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10 day train travel in Germany

We are looking at touring Germany for 10-12 days by train only(at least where we can). The cities and areas of interest would include Desden, Nuremberg, Munich, Salzburg, Rothenburg, Bavaria and maybe even the Rhine. Is this possible? Any suggestions? Thanks so much.

Posted by
6539 posts

You need to narrow down by what you mean by "Bavaria" since it is a whole region. All the other places you mention can be reached easily and comfortably by rail if that's what you're asking.

Posted by
16464 posts

Nuremberg, Munich, Salzburg, Rothenburg, Bavaria and maybe even the Rhine.

Bavaria does not touch the Rhine (unless you are counting the Bodensee), but the other cities are all in Bavaria, or in the case of Salzburg, within the transport district, and you can use Bayern Tickets, regional day tickets. https://www.bahn.com/en/view/offers/regional/regional-day-tickets.shtml

So yes, it makes a lot of sense to travel Germany using only trains, and sometimes buses.

Posted by
5507 posts

Are you locked into using specific airports? You'd probably be wise to fly into one and out of another (open jaws) to minimize your ground travel time. With 12 nights, you are spread pretty thin for all those destinations, even without a final return trip to your fly-in airport.

When are you traveling? How many people? Ages? If you're looking for specific itinerary/ticket/pass advice, this information matters.

Posted by
34 posts

Looking for traveling in July with family of 4. Youngest ages are 15 and 17. Yes, flying into one airport and departing another makes sense. Thank you.

Posted by
5507 posts

So you have 4 adults in the eyes of DB (German Railways.) Here's a plan that would work for me - you can use it as a template and make adjustments to suit your needs.

Day 1-3: Fly into FRA, train (sample fare for 4 adults is €28.30 on an RMV group day ticket to Rhine town (3 nights, w/ local day trips by regional train, and using Bingen as a Rhine town base ; 2 day trips by train in Rhine/Mosel region for castle tours and other towns on the Rhineland-Palatinate ticket at €39/day for 4)

Day 1 is often a day of grogginess after an international flight - don't expect to accomplish much.

Day 4-5: Morning of Day 4 on the Rhine. Train to Dresden (5.75 hrs in pm, 2 nights; Leave Bingen 15:54, arrive Dresden 21:35. €29 each for pre-purchased saver fare from DB)

Night #5, plus 1 day and night, plus part of Day 6, in Dresden only

Day 6-9: Train (4.5 hrs, regional trains, €68/4 on Day Ticket for Germany; depart 15:52, arrive 20:22) to Nuremberg (4 nights, w/ day trips by regional train to Rothenburg + Bamberg... or + Bad Windsheim... or + 2nd day in Nuremberg' €43/day/4 on a Bavaria Ticket)

You'll have 1 day for each destination. Price of €68 is for a weekday; Sat or Sun price is €52.

Day 10-12: Morning train (2 hrs on regional trains, €43/4 on a Bavaria Ticket day pass; depart 9:10, arrive 11:03) to Munich (3 nights, w/ 1 day trip by regional train to Salzburg on Bavaria Ticket - €43/4)

You'll have most of day 10 in Munich + 1 additional full day for Munich... also 1 day for trip to Salzburg and back.

This prices out at €462 total assuming the maximum number of trips you might have.
Rail passes: €1066 total for 4 adults on two 10-day twin pass flexi German Rail passes in 2nd class from DB. Consecutive day pass for 10 days/4 is €948.

The ticket from Rhine town to Dresden needs to be purchased asap for the best price. Prices rise as tickets sell.
Every other ticket/day pass can be bought at the station from a ticket machine.

Posted by
34 posts

Russ, thank you for this detailed intinarary. Useful information to me plan our trip. I really appreciate it.
Dave

Posted by
2 posts

We are looking to visit friends near Dortmund, and then travel down from there over a 7 day period. We are completely open, but have tentatively laid out Ruedesheim and maybe Bacharach, Heidelberg, Lindau, Innsbruck, Salzburg and on the 8th day train to Frankfurt to fly home. Are these the highlights of the area, or should we consider alternatives? We love the Altstadt character of European towns, enjoy the scenery and just wandering around the streets of these beautiful towns, little cafes and vineyards. Suggestions please? We are travelling by train.

Posted by
12793 posts

Hi,

In that area I would suggest the Altstadt of Düsseldorf, or try Neuss if you prefer smaller place.

Posted by
5507 posts

"highlights of the area..." Those are popular places, Carolivey1. But with 7 days I think you are trying to cover too many miles spending far too much time getting from place to place. Try a smaller travel loop that starts/ends near Frankfurt?

"We love the Altstadt character of European towns, enjoy the scenery and just wandering around the streets of these beautiful towns, little cafes and vineyards..."

You'll find many castles just to the north of Rüdesheim, some of which are open for tours while others are now hotels. Here's a castle map. R'heim is an attractive town but also tour bus stop - lots of trinkets, very crowded with international tourists - so maybe TOO popular. There are several very nice Rhine River towns where you might stay... Boppard is a good choice. Boppard offers a large number of accommodations and dining choices, some nice spots to try local wines, and a good location for doing short train outings and a cruise. Take the Boppard chairlift ride and then walk to Gedeonseck terrace for some great scenery and some refreshments. On the same side of the river just south of Boppard are St. Goar (Rheinfels Castle, self-guded tour) as well as Oberwesel (wine town, old town wall and towers) and Bacharach. So if you stay in Boppard, these other towns are at your doorstep.

River cruising past the vineyards and castles is a prime reason people visit the MRV. To see the best part: from Boppard you would first catch a train south through St. Goar, Oberwesel and Bacharach to Bingen, then catch a cruise boat 2.3 hours back to Boppard.

From Boppard you can also catch a train into the Mosel River Valley. Three stand-out places there come to mind... Cochem... Winningen... Burg Eltz Castle

Marksburg Castle is in Braubach, just across the river from Boppard and north (a 7-min. train ride from Filsen) - great tour and a glimpse at everyday medieval life. Braubach's Market square is a nice spot for a meal.

You could spend a week or more in/near Boppard. But I'd suggest 3-4 nights and a stay elsewhere for 3-4 nights. Heidelberg wouldn't be my first choice but it's not a bad one. It's more city than town, but there are some nice places on the "Bergstrasse" route within a 30-minute train ride; these and Heidelberg are close enough to FRA airport for night #7:
Ladenburg
Heppenheim
Weinheim

And Bad Wimpfen is upstream from Heidelberg.

Posted by
1705 posts

Day 6-9: Nuremberg (4 nights, w/ day trips by regional train to Rothenburg + Bamberg... or + Bad Windsheim... or + 2nd day in Nuremberg' €43/day/4 on a Bavaria Ticket)

Those trips can be covered by a VGN Tagesticket Plus for €19.10. The VGN is more family friendly than DB and considers children as such. Moreover, if a weekend falls into days 6-9, the ticket is valid for the entire weekend.

Posted by
5507 posts

Yes, the VGN "Tagesticket Plus" is a better choice for your family's outings from Nuremberg - I was indeed thinking 4 adults as DB defines them.

The weekend advantage mentioned above is accurate. And there is also a weekDAY advantage for the VGN day pass - unlike the Bavaria/Bayern Ticket, valid on weekdays only after 9 am, the VGN pass can be used at any hour Mon - Fri.

Also, about Dresden...Bingen-Dresden-Nuremberg requires 10+ train hours. Dresden-Nuremberg cost you only 3.5 hours. How important is Dresden? If you drop it, you could apply Days 4-5 to your Nuremberg and/or Munich stays, or see another place along your route (Wuerzburg? Regensburg?) OR... You might find that flights into and out of FRA are substantially cheaper than if you use MUC airport at the end - and you would have the extra time you need for a train trip back to FRA after Munich.

Posted by
34 posts

Thank you again for the valuable input. I would like to keep travel times as little as is possible for the places we want to see. Between Dresden and Nuremberg is one better? Also, is Salzburg with the time?

Posted by
5507 posts

Answers to your question will of course be subjective. I like Nuremberg better but that's in part because you have so many good day trip choices nearby, and because Nuremberg is a smaller city with 1/3 the population of Dresden. I generally prefer smaller cities that are negotiable mostly on foot. And if you stay in Dresden instead of Nuremberg, you will still be spending lots of extra train hours getting to and from there on your way to Munich. You may find Earl Steinbicker's guide to Nuremberg helpful - it includes a walking route through the city.

I like Salzburg myself. Worth a day IMO, but you'll probably want to leave early and return late.

Posted by
1705 posts

Nuremberg is a smaller city with 1/3 the population of Dresden.

So we are shrinking rapidly - yesterday we were just over 500.000 (Dresden: 550.000) ;)

Posted by
24 posts

Although the cities of Nürnberg and Dresden are roughly the same population, the Nürnberg metro is about 3 times the population of the Dresden metro.

Saying Nürnberg is a smaller city than Dresden is like saying Boston is a smaller city than Austin.

Posted by
5507 posts

Looks like I have a sloppy memory for Nuremberg's actual population. I do remember Dresden feeling much larger than Nuremberg when I was there - and that I enjoyed Nuremberg more - such a nice old town zone for wandering through.

"Between Dresden and Nuremberg is one better?"

dpucci95, ignore my misinformation on the population and have a look at the specific sightseeing goals you have for those two places. We don't really know how you landed on those two choices or what might interest you the most in each. IMO it would also be worth looking carefully at the satellite day trip options around Nuremberg as you weigh your choice... Bamberg is a UNESCO World Heritage site for its fine old town zone. Bad Windsheim's open-air museum provides a fascinating peek at local rural life over the last 5-6 centuries. Iphofen is wine/art walled town 45 minutes from Nuremberg - and wildly charming.

What do your fellow travelers think? If Dresden holds more for you than Nuremberg and the rest, perhaps it's worth the extra travel time.

Posted by
171 posts

I know that you want to travel "by train only (at least where we can)", but do you have a reason for not wanting to do this trip by rental car? You could rent a car in Frankfurt and return it in Munich for about the same money as by traveling by train. You would then have complete flexibility in where and when you want to travel. In addition you would not need to take the odd taxi to locations that are not served by train.

Posted by
1705 posts

You could rent a car in Frankfurt and return it in Munich for about the same money as by traveling by train.

For four people, you need a VW Golf or the like at a minimum. Rental for 12 days incl. CDW is approx. €600 (just looked up at Avis), gas approx. €130, parking fees approx. €120.

Posted by
34 posts

I may consider renting a car. My initial thought was to use the train so not to worry about directions, getting lost, and any lack of ease driving in the various towns. Thanks for the research!
One last request for everyone: if you had to list the top 5 towns/destinations in Bavaria what would they be? Is Salzburg worth a day trip? Thanks!

Posted by
16464 posts

Nuremberg is a rail hub, and it is in Bavaria. So nearby towns can be visited with a VGN Tageskarte Plus, and further away with a Bayern Ticket. And it has its own attractions.

Posted by
171 posts

One last request for everyone: if you had to list the top 5 towns/destinations in Bavaria what would they be? Is Salzburg worth a day trip? Thanks!

My five would be:

Munich: Residenz, Nymphenberg, Museums, Flight connections.

Nuremberg: Old town, Nazi Rally Grounds, Documentation Center, court house, Medieval castle.

Rothenberg ob der Tauber: Old Town, Cathedral altarpiece, night watchman tour.

Berchtesgaden: Documentation Center, Eagle's Nest

Fussen: Neushwanstein, Wieskirche, Linderhof Palace

and, yes I would visit Salzburg in combination with Berchtesgaden.

Posted by
1705 posts

Munich: skip the Residenz (you are visiting Nymphenburg anyway) and replace it by some fine churches: St. Michael, Bürgersaal, Theatinerkirche and (not to be missed - a small but outstandig example of Bavarian Roccoco) Asamkirche.

Nürnberg: Old town and castle are a unit; the Nazi Rally Grounds is a large dreary and desolate area: I'd concentrate on Hitlers unfinished Congress Hall (the best preserved specimen of the megalomanic and depressing Nazi architecture) and on the Documentation Center in it's NE wing. Access is by tram No. 9 from the main station. NB. check in advance whether the court room is accessible; it's still in use for trials.

Rothenburg addenda: walk on the walls, town hall tower. If you have a car: Creglingen Herrgottskirche (20km N), hosts the best altar by Riemenschneider.

Berchtesgaden: Lake Königssee (outstanding!)

Füssen: Tegelberg funicular and walking down to Neuschwanstein (great views) (Wieskirche and Linderhof are doable from Füssen only with a car).

Posted by
34 posts

Thank you to all for the outstanding ideas and suggestions. Very helpful in planning. The Rick Steve's team and community is the best! Keep the suggestions coming.