Wednesday, October 5, 2011

User’s Guide: Getting to Germany for a Klein Price

Over the past several months, I’ve shared tips for getting to Paris (and the rest of France) on the cheap, I’ve told you how to get to and from Luxembourg on Ryanair, and I’ve told you how to visit wineries in Provence via public bus.

Now, it’s Germany’s turn. And there are a lot of wunderbar deals to be had on the Deutsche Bahn (DB). Of course, the standard rule applies: the earlier you can book, the better your chances of scoring a cheaper ticket from Luxembourg. But there are several ways you can be creative about booking your travel, and several options for last minute trips from Luxembourg Ville.

CFL Day Trip Specials
Trier's old Roman gate, the
Porta Nigra, at night.
CFL, Luxembourg’s national train service, and DB, Germany’s national train service, have partnered to offer several discounted fares to places that make great day trips.

These round-trip tickets can be purchased from the CFL or DB ticket windows and are valid for same-day travel in 2nd class. (First class tickets are also available, but not really worth the money…save those extra Euros for pretzels and beer when you get to Deutschland.)

The price is the same whether you start your day trip in Luxembourg or in Germany.

2nd class fare

(Read my post about pairing Trier and Cochem for the ultimate day trip, complete with maps.)

Beyond the Border Area
There are three tickets available that you can use either to see the cities themselves, or to get to airports and larger DB train stations, which may cheapen train and airfare for you to further away places in Germany and beyond.

Köln/Cologne: CFL offers discounted tickets to Cologne for just 19€ each way, every day of the week. The offer is not valid on every train to Cologne, so you’ll be asked to select your train times when you book your tickets. Check my previous post about Cologne, here.)

In Cologne, you can catch fast trains or airplanes from the Cologne Bonn Airport (airline list here). So, let’s say you want to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Berlin. As of today, looking at flights that depart on Dec. 28 and return on Jan. 3, a round-trip flight from Luxembourg is 316€, but there are no direct flights. On the same dates, a round-trip, nonstop flight from Cologne is only 75€ plus 38€ for your train ticket (19€ each way) to and from Luxembourg.

Saarbrücken: For 14€ each way, you can take a bus from the Luxembourg Gare to the Saarbrücken Hauptbahnhof (Hbf). You are required to reserve your bus departure and return time when you book your ticket, and you can consult the schedule in advance online here.  

This is another place to look for cheaper train fare and cheaper airfare. To wit: at the moment, the New Year’s flight to Berlin I mentioned above is 124€ from Saarbrücken, plus 14€ each way for bus fare.

The Saarbrücken -Ensheim Airport (SCN) is a 25 minute bus ride (2,40€) away. Check bus timetables here, or view the airport’s web page here for their advice on transportation to and from SCN.

Click here for a map of all
stations on the
The Länder-Ticket: Every federal German state has a special ticket called a Länder-Ticket that is valid any day of the week for unlimited travel on “all network traffic” which means trains, the S-bahn, U-bahn, trams and buses, within one federal state for 1 to 5 people. Luxembourg borders the Rhineland-Pfalz and Saarland states of Germany, and the DB has kindly combined these two states into one ticket: the Saarland/Rhineland-Pfalz Länder-Ticket.

You will need to get yourself to a train station in Germany to “start” this ticket. If you’re trying this for the first time, I recommend buying the CFL 8€ ticket to Trier and starting your journey within Saarland/Rhineland-Pfalz there. Of course, you’re going to have to do a little bit of math, but if you’re traveling with at least one other person, it’s probably going to be a good deal.

For example, let’s say that your wife’s parents are visiting next weekend and you’d like to head to Koblenz to see the final weekend of the BUGA flower show. You could buy four tickets at the day trip rate above for 32€ each, for a whopping total of 128€. Or you could buy four day trip tickets to Trier for 8€ each, and one Saarland/Rhineland-Pfalz Länder-Ticket online for the four of you to share for 30€ and pay a total of 64€ instead, for the very same day trip. (See? Who said math wasn’t fun?)

Book the Länder-Ticket online here or buy it for a couple more euros at a DB kiosk or ticket agent in Germany. Here is a map of all the stations you can travel between within the Saarland/Rhineland-Pfalz region.

Online Ticket Price

There is, however, one funny thing to keep in mind with this ticket: dogs count as people on the Länder-Ticket, so if you are traveling with Fido, you need to count him in as one of the people traveling on your ticket.

A Happy Weekend (With Friends)
Of course, you can book the Länder-Ticket for your group of 5, any day of the week if you’d like. Or you can book the Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket (Happy Weekend Ticket). This ticket is valid for up to five people for 39€ on Saturdays and Sundays from midnight until 3am the following day, and is valid for unlimited trips within the same day.

(I’m not sure how this ticket is a better deal than the Länder-Ticket, but if I find out, I’ll let you know…)

Happy travels!

1 comment:

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