Frankfurt to Rothenburg then on to Munich and beyond

After reading the boards, am a bit confused on the best and most economical way to travel by train. There are three of us arriving in Frankfurt at 1:30 pm in mid December. We want to get to Rothenburg and stay the night (although we question if being on a train after 14 hrs of travelling is crazy). Then from Rothenburg we want to go to Munich. We will spend three days in Munich, doing day trips to Dachau, Salzburg, and then to Garmish/Mittenwald region. Can anyone suggest what train to take to Rothenburg? What is a Bayern Pass - is it a day pass or can you purchase one to cover several days? After 7 days in Germany we will head to Venice - we are looking at the night train vs. the day train. Any suggestions here? Do Italian trains allow on/off like the German regional trains? We would spend a full day in Venice then go to perhaps Verona for the night, spend several hours there then on to Milan for a few hours, and spend the night somewhere along the way. Then we will go on to Switzerland for a couple of days, leaving from Zurich. ANY help is appreciated. Spent all day on the DB site and still confused. Haven't even gotten to the Italian/Swiss sites.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17738 posts

JR, The first part of your trip from Frankfurt Airport to Rothenburg is fairly easy. I know that, as I've travelled that same route after a ~12 hour flight (a bit of an effort, but not too bad). There are two rail stations at the Frankfurt Airport, a Regionalbahnhof for local trains and a Fernbahnhof for long distance trains. If you're able to get through Passport Control quickly, you may be able to connect with a 14:37 Fernbahnhof departure, arriving at 17:49 (time 3H:12M, 2 changes in Wurzburg and Steinach). As I recall, there's a ticket office on the floor above track level, or you could perhaps pre-purchase tickets. I'll leave the questions on the Bayern tickets to Lee or Tim, as I'm not thoroughly familiar with the different tickets in Germany. The trip from Rothenburg to Munich will also be easy, with travel times ranging from ~2H:30M to 3H:40M depending on which departure you choose. Pre-purchase fares appear to be as low as €22 PP. The trip to Venice is fairly straightforward and I normally prefer travelling during the day on that route. However, there is a direct night train departing at 23:40, arriving Venezia Santa Lucia at 08:34 (reservations compulsory plus Couchette charges). NO, Italian trains normally don't allow "Hop On / Hop Off" travel, especially on those trains that have compulsory reservations. Those caught without a valid reservation face hefty fines! The latter part of your trip seems to have a lot of travel and one-night stops (not something I like). You might consider skipping Milan, as I'm not sure that a few hours is worth the effort. One possibility would be to go from Verona to Stresa and spend the night there, as that will make the trip to Switzerland a bit easier. Perhaps add a day to Switzerland? Good luck with your planning!

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17738 posts

JR, "The Italian trains had me mystified. Will just book point to point then." Are you planning to pre-purchase tickets or buy them when you're in Italy? A few points to mention..... You can save substantially by pre-purchase of tickets on the "premium" trains such as the high speed Freccia fast trains where reservations are compulsory (they travel at up to 300 kmH). However, there are a few issues to consider. While it is possible to buy tickets on the Trenitalia website, some users here have reported "difficulties". Another point to consider is that the cheapest Super Economy tickets normally sell out very quickly, so you may not even be able to get them. You may find it helpful to read the ticket buying tutorial on the excellent Ron In Rome website. With the slower Regionale trains, pre-purchase is not required. It's just as easy to buy them at local stations, either at staffed ticket offices or from the automated Kiosks. In the larger stations, there's often a HUGE queue at the ticket office so I normally use the Kiosks. With Regionale trains, BE SURE to validate tickets before boarding the train! Of course, you can also buy tickets for the premium trains at the Kiosks or offices, but you'll likely pay the higher Base fare. Regarding the stop in Milan, that seems a bit "cumbersome" as you'll have your luggage to deal with. I believe there is a Deposito Bagagli office in Milan, but it may take some time to drop it and then pick it up. For a few hours, I wouldn't bother and would travel straight from Verona to Stresa (~2H:48M, 1 change at Milano Centrale). Cheers!

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17738 posts

JR, A few final points..... Milano Centrale is somewhat "chaotic" at the best of times (as are other stations in Italy). Be sure to watch your luggage while there, and wear Money Belts! Be vigilant for scammers and pickpockets, as they WILL be there. Also, are you stopping for a night or two in Zürich before flying home? I was there in September, so can suggest a Hotel if you're interested. Cheers!

Posted by JR
texas, usa
109 posts

Thanks so much for the reply. We will take your advice and make the trip to Rothenburg same day we arrive. The Italian trains had me mystified. Will just book point to point then. While our travel in Germany is more locally focused, we are flying out of Zurich, so thought we would make the trip to Venice and allow two nights in Northern Italy before heading to Switzerland for two nights. We welcome any suggestions on where/what cities to stay in. Milan was not somewhere we were burning to go. We thought if we could get tickets to the Last Supper viewing, we would, but again, it's not a must see for Milan itself. The easiest way to Switzerland while still "feeling" Italy is our goal.

Posted by TC
Atlanta
294 posts

Last time we were in R'burg (several years ago) there was not a person selling tickets at the train station. This may have changed. If not, the machines may or may not take a credit card without a chip. For that reason you might want to purchase tickets to get out of R'burg before you get there. Perhaps someone else will have recent knowledge about the station in R'burg. As someone else mentioned, it is not that bad a trip even after an overnight flight. TC

Posted by JB
Redding, CA, USA
1568 posts

I may add the stations at Wurzburg and Steinach are small and easy to hop on another train.