Hi, I am taking a short summer vacation to Europe(first time!Yey!)and am planning to take the train from Paris via Germany to Amsterdam to see part of the country(I already got a Eurail Pass). I have three days to spare and would like to see the Rhine River and maybe a castle or two. Going across big cities would be nice but not entirely necessary. I don't have money to rent a car on top of the Eurail so public transportation is going to be something I mainly rely on.
Given all these limiters(time, budget -- I am going cheap, lack of knowledge about the region), I realize I probably should only move across the south and west side. That still leaves me a lot of questions:
- I'd like to go to a small/medium German town and stay there for a night, possibly in the Rhine Valley. Anything to recommend?
- I'd also like to visit a castle or ruin, heard so much about the Neuschwanstein but what major city is it nearst to? Is it going to be out of my way? If so, I am open to other ones. Any suggestion? Maybe Heidelberg?
- I am pondering if I should visit Munich just to have a quick feel because quite a few people I know loved that place. I am a culture+nature type so not sure what would be the hits there for me?
- Last but not least, anyone currently living in the region can maybe give me a tour of part or the whole trip during that weekend? Or anyone who would be also in Germany during that time would like to travel along? (I am a flexible, open-minded person so hope that helps and am pretty good about not making myself a annoying 'tourist type'...) After that, I am going to stay in Amsterdam for another two days before heading back to the US.
Open to all suggestion! Thanks a ton!!!
- The Rhine-Valley is certainly a good choice to start seeing Germany :-). It is also not far from The Netherlands, either.
- You could stay in Bonn for one night. It has a nice city center and most things to see (e.g. birthplace of Beethoven) are in a walkable distance. Cologne (e.g. cathedral) is about 20-30 minutes away by train.
- From Cologne/Bonn you can take a train along the Rhine river to Koblenz, which would be a pretty scenic route. This takes less than an hour.
- In Koblenz you could see the "Deutsche Eck", where Rhein river and the Mosel river join together.
- Depending on your time-schedule you could either hop onto one of the boats to Mainz or take the train again. The boat takes about 6 hours and the train needs about 45 min to get to Mainz. Mainz again is a beautiful place. It's one of those many old Roman cities that have a lot of old architecture.
- About Neuschwanstein: It's about 40km away from Munich, I don't know that area particulary well, but I suppose you could take a day-trip to the castle from Munich.
- Btw. Munich would be 4,5 h away from Mainz by train. It's also 8,5 h away from Amsterdam. I would not go there if I only had three days to spend in Germany, but that are only my thoughts... :-)
even if you don't need to buy a ticket, this site has all the time-schedules of the trains and most of the local public transportation.
this is for the boat tour.
If you have more Questions just ask ;-)
Hey, _Stefan_, Thanks! That really helps me to get started. There was just way too much info on line which confused me...
What kind of places do you recommend to stay in towns like Bonn? As I said, I want to go cheap but am not planning to bring any camping gears. So hostels/bed and breakfast would be ideal for me: not sure what would be the best option for a budget self traveller there.
If you have experience, pls let me know!
I have 2 words for you : Schloss Neuschwanstein
The single most amazing castle and so far the highlight of my life. Keep in mind I'll be in Egypt in less than a month but still.
Bavaria is where its at
To stay at a youth hostel is probably the cheapest place to go. Ordinary Hotels are more like 45+ EUR.
In Bonn there is one in Bonn-Venusberg. This place has a bus stop, but it still takes a little less than 30 min to get to the city center. They charge around 23 EUR/night + a surcharge if you are not a member with their youth hostel association.
Their website: http://www.djh-rheinland.org/jh/bonn/eng/index.htm
- The cheapest place I could find so far is in Cologne. It's 17 EUR a night if you book online. It also includes breakfast. The only downside I see is that it takes 15 minutes to get to the city center. http://www.meininger-hostels.de/
- Alternativly there is another Youth Hostel in Cologne-Deutz just opposite the main train station across the Rhine river. Price-wise the same applys than in Bonn.
I think I should mention that I grew up in the Cologne/Bonn-area. The one in Cologne-Deutz is the closest you can get to a city center and a major train station for a budget price. The Meiniger-Hostel seems more like a backpacker type of place, the like you find in a backpacker-country such as Australia. I personally would choose this one. Unfortunately I could not find any more cheap hostels in Bonn, which is really a shame.
Seems like I write to much. Hope this all is not too confusing.
Thanks all for your suggestion! I think I am going to go with staying at Bonn/Koblenz and Cologne each night(though haven't booked anything yet). Thank you for the hostel info, _stefan_ -- things locals know are always the most helpful!
Have a FANTASTIC day!!!
Hi again, as questions do not stop coming, I got to ask more -- this is probably for somebody who has used a rail pass before in Germany or Netherlands or who has reserved a seat on German trains without ticketing:
I've bought a rail pass for France-Germany-Benelex and will reserve the Thalys trains between France and Germany(there are fees involved in the reservation for Thalys). However, I am not sure I also need to reserve the train I am going to take from Cologne to Amsterdam through www.bahn.de . It is not a Thalys or Eurostar train but it crosses the border... I am not sure if I need reservation and please help! I read online today, some people were not able to use their Euro rail pass because they didn't reserve their seats advance enough so they ended up paying both the pass and full fare tickets
[ Edit: Edited at Jul 14, 2006 8:37 AM by elephanta ]
I just recently returned home from a month of traveling europe by train ( I had a one month pass). I traveled from Amsterdam to Koln without reservations twice. You should be ok if you sit in a seat thats is not reserved. I found that most Germans do not make reservations, they just get on and get a seat. If someone says your in there seat get up and find another vacant seat. However if you want to be guarenteed a seat, reserve. I had more than one train journey were I was standing at back of the train. However the two time I went from Amsterdam to Koln the train was not very full.
Thanks for replying! That's really great to know!