There are various options to and from most parts of Europe, although traffic at several airports serves largely the domestic Mediterranean budget holiday market. Long-haul flights are largely restricted to Frankfurt and Munich while Berlin tries to complete its much-delayed transition to a new airport.
For linking up with flights to or from Frankfurt, Cologne-Bonn, Düsseldorf and Leipzig-Halle airports, the German Rail Ticket is available for rail travel to and from cities. Travel agents can book coupons and provide fare details. The Rail&Fly package alternative serves 11 airports. For either deal see the Offers menu at www.bahn.com. Most airports are served by S-Bahn, U-Bahn or local bus connections with their nearest cities. The European Rail Timetable updates information on rail timetables to and from airports monthly (see Maps, timetables & information under the Rail heading in the Transport – National & Regional menu).
Frankfurt am Main: Frankfurt remains the main centre for international flights to Germany from intercontinental air hubs and its underground railway station brings it into close touch with the city and other parts of the country. A Deutsche Bahn Reisezentrum (M-Su 6-21), a handy counter for bookings, validating rail passes and buying locally available discount tickets, is at terminal 1, concourse B, level 0. Prepare for queues, however, and use the nearby information desk when appropriate. Another DB office is above at the air-rail terminal and linked by a connector to terminal 1. The 'S' regional station (platforms 1-3) for S-Bahn or regional trains into Frankfurt city is under terminal 1. Long-distance trains depart from the 'T' station (platforms 4-7), a longer walk from the baggage claim.
Frankfurt-Hahn: This small airport handling international flights is 80km west of Frankfurt, halfway between Mainz and Trier. Destinations include Stansted, Dublin, Kerry, Montpellier, Milan Bergamo, Rome Ciampino, Pisa, Venice Treviso, Reus Barcelona, Palma, Ibiza, Santander, Marrakesh, Canary Islands, Lisbon, Porto, Corfu, Rhodes, Turkey, Budapest, Skopje, Sofia, Timisoara (Rumania), Gdansk, Katowice, Riga, Vilnius and Tampere (Finland). The airport has bus connections with Koblenz, Cochem, Trier, Mainz, Frankfurt, Mannheim and Heidelberg.
Berlin: Berlin’s main airport remains Tegel (TXL) to the north-west of the city centre. It is not 24-hour but is being upgraded to deal with temporary passenger diversions as the opening of Berlin-Brandenburg Willy Brandt airport (BER) south of the city could be delayed until 2017. Tegel has regular air links with Heathrow and most other large European airports. There are flights to and from the global hubs Abu Dhabi, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York (JFK and Newark). Buses link the airport with the Berlin rail network.
Schönefeld (SXF) continues operation with a wide European network until its planned incorporation into the neighbouring BER but does not operate 24 hours. Many flights are from the British Isles (Bristol, Dublin, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Glasgow, Leeds-Bradford, Liverpool, Luton, Manchester, Nottingham, Stansted and Southend). Schönefeld has S-Bahn (30 minutes) and regional train access to the city from the attached station as well as buses to the city and to Dresden.
Munich: The second German airport for traffic volume is Munich (MUC), almost 30km north-east of the city, but it does not operate 24 hours. Direct flights serve global hubs such as Bangkok, Chicago, Delhi, Dubai, London, Montreal, Singapore, Shanghai, Toronto and Vancouver. European centres with flights to Munich include Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Basel, Belgrade, Berne, Birmingham, Bristol, Brussels, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Gothenburg, Helsinki, Istanbul, Lisbon, Manchester, Milan, Moscow, Oslo, Paris (and several other cities in France), Prague, Stockholm, St Petersburg, Riga, Rome and several other Italian cities, Vienna, Warsaw, Zagreb and Zürich, as well as Cairo and Tel Aviv. Two S-Bahn lines serve the airport.
Some budget flights also use Memmingen airport, about 100km west of Munich. Regional trains run to and from Munich every 90 minutes.
Düsseldorf: DUS is Germany's third-largest airport for traffic and is a useful link with regular flights from the British Isles (Birmingham, Dublin, Gatwick, Glasgow, Heathrow, Leeds-Bradford, Manchester and Stansted). Like Munich it has a dense network of European connections but is not 24-hour. North American flights arrive from Atlanta, Chicago, Fort Myers, Miami and New York (JFK and Newark). Other intercontinental flights arrive from the global hubs Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Moscow. Düsseldorf airport has two rail stations and is well served by long-distance and local trains. A sky train links the stations, parking areas and the airport terminal.
Hamburg: HAM is well linked to the city by S-Bahn and bus. It has a close European network including most UK airports and Dublin, Warsaw, Riga, Prague, Vienna and Budapest, all neighbouring countries and Scandinavia.
Cologne: Cologne-Bonn airport (CGN), 15km south-east of Cologne, operates 24 hours and has a high-speed rail station handling regional and long-distance trains and an S-Bahn line from Cologne. Buses run to and from Bonn. The airport takes traffic from around Europe, including London's Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, Manchester, neighbouring European hubs such as Prague, Vienna, Zürich, Berne, Milan, Budapest and Amsterdam and Mediterranean airports.
Leipzig: The Leipzig-Halle (HEJ) airport is between the cities at Schkeuditz and served by S-Bahn railway and fast trains as well as autobahn links. It accepts flights from European cities, mostly in central Europe and the Mediterranean, but there are flights from London’s Stansted.
Stuttgart: STR has UK connections with Birmingham, Heathrow and Manchester as well as a network of European flights. The airport is 13km from the city and has S-Bahn and bus connections.
Hannover: Langenhagen airport (HAJ) is useful for trade-fair traffic and operates 24 hours, but on low traffic volumes. It handles mainly European flights but these include services from Heathrow and Stansted, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol and Southampton.
Other airports: UK connections with Bremen (BRE) include flights from Stansted, Manchester and Edinburgh and about 40 other European centres. Dresden (DRS) has London flights but direct flights are otherwise limited to eastern and central Europe and the Mediterranean. Flights from London City airport are available to Nuremberg, Münster-Osnabrück (near Greven) and Paderborn and other flights include Gatwick to Erfurt-Weimar. Lübeck has connections with a handful of European destinations but not the UK. Airports such as Rostock, Saarbrücken, Karlsruhe and Friedrichshafen handle flights to and from German cities and the Mediterranean.
For information about rail passes, ticketing and helpful agencies see Rail in the Transport - National & Regional menu. The Man in Seat 61 (www.seat61.com) covers a host of rail topics including timetables, reviews and photographs of trains inside and out, especially service and itineraries to Germany from the UK and north-west Europe.
For details of the Europa-Spezial discount fares between Germany and 13 European countries, visit www.bahn.com under the Offers menu. These fares include Copenhagen/Kopenhagen-Hamburg from €29, Paris-Frankfurt or Amsterdam-Frankfurt second/first class from €39/69 and London-Frankfurt from €59/109.
Rail options to and from other European cities are many. The jump-off and arrival points for links with neighbouring countries are listed below, followed by options connecting major cities.
Poland: Berlin (for Poznan/Posen, Warsaw/Warschau and Cracow/Krakau). Trains to Wroclaw/Breslau and from Berlin run through Cottbus and Szczecin/Stettin trains leave from Angermünde near Berlin. For direct Cracow services turn to DB’s IC Bus (see Bus travel).
Czech Republic: Dresden or Regensburg (for Prague/Prag) or Nuremberg/Nürnberg (railway buses, via Plzen/Pilsen). Several crossings using regional links have reopened in recent years, including Zittau-Liberec, Bad Schandau-Rumburk, Zwickau-Karlovy Vary/Carlsbad, Chemnitz-Chomutov (weekends only), Bad Brambach (or Marktredwitz) to Cheb and Plattling-Bayerisch Eisenstein-Plzen.
Austria: Munich (for Salzburg, Innsbruck or Bregenz) or Passau (for Linz and Vienna/Wien).
Switzerland: Freiburg im Breisgau (for Basel) or Singen (for Zürich).
France: Saarbrücken (for Paris or Metz) or Offenburg (for shuttle services to and from Strasbourg/Strassburg).
Belgium & the Netherlands: Cologne/Köln.
Denmark: Hamburg (for Jutland trains crossing at Flensburg) or Lübeck (for trains direct to Copenhagen).
Sweden: Hamburg (for Malmö via Copenhagen, but see also Denmark above).
Main-line links between neighbouring capitals and key rail points with scheduled travel times and frequency are below. Other connections may be offered.
Berlin-Malmö: 12 hours to 13 hours 20 minutes (overnight runs three times weekly late Jun-early Aug, holiday services Apr-May) via the Saßnitz-Trelleborg ferry.
Berlin-Warsaw: five hours 40 minutes to seven hours, 45 minutes (four times daily). The night trains either way are not well timed, departing Berlin before dawn and arriving just after midnight.
Berlin-Prague: four hours 50 minutes (10 times daily).
Berlin-Budapest: nine hours 45 minutes to 12 hours, 30 minutes (three times daily, including sleeper).
Berlin-Vienna: nine hours 45 minutes to 12 hours (twice daily, including sleeper).
Berlin-Paris: 8 hours 20 minutes using fast trains with a change in Cologne or Mannheim or double changes in Offenburg and Strasbourg. Other connections require multiple changes and will take longer.
Berlin-Amsterdam: six hours 20 minutes to seven hours 10 minutes (six times daily).
Frankfurt-Vienna: nine hours 45 minutes (nightly, with sleeper provisions).
EuroCity (EC) trains run frequent international services at up to 200km/h, generally with on-board bistros. Foreign carriage stock is part of the make-up.
IC and ICE trains (see Transport – National & regional) run several cross-border connections, such as those to and from Basel.
Several times daily French TGV fast trains run between Paris and Frankfurt and between Paris and Munich via Stuttgart, Mannheim or Cologne. Thalys high-speed trains run some services from Brussels and Paris into Ruhr cities, Düsseldorf and Cologne.
Austria’s ÖBB Railjet fast trains travel several times daily between Munich and Vienna. Overnight Zurich-Prague services are operated by the the Austrian rail authority ÖBB and the Czech ČD through Linz. ÖBB also operates Hamburg-Innsbruck overnight services via Munich, Hamburg-Berlin-Munich sleepers, Munich-Venice and Munich-Florence-Rome sleepers. Night sleeper trains are increasingly in competition with discount bus tickets and budget European short-haul flights, forcing the end of the City Night Line service. But ÖBB has taken over some former DB City Night Line routes under the brand Nightjet (www.nightjet.com/en), having taken over the former sleeper cars once used by DB. Each has nine economy compartments with basin and access to a shower at the end of the corridor, and three luxury compartments with private toilet and shower. Some cars are double-deck. Each compartment has three berths but compartments can be sold as single, double or triple. Night snacks and water is provided, with slippers and towels, and a menu breakfast is served.
Budget four or six-bunk couchette compartments are available with sheets, blankets and pillow with tea or coffee and a light breakfast included, with snacks available to buy. Couchettes suit groups well, although sleeper compartments can be booked with interconnecting doors. Plans can be viewed online.
Six-seat overnight compartments are also available. There are no dining cars. Seat reservations are necessary. The Nightjet international routes in and out of Germany are:
Düsseldorf-Cologne-Koblenz-Linz-Vienna: 11½ hours (cars, motorcycles and bicycles carried).
Düsseldorf-Cologne-Frankfurt-Munich-Innsbruck: 12½ hours (cars, motorcycles and bicycles carried).
Hamburg-Linz-Vienna: 12 hours (bicycles carried).
Hamburg-Munich-Innsbruck: 12¾ hours (bicycles carried).
Hamburg-Basel-Zurich: 11½ hours (bicycles carried late March to mid-November and over the Christmas-New Year period).
Berlin-Basel-Zurich: 12 hours.
Munich-Venice: nine hours.
Munich-Bologna-Florence-Rome: 13¼ hours.
Vehicles and bicycles must be reserved separately at booking.
Night trains run between Munich and Zagreb or Rijeka in Croatia (both about nine hours) are operated by Nightjet and Croatia's HZPP. Again, sleeper, couchette and six-seat compartments can be booked.
Overnight Zurich-Prague services are operated by ÖBB and the Czech national railway CD through Linz. Zurich-Linz-Vienna trains take about 11 hours.
The EuroNight Munich-Salzburg-Vienna-Budapest service (10¾ hours) does not operate daily or at all times of year.
The Berlin Night Express (known in Sweden as Snälltåget) runs on a limited holiday basis Apr-May and three times weekly (late Jun-early Aug) between Malmö in Sweden and Berlin, travelling overnight on the Trelleborg-Saßnitz ferry. Departures are from Malmö (M, Th & Sa) and Berlin Hauptbahnhof (W, F & Su). Holders of Interrail and Eurail passes valid for Sweden may use them. However for all passengers reservations (€29) are compulsory for the couchettes provided in six-berth compartments. Basic adult one-way tickets are priced in Swedish kronor but work out at €65-70. Trains to Malmö connect to Stockholm. Tickets are available at DB counters or the websites www.berlin-night-express.com or www.snalltaget.se, where there are full details.
The private Netinera group runs the Alex (ALX) rail services, which include cross-border Munich-Regensburg-Prague and Berchtesgaden-Freilassing-Salzburg trains. A small network centred on Zwiesel in eastern Bavaria and trains from Zittau east of Dresden also cross the Czech border.
Nuremberg-Vienna: four hours 50 minutes (twice daily, plus connections via Passau and Linz several times daily).
Nuremberg-Prague: three hours 40 minutes (railway buses, several times daily).
Munich-Regensburg-Prague: five hours 45 minutes to six hours (Alex trains, four times daily).
Munich-Salzburg: 90 minutes to two hours (regional or fast trains, at least hourly, with connections to Vienna six times daily).
Stuttgart-Zürich: two hours 50 minutes (seven times daily plus connections changing at Schaffhausen).
Freiburg-Basel: 45-50 minutes (InterCity trains, almost hourly).
Mannheim-Paris: three hours 10 minutes (five times daily).
Offenburg-Strasbourg: about 30 minutes (hourly or half-hourly).
Koblenz-Luxembourg: two hours 15 minutes (five times daily).
Cologne-Amsterdam: two hours 40 minutes (eight times daily).
Cologne-Brussels: one hour 50 minutes (eight times daily).
Cologne-Paris: three hours 35 minutes (with one change, several daily connections).
Hamburg-Fredericia: (Jutland) 3½ hours (twice daily) with changes possible for Flensburg-Copenhagen trains.
Hamburg-Copenhagen: four hours 45 minutes (five times daily via Lübeck, including ferry Puttgarden-Rødby).
International ferries operating in the Baltic and North seas are big business, carrying regular traffic in tourist and business markets with a wide range of comforts. Buffets, cafes, bars and duty-free shopping mix with a range of entertainments, casinos and spas on big ocean-style cruise craft plying the popular routes.
Roll on-roll off services even extend to rail carriages on some routes but the routes offered have varied considerably in the past 20 years. Where vehicles are carried, operators often charge fares per passenger vehicle (varying sizes, generally under or over six metres), motorbike or caravan with a varying number of occupants. Drivers should note minimum check-in times for vehicles.
The main international river route involves Danube cruises into Austria.
One-way fares are given below as a guide, discounts for family tickets, day tickets, return trips within a period, multiple trips or gangway sales being available on some ferries. Online bookings can attract special rates or avoid fees, but travellers should check provisions for cancellation or change. A few operators offer both economy fares with strict conditions and flexible fares with options to change bookings.
Voyage times are minimums given good sea conditions. Passenger check-in times should be noted. Passengers arriving in Russia need valid Russian entry visas and drivers need proof of car ownership in Russian.
UK-Netherlands: There are no direct ferries between the UK and Germany but UK-Netherlands connections allow travellers to link with trains or buses over the German border. The Harwich-Hook of Holland service of Stena Line (www.stenaline.co.uk) operates daily or overnight (eight to nine hours). The overnight Newcastle-Amsterdam ferries of DFDS Seaways (www.dfdsseaways.co.uk) depart daily (about 28 hours). P&O Ferries (www.poferries.com) travel overnight Hull-Rotterdam (about 24 hours, seven times weekly) and Hull-Zeebrugge (26 hours, four to seven times weekly).
Denmark: The Scandlines (www.scandlines.com) Puttgarden-Rødby ferry connection (45 minutes) shuttles 24 hours, half-hourly. Gangway tickets for adults are €6 low season, €11 high season (Jun-mid Sep) and for children (ages 4-11) €4 all year. Younger children travel free. Fees of €5 are added for manual bookings and spot tickets. Adult fares (including bicycle) for departures booked online are €6 (low season) and €15 (high season), children €4.
Charges for cars with occupants start at €39 (booked online 14 days ahead) and range up to €94 (flexible or last-minute). Vehicles over 6m incur €20 surcharges, over 8m €40 or more. Up to two passengers with a motorcycle travel at €41 low season, €47 high season. Round-trip fares, including one-day passenger-only family tickets at €16 or €26, and three to five-day packages are available.
Scandlines also sails between Rostock and Gedser (one hour 45 minutes to two hours) eight to 10 times daily. Adult booked fares (including bicycle) are €7 low season or €19 high season (gangway €7 or €14), children €5. Standard car charges range between €39 and €134 (surcharges for longer vehicles as above). One or two passengers with motorcycle travel at €50 (low season) or €57 (high season). Round-trip fares are available.
BornholmerFærgen (www.faergen.dk) ferries sail between Saßnitz and Rønne on the island of Bornholm (Apr-Oct, three hours 20 minutes to four hours) three to 10 times weekly depending on season. The standard adult online fare is €25 (low season) or €32 (late Jun-Aug). Children 12-15 travel at €13 or €17, children under 11 free. Cyclists with bikes pay between €33 and €39 and vehicles including up to five occupants cost €113 to €282, depending on size, season and day of departure. Motorcycles with up to two people travel at €56 (low season) or €63 (high season).
Sweden: Two TT Line (www.ttline.com) ferry routes, serving Travemünde (near Lübeck) and Rostock, connect with Trelleborg south of Malmö.
For online booking the basic adult fare is €27. Ages 7-12, seniors and students pay a concession rate of €15 (children 6 and under are free). The bicycle surcharge is €7. A motorcycle with rider travels for €42. A €14 service charge applies to other bookings.
For the Travemünde-Trelleborg ferry (7½ hours, from four to eight departures daily), the basic fare for car with driver is €79. The Rostock-Trelleborg (six to seven hours, five or six times daily) fare for a car with driver is €53. Additional passengers pay an extra adult or concession fare as above. Vehicles longer than 6m incur a €10 surcharge. Meals can be bought on board or booked as extras or with various packages. Free wi-fi internet access up to 20Mb is available in areas of all craft.
Cabins, with various positions and comfort levels, are two or four-berth but individual berths can be booked on some runs. Day cabins (€42-115) are available on both routes. Cabin charges for overnight ferries start at €84 and rise to €230 (deluxe) – these are compulsory for some ferries to or from Travemünde. Where cabins are not compulsory Pullman-style comfort chairs can be booked at €14 per person.
Finnlines (www.finnlines.com) operates a Travemünde-Malmö service (about nine hours, two or three times daily). These ferries include overnight runs, some of these being Travemünde departures in the small hours with compulsory cabin bookings. The adult passenger fare is €32 (evening departures €37), travellers aged 13-17 €22 (evenings €25), children 6-12 €13 (evenings €15), younger children free. Meals are available at on-board prices or are bookable as packages.
To these any cabin charges will be added, starting at €35 for budget cabins on day departures, €110 for family four-bed cabins (two bunks included) or superior double-bed cabins for overnight passages, rising to €235 for overnight large four-bed cabins with meal package. Charges for vehicles up to 6m are €38 (evenings €88) Jan-Feb, €47 (€111) Mar-mid Jun & Sept-Dec, €67 (€132) mid Jun-Aug. Higher rates apply for larger vehicles. Bicycles are carried free, motorcycles free on day departures (evenings €20 or €40 in peak season). Return trips booked in advance attract a 20% discount.
The Stena Line (www.stenaline.co.uk) Saßnitz-Trelleborg ferries (four hours 15 minutes) run daily in low season (early Aug-Christmas & Jan-mid Jun with occasional additional evening departures) and twice daily in high season (mid Jun-early Aug).
There are choices of online economy fixed or flexi fares (adult €11.50 or €16.50, children 4-15 €6 or €11). Fares for a car with driver start at €27 (economy) or €52.20 (flexi), but rise as high as €92.50 or €117.50 for Friday overnight departures in high season. To these fares for further passengers are added.
Stena’s Rostock-Trelleborg ferries run up to three times daily (about six hours for day connections, 7½ hours at night) except during the Christmas-New Year period. Adult fares are €17 (economy) and €22 (flexi), the child fare €11. Cars with driver start at €44 and €78. Cabin costs start at €55 per person for a basic day cabin and most night cabins are in the €85-100 range.
Stena’s Kiel-Gothenburg ferries (nightly each way, 14½ hours) have basic fares of €49 (economy) or €59 (flexi) for adults in low season, €22 or €27 for children. In high season (mid Jun-early Aug) this rises to €104 or €114 for adults, €52 or €57 for children. The mandatory cabin charges range from €40 for a bed in a shared cabin and €45 for a budget single cabin up to deluxe cabins with breakfast at €290.
Carriage charges for cars up to 6m,, including driver’s fare, range from €85 to €233 depending on booking conditions, comfort level, season and day.
For the Scandlines tariff to Sweden via Denmark, combining Puttgarden-Rødby or Rostock-Gedser tickets with the Helsingør-Helsingborg ferry crossing or Øresund bridge vouchers, visit www.scandlines.com.
Norway: Overnight ferries on the Kiel-Oslo service of Color Line (www.colorline.com) are the only direct connection (daily each way, 20 hours). Adult economy fares with compulsory cabin start at €158, children (ages 4-15) €10 extra. These often rise to €338 (F-Sa) or higher for special departures. For flexible conditions add €25. The bicycle charge is €25.
Crossings for two people plus a car start at €219 (economy, €359 F-Sa) or €269 (flexible). Unusually, many lower fares are during summer season.
Ferries do not sail Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and some days in April, and may be in port some dates Jan-Feb.
Lithuania: DFDS Seaways (www.dfdsseaways.com) sails a Kiel-Klaipeda/Memel overnight route (about 21 hours, six times weekly). A €5 per passenger fee is charged for bookings and cabins are compulsory. Twin cabins start at €130, rising to €215 at weekends high season; four-berth cabins start at €250, rising to €360 (four levels of cabin accommodation are offered). Berths in shared cabins start at €65 and recliner chairs are bookable from €34. Car charges start at €69, motorcycles at €37.
Finland: Finnlines (www.finnlines.com) cruises Travemünde-Helsinki daily (Tu-Su, 29 hours, departure at 3.00 or 3.30 from Travemünde and return 17.00 from Helsinki). There are variations for public holidays.
There are special economy (with restrictions, not available late Jun-mid Aug) or standard fares in adult, junior (13-17 years) or child (6-12 years) categories (children under 6 travel free). Passage in recliner chairs (May-Sep only, numbers limited) is included in the rates. Special and standard adult fares are €58.50 and €137 (mid Feb-mid May & Sep) and €66 and €148 (mid May-late Jun). From late Jun-mid Aug standard fare (€170) only applies. Low-season (Nov-mid Feb) adult fares are €120. Junior fares are 50% of adult rate, children about 20%. There is a 20% discount on return fares and, with two adults, third and fourth passengers travel free in the cabin.
Cabin bookings at special rates range from €180 to €790 depending on comfort standard, season and position. Standard rates are €240-1056. Beds in shared cabins are €60-80 at special fare, €80-132 at standard fare. Vehicle charges up to 6m start at €60 (special) and €132 (standard). Motorcycle charges vary from €30 to €90, bicycle charges from €20 to €30.
The Finnlines Rostock-Helsinki passenger service is in suspension. Check the website for updates.
Latvia & Russia: Stena Line sails Travemünde-Liepaja (26 hours, four times a week with evening departures) at basic adult fares of €26.20 (economy) or €31.20 (flexi), children only €0.60 extra. Cars with driver travel at €70 (economy) or €86.70 (flexi). Cabin berths start at €43, two-berth cabins at €110, four-berth cabins at €172.
Ave Line (www.aveline.lv) sails a Travemünde-Riga (30 hours) route twice weekly, departing Travemünde evenings (M & Th) and Riga early morning (W & Su). Pullman chairs are bookable at €50, berths in a four-person cabin at €110-120, a twin cabin at €240. Cars under 5m are carried at €85, motorcycles at €30, bicycles at €10. Bookings are accepted by email only, using the form at the website. Note the passenger check-in two hours before departure.
Finnlines’ Lübeck-St Petersburg ferries will not be open for passenger traffic until at least spring 2015.
Austria: Donauschiffahrt Wurm+Köck (www.donauschiffahrt.de) cruise ships sail the Danube between Passau and Linz (five hours 10 minutes, Tu-Su May-early Oct). The adult single fare is €26, children 6-13 half-fare, under 6 no charge. Bicycles cost €2. There is the option of continuing to Vienna (11 hours 30 minutes, €58 return) next day or by rail.
The benefits of developing competition show in fares for long-distance buses, mostly booked online, sometimes through travel agencies or by phone. For some departures heavy discounts are available (fare ranges are given below). Passengers can also pay normal fare on board where seats are available. Fees (€9-10) for heavy luggage (and, where space permits, for bicycles) are normal. On many routes buses are more frequent Thursdays, Fridays and weekends.
The downside of the bus industry's state of flux is that routes and fares are constantly changing and current research of offers is best. The rule of thumb should be: book online, when possible in advance.
Each city’s usual hub for long-distance buses will be the Zentraler Omnibusbahnhof (ZOB, sometimes just Busbahnhof). Most often this will be next to or near the central rail station (important exceptions are Berlin, Munich and Stuttgart). Compared with big rail stations, these often lack support services such as ticket counters, enclosed waiting areas, luggage lockers, cafes and snack bars. But, with growing patronage, these are improving and in cities such as Berlin, Hamburg and Munich arrangements are adequate.
Departures for a range of operators, including cross-border buses, are listed at www.busliniensuche.de, www.fernbusse.de, www.busticket.de and www.fernbusguide.de. In all cases it is advisable to check the operator’s website for conditions before booking.
FlixBus (www.flixbus.de), having merged with MeinFernbus and Postbus, is the dominant German player. FlixBus fares vary between discount offers and higher rates for online bookings, tickets available on the bus, tickets from agencies, sales by phone (tel +49 30-300137300) or FlixBus ticket offices in Berlin (two), Dresden, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hannover, Cologne-Bonn airport, Munich and Nuremberg. Further ticket offices are in Paris and Prague.
The network is now dense and, using changes, many journey combinations are possible. For lowest fares, check departures early in the week or late on Sundays.
Free wi-fi access is offered on buses and basic luggage items (backpacks up to 20kg and hand luggage up to 7kg, with size restrictions) will be carried free. A second large item costs €2, and must be booked 48 hours before departure. Heavy or oversize luggage up to 30kg could incur a €9 fee. The bicycle carriage fee is €9. Children aged up to three may travel only in properly designed child seats, which parents or carers bring with proper fastening belts.
Snacks and drinks are available from drivers.
FlixBus runs Scandinavian services with multiple daily departures. These include direct or one-stop links between Berlin (several Berlin departure points are available) and Copenhagen/Kopenhagen (7½-12 hours, €19.90-50.90), Berlin-Oslo services (via Copenhagen and Gothenburg/Göteborg, 16½-22 hours, €37.90-49) and Berlin-Stockholm services (direct or with one stop via Copenhagen, 18½-23 hours, €49.90-103.40). Stockholm-bound passengers have the option of continuing to Uppsala. Lübeck-Copenhagen direct services (4½ hours, €19.90-49.90) run at least once daily. Daily or most days, buses connect with Aalborg, Aarhus and Esbjerg in Denmark, running from Hamburg, Bremen and Lübeck.
A network of FlixBus services covers the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Hamburg-Amsterdam buses (direct or with one change, 5½ to nine hours, €29.90-49.90) and Bremen-Amsterdam buses (direct or with one change, 4½-8¾ hours, €16.90-65.80) run several times daily. Amsterdam-Hannover buses (direct or with one change, 4¾-13 hours, €21.90-47.80) and Amsterdam-Duisburg direct buses (2½ to five hours, €15-24) also run several times daily. Groningen, The Hague, Rotterdam, Eindhoven and Schiphol airport are among other major destinations. Frequent direct Cologne/Köln-Brussels/Brüssel buses (2½ to five hours, €9-19.50) are available, although much slower one-stop options can be considerably more expensive. Cologne-Antwerp/Antwerpen links (€27.80-57.80, 6¼-9¾ hours) are less frequent and require a change of buses. Cologne-Luxembourg/Luxemburg buses (8½ to nine hours, €20-30.50) run twice a day, with a change, three days a week, but other days Luxembourg buses will run from centres such as Bonn, Düsseldorf and Essen.
Direct or one-stop Cologne-Paris buses (six to 10½ hours, €22-36.80) have frequent daily departures (from Cologne-Bonn airport or Leverkusen). Frequent direct or one-stop Cologne-Strasbourg/Straßburg connections (4¾-7¾ hours, €15-26.90) and Frankfurt-Strasbourg services (3¾-5½ hours, €11-25.80) run daily.
Stuttgart-Basel connections (4¾-8¼ hours, €16-23.90) run several times daily with one change in Karlsruhe or Freiburg im Breisgau. Frequent direct Munich-Zürich buses (3¾-4¾ hours, €15-25.90) run daily.
Berlin-Warsaw/Warszawa direct buses (8½ to nine hours €12.90-27.90) run in partnership with PolskiBus (see below).
Daily Berlin-Prague/Prag direct buses or connections with changes in Dresden (4½-8½ hours, €19-28.50) are frequent. Nuremberg-Prague direct buses (3½ to four hours, €14.90-24.90) run several times daily, as do Regensburg-Prague direct buses or connections with changes in Plzen/Pilsen (3¼ to six hours, €13-25.40).
Frequent daily or overnight Berlin-Vienna/Wien buses run direct or with changes in Dresden, Leipzig or Prague. Berlin departure points for the journeys (8½-13 hours, €29.90-65.40) vary and connections with changes in Salzburg are considerably longer and more expensive. Several buses daily run between Munich and Salzburg (two hours, €5-14). Several daily Munich-Vienna direct buses or connections via Salzburg (5¼ to six hours, €19-50.40) service multiple stops in Vienna.
Munich-Venice/Venedig overnight direct fares (7½ hours) start at €29.90. Milan/Mailand connections are simplest via Zürich. Munich-Zagreb direct buses (7½-8½ hours) start at €35.90.
Connections to Bratislava/Pressburg, Budapest, Trieste/Triest, Venice and Zagreb also run from Linz and Vienna.
Deutsche Bahn’s IC Bus (www.bahn.com/en/view/offers/bus/index.shtml) operation includes several cross-border services. Seat reservations are included in the fares shown and on wi-fi access is available. Luggage travels free but bicycles (where space permits) may incur a fee. Fixed departures or flexible fares are available at varying prices – see the ranges below. Holders of Eurail passes and German Rail passes valid for the territory may use them but should make seat reservations. BahnCard holders gain discounts. Berlin Linien Bus ceased operating in October 2016 and its operations were folded into the IC Bus network.
IC Buses run Berlin Hauptbahnhof-Copenhagen daily, via Rostock (7¾ hours, €29.90-109) or Hamburg (8½ hours, €39.90-142.10) using cross-Baltic ferries.
On the Düsseldorf-Antwerp/Antwerpen-Ghent/Gent-Lille route via Eindhoven, Antwerp buses (three hours, €9.90-44.40) run four times daily and Lille (5¼ hours, €19.90-67.80) buses daily. Düsseldorf-Maastricht services (once or twice daily, about 90 minutes, €9.90-30.30), extend to Liège (2¼ hours, €14.90-36.40) daily.
Hamburg-Amsterdam services run daily via Bremen and Groningen (6¾ hours, €14.90-108.20) or nightly via Hannover and Utrecht (7¼ hours).
Frankfurt-Luxembourg/Luxemburg servces via Trier were in suspension early in 2018.
Munich-Zurich buses (3¾ hours, €19.90-85.80) run five or six times daily. Munich-Milan buses via Chur and Como (7¼ hours, €9.90-148.30) run once or twice daily.
Prague/Prag buses run from Munich (4¾ to five hours, twice daily, €9.90-69.60), Mannheim (twice daily, 7¼ hours, €19.90-109.60) and Nuremberg (at least eight times daily, 3½ to four hours, €9.90-55.60). Leipzig-Prague services were in suspension early in 2018.
Daily IC Buses run Berlin-Wrocław/Breslau (4¼ hours, €29.90-60.70) and Berlin-Cracow (about eight hours, €34.90-79.40) via Katowice.
Eurolines-Deutsche Touring (www.eurolines.de) offers some discount online fares to its Europabus network of more than 700 European destinations. Eurolines has ticket offices in main bus stations such as Berlin, Munich, Nuremberg, Frankfurt, Bremen, Hamburg and Cologne-Bonn airport. Business class seats are available on some routes, with benefits including free power and wi-fi access. Snacks and drinks are available on the bus. Heavy baggage (up to 30kg) fees vary. The hotline (tel +49 69-971944833, M-F 8-20, Sa 9-17) has further information.
Examples of adult fares are: Berlin-Copenhagen/Kopenhagen (three times weekly, 7¾ hours, €44), Berlin-London (daily, 21-23 hours, €78-132), Cologne-Amsterdam (twice weekly, four hours, €19-43), Berlin-Warsaw/Warschau (seven nights, eight hours, €26), Berlin-Prague/Prag (four times daily, 4½ hours, €21-44), Berlin-Vienna/Wien (daily, 9½ hours, €23-42), Berlin-Budapest (five or six times weekly, 13 hours, €44-69) and Munich-Zagreb (daily, seven to nine hours, €30-41).
For the international services of DeinBus (www.deinbus.de), budget fares are listed online – tickets from the bus driver, where available (or by telephone, through (barzahlen.de) are paid by cash only. Tickets purchased from the listed travel bureaus or by phone (tel 069-175373200, up to an hour before departure) incur a €3 charge.
Bulky baggage, including bicycles and sports equipment, costs €9 when there is room. Such items should be booked using the online form on the DeinBus website.
Direct services are given below. Further connections using changes – generally but not always at higher fares – may be possible.
Cologne to Antwerp/Antwerpen buses (4½ hours via Aachen, €12-21) run M (twice), W, Th (twice) & Sa and from Antwerp to Cologne (4¾ hours) Tu, Th, F & Su. Services from Cologne to Brussels/Brüssel (3¼ hours, €17) run M, W, Th, Sa, and Brussels to Cologne (3½ hours) Tu, Th, F, Su. Direct Cologne to Amsterdam via Utrecht buses (four hours, €23, Th & Su) and Amsterdam to Cologne (M, Th & F) services are less frequent.
Overnight Hannover to Amsterdam buses via Osnabrück (about six hours, €15-27) run M, W, Th & Sa have very early morning arrivals.
To France, Cologne to Lille (6½ hours, €15-25) buses via Ghent/Gent run twice daily M, W, Th & Sa, Lille to Cologne twice on Tu, Th & F and once Su. Paris overnight direct services from Cologne (7½ hours, €21-25, departing Th, F, Sa & Su) run via Aachen. From Paris to Cologne, direct buses (10-11 hours) depart five times a week (M, Th, F, Sa & Su). Overnight Paris-Stuttgart buses (9-9¼ hours, €23-24) run several times a week via Karlsruhe and Strasbourg/Straßburg.
Direct Barcelona-Freiburg im Breisgau buses (15-15½ hours, €69) run twice daily four days a week, Barcelona-Stuttgart services (18-18½ hours, €79) twice daily three days a week. Direct Munich-Milan/Mailand-Genoa/Genua buses (9½-10 hours, €28-47) run four times a day three days a week.
Direct Nuremberg-Prague/Prag buses (4-4½ hours, €12-27) run via Pilsen daily, some days (M, Tu, Th, F, Sa) multiple times. Multiple Berlin-Prag via Dresden (4¼-4½ hours, €13.50-21) buses run daily. Direct Berlin-Vienna/Wien buses (9½ hours, €23-32.20) run daily.
UK-based Megabus runs between Brussels and Cologne (€10, twice daily or nightly) with linking buses to Munich via Frankfurt and Stuttgart and the operator’s Brussels-London service. Bookings, through uk.megabus.com, incur a 50 cent fee. There is no luggage fee, but a 25kg weight limit plus small hand luggage.
The Brno-based Student Agency Bus (www.studentagencybus.com) has several routes extending from Prague into Germany, connecting to Brno, Bratislava, Budapest and Györ. Children up to 14 travel at half-fare, passengers 15-25 and over 60 at a 10% discount, student card holders at a 15% discount. Online fares are posted in forints and full adult figures given in euros below are hence approximate. Return trips are discounted. One large luggage item is carried free, the second at €8
Berlin-Prague (five hours, six times daily plus overnight M & F, €28) run via Dresden (2½ hours, €19). Nightly buses run Frankfurt-Prague (7½ hours, €55) via Plzen, Nuremberg-Prague (four hours 10 minutes, €34), Düsseldorf-Prague (11 hours 40 minutes, €62) via Cologne, Frankfurt and Würzburg and Munich-Prague (5½ hours, €32). The last of these extends between Munich and Zürich with twice-weekly further extensions to Geneva/Genf and Berne/Bern.
Hamburg-Prague buses (€64) run overnight (M & F via Bremen and Hannover) and overnight Saarbrücken-Prague buses (eight hours 15 minutes, €68) run Tu, F & Su via Mannheim.
Several bus lines based in eastern Europe offer competitive fares throughout the region. The Riga-based Ecolines network (ecolines.net/en) stretches as far as Moscow, Kiev and Sofia. Berlin-Warsaw buses run three or four times daily (about eight hours, from €19), overnight Berlin-Riga buses (about 21 hours, €50), Berlin-Tallinn/Reval connections once or twice daily (25½ hours, €60) and several overnight Berlin-St Petersburg buses weekly (31-36 hours, €100.30-109).
PolskiBus.com (www.flixbus.pl/polskibus) links Poland with Berlin as part of a partnership with FlixBus. Fares are posted in zloty and euro rates quoted are approximate. Berlin-Warsaw (nine hours 30 minutes, €14.40-24) and Berlin-Krakow buses (nine hours, €19-29) run twice daily. For Berlin-Szczecin/Stettin buses several times daily (two hours 30 minutes) promotional fares of less than €2 are marketed at the website. Connections to destinations such as Gdansk, Vilnius, Prague and Bratislava are via Warsaw.
The associated Estonian lines Simple Express and Lux Express (www.luxexpress.eu/en) run to and from Berlin through Poland to Prague, the Baltic countries and St Petersburg. Simple Express fares Berlin-Warsaw start at €19, Berlin-Poznan/Posen fares at €15, Berlin-Riga fares at €42 and Berlin-St Petersburg fares at €65.
Many bus routes of Belarus-based Intercars Europe network (intercars-tickets.com) stretch throughout Europe and converge on Berlin but, apart from Poland, Belarus and Latvia, eastern European destinations are oddly lacking. The Berlin-Minsk adult fare is €95 (children half-price, seniors 10% discount).