You’ve got a ticket to ri-i-iiiide! 🎶
After a couple of clicks on Wanderu, you’ve scored a deal on a Deutsche Bahn train: The biggest rail operator in all of Europe, with 34,000 kilometers of railroad tracks that span from Vienna to Berlin to Amsterdam and Paris.
But when that ticket arrives in your inbox, you open up the PDF attachment to find — oh schnitzel — it’s in German. And you don’t speak Deutsche. Ugh, you knew snoozing through high school German while Frau Winkler taught verb conjugations would some day come back to haunt you.
Fear not, fellow traveler: This guide will teach you how to read and understand your German ticket. Below, you’ll find answers to some frequently asked questions, a sample ticket in German, and a translated version of the ticket with specific call-outs for your reference.
Where are the tickets for my other passengers?
Why, you ask, is there only one ticket in your email when you booked a trip for two (or three, four, five…)? Well, unlike a flight, for which every passenger has their own individual ticket, Deutsche Bahn train tickets are all wrapped into one under the name of the paying passenger. The following field on your ticket represents the size of your party:
The German word Erwachsener means “Adult,” so in this example, the ticket is for one adult. If there were multiple people in your party, that number would be listed here, along with the word Erwachsene, which means “Adults” (plural). Therefore, when the conductor scans the single QR code on your ticket, they’re actually verifying the tickets of all the passengers in your group.
What does my German train ticket say?
The following is a sample Deutsche Bahn ticket, like the kind you received via email upon purchase. Don’t be intimidated by all those umlauts—we’ll break down the translated version in a minute.
Sample Deutsche Bahn Ticket
Next, let’s take a look at the same ticket with the most important fields translated.
Translated Deutsche Bahn Ticket
Here is a breakdown of each part of the ticket, as indicated with a numbered call-out:
- Deutsche Bahn asks that you print your ticket on white A4 paper. A4 is the international standard for copy paper, as opposed to US Letter paper, which is slightly shorter and wider. That said, don’t feel the need to run off to Staples — your device should print the barcode to scale on your regular paper just fine.
- This section of the ticket lays out the type of fare (Super Saver), the type of train (for instance, IC/EC means “InterCity/EuroCity”), the departing city (Berlin), and the destination city (Praha, which is the German name for Prague).
- This section covers all payment-related details: what class of ticket you bought and how many, the base price in Euros, added tax, when the payment was processed and the Transaction ID.
- This section shows the validity of the ticket (as indicated by the date), and the name of the paying passenger who must present their ID to the conductor (which is displayed in this sample as “Mr. First Last Name”). This section also shows the Booking Reference number (“BBCEOR” in the sample), which you’d provide to Deutsche Bahn customer service if you were to make any changes to your reservation.
- This section has all the specific details about your reservation:
- the departing station (Berlin Hbf),
- the destination station (Praha hl. n.),
- the date of the trip (11.01, or January 11th— remember that in Europe, days and months are inverted, so that they read: DD.MM.YYYY),
- the time of departure, as well as the departing platform,
- and the train number.
Note that all Deutsche Bahn tickets on Wanderu are for first-come, first-serve seats, so you will not be given an assigned seat number.
- This section notes the terms and conditions of your ticket. As stated, you will be required to show a photo ID when the ticket is presented to the conductor. Valid photo ID options include a passport, a government-issued ID or a Bahn Card.
- The conductor will use the information in this section to cross-reference the ticket with your photo ID.
- The QR code is the most important element, because it’s the part that must be scanned by the conductor to validate your ticket. So, as the text indicates, “Please don’t bend the barcode!”
Before you travel, make sure to check www.bahn.com for possible timetable changes, or call +49 1806-99-66-33.
How much luggage can I take on a Deutsche Bahn train?
Suitcases and other bags on your Deutsche Bahn train should be stowed on the luggage rack or under the seat in front of you. Luggage dimensions should not exceed 70 x 50 x 30 centimeters ( 27.6 x 19.7 x 11.8 inches).
As you can see, your German train ticket isn’t nearly as intimidating as it seems at first glance. Spend less time sweating transportation and start plotting out the beer halls and beautiful cathedrals on your Euro-Trip bucket list.
Or if you’re still just contemplating a trip abroad, consider booking with Wanderu — the simplest way to book bus and train travel across North America and Europe. If you’re in need of some destination inspiration, check out our guide to “The Most Instagrammed Castles in Germany,” and learn how to visit them by train for less than $400.