Europa Spezial

Saskia

Well-Known Member
I have used these tickets - but I live in Germany.
They are a great deal, but they have certain limitations: You are restricted to the connection you've booked, tickets are available 3 months (92 days) in advance and up to 3 (or 2?) days before departure, tickets at these prices are limited - a certain number are available online, another block is sold at the counters and a third block is available from the vending machines.
Your biggest problem is your bike, when you book online. You pay an additional 10 Euros for your bike (to or from Germany, if you don't cross a border it's a bit cheaper) . And you need to make a reservation for the bike. Bike spaces are limited and can be in high demand at peak travel times. Bike reservations can be made up to 1 day before departure (or was it two?), after that, it's up to the conductor whether you can board with your bike. What I don't know is whether you can make the bike reservation and pay for the ticket online and how to do this from outside of the country if you can't. (Maybe there's a hotline in Britain or an office in London?)
I go to the station, make the reservation for the bike (to make sure there's still space for it) and then buy the ticket for myself from the machine or at home online. (Purchasing at the counter usually entails a surcharge. Although sometimes there's a sale and the surcharge is waived.)
As far as I know, the tickets to and from London are all on Eurostar and probably ICE within Germany. You would be subject to the restrictions of the Eurostar. ICE don't take bikes at all.
If I were trying to take a bike from London, I'd use British rail service in Britain to Harwich, ferry from Harwich to Hoek, then the train from HOek to wherever in Germany. Alternatively, you could take the ferry to IJmuiden (from Hull, I think), local train or cycle to Amsterdam and then train to Germany.
 
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Yorksman

Senior Member
If I were trying to take a bike from London, I'd use British rail service in Britain to Harwich, ferry from Harwich to Hoek, then the train from HOek to wherever in Germany. Alternatively, you could take the ferry to IJmuiden (from Hull, I think), local train or cycle to Amsterdam and then train to Germany.
Thanks for the info. That's very useful, especially about the bike restrictions.

I live in the north and wouldn't bother with London. Easiest for me is Hull to Rotterdam or Hull to Zeebrugge. There is a ticket from Bruges to Hannover for 44 euro. If I wanted to do the Weser Radweg, that would be ideal.
 

Saskia

Well-Known Member
When I try to call up a connection from Bruges to Hannover for a bike, I draw a blank. The only Europa Spezial connection (for 49 Euros) uses an ICE, so you couldn't transport a bike.
The Weser Radweg starts in Hann. Münden and doesn't go through Hannover.
I would take a train from Rotterdam to Hann Münden (for 39 Euros). But remember: Your problem will be the reservation for the bike.
If you take just local trains, you avoid the hassle with the reservation, but you spend more for an individual ticket (less for the bike) and the journey takes considerably longer with train changes that are not for the faint of heart. If you're traveling in a group, you can save quite a bit of money with group tickets.
If you need more information let me know. Also for information on the Weser Radweg - we cycled it two years ago and live in the area.
 
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Yorksman

Senior Member
Thanks for the offer of info. I am used to the local state tickets, like the Niedersachsen ticket but had never seen the europa spezial before. A big problem now is the cost and the lack of suitable ferries. Some are as expensive as taking a car, because they make their money on the cabin charge. It is cheaper to fly and hire a bike but it depends on when you travel and the size of a group, if any. For my first trip, I intend to fly to Hamburg, take the train to Schneverdingen, hire a bike and have a few days in one hotel cycling around the Lüneburger Heide. I think I'd do similar for the Weserradweg, hire a bike in Hamburg, take the train to Hann Münden, and then add some days on to cycle along the Elbe to Hamburg to return the bike and fly back. But, the europa spezial is a good option for someone who wants to use their own beloved bike.

I used to visit an old friend in Rinteln. It must be a nice river to cycle along.
 
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