Deutsche Bahn trains link large and medium-size German towns and cit- ies with long-distance trains, providing fast and regular service (IC – Inter- city or ICE – Intercity Express). Smaller towns can be reached by a re- gional rail service. There are also several good daily connections to other destinations in Europe, including cities such as Amsterdam, Paris, Zurich, Brussels, Vienna and Rome.
Deutsche Bahn offers various options for tickets at attractive rates. When you buy a BahnCard 25 or BahnCard 50, you receive a reduction on the regular ticket prices at the selected percentage (around 25 or 50%) for all rail journeys in one year.
The BahnCard 25 can also be used in combination with other savings offers. There are Happy Weekend tickets for small groups and regional offers (Länder tickets). Children up to six years old travel free; if they are accompanied by their parents or grandparents, they can also travel free up to their 15th birthday. Mention this when buying a ticket. And if you book your ticket in advance, you can take advantage of a limited offer early booking discount.
Usually in Germany you are not tied to a specific train, although this may be the case with special offers. You should also buy your ticket before setting out on your journey – you can do this on the Internet (www.bahn. de), at a ticket machine at the station or at the ticket office. Tickets can only be purchased later on long-distance trains, and only without any problem if you speak to the ticket collector immediately after the train sets off. Buy- ing a ticket on the train will incur a surcharge. On regional trains and on local public transport, not having a ticket is counted as a “Schwarzfahrt” (ride without paying), the penalty for which can be very expensive.
If you want to be sure of getting a seat at peak travel times, such as on Friday or Sunday afternoons, you should reserve a seat. Trains that are likely to be busy are marked on the Internet timetable with an “R” (reser- vation recommended).