Traveling in Germany with public transport is easy and safe. Tickets and schedules are all available online and make it easy to book your trip yourself. All websites are available in English.
The public transport system in Germany is well-developed. The Deutsche Bahn connecting between the urban centers, the regional trains connecting in-between and the local transport make an own car redundant.
If you consider traveling Germany by train, the Deutsche Bahn is the major operator of trains and rails. The company also covers most of the regional train connections, and you'll just have to buy one ticket for both systems. The Deutsche Bahn website is available in English (and many other languages) to a very profound detail. Timetables and mobile ticket booking systems are available here.
There are in fact also other small operators. However, they will only run trains on a local scale and should you ever need to go there, you will be pointed to it while you research.
The connections between urban centers is usually offered by ICEs or ICs, very modern trains (the ICs a little less so) going fast and with few stops only. Some of the ICEs now offer WLAN in all their wagons, however, usually you won't be able to connect via Internet, neither via mobile internet - so be prepared to stay offline. When making the reservation, you can select your wagon and seat and for example choose working area (with socket), family area, window, table, 6 seat cabin or the like. It is wise to make a reservation and spend the extra money, especially when going on a Friday or Sunday evening.
Regional trains are mostly less modern. They either have 2 seats rows or 6 seat cabins or sections. No internet connection here or power supply.
Tickets for the Deutsche Bahn
You can buy per journey or consider buying a one-year discount card, the so-called "Bahncard". Several discount options are offered and depending on how much you intend to travel the more you'd be benefitting from the discounts. The one thing you need to keep in mind is to cancel the ticket latest 6 weeks prior it's validity as it gets automatically renewed for another year.
Tickets can be bought in the train with an additional fee of 7,50 EUR if you come unprepared. If you have the time before, you can buy tickets
- at any stations at the ticket machines with a touchscreen in 6 different languages.
- online (with English and many other language options) and download the ticket to your smartphone or print it
- at diverse counters (in the station, at travel agencies)
Any bigger city in Germany has its own local public transport system that comprises trains and buses. See our city-specific relocation guides for more information on tickets and other things good to know.
Cologne & Duesseldorf
The public transport in Cologne is called KVB. Read more...
In Cologne the KVB manages the public transport. The most important informations and the timetable is translated into English.
In Düsseldorf and it's neighboring cities the VRR runs the public transport system. Their website is also in English.