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Munich to Freiburg: By train or car?

Our destination is the Black Forest. Plane lands in Munich and we'll stay there a few days, then head west. We are debating whether to go by train to Freiburg and THEN rent a car to sightsee around the area, or to rent the car at Munich airport (during our stay in Munich we will be using trains; when we're ready to leave we will then go back to the airport to rent the car). The DB website shows the train trip will take just over 4 hrs. I'm thinking that driving will take much longer. We're OK with that if there are some worthwhile stops along the way. Travel will be in April so I'm not sure if snow will be an issue, being close to the Alps.

A couple of points: we've driven in Germany before so we're comfortable navigating the small towns and lack of parking. Also, we haven't totally ruled out using the trains within and around the BF instead of by car (but that's another topic).

How long of a drive is it straight through to Freiburg? Or perhaps there's another larger town where we could rent a car.... we just thought Freiburg since it's close to the BF.

Any suggestions appreciated.

Posted by
12040 posts

Snow won't be a problem in April, don't even worry about it.

If you wanted to drive, the quickest route would probably be to take A96 towards Memmingen and Lindau, then skirt along the Bodensee and through the Hochschwartzwald. Traffic depending, it would take around 4.5-5 hours without stops. You could also take A8 to Stuttgart, and A81 towards Schwennignen. The drive isn't quite so scenic as the first, but there's possibly more interestng stuff along the way. However, traffic around Stuttgart can make you hate life really quickly.

If you decide to drive, I can recommend a whole slew of interesting stopovers.

By the way, if you're staying in Munich, why not just rent the car from one of the agencies at the Hauptbahnhof? It would save you a trip out to the airport.

Another idea for a car rental, should you decide to tak the train from Munich. You could consider starting out in Karlsruhe, which is near the north end of the Schwartzwald. There's an huge Versailles-style Schloß you could visit here.

Posted by
9219 posts

I agree with Tom, if you're renting in Munich why go out to the airport? It's easy to rent at the train station in Munich.

We drove from the Freiburg area to Munich with a stopover in Fuessen. We stopped at the Bodensee (don't remember which town, but it was on the way) for lunch and a quick look around. I would love to spend more time in that area.

Posted by
6028 posts

It depends on whether you have the time and desire to stop and visit some of the historic or attractive towns along the way. It takes research on your part to determine whether medieval buildings, beerhalls, pastoral scenery, modern architecture, or museums make a particular town or city a "must" for your group. A major high-speed highway in Germany isn't that much more attractive than one in the US.

Once you pore over the (I prefer the, noted, southern) route, perhaps using Lonely Planet Germany, you might discover something you really want to see, like the Beyeler Foundation in Basel, the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, the Rheinfall (missable, in my view), Stein am Rhein in Switzerland, or even a bit of Alsace-Lorraine.

As noted, it's another topic, but one reason to use the (free!) train in the BF is to get off (after a sightseeing day) one town away from your hotel and walk a hiking trail home for dinner.

Posted by
18553 posts

If you stay in the Black Forest (that doesn't include Freiburg) and pay the visitor (Kur) tax, you get free use of the trains and buses in the area. You might want to determine what you want to see in the Schwarzwald and whether it's accessible by public transportation before deciding to rent a car there. There is plenty to see without needing a car.

I've spent more time in the norther part than in the southern part. There are a lot of interesting towns there. You can get from Munich to Stuttgart by train in a little over 2 hours and continue on to Freudenstadt, Calw, or Bad Wildbad in another two hours. With advance purchase, you could pay as little as 49€ for both of you for the whole trip. With the advance purchase tickets you could build in a stop of several hours in Ulm to climb to the top of the worlds highest Gothic church tower.

You could start in the northern part and work your way down to Freiburg.

Posted by
480 posts

Thanks for the suggestions. I didn't know we could rent a car from the Hauptbahnhof in Munich and I will check into that option instead of the airport.

Also, yes, I'd love suggestions (from Tom?) for places of interest if we drive to the Black Forest.

Posted by
12040 posts

OK, sight-seeing ideas enroute if you decide to drive.

For the most direct driving route via the Bodensee, the anwser is easy- stop in Lindau. On a clear day, the view from the harbor looking south across the lake to the Alps might be the single most photogenic vantage point in all of Germany. And even if the weather spoils your view, the town itself is very pretty. I've heard good things about Friedrichshafen, but never visited. Near where A81 links up with A98, you can see some pretty cool looking castles sitting atop some hills, but I don't really know much about them.

Instead of heading towards Lindau at Memmingen, if you cut through the Swabian countryside along B312, the Benedictine Kloster at Ochsenhausen is as flamboyantly Baroque of a complex as you could ever imagine, including the famous library. Continuing along this route, I marked Biberach an der Riß on my map as a town to investiage more, but I forget exactly what I saw there that piqued my interest when I drove by. And if you've made it this far, you may as well continue to Sigmaringen to see the castle. The town itself, however, I found a bit of a letdown.

Other stuff that lies between Munich and the Schwartzwald, but further to the north. Like Neuschwanstein, Burg Hohenzollern is a 19th century Romantic rebuild, but unlike the more famous castle in Bavaria, the kaiser actually spent more than a few nights here. Worth a detour if you decide to take the route via Stuttgart, and certainly if you have an interest in Prussian history. And within line of sight of Burg Hohenzollern you can also see the post-card photogenic Kornbühl. Burg Lichtenstein sits not too far away either, but you wouldn't likely have time to see all of these things in one day coming from Munich. Particularly if you hit typical Stuttgart traffic, which I find the absolute worst in Germany.

Finally, if for whatever reason you decide to drive the entire northern route to Karlsruhe, and you haven't stopped elsewhere on the drive, you could consider a visit to Kloster Maulbronn, but I didn't find this quite as interesting as I had hoped.

Posted by
18553 posts

Or by bus

The Bahn runs six modern IC buses per day on a route from Munich to Freiburg via Friedrichshafen or Ravensburg, like the ones to Prague, with WC, attendant, snack and drink service. The bus via Friedrichshafen leaves at 10:05, 14:05, and 18:05, M-Sa. It takes 4¾ hr. If you take the route through Friedrichshafen, you can ride along the Bodensee. Advance purchase fares start at 14,00€ pP.