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German Rail Pass

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Apr 5th, 2014, 12:01 PM
  #1
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German Rail Pass

Buying a 5 day German Rail Pass Twin Pass for my husband and I to travel to Hamburg, Salzburg, Rothenburg, and Berlin with an extra trip in case we get a wild hair. We'll be taking trains here and there inside cities (esp. Berlin) and going to many city attractions.
1. Does the German Rail Pass discount the cost of a city ticket in each city?

Also, I am confused by the website, but it looks like we get transport from (for example) from Rothenburg Hbf to Berlin Hbf with our Rail Pass, then to Friedrichstrasse train station near our hotel free with the pass.
2. Am I understanding this correctly and is the Bahncard the same as the rail pass?

Excerpt: Benefits for BahnCard holders
A long-distance ticket (route of 100 km or more) which you have purchased with BahnCard discount entitles you to travel free on public transport (bus, S-Bahn, underground and tram) to the departure station and from the station to your final destination within the area of validity of the City-Ticket in more than 100 German cities.

3. Any advice for travel on planes and trains, or S-Bahn,and U-Bahn passes in Germany?

I'm awesome at being confusing so please ask questions to help yourself better understand my questions if necessary. Thanks
awheaton is offline  
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Apr 5th, 2014, 01:24 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
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I don't know the answers to your questions, but I will volunteer some advice. Price out some advance-purchase tickets 2.5 months out on the bahn.com website before buying a rail pass. Your rail pass will not be good to and from Salzburg and rail passes offer extra freedom but are generally more expensive than advance tickets.

For example, Rothenburg to Berlin is 45 euros, 59 in first class.
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Apr 5th, 2014, 03:20 PM
  #3
 
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Which web site are you referring to? Have you tried Budget Europe Travel at http://tinyurl.com/339uf5
spaarne is offline  
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Apr 5th, 2014, 07:56 PM
  #4
 
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No the Bahncard is not the GermanRailPass.

I have used the GermanRailPass and LOVED it because of its flexibility.

I THINK that it IS good for Salzburg but better double check.

Advice? Get very familiar with the DBahn website before you go and then check it as you travel. Arrive in plenty of time at stations, when possible, to make sure you have it all figured out. Understand which platform as well as which track to take. Have alternatives in mind, in case something happens and train is cancelled/late so miss connection/etc. (I found the trains I used were on time about 90% of the time, but a couple trips got totally reconfigured/cancelled out of the now about 4 weeks' worth of almost daily trips.)

Agents in the bigger stations will be able to help you in English (and often the smaller ones to some extent).

If you need to supplement your pass with some other ticket, have cash to use in the machines.

I'm all but certain that cities' S-Bahns are covered by the pass but U-bahns will not be.

Rail passes must be validated before boarding the first train; I got mine done at the airport train station so that it was ready to go when I needed it. The validation is required; but your pass doesn't "start" until you enter the date of the first travel. And you must do this each day you travel.

Read the "fine print" on the websites--it is all "fairly" clear.

And yes, it's cheaper to buy advance tickets, etc. BUT what I love about RailPasses is I don't have to plan that far ahead; I can be flexible; I don't have to worry about not making a specific train (but make sure you understand what your options are--you may "have" to make a certain train to do what you want to do).

AND if any of the trains you want to use are ICE (these are faster, less-stopping, direct trains), you should definitely make a reservation which costs a little but you don't want to not find a seat on these.

Hope that helps a little. My main advice is read stuff carefully now. The pass will come with more info, and the agents are helpful on site.
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Apr 6th, 2014, 08:00 AM
  #5
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Join Date: Feb 2012
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FHurdle, the DE bahn partners with Salzburg and includes Salzburg in their German Rail Passes.

Thanks for the advice, everyone! Glad to have straightened the rail pass vs. the bahn card out.
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Apr 6th, 2014, 08:10 AM
  #6
 
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Flexibility to me is also priceless and with full-fare tickets in Germany so so expensive - Frankfurt to Berlin about $140 last times I checked - if you want flexibility then the pass, if using it enough of course, is a boon.

About Berlin S-Bahns - if your flexipass is valid that day (day or arrival it would be) then you can use S-Bahns in Berlin that connect mainline rail stations - thus you could continue on to Frieichstrasse S-Bahn station without extra charge and use the S-Bahn the rest of the day.

Yes S-Bahns are covered in cities that have them by a railpass - nothing to do with the Bahn Card, which is kind of a frequent flier thing you pay a sum for a year and get 50% or so discounts - the initial cost of the card makes its unviable compared to railpasses in many cases.

For lots of great info on German trains i always spotlight these IMO fantastic sites: www.budgeteuropetravel.com (I've bought many passes for years form Byron there - he'll answer any question like these IME even if not buying!); www.ricksteves.com and www.seat61.com.

Seat reservations are optional on all long-distance trains but a handful of ICE Sprinters and the Thalys trains Cologne to Brussels and Paris - trains you will never need to use. If you have a 2nd class pass I would make the optional seat reservations for a few euros - especially if you want a window or aisle seat and guarantee a pair or more of seats near each other. In first-class in decades of travel on German train I rarely have found any full first-class car and I think seat reservations in them are a waste of time (one benefit of first class besides bigger seats - can always find usually several empty seats - I often put my bags on a nearby empty seat, etc.
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Apr 6th, 2014, 09:08 AM
  #7
 
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1. Does the German Rail Pass discount the cost of a city ticket in each city?>

No TMK. As said above you can use S-Bahns on days your pass is valid - you activate one of your days and it would not be worthwhile to do so just to ride around on S-Bahns in a city - cheaper just to buy regular tickets or the cheap day transit passes they all seem to have.
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Apr 6th, 2014, 02:47 PM
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http://www.bahn.com/i/view/DEU/en/ba...overview.shtml

Here's all the dope on the Bahn Card, its restrictions if any and price - again for a one-time traveler probably not as good a bet as a German Railpass - which of course depends on traveling on more than one or two trains.
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Apr 8th, 2014, 10:14 AM
  #9
 
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http://www.bahn.com/i/view/DEU/en/pr...r-ticket.shtml

Lander Tickets or day passes are a bargain for not only rail travel throughout a regional area like Bavaria but also are valid on buses and trams and U-Bahns and S-Bahns in cities - you are restricted to regional trains that are significantly slower if doing long trips (Munich to Salzburg for example) but if not in a hurry save some days on a German Pass, if you have one, and use the bargain Lander Tickets - sold right at any German station - no advance planning needed.
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Apr 9th, 2014, 07:16 AM
  #10
 
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anyone thinking of buying a German Railpass should check periodically the sources of them as they often have special deals pop up - with a free extra day on some - but they come and go - if you buy months in advance you cannot then trade in your pass for the special deal. No reason to buy until before your trip in case specials pop up.
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