Our daughter is going to run the Berlin Marathon on September 24, 2023. We are ending a cruise to Barcelona a few days earlier and want to connect with her. Should we just take a flight and go directly, or should we look for a rail option that would permit stops along the way? What would be "don't miss this" sites?
How much are a few days? Making a couple of stops along the way sounds like lovely option if you have the time.
Have you had your boots on the ground in Europe before this?
A bit. We have done Rick's Best of England, a river cruise on the Rhine and Mosel, parts of Switzerland, and a Black Sea cruise.
I love trains but for Barcelona to Berlin, I'd fly to Berlin or if you want to take a train-you could fly to Frankfurt for a couple of days and then take a train to Berlin.
But if you like the idea of the train, it isn’t a bad journey at all. The shortest most direct route starts with the TGV from Barcelona to Paris, a journey of just under 7 hours. You could break that up with a stop in a French town en route, or just cover the distance and spend more time in Paris (2 nights?)
It actually isn’t that much longer than flying to Berlin, by the time you add up journey time to the Barcelona airport (an hour), security time cushion at BCN (2 hours), the flight itself (2 h 45 minutes if it is on time) and time to get through the airport and into the city ( another hour). That is almost 7 hours right there.
So, let’s say you choose the train straight to Paris and spend 2 nights there. The trip from there to Berlin is around 8 hours (or more) so you would want an intermediate stop for an overnight. Köln is an attractive choice, and breaks the journey time nearly evenly—-3 h 20 minutes Paris to Köln one day, then 4h 27m from there to Berlin the next.
Strasbourg is another possibility, but does not divide the journey as evenly(—it is 2 hours one day and 6 the next (with a train change in Karlsruhe.)
And then there are routes through the larger German cities such as Frankfurt or Mannheim, but these do not offer much as much charm as Köln or Strasbourg, to my mind.
You don't need to go through Paris, unless you want to. Lyon can be a good place for a stop. From Lyon there is a daily TGV to Frankfurt, and you can make the Rhine valley your next stop. You can also go via Switzerland or Italy, there are many options.
Yes, Lyon might be another good route.
The one through Switzerland seems to involve more time and more train changes, and they have been there before, somI didn’t mention that one.
and they have been there before
But some places are worth returning to…
Doing this route from Barcelona to Berlin depends on the time factor and your travel plans, how much breaking up the route you want, etc. If it's mainly getting from A to B, then I would do the entire stretch by train, no flying needed.
Take the train from Barcelona to Paris, stay overnight a day or two, then the ICE or TGV in the morning to Frankfurt Hbf from Paris Est, spend a couple hours lunch and relaxing there, then the ICE direct to Berlin Hbf. You can arrive in Berlin by early evening. I've done this route the same day after having landed in Frankfurt from SFO some hours earlier that morning.