the DB website.
You might save more than €40 by taking trains that are departing earlier or later in the day.

Super Sparpreis and Sparpreis tickets are train specific, you must travel on the train you have selected; this also applies if you haven’t reserved.

Booking tickets at stations:

Tickets for journeys by S-Bahn trains and nearly all Regio trains aren't discounted, so they cost the same if you buy them last minute at the station; and because they're not discounted, they're not usually available online

However, when you book tickets at a station it will be train service specific.
Because the tickets for journeys by Regio trains are cheaper when booked at a station, they can't be used to travel on an IC or ICE train.
So once you have booked tickets for a journey by Regio train, you can't then just hop on any next train to your destination - you can only take a Regio train.

Seat reservations for journeys within Germany:

If you book 1st class tickets for journeys by IC or ICE trains, seat reservations are complimentary, so are included with your booking.

However, when booking 2nd class tickets they are an optional extra and cost €4; but if you don't add a reservation to your booking, seats may not be available for your entire journey.
Seat reservations are not available on Regio trains.

If you will be using a rail pass on trains within Germany, seat reservations are optional in both 1st AND 2nd class on IC and ICE trains; but the availability of seats isn't guaranteed if you haven't reserved .

Seat reservations on international trains:

Making reservations is OPTIONAL on some international train services/routes, including:

Although reservations are automatically included when booking 1st class tickets.

However in contrast reservations ARE compulsory on:

These compulsory international train reservations are automatically INCLUDED when booking 1st AND 2nd class tickets online or at stations
Though rail pass users have to book reservations before boarding these trains.

Journeys with connections:

Often making a change of train can save money in comparison to taking the direct ICE trains.
The connections are usually designed to make the changing of trains as simple as possible.

On many routes taken by ICE trains, the timetable is set up so that in one hour there will be a direct ICE train between cities.
Then in the alternate hours, a 5 – 10 min connection between ICE trains is required to complete a journey.

However IC and ICE trains AREN'T exceptionally punctual, so allowing a minimum of 30mins to make a connection between long distance trains can be the best option.

If your journey involves making a connection between two trains at a Hauptbahnhof and you miss the connection due to a late arrival of a train, tickets and reservations can be re-arranged for a subsequent train free of charge at a Reisezentrum travel desk.

Child Tickets:

These have recently changed for the better.

  • For journeys by the express trains, the EC, IC and ICE trains, an adult (on German railways an adult is a person aged 15 and over) can now take up to four children aged 6 - 14 with them at no additional charge.
    The change is that this policy only previously applied when parents or grandparents were accompanying the children.
    Their ages will need to be entered when booking, so you can't just turn up at the station and hop on board; the kids will still require tickets, but in effect they will be complimentary.
    These new terms also apply to 1st class tickets and it doesn't matter which type of ticket is chosen; and it also applies to international journeys by these specific trains (except for the ICE trains to/from Paris).
  • For journeys by the the Regio and S-Bahn trains the former child ticket policy applies, namely a parent or grandparent can take up to four children aged 6 - 14 with at no charge
  • Children aged 5 and under travel for free on all trains.
  • Children aged 6-14 travelling unaccompanied by adults, or when travelling in a party of more than 6 people will be charged 50% of the adult rate.

Regional 'Lander' tickets:

If you are planning a day trip by train within a particular region in Germany, these regional day tickets can be great value for money, they cost from €23 - 31 for an individual, but up to four other people can be added to the ticket for only €3 - 7 per person.
Meaning that, for example, five adults can explore anywhere in Bavaria in a day by train for only €52.

Though these 'Lander' tickets can be used to travel only on Regio and S-Bahn services and not on the express IC and ICE trains.

If you want to travel between regions, then the Quer-Duch-Lands-Ticket (see below) can be a good option.

The national 'Quer-Duch-Lands' Ticket:

Also known as the Day Ticket, this Quer-Duch-Lands-Ticket allows for travel anywhere in Germany for a day, as long as you travel only on Regio and S-Bahn services and not on the express IC and ICE trains.

Though using this ticket becomes a particularly good option if you will be travelling in a group.
That's because the base price for one Adult is €44, but up to four other adults can travel on the ticket for only an additional €8 per person.

This ticket can be used for making a long-ish day trip by train, OR a multi-destination single day itinerary, OR as a cheaper, but slower alternative to taking the ICE and IC trains when the cheapest express train tickets have sold out.

International rail routes from Germany:

As Germany is Europe's largest country, it's not unexpected that it has more international train services than any other, but what may surprise is that the express trains to and from Germany are confined to comparatively few routes.

Therefore most of the international express trains from/to Germany follow just one route per border, this is the case when travelling by express trains between Germany and Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Poland and The Netherlands.

to Austria (and Croatia & Hungary & Italy & Slovenia & Switzerland)

Most of the trains from Germany to Austria follow one of six routes.

Freilassing > Salzburg:

EIGHT different train services make this border crossing - they include:

  • day and night trains to Hungary
  • the day and night trains to Croatia, which also cross Slovenia
  • the night trains from Germany to Italy.

The eight train services are:

(1) Railjet trains which depart every other hour on the Munchen/Munich Hbf – Salzburg – Linz – St Polten – Wien/Vienna – Gyor – Budapest route

(2) A daily Railjet train which shares the Munchen - Salzburg - Bad Gastein - Villach - Klagenfurt route with the EC trains.
This train connects in Villach with a train on to Zagreb via Ljubljana.

(3) EC trains which take these five routes once per day;

  • Frankfurt (Main) - Heidelberg - Stuttgart - Ulm - Augsburg - Munchen - Salzburg - Bad Gastein - Villach - Lesce-Bled - Ljubljana - Zagreb (the only daytime train from Germany to Slovenia and Croatia)
    Between June 20th and Sept 20th it's possible to make onward connections, which enable a train journey on to both Athens/Athina and Istanbul.
  • Munster - Duisburg - Dusseldorf - Koln/Cologne - Bonn - Koblenz - Mainz -- Mannheim - Stuttgart - Ulm - Augsburg - Munchen - Salzburg - Bad Gastein - Villach - Klagenfurt
    This train connects in Villach for a train on to Ljubljana
    Between June 20th and Sep 13th that train from Villach connects in Ljubljana for a train which travels on to Zagreb and then continues overnight to Beograd, where it arrives at 06:05 - it conveys sleeping cars.
  • Karlsruhe - Stuttgart - Ulm - Augsburg - Munchen - Salzburg
  • Saarbrucken - Kaiserslautern - Mannheim - Stuttgart - Ulm - Augsburg - Munchen - Salzburg - Graz
  • Frankfurt (Main) - Heidelberg - Mannheim - Stuttgart - Ulm - Augsburg - Munchen - Salzburg - Graz

These EC trains also call at Munchen Ost after they depart from Munchen Hbf.

(4) Hourly Regio trains, operated by Meridian that link Munchen with Salzburg.

(5) Hourly local trains which shuttle across the border on a Bad Reichenhall - Freilassing – Salzburg route.

(6) The Nightjet trains to Italy, which travel on these three routes:

  • Munchen/Munich – Padova/Padua – Vicenza – Verona – Peschiera del Garda – Desenzano del Garda – Brescia – Milano
    The only direct train from Munchen/Munich to Milano.
  • Munchen/Munich – Bologna – Firenze/Florence – Arezzo – Roma
    The only direct train from Germany to Florence/Firenze and Roma.
  • Munchen/Munich – Tarvisio – Udine – Treviso – Venezia/Venice

(7) The Euronight train from Munchen/Munich to Budapest via Wien/Vienna

(8) The overnight train on this route: Munchen/Munich - Villach - Lesce-Bled - Ljubljana - Zagreb
Between June 13th and Sept 20th it's possible to make onward connections from this train on to both Athens/Athina and Istanbul.

Rosenheim > Kufstein (the Munich to Italy route):

The most frequent daytime trains which come this way are the six EC trains per day which take a Munchen/Munich – Kufstein – Worgl – Jenbach - Innsbruck route.
During the day these trains depart Munchen/Munich in the odd hours and they also call at Munchen Ost station after they depart from Munchen Hbf.

Connect in Worgl for St, Johann, Kitzbuhel and Zell am See.
Though on most Saturdays a direct ICE train to these towns departs from Muchen/Munich hbf at 15:20.

Five of those EC trains continue beyond Innsbruck to call at Brennero – Bolzano – Fortezza – Bolzano –Rovigo – Trento – Verona.
Connect in Verona for cities to the west including Brescia, Desenzano for Lake Garda, Milano and Torino/Turin.

On Monday- Friday* three of these trains have their journeys extended beyond Verona to Bologna – and at the height of summer, one train continues beyond Bologna to Rimini.
* Two trains on weekends.
Connect in Bologna for cities further south including Ancona, Bari, Firenze/Florence, Napoli and Roma.

On Monday – Friday* one of these trains continues beyond Verona to call at Vicenza, Padova/Padua and Venezia/Venice.
*There are two trains at weekends on to Venezia/Venice.

The Nightjet overnight trains from Koln/Cologne and Hamburg to Innsbruck also come this way.

Passau > Wels:

The ICE trains from Germany to Austria are the daytime express trains which make this border crossing.

They take one of these three routes:

  • Dortmund – Essen – Dusseldorf – Koln/Cologne – Bonn – Koblenz – Mainz – Frankfurt (Main) – Wurzburg – Nurnberg – Regensburg – Passau – Wels – Linz – Wien/Vienna
    (every other hour from Frankfurt, 2 x trains per day from Koln/Cologne)
    Connect in Wien/Vienna for Budapest and Graz
  • Hamburg – Hannover - Kassel – Wurzburg – Nurnberg – Regensburg – Passau – Wels – Linz – Wien/Vienna.
    (1 x train per day)
  • Berlin – Halle - Erfurt – Nurnberg – Regensburg – Passau – Wels – Linz – Wien/Vienna
    (1 x train per day)

In most hours local REX trains also shuttle between Passau and Wels.

The Nightjet overnight train from Dusseldorf via Koln/Cologne and Koblenz to Linz and Vienna/Wien also comes this way.

Lindau > Bregenz:
Travelling by the Bodensee on a train from Germany to Austria
These two charming towns on the shore of the Bodensee are connected by frequent local trains, with at least one of these trains per hour continuing beyond Bregenz to Feldkirch.

A few Railjet trains per day depart Bregenz for Wien/Vienna travelling via St Anton, Innsbruck, Salzburg and Linz, but there are more frequent Railjets on this route from Feldkirch.

Three long distance train services also come this way:

(1)The daily IC train on a Munster - Duisburg - Dusseldorf - Koln/Cologne - Bonn - Koblenz - Mainz - Mannheim - Stuttgart – Ulm – Lindau – Bregenz – St Anton – Innsbruck route. .

(2) Six daily EC trains on the newly improved Munchen/Munchen – Lindau – Bregenz – St Margrethen* - St Gallen –Zurich Flughafen/Airport – Zurich route.
*Connect in St Margrethen for trains to Chur via Landquart.

(3) A new Railjet service on a Frankfurt (Main) - Darmstadt - Heidelberg - Stuttgart - Ulm - Friedrichshafen - Lindau - Bregenz - St Anton - Innsbruck - Salzburg - Linz - Wien/Vienna route

Mittenwald > Seefeld:

Every other hour a regional REX train departs Garmisch-Parternkirchen for Innsbruck on a journey which travels via Mittenwald and Seefeld.
Up to five of these trains per day commence their journeys in Munchen/Munich; but in the hours when there are no direct trains, the connections in Garmisch-Parternkirchen should be straightforward.

This is a more scenic, but slower route, from Munchen/Munich to Innsbruck, to that which is taken by the EC trains via Kufstein.

via Czechia

A daily Railjet train now travels on a Berlin - Dresden - Praha - Wien/Vienna route.
(The other daytime direct train from the German to Austrian capitals travels on the route via Passau and Wels).

via Poland and Slovakia:

The Nightjet train from Berlin to Vienna/Wien travels via Frankfurt (Oder), Wroclaw in Poland and Ostrava in Czechia.

to Belgium (and Paris)

The trains from Germany to Belgium take one of two routes.

the high speed line:

Two different high speed trains services travel on this line:

(i) Up to 6 x ICE trains per day follow this route; Frankfurt (Main) - Frankfurt Flughafen/Airport – Koln/Cologne – Aachen – Liege - Bruxelles-Nord - Bruxelles-Midi

(ii) Up to five x Thalys trains per day take a Koln/Cologne – Aachen – Liege - Bruxelles-Midi – Paris Gare du Nord route - most of these trains commence their journeys in Dortmund and also call at Essen and Dusseldorf.
These are the only direct trains from northern Germany to Paris.

via Welkenraedt:

Two train services now take this route:

Hourly local trains operate on a Aachen - Welkenraedt – Verviers – Spa route.
At Verviers you can connect int

to Czechia (Austria and Hungary)

Trains from Germany to Czechia take multiple routes.

Bad Schandau > Decin:
Taking the train from Germany to The Czech Republic

This is the only route taken by long distance express trains from Germany to Czechia; and beyond into Austria.
Every two hours EC trains take a HamburgBerlin – Dresden – Bad Schandau – Decin – Praha/Prag route.
There is also a daily Railjet train which takes a Berlin - Dresden – Bad Schandau – Decin – Praha/Prag - Wien/Vienna route.

via Poland:

A new Nightjet train has restored the overnight direct train service from Berlin to Budapest.
It travels via Wroclaw in Poland and Ostrava in Czechia.
(It is currently the only direct train from Germany to Hungary)

via Furth im Wald:

7 x trains per day take a Munchen/Munich – Regensburg - Furth im Wald – Praha/Prag route.
Though they are regional and not express trains, so also make stops in some more minor towns.

Germany <> The Czech spa resorts:

Local and regional trains provide rail links on FOUR routes between Germany and the popular spa towns in Bohemia (western Czechia)
If you want to travel between Germany and Frantiskovy Lazné/Franzensbad, Karlovy Vary/Carlsbad and Marianské Lazne/Marienbad by train, connections are often required, but the journeys aren't particularly complicated.

(1) via Schirnding

Cheb is a gateway station when travelling from many destinations in Germany to the Czceh spa towns by train
Cheb has regular trains to the three most popular spa towns, Frantiskovy Lazne, Karlovy Vary and Marianské Lazne, PLUS up to 5 x direct trains per day travel from Nurnberg/Nuremberg to Cheb via Marktredwitz.

In Nurnberg connections are available with ICE trains from multiple destinations across Germany including Frankfurt (Main), Hamburg, Hannover, Koln/Cologne and Munchen/Munich.

Since the discontinuation of the direct Nurnberg > Praha/Prag trains some years ago, this routing via Nurnberg and Cheb is the main rail route for train journeys between central Germany and the Czech capital.

(2) via As

Every two hours local trains travel a Hof – As - Frantiskovy Lazné – Cheb route.

So this route is typically the best option when travelling from Germany to Frantiskovy Lazné/Franzensbad to by train

At Hof connections are available from Regio trains which have travelled from Bamberg, Bayreuth, Dresden (connect in Dresden when travelling from Berlin or Leipzig), Munchen and Nurnberg.

(3) via Bad Brambach

Four local trains per day take a Plauen – Bad Brambach - Frantiskovy Lazné - Cheb route.
At Plauen connections are available with Regio trains from Dresden via Zwickau and Chemnitz, so if you’ll be heading to Cheb and Frantiskovy Lazné from those German cities AND the timings suit, this is a slightly quicker route than travelling via Hof.

(4) via Potucky

Up to 7 x local trains per day travel from the German border town of Johanngeorgenstad to the Czecch spa town of Karlovy Vary/Carlsbad.
In Johanngeorgenstad connections are available with trains from Zwickau, which is served by trains from Chemnitz and Dresden.

to Denmark

The Hamburg > Koebenhavn train service was switched away from the route which travelled through Lubeck and Nykobing a couple of years ago, so trains no longer travel on the ferries from Germany to Denmark.

Flensburg > Padborg:

Four services now travel across this border in Jutland:

(1) Three or four or six * trains EC trains per day take this route: Hamburg – Padborg - Kolding – Odense - Ringsted – Kobenhavn/Copenhagen.
*The increased level of service operates during the summer.
The first train of the day, which departs Hamburg at 08:55 has the easiest connection on to Stockholm, it is due in to Kobenhavn H station at 13:33 and a train on the Swedish capital is scheduled to depart at 14:19.

The first two trains of the day also have easy connections in Kobenhavn H station on to Goteborg/Gothenburg - but it isn't possible to reach Oslo from Hamburg by the end of the day.

(2) Two x IC trains per day take this route; Hamburg - Flensburg - Padborg - Frederica - Aarhus.

(3) Six x Danish IC trains per day travel between Flensburg and Frederica; and some of these trains have good connections in Flensburg with Regio trains from Hamburg.

(4) Swedish rail operator Snälltåget is now operating a direct overnight train from Berlin to Stockholm via Malmo, but it calls at Hoje Taastrup just after 06:30 and frequent local trains offer a connection on to central Kobenhavn/Copenhagen.
For its dates of operation check out its website.

to France

The Hamburg > Koebenhavn train service was switched away from the route which travelled through Lubeck and Nykobing a couple of years ago, so trains no longer travel on the ferries from Germany to Denmark.

Flensburg > Padborg:

Four services now travel across this border in Jutland:

(1) Three or four or six * trains EC trains per day take this route: Hamburg – Padborg - Kolding – Odense - Ringsted – Kobenhavn/Copenhagen.
*The increased level of service operates during the summer.
The first train of the day, which departs Hamburg at 08:55 has the easiest connection on to Stockholm, it is due in to Kobenhavn H station at 13:33 and a train on the Swedish capital is scheduled to depart at 14:19.

The first two trains of the day also have easy connections in Kobenhavn H station on to Goteborg/Gothenburg - but it isn't possible to reach Oslo from Hamburg by the end of the day.

(2) Two x IC trains per day take this route; Hamburg - Flensburg - Padborg - Frederica - Aarhus.

(3) Six x Danish IC trains per day travel between Flensburg and Frederica; and some of these trains have good connections in Flensburg with Regio trains from Hamburg.

(4) Swedish rail operator Snälltåget is now operating a direct overnight train from Berlin to Stockholm via Malmo, but it calls at Hoje Taastrup just after 06:30 and frequent local trains offer a connection on to central Kobenhavn/Copenhagen.
For its dates of operation check out its website.

to Italy

The direct trains from Germany travel through either Austria or Switzerland.

via Austria by day:

There are five EC trains per day which take a Munchen/Munich – Rosemheim - Innsbruck - Brennero – Bolzano – Fortezza – Bolzano –Rovigo – Trento – Verona.route.
During the day these trains depart Munchen/Munich in the odd hours and they also call at Munchen Ost station after they depart from Munchen Hbf.
Connect in Verona for cities to the west including Brescia, Desenzano for Lake Garda, Milano and Torino/Turin.

On Monday- Friday* three of these trains have their journeys extended beyond Verona to Bologna – and at the height of summer, one train continues beyond Bologna to Rimini.
* Two trains on weekends.
Connect in Bologna for cities further south including Ancona, Bari, Firenze/Florence, Napoli and Roma.

On Monday – Friday* one of these trains continues beyond Verona to call at Vicenza, Padova/Padua and Venezia/Venice.
*There are two trains at weekends on to Venezia/Venice.

via Austria by night:

The Nightjet trains to Italy, which travel on these three routes:
(1) Munchen/Munich – Villach - Padova/Padua – Vicenza – Verona – Peschiera del Garda – Desenzano del Garda – Brescia – Milano
The only direct train from Munchen/Munich to Milano.
(2) Munchen/Munich – Villach - Bologna – Firenze/Florence – Arezzo – Roma
The only direct train from Germany to Florence/Firenze and Roma.
(3) Munchen/Munich – Villach Tarvisio – Udine – Treviso – Venezia/Venice

via Switzerland:

A daily EC train takes this route Frankfurt (Main) > Mannheim > Kalrsruhe > Baden Baden > Freiburg > Basel – Olten – Luzern* > Belinzona* > Lugano* >Chiasso > Como > Milano
This is the only direct train from central Germany to Italy.
*= This train returns to Germany on a different route via Brig and Visp, so doesn't call at these towns when heading north.

to Luxembourg

During the day there are hourly Regio trains on this route; Koblenz – Trier – Luxembourg (two of these trains commence their journeys in Dusseldorf and also call at Koln/Cologne Hbf and Bonn).

Straightforward connections are available in Luxembourg into regional French TER trains heading to Nancy via Metz and into TGV trains to Paris

For a train journey from The Rhine Valley to Paris, travelling via Luxembourg can be a cheaper and faster option than travelling via Koln/Cologne (rail pass users will save money).

to Poland ( and Belarus & Russia & Ukraine)

The trains from Germany to Poland primarily follow four routes.

Frankfurt (Oder) > Rzepin:

Two daytime express train services and overnight trains make this border crossing:

(1) Three or four EC trains per day, which are branded ‘Berlin-Warszawa Express’, take this route; Berlin – Frankfurt (Oder) – Rzepin – Poznan – Warszawa.

(2) One EC train per day which takes this route; Berlin – Frankfurt (Oder) – Rzepin – Poznan – Bydgoszcz – Gdasnk – Gydnia.

A new overnight service also travels over this border crossing, it departs Berlin at 18:43 and heads for Przyemysl via Krakow and Rzeszow.
At Przyemysl it connects into another new service on to Lviv in Ukraine.

On Mondays and Saturday evenings the Berlin – Brest – Lubin – Minsk – Smolensk – Moskva/Moscow ‘Talgo’ train also takes this route.
(This service remains suspended).

via Szczechin:

Up to nine trains per day travel from Angermunde to the Polish spa town, Szczechin and up to four of these trains commence their journeys at Berlin-Gesundbrunnen station.

via Forst:

On Fridays (departs 14:31) and Saturdays (departs 08:31) only an express train service leaves Berlin Lichtenberg station and travels to Wroclaw via Cottbus.

There are also two local daily services that depart Cottbus for Forst, with connections from Forst on to Wroclaw.

Gorlitz > Zgorzelec:

What had been direct trains from Dresden to Wroclaw now travel no further than the Polish border town, Zgorzelec.
Five trains per day depart from Dresden for Zgorzelec, where they connect with trains on to Wroclaw.
The first three connections of the the day from Dresden, arrive in Wroclaw in time for connections on to Krakow, Poznan and Warszawa.

to Sweden

Swedish rail operator Snälltåget is now operating a direct overnight train from Berlin to Stockholm via Malmo.
For its dates of operation check out its website.

to Switzerland

The River Rhine and Lake Constance, also known as the Bodensee both provide natural barriers along the German and Swiss border, so there are only TWO routes used by long-distance express trains between Germany and Switzerland.

(The trains on the Munchen to Zurich route, travel through Austria because the eastern end of the Bodensee is in Austria).

Basel Bad Bahnhof > Basel SBB:

Basel Bad Bahnhof is in Switzerland, but it's managed as though it is a German station, so train services that only travel from Germany as far as Basel Bad Bahnhof, have been excluded from this summary.

The train services which do travel on from Basel Bad Banhnhof include the ICE trains on these three routes:

(1) Berlin – Kassel – Frankfurt (Main) – Mannheim – Kalrsruhe – Baden Baden - Freiburg – Basel – Olten – Bern – Thun – Spiez – Interlaken (3 or 4 trains per day)

(2) Hamburg - Hannover - Kassel – Frankfurt (Main) – Mannheim – Kalrsruhe – Baden Baden - Freiburg – BaselZurich (5 trains per day)
Two or three trains per day travel on beyond Zurich to Chur via Landquart.
Connect in Basel for Bern, Biel, Brig, Delemont, Luzern, Interlaken, Olten, Spiez, Thun and Visp
Connect in Zurich for Bellinzona, Lugano and St. Galllen.

(3) Dortmund - Wuppertal - Koln/Cologne – Seigburg/Bonn – Frankfurt Airport/Flughafen - Mannheim – Kalrsruhe - Freiburg – Basel SBB (6 trains per day)
One of the trains on this route commences its journey in Amsterdam and also calls at Duisburg and Dusseldorf

Daily EC trains travel via Basel on these three routes;

(1) Hamburg – Bremen – Dortmund – Essen – Duisburg – Dusseldorf – Koln/Cologne – Bonn- Koblenz – Mainz – Mannheim - Kalrsruhe – Baden Baden - Freiburg – Basel – Olten – Bern – Thun – Spiez – Interlaken

(2) Hamburg – Bremen – Dortmund – Essen – Duisburg – Dusseldorf – Koln/Cologne – Bonn- Koblenz – Mainz – Mannheim - Kalrsruhe – Baden Baden - Freiburg – Basel – Zurich

(3) Frankfurt (Main) – Mannheim – Kalrsruhe – Baden Baden - Freiburg – Basel – Olten – Luzern* – Belinzona* – Lugano* – and on to Milano

* This train returns to Germany on a different route via Brig and Visp, so doesn't call at these towns when heading north.

Two overnight Nightjet services on these routes also come this way:

(1) Hamburg – Hannover – BaselZurich
(2) Berlin – Magdeburg – Basel - Zurich

Singen > Schaffhausen:
Travel by train from Germany to Switzerland
Three train services make this border crossing:

(1) German IC trains on this route; Stuttgart – Horb – Rottweil – Singen – Schaffhausen – Zurich
(2) Swiss IC trains on a Singen – Schaffhausen – Zurich route
The train service is arranged so that in alternate hours there is a direct train from Stuttgart to Zurich, but in other hours, Stuttgart > Singen IC trains connect with the Singen > Zurich trains.
(3) German Regio trains on a Ulm – Frederichshafen – Radofzell - Singen – Schaffhausen – Waldshut – Basel (Bad Bahnhof) route.

to The Netherlands

Trains from Germany to The Netherlands take one of five routes.

via Bad Bentheim:

Every two hours during the day Intercity-Berlijn trains take this route:

Berlin – Wolfsburg – Hannover – Osnabruck* - Rheine – Bad Bentheim - Hengelo – Deventer – Amersfoort – Hilversum – Amsterdam Central
*Osnabruck is served by trains from Hamburg via Bremen.

Hourly Regio trains now also cross this border on this route; Bielefeld > Osnabruck- Rheine > Bad Bentheim > Hengelo.
Connect in Hengelo into hourly Dutch IC trains on these routes

  • Hengelo – Deventer – Amersfoort* - Utrecht – Gouda – Den Haag/The Hague
  • Hengelo – Deventer – Amersfoort – Hilversum* – Amsterdam-Zuid – Schiphol Airport

*=Make connections at these stations into trains to Amsterdam-Centraal.

via Emmerich:

Two train services now take the main railway line from Germany to The Netherlands:

(1) The ICE trains on these routes:

  • Frankfurt (Main) – Frankfurt Flughafen/Airport – Seigburg/Bonn – Koln/Cologne - Dusseldorf – Duisburg- Oberhausen – Arnhem – Utrecht* – Amsterdam (6 or 7 trains per day)
  • Basel - Freiburg – Kalrsruhe – Mannheim - Frankfurt Flughafen/Airport – Seigburg/Bonn – Koln/Cologne - Dusseldorf – Duisburg- Oberhausen – Arnhem – Utrecht – Amsterdam (1 x train per day)
    Connect in Utrecht for Den Haag, Gouda, Delft, Rotterdam and Schiphol Airport.

(2) Hourly Regio trains which take a Dusseldorf – Duisburg - Oberhausen – Emmerich – Arnhem route.

via Gronau:

Hourly local trains from Dortmund cross this border to reach Enschede.

Connect in Enschede into hourly Dutch IC trains on these routes

  • Enschede – Hengelo – Deventer – Amersfoort* - Utrecht – Gouda – Den Haag/The Hague
  • Enschede – Hengelo – Deventer – Amersfoort – Hilversum* – Amsterdam-Zuid – Schiphol Airport

*Make connections at these stations into trains to Amsterdam-Centraal.

Monchengladbach > Venlo:

Hourly Regio trains operate on this route; Hamm (West) – Hagen – Wuppertal – Dusseldorf – Neuss – Monchengladbach – Venlo.

Dutch IC trains operate hourly on this route; Venlo – Eindhoven* – Den Bosch – Utrecht – Amsterdam Centraal.

*Connect in Eindhoven for Rotterdam and Den Haag/The Hague.

via Bad Nieuweschans (to Groningen):

The trains which used to take this route from Leer to Groningen have been replaced by buses which depart every other hour, this could be due to work on the railway line, or it may be a permanent substitution.

Leer is served by hourly trains from a swathe of German towns and cities including Bremen, Duisburg, Dusseldorf, Hannover, Koln/Cologne and Oldenburg.

Trains

front end of an ICE 1 train
ICE 1 (Germany) National
Two ICE 2 trains have been combined for the remainder of the journey
ICE 2 (Germany) National
An ICE 3 (406) train on a Bruxelles - Frankfurt service
ICE 3 (Germany) National, International
An exterior view of an ICE-T train
ICE T (Germany) National, International
A DB IC train departs from Koln Hbf
IC (Germany) National
Exterior of double deck Regio train
Regio (Germany) National
Berlin S-Bahn train -  front view
S-Bahn (Germany) National
A side view of a Railjet train - the top tier OBB trains
ÖBB Railjet (RJ/RJX) (Austria) International
One of the German style coaches used on the Berlin - Warszawa Express trains
EC (Berlin - Warszawa Express) International
Exterior of Czech train at Dresden on a Praha - Hamburg journey
EC Metropolitan (Germany <> Czechia <> Hungary) International
Two train units can be joined together on some departures to form an exceptionally long train
EC Astoro International
Exterior of a Swiss IC train typically used on these EC services
EC (Switzerland - Germany/Austria) International
The front end of a Twindexx train
Intercity 2 (Germany) National
An ICE Velaro D train arrives at Paris Est
DB - SNCF (ICE) International
Exterior view
DB - SNCF (TGV) International
Exterior of a refurbished Thalys train - note the red doors
Thalys International
An IC train to Amsterdam at Berlin Hbf
IC Berlin/IC Berlijn (Germany <> Netherlands) International
An ALX (Alex) train at Munchen Hbf
ALX (Zapadni Express/Regio) National, International
Exterior of Meridian train
Meridian (Germany) National
An ICE1 train
ICE Trains (an overview) National
The restaurant car on a Budapest to Warszawa train
EC (Poland - Austria/Hungary/Czech Republic/Germany) International
Close up of a Danish IC train on an EC service at Hamburg Hbf
IC/EC (Denmark / Germany) International
Exterior of a Hungarian (MAV) sleeping car
EuroNight (Hungary - Germany /Switzerland) International
Image coming soon...
EuroNight (Lisinski) International
Image coming soon...
Euronight (Metropol) International
A Nightjet train to Roma awaits departure at Wien Hbf
OBB Nightjet (international) International
An EC train from Munchen has arrived in Verona
EC (Italy - Austria - Germany) International
ICE 4 (Germany) National, International
The train to Klagenfurt awaits departure from Koblenz
EC (Germany - Austria/Croatia/Slovenia) International
FlixTrain National
Snälltåget Night International
The exterior of a Westbahn train
Westbahn Kiss International

Cities

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Frankfurt (Main)

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Hamburg

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Köln / Cologne / Koeln

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München / Munich

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