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Best of Germany, Austria & Switzerland - train from Frankfurt airport?

Hi! I'm on the Best of Germany tour in May and will need to get from Frankfurt airport to the tour starting town of Trier. I know that I can get there by train, but I am feeling a little intimidated to figure out and navigate how. I have never been to Germany and never traveled by train in Europe and I will be traveling alone. Any input/encouragement would be appreciated!

Posted by
727 posts

I did this trip in 2009. At that time, the tour started in St. Goar but still involved taking a train from Frankfurt Airport.

Start with Bahn.com. Find the trip that best fits your arrival time in Frankfurt (allow a couple of hours for border and customs). I would also try to minimize the number of train changes. It looks like you can get to Trier with just one train change.

I might wait and buy my ticket at the Frankfurt airport station since your flight could get delayed. You might pay a few more dollars but you will have flexibility. The staff selling tickets will be very helpful.

Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
5538 posts

I just wanted to mention that when you are arriving at an airport that is new to you or taking a train for the first time, it can be helpful to look at some videos on You Tube. If you put in "Frankfurt Airport Train Station Videos" you will have a selection that will walk you through the airport, train station and process.

One nice feature of the Frankfurt airport is that they have a manned ticket office for the trains. You can simply walk to this office and get any help you need. They are used to helping tourists and will get you on your way. You will find the process quite simple since the train leaves right from the airport there.

Posted by
451 posts

We have also done the GAS tour, but we stayed in Bacharach for a couple of days...and then from Bacharach we took the train to Trier. We bought our train tickets at the manned booth at the Frankfurt airport.
However, before we left home, I went on the train site and looked at the schedule of the train; I "picked out" the departure times with the fewest connections, that is, where you have to change trains, and wrote those times out; as well as the trains that were leaving after our arrival in Frankfurt. I also wrote down the names of the towns/stops that came right before my stop...so I would be ready to disembark.
One caution about Trier. I remember there was someone on our tour who got off on the wrong Trier stop; she got off one stop too soon. I think she ended up calling for a taxi to take her to the hotel.
Also, once you are in Trier, you can either take a taxi or walk to your hotel. I guess it will depend on how tired you are. Since we were in Germany a couple of days ahead of our tour, we chose to walk, but I had already "mapped out" my route before we left home.
It is such a great tour! I loved all the locations!

Posted by
28134 posts

Good advice in the above posts, It is valuable to have dealt with any jet-lag before the tour starts so many people add a day or two before their tour to arrive somewhere and give the body a chance to recover and get used to so many hours later.

Are you planning on arriving in Trier - a nice city with lots to see, and so close to Luxembourg - on the first day of the tour?

Posted by
6802 posts

vzehrung. Dont worry, you'll figure it out. Check out the Travel Tips section on this page and you'll find some helpful tips under ricks train tips, just skip the part about rail passes. Somewhere in your travel documents there should be a detailed description of how to proceed from the airport to Trier. Also spend some time at the site "Man in Seat 61" for lots of info on riding trains.

Have you ever been on a subway or metro in the US, or maybe a municipal bus? Trains are more like that than boarding an airplane. There are no gates or gate agents. You just have to figure out which is the correct platform for your train and be there when it arrives so you can board. Note, trains are coming and going all the time, so make sure the train number or destination on the side is correct. People around you will help if asked. If you have to change trains somewhere, you just have to be ready to get off before you arrive at the connecting station, as it wont stop for long. This is one time why you see they want you to pack light.

The hotel in Trier is a 15 minute pleasant walk from the train station through the center of town. Taxi if you must, but it was easy to follow the map they give you.

Posted by
18384 posts

I have never been to Germany and never traveled by train in Europe and
I will be traveling alone. Any input/encouragement would be appreciated!

To me, one of the most fun things about traveling in Europe is figuring out the rail system and using it to travel efficiently. It will take a little effort to learn it. People here, I'm sure, will be more than willing to help. Just ask us.

Here in the US, we are so trapped into using cars to get anywhere. It is such a feeling of freedom to escape that trap.

To start, what day and time do you arrive in Frankfurt? How long do you have to get to Trier. If you don't have to be there hours after your arrival in FRA, I would suggest making an overnight stop in the Rhein gorge, somewhere between Boppard and Bacharach, preferrably St Goar. It's a great area in which to spend a day or two.

Posted by
14 posts

I was on that wonderful tour a few years ago and took the train from the Frankfurt airport to Trier.
Some things to keep in mind. There are two terminals and I had to go from one to the other to get to where the trains are located so it will take some extra time to get there. Yes, definitely buy your train ticket at the airport. I didn’t have a problem getting a ticket for the next arriving train. Also, you will then have to walk a bit to get to the stairs that lead to the tracks. Plus, you will have to change trains. The second train was in a different part of the train station but it was easy enough to find the correct platform. People were helpful, too. Upon arrival in Trier, I took a taxi to the hotel which was actually a small apartment as part of a retirement complex. It was a short ride. Trier is a very interesting town. Enjoy your upcoming trip.

Posted by
1104 posts

We did GAS in 2018. We went to Bacharach first but just had the desk help us. From Bacharach we had to take a bus to get around a section of track that was having some maintenance done and it wasn't a big deal. Ask for help. You'll be fine.

Posted by
18384 posts

I think the simplest procedure, and the reliably least expensive one, is to go to the Regional Bahnhof, buy your tickets there, and take the next train, S8 or RE, to Mainz. At Mainz find the next train leaving for Koblenz and take it. Then change in Koblenz for a train going to Trier.

There are two terminals and I had to go from one to the other to get to where the trains
are located so it will take some extra time to get there.

Yes, there are two train stations at FRA, the Regional Bahnhof and the Fern Bahnhof. The Regionalbhf is close in, under the building across the access road from Terminal I. You won't need to go to the Fern Bahnhof, which is farther out and is used by long distance trains (ICs and ICEs). You get to the Regionalbhf by going down stairs (escalators) just inside the outside wall of the Arrivals Hall of T1. You go through a mall under the road, and get to the station ticket level. Here are ticket automats and ticket counters. After you buy your tickets, you go down escalators right there to the train level.

Buy an RMV (Frankfurt metro) ticket to Mainz and a Rheinland-Pfalz-Ticket (an all-day pass for any and all regional trains in the state of Rheinland-Pfalz. You use the RMV ticket to get to the Mainz Hbf on the next train, an S-Bahn (S8) or a Regional Express (RE). After Mainz, the Rheinland-Pfalz-Ticket will cover you to Trier.

The RMV ticket to Mainz costs 5,20€ for 1 person. The Rheinland-Pfalz-Ticket costs 25€ for the first person, 6€ each for persons 2-5. Be sure to write your name on the ticket. The RL-P-Ticket is valid after 9AM workdays, all day long on Sat/Sun or Holidays. At Mainz, look at the departure board for the first regional train (RE) to Koblenz. Hopefully, it will be a direct train with no change. In Koblenz, find the first regional train to Trier.

Posted by
382 posts

We took this tour in 2015. We had purchased a train pass on the Rick Steves website ahead of time and had to validate it at the train office at the airport station. We went to the lower level to do that. At the DB (Deutsche Bahn) office we found the clerk who validated our pass. (They all spoke English). The clerk asked us where we were headed and I told her St. Goar (we stayed here 3 days before heading to Trier). She looked up the schedule and printed out our route. She told us where to go to catch our train, Where we would get off and wait for the next train, and where to find the track that would get us to our destination. Everything worked like clockwork. When you are riding the train, there is an overhead screen which tells you what the stop is. We figured out very quickly that “Nachster Halt” means “Next Stop”. One thing you might want to do is download the DB app on your phone. You can enter your starting point and where you want to go and it will tell you what train and what time. You will also find that German engineering is very precise and the trains are all on time. So if a train is scheduled to arrive at 13:47 it won’t be there at 13:44. The app will let you know all the different stops along the way, so you know when it’s close and you can be ready.

Posted by
442 posts

FYI, we were going to do GAS in 2022 and had to cancel. The tour was not going to be staying at the senior residence in Trier. ( not surprising in the Covid Era). Our tour was going to be at Vienna House Easy which is a longer walk.
Use the directions RS provides you. You can always ask someone at the airport train station office for help. Everyone there speaks English, and they are very helpful. Also put the route onto Google maps. That way you can virtually “walk” it. If your tour is at the Vienna House hotel it is probably at least a half hour walk, so I would consider a cab.
We really enjoyed Trier during independent travel. As others have said, arriving a day or two early helps you recover from the rigors of travel. There is plenty to see and do in Trier.
You will have a wonderful time on this tour. You are going to visit memorable places during a perfect weather time of year. Enjoy!

Posted by
18384 posts

There are some FRA to Trier connections using ICEs. You might see one of these connections if you are looking at the Bahn website. Despite the fact the the ICE is a very fast train, these connections usually take longer. Might be because you'll wait longer for a change; might be because the ICE is paired with a slower RB ("milk run" regional train), but they seem to be.

The other thing you might notice is that they offer a very attractive fare, like 19,90€, FRA to Trier. However, these low fares are for advance purchase, non-refundable tickets. The fully flexible tickets for that ICE connection will cost more than taking regional trains. The "catch" to these low prices is that they require you to take THAT specific long distance train (day and time). You can't leave on an earlier train with that ticket, and if your flight is late getting in, and you miss the specified train, your ticket is basically worthless.

So, if you want to stay in Frankfurt or Mainz for a day, and use one of these tickets the next day, when you know you'll be able to catch the specified train, go for it. But if you want to leave for Trier as soon as you arrive, beware.

Posted by
99 posts

We did the GAS tour in 2014 and flew into Frankfort two days prior to the tour start date. Took the train from airport to Bacharach, walked this wine town and slept one night, then took the (Koln to Düsseldorf) K-D commuter boat to St Goar, walked the town and slept night two, then the K-D again to Koblenz, found their train Hbf, and trained to Trier. I would suggest to anybody to plan to fly-in at least one day early, sleep in either of these towns or somewhere on the Rhine, and utilize the K-D boat line for a segment of your journey to Trier. I’m pretty sure it’s May to October high season schedule is posted at www.k-d.com