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Questions about train travel (and base) in Franconia

As as I mentioned in an earlier post, I will be in Germany for one month - from late April through late May and traveling solo. I'm starting off in Berlin and after 5 days will head down to Franconia for the first part of my trip. I'm getting a little confused about train travel there. I plan on getting a super saver fare to get from Berlin to my base city. And for the base city, I'm wavering between Würzburg and Bamberg, which is partly causing the confusion,

So I found the Nuremberg VGN network, which lets me train between many of the small towns around Nuremburg, including Bamberg, for pretty cheap fares. This would be handy if I decide to base myself in Bamberg. But it does not include Würzburg. Russ sent me a jpg showing the Würzburg Main Spessart line, which includes Bamburg and many other small towns.

So I'm confused about which network I use. I tried a couple of requests on DB and some worked, but others didn't give me a fare (for example, Würzburg to Dinklesbühl). It said that it could only give me the DB partial fare, but it then changes to a non-DB train. But how do I know what train? And how do i schedule a trip with 2 different train companies? I'm sure I'm making this way more difficult that it needs to be, but any help would be appreciated.

Also, if anyone could help me decide on a place to base myself there, I would appreciate it. I'd like to stay in a bit bigger town/city than a smaller one but don't really want to stay in Nuremburg. Bamberg and Würzburg both look interesting - Bamberg a bit more so, partly because the train situation seems to be easier. BUT I like wine and I know Bamberg is known for its beer and Würzburg for its wine. I drink beer and will certainly have some while I'm in Germany, but I like drinking wine a lot more. So I guess I'm wondering if that should be a factor in my decision. Logistically, I would like to visit Dinklesbühl, Nuremburg and a few of the smaller towns like Iphofen, Bad Windsheim and Neustadt an der Aisch on day trips.

Posted by
1698 posts

I tried a couple of requests on DB and some worked, but others didn't give me a fare (for example, Würzburg to Dinklesbühl). It said that it could only give me the DB partial fare, but it then changes to a non-DB train.

There are no trains to Dinkelsbühl, you have to take the bus from Dombühl,
which does not run at the DB tariff, but at the VGN tariff; so the fare is not displayed in the DB Navigator. But a Bayern-Ticket would be valid on that bus line.

For trains, by the way, it makes no difference who the operator is, a local train ticket is valid on trains of any operator (which all run on behalf of the state of Bavaria). And those trains are also displayed in the DB Navigator.

For train/bus connections to the places you mentioned, neither Bamberg, nor Würzburg, but in fact Nuremberg would be the best base, which incidentally also offers a much better selection of hotels. Bamberg, Dinkelsbühl, Iphofen, Neustadt/Aisch, Bad Windsheim are all within the VGN and can be reached with a cheap day ticket. Würzburg (or e.g. also Regensburg) is reachable within one hour, not with a VGN ticket, but with a Bayern-Ticket.
BTW, as far as Franconian wine is concerned, Iphofen is at least as good an address as Würzburg.

Posted by
3029 posts

So I'm confused about which network I use.

The one that takes you to your destination. Most parts of Germany are part of a Verkehrsverbund, a local transport association that coordinate public transportation in the region. While it is not uncommon to have several different companies operating the transportation, the Verkehrsverbund makes sure the schedules are coordinated and often provide a common ticket system so that a ticket for a certain zone is valid on both buses, trams, metro and regional trains. You have discovered the VGN, and Würzburg is part of Verkehrsverbund Mainfranken, VVM, https://www.vvm-info.de

I tried a couple of requests on DB and some worked, but others didn't
give me a fare (for example, Würzburg to Dinklesbühl). It said that it
could only give me the DB partial fare, but it then changes to a
non-DB train. But how do I know what train? And how do i schedule a
trip with 2 different train companies?

There are no trains to Dinkelsbühl so you will need to change to a bus for the last part of the journey. That is probably the reason it could only give you a partial fare, and you will need to buy the bus ticket when you get there. Either from the driver or in a machine. Or on your phone. But for that journey, a Bayern-ticket seems like a very good option. https://www.bahn.com/en/offers/regional

I'm sure I'm making this way more difficult that it needs to be,

Correct!

Posted by
5491 posts

From Bamberg you will have longer train journeys and more transfers for some of your train outings - for both the outbound and inbound rides. From Würzburg it will likely be a little more convenient than from Bamberg, but IMHO a Nuremberg base will further simplify these outings and is probably better for your needs.

  • On the surface, N'berg's population may seem too large, but I love the fact that Nuremberg feels so much smaller than it is. The pedestrianized zone is atmospheric, wonderfully expansive, and mostly traffic-free. Würzburg has 1/4 the population, but the town itself isn't quite as charming on the whole and tends to be much more subservient to the automobile in those places you're likely to be walking, IME.

  • From W'burg, your outings on the Bayern ticket (on weekdays after 9 am only) are more restricted than from Nuremberg on the VGN Tagesticket Plus daypass (no weekday hours restrictions.) Also, the VGN daypass costs less and gives you free Sunday transport with any daypass bought for Saturday.

  • Nuremberg is mostly about beer, but it's not as though wine is unavailable there or that you can't enjoy the wine in Würzburg, Iphofen, etc. on your day trips... you're riding the trains, not driving, right?

Dinkelsbühl is the only problematic place you have on your wish list but there are other options that are easy to reach by train that you might not have considered. Below are four additional suggestions that I don't think you've received, places I've spent some enjoyable time. You could see these two on a single outing on the VGN day pass:

Weissenburg (Bay) - Roman settlement and walled town, 40 minutes by direct train from Nuremberg
Pappenheim - pretty place in the Altmühl River Valley, 20 minutes beyond Weissenburg on the same train route.

From N'berg you can spend less than 1 hour on direct trains to these places too. Again, use the VGN day pass:

Bayreuth (the opera house was recently renovated... I need to get back there myself sometime to check it out.)
Amberg

Posted by
857 posts

Thanks to all of you for your explanations and help!!! It makes so much more sense now. And I see what you all mean about Nuremburg, so I will plan to stay there.

sla019, thank you for all the information about the bus to Dinklesbühl and the Bayern-Ticket for Würzburg. And I will definitely look into the wine from Iphhofen!

Badger, yes, I can now see that I was way over-thinking all of this. :) Thank you for clearing it up - and thank you for the information about the VVM network and how it all works.

Russ, thank you (again!) for all the great information about Nuremburg and the additional places to see. And that makes sense about where to drink wine. :) No, I'm not driving at all in this area. I might rent a car for a few days when I get to North Rhine-Westphalia but I will not be drinking if I do.

Posted by
5491 posts

If you stay in Nuremberg's old town zone, you'll be walking past the "Handwerkerhof" on your way to the station. This mini-village of crafts shops and restaurants was created not so long ago for tourists mostly, but a detour/stroll through there might be interesting for you. I've never stopped in at this place but I'll mention it, not as a recommendation but just because you mentioned wine, as a small piece of evidence that Nuremberg has no formal ban on wine... Scroll down on the Speisekarte page below for the wine list, where you'll find some regional varieties on offer.

http://www.fraenkischeweinstube.com/Speisekarte.pdf

Posted by
1698 posts

Nuremberg has no formal ban on wine

The best address in Nuremberg is IMHO Weinhaus Steichele, which even has its own winery

Posted by
18228 posts

In 2017 I was going to do a tour of Bavaria with my partner, Robin (including her favorite Bavarian town, Lindau). Late in the trip we were going to spend a few days in Rothenburg, then stay one more place before heading to FRA for the flight home. I wanted to show her Würzburg and the Marienberg Fortress but I wanted to stay in a smaller town on the outskirts and day trip to Würzburg.

Using Google Maps, I "started" down the Main river toward Frankfurt, looking for a small town to use as a base for a week or a little more. Karlstadt and Gemünden looked nice but I didn't find an accommodation that appealed to me. I finally found Lohr am Main, a delightful little town filled with Fachwerk buildings. It is a quiet little town with nothing much going on, but makes a fine base to explore the area. We found a little apartment near transportation and a grocery store and spent 9 night there.

Lohr is 40 minutes by RE from Würzburg, less than 2 hours from Bamberg, and 2¼ hours to Nürnberg, all by regional trains with a VVM pass or a Bayern-Ticket.

Lohr is in the Landkreis Main-Spessart, part of the VV Mainfranken or Würzburg metro district. From there we were able to find some inexpensive all-day passes and used them to get into Würzburg and one day in where-is-everybody Iphofen. We found great Franken white wines for 3 or 4 Euro in the grocery store. (You know how American supermarkets have a display of candy and gum next to the checkout? Here they had little bottles of Jägermeister!)

Posted by
857 posts

Russ, thanks for the tips on the wines and especially on the Handwerkerhof. I do a lot of sewing, weaving and rug hooking and I'm always interested in seeing handwork done by other country.

sla019, I will definitely be visiting there - it looks wonderful! Thank you.

Lee, thank you for the information about Lohr am Main - it sounds delightful! Since I'm traveling by myself, I think I will stick to Nuremberg - for me, cities are more appealing to base in - but I think it would be fun to visit. And it looks like it is the home of Snow White - my granddaughter would be impressed. :) I love the thought of a Jägermeister display at the checkout - now that is sehr schön! When I retired, I moved from Ohio to Minnesota where you can't buy any alcohol in the grocery stores. And until a few years ago, you could not buy alcohol on Sundays.

Posted by
27424 posts

Pretty good little baby wursts in Nürnberg too. Not too far different to those in Regensburg, but the mustard is better in Regensburg.

For years I have loved wandering around Nürnberg. Several decades ago I slept in the stables of the castle. Great fun. It was a youth hostel...

I love the big stone ball fountain.

Posted by
857 posts

Nigel, I love wurst. I will for sure be looking for those.

And that's nice to hear about Nuremberg - I am looking forward to visiting Courtroom 600. It is my understanding that it is no longer used for trials and so there is a good chance of seeing it. I'm a retired attorney and have always been fascinated by the Nuremburg trials.

Posted by
1698 posts

I am looking forward to visiting Courtroom 600. It is my understanding that it is no longer used for trials and so there is a good chance of seeing it.

It's open 10am to 4pm; closed tuesday. All infos here.

Posted by
694 posts

And for additional things to do in Franconia :

https://www.schloesser.bayern.de/englisch/palace/index.htm

Unfortunately, you will miss the Erlangen Bergkircheweihe just north of Nuremberg, but it is much older than Oktoberfest, and since one seats oneself at large picnic tables wherever there is space, it is a great place to let them instruct you in Franconian German....Next time...

https://tourismus.nuernberg.de/en/experience/events/festivals-markets/news/erlanger-bergkirchweih/