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Slow Beauty Scenery Train or Fast Between Frankfurt and Cologne?

I have heard that the train ride between Frankfurt and Cologne can be one of the prettiest in Europe. I was told it follows the river. Not sure if this is a separate track/routing from the ICE. Can anyone confirm the beauty and whether I should consider taking the slow train over the fast one?

Posted by
8187 posts

The ICE route goes no where near the Rhine, and goes through a lot of tunnels. You can see the route by clicking on the drop down menu that shows all of the stops. This lets you know what cities it may stop in, like Mainz, Koblenz and Bonn, or more likely no stops at all except at the airport.

For me, I would choose the slower train unless I had a lot of luggage and was also short on time. The slower train is also cheaper.

Posted by
12040 posts

As Jo wrote, the direct route is one of the fastest sections of the rail network, and it passes in and out of several tunnels. Not bad scenery, but nothing terribly interesting. The only time you see the Rhine is when it crosses the river immediately before arriving at the Cologne Hauptbahnhof.

I've only taken an intercity train along the river once. Although slower, it still moved pretty fast, and you could barely see the highlights of the Mittelrhein.

Posted by
2297 posts

We took the train along the Rhine once - after our connecting flight in Frankfurt to Düsseldorf was cancelled due to fog. Which also meant our luggage was stuck in customs ... With no reservations and two little kids in tow who were overtired this was still one of the highlights of our trip. We all agreed it made up for the inconvenience of the cancelled flight.

These days I take the ICE because usually time is of the essence and I spent already a week of vacation time in a castle overlooking the Rhine a few years ago. And no, there is nothing special to see when you're on the fast train.

Posted by
8187 posts

If you take the train down the right side, it makes more stops, so you get to see quite a bit, plus it is closer to the unspectacular Lorely statue, in case you want to drive past that. This would entail a change of trains in Koblenz though. I have gone up and down both sides of the Rhine so many times and find this route to be a treat. The vineyards and castles that you see going down the left hand side, are also interesting. Check out all the stops your train will be making for both sides to pick out the side of the Rhine and the towns you want to go through.

Posted by
18388 posts

"I've only taken an intercity train along the river once. Although slower, it still moved pretty fast, and you could barely see the highlights of the Mittelrhein."

Using the Bahn query page, put in Frankfurt Hbf to Koeln Hbf and open the stopover feature and insert Bacharach Bhf (no stopover time). Since only MRBs stop in Bacharach, this will force the slower regional train between Mainz (to which you get with the S-Bahn) and Koblenz (from which you take an IC to Köln). Total time will be a little over 3 hours and, because of the IC, you can get a train specific, advance purchase Savings Fare ticket as cheap as 29€ for the first person.

Or, if you really want to go down the right bank, put in Filsen as the stopover. That will get you a VIA (regional train) from Frankfurt all the way to Koblenz with an IC to Köln. Same Savings Fare, about the same time, only one change in Koblenz.

Posted by
9 posts

Wow- this is quality intelligence- thank you all and specifically the last three posters- this will really help me plan my route- I would especially appreciate seeing any castles along the route if anyone knows what town or stop they are nearest too. Thanks again and thumbs up to Rick Steve's website!