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Frankfurt Hahn (HHN) to Frankfurt am Main (FRA) Newbie FAIL! Help!

Planning our first trip to Europe - doing Rick Steve's BOE 14 days. After our RS tour, we are planning some traveling on our own in Germany to find out where my relatives are from.

A dear, well-traveled friend, suggested the Hopper app for cheap airfare within Europe, and noticed a deal for $52 from Rome to Frankfurt. My first thought was "Oh Wow! Quicker and cheaper than the train!" So I booked it.
Today as I looked closer, I noticed that it doesn't fly to Frankfurt am Main (FRA), the big well-known international airport, but it flies into the smaller, less convenient Frankfurt Hahn (HHN) airport, 75 miles away from (FRA).

Our plan was when we get to Frankfurt, to rent a car (pre-arranged with Costco travel) and drive along the Rhine, stopping at Bacharach, hopping on the KD line to St. Goar and back, and spending the night in Bacharach. (Possibly saving the cruise for next day if too tired from travel)

The following day (2) we would (either take the Rhine Cruise if we didn't the day before or) drive to Koblenz, see Deutches Eck quickly, then check in at our hotel in Cochem. Look around Cochem.

The following day (3) would be a visit to Munstermaifeld, where my Great-Great Grandpa was from, and a little drive to Burg Eltz. We would also spend this night in Cochem.

The following day (4) we planned to drive back to Frankfurt (FRA), return the rental car, and fly home.

So, now with my little snafu.... Costco Travel does not work with (HHN). I looked into renting a car directly at the airport there, and the reviews are absolutely terrible.

My son suggested flying from HHN, to FRA, and it looks like there are no flights between the two airports. Am I missing something?

I am learning a hard lesson, that you get what you pay for. If money were no object, I'd have everything booked and paid for using well known top of the line airlines, and fancy hotels that have rave reviews, but this trip is such a big expense for us already, and I'm trying to save where I can. I'm wondering now if I should just forget about renting a car, and take a train or bus from the airport (HHN) to Bacharach, just rely on public transportation for the rest of the trip... will we be able to fit it all in using public transportation? I know we may have to pass on Burg Eltz, as it will be during the week.

Since we don't travel often, I'm hoping someone can suggest something I may be missing. I would love any input / feedback / suggestions / ideas you have!

Thanks so much!

Posted by
4568 posts

No worries. You have not made some horrible mistake. Hahn is a great little airport and public transport is generally easy and cheap. Münstermaifeld may or may not be a small hitch - we'll see. (Do you have an old homestead address there? Specific destinations in town? How much time do you need there?)

Please indicate the date and time for your arrival at Hahn and for your departure from FRA. I will likely suggest a reverse route (Hahn - Cochem - St. Goar/Bacharach - FRA airport) and will look into the details.

I hope you are open to the idea of cruising not just half the scenic part (Bacharach - St. Goar) but the entire section (Bingen - Bacharach - St. Goar) - no sense in shortchanging yourselves.

Posted by
4698 posts

I looked into renting a car directly at the airport there, and the reviews are absolutely terrible.

I have no idea what reviews you looked at, but a quick look on expedia, shows avis, budget, hertz, dollar, thrifty etc.

Not sure why renting a car there should be avoided.

Posted by
99 posts

Russ- thank you for putting my mind at ease! :) I don't know much about my GGG's life in Munstermaifeld, only that he was born there in 1829, and came to the US when he was about 20. I just think it would be neat to see the area. I thought I'd play it by ear. Maybe spend a couple hours there? Have lunch maybe? I honestly haven't put much time or research into to Munstermaifeld yet. I don't have to go to Burg Eltz, but I'd like to see it from the outside at least. I'm sure as a boy, my great great grandfather must've seen it from afar at some point.

I sent you a private message on dates and times.

I am completely open to a reverse route, and sincerely appreciate your suggestion! :) Also open to the whole cruise, if you think we have time.

Thanks so much!

Posted by
99 posts

Joe32F- my brain is a big jumbled mess right now after researching, and trying to figure everything out. I googled car rentals at Frankfurt Hahn, and I believe Hertz was 1.8 out of 5 stars, and Avis was 1.6 out of 5. The only people giving positive reviews were local tour guides. (or maybe they were called local travel guides) That was enough to send up a red flag to me. I hope I am wrong.

Posted by
1026 posts shows all the major companies at HHN have decent enough ratings. Even if there was a problem, book from there, return to FRA, it's no big deal. Generally it's only in some really marginal locales that there are problems with rental cars, and typically the problems are on return... HHN is likely not one of them, but returning to FRA takes care of the problem anyway (as long as you resist the normal upselling when you pick up the car).

I wouldn't beat yourself up over this, everything in life is narrative. Since you are coming out of HHN, skip the Rhine, and go up the Mosel instead. Problem solved. Also Munstermaifeld is off the Mosel. Personally, I liked the Mosel better than the Rhine anyway. It's almost like you planned this.

Posted by
713 posts

Ease yourself again with rental car firms.
Hertz at HHN has 11 reviews on GM in total, only from people which were not happy with whatever. Imagine how many customers they have per month only. I guess the same is valid for the other rental car companies. Some people also do not know how to use ratings. They assume that 1 star is like German school grade "1" which is "excellent". Funny wise the grades in Switzerland work the other way around.

Very important is that you really inspect a car you get before starting to drive if every litle scratch is mentioned in document listing the existing damages. Also look on the roof, windows, into the trunk and into the interior. Everything damage that is there and not mentioned in handover protocol can end up on your bill at the end.

Posted by
7217 posts

Just take the Bohr bus from Hahn to Frankfurt airport. Easy and cheap. Takes about 1.5-2 hours and goes directly to the airport.
Do cruise more of the Rhine than Bacharach to St. Goar. This is a 10 min. ride on the train. If this is all you do (and most of us have no idea why this short of a cruise is recommended by Rick) you will miss most of the castles on the Rhine. It is easy to cruise from Rüdesheim to St. Goar.

You are overthinking this. Public transportation here is cheap, easy and fairly efficient. Getting from Hahn to FRAport is just not a big deal. Who would fly 120km?

Posted by
99 posts

Thank you, Kaeleku, MarkK & Ms. Jo,
...deep breath... I am over-thinking this.

What is a regional food or beverage not to be missed in this area? Are they known for anything in particular?

Posted by
7217 posts

Frankfurt has several specialties. You can get these in most of the towns and cities near Frankfurt too, like Eltville, Bad Homburg, Büdingen, Seligenstadt, Wiesbaden and even Mainz.

  • Apfelwein - a sour, alcoholic apple cider, served in special glasses and special clay pitchers called Bembels. These are grey and blue and when you go to an apfelwien pub, you will see this pottery every where. We have apfelwein gardens and pubs instead of beer gardens.

  • Frankfurt Grüne Soße - (Green Sauce) this is our national dish and is EU protected. A sour cream, joghurt mix with 7 herbs, a bit of mustard, oil and hard boiled eggs. Served over boiled potatoes, or a schnitzel or a sort of roast beef, or even fish. If you see Frankfurt schnitzel on the menu, this is what they mean. It always has to be the same 7 herbs or you cannot sell it as Frankfurt Green Sauce. Our Green Sauce festival in May is extremely popular, when 20 restaurants compete over a week to see who makes the best version. It will taste a bit different at every restaurant you have it. Old Sachsenhausen has some of the best versions. Unless you are at my house. If you like sour cream and chives on baked potatoes, you will enjoy this

  • Handkäse with Musik - These are small rounds of almost fat free cheese, served in a vinaigrette and with raw onions. Often with caraway seeds. You get slices of dark, German bread, butter, and a knife. No fork. Butter your bread, eat it with the cheese and onions and tomorrow you get your music.

  • Schneegestober - Mix of Camembert, cream cheese, butter, paprika and onions. Eat with pretzels

  • Ripchen with Kraut - Thick, cured pork chops, cooked in saurkraut, served with mashed potatoes

  • Frankfurter Kranz - A yellow bundt cake with layers of cream frosting/whipped cream and raspberry jam, covered with this same frosting and chopped krocant/nuts, dotted with whipped cream & maraschino cherries.


Posted by
99 posts

Oh Ms. Jo!

I'm so happy to read your list. I've printed it out and am taking it with me on our trip! I'm definitely going to try the Apfelwein, and green sauce and schneegestober. Growing up, my mom made something similar to ripchen with kraut, but served it with boiled potatoes instead of mashed.

The Frankfurter Kranz sounds Heavenly!

Handkase with musik scares me a little. Is it supposed to? It's the music the next day I worry about. But sounds yummy nonetheless. When in Germany...

Posted by
288 posts

Please be mindful about the traffic in Frankfurt. A million people travel to and from Frankfurt and rush hour traffic is crazy. For this very reason I am leaving Frankfurt on a sunday to fly back home.

Posted by
881 posts

If you have a sweet tooth, the bakery in St.Goar has a tasty Lorelei cake.

Posted by
99 posts

Thanks, Susanne. We will be sure to allow plenty of time to get to the airport and return the car.

OH Rocket! I love these kinds of suggestions. The Lorelei cake sounds fun! Do you remember the name of the bakery in St. Goar, or is there only one?

Posted by
4362 posts

As Russ and Kaeleku said, Hahn airport is in the Mosel valley area, so it would be easier to reverse your planned itinerary, start in Cochem and end in Frankfurt. There are direct buses from Hahn to Bullay, the next town along from Cochem, if you don't want to hire a car at the airport.

Posted by
21625 posts

If you have chosen Ryan Air - the big player at Hahn - are you sure that you will fly from Rome FCO? That won't necessarily be a given.