Long Distance Bus: MeinFernbus
For sure the cheapest and most flexible way if you need to travel to another German city or even abroad.
There used to be two major bus companies besides some smaller ones being MeinFernbus and Flixbus, but these two merged some months ago into Germany’s undisputed market leader.
At the moment, you still see both company names on the busses which leave and arrive near the central station of all greater German cities.
If you need to travel further to a smaller city, you easily get a good connection from there on to your final destination.
Besides German destinations, many greater European cities are constantly being added to the road map which makes MeinFernbus a real alternative to train and plane.
The ticket purchase is quickly done via the MeinFernbus website or the MeinFernbus app. Payment with credit card or paypal is possible.
Check the MeinFernbus website for special rates for children and disabled persons.
You can also buy your ticket from the bus driver but that’s more expensive and at the moment only possible in cash.
As seats are limited this is risky too – worst case you don’t get a place.
Two pieces of luggage (in total not more than 30kg) and an additional bag or backpack is free.
If space allows it, a third piece can be checked-in but this has to be confirmed via hotline first.
Be sure to be at the bus stop 15 minutes before departure and don’t forget to take your passport or ID with you in case that you should be travelling abroad.
Flixbus vs. Deutsche Bahn (train)
Price and flexibility
Big advantage for Flixbus.
Ticket prices are a lot cheaper and don’t depend on how many days you book the fare in advance like the prices of travelling with the Deutsche Bahn do.
Cancelling a ticket can be done until 15min before the trip and will be refunded in form of a coupon whereas cancelling a train ticket will be charged so that’s a big point for Flixbus regarding flexibility and price.
Service and comfort
Space in the bus can be quite limited if it’s fully booked and if the guy in front of you decides to take a sleep and lean back the seat, you even can’t use your laptop properly.
In some busses free WLAN is already available and each one of the busses has a board toilet.
During the trip, beverages and snacks are being sold.
One thing you can be sure about when going by bus: if you have a ticket, you will get a seat.
Trains are more spacey and allow you to walk around which is very pleasant especially on longer trips.
At the moment, WLAN is only available in ICE trains and is now gradually introduced in IC trains as well.
Most trains have an over-priced board restaurant.
Travelling by train at peak times can be a real pain the a… and owning a ticket doesn’t always mean getting a seat, even if you have paid for a reservation.
Connections and stations
Flixbus also wins this category.
The bus stations are mostly located near the towns’ central stations and the ride only has very few stopovers unlike the Deutsche Bahn – here trains can stop in each and every single city or even worse village along the route and often a direct connection doesn’t exist which means changing trains several times isn’t a curiosity but normal.
Summary long-distance bus vs. train
Aaand we have a winner: Flixbus.
If you have the choice, we would always recommend going by long distance bus rather than by train.
It’s a lot cheaper and due to the fair pricing policy you can book cheap tickets only some hours in advance unlike Deutsche Bahn where you have to plan your trips several weeks in advance to get the best price.
On top of that, Flixbus is not as unpunctual as the Deutsche Bahn – but keep in mind the current border controls on the Autobahn when entering Germany from direction Austria which will cause delays.