Getting around Germany

Famed and feared for their organizational brilliance on and off the pitch, it does not come as a major surprise that Germany's infrastructure provides rail, air and car travelers with a flurry of excellent inter-city connections.

As you might have heard before, German highways do not have a speed limit. We're not saying you should rent a Mercedes, BMW or Porsche to speed down the Autobahn, but it would at least give you the mobility and flexibility to visit a few of our must-see non-soccer sights. Driving all the way from Hamburg in the north to Munich in the south would take you between seven and eight hours, while a trip from the Western parts (Cologne, Gelsenkirchen, Dortmund) to Berlin can be done in five or six hours. A special colour on your match ticket will guide you from the Autobahn all the way to your nearest stadium parking lot.

If you try to avoid the usual rush-hour traffic jams, why don't you catch a train? The Deutsche Bahn has come up with a variety of special World Cup offers. The "Weltmeister-Pass" gives you unlimited rail travel from June 7 to July 11. It costs 349 euros in the second and 549 euros in the first class. You can travel as much as you like without worrying about drinking too much beer. The connections are real fast, with ICE (inter-city express) trains driving over 300 kilometres per hour. Cologne-Frankfurt is just 75 minutes, while Hamburg-Munich only takes six hours. Each World Cup city has brilliant connections to rest of Germany. You can check times and availabilities at www.bahn.de.

If you're lucky and have a match ticket, you can purchase the so-called Weltmeister-Ticket. Alluding to the years when Germany won its three World Cups, a return trip to your match will either cost you 54 euros if the distance to venue is below 200 kilometres, 74 euros (below 350 km) or 90 euros (350+ km).

Match tickets will grant you free local transportation at the day of the match in your respective venue, by the way.

Germany borders with nine countries, so you might wish to include a visit to another European destination after the tournament. One of the best inventions of the new millennium are lowfare airlines, and all of them prepare for a lot of World Cup travelers.

It's possible to fly from Berlin to Moscow for just 29 euros -- but only if you book early. Same with the World Cup travel: Air Berlin offers tons of cheap domestic flights (around 50 euros) all over the country, while Flydba connects Cologne, Dusseldorf, Munich, Berlin and Hamburg as well as Frankfurt, Dresden, Nurnberg, Stuttgart, Bremen and Hanover. Germanwings offers flights from Cologne to Munich, Dresden and Berlin for only 19 euros, while HLX flies from Cologne to Hamburg and Berlin.

Fares have gone up in recent weeks but there are still many flights left, so if you decide to travel by plane, all you have to do is book as soon as you can.

For inter-city bus transfers, it might be best to check with the local tourist information offices as offers vary. Alternatively, you could try to hitchhike. Lots of people are sharing their cars online at www.mitfahrzentrale.de or www.car-pool.co.uk.

As a native of Germany, Johannes Berendt can't wait for the World Cup to start. He covers international sports for the British Press Association and ESPN SportsTicker.

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