Using the German railway system is highly recommended. It is efficient, mostly reliable and can take you almost anywhere in Germany with connections to European destinations. Individual enquiries regarding connections and rates can be made online. You can save money by comparing different rates or making use of special discounts when booking early.
The BahnCard is purchased for one year and provides a discount on the regular train fares. There are two versions:
With the Schönes-Wochenend-Ticket (Happy Weekend Ticket) up to 5 persons can travel together on either Saturdays or Sundays from noon until 3:00 a.m. of the following day. It is only € 37 if you buy your ticket online or at the ticket vending machines, it is slightly more expensive at ticket counters. The Happy Weekend Ticket is only valid for regular trains, not for express trains (ICE, IC).
The Länderticket (ticket for each federal state) is valid for one day of your choice (Mondays through Fridays from 9.00 a.m. until 3.00 a.m. of the following day, Saturdays and Sundays from noon until 03:00 a.m. of the following day) on all local and regional trains including the subway. They are not restricted to certain transportation networks but to the borders of the respective Bundesland (federal state). The federal states of Berlin and Brandenburg have a joint Länderticket which costs € 26. Ländertickets in most states can be either bought for a single person or for groups. In the latter case the group size must not exceed 5 persons. If your train ride goes beyond the border of the respective state, then you have to buy another ticket.
After having registered at the website Deutsche Bahn, you can book your train tickets online and directly print them on your printer or have them sent home to you.
When you print your ticket online, you will be asked to also register either BahnCard or credit card, which will serve as your ID on the train. Do remember to take this ID with you on the trip as the online ticket is only valid in combination with it.
Throughout Germany, there are about 3,000 touch screen ticket vending machines at almost every train station. They offer tickets, timetable information, and seat reservations in self service even a few minutes prior to departure. This service is offered in five languages apart from English. You may pay either in cash, with credit card, or EC card.
The service staff at the ticket counters at train stations sells train tickets and gives you personal advice. You can purchase national and international tickets, receive timetable information, and make seat reservations. For train tickets bought at ticket counters, a service fee of € 2 is added to the ticket price.
You may purchase your tickets on board the long distance trains (IC or ICE fast trains). Train attendants sell tickets for an extra charge. You may pay cash or by credit card. In local and regional trains there is no possibility to buy a ticket from the train attendants.
More and more bus companies offer connections between German and European cities.You can check the timetable, fare information and book almost all connections at Berlin Linien Bus which connects Berlin with more than 350 destinations in Germany and Europe. The overall network consists at the moment of about 30 national and 25 international bus routes. Almost all long distance buses depart and arrive at the central bus station (Zentraler Omnibus Bahnhof - ZOB).