opinions on transportation in germany please

I'd love some opinions on what might be the best option for us. We are a family of five, will be renting a car in Amsterdam, spending 3 days in Cochem, 1 in Bacharach and 2 in Rothenburg ob der Taube and then on to Paris. We don't know if we should drive to Paris, spending the night somewhere enroute, or take a train. If we take a train, from where? We won't need a car while in Rothenburg but doubt we'd be able to return it there. I thought of returning the car in Frankfurt, taking train to Rothenburg then train to Paris, but with 5 of us the train tickets add up quick. The car would definitely be the less expensive route but it also seems like a waste of vacation time to spend a lot of time driving. Is there somewhere that would be 'worth' the stop on the way to Paris?
thanks in advance for your opinions.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
13309 posts

"with 5 of us the train tickets add up quick." Not necessarily. If you are willing to use a regional train from Frankfurt to Würzburg, you can make the entire trip, Frankfurt Hbf to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, for less than 70€ for all five of you. Additionally, with advance purchase, you can get a ticket from Rothenburg to Paris, including the TGV from Stuttgart to Paris, for as low as 39€ per adult over 14, and if any of your children are less than 15, they would travel with you for no charge.

Posted by Joann
Regina, Sask, Canada
11 posts

Obviously I have a lot to learn about rail fares. I wasn't finding anything this inexpensive.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
5001 posts

If you rent the car in one country and return it in another, you will have to pay an extra charge, which others on this board have reported as several hundred euros. So, a car is not necessarily less expensive, unless you return it to Holland (and then, you have to allow not only for the extra time, but the cost of gas). To learn about train schedules, use the The Invaluable Bahn website. This will only have prices for trains going to, from, or within Germany. You'll see that if you do an advance purchase on-line, and can commit to non-exchangeable and non-refundable tickets, you can save a lot. I haven't looked at your routes. But for my recent trip from Berlin to Dresden, a ticket bought for 1 person in advance was 19 euros, a ticket bought for 2 people in advance was 29 euros, and tickets bought at the last minute for 2 people were 78 euros. So you see how a group of 5 can save a fortune.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
13309 posts

Joann, go to that "invaluable Bahn website" link above, put in Rothenburg (it will prompt "Rothenburg ob der Tauber" - accept it) and Paris. Go down to Means of Transport and uncheck everything to the right of, but not including, the Green S-Bahn symbol. Use December 8, currently the last date on the schedule, and the number of adults and children. You should see a connection leaving Rothenburg at 9:06, this two regional trains to Ansbach, an IC to Stuttgart, and a TGV to Paris, for 39€ per adult. You probably want later than Dec 8, but until the schedule is up_dated in the next week or so, you can only see what the possibilities are. You can order the ticket online for as low as 39€. It will include all of the trains from Rothenburg to Paris. As for Frankfurt to Rothenburg, there is a regional express every two hours from Frankfurt Hbf to Würzburg. You can take it from Kahl im Main, the first stop in Bavaria, to Würzburg, and then use regional trains from Würzburg to Rothenburg, all on a Bayern-Ticket for 26€ - 38€ (depending on the number of adults). To get to Kahl, you use an RMV (Frankfurt metro) Gruppentageskarte for 31€. You use both the Gruppentageskarte and the Bayern-Ticket for the RE to Würzburg. At Kahl, you don't change trains, just tickets. The Bayern-Ticket covers the regional trains (that's all there is) from Würzburg to Rothenburg.

Posted by Jim
Bern, Switzerland
486 posts

Hi Joann, One thing you need to remember in mainland Europe and more so in the Germanic countries, we tend to promote the use of public transport. So while the standard fares may seem high, most travellers rarely pay these rates because of the numerous special offers that are available. Such offers are often not advertised more than 3 months in advance, so don't commit to the car to soon. Jim.

Posted by Southam
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
1275 posts

A family of five robust Saskatchewan residents won't fit into an average rental car in Europe very comfortably, especially if they want to take luggage with them. Google a rental agency to see how small the standard rentals are.
You will probably need a premium vehicle that burns up more of the high-priced petrol/diesel. Of course you can do it, but the complications are worth keeping in mind for any comparison with public transport.

Posted by Judy
49 posts

How about thiskeep the car for Rothenburg and then return it at the Frankfurt airport. There is a train station in the airport. From there take the train to Paris. If you buy the tickets to Paris early the cost shouldn't be too high but I haven't checked. Sometimes the pleasure of not having to drive outweighs the cost anyway. Last month we took the train from Paris to Kaiserslautern, Germany, stayed overnight there and rented a car from Avis to tour the Rhine Valley and returned it at the Frankfurt airport location. We found that the Avis rate wasn't any higher than most other rental companies and they upgraded us into an automatic Volkswagen Caddy which would easily hold five people and luggage unless you are taking trunks. I've also found that in the case of Avis, at least, if you e-mail the location you will be renting from and tell them what you need they will try to work with you to get it. We got both the automatic and the gps in English just by asking if they were available. If Kaiserslautern should fit into your plans I can recommend a good hotel within walking distance of the train station.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
8004 posts

Alone, I'd always train - unless there was a specific itinerary that required some other transportation. With five, even with carry-ons, train tickets are usually more than a rental. As Lee says, take advantage of the regional train passes in Germany when you can. They're cheap and work well for hop-on, hop-off touring in a region (e.g. up and down the Mosel from Cochem) for groups up to five. I've yet to use a similar pass in other countries but wouldn't be surprised if some countries offer them.