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Frankfurt and surroundings

I'm going to Frankfurt for 7 days in August, though I'm just in the planning stages. I was hoping to spend about half the time in the city, and the other half doing the Rhine Tour from the book in some detail, up to Koblenz.

I'm looking for a bit of advice on logistics, and how to break it down, since I won't have a car and will rely on train.

  1. Would it be better to stay 2 nights in an intermediate city like St. Goar or Bacharach, or would it be do-able commuting back and forth from Frankfurt over several days?

  2. Is there a train ticket I would buy for unlimited full-day travel if I plan to get on and off along this region of the Rhine... for example, if I stayed at St. Goar, I was considering spending one day and stopping at Boppard, Marksburg Castle and Koblenz (or maybe only two of those). If there isn't a day-pass, I would probably need to maximize train trips since they will add up.

Thanks. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Posted by
5602 posts
  1. Yes. Frankfurt is too far and will be more expensive. St. goar is best for train travelers - you can ferry across the river and use the east bank station of St. Goarshausen that way to get to Marksburg and other east bank towns.

  2. From frankfurt to Mainz you must buy a regular ticket - might cost 6-7 Euros. But from Mainz on you can use a Rheinland-Pfalz ticket - a daypass, 18 Euros single, 26 Euros for 2-5 people, for regional (RE, RB) train travel along the Rhine. It's good as far as Bonn in the north and west to around Trier. It's good on weekdays after 9 am, anytime on Sat or Sun. You can buy one at a DB ticket machine in Frankfurt. It's valid once you're in Mainz - then hop on and off all you like. Not good on ferries or river boats though.

Posted by
11975 posts

I would spend most of your time covering the Rhine to Koln and Bonn, then down the Mosel to Trier. Depending on how your trip is going you can either get through them and spend the remainder in Frankfurt or just head back to Frankfurt for your flight.

Posted by
98 posts

Thanks for the help so far. I've been trying to figure out transportation and am a little stuck on a few points.

I am hoping to book 3 nights at St. Goar (to use as a base for Rhine/Mosel River), before heading off for Cologne.

  1. Would I buy several days of the Rheinland-Pfalz daypass before I leave Frankfurt? Or is there a place to buy it each morning.

  2. On the day I'm going from St. Goar to Cologne, should I buy a daypass to get me up to Bonn? I was checking some of the prices on the Bahn website, and buying just a direct train from St. Goar to Bonn seems more expensive, though I'm not sure I'm using that website correctly.

  3. And then at Bonn, I would get off and buy a different ticket for Cologne?

  4. Do you think 2 nights is enough at Cologne, if I do a daytrip to Aachen?

Thanks. Any help is appreciated.

Posted by
100 posts

Russ- When we were in Bacharach a couple weeks ago there was only one machine and it was the less helpful kind. Maybe other cities have two ?

"Every station on the Rhine provides a way to buy tickets. Each one has at least two machines - a machine for buying tickets in the immediate area operated by the local transit authority (In German, has codes for each town, lots of buttons) and a DB machine (with monitor and English interface - sells advance tickets too - and it takes credit cards.) You can buy a Rheinland-Pfalz ticket from either one. (It's true that most of the stations along the Rhine are unmanned - but you should be getting tickets from ticket machines anyway since it saves you money.)"

Posted by
100 posts

Jared- Hit the DB Rail center at the airport or at one of the main stations along the way from Frankfurt like Mainz and they will have all of the info in the Dauer Spezial fares and what they cover.

There is also great info online but this section of the DB website isnt translated into English: http://www.bahn.de/regional/view/rhldpfalz/bahnregional/freizeit/rhldpfalz_ticket.shtml

One thing we learned from our trip is that when you get to some of the smaller towns-in our case Bacharach- the stations are unmanned and you must attempt to communicate with a rather shop-worn DB automatic ticket machine that may or may not dish out fares (or even have listed the 4 digit destination code) for the city you want to travel to.
There seems to be several generations of these machines, curiously the newest and best of which appear to be only in the larger stations that have a DB service center and are least needed. In most cases it appears that the machines only vend train tickets for same day travel. Once you figure the machines out they work quite well...but if you are planning on staying in one of these smaller towns, get your more complex ticket needs handled before you get there.

Posted by
5602 posts
  1. "Would I buy several days of the Rheinland-Pfalz daypass before I leave Frankfurt? Or is there a place to buy it each morning."

Every station on the Rhine provides a way to buy tickets. Each one has at least two machines - a machine for buying tickets in the immediate area operated by the local transit authority (In German, has codes for each town, lots of buttons) and a DB machine (with monitor and English interface - sells advance tickets too - and it takes credit cards.) You can buy a Rheinland-Pfalz ticket from either one. (It's true that most of the stations along the Rhine are unmanned - but you should be getting tickets from ticket machines anyway since it saves you money.)

If you know for sure you'll be using R-P tickets for certain days, you can buy them all in FRA at a DB machine - just get your dates right and keep them in a safe spot. If alone, buy the R-P Single Ticket! It's 18 Euros. 26 Euros for the R-P for 2-5 passengers.

  1. "On the day I'm going from St. Goar to Cologne, should I buy a daypass to get me up to Bonn? I was checking some of the prices on the Bahn website, and buying just a direct train from St. Goar to Bonn seems more expensive, though I'm not sure I'm using that website correctly."

Yes - buy the R-P ticket for that date. You should also buy a regular Bonn-Cologne-Bonn ticket in advance for that date - from a DB machine. You don't get off the train. One RE train should get you from Koblenz to Cologne; the R-P ticket is valid St. Goar - Bonn, the regular ticket Bonn - Cologne.

  1. And then at Bonn, I would get off and buy a different ticket for Cologne?

NO!

  1. Do you think 2 nights is enough at Cologne, if I do a daytrip to Aachen?

That sounds about right to me. If you're really into museums you can fill two days in Cologne.

Posted by
98 posts

Your are all very helpful. Thanks.

  1. Re: the boat cruise, I'm trying to figure out which day to fit it in, where to get on/off (since I'm in the middle of the course at St. Goar). I am assuming it is NOT a boat you can get off at one location to get on again later, but I just want to confirm this. I guess this might not be a very efficient way since I'll also have the train pass, but I was thinking maybe this could eliminate some costs with passenger ferries to cross the river.

  2. Re: Getting from St. Goar to Bonn... if I did want to get off at Bonn to see Beethoven's birthplace, could I do that with the Bonn-Cologne-Bonn ticket, or do I have to request a stopover (from the machine)? It would add to the cost, I guess.

  3. On the day I leave Frankfurt, I am planning to briefly get off to see Mainz and maybe Bingen before I get to St. Goar. My main worry is having to lug my bag around. I tried that last year in France en route from one place to another and it was a drag. How much time should I allot to Mainz? Would it make more sense to get settled in St. Goar and go back to Bingen later on since I will have the R-P ticket?

Thanks again. I'm reading a couple of different guidebooks too but your info is invaluable.

Posted by
5602 posts
  1. I'd limit the river cruise to two hours or so - best part is between Bingen and Koblenz; longer and it gets tedious, and can be very hot if you don't have shade on deck. Maybe this will help you with details:

www.k-d.com/englisch/index.html

Ferries across the river are quite cheap.

  1. To see something in Bonn, you just get off in Bonn, where your R-P ticket ends. When you get back on, your other ticket goes into effect.

  2. For Mainz, stow your bag - many lockers there. It's a long walk to the interesting part of the city from Mainz' main station. I'd do the same in Bingen if you arrive at Bingen Hbf. (though the walk isn't as long.) If you arrive at Bingen Stadt, you are closer to the center of town - maybe just walk for a bit if you have a comfortable pack?) I'm not sure there are lockers there anyway - the station building there is pretty much abandoned, just a set of tracks and a platform, as I recall.

Bill: my guess is that you missed the DB machine in Bacharach. Passengers must be able to purchase long distance tickets wherever they get on, and the other machine won't sell them.

Posted by
98 posts

I looked up the train fare from Koln to Aachen, and one-way was 13.80 euros, and roundtrip was basically double at 27.60. Is there usually no deductions for a round-trip within the same day?

I read about the North Rhine-Westphalia Area SchonerTag ticket. Does it cover Koln, Bonn and Aachen?

I'll be travelling with a friend, so would it be worthwhile for me to purchase that for the day I'm going from Koln to Aachen and back?

Posted by
98 posts

I almost have my itinerary planned out... thanks for the help so far.

  1. The Rheinland-Pfalz ticket description says it allows you also to take "most" local transport. Do you know if it includes for example, buses in Koblenz? I'm travelling with 2 other people... I guess if in doubt, we could just ask the bus driver?

  2. Since I'm staying at St. Goar, if I wanted to visit Trier (the Roman ruins, not really the museums), would that be a full-day? Or could I fit in Marksburg castle or Burg Eltz in the morning? The R-P ticket on weekdays begin at 9am, so that would restrict my starting time each morning.

  3. With the North Rhine-Westphalia ticket, would this include the trams/subway within Bonn and Cologne?

  4. I'm staying one night in Bonn, so I was thinking of checking out in the morning, buying the NR-W ticket, going to Cologne just to drop the bags off at the hotel (hotel at Barbarossaplatz), and then heading off to see Aachen (to enter the Dom and the Rathaus) while I still have the ticket. Does that sound do-able or would it be quite rushed?

  5. For my train ticket from Cologne back to Frankfurt, I checked the Bahn site, and a regular one-way ticket is around 50 euros, but there are "savers" fare for only 30 euros. Do I need to buy those here online, or can I get that rate in Germany? Do I need to buy a certain # of days ahead? I'm travelling on a Sunday.

I'm worried about buying too early, since I'm not sure exactly what time I want to leave Cologne for Frankfurt that day, whether it will be morning or afternoon... it will depend on whether I was done with sightseeing in Cologne.

Posted by
8168 posts

There is an ICE train that goes from Cologne to FF in 55 min. but it costs more than a regular train that takes 2 hours and 15 min. The slower train also stops in Bonn and is a lovely ride along the Rhine river. There isn't a lot to see in Bonn. I have never heard of anyone going there. There is a lot to see in Frankfurt though, tons of museums, the cathedral where the Holy Roman Emperors were elected and crowned, the Holocaust Memorial wall with over 11,000 names on it, and so on. So, come visit us instead of Bonn. :-)
We also have the Museum Ufer Fest the last weekend in August which is now the premier event in Germany. Over 3 million visitors for a 3 day event. Lots of fun, music, museums, etc. I don't know when you are arriving in Germany, but on 8 August in Frankfurt, there is the Night of Churches which is also quite a wonderful event.

Posted by
349 posts

Bad Kreuznach is a nice town up the Nahe river from Bingen and it would make a nice intermediate stop . I have been visiting for 40 years so I know a bit about nice affordable BK Please write me if you would like more info . John B

Posted by
98 posts

Thanks, Jo. I do plan to stay around two days in Frankfurt as well.

About the Happy Weekend Ticket I was hoping to use for a Sunday trip from Cologne to Frankfurt (since I'm travelling with friends)... do I have to buy it online, or can I get it at one of the ticket machines mentioned above? And I can buy it a couple of days ahead of time?

For the KD Cruises, is Bingen-St. Goar or St. Goar-Koblenz about equal in the scenery? Is it pretty similar from the view of the train? The Bingen-Koblenz price would add up with my two friends so we were thinking of taking only half the trip on the boat.

Thanks.

Posted by
5602 posts

"About the Happy Weekend Ticket I was hoping to use for a Sunday trip from Cologne to Frankfurt (since I'm travelling with friends)... do I have to buy it online, or can I get it at one of the ticket machines mentioned above? And I can buy it a couple of days ahead of time?"

Just buy it at any DB ticket machine in Germany. It'll take a credit card. You can buy it there for future dates.

"For the KD Cruises, is Bingen-St. Goar or St. Goar-Koblenz about equal in the scenery? Is it pretty similar from the view of the train?"

Bingen to St. Goar is maybe slightly more scenic overall. The tracks unfortunately do not run down the center of the river, so from the train you have a hard time glimpsing castles on your side. The solution is to ride up and down both sides of the river by train, using ferries to cross from St. Goar - St. Goarshausen, Bingen - Rüdesheim, or Lorch - Bacharach, all of which have train stations too.

The RE trains don't stop often and the route passes quickly. If you want more time, get on an RB train, which stops at every town with a station.

I am not a huge fan of the river boats myself. They tend to be overpriced and often uncomfortably hot or crowded. I'd select one section for maybe an hour's ride. And travel downstream to speed it up. St. Goar to Bacharach is 1 hour 10 min.; Bacharach to St. Goar is 40 minutes.

Posted by
116 posts

Frankfurt is such a boring city-city, glad to hear you're getting out as much as possible. Marburg is really cute and just short of an hour north of Frankfurt. Inside the castle is boring, but the old city is fun w/shops and cafe's and just chilling. A real "Back Door".

Posted by
8168 posts

I want to gently disagree that Frankfurt is boring. Perhaps you just don't know where to go? Or have just read the bad press? For a city that has the largest cultural budget of any city in Europe, don't you think they might be spending it on something for people to see and do? A whole row of beautiful museums and art galleries along the river front that would take you several days if not a week to get through, premier events at the Opera house and concert halls, our huge Christmas market that goes on for a month and is over 600 years old, and all kinds of street festivals. There is a lot of history here to explore if people would only forget about the old stuff they have heard about Frankfurt and then come here and see it for themselves. Just because we have a lot of skyscrapers doesn't meant there is nothing else here to see. Thanks for letting me quietly rant :-)

Posted by
116 posts

Rant accepted! ;) I'm not a city girl and never have been despite many attempts. No offense was meant. I just have Frankfurt cordoned off in my big-city-like-most-other-big-cities-in-the-world area. I've been known to crawl out of my cave and make my way into town for English books, museums, and other such things. ;) I just think it a shame to miss out on other things Germany has to offer. (unless the traveler is a big-city kind of person, in which case Frankfurt can keep them busy!)

Posted by
8168 posts

What is funny is that it has the appearance of being a big city, but I almost always run into someone I know when I am downtown. Like you would in a smaller city. Either that or I just know a lot of people! I do like getting off on the side streets where you can find all kinds of hidden pockets of history and also some of our really cool neighborhoods. Did you know we have a gorgeous Chinese garden here, with waterfall, temple, pagoda, etc.? There are Frankfurters that don't even know about this garden, which is a shame. On Sunday mornings, all the Tai Chi people show up to practice there. Talk about an unexpected sight in the middle of Germany!