If you live in Germany or are planning a trip to our home country this summer, you can take advantage of this special monthly pass that has been introduced by the government to encourage public transport use and ease the impact of inflation and the rise in energy prices. For June, July, and August you can buy a ticket that is valid on all local and regional trains, U-Bahns, S-Bahns, buses and trams nationwide for €9 per month.
For context, this is roughly the same price as a 24-hour ticket for Berlin’s public transport network, and as long as you don’t use the fast trains and have the time and patience, you can travel absolutely anywhere in the country. You can buy them in Berlin from any U-Bahn, S-Bahn or Deutsche Bahn ticket machine, or use one of the apps. If you’re coming from outside the country, it should be the first thing you do when you step off the train at Berlin Hauptbahnhof or arrive at BER airport – you can of course use the 9-Euro Ticket to travel into the city.
In anticipation of the months ahead we’ve already bought ours, and for us Berliners it will make heading out to the lake, the forests or even up to the Baltic coast incredibly cheap. We’ve put together some suggestions for outdoor adventures from Berlin using the 9-Euro Ticket (some more realistic than others) but you can search out journeys for yourself on the Deutsche Bahn website (click the little arrow in the top corner of the search box and you can limit your search to ‘local transport only’).
A summer on the trains awaits… and we’ll be sure to be sharing some of our own 9-Euro adventures both here and on our Instagram feed as we go.
All the times and number of changes in our suggestions are based on travel on the 1 June 2022, leaving in the morning from Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof (main station).
Berlin to… Brandenburg’s Lakes and Forests
Let’s be honest, for all the articles (including this one) telling you how to travel across the country on the 9-Euro Ticket, the monthly pass is going to be most useful for day trips and weekend adventures. Luckily, Berlin is surrounded by fine places to hike, bike and swim. We’ll be using the ticket to get to and from our little house in Wiesenburg (1hr 10mins, no changes), where you can spend a day on the Kunstwanderweg to Bad Belzig (1hr, no changes).
Or use the ticket for a summer project, heading out each weekend to do another stage or two on the 66-Lake-Trail, a 400km route around Greater Berlin where each of the 17 stages have been designed to start and finish with public transport. Stage starting points include Potsdam (35mins, no change), Strausberg (52 mins, no change) and Bad Saarow (1hr 28min, change in Fürstenwalde).
Berlin to… The Baltic coast
The Baltic coast is one of our favourite destinations, a place we have managed to visit nearly every year over the past couple of decades. All along the coast you’ll find lovely beach towns, resorts, campsites and plenty of land and water-based fun and games. For a day on the beach, Warnemünde would take 3hrs 12 mins with one change in Rostock. For the ancient forests and chalk cliffs of the Jasmund National Park on Rügen island, the journey to Sassnitz would take 4hrs 12mins, with one change in Stralsund.
The Baltic Sea Coast Hiking Trail is 400km and part of the E9 long-distance path. Walking west to east, the trail starts in Travemünde (5hrs 18mins, change in Bad Kleinen and Lübeck) and finishes in Ahlbeck on Usedom island (4hrs 02mins, change in Züssow), just a few kilometres from the Polish border.
Berlin to… Saxony’s Sandstone Mountains
Berlin’s mountain-lovers have a tough time of it. With our city located in the flatlands of northern Germany, high places are always a bit of a trek away. But the beautiful sandstone outcrops of Saxon Switzerland are a hikers and climbers paradise and have always been doable for a weekend trip. Admittedly, that was by taking the fast train to Prague, but you can still get some spectacular views on the 9-Euro Ticket if you have a bit of time.
Bad Schandau is a fine base for exploring (4hrs 37mins, change in Elsterwerda, Dresden and Pirna) and Pirna (4hrs 3mins, change in Elsterwerda and Dresden) is the trailhead for the Malerweg, an 116km hiking trail through the hills usually tackled in eight stages.
Berlin to… The Fairy Tale Harz Mountains
The Harz Mountains stand in the centre of Germany, a collection of forested mountains and deep valleys that hold within them some of the most famous legends and fairy tales of German history and culture. The highest point is the Brocken, the stage set for a witches’ dance in Goethe’s Faust and as good a place as any to see the Spectre named for its slopes. Follow the Heinrich-Heine-Weg from Ilsenburg (3hrs 18mins, change in Magdeburg) to the top.
A great way to get a sense of the Harz landscape is to follow the Harz Witches’ Trail, a 5-stage and 94km route following former trade ways through the mountains. The route starts in Osterode (4hrs 54mins, change in Magdeburg and Braunschweig) and finishes in Thale (3hrs 31mins, change in Magdeburg), taking in the Brocken summit along the way.
Berlin to… The Lakes of Sauerland
It was actually on a road trip through western Germany that we discovered the Sauerland region in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, but the ‘land of 1000 mountains’ (as the local tourism agency calls it) is – with a lot of time if you are travelling from Berlin – accessible by local transport. We spent our days on the shores of Biggesee, a reservoir surrounded by forests that was a great spot for walking, running, cycling and getting out on the water. A good base is the town of Attendorn (9hrs 31mins with 8 changes!), where you can also explore the striking caverns of the Attahöhle caves.
If it takes around nine hours to get there, you might want to hang around for a while. The Rothaarsteig is one of northern Germany’s finest upland hiking trails, or try the Brilon Ridge Trail – a 50km circular walk. Both are accessible via Brilon itself (8hrs 47mins, 6 changes).
Berlin to… The Alps
And finally… yes of course, the Alps. The highest places in Germany stand right on the border to Austria, which means of course this is about as far as you can get from Berlin without actually leaving the country. But if you are one for adventure, start your trip to the mountains with an epic cross-country journey on your 9-Euro Ticket. After all, isn’t it important to make the travel part of the experience?
If you’re willing to put in the time, the options for outdoor adventure are endless. For Schloss Neuschwanstein, head to Füssen (11hrs 40mins, 4 changes) at the foot of the Alps. To climb Germany’s highest mountain – the Zugspitze – you’ll need to take the train to Garmisch-Partenkirchen (11hrs 09mins, 4 changes). For some of the most beautiful Alpine scenery, head to Berchtesgaden (17hrs 04mins, 7 changes) and the banks of Lake Königssee.
To be honest though, if your aim is the Alps then it might be worth thinking about splashing out and taking a fast train at least some of the way. With a bit of planning you can get good deals on a fast train to Munich or Ulm, and from there you can still use your 9-Euro Ticket to get around.