Is This The Cheapest Train Ticket In Germany?

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Transport Tips for Germany

Cheapest Train Ticket in Germany

Last year, we gave Deutsche Bahn a bit more than €600 to ferry our family of 4, plus dog, from our holiday base in West Germany to the city of Erfurt in the East, and back.

This year, we only spent €120 for our round-trip to the north eastern town of Goslar, which is roughly the same distance.

The big savings was possible with the (relatively) the new cheapest train ticket in Germany offered by the Deutsche Bahn – the Quer-durchs-Land-Ticket.

Is this the cheapest train ticket in Germany?

"A German Central train station where you can get the cheapest train ticket in Germany for you"This ticket can get you and your group (up to a maximum of 5 people) anywhere in Germany for a fixed price of €42 for the first person and an additional €6 for each additional traveller.

Children – as long as they are your own – aged up to 14 traveling with 1 or 2 adults travel for free. Pets count as one passenger. (Note: After Dec. 10, 2011, prices might change.)

So where’s the catch? We should not, after all, assume that Deutsche Bahn have something to give away – or that they are about to wreck their own business model.

First of all, the Quer-durchs-Land ticket is ONLY valid for local and regional trains (i.e. not on the fast trains IC/EC/ICE).

This, obviously, slows down your journey, often quite considerably so. The thing to bear in mind is this: fast trains are not much “faster” than regional trains but more direct.

The “RE” regional express trains, the backbone of the local train networks in Germany, connect at most 2 neighbouring federal states.

The more Bundeslaender or federal states you have to cross, the more complex the journey therefore becomes i.e. the more often you have to change trains and the larger the difference to the travel time compared to that of the fast trains.

Example: Travel time for a trip from Hamburg in the north to Munich in the south may balloon from 6 to 12 hours, and that from Cologne in the west to Berlin in the east from 6 hours to nearly 10. (Assuming, of course, that you catch all your connections. If not, you can easily add an hour or two more.)

"DB where to order the cheapest train ticket in Germany anytime"So, if you are planning such a long trip, the Quer-durchs-Land ticket – no matter how cheap – may no longer be a viable option, and you may have to look for an alternative.

If, however, your journey is restricted to, say, a couple of federal states, it may take you only a little longer – 5 hours instead of 4. For a price difference of 90 percent, this is good value indeed – and an hour profitably spent.

Some cities even accept the Quer-durchs-Land ticket on their local public transport networks, making it even better value.

Bear in mind that the savings increase disproportionately for large groups. For a single traveller, €42 (one-way) is a fairly hefty fare, and for many routes, you can find a cheaper option.

When traveling in a large group, however, you have to remember that your group has to travel together at all times. No going separate ways on the travel day.

Also, the Quer-durchs-Land ticket is valid for use only from 9 a.m. This cuts down your potential travel time total, making the ticket even less attractive for really long journeys (where you would arrive at your destination in the middle of the night). If used on a week-end, however, this ticket is valid for the earliest train available.

For trips of 4 to 6 hours this is no problem. On the contrary: it allows you to avoid the rush hour packed trains of the working week days. (When we traveled, we practically had a whole wagon to ourselves.)

Overall, the Quer-durchs-Land ticket is a great gift to the budget (group) traveller.

Now, there is another ticket for getting around in Germany for an even lower fare: the Schönes Wochenende Ticket.

"Get the cheapest train ticket in Germany in a ticketing machine in a Deutsche Bahn train station"

If traveling on Saturdays and Sundays with this ticket, you get all the privileges of a Quer-durchs-Land ticket without the 9am time restriction – for the unbeatable fixed price of €39 for 1 or for a group of (up to) 5 persons. (Price might change in 2012.)

The Schönes Wochenende ticket, therefore, IS the cheapest train ticket in Germany!

For a step-by-step guide on how to buy these cheap train ticket options on the Deutsche Bahn online ticketing portal, read our tips HERE.

We have more transport tips when traveling in Germany HERE.


14 comments to Is This The Cheapest Train Ticket In Germany?

  • Yes to all your questions, John. Dortmund, Dusseldorf and Muenster are all in NRW. If it says on the bus, underground train or even tramways “Verkehrsverbund NRW”, the ticket is valid to travel to and from all towns and cities that are part of state of NRW. Enjoy your stay in NRW!

  • john telfer

    hi just a quick question as i have said we are travelling to dortmund from dusseldorf airport just a few quick question
    is the nrw ticket valid for the underground in dortmund
    are the machines easy to work ie do they translate to english
    so if i get ticket from dusseldorf to muenster is ticket valid to anywhere within that area on that day can we get off and get back on at any station thank you in advance for any reply we arrive on friday

  • Hi John, the one-way ticket for your trip is €13 per person, so your cheapest option would be 2x the Schoenertagkarte (costs €41 for 5 people max.) which you’ll find under NRW Special Rate Ticket when buy from the machine. It gives you the added advantage of it being valid for use in the local bus network in Dortmund as well as in Dusseldorf. Be sure to buy the tickets from a machine as it would cost a bit more if you buy it from a DB counter.

    You can also buy it online, but instead of putting Dusseldorf-Dortmund, put in Dusseldorf-Muenster, mainly because the option will not be available if you put just the Dus-Dortmund trip. Here’s how to order it online: Hope this helps. Have a nice trip!

  • john telfer

    hi we are travelling from dusseldorf airport to dortmund what is the best options ie price and there are 10 of us

  • Every Land has its own version. And obviously the one in Baden-Wuerttemberg is quite cheap. In Nordrhein-Westfalen, it’s now 37.50 Euros for max. 5.

  • One of the things we have started using are the specific Laender Tickets. In Baden-W it costs 25E for 2 people and gets us on all the RE/RB and local transport in the entire state for the day. It makes day trips in our area very affordable. Even the trip up to Heidelberg is pretty cheap using these.

    As you mention, there are tons of cheap ways to travel on the German trains, it just takes some planning and preparation. And this is how the Germans like it.

  • Hope you can make use of it, Jose.

  • this info will surely com helpful once I decide to travel to Germany. Thanks!!

  • Well, John, now you know how to travel extensively in Germany on a budget. I wish I could write something similar about French train fares. But as far as I know, only in the Alsace (they’re almost German after all) and the Cote d’Azur (if I remember right) have something like what they have in Germany.

  • Michael,this is the type of post I like to read. With prices and times I can decide whether I can make trip or not. It wastes my time if I read wonderful things about a destination and activities only to find that I cannot afford to go there.

  • Good info indeed! I have to admit DB does make it very easy to travel in Germany.

  • DB is great when it comes to ticket options and they are quite easy to find too, unlike in the UK. It’s really disappointing that the UK and France have not followed the example of DB.

  • Useful stuff as ever. DB seems to offer so many ticket types!

  • Interesting article, thank you :)

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