When to make reservations
Sometimes it's necessary to make an advance reservation on German trains. Read all about when trains need to be reserved.
Most trains don't need reservations
Reservations are not necessary for all local trains:
RegionalExpress (RE) (regional trains)
Regionalbahn (RB) (regional & local trains)
S-Bahn (suburban trains)
On these trains you simply board the train and find a seat. Reservations are not possible on these trains.
For some trains it's optional
Reservations are optional but not required for these trains:
You can always hop on the ICE but if you want to be sure of a seat, you should make a reservation. This is especially recommended during rush hours, during public holidays and in the busy high season.
ICE (Intercity-Express, the most common high-speed train)
You can always hop on the ICE but if you want to be sure of a seat, you should make a reservation. This is especially recommended during rush hous, during public holidays and in the busy high season.
Fees: 2nd class: € 5 / 1st class: € 4
ICE Sprinter (a high-speed train that makes fewer stops than the standard ICE train). If you want to avoid paying extra, you can take the standard ICE train.
Fees: 2nd class: €11 / 1st class: €16
EuroCity and InterCity (domestic trains)
Fees: from € 3.50
Railjet (high-speed train)
Fees: from € 3.50
For a few trains it's mandatory
Reservations are mandatory for these trains:
IC Bus (bus services throughout Germany)
TGV (French high-speed train)
Fees: 2nd class: €13 / 1st class: €30
CityNightLine (CNL) night trains. Fees depend on the type of seat or sleeping accommodation you choose.
To check if a train requires reservation, you can look up your journey details in the train timetable. The schedules indicate if you need to make a reservation with an orange button 'Reservation'. If you see a grey icon with the letter 'R', reservation is mandatory, otherwise it is optional. You can make seat reservations up to 3 months in advance. View the following example: