Bus Lines In Germany
Last Updated: February 2018
When I was planning my trip from Dresden to Hanover I was also comparing every transportation option and figuring out the best bus lines in Germany. Getting around Germany on the cheap is possible if you have flexible dates and ready to plan ahead. The Deutsche Bahn effectively held a monopoly of long-distance travel until January 2013. Thanks to new regulations, the market is now filled with new long-distance bus companies that made intercity traveling in Germany much cheaper and flexible.
As you start researching on which bus company you should stick to, you will probably notice that Germany is quite compact. That said, you can reach any particular destination within Germany by bus. There are also overnight buses that are great if you want to save on accommodation. In general, traveling by bus in Germany is much cheaper than trains and planes, but it takes more time.
This post intends to reveal the results of my research and show you the benefits of using each mode of transport. Also, I will show why you should prefer buses over trains and planes in Germany.
Traveling by Bus in Germany
While buses are still slower than trains and flights, they are my favorite mode of transportation so far. Bus lines in Germany now utilize motor coaches with free Wi-Fi (which is not as great as your Wi-Fi at home, though). They are clean and often have a toilet. If you travel with big companies like FlixBus and Eurolines, you can get your tickets printed or shown digitally on your smartphone.
If you go country hopping in Europe, buses can be your best bet in terms of price. Buses from Dresden to Prague are €9-12, Berlin to Warsaw are €19. You can even go all the way to Amsterdam in the Netherlands from Düsseldorf for as low as €15! When it comes to comparing prices GoEuro is one of the first resources I go to. This resource provides you with the up-to-date information about prices and routes.
Just type in your departure and destination points, and it will show you a list of available options. You can also switch between different modes of transport (e.g. buses, trains, flights) to get the most relevant information about your next trip. Sort the results by cheapest, recommended and fastest. You can also switch between bus stations in case the central location isn’t what you need.
How to Book a Bus Trip
Start searching for bus well in advance. By monitoring and choosing unpopular dates for traveling could reduce your travel expenses and get you a cheaper fare. My trip from Dresden to Hanover has been just €15 as I booked it seven days in advance and chose Tuesday a departure date.
After booking my trip online and paying via Paypal, I received a confirmation email with my e-ticket attached and information on where and when my bus would be departing. So I didn’t even have to print it out since I just revealed it digitally on my smartphone to check in at the bus.
Traveling by Train in Germany
Germany has an extensive railway network that connects all major regional cities. There are private companies that operate in some regions. But still, the vast majority of tickets are being sold by the Deutsche Bahn.
Since I was looking for cheap ways to get to Hanover, it doesn’t make any difference whether you go by train or bus. Train from Dresden to Hanover goes faster but cost €5 more. At the same time bus would set me back €15 and would take 6 hours longer to get there. As a backpacker that travels on a tight budget, saving money is my priority.
When it comes to getting tickets, you can buy a single train ticket as you go, or opt for a rail pass. Pricing for single train tickets is structured in the same way as airline pricing. Early booking increases your chances of getting a good price and seat you want. You can also find special last-minute prices for ICE, IC or EC trains that can be as low as €20. But these are usually available up to 180 days in advance until shortly before travel.
The other option is a Eurail pass. There are different types of Eurail passes that can get you anywhere in Europe. At the same time, using Eurail passes can be a little bit tricky. I totally recommend using it if you have a well-planned out itinerary through 3 or more countries. The thing is using Eurail Pass sometimes may require preliminary reservations. While failure to do so will certainly result in paying extra fees. To avoid it, search for local and regional trains that are normally don’t require a reservation.
Traveling by Plane in Germany
Flying is a less adventurous way to explore Germany. However, if you’re short on time, and traveling between major cities, there are plenty of low-cost airlines that offer flights starting at €35 one-way. Budget airlines like Easyjet, Ryanair or Germanwings sometimes offer even cheaper deals. But often you have to book your flight almost a month ahead. That makes it less convenient way to travel around Germany.
Traveling by bus is a great option for everyone who is on a tight budget and willing to get around Germany on the cheap. With the disadvantages like traffic conjunction and general slowness of buses (if you’re traveling long distance), all intercity buses in Germany are safe and equipped with seat belts. I had never had to worry about careless driving or insufficient bus maintenance. The driver with whom I traveled has been very kind to help ladies that sit behind me with their luggage and always kept passengers informed about the traffic situation.