There isn't a high speed line between Hamburg and the German capital, but the 'classic railway' has been re-engineered to enable the ICE trains to travel at up to 230 km/h.
This is the highest speed in Europe achieved for a sustained length of time on a line that hasn't been specifically constructed for high-speed.
When travelling between most cities by train there is only one logical option, though on other journeys there is a choice between different trains or alternative routes. If different options are available you can use the info to decide which is best for you.
1hr 45min - 2hr 5min (approx)
ICE trains = 1 or 2 x trains per hour
EC trains = 4 x trains per day
IC trains = 1 x train per day
DB is the national railway operator in Germany, so its website can be used for booking journeys by German express trains; the ICE and IC trains and it doesn't charge booking fees.
It also sells tickets for journeys by direct trains on all international routes from Germany regardless of whether DB is operating the train service.
It also sells an extensive range of end-to-end journeys which involve making connections both within Germany and in neighboring countries, but journeys between Germany and Britain cannot be booked on DB.
A key feature of DB website worth keeping mind is that it offers 1st class ticket purchasers complimentary seat reservations on journeys both within and to/from Germany.
Seat reservations for daytime in both 1st and 2nd class can also be booked separately from tickets.
Happy Rail is a Netherlands rail ticket agency which sells tickets for both national and international journeys within a range of countries including Belgium France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland.
HappyRail doesn't charge booking fees in the conventional sense, but if you're not Dutch you can expect to pay additional transaction fees, which will be added to the total cost.
That's because the most common form of online payment used in The Netherlands is 'iDEAL' and HappyRail doesn't charge a transaction fee for 'iDEAL' payments, but only Dutch residents can sign up to 'iDEAL'.
Other forms of payment include Visa debit cards will incur a fee.
Omio is an online ticket agency which offers tickets for rail journeys in France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Spain.
The three key advantages of using Omio are
The disadvantage of booking with Omio is that it often adds a booking fee to the final price; therefore when it does so without offering a price advantage, SMTJ doesn't tend to offer Omio as a booking option.
Departing from Hamburg:
So it can be a good idea to look up the starting point of your journey and then book tickets from the most convenient station; only Hamburg Hbf has connections with the U-Bahn (subway).
Arriving in Berlin:
All trains also call at: Berlin-Spandau
If your final destination in West Berlin it's likely that your best option is to leave these trains at Berlin-Spandau and make onward connections by S-Bahn or Regio trains to Zoologischer Garten station; the Regio trains will be faster.
The Hamburg to Berlin journey by train has been transformed for the better in recent years as the service used to be shared by ICE trains and IC trains; because it isn't a high-speed route, but the IC trains have now been replaced by additional ICE departures, virtually all of which are non-stop from Hamburg Hbf to Berlin-Spandau and therefore take around 1hr 45mins to travel from city center to city center.
Until 12:51 (typically), there are also four EC trains, departing every two hours, which are Czech trains heading to Prag/Prague.
There is one IC train remaining on the route as a direct train service has been provided between Westerland and Berlin - and this train usually departs from Hamburg Hbf at 17:51
Book early and save: Yes
Online bookings usually open: up to 6 months ahead of the travel date - but this period of time is shorter when looking up journeys in August to October.
A choice of tickets
Four types of tickets are available:
Two types of discounted tickets, which will be cheaper the further ahead you book - Sparpreis and Super Sparpreis
Two types of non-discounted ticket - Flexpreis and Flexpreis Plus
A key difference between these types of tickets is refunds:
The other key difference is that both types of Sparpreis tickets are only valid on the specific departures selected when booking, but both types of Flexpreis tickets live up to their name, as they can be used on any departure on your travel date.
Note that none of the tickets can be exchanged to a different departure.
There's no need for this to be available for Flexpreis tickets, as they aren't train departure specific.
If you book a Sparpreis ticket and want to travel by a different departure you can refund it and then use the travel voucher towards the cost of the new booking.
Super Sparpreis tickets can't be exchanged or refunded.
When travelling to and from the major cities, the Sparpreis, Flexpreis and Flexpreis Plus tickets also include 'City tickets', which can be used on public transport between locations in the city centre and the stations in Hamburg and Berlin.
Seat reservations are optional on ICE trains for journeys within Germany.
They cost €4.90 when travelling in 2nd Class and €5.90 when travelling in 1st class.
Specific seats can be selected from seating plans - you don't have to accept the seat(s) that you will be automatically offered.
They are included within the cost of booking 1st class Flexpreis tickets and both 1st and 2nd class Flexpreis Plus tickets.
Though despite seats being automatically assigned when booking these three types of ticket - and these tickets being valid on any departure, you will need to pay to re-book the reservations, if you subsequently decide to travel on an alternative train.
So because you won't save by booking these types of tickets in advance, it can be a good idea to wait until you are sure when you will want to travel.
When booking Super Sparpreis, Sparpreis and 2nd class Flexpreis tickets, you have the option of purchasing seat reservations later.
It can be worth re-looking up a journey a week or two ahead of travel, because the DB website will indicate how busy a departure will be.
Though generally opting to reserve is particularly recommended if you will be travelling at business hours and/or during the day on Fridays and Sundays.
1st Class tickets
No matter what type of ticket booked, if you choose to travel 1st class, you will have access to the same seating areas on the train, ICE trains do not have Business or Executive lounges.
Though only those who have booked 1st class Flexpreis or Flexpreis Plus tickets can access the DB Lounges at the major stations.
Booking on the DB website
You can find these direct trains more easily by making a proactive selection of 'Direct Trains Only'.
To see all the combinations of trains and journey options, some of which may be cheaper, take off the 'fastest connections' default.
Trains departing at different times can be cheaper than others leaving on the same day, so if you can be flexible with your departure time use the 'best prices' tool - at the top right on the list of journey options.
2hr 5min - 2hr 45min (approx)
Not Every Day
Final Destination: Berlin Hbf or Leipzig
In contrast to the other rail services on the Hamburg to Berlin route, the Flix trains only depart from the main station in Hamburg.
Arrival in Berlin:
In addition to the central station Berlin HBf, some of these Flix trains also arrive at Berlin-Charlottenburg which is located in West Berlin.
The first departure of the day on Friday to Sunday is slower than the other departures by around 40 mins.
Final Destination: Hamburg-Altona or Kiel
All trains also call at: Berlin-Spandau; Hamburg-Harburg
Some trains also call at: Berlin-Sudkreuz; Hamburg-Damtor
At Berlin Hbf the train should depart from the lower level (tief) platforms/gleis.
Check the location of your final destination in Hamburg before booking.
The trains from Berlin also serve three other stations in Hamburg other than Hamburg Hbf, so one of these other stations may suit you better.
Online bookings usually open: up to 3 months ahead
Something to be aware of when booking tickets for journeys by FlixTrain is that Flix is predominantly a bus operator, so the train travel options for booking tickets are listed alongside the bus travel options; also some of the info around ticket exchanges and FAQs in general can point at the FlixBus website.
To make a it easier to hone in on a train journey it can be a good idea to look up the timetables to check the departure times which suit and then keep these times in mind looking for your rail ticket(s).
Much of the general advice around booking and using rail tickets in Germany doesn't apply to journeys by FlixTrain.
Tickets booked with DB, the German national rail operator, can't be used on FlixTrains, as Flix has used its own terms and conditions and set its own policies for how its tickets can be booked and used.
Help keep us advertising and paywall free!Donate
This second version of ShowMeTheJourney is exciting and new, so we are genuinely thrilled that you are here and reading this, but we also need your help.
We’re striving not to let anything get in the way of providing the most useful service possible, hence a facility has been set up with DonorBox which can be used to support the running costs and make improvements.
Instead of advertising or paywalls, your financial support will make a positive difference to delivering an enhanced service, as there’s a lot of ideas which we want to make happen.
So if you have found the info provided here to be useful, please consider saying thank you.
This is one of more than 100 train travel guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.