Hamburg to Copenhagen by Train and Ferry

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Germany to Denmark, train on the ferry crossing the Baltic Sea

Germany to Denmark, train on the ferry crossing the Baltic Sea. Photos by Lily Leung.

Taking the train from Hamburg to Copenhagen – did you know the train goes in a ferry (not over bridge) to cross the Baltic Sea?

A few days ago my travel companion and I spontaneously decided at 9:30am to catch the 1:12pm train for a 3 day trip to Copenhangen from Berlin via Hamburg. I knew getting to Copenhagen from Germany required crossing the Baltic Sea, but I assumed the train would travel go over a bridge.

To my surprise, the train actually goes into a ferry at the port in Germany, and then exits the ferry once it arrives in Denmark.

Here’s how it works:
- Train enters the bottom deck of the ferry (there are tracks), along with other vehicles
- Passengers exit the train and go 2 floors up to the ferry decks for the 45 minute journey
- When the ferry nears the port, passengers board the train again
- Train exits the holding area of the ferry and continues onward in Denmark

Outside deck on the ferry. Great view of the Baltic Sea.

Outside deck on the ferry. Great view of the Baltic Sea.

For more photos of this train ride and ferry crossing, see my Facebook page.

Cool sights during the ferry crossing

The ferry was relatively large, carrying the train plus multiple lanes of trucks and vehicles. It also had a range of shops and even multiple decks on board.

  • Ferry amenities - multiple restaurants/cafeterias, “duty free” shops, in-door areas with views of the sea, plus large outdoor decks
  • Beautiful scenery – groups of seagulls soaring alongside the ferry, view of the sparkling dark blue Baltic Sea and other ferries/boats
  • Off-shore wind farms in the distance – this was the most interesting sight for me. I’ve seen a handful of wind turbines on land, so seeing massive wind farms on the water was completely new to me. Apparently 19% of electricity in Denmark is generated by wind power (See Wind power in Denmark).

Denmark off-shore wind farms, turbines on the Baltic Sea

Denmark off-shore wind farms, turbines on the Baltic Sea


Comfortable in-door lounge on ferry, Germany to Denmark

Comfortable in-door lounge in ferry, Germany to Denmark

Berlin to Copenhagen in 1st Class

The novelty of crossing the Baltic Sea by boat was the highlight of this journey (45 min out of a 7 hour trip), but the train rides were enjoyable as well. The German “ICE” (Intercity Express) trains were very sleek on the outside and comfortable on the inside.

We used a travel day of our Eurail Global Pass and sat in first class. By default the adult Eurail Global Pass covers first class, adult = 26 years old or above. See the Eurail website for more information on the Global Pass.

What we got with our 1st class seats:

  • Hamburg to Copenhagen: Free snack (extra large Twix, Snickers, M&Ms, croissant)
  • Hamburg to Copenhagen: Free and unlimited tea, coffee and/or sparkling water
  • FIFA World Cup chocolates
  • As usual, extra space – 3 chairs per row in first class vs. 4 chairs per row in 2nd class
  • Tables in 1st class are actual tables in front of the seat, was great for using our MacBooks. In 2nd class it’s mostly tables that fold down, like on airplanes.
German ICE Intercity Express train, Copenhagen station

German ICE Intercity Express train, Copenhagen station

Practical information

Duration and train schedule

  • Total duration – Berlin to Copenhagen was 7 hours
    - Berlin to Hamburg: 1 hour 40 min
    - Connection: 35 min
    - Hamburg to Copenhagen: 4 hours 45 min
  • Multiple trains daily – between Berlin and Copenhagen trains leave 6-7 times a day. Most routes require a connection in Hamburg. There is also one direct train per day from Berlin to Copenhagen that leaves at 11:26 and arrives at 18:31.

We took the 1:12pm train and arrived just after 8pm. 8pm sounds late, but in the summer the sun doesn’t set until around 10pm in Copenhagen so it was still bright when we arrived.


View Larger Map

Tips for the train/ferry crossing:

  • Getting ready for the crossing – The train station before you board the ferry is “Puttgarden” (Germany), and the train stop on the Danish side is “Roedby”. When you approach the station, the conductor will announce in German/Danish/English that you’ll need to exit the train.
  • Leaving belongings on the train – the train will be locked by the conductor once everyone exits. I left my large backpack in the train but took my valuables with me.
  • Take a sweater – the outdoor deck of the ferry was quite windy.
  • Re-boarding the train – When the ferry nears the destination, you’ll hear an announcement to return to the train. Don’t wait until last minute to go back. I stayed a bit longer to take photos on the deck and then rushed back to the train. The train started about 30 seconds after I entered and I didn’t see the conductor do a head-count. I’m pretty sure the train would have left without me ;)
  • Boarding the wrong train – I believe there was only one track on the ferry, so no worries about boarding the wrong train and ending up in a different destination :)
German ICE train (left) on the ferry with vehicles (right)

German ICE train (left) on the ferry with vehicles (right)

Train prices with and without Eurail Global Pass

This route was definitely worth using a travel day of our Eurail Global Pass.

The standard fare just for 2nd class was 134.40 euros ($182), whereas our rail pass covers 1st class seats by default (212.80 euro standard price, $288).

Below is a comparison of ticket costs for 1st class, 2nd class, special fare (booked in advance), and standard fare, if we bought individual tickets instead of using our Eurail pass. Prices are one-way only and from Germany’s rail company website, bahh.de.

At the time of writing, 1 EURO = $1.36 CAD = $1.40 USD = $1.32 AUD

Berlin to Copenhagen Cost without Eurail pass Cost w/Eurail pass
1st class seat 212.80 euro, standard ($288)
99 euro & up, in-advance ($134)
0
2nd class seat 134.40 euro, standard ($177)
69 euro & up, in-advance ($91)
0
Seat reservation Not required Not required
Berlin to Copenhagen, sample one-way train ticket costs

Berlin to Copenhagen, sample one-way train ticket costs

If you’re stopping in Hamburg for a day(s) before Copenhagen, below are the prices for individual segments. Prices are one-way.

Berlin to Hamburg Cost without Eurail pass Cost w/Eurail pass
1st class seat 113 euro, standard ($153)
49 euro & up, in-advance ($66)
0
2nd class seat 70 euro, standard ($95)
29 euro & up, in-advance ($39)
0
Hamburg to Copenhagen Cost without Eurail pass Cost w/Eurail pass
1nd class seat 125.80 euro, standard ($171)
49 euro & up, in-advance ($66)
0
2st class seat 80.40 euro, standard ($109)
39 euro & up, in-advance ($53)
0
Seat reservation Not required Not required

The train from Hamburg to Copenhagen was probably the most interesting ride to-date on my Eurail Global Pass. Although this route isn’t officially listed as a scenic route on Eurail.com, I would consider the Baltic Sea crossing to be beautiful, plus you experience the novelty of getting on a ferry via a train!

>> What’s the coolest train or ferry ride you’ve taken? Have you ever been on a train that went on a ferry? Leave your comments below!

For more photos of this train ride and ferry crossing, see my Facebook page.

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  • indianadeb2000

    my husband and i were stationed in germany back in the 70′s. when a couple wanted to get married copenhagen denmark was the place to go. we took a train from frankfurt to hamburg germany, the train pulled onto the ferry on the lower deck and we got to get off the train and go to the upper deck of the ferry…beautiful sight it was..when we pulled into copenhagen the trained unboarded the ferry…it was a wonderful experience…for the record…my husband and i are still together…3 children and 6 grandchildren later….

  • Allenjands

    hi Lily
    We are looking at the Hamburg/Copenhagen trip next year then a 12 day tour from Copenhagen to Stockholm. We then want to travel Stockholm to Amsterdam by rail, not sure about a stopover or connections etc. We are seniors and only travel through the day, any recommendations.
    Cheers
    Jeff

  • Langlinda

    Does the train go from Copenhagen to Hamburg?  Does anyone have details? How far in advance must we reserve?  Thank you.

  • Emma

    thank you for the info.. keep on travelling.. 

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Thanks Emma, hope you found the article helpful :)

      - Lily

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  • Nguyenluuly

    our group experienced the same, it was fasfinated in every one of us, it was a life time experienced enhancing, how could a long train could fit inside of a ferry/boat? how can to explain to some one else about it, they think we are talking crazy. if we could we will do it again.

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Hi Nguyenluuly,

      Incredible isn’t it? It would have been great if there was free time between when the train boards the ferry and when the ferry departs – it would be fantastic to walk further away to get a photo of how large the ferry is!

      Thanks for stopping by!
      - Lily

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  • http://www.mappamundi.co.uk Rich Davies

    From Brussels-Midi to Berlin Hbf was one of the most amazing rides for me on ICE (with a changeover in Cologne).  The Eurostar is always a treat, and one of the most unusual rides was from Berlin Hbf to Kiev Pass on an Ukrainian sleeper train – 23 hours!

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Hi Rich,

      Wow, Berlin to Ukraine – that’s sounds like an epic journey! Was it a direct train and any interesting stories for the border crossing?

      - Lily

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  • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

    Hi Sarah,

    The trip is going well, I’m in Barcelona at the moment and heading to Belgium tomorrow. Thanks for your compliment on the photos, it means a lot coming from someone like yourself who takes incredible photographs!

    - Lily

  • http://twitter.com/HPStorageGuy Calvin Zito

    I have a business trip to Copenhagen in October and my wife has family near Hamburg.  We won’t have Eurail passes but looks like this might be a good way to get to Copenhagen.  I found your blog post as I was searching Google. 

    Only question I’ll need to look at is what it costs to fly.  We’ll have very limited time so if flying isn’t much more, might do that.

    Thanks for the info…

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Hi Calvin,

      Thanks for stopping by. Good luck with your trip to Copenhagen. In case you decide to take the train, the Bahn.de website (Germany’s national railway company) has good prices if you’re buying in advance. I just checked for middle of October and there’s a special fare for 49 euros one-way, second class.

      Have a great trip Calvin!
      - Lily 

  • http://twitter.com/swgraphic Sarah Wu

    Hey Lil, hows your trip.. that Ferry looks super neat and clean. Beautiful shots!

  • http://www.europeindependenttravel.com Heidi

    Thanks for making me aware of all these options. I’ve yet to make it to Denmark.

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Hi Heidi,

      I’ve only been to Copenhagen (which I loved), but I hear the rest of Denmark is quite beautiful too. Let me know if there’s any trip information I might be able to help you with later :)

      - Lily

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Annamart-Prevot/779238303 Annamart Prevot

    July 2009 my husband & I book a train trip from Prague to Denmark.  Hubby was wondering how we will cross the Baltic see , on google i found a site of a guy who described it in detail – you’re traveling by train  and the next moment it was like entering this dark tunnel, only then he realized he was actually in the ferry!  And so it happend !  This was one amazing trip , and also realizing how huge the ferry is.  All those cars , trucks , and the train.  I tried to count the vechicles and rows but could not succeed  “scared i would be left behind if i do not get into the train in time” !  Although it was rainy that day ,it was one amazing experience we would recommend anytime and we would love to do it again ! Wonderful and something different !

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Hi Annamart,

      Reading your comment just helped me re-live my train trip. I was so sure the crossing would be over a bridge, but being on a train, on a ferry is far cooler. It was great to be on the ferry deck, getting fresh air and being able to take photographs of the experience. 

      Thanks for sharing your memories with me :)
      - Lily

  • http://travelyestravel.blogspot.com Charmine

    Lily,this is a well thought out piece of writing with so much info.Pics are great too! I never heard of a train on a ferry crossing! But,I’ve traveled from Copenhagen to Malmo Sweden by train and on this route, part of the journey is on a bridge over the sea and the remaining part of the trip is UNDER THE SEA in a tunnel that exits in Malmo.That was awesome!

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Hi Charmine,

      Under the sea? That sounds really interesting! I considered going to Malmo from Copenhagen (I didn’t end up going), but if I knew the journey was underwater, I might have considered taking the trip just for that experience. 

      Thanks for letting me know about this – will definitely keep it in mind for next time ;)

      - Lily

  • Lynn

    I am going to Copenhagen in August, and thinking of doing something a little different. After reading your article I decided I would go via Hamburg just for the novelty of travelling in a train that goes on a ferry!!! Thanks for this! Where did you stay in Copenhagen?

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Hi Lynn,

      Hope you enjoy the train/ferry ride to Copenhagen :) We stayed in a dorm at City Public Hostel. If you’re looking for a hostel, there’s many more listed on hostelworld.com, but we went with this one because it was the only one near city centre that had availability (we went to Copenhagen on a whim and booked the accommodations the morning of).

      Copenhagen was really beautiful, so I hope you enjoy it! Let me know how it goes :)

      - Lily

  • http://www.youngandthrifty.ca Youngandthrifty

    Cool pictures!  I love that photo of the danish wind power! 

    If I ever go to the Baltic Sea, now I know where to look! :)

  • http://www.lisaoverman.com Lisa

    Great piece on the train/ferry journey to Denmark. I didn’t know that trains went on ferries either. My best ferry experience was in New Brunswick going to Grand Manan, I took a car ferry; It was cool also. Great info!

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Hi Lisa,

      That sounds like an interesting ferry experience! I’ve actually never been out to the east coast of Canada (I’m from Toronto) but I’ve heard so many great things about that area. I might have to arrange a trip there when I come home :)

      - Lily

  • http://www.aswetravel.com Sofia – As We Travel

    We were so surprised by that too, had no idea our train would go on a ferry – so cool!

  • http://twitter.com/waegook_tom Tom Stockwell

    The train goes on the ferry?! Never heard of that before! Great article, very interesting. Thanks for sharing :)

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Hi Tom,

      Never heard of this before either! A lot more interesting than a bridge crossing, that’s for sure :)

      - Lily

  • Anonymous

    Hey Lily, this is really informative. I once did this trip and made the mistake of waiting too long to board the train. When I finally ran down stairs I was on the opposite side of the train and the doors wouldn’t open. So I ran after the train and jumped this fence and finally caught up to it at the next station. Also, while on board the ferry, since I didn’t have any money and was starving I ended up eating the buffet leftovers. The food was really good! lol.

  • http://stophavingaboringlife.com Rob

    Loved the ferries in that part of the world. Glad to see you’re making the most of your Eurail pass, it’s awesome. Mine expires in 2 weeks, haven’t ticked off one day yet, sigh!

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Hi Rob,

      Ah, who need’s a Europe rail pass when you’re touring Jordan?! I’m loving your updates and beautiful desert/ancient ruin photos.

      - Lily

  • Peng Leong1

    Hi lily,
    Very good articles & beautiful photos,keep going ! I’m always in your side.

    -peng

  • Peng Leong1

      Lily,
    Very good article & beautiful photos,keep going !

    -peng

  • Smitha

    I thought I had misread the first photo caption, re-read it, & then decided it was a typo – till I kept on reading that is – a great & an informative post!

  • http://mellimage.blogspot.com Melli

    There is/was a plan to construct a bridge from Puttgarten to Roedby in the near future. I know there were a lot of protests, so I do not know if the plan still exists.

    anyways, very nice and interesting post from you. I’ve known about the connection to Copenhagen this way (had checked it out before). I am a German BahnCard user and collect Bonus points by riding trains. With these bonus points one can buy upgrades to first class. Seems like this route would be definitely worth the upgrade. I’ve used such upgrades from Leipzig to Greifswald (and back) several times and from Leipzig to Basel once. I do love the ICE.

    My coolest trip on a ferry was the trip from Warnemünde to Trelleborg in 2001. Back then the so called Clipper “Delphin” a highspeed ferry (passengers only) was still serving the route – 2.45 hours instead of 6. With a similar highspeed ferry we went from Malmö/Sweden to Copenhagen just a day later for a day-trip.

    How did you like Copenhagen?

  • http://www.budgettraveladventures.com/ Jeremy Branham

    Great information on taking the train and ferry.  I never would have considered that an option from Hamburg to Copenhagen.  I’ve seen shows on Copenhagen and seen those turbines.  Don’t they have one of the longest bridges in the world as well?

    As for the cost of the ticket, I am not sure the price difference in 1st and 2nd class is worth it though.

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Hi Jeremy,

      I hadn’t considered taking a train for a sea crossing either, but when we checked the German rail routes, it was listed there. I assumed it would be a bridge crossing, so the ferry was a pleasant surprise.

      Wikipedia’s list of longest bridges in the world does list a few Danish bridges, with the longest being 7.8km long to Sweden called “Öresund Bridge”. Sounds like it’d be a scenic bridge to drive over.

      If we were buying point-to-point tickets, we’d have gone with 2nd class. Our Eurail passes covered 1st class (all the adult Eurail Passes do by default), so we had to indulge in the spaciousness of 1st class ;) 

      - Lily

  • http://twitter.com/TravelingWithS Cathy Sweeney

    I had no idea about getting from Hamburg to Copenhagen like this. I would love to take this trip. Thanks for all the great detailed information.

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Hi Cathy,

      I had no idea you could get to Denmark like this either. I’d definitely recommend this sea crossing if you get a chance to go. I’m really curious to see what the designated “scenic” train routes look like, they must be even more gorgeous than this one!

      - Lily

  • http://twitter.com/eurotravelista Debbie Beardsley

    I bet that is an amazing thing to see – a train go on a ferry!  Looked like you had a beautiful day for a ferry crossing.

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Hi Debbie,

      It sure was an interesting experience. It would have extra cool if we could get out of the train BEFORE it went into the ferry, to view of how large the entire ferry is and where the train enters the ferry. But seeing the large trucks parked next to the train was definitely neat and something new :)

      - Lily

  • http://twitter.com/imheadingout david

    Wow, I never knew that trains were transported on ferries! What a great post. Interesting and very informative.

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Hi David,

      I didn’t know trains go on ferries either, although I’ve seen vehicles transported this way before. It was definitely an interesting experience. I’m glad we weren’t allowed to stay on the train during the sea crossing, I would have missed the gorgeous view from the deck!

      - Lily

      • Rafael Landea

        Hi Lily,
        Do you have a website for the ferry Copenhagen-Hamburg? I can’t find it. Thanks!

      • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

        Hi Rafael,

        I believe the ferry company is called Scandlines and two towns/ports the ferry travels between in Germany and Denmark are called Puttgarden and Rodby (see http://www.scandlines.com/tickets-and-prices/tickets-and-prices/puttgarden-rodby).

        However, if you’re on the train from Copenhagen to Hamburg, you don’t need to buy the ferry ticket separately; you just need to purchase the train ticket.

        Hope that helps!
        - Lily