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How's the A5 Autobahn?

I recall a previous post sometime ago that indicated that the A5 has been going through renovation and is a nightmare to drive. Is that still the case? I was thinking of driving from Colmar up to the Stuttgart/Esslingen area. There are several options, but was curious about the condition of the A5. Thanks for any info you can share.

Posted by
12040 posts

I haven't driven south beyond Karlsruhe in several months, but I think most of the road work that was making the drive to Basel so painful has finished. I don't hear nearly as many traffic warnings on the radio as previously for that stretch. The worst area south of Heidelberg is probably the A5-A8 interchange, although traffic is usually more problematic coming from the north than from the south.

Now, A8 is where the fun really begins. You can expect regular volume-related delays around Pforzheim and Leonberg, and of course, Stuttgart itself. However, the worst areas of congestion are to the east of Stuttgart, where the road ascends through the Schwäbische Alb mountains, which won't affect you. To minimize the chance of delays, try to time your driving so that you arrive in the Stuttgart area outside of rush-hour times. I think all the other usual choke-points are manageable, but driving around Stuttgart can be downright infuriating if you catch traffic at the wrong time.

Posted by
2828 posts

Except for travel on busy summer weekends between July and mid-August, the whole highway congestion in Germany is one of these vastly overblown issues. Not that it doesn't exist, but it is nowhere much more serious than congestion that can be found in other highways in some other European countries as well.

Now if you are planning on driving south on a Saturday in late July, then you might have more serious problems.

Posted by
26053 posts

Well it looks to me like we have one saying traffic can be a problem, and one saying no worries.

I come down on the side of difficult driving. I've never driven in the area on any weekends in July but I have driven the area many times and I can't remember one journey A5 or A8 without at least one stau.

I know that Andre hates public transportation and perhaps he has to paint driving with golden paint, but I deal in reality. I only report on reality. I have been ground to a halt, several times a very long - turn the engine off - halt in that area. I drive there in Spring, Summer and Autumn.

So how is a new driver to the area to take this disagreement? Assume he can barrel down the road at 130, 120, or 150 kph? Or plan for and allow for an extra half hour of delays, and if he is greased through have another coffee at the destination? Maybe.

I'll tell you this for no money - if I were driving north from Colmar I'd do it on the Autoroute on the French side and then cut over. And have done.

Posted by
12040 posts

I very much agree with Nigel's suggestion. Traffic is usually much lighter alond A35 in France, although the road isn't as well maintained. The scenery's a little better on this side as well. You can cross the river either at Baden-Baden or Karlsruhe.

If you decide to drive on the French side, let me make one suggestion. Start your trip with an empty bladder! Whereas on the German side, you have a few full-service rest stations with immaculately clean porcelain, on the French side... they have only parking areas. If you need to relieve yourself, they posted these sort of pod-like mutations of a Port-o-Potty. "Absolutely filthy" would be a generous description.