Easy and cheap German travel for €49 a month

Easy and cheap German travel for €49 a month

Deutschland-Ticket is a scheme where travellers pay €49 for a calendar month of unlimited travel on local and regional public transport, except most mainline trains.

There is also a convenience factor. Deutschland-Ticket, also known as D-Ticket, eliminates the complexities of travel across different states and tariff zones, so it is easy as well as cheap.

But Deutschland-Ticket is effectively a second-class ticket and can be used only on generally slower, short or medium-distance trains. Upgrade tickets are available for single journeys or on a monthly basis under regional tariff guidelines.

It's easy, however, to use Deutschland-Ticket for connecting journeys to or from Deutsche Bahn express train services where the passenger has bought the extra ticket.

Children aged 6 or over need their own ticket (children under 6 travel free).

Deutschland-Ticket is designed to encourage better use public transport, cut travel costs and deliver better environmental outcomes.

Deutschland-Ticket is digital and available only through a subscription, which would have to be cancelled before any unwanted renewal. It comes as a smartphone 'Handy-ticket' or chip-based credit card-sized card.

Deutschland-Ticket is valid on:

● Local and regional transport authority public transport ● DB Regio trains under contract to federal states (this will need checking journey by journey) ● Fast rail services between Rostock and Stralsund in the north-east of Germany ● Journeys lasting until 3am on the first day of the following month.

Deutschland-Ticket is not valid on: ● Most DB fast trains such as IC, EC, ICE services (except between Rostock and Stralsund) ● RE trains operated by the Fernverkehr (long-distance) arm of DB ● Historical or tourist trains ● Trains operated by the private FlixTrain arm of FlixBus ● FlixBus buses or services of other privately operated long-distance bus companies

Carriage of bicycles is subject to local rules so, on some routes, bringing bicycles will incur an extra cost.

The ticket is available at bahn.com and in the DB Navigator app, as well as at DB ticket centres and regional transport authorities. Other transport companies are expected to sell the ticket.

There is an exception clause for using fast trains under passenger rights rules if a local train is expected to be delayed by 20 minutes or more. The passenger must first buy the relevant ticket. however. "The travel costs will then be reimbursed subsequently upon request by ... the passenger rights service centre of Deutsche Bahn," DB says.

Exchanges and refunds are possible free of charge before the Deutschland-Ticket's first day of validity.

Visit the regional offers section of bahn.com for FAQs.

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Four reasons why Germany is the place for castles

Travellers love castles and it’s worth asking why Germany is associated with castles.

The art of fortification is much older than any historical record of the Germans. Germans did not invent the castle – or the word – and the Normans were mostly responsible for its early engineering in Europe.

But Germany’s legacy of history and geography is many and varied castles for travellers to visit and modern preservation and accessibility has made them big attractions for travellers.

1. Germany has lots of castles

Whether Germany has more castles than elsewhere is debatable. Wales, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Liechtenstein – the last two within the historical scope of German lands – all lay claims to a greater density of castles.

But Germany is Europe’s biggest country and several estimates of castle numbers there, including structures denoted by German words such as Burg, Festung, Feste (or Veste), Schloß and Pfalz, go well over 20,000 – if ruins are counted.

The true castle count really depends on the criteria for a castle, an imprecise word that does not translate. If fortification, residence and exploitation of topography are the key concepts, only bare walls and towers on remote heights or inaccessible island strongholds qualify. But from medieval times, lords over wide territory kept more than one base and maintained their authority only by constant travel among their vassals. Many never visited some of their castles.

The sprawling German lands became highly feudalised and the feudal system by its nature encouraged castles. It grew up as a network of obligations to and privileges from superior lords – the most prized privilege was the right to build a castle.

In the medieval period, the developing German state began to disintegrate into hundreds of lordships. The 11th century struggle for supremacy between German king-emperors and popes induced both sides to turn to the aristocracy for support. Shrewd lords could play off one side against the other for ongoing gains in land and the right to maintain castles.

The lands the aristocracy accumulated were often unconnected and scattered, each demanding a castle as a centre of power, administration and revenue collection. Church officials also became part of the feudal picture and bishops became princes.

Events seemed to manufacture castles. The crown’s power revived for a time in the second half of the 12th century, but only by building on feudal ties. The return (or loss) of Crusader nobles reshaped feudal loyalties even further. The German crown now relied on the favour of the greater lords. Money and resources, instead of flowing to a powerful central state, went to build up impressive and scattered estates with castles and lordly residences.

The legacy of hundreds of years and large princely and noble classes was thousands of palaces, castles, manor houses and their households and gardens.

2. Germany has lots of styles of castle

The variety in German castles is extraordinary and tracks the march of history. Early palaces such as Aachen and Goslar reflect the relative security of the period – security that did not last. The fortress or Burg, best exemplified by examples such as the Marksburg, above the Rhine south of Koblenz, and the Wartburg, above Eisenach, came into its own.

Representing many generations of changing styles from the 12th century on are Burg Eltz, in a quiet valley near the Moselle, the nearby Reichsburg above Cochem, Schloß Wernigerode or the Albrechtsburg above Meissen. All these received makeovers as residences hundreds of years later and are open to travellers.

From the 16th century, the pattern of power changed. Some German states began growing and developing, recognising the need to protect fixed assets. To cope with the improvement in artillery, fortification design emphasised lower building profiles and layouts were designed to best direct defensive fire. Engineering was the key – once mighty walls on hills became useless and began falling into ruin.

Germany, in the centre of Europe, collected influences readily. In the 18th century, Italian models and craftsmen shaped the Residenz of the prince-bishops of Würzburg, one of Europe’s magnificent palaces. The French model, Versailles, was reflected in the garden layout of Frederick the Great’s Rococo palace Schloß Sanssouci, in Potsdam, Berlin’s Schloß Charlottenburg and Schloß Ludwigsburg, near Stuttgart. The extensive Renaissance and Baroque palace complex of Dresden and the adjacent court church and Rococo Zwinger show both French and Italian influences.

But the political landscape of largely tiny, discrete units continued until Germany eventually began to unify under the Prussian crown in the 19th century. In this Romantic period, tastes returned to medieval notions and revived the Romanesque and Gothic styles, producing the famous Schloß Neuschwanstein near Füssen, a favourite with travellers.

3. Germany has lots of great rivers

The expanses of Germany drain many rivers. When sited above rivers – always key transport and trade routes historically – castles commanded positions from which to control and toll traffic, a vital source of income. In this way older castles extended their usefulness. It is commonly these that best maintained their medieval character: there was often little use in expensive updates or extensions.

The result is river stretches dotted with castles. Chief among these, and accordingly recognised by UNESCO world heritage listing, is the middle Rhine between Mainz and Cologne, with a dense scattering of castles and ruins of various periods. Depending how much time is available to the traveller, parts of the Moselle, the Main and the upper Elbe offer similar experiences to be enjoyed from a cruise ship, walking path or train.

Most spectacular are the locations dominating river junctions. It would be a shame to miss the view from Festung Ehrenbreitstein above Koblenz, where the Rhine and Moselle meet, and Veste Oberhaus above Passau, where the Danube, Inn and Ilz converge. But a favourite remains in the partly ruined fortress of Heidelberg (see video at right).

4. Germany’s castles are easy to visit

The accessibility of castles is due to Germany’s dense transport networks and the heritage duty of the state. The organisation of state-owned properties is good and in some states includes marketing of admission passes online. In Bavaria, fortnight or annual passes covering admission are offered by the Bavarian state authority for castles and gardens. Most of Bavaria’s popular attractions are covered. In Bavaria, visitors under 18 are normally admitted free.

In Saxony, an entry pass with similar benefits (for 10 days or a year) allows two children under 17 to accompany an adult. Opening hours at castles and palaces are longer in summer but, given the crowds, there can be waits to enter as well. Tickets at some popular sites are timed or set tours are compulsory.

Last, many castles are in private hands, maintained by revenue from visitors, or offering accommodation or dining.

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Culture Encounters

Jewels of the Past


Great Cities of Germany

Lutherstadt Wittenberg

Wittenberg travel guide PDF in 4 pages

More than 500 years after Martin Luther's Reformation, this free guide covers the place where it all began. The town was the cradle of the religious movement that threw off the structures of the Catholic church and shaped new ideas and ways of worship, but also more than a century of bitter conflict that shaped Germany forever.

● Key sites, now world heritage monuments, include Luther's house and the castle

● The church where Luther's revolt began and churches Luther and his associates preached

● Hyperlinks to further tourist information and to websites for city accommodation


Bonn travel guide PDF in 8 pages

Bonn, Germany's Cold War capital of democracy, has one of the longest stories of any German city. Romans and prince-archbishops left their mark in monuments and palaces, but an intriguing variety of churches also shapes one of Germany's greenest and most graceful cities. In the year of Beethoven's 250th birthday, this eight-page travel guide covers plenty of things to do in Bonn.

● The Beethoven-Haus Museum, the Bundeskunsthalle and the Haus der Geschichte, chronicling German's late 20th century return to democracy and - eventually - unity.

● Details of essential services, transport links and fares, accommodation, tours and discount entry deals at museums

● Hyperlink access to further tourist information and accommodation websites


Füssen travel guide PDF for 2020 in 4 pages

Schloß Neuschwanstein, a small town at the foot of the Alps, a world heritage church that has to be seen to be believed, a medieval castle and a Baroque monastery - it's all in Füssen. The medieval town with Roman roots became Europe's centre for luthiers and the jumping-off point for visits to famous Romantic castles nearby.

● How to get to Schloß Neuschwanstein and Schloß Hohenschwangau

● The Wieskirche, a UNESCO-listed Rococo pilgrimage church, is a short ride away

● The town’s castle, churches and museums

Hyperlink access to essential tourist and accommodation information


Eisenach travel guide PDF in 4 pages

The new Raven guide to the Thuringian town, birthplace of Bach and hiding place of Martin Luther early in his revolt against the established church. It is also the site of one of Germany’s great medieval castles, with links to another great German composer, Wagner, and a centre of automobile making.

● Guide to the Wartburg castle

● Guides to the Bach museum of his life and work and museum of car manufacture

● Hyperlink access to further tourist information and accommodation websites


Koblenz travel guide, new for 2020

Koblenz is a fascinating city with Roman roots and a history shared by France as well as German speakers, shaping a unique Rhenish identity. At the heart of the Rhine UNESCO world heritage area, Koblenz is a short river cruise or train ride from two famous Rhine river castles.

● The city is dominated by the Ehrenbreitstein fortress, reached by the Koblenz cable car across the Rhine near the Moselle junction at Deutsches Eck

● The medieval Marksburg castle and the Romantic Stolzenfels are in easy reach

● The ancient Basilika St Kastor, site of negotiations that partitioned the empire of Charlemagne

● Suggested Koblenz hotels, both central and offering Rhine views

● All the best museums, including the Ehrenbreitstein museums and the experiential Romanticum


Aachen travel guide PDF in 5 pages

The Romans developed the hot springs at Aachen, then 1200 years ago the Frankish king Charlemagne set up his court there and the town became the centre of his empire. The 2018 Raven Guide to Aachen is available for free download now.

● A guide to Charlemagne's church, which grew to become the present Aachen cathedral, one of the first world heritage sites

● The Roman and medieval survivals of the city and details of the city tour

● Essential services with hyperlink access to further tourist information and accommodation websites


Heidelberg travel guide PDF in 7 pages

The most common description for Heidelberg is Romantic. This comes from its valley location, half-ruined castle and the towered stone bridge crossing the river Neckar.

● Explore Heidelberg’s cobbled streets in search of the essence of the city – Germany’s oldest university, the churches, monuments to its religious struggles, and its restaurants and cafes

● Discover the castle, its history, and the funicular railway that makes the climb – and vantage points above the city – much easier

● Several budget hotel and private hostels that help make Heidelberg accommodation affordable, plus hyperlink access to other accommodation and tourist information sites

● Guides to 27 sites and museums


Bamberg travel guide PDF in 5 pages

The layout of the UNESCO heritage-listed city centre and a range of Baroque and medieval architecture makes Bamberg one of Germany’s most beautiful cities.

● The Romanesque cathedral, the opulent bishops’ Residenz palace, and its Renaissance predecessor dominate the old town

● The old town hall in the middle of the river Regnitz and the mysterious statue Bamberger Reiter attract millions of travellers

● Summaries of 35 historic sites and museums

● Information on tours, parks, food and the arts

● Hyperlink access to further tourist information and accommodation websites


Würzburg travel guide PDF in 7 pages

The prince-bishops who controlled Würzburg for centuries built wealth, power and influence expressed in Baroque by their huge palace, the UNESCO world-heritage Residenz. Their medieval castle still commands the city, reached by a stone bridge.

● Summaries of Würzburg’s grand residences, the medieval cathedral, churches and other sites

Museums and galleries including one of Europe’s prominent Jewish museums

Tours, essential services, transport links, transit services and fares and food tips

● Hyperlink access to accommodation and further tourist information websites


Goslar travel guide PDF in 5 pages

The medieval town has hundreds of colourful half-timbered houses, Romanesque churches and the Kaiserpfalz, one of Germany’s oldest palaces. Its ancient Rammelsberg mines were the source of its wealth and are partly responsible for the town’s world heritage status.

19 sites and museums including the finest town houses

● A town walk and Rammelsberg tour

● Information on transport links plus listings of travel essentials and hyperlink access to further tourist information and accommodation websites

● An excursion to the nearby half-timbered Harz town Wernigerode


Regensburg travel guide PDF in 6 pages

The streets, archways and buildings of this medieval city, which grew from remains of a Roman legionary camp, remain. The range of ancient monuments and its streetscapes justify Regensburg’s world heritage listing.

● One of Germany’s classic Gothic cathedrals, several medieval churches, rare Gothic tower houses and one of Germany’s oldest stone bridges

Almost 30 sites and museums, including the nearby Walhalla gallery of great Germanic figures of history

● Information on essential services, transport links and urban transit and fares plus listings of travel essentials

● Hyperlink access to accommodation websites and further tourist information


Potsdam travel guide in 11 pages

Potsdam is a curious but beautiful mixture of Prussian palaces and military buildings established by its martial rulers. The Stadtschloß palace was the first royal residence and others gradually multiplied in the city's extensive parklands over 250 years. The city’s minorities grew with waves of immigration, leaving the Dutch quarter Holländisches Viertel, a Bohemian district and the Russian colony Siedlung Alexandrowka and its tiny Orthodox church. This guide offers:

● An introduction to the delicate Rococo palace Schloß Sanssouci and the palaces and pavilions of Park Sanssouci with brief histories

● The story of Potsdam’s ornate city gates, its Baroque streetscapes and 15 museums

● Details of essential services, transport links and fares, accommodation, food and tours

● Hyperlink access to further tourist information and accommodation websites


Augsburg travel guide PDF in 6 pages

The wealth and influence of Augsburg’s powerful families brought the Renaissance to Germany at a time when the city was also the site of key events of the Reformation.

● The home of Germany’s onion-domed towers, museums with magnificent works of art, and one of the beautiful Renaissance streets of Germany, the Maximilianstraße

Guides to more than 30 sites, including monuments to Roman settlement

Transport links and fares, food and tours

● Hyperlink access to further tourist information and accommodation websites


Dinkelsbühl travel guide PDF in 2 pages

This short guide covers a tiny medieval walled town, left unchanged by a royal decree and now a favourite of artists and a small number of travellers.

● Dinkelsbühl’s town walls and many Gothic and Renaissance buildings keep its atmosphere alive

● Small hotels, pensions and restaurants complement the historical scene

● Essential services, tourist and transport information are included with hyperlinks to accommodation


Lübeck travel guide PDF in 7 pages

Trade made Lübeck the centre of the Baltic and the red-brick Gothic old town its merchant wealth built is now UNESCO world heritage-listed. Its churches, town houses and civic institutions are preserved and restored.

● The commercial and civic culture of the city through guides to 30 sites, museums and galleries

Tours, the best views and food options with other travel essentials

● Information on transport links and transit services including fares

● Hyperlinks to further tourist information and to websites for city accommodation

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Rothenburg travel guide PDF in 4 pages

Completely walled with more than 40 towers, the cobbled pedestrian streets of the Romantic Road town perched above the Tauber valley are little changed since the 17th century, with medieval and Renaissance half-timbered houses and stone churches.

● The guide includes 17 sites and museums and an excursion to the Franconian open-air museum at nearby Bad Windsheim

● Essential services, transport links, food tips and tours

● Hyperlink access to further tourist information and websites for many of the town’s small accommodation houses


Passau travel guide PDF for 2021 in 6 pages

The border city of three rivers includes the Baroque cathedral of St Stephan, with one of the world’s largest organs, the fortress Veste Oberhaus and the well preserved old town.

● Descriptions of 13 sites and museums, including the exhibits of Passau’s Roman past and history of glass manufacture

● Details of essential services, transport links and urban buses including fares, accommodation, food, tours and spectacular views

● Discover the story of Germany's greatest medieval epic, composed in Passau

● Hyperlink access to further tourist information and accommodation websites


Trier travel guide PDF in 7 pages

The Roman Trier was at one time second only to Rome itself. It was home to one of the most powerful Roman emperors, Constantine the Great, and later to Karl Marx. Signs of its past greatness remain for travellers to marvel at. Germany’s oldest city – and one of its oldest cathedrals – remain and are world-heritage listed.

● Read about the ancient Roman city gate Porta Nigra, the Roman bath complexes, a well-preserved amphitheatre and Constantine’s former imperial palace, plus the buildings of the medieval city

● The guide includes more than 30 sites, churches and museums, with essential services, *transport links, transit and tours

● Hyperlink access to further tourist information and accommodation websites


Berlin travel guide PDF

Get 34 pages of things to do in Berlin free. Berlin is used to crisis, novelty and immigrants – so to visit Berlin is to visit many Berlins. The city that the Enlightenment and industrial progress created survived years of destruction and division.

● Descriptions of places to visit in Berlin including more than 60 historic sites, with guides to walking sections of the Berlin Wall, its museums and its memorials

● A complete guide to what to do in Berlin, including tours, cruises, parks and the best views

● Separate sections for the districts Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg and Neukölln, Schöneberg-Tempelhof, Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf and Spandau, with local food and accommodation lists and quick guides to essential services

● Summary of major transport links with Berlin

● How to use urban transit services including Berlin U-Bahn and S-Bahn, with their differences and the fares

● Summaries of more than 50 Berlin museums of history, art and culture, and information on all major performance groups including orchestras, opera and theatre

● Short history of the city and its precincts

● Hyperlinks to websites for Berlin hotels and hostels and further tourist information


Hamburg travel guide PDF in 8 pages

Germany’s mighty port city attracts travellers from all over the world and was the departure point for generations of migrants. ● 25 sites, ships, museums, monuments and churches that reflect Hamburg’s maritime and trading traditions

● The UNESCO world heritage Speicherstadt, centre of Hamburg’s former free port

● Essential services are listed with a choice of tours, including port tours

● Information on transport links and extensive urban transit services including fares

● Listings of essential traveller services

● Hyperlink access to further tourist information and accommodation websites

● The city’s arts and music scene, including opera

Cologne (Köln)

Cologne travel guide PDF in 15 pages

Cologne is Roman, medieval and modern all at once, a city known for piety, carnival and perfume. Travellers can walk the historic centre and the remains of the Roman wall. The guide has been updated for 2019-20 and expanded with new material.

Germany’s mightiest cathedral, which took more than 600 years to complete

● Cologne’s Roman and medieval walls and gates picked out for travellers

● 12 precious Romanesque churches with historical background

● In all, 25 sites and 17 museums of art, history and culture including the Römisch-Germanisches Museum and associated archaeological sites

Transport links and urban transit services including fares

Tours, parks, views, food and performing arts

● Hyperlink access to further tourist information and accommodation websites


Stuttgart travel guide PDF in 6 pages

The Baden-Württemberg capital is one of Germany’s beautiful lifestyle cities, surrounded by hills and some of the country’s most beautiful palaces and pleasure pavilions.

● 10 sites including Stuttgart’s castle complexes, Schloß Solitude and the magnificent palaces of Ludwigsburg nearby

● 10 museums and galleries of art

Tours, walks through the city’s extensive parks and views

● Guide to essential services and hyperlinks to tourist information and accommodation house websites and a guide to performance art


Bremen travel guide PDF in 8 pages

One of Germany’s oldest cities includes UNESCO world heritage monuments, ornate Renaissance architecture with a regional stamp, the story of world travellers including emigrants to the US and arts precincts with works by some of the most innovative German artists. This guide is updated for 2020.

● The ancient St Petri cathedral and 11 other sites including the giant Roland figure

17 Bremen museums including art and the remarkable Übersee-Museum, with exhibits of the wonders of the continents touched by Bremen’s worldwide trade interests

Transport links and the city’s complicated transit system explained

● Hyperlink access to websites for accommodation houses and further tourist information


Dresden travel guide PDF in 11 pages

Twice over the centuries, Dresden has been an amazing place. The first period was the Baroque magnificence of the 17th and 18th centuries. The second is now, with much of the city’s splendour restored.

Dresden's city palaces with their museums and galleries, highlighted by the two Green Vault museums, are among the most remarkable in Germany

● The exquisite, rebuilt Frauenkirche

● The Saxon ducal and royal summer palaces of Pillnitz and Moritzburg

● In all, 30 museums and galleries of art and culture

● Information on tours, essential services, parks and views, food and performing arts

● Details of excursions to the medieval city of Meissen, centre of European porcelain, and the fortress of Königstein

● Hyperlink access to further tourist information and accommodation websites

Munich (München)

Munich travel guide PDF in 13 pages

Munich was founded by monks and built up by dukes and kings, but became a centre of revolution as well as a home for arts, industry and travellers enjoying the good life.

● Germany’s largest museum, Deutsches Museum, and some of its richest art museums

● The city’s extensive palaces and palace gardens are featured

● Almost 30 museums of history, art and culture

● 30 historic sites in and around the city

● Information on major performance groups including orchestras and opera

Accommodation, food and a guide to essential services including transport links and urban transit services and fares

● A choice of city tours and some of its finest views

● Hyperlink access to further tourist information and accommodation websites

Nuremberg (Nürnberg)

Nuremberg travel guide PDF in 8 pages

Modern Nuremberg has preserved or restored many walled and historic areas. The city’s leading late medieval citizens were some of the best known German personalities. Then came the Nazis.

● Guides to 20 buildings, historic streets and monuments, among them the Kaiserburg, the castle of early imperial German assemblies

● 13 museums, including Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Germany’s leading cultural history museum

● The courts of the post-World War II war crimes trials, now also a museum

Transport links, urban transit, tours and essential services

● Hyperlink access to further tourist information and accommodation websites