Warning to Visitors

Some of the information below may be out of date as a result of changing timetables and services. Please double check the accuracy of all information before travelling.

The booking forms should be up to date however, so if tickets for a particular service are available, then the service should be operational.

Berlin

Berlin is the capital city of Germany, as well as the largest. The city is also considered to be the cultural capital of the country, with plenty of museums, shops, and palaces as well as a lively nightlife. There are twelve boroughs within the city, which are grouped into six districts.

During World War II, much of the centre of the city was destroyed, and the reconstruction that followed has led to a somewhat fragmented architectural style and layout. The Berlin Wall was constructed to split East and West Berlin in 1949, and was pulled down in 1989. Stretches and fragments of the wall can still be seen, particularly east of the city centre along the River Spree.

Berlin benefits from a very good public transport system, which includes overground trains, underground trains, trams and buses. There is also a Paris-style public bicycle hire system, which allows visitors to cycle around the city. There are various ticketing options for those wishing to travel around the city, including a range of roamers/travelcards.

Berlin is exceptionally well connected by train both nationally and internationally. Both night and day trains run to/from Berlin to various destinations including Amsterdam, Paris, Zurich, Vienna and Budapest. An international service to Moscow from Paris also runs through Berlin.

Berlin has three principle train stations within the city, the newly constructed Hauptbahnhof, Sudkreuz and Ostbahnhof. All stations are well connected to the public transport system.

The city is well served by national and international coach services, although only one operator is permitted by the government to serve the city. Fortunately, this operator forms part of the Eurolines network, meaning cheap coach fares to the city are possible.

How to get to Berlin from
Route 1:

The service between Berlin, Hamburg and Copenhagen is operated mainly by Deutsche Bahn's InterCity Express (ICE) trains, although a couple of services are InterCity trains. There is only one direct service between Berlin and Copenhagen each day in either direction, but plenty of connecting trains available from Hamburg for the final leg to/from Berlin. The route includes a train-ferry crossing between Rodby and Puttgarden. Passengers are able to leave the train once on-board the ferry to explore a variety of duty free shops, cafes, lounges, bathrooms etc.

Route 2:

Russian Railways have recently introduced an upgraded overnight service direct between Paris and Moscow, called the Trans-European Express. The trains on this route reach speeds up up to 200km/hr as they travel through five different countries en route. 

The train carries a range of Luxury, First and Second Class carriages, as well as a restaurant car. The sleeping compartments are configured as either 3-berths, 2-berths or single berths. You can opt to share a multiple berth compartment with a stranger, if you would rather not pay the extra for a single berth. Each compartment doubles up as a sitting room during the day time, with beds that fold down for the evening. Each room has its own basin, and towels, linens and toiletries are provided. 

The train's Luxury carriage offers four compartments, arranged as single or twin compartments with private bathroom facilities, as well as telveision system and complimentary breakfast. 

A dining car is attached for the length of the journey, although it is Polish between Paris and Warsaw, and Russian between Brest and Moscow. Each carriage also has a samovar, which provides hot water for drinks and snacks.

If this route doesn't take your fancy, there are alternative ways of reaching Moscow from Western Europe, including journeys from Cologne, Brussels, Helsinki and even Amsterdam.

Route 3:

The service between Prague and Budapest is operated by the EuroNight 'Metropol' sleeper train service. Both first and second class sleeping accommodation is available onboard, as well as second class couchettes. A second class seating carriage is also available, although obviously not as comfortable as the other options.

This route is shared between Berlin and Brno with another EuroNight sleeper train service to/from Vienna.

Route 4:

There is one direct service per day between Amsterdam and Prague, although there are plenty of indirect services that involve a change at Berlin (although that route is dealt with on a separate page). This service is operated daily by Deutsche Bahn's City Night Line sleeper service, Kopernikus / Phoenix, and calls at Cologne and Berlin en route.

Route 5:

A frequent service operates each day between Amsterdam and Berlin, with a total journey time of just over six hours. In the Netherlands, the train starts/ends its journey at Amsterdam Schiphol (the city's main airport).

An alternative overnight service is available, running between Amsterdam and Moscow via Berlin if you would prefer. Connecting services to Hamburg are available from Osnabrück.

Route 6:

The Amsterdam to Moscow sleeper train is a EuroNight sleeper service, also calling at stations including Berlin and Cologne. It runs once a day, every day, with a variety of sleeping options, and covering a total distance of 2,757km.

If travelling to/from Scotland or northern England, this route can be quicker than rail-only alternatives, when combined with the Harwich - Hook of Holland (Stena Line) service.

The sleeping car has ten compartments which are configured as either 3-berths, 2-berths or single berths. You can opt to share a multiple berth compartment with a stranger, if you would rather not pay the extra for a single berth. Each compartment doubles up as a sitting room during the day time, with beds that fold down for the evening. Each room has its own basin, and towels and toiletries are provided.

There is a dining car that serves the train between Rzepin and Warsaw, so make sure you bring some extra food and drink with you to last the journey. The carriage attendant is also able to serve tea to passengers en route.

Route 7:

The City Night Line train is a comfortable sleeper train, travelling between various destinations throughout Europe. The journey between Paris and Berlin is made on-board 'Perseus', and takes around 13hrs. City Night Line services are very affordable, and offer a great alternative to travelling during the day, allowing you to arrive fresh at your destination, and saving on hotel bills.

Route 8:

Fancy travelling between the United Kingdom and Finland without flying? Well the journey isn't easy, but it's certainly do-able. In total, the journey takes around two days (after you've included waiting times), with six different legs in total.

An alternative would be to travel via Russia, catching a train from Paris to Moscow, Moscow to St Petersburg, and then St Petersburg to Helsinki. However, this route would require additional visas for travel in Moscow, which would have cost implications.

Route 9:

There is one service per day in either direction between Berlin and Zurich on the City Night Line service named 'Sirius'. City Night Line services are affordable alternatives to day trains, allowing you to arrive at your destination refreshed and having saved on hotel bills.

International travellers with first class tickets may use the SBB Lounge in Zurich's main railway station on their day of travel between 6am and 9pm.

Route 10:

This journey, between Malmo and Berlin is made on-board a EuroNight sleeper service called the Berlin Night Express. The train carriages are Swedish-made, modern and comfortable, and there are various snack and food options available on-board.

A unique feature of this journey is the train-ferry crossing between Trelleborg and Sassnitz. This process sees the entire train being loaded onto and off the ferry. During the crossing, passengers are asked to leave the train to take advantage of the hot meals are available on-board the ferry (additional cost). 

Passengers have the opportunity to sleep in either a private single or double cabin, or to take a berth inside the couchette car. Sheets, blankets and pillows are provided for all.

Route 11:

The overland journey between Helsinki and Lisbon is by no means short, involving a number of overnight train journeys, and crossing much of western Europe.

Route 12:

Rail travel between Amsterdam and Berlin is very stress free but since 2008 it does require a change of train if you travel to/from Amsterdam Centraal station. This is because all services to Berlin now depart from Schiphol Airport station and call at Amsterdam Zuid instead.

There are different options available depending on where in Amsterdam you would like to leave from. The simplest journey is made from Amsterdam Zuid, which is a direct service.

If you would rather travel from Amsterdam Centraal, it is recommended that you catch the Intercity to Amersfoort Schothorst and change at Hilversum. This is because the connecting trains are scheduled to arrive at Hilversum at adjacent platforms making the switch very easy, no escalators, lifts or long walks. The timetables are set so that the Amersfoort Schothorst Intercity leaves Amsterdam Centraal in good time and the wait at Hilversum is no more than 5 minutes.

All the Amsterdam Centraal departures are on trains destined for "Amersfoort Schothorst" so look for that on the departure boards.

This scheme also works if you travel from Berlin to Amsterdam, with the schedules allowing very convenient connection times at Hilversum.

There is a buffet on the train serving hot and cold food, drinks etc; and there is a large space for carrying bikes in one of the coaches which holds and hangs up to 20 bikes.

Thanks to Rich Lenthall for this travel tip.

Flightless Holidays in Berlin

The Trans-Siberian Express in Winter

Join Great Rail Journeys for this epic rail holiday on-board the Trans-Siberian Express.

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