Tips for riding the train in Germany and Europe
Travelers can always purchase a ticket at the station because reservations are never required for German trains (except for night trains). You can board the next available train, and standard rates are flexible and refundable.
It may be worthwhile to try purchasing tickets from the red ticket machines at stations, which feature an English-language option, to avoid long waits at the ticket office. Visit www.bahn.de for discounted long-distance travel rates starting at €29 ($32). Only the day of travel and the specific train reserved are eligible for the reduced prices.
Anyone from any country in the world can purchase tickets on bahn.de and, in most cases, print the tickets at home. However, they must also bring identification and the credit card number they used to purchase.
For parents, there is good news: children under six travel free, and those between six and fifteen travel free when accompanied by a paid adult. On weekends, the Schones-Wochenende ticket allows for unlimited travel on regional trains throughout Germany for the whole day.
This ticket cannot be used on ICE or IC trains; therefore, a long-distance trip may take longer and necessitate multiple transfers. Traveling across Germany for a group of five is about €40.
Aboard a train
In German and English, timetables are displayed in all stations on big electronic display boards or printed posters. A Wagenstandsanzeiger is a helpful chart that travelers can find on the platform. For people who have reservations for seats, this diagram illustrates the layout of large trains and how to locate where various cars stop.
Platform alterations are occasionally abruptly announced over the loudspeaker to keep everyone on their toes. You can be sure that a switcheroo is taking place if German-speaking passengers suddenly start complaining and leaving.
Additionally, last-minute modifications will be noted on the platform indicator signs and the major departure boards. Seat numbers are prominently displayed. They are shown outside the cabin in compartments and above the seats in open coaches. Reservation information is displayed on a small electronic display aboard most ICE and some IC trains.
In Germany, every train has a restroom, and most intercity trains feature cafeteria and restaurant cars that provide hot meals, snacks, and drinks. Bringing your own food and drink is not a problem.