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help with half day Rhine trip train schedule

6 of us will arrive Frankfurt airport at 11 am on 5/16, we should be able to begin at around 1pm after custom clearance. Need help from some expert on Rhine area travel how can we do a short train tour include a cruise and return to Frankfurt city that evening. Just want to plan ahead the train and cruise schedule so I won't waste time on that afternoon to "ask around". Thanks ahead anyone.

Posted by
16883 posts

Trains leave the regional section of Frankfurt Airport station not-quite hourly and get to St. Goar, for instance, in under 1.5 hours, with a connection at Oberwesel or Mainz (11:59-13:34 via Mainz, or 13:24-14:38 via Oberwesel.
The K-D Rhine boat departs southbound from St. Goar at 14:20 or 15:20 and gets to Bacharach in 1hr10 (Rick's favorite portion) or to Bingen in 2hr40. See the ferry timetable at Also see How to Look Up Train Schedules Online for the DB train schedule link and tips for using it. This link will give you plenty of connection options from your disembarkation point back to Frankfurt in the evening.

Posted by
18390 posts

Your tour of the Rhein starting at the airport at 1 PM is pushing it a little. Actually, based on my own experience, I believe you can get to the regional station at the airport within about an hour of landing, but flights can be late.

You can take an S-Bahn to Mainz; there is one every half hour. In Mainz you connect to a regional train to the Rhein valley. Or, you can take a regional train to Bingen and connect there to another regional train to the Rhein Vallley. Use the German Rail (Bahn) website to find schedules. Use "Frankfurt Flughafen Regionalbf" as the starting point.

I would suggest you take trains to Bacharach and take the K-D boat from there to St. Goar. That part of the Rhein is the most interesting; you go past the mid-river toll castle, Pfalzgrafenstein and under the Lorelei. The trip down the river, from Bacharach to St. Goar, takes 40 min; up the river, against the current, from St. Goar to Bacharach, takes 70 min - same scenery, more time. When you get to St. Goar, you can explore the Rheinfels castle ruins.

Here is the K-D schedule page. There are boat leaving Bacharach for St. Goar at 11:15, 12:15, 15:15 and 17:15. You can't make the first two and the 17:15 is probably later than you want, so you should take the one that leaves at 15:15.

There is a regional train, MRB25334, arriving at Bacharach at 14:27. That would give you 45 min to walk to the dock and purchase your ticket. That train leaves from Bingen Hauptbahnhof at 14:16. You can get to Bingen Hbf by taking regional train RE1486 from track (Gleis) 3 of the regional bahnhof at 13:24. That train get to Bingen Hbf at 14:11. It's a simple 5 min, cross platform change to the train to Bacharach.

The next earlier connection is the one the Laura mentions that connects in Mainz. It leaves the Regionalbf at 11:59. I don't think you can get to the Regionalbf, buy tickets, and make that train unless you flight arrives early.

As soon as you get to the Regional Bahnhof, find the ticket counter or a ticket automat and buy your tickets. The one-way fare is 11,70€/adult. It's an open ticket, valid on any regional train to Bacharach. Leave on the next connection. You might want to buy Tageskarten (day tickets). These would be valid for the round trip and would save you from having to buy tickets on the Rhein. Most stations there are unmanned; you would have to figure out and use the automat. A Tageskarte for a group of 5 people is 31,90€. Since you have six people, if the sixth person is an adult, a single Tageskarte is 21,80€; for a child it's 13,00€. But the Tageskarte is only valid to/from Bacharach, not St. Goar. If you use the Tageskarten, you would also need tickets from St. Goar to Bacharach. These are 3,60/person. Get them at the Regionalbf before you leave or figure out the automats in St. Goar.

Posted by
5615 posts

What do you plan to do with your bags while sightseeing? I would stay at the airport and drop bags there, but I suppose you have a hotel in the city in the opposite direction of the Rhine. Perhaps you can leave them at the airport somewhere or have them transported to your hotel in Frankfurt city. Alternatively, build in a stopover in Mainz in each direction to stow bags in lockers there. Or get a hotel in Mainz instead where you can drop bags and shorten your train gymnastics that day.

Proceed to Frankfurt Airport's Regionalbahnhof.

Buy a Rheinland-Pfalz ticket for 5 (€39), one R-P ticket for one (€23), one RMV ticket to Mainz (price level 4, €4.35) and Gruppentageskarte 5 Personen to Mainz (price level 4, €15) All these tickets are good for local and regional trains (not IC, ICE, etc.)

Board the 12:59 S-Bahn RE train directly to Mainz (13:25) Stow bags. Take the 13:51 train to Bingen (14:11.) Scurry down the to the river promenade and the KD dock. Take the 14:30 cruise north to St. Goar (13:55.) Visit Rheinfels castle and have a quick bite if you want or have a longer meal there .

Return to Mainz for bags: Leave St. Goar 17:20, arrive Mainz 18:26. Get bags. Catch 18:59 train to Frankfurt Hbf (19:36.) Uggh.

If you ask me, this is all just too crazy if you've just had a long international flight. I wouldn't do that to my family or myself for that matter. I would instead perhaps just drop both R-P tickets and take a direct train from FRA to Mainz (stow bags) and spend some relaxed time there in the old town area for several hours. See the Dom, the old-world buildings along the Augustinerstrasse, the Augustinerkirche, and have a nice meal on the Marktplatz somewhere:

Mainz old town
Zum Kirschgarten

And then return to Frankfurt by direct train (1 hour) whenever you feel the need.

Posted by
18390 posts

What are the relationships of the 6 travelers - 3 adult couples? Parents with 4 children under 15? ?

That could make a difference in the ticketing arrangements.

Posted by
8188 posts

I would just store your bags at the luggage storage facility at the airport, (7 euro per bag) or take the S-bahn from track 3 of the Regional train station under Terminal 1, to Wiesbaden and store your bags in a locker there. From Wiesbaden there is a train every hour that goes down the right hand side of the Rhine. This includes Eltville (my new favorite Rhine town), Rüdesheim & Assmanshausen. You can get on the KD boat in Assmanshausen and ride it up to St. Goar. Take the ferry across to St. Goarshausen and train back to Wiesbaden, pick up your bags, and head into Frankfurt. If you get off of the train at Assmanshausen, the boat stops there after stopping at Rüdesheim and Bingen, so you have a bit more time to make the boat.

Alternative would be to just stay overnight in Wiesbaden. There is a Motel One right next to the train station. No one talks about Wiesbaden and it is a gorgeous town. Lots of 1800's architecture and the Marktkirche is a gem.

If you want a small town though, may I suggest Eltville, just a 10 min. ride from Wiesbaden. Beautiful river promenade, (with no train tracks or road next to it like you get in most of the Rhine towns) wine bars, church built in the 1300's, lots of half-timbered houses, a tower overlooking the Rhine, a moat, and hardly any tourists, though it is popular with Germans.

Posted by
18390 posts

Assuming that is 6 adults, there is no reason to play around with regional passes that are limited to five people, plus one for one more person. Just go to the ticket counter in the Regionalbf and tell them you want a group ticket for 6 people and tell them it's for the airport to Bacharach and back from St. Goar to the Frankfurt Hbf, by regional trains.

I looked up a round trip group ticket from Frankfurt Hbf to St. Goar for 6 people on the Bahn website. I put in stopovers (zero time) at the FRA Regionalbf and Bacharach. The ticket offered was for an RE from the Hbf but stopping at the FRA Regionalbf (13:23), then going to Bingen, changing (5 min, cross platform) to the MRB, which stops at Bacharach (14:27) on the way to St. Goar. No one will care if you don't get on until the Regionalbf and you get of early at Bacharach. The return ticket is valid for St. Goar to Frankfurt Hbf. That ticket is available online from the Bahn for 115,20€. You can use any regional trains (any time that day) on all or part of the route from Frankfurt Hbf to FRA to Mainz to Bingen to Bacharach to St. Goar as long as you proceed in that direction and any regional trains back the other direction on that route.

Leave your bags in an airport locker (wherever they are). Coming back, you'll get off at the airport to get your bags. There is an S-Bahn to the Hbf (covered by your ticket) every 15 minutes.

Posted by
5615 posts

Lee: Isn't that €57.60 DB ticket just one way? Not sure what I'm missing.

I suggested the Bingen-St. Goar cruise originally because I think it's really worth cruising that whole stretch. It will shorten the cruise substantially (only 40 min.) if you take Lee's suggestion - train to Bacharach, cruise from there to St. Goar - BUT it's true that you have very little time; you will still see some nice scenery and you'll save time by covering Bingen - Bacharach by train instead.

If that €57.60 is just one way, then a RMV/DB ticket strategy might work 6 adults with Lee's itinerary:

RMV Gruppentageskarte 5 Personen FRA - Bacharach, Bacharach - FRA = €31.90
RMV Tageskarte for one = €21.80 (same routes)

DB ticket for 6 St. Goar - Bacharach after cruise = €10.80

You've got tickets back to FRA but need to continue to Frankfurt Hbf, so...

RMV Gruppentageskarte 5 Personen FRA - FrankfurtHbf = €15
RMV ticket for one FRA - Frankfurt Hbf = €4.35

Total = €83.85

€7 per bag for storage at FRA may add up quickly, but it will keep you from having to spend extra time at the Mainz station loading and unloading bags into and out of lockers before and after the cruise

All things considered, I still think I'd prefer an afternoon in Mainz under the circumstances. Lockers there, should you decide to take your bags there, should be €4 and you can probably get 2 bags in each locker if they're not too big.

Posted by
5615 posts

I think ruthchow74 may wish she had her own boat at this point. At least she didn't wait to "ask around" at FRA that afternoon!

Posted by
18390 posts

You're right, that was one way. I forgot to click return trip. It's about 115€. I corrected it.

Looks like the Tageskarten from the Hbf to Bacharach are 42,00€ group, 28,30€ single. Then they wouldn't have to add the tickets back to the Hbf at the end. Add 10,80€ for a group ticket from St Goar to Bacharach makes 81,10€ (a little less).

We should explain that Bacharach is in the Rhein-Nahe district, in a shared-fare zone with Rhein-Main (Frankfurt metro) district, so the RMV, not the Bahn, sells tickets from the Frankfurt area to Bacharach, but St Goar is outside the zone, so ticket are sold by the Bahn with a different pricing structure. That's why you can't get a Tageskarte to St Goar.

Posted by
5615 posts

Lee: Buying a RMV ticket at a FRA ticket machine with a Start station on the ticket of "Frankfurt Hbf"... Do you know for certain whether that is possible within the RMV?

I did not suggest what you just did because I am now under the impression it may not be possible, at least for some local transit authority purchases, to ticket yourself from a start station other than the station you're at... Just last month I was in this situation, somewhere. I might have been at Mainz HBF - which like Bingen-Gaulsheim and Bingen lies within the RNN - but I could NOT pull up B-G up as a start station. (I had a savings fare ticket from Würzburg not quite to Bingen but only as far as B-G, and I wanted to continue to the next station, Bingen-Rhein-Stadt, to complete my journey with a real ticket for that 2-minute journey.)

Posted by
18390 posts

" Buying a RMV ticket at a FRA ticket machine with a Start station on the ticket of "Frankfurt Hbf"... Do you know for certain whether that is possible within the RMV? "

Not having ever done exactly that, I can't say for certain. Jo's right there and could look at the automats.

With the old blue/white Nahverkehr automats, that would not have been possible, but the new RMV automats look like the 1st generation touchscreen Bahn automats, and they had the ability to write tickets from any start point. I would assume that if you selected a ticket from Frankfurt Hbf to Bacharach, one of the ticket options would be the Tageskarte. Also, the new 2nd generation touch screen Bahn automats have a touch pad on the opening screen for local Verkehrverbund tickets.

But there is also a ticket counter in the Regionalbf. They should sell a complete selection of tickets.

Posted by
2 posts

Hello all, thanks so much, you are so knowledgeable about this route, I made the right decision to ask here. This planning make it more fun for our trip, I can imagine I would be very proud when I finally did it with how it plan out.
However - I am confuse, like a chem student who first learn those terminology and different ways to do the experiment- this time on trains.
We are a family of 6, all adult ( who can run), no luggage at all. Wants to take advantage of those group or so call weekend family ticket price, want to buy it from the airport station one time ( don't mind paying the extra 2 euro to buy from counter, just worry that the person doesn't know what I want , therefore waste a lot of time there trying to figure it out ), head to Rhine area, take the short but interesting and scenic cruise on Rhine river ( down stream ) has a dinner at the river bank ( would be perfect ) then head back to Frankfurt city by train.
I actually read many materials about this route, even has Steve's DVD and book on this, but just can't figure out the final details and as you see it is critical to have the exact details because the short time that I has. But I know I will enjoy that afternoon on 5/18 actually, a Sunday ( sorry I gave the wrong date )
Yes, I do wish I have my own boat and a lot of money, but this is fun ( to plan it ). Thanks for helping.

Posted by
201 posts

Everyone on this thread seems knowledgeable about the area. I'll be in the area traveling with a 10 & 14 year old and fly out of Frankfurt at 7:30 AM on a Friday morning. I don't really want to spend $150 on an airport hotel for Thursday night and am willing to push our travels the day prior and arrive early, early to Frankfurt airport via train (sleep on train, etc.).

We'd like to do a river cruise or stay in a castle in the Rhine area the day or two prior. Will be coming from touring near Rothenburg area but will not have car - only train passes.


Posted by
18390 posts

@Ruth: if you take the KD boat from Bacharach to St Goar, the boat docks at the waterfront a short distance from the market square, and there are a good number of restaurants and hotels with restaurants right there around the square.

@Dana: I've stayed on this street in Mainz three times the night before a morning flight out of FRA, the last time here, and I thought it was fine. The neighborhood is not the greatest (typical of near a station), but I don't think unsafe. It's right across the plaza from the Mainz Hbf and an S-Bahn to the airport every 30 min. It's on the way from the Rhein valley to the airport. No doubling back as from Frankfurt Hbf. There are not a lot of restaurants in the area, but several in the train station, a Chinese restaurant in the next block, and a German Weinstube two blocks away. Königshof has free Wifi and a great breakfast buffet (included in price).

Depending on your departure time, you could also come in by train from the Rhein valley.

Posted by
5615 posts

"But I know I will enjoy that afternoon on 5/18 actually, a Sunday ( sorry I gave the wrong date )"

The wrong date makes a big difference when it comes to schedules and ticket prices...

"want to... head to Rhine area, take the short but interesting and scenic cruise on Rhine river ( down stream ) has a dinner at the river bank ( would be perfect ) then head back to Frankfurt city by train."

If you can catch the 12:37 train from FRA's Regionalbahnhof, you'll have a change of train in Bad Kreuznach and arrive in Bingen in time for the 14:30 boat to St. Goar (13:55.) There are as Lee points out a number of restaurants across the main road from the river that offer river views, but perhaps no place in St. Goar has a view quite as special as the "Landgraf" terrace-cafe/restaurant which sitis high on the cliffs right next to Rheinfels Castle in the Schlosshotel Villa Rheinfels:


So it might make sense to visit Rheinfels castle and have a meal next door. There's a shuttle if you don't wish to walk up:


The 18:20 train from St. Goar gets you to Franfurt at 20:13 with a change in Mainz.

"Wants to take advantage of those group or so call weekend family ticket price..."

The Happy weekend ticket covers 5 people for €44 and covers EVERYTHING. To keep it very simple, just buy two of those.

OR, to save some cash, buy one H-W ticket for 5, and then for the 6th adult, you can get the RMV Gruppentageskarte from Frankfurt to Bingen via Bad Kreuznach (maybe you can buy that at the airport) for €28.30 - that covers Frankfurt-Bingen round trip - plus the St. Goar - Bingen DB fare on the way back to Frankfurt (€5.90) and your total for everyone is about €78 for the trains.

Posted by
5615 posts

Dana: I like the location of the Ibis Mainz - a low-price option 1 block from the Mainz Roemisches Theater train station. This station is an S-Bahn and regional train station one stop closer to FRA than Mainz's main station. From the Ibis, walk up Neutorstrasse to Holzstrasse maybe 200-250 yards and you are on Augstinerstrasse, the main pedestrians-only artery through Mainz's attractive old town zone where you'll find lots of small cafes, the Marktplatz, and the Dom.

Near end of Augustinerstrasse and the Dom

No breakfast is included at the Ibis - so yo don't pay for something you have no time for. Plan on a 23-minute ride to FRA from the MRT station. There's a train at 4:36 (arr. 4:59 at FRA) and a 5:06 (arr. 5:29.)