One of my favourite things about living in Germany is how easy it is to get around. Whether by plane, train or automobile, travellers can get from Point A to Point B efficiently via the country’s well-connected transportation routes. Those who travel frequently though will quickly discover that airfares and bus tickets can really add up. In order to help you save a few Euros, I’ve outlined some of my favourite affordable and convenient transportation options below.
Being situated in the middle of Europe makes Germany a great jumping off point for travel all over the continent. Whether for business or pleasure, air travel is becoming more affordable than ever thanks to discount airlines. Popular low-cost airlines such as Eurowings, Vueling, Ryanair, and easyJet regularly fly out of German hubs like Berlin, Frankfurt, and Cologne to destinations all over Europe. Discount airlines often run sales where you can snap up flights for ridiculously low fares (though the airports might be far away and you may have to depart at 6am on a Wednesday morning). But hey, if you’re flexible, it can be a real bargain!
My favourite site for comparing airfares is momondo; once you input your desired travel dates and destination, the site will find and compare fares from hundreds of travel sites and recommend the best rates for tickets online. You can also filter your search results by arrival or departure time, number of stopovers, airline, prices from nearby airports, and more. There’s also a handy graph to give you an overview of the cheapest days to fly if you have some flexibility.
If you are looking for cheap flights anywhere during a particular window of time, then head over to Skyscanner. Here you can input your departure airport and travel dates but leave the destination blank. The site will show you the cheapest flights to multiple destinations so you can decide where to go based on what’s on sale at that time.
Deutsche Bahn is the largest railway operator in Germany and carries approximately two billion passengers per year. The railways are extremely well-connected, making it possible to travel to big cities and small villages alike. However, depending on the travel distance and the time of booking, train tickets can be pricey.
One way to save money is by purchasing a Länder-Ticket (state ticket) which allows you to travel on all regional trains and public transportation in one Bundesland (German state) for 23€/day (plus 4€ for each additional passenger up to a total of 5 passengers). If you’re travelling through multiple states in Germany, consider buying a Quer-durchs-Land-Ticket which allows you to travel throughout the entire country for 44€/day (plus 8€ for each additional passenger up to a total of 5). Both of these tickets are optimal for group travel as the price per person decreases as the group size increases. Solo travellers can also ask around at the train station if other people would like to join them on a ticket. (Edited to add: A reader pointed out that “both the Länder- and the Quer-durchs-Land-Tickets are only valid on regional trains, not on IC/EC/ICE trains”. Thanks for the reminder!)
Both the Länder-Ticket and the Quer-durchs-Land-Ticket are valid from 9am to 3am the next day on weekdays and from midnight to 3am the next day on weekends. Tickets can be purchased online through Deutsche Bahn or directly at the train station from the ticket machines. If you purchase the ticket from a service counter, you’ll have to pay a small service fee.
Long-distance bus companies are relatively new to the German travel scene; a 2013 change in German regulations finally made it possible to travel regionally by bus. Popular providers such as FlixBus and Postbus offer competitive fares for as low as 1€. Travel time is often shorter than on the train since the buses make fewer stops. Some companies even offer snacks and drinks, free WiFi, and electrical outlets aboard which is handy if you need to use your laptop or charge your phone on the journey.
I recently took a Flixbus from Stuttgart to Würzburg for only 8€ each way. It was much cheaper and faster than taking the train and I could do some blogging using the WiFi. No wonder long-distance buses are giving Deutsche Bahn a run for their money!
The German Autobahn deserves its reputation – it’s smooth, well-maintained and efficient thanks to those handy no speed limit sections! It’s often faster and more convenient to travel by car since trains and buses make frequent stops and only run on specific schedules. If you don’t have a car or don’t want to travel by yourself, there are several ride share websites such as BlaBlaCar where you can sign up as a driver or passenger and carpool to your destination. Not only is it more affordable to carpool, but also more environmentally friendly. Plus, you can meet some new people along the way!
With all the different travel options available, sometimes it’s hard to know which one is best. I recently discovered a fantastic site called GoEuro that compares air, train, bus, and car journeys, allowing you to pick the smartest, cheapest or fastest option depending on what you’re looking for. What a headache saver!
Hopefully some of these travel tips were helpful to you. Let me know your favourite method of travel in Germany and your recommended websites to make travel planning easier – I’m always looking for tips myself!