How To Book a Train Ticket in Germany

In Frankfurt Tips by Hannah Johnson

By Hannah Johnson

Staying outside the city of Frankfurt during the book fair this year? Planning to travel around Germany before or after the fair? German trains are a great and easy option for regional, national, and international travel. Both commuters and vacationers use the train system extensively. Trains are safe and efficient, despite occasional delays. Here is our quick guide on booking tickets and navigating the German railway system. (Photo of ICE train by Elena Kovaleva)

reisezentrum

Buy tickets from an agent in the Reisezentrum

Booking the Ticket

You can either book your ticket online at http://www.bahn.de (select your country/language at the top of the page), over the phone at (+ 49 180 5 99 66 33 from outside Germany or 0180 5 99 66 33 inside Germany), or at a train station.

When booking a ticket online, you can print out the ticket yourself. Be sure that you print it at 100% so that the scanners can read the QR code on your printout properly.

Buy tickets at a red ticket machine

At the train station, look for the ticket counters in the “Reisezentrum” or the red ticket machines. Lines at the ticket counters can be long, so get to the station early. When buying from the ticket machine with a credit card, insert your credit card when asked and leave it in the machine until instructed to remove it. (I once made the mistake of not leaving my card in the machine, and tried for 20 minutes to purchase a train ticket with no success.)

Seat reservations are only necessary on ICE trains, and can be purchased together or separately from the ticket. Reservations cost around 3 Euros each.

A one-way ticket from Frankfurt to Munich on the ICE costs around 90 Euros. Tickets on regional trains cost around 15 Euros, depending on the distance.

Booking a Seat Reservation

reservation on the deutsche bahn

Reservations can be purchased online, over the phone (+ 49 180 5 99 66 33 from outside Germany or 0180 5 99 66 33 inside Germany) then printed out at Deutsche Bahn ticket machines, or from an agent at the ticket counters. You can ride the ICE trains without a reservation, but you may have to stand if there are no available seats.

Your reservation will include a car number and a seat number, as seen on the right. On the train, the car number and class is found on an electronic display on the outside of each car.

Rail Passes

If you are traveling multiple days with ICE trains, it is a good idea to buy a rail pass before your trip, then purchase reservations on the trains that you would like to take. More information about the Rail Pass is available here.

The Frankfurt Book Fair has also arranged a special discount rate for those of you traveling to Frankfurt with the Deutsche Bahn, valid on national and international trains. More information about this special rate is available here.

Group passes are also available for parties of 6 or more traveling on RE, RB and local metro trains. Click here for group pass information.

Types of Trains

InterCity Express (ICE): high-speed, long-distance trains
InterCity (IC): long-distance train, more stops than ICE
RegionalExpress (RE): short-distance, regional train running express
Regionalbahn (RB): short-distance, regional train with more stops

Short Glossary

1. Klasse: first class
2. Klasse: second class
Abfahrt: departure
Ankunft: arrival
BahnCard: yearly train pass granting the holder discounted prices on train tickets
Bahnhof: train station
Bahnsteig: platform
BordBistro: dining car
Deutsche Bahn (DB): German national rail service
Fahrkarte: train ticket
Fahrscheine bitte: Tickets please
Gleis: track
Haltestelle: stop
Hauptbahnhof (Hbf): main train station
Reisepass: passport
Reisezentrum: travel center and ticket counters
Reservierung: reservation
Sitzplatz: seat assignment
Umsteigen: change trains
Versp├Ątung: delay
Wagen: car

Hannah Johnson

Hannah Johnson

FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS: Contact Hannah if you have any further questions about train travel during your visit to Frankfurt.

Do you have a Frankfurt Book Fair tip you’d like to share? Email your tips and tricks to us and we’ll include it in our Frankfurt Tips series.

About the Author

Hannah Johnson

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Hannah Johnson is the Publisher of Publishing Perspectives. Before joining PP in 2009, she worked as Project Manager at the German Book Office New York.