If you want to tick off a group of Germans, tell them that the train is going to be fifteen minutes late. But if you tell them that none of the trains will be running due to a strike? Utter chaos! Hundreds of thousands of travelers depend on the Deutsche Bahn to transport them to airports, cities and neighboring countries in Europe. But as Deustche Bahn train drivers prepare to go on strike tomorrow through Monday, these travelers, many of whom will be converging on Berlin this weekend for the 25th anniversary of its fall, are scrambling for an alternative. Rather than getting stuck with an expensive last minute flight, Germany has plenty of other budget savvy ways for travelers to navigate the country.
Before you start hitchhiking along the side of the Autobahn, consider the Mitfahrgelegenheit. Translating to “ride sharing opportunity” this online forum safely connects travelers that are headed in the same direction. It’s pretty much like road tripping with strangers, but it’s a great way to meet other travelers while splitting the cost of gas. It’s one of the cheapest ways to travel great distances, for example, a traveler can get from Frankfurt to Hamburg, a five hour drive, for as low as €23.
You can register as a driver with your own car or rental, or sign up to be a passenger. Once you register, you can coordinate which cities you’ll be picking up and dropping off fellow wanderers.
A great alternative to the trains are German buses. There are plenty of bus routes and departure times to chose from. Euroelines provide routes not just in Germany, but throughout 33 countries in Europe. Passengers travel in modern coach buses and can have two medium sized suitcases for no additional cost.
All roads lead to Berlin with the Berlin Linien Bus , which advertises tickets for as low as €9 as well as stops in over 250 destinations throughout Europe. It’s also a great option for travelers trying to get to Berlin this weekend for the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s fall, as this bus company has direct lines connecting most German cities to Berlin.
Meinfernbus is another great alternative, especially if you’re in a smaller town with limited access to a larger city. Meinfernbus has arguably the most options for long distance bus routes than any company in Germany, and best of all, their tickets can be as low as €8.
Yes, traveling between cities by boat is an option, although it is limited during the months of November through April. KD offers rides along the Rhine and Moselle rivers. Along the way, you’ll see a landscape of rolling hills, majestic castles, and picturesque vineyards on your journey to cities such as Cologne, Bonn, Koblenz, Wiesbaden and Mainz. The longest route on the Rhein, from Cologne to Mainz, costs around €65.
Depending on how far of a distance you have to travel, renting a bike can be a fun and cost effective way to travel. Germany has over 40,000 bike trails connecting cities all over the country. So rather than taking a Deutsche Bahn train, you can rent a bike with Deutsche Bahn’s “Call a Bike” instead. The service is available in over 60 major cities throughout Germany and works like most bike rental services around the globe. Just register as a Call a Bike customer and pick up the bike at any participating train station. Bikes cost €8 cents per minute, but if you’re renting for the day, it only costs €15. There’s also a year rental fee of €48 to those who use the bikes on a regular basis. The first 30 minutes of every rental is free.