Since time immemorial, Germany has been throwing its doors wide open to travelers by passionately presenting them with soul-stirring experiences. Being the 7th most visited country in the world, Germany weaves its archaic architecture with a flamboyant lifestyle. While the aura of the World War II still floats in the winds of Berlin, the capital city is widely known for its culture and nightlife. Not far behind are the theatrics of Munich etched in its royal and medieval style. From the Romanesque churches in Cologne to the picturesque vineyards in the Romantic Rhine, Germany enlivens the high-spirited life.
For tourists to make the most of what this awe-inspiring country has to offer, the Federal Republic of Germany provides an extensive network of transportation, interconnecting almost all of Germany and a few neighbouring countries through the German Rail Pass (GRP).
1. What is the German Rail Pass?
The German Rain Pass or GRP is a product of the Deutsche Bahn (DB Bahn), which is the national railway company of Germany. It is also the largest railway operator in Europe. The German Rail Pass falls under the Eurail Pass system. While the Eurail operates Pan-Europe, GRP is dedicated to selling rail passes in Germany.
The German Rail Pass enables non-European residents to an unlimited train travel experience in Germany and a few adjoining countries, such as Italy, Belgium, Austria, Czech Republic and Poland.
2. How can I buy a German Rail Pass?
The most practical way of purchasing your German Rail Pass is by making an online booking. You may visit www.germanrailpasses.com or www.raileurope.com. Once you choose your desired specifications and confirm your booking, you will receive an email. The pass will be printed and shipped to your doorstep.
You may also buy your pass directly at any Deutsche Bahn sales office, or allied railway partner.
3. How do I validate my German Rail Pass?
Validating your pass is a crucial step that many travelers miss out on, thus landing them into trouble. In order to validate your German Rail Pass, you have to visit a German railway station and choose your first and last date of train travel, which will be activated by the DB Ticket Office or Issuing Office. The ticket must be validated on the first day of your travel before you board the train. This process of activation must take place within 11 months of purchasing the pass.
Please ensure that you do not enter the first and last date of your travel by yourself. This task lies strictly with the concerned railway officers.
4. What are the different categories of the German Rail Pass?
The German Rail Pass is of the following types:
- Flexi – The Flexi pass entitles its holder to 3, 4, 5, 7 or 10 travel days within one month. This pass is best suited for most tourists who wish to explore Germany and travel in intervals.
- Consecutive – The Consecutive pass entitles its holder with a 5, 10 or 15 days of non-stop traveling across Germany. This pass is ideal for those who want to make the most of their time in the country and enjoy a fast-paced travel experience. Since the holder needs to mention the start and end dates of their train travel, the validity of the pass lapses on the last date.
For both the passes, the area of validity extends to any German station and the stations of Basel Bad Bf in Switzerland and Salzburg in Austria. The passes are available to only non-residents of Europe, Turkey and the Russian Federation.
5. What is the price of the German Rail Pass?
Since there are multiple options in terms of train travel days, 1st class and 2nd class, Flexi and Consecutive type passes, the price of passes differ from one another.
The Flexi pass for a single adult ranges from €191 to €471.
On the other hand, the Consecutive pass for a single adult varies between €288 to €588.
To get a detailed view of the fares, you can visit www.bahn.com.
6. Do I need to make a seat reservation?
A majority of German trains do not require a reservation if you already have a German Rail Pass. However, if you want to ensure yourself with a good seat, you may use the Deutsche Bahn ticket machine at the station or make a reservation online on www.bahn.com.
Certain high-speed trains such as the ICE and ICE Sprinters, and overnight trains like the City Night Line compulsorily require prior reservation. In order to know if your chosen train requires a seat reservation, you can visit http://www.germanrailpasses.com/plan-your-trip/timetables.
Reservations are recommended during peak periods. Seat reservations open 3 months before the departure date.
7. What are the different types of train services in Germany?
The German Rail Pass permits you to travel across the country using the wide network of trains and IC Bus services. The main railway network operated within the country is made up of regional and intercity trains.
- Regional Express are trains that bridge the gap between regional destinations and bigger cities across Germany. They also connect with the high-speed ICE trains.
- Regional Bahn forms a linkage between all the local towns.
- Intercity trains operate nationally and internationally, shuttling between the main cities.
- S-Bahn are suburban trains that function in the key German cities like Berlin, Munich, etc.
- InterCity Express (ICE) and ICE Sprinter are high-speed trains that are popular for their impeccable speed and connectivity. The Sprinter trains are primarily meant for business travelers and are extremely active during the peak working hours of the day.
- City Night Line (CNL) trains are the best way to commute to different cities by night.
8. What are the price benefits offered by the German Railway Pass?
The price of German Railway Pass is relatively expensive. To suit the pockets of a wider spectrum of travelers, the GRP offers several discounts and deals.
- Child Discount – Infants under the age of 6 do not require a pass. Children aged 6-11 require a Child Pass, which is free of cost. A maximum of 2 children per adult are permitted to travel free.
- Youth Discount – Travelers between the age group of 12-25 years get a discount of 20-30% on their 2nd class pass.
- Twin Discount – 2 passengers traveling together can avail the twin discount of up to 50% on the second pass. The 2 passengers must however travel together at all times, since they are assigned only one common pass.
- Family Discount – A maximum of 2 children, between ages 0-11 can travel with one adult for free.
Additionally, the pass also allows the holder to avail extra bonuses in the form of discounts and package offers on transportation, shopping, sightseeing, and accommodation, which can be viewed on http://www.germanrailpasses.com.
9. Is there a wi-fi connection of German trains?
Yes. Free wi-fi hotspots are available in many of the ICE routes of the Deustche Bahn trains. However, they are only accessible to the 1st class or business class passengers. The routes that provide wi-fi services can be viewed on http://www.germanrailpasses.com/sites/germanrailpasses.com/files/documents/grp_business_class.pdf.
10. What is the provision for storing luggage while traveling in Germany?
Deutsche Bahn trains, like most European trains provide you with overhead storage racks in your train carriage. With no particular weight restrictions on luggage, the common norm is if you can carry it yourself, you’re good to go, as long as you don’t inconvenience any other passengers.
However, DB trains offer a special Baggage Service, wherein you can store your heavy and oversized luggage with them and they will look after it. You may opt for delivering your luggage to any hotel or other accommodation within Europe, to an airport, other countries like: Austria, Switzerland, South-Tyrol and Italy for a certain fee per piece of luggage. You can book the service online or get help at a DB Reisezentrum. To know more, you can visit https://www.bahn.de/i/view/overseas/en/services/overview/courier-luggage-service.shtml
11. Is there a refund or exchange policy on the German Rail Pass?
Yes. Refund and exchange of passes is permitted until 1 day before the pass validity. A fee of 15% will be charged. Once the pass hits its validity period, i.e., the first day of the pass, it can no longer be refunded or exchanged.
12. Why must I travel using the German Rail Pass?
Germany is a vast country with a plethora of treasures waiting to be unlocked. The German Rail Pass gives you the power to explore thousands of destinations with a single pass. With the rail pass, trains are not only one of the least cumbersome modes of transport, but also extremely flexible, as they let you unleash the hidden charm of the country at your own time and pace. While flights follow strict rules and procedures, train travel is more relaxed, yet with the same level of safety measures. The German Rail Pass is an exquisite way of being able to stopover at any German destination with ease, as it spares you from the trouble of repeatedly booking tickets and getting bound by a restrictive itinerary.