2 of Germany’s top cities – Frankfurt in the west and Berlin in the east – are both must-see destinations when you’re travelling in this country.
Which is easy to do, because these 2 wonderful cities are simple to connect between care of Germany’s wonderful train network.
Just under 550km apart, they certainly aren’t the closest cities, but thanks to the country’s speedy rail system, you can make the journey in as little as 4 hours by train, which is a lot quicker than the average driving time.
So, with this mind, I’ve compiled this article which contains everything you need to know about catching the train from Frankfurt to Berlin, or visa versa.
It’s the perfect way to soak up Germany’s diversity in a quick, easy and efficient way and promises 2 glorious city adventures on either side.
So, let’s get stuck in….
- 10 Unmissable Things To Do in Berlin
- How to Bag Cheap Train Tickets for Europe Travel
- How to Travel Between Frankfurt and Strasbourg
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Frankfurt to Berlin by Train : The Basics
For the purposes of this article, I’m going to discuss travelling from Frankfurt to Berlin i.e. in the direction of west to east, but please do bear in mind, you can absolutely travel the other way.
All this information will still apply if you are travelling in the other direction, you’ll just have to follow it in reverse!
I often get asked in which direction I recommend people travel in i.e. Frankfurt to Berlin or Frankfurt to Berlin, but my answer is always the same… it honestly doesn’t matter.
Pick the route that works best given your timeframe, your bucket list spots and your itinerary in general.
If you’re flying in and out of Europe (or training elsewhere afterwards) then checking the prices of onward journeys may help sway your decision as to which city you finish in.
Personally, if the decision wasn’t clear, then I’d opt to finish in Berlin – it’s just such a fun city that I can never resist it for a travel finale!
On average, it takes just under 4 and a half hours to travel a distance of around 240km between Frankfurt and Berlin by train.
Some trains are slightly quicker (at just over 4 hours) but those at weekends and during public holidays tend to be a bit slower, so always check the journey time before you book a service.
Trains are not only the quickest way to travel between these cities, but often the cheapest option too.
Those making this journey leave from either Frankfurt Hbf or Frankfurt Süd stations and arrive at Berlin Hbf.
Hbf stands for Hauptbahnhof, which means Main Station in German.
Frankfurt Hbf is a central hub on the German rail network and many international connections pass through here on their way to France, Switzerland or Austria.
Frankfurt Süd station is located in the district of Sachsenhausen south of the Main River, about 2km away from Frankfurt Hbf.
Berlin Hbf is then main railway station in Berlin. It is located in Moabit district and the Mitte constituency.
All of these 3 stations are well connected and therefore very convenient to access from their respective cities using S-Bahn (local train) services.
The stations are well-laid out, clear and easy to navigate. Even if they can seem huge and intimidating at first, most staff speak excellent English and will be pleased to help you.
The services from Frankfurt to Berlin are run by 2 companies.
Deutsche Bahn’s services depart from Frankfurt Hbf and Frankfurt Süd and tend to be marginally more expensive.
Deutsche Bahn is the national German railway company.
They offer free wifi and are extremely punctual. You can book tickets with them up to 6 months in advance.
Flixtrain run services from Frankfurt Süd to Berlin Hbf and tend to provide the best fares.
They run 1-2 direct trains daily, which depart at approximately 9am.
The rail equivalent of the well-known European budget bus company (Flixbus), this is a no-frills service that can be as quick as 4hrs and 5mins and cost just €9.99 if booked in advance.
Comparing services between these 2 companies is made super easy by the great website Trainline, which handily has everything laid out in English.
Trainline’s easy booking service, across multiple currencies and languages, plus their simple-to-use app, is why I always recommend them for booking all train or bus travel across Europe
Between Deutsche Bahn and Flixtrain there are over 40 train services that make the journey from Frankfurt to Berlin, with around 20 being direct.
There are slightly more services at the weekend.
Across all days, the first departures are normally around 6am, while the last are around 9pm.
I always recommend booking a direct train service (rather than one that involves changes) as their price is almost the same and the journey is a lot quicker with a lot less hassle.
Do note any changes when booking tickets to ensure you get the direct and fastest trains.
I would also avoid train journeys during rush hour or over public holidays.
Classes & Seat Reservations
To secure the cheapest train tickets for Frankfurt to Berlin, booking non-refundable options with no seat reservations are likely to offer the best rates.
When you book with Trainline, you can upgrade to ensure you have seat reservations for an extra €4.
You can also buy semi-flexible fares, which allow for some changes or refunds in the form of vouchers – this costs an extra €6.
You can also buy fully flexible tickets, which are significantly more expensive.
As a budget traveller however, I’d always opt for a standard ticket with no seat reservation and no flexibility, especially on a journey as short as that from Frankfurt to Berlin.
If you book early enough and get a decent priced ticket, then the hassle of making changes (should you need to) outweighs the small cost of just buying another ticket at a later date if I need to change.
This is especially true if I choose to buy a FlixTrain ticket as they offer very cheap, set fares with no choice of class.
Again you can pay extra with them for a seat reservation if you wish.
You also have a luggage allowance with FlixTrain – 1 piece of baggage and 1 piece of hand luggage.
Extra luggage is chargeable, so do bear this is mind if you have a lot of great.
The great news is that the train from Frankfurt to Berlin is electric, which means it has a very low carbon footprint.
If you are trying to travel in a more sustainable, the train is a great way to go!
Given the fact that it’s also fast, pleasant, stress-free and relatively good value, means it’s an all-round great option for travelling between these 2 cities.
In fact, when you travel with FlixTrain, your journey will be powered by 100% renewable energy from Greenpeace Energy – an independent energy cooperative that fights politically and technologically for the sustainable use of our resources – hoorah!
Buying Tickets for the Train
So now that we’ve covered the basics about travelling from Frankfurt to Berlin by train, it’s time to cover how to buy tickets for this service.
As is commonly the case when booking trains in Europe, you can book direct through the national railway site.
However, I very often find these sites hard to decipher and confusing to use.
Which is why I always book my European trains using Trainline.
Often the prices here are just as cheap and the website is so easy to use in English (or an array of other languages) that it’s a no brainer for me.
You can pay using international cards and you can change the currency to view converted prices.
They also have a great app, which allows you to not only book tickets on the move, but also store your e-tickets (doing away with the need to print anything out) and check the journey planner – essentially a great feature that lets you know if the train is on time, late etc.
Trainline essentially uses the Deutsche Bahn’s Website infrastructure, so when you go to book, it’s the services they operate that are available to you.
If you want to book a FlixTrain ticket (which is probably cheaper), then head direct to their website here.
Or at least check it out to compare the 2 – remembering if you want to travel after 10am it’s likely the Deutsche Bahn’s departures will suit you better.
The other thing to remember is that you can absolutely just turn up on the day and buy your German train ticket at the station then and there.
This won’t give you the best price but, by leaving things to the last minute, it will grant you a high degree of flexibility.
What to Expect on the Journey
In terms of practical information for what to expect from the train journey, you’ll be pleased to know that there’s no restrictions on luggage with Deutsche Bahn.
As long as you can carry your luggage onto the train, there’s usually ample rack space at either end of the carriages, as well as above the seats for smaller bags.
Often this service has free wifi and power sockets, as well as room for bikes to be taken onboard – although these need to be booked in advance.
FlixTrain allows you to have 1 hand luggage and 1 hold luggage; any extra must be paid for.
Bikes on board also incur a separate fee and can be booked, as well as paid for, when buying your passenger fare.
FlixTrain has free wifi (although it doesn’t always work the best) as well as charging points.
If you need to arrange luggage storage in either Frankfurt or Berlin, then I highly recommend LuggageHero – a great left luggage app I’ve used myself across Europe.
All train services running between Frankfurt and Berlin have toilets, although as is often the case with trains in Europe, it pays to be prepared with your own paper, wipes and antibacterial hand gel in case there’s not any of these things available!
As with the vast majority of trains in Europe, there’s no need to check-in for your German train ride.
You simply enter the station and then check the boards for the platform your departing train will leave from.
Then you just find the platform, board the train and sit in your reserved (or a free seat in the correct carriage class if your ticket is unreserved.)
Ensure you then have your tickets (or e-tickets) to hand for when a conductor or inspector passes by.
Worth pointing out here that the Trainline app has a handy Journey Tracker section that allows you see when your correct departure station is coming up.
Alternative Methods to Travel from Frankfurt to Berlin
In case you’re wondering whether there are other transport methods, aside from the train, you can use to get between Frankfurt to Berlin, the answer is yes!
Here’s my lowdown on the other alternative ways to make the journey…
Frankfurt to Berlin by Bus
The Frankfurt to Berlin bus is definitely the cheapest way to travel between these 2 cities, especially if you’re booking last minute.
Prices start from under €10, which can mean it’s half the price of the train.
Although do bear in mind it does take a lot longer – between 7 and 13 hours depending on the service!
Plus you have to allow for the traffic of course.
Buses between Frankfurt and Berlin are operated by Flixbus and there around 3 direct services daily.
There’s also an overnight journey which can be useful for big-time budget travellers who may be looking to save on a night’s accommodation as well.
Buses from Frankfurt to Berlin both depart and arrive from the respective citys’ central bus stations, meaning they often hit the city traffic.
Although this sounds annoying, it’s actually a welcome relief that they leave centrally when you have to get to the station with all your luggage from your accommodation!
Flixbus have free wifi, free power sockets, as well as free luggage allowances, onboard toilets and their app is great for storing eTickets and checking the location of your bus live.
I’ve used Flixbus as a budget traveller across Europe and can I highly recommend their efficient and safe services.
Book your Frankfurt to Berlin FlixBus journey here.
Frankfurt to Berlin by Plane
Although a very short journey, and very bad for your carbon footprint, you can book a flight from Frankfurt to Berlin.
It takes just over 1 hour.
This is likely to be the most expensive way to make this journey and after you factor in the time of getting to and from the airport, as well the check-in time, it may not prove any quicker.
That said, some people still prefer to opt for it.
If you want to check prices and departures for flights from Frankfurt to Berlin, then I highly recommend using Skyscanner who include budget airlines in their searches and therefore offer some of the best deals around.
Frankfurt to Berlin by Car
And finally, the last way you may consider travelling from Frankfurt to Berlin is via 4 wheels.
This may either involve renting a car and driving the distance yourself, or trying out a carpooling service like BlaBlaCar.
If you want to rent a vehicle then check out Thrifty Car Hire for some of the best deals around.
The pros to renting a car are flexibility and the ability to truly take in the scenery and landscape you’ll pass through.
The cons are the expense, the organisation and having to drive in a foreign country.
The drive between Frankfurt and Berlin is also long and likely to take between 6 to 8 hours depending on traffic.
Renting a vehicle is altogether better if there’s a group of you, because you can share the costs and the driving duties.
Carpooling is great for budget travellers as you share lifts with others heading the same way.
Ass such, it’s normally a great opportunity to meet locals and travel on a very low budget.
Normally you’ll be taken straight to the door of where you are staying, which makes life easy too.
Just use common sense and exercise caution in terms of safety, as always.
What To Do in Berlin & Frankfurt
If you want to learn more about Berlin, then check out these 2 articles I wrote, which give you the perfect travel lowdown on the city including how long to spend there, where to stay, as well as the best places to hang, eat, sightsee and enjoy.
When it comes to Frankfurt travel inspiration, check out these posts I wrote…
- 11 Best Things to Do in Frankfurt, Germany + 5 Top Travel Tips for this City
- The Top 10 Frankfurt Airbnbs
Continuing on Your Journey
Don’t forget that after your time in Berlin (or Frankfurt), the fun doesn’t have to stop there!
The Czech Republic capital of Prague can be easily accessed from Berlin and is well worth a few days exploring.
Otherwise, if you’re finishing up in Frankfurt, then you could head onto either Strasbourg, Amsterdam, Paris or Bruges quite easily.
If you’re enjoying a European tour, these are all great cities to call in on, and any of the transport methods mentioned above in this post can be used to get there.
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And there it is, my guide with everything you need to know about catching the train from Frankfurt to Berlin.
Have you made this journey?
Which method of transport did you use?
Please leave any information about your journey that may help fellow travellers in the comments box below…