A Germany train tripLizet Wesselman - 10/02/2023
A Germany train tripLizet Wesselman - 10/02/2023
In the summer of 2022, Germany came up with the brilliant idea of introducing a €9 train ticket that allowed you unlimited train travel throughout the country and even to some places just across the border. Every ticket was valid for the entire month, the only restriction being that it was only valid for regional trains. That obviously makes your travel time a lot longer than with express trains, but still, €9, so we can’t complain, right? I went on 2 separate Germany train trips (North and South), here are my highs & lows.
Train trip North of Germany:
The first train trip through Germany was from Copenhagen back to the Netherlands. I was in Copenhagen in July after 5 months of travelling it was about time for a quick visit to The Netherlands. I had 6 weeks in between Copenhagen and my next trip, so I decided to take my sweet time and slow travel through Germany.
A fast route between the Netherlands and Copenhagen is via Hamburg. But as I had already been there in May for a conference, I skipped it and opted for smaller towns around.
My route ended up being:
Copenhagen –> Lübeck -> Bremen + a few daytrips -> Leiden
The route from Copenhagen to Lübeck was by Flixbus, as Copenhagen was not covered by the €9 ticket. From Lübeck, I travelled on to Bremen, from where I did some day trips. I have already written an article about all these locations, which you can read here.
I obviously wasn’t the only one who decided to travel with that €9 ticket, so it was quite crowded in parts. Mainly in Hamburg, which, of course, I still had to cross. I actually wanted to do the day trips from Hamburg, putting my backpack in a locker at Hamburg central station. That was out of the question, the station was packed. It was the ideal combination between high season, weekend, game day, nice weather and of course, that cheap train ticket. So, I crammed myself on the train to Bremen with a whole bunch of other people and did the trips from there.
Before this trip, I had only been to Berlin & Hamburg and Dresden & Düsseldorf for Christmas markets. Which, by the way, I can definitely recommend! But my experience was therefore mostly big cities and crowds. These trips were along small villages and thus for me a whole other side of Germany. Lots of history and atmosphere and I loved it! This could only mean a lot of good things for the 2nd part of the trip!
Train trip South of Germany
Germany train trip number 2 took me to:
- Rothenburg ob der Tauber
- Kochel am See + Walchensee
- Mittenwald + a quick hike across the Austrian border
- Eibsee (photo)
- Stuttgart + Esslingen am Necktar
- Back to Boppard + Drachenfells castle
In short, I picked up roughly where I left off and now headed south. With the main purpose of enjoying the beautiful countryside and a few castles. This trip definitely didn’t go as planned, but down the line it was the most surprising trip I made in 2022. The places I saw were absolutely magical!
Rothenburg ob der Tauber (photo) was a bucket list item for me, and it was even more beautiful than I ever expected! I had seen many pictures, and it looked like one of those typical historic German towns, and it really was. With all the atmosphere and not a single modern detail to ruin it. I’ve had situations where I had such high expectations, that it just didn’t live up to it. But Rothenburg was even more amazing than I could have ever convinced myself for it to be. So, this is definitely recommended!
Mittenwald was the big surprise in terms of towns. I hadn’t actually planned to go here at all, but someone in my hostel in Kochel told me he was doing a trekking tour in Austria from there. Hiking in Austria was also on my bucket list, so I decided to see if there was a nice hike to do from Mittenwald, and there was! So I took the bus from Kochel, which took me to Mittenwald in about an hour, and did another hike.
It wasn’t untill after my hike that I decided to go into the town for dinner and realized it looks like a painting! With coloured houses with murals and a fantastic atmosphere. If I had known that, I would have looked into spending the night there. I’m definitely coming back here! But for now, it was a go-trough location for an amazing hike.
Nature in the south of Germany really surprised me. As a Dutchy, I always avoided Germany. It wasn’t exotic enough, I guess. I just didn’t expect it to be special and from my town it’s quite far by train anyway, so why not go somewhere else? But gosh, how I actually regret that now, haha.
The south of Germany has really beautiful nature! From beautiful blue lakes surrounded by mountains, to waterfalls and rivers through cliffs. Looking back on my 2022 travel year, this ended up being the most impressive trip I took.
The highlights were:
- The beautiful reflection of Lake Kochelsee
- The first view of the clear blue Walchensee lake after a hike that was harder than I expected
- The waterfall along the way, which I didn’t even know was there.
This hike just had everything. A nice hike, beautiful views, surprises, peaceful nature and a very satisfying end destination.
The Leutascher Geiserklamm (photo), the spot in Austria that I impulsively decided to visit, was a piece of nature that I had never seen before! And something that I’ll now forever be looking for, whenever I go for nature trips.
My final stop was the Eibsee, one of the most famous lakes in Germany. During my entire Germany train trip, I got confused faces when I mentioned I stayed at “Kochel am see”, but whenever I mentioned I was there to visit the Eibsee, they all got excited about how pretty it was. And it sure is! But to be fair, after Walchensee, I think it didn’t impress me as much as I expected. Might have been the weather as well, it was a bit cloudy, so maybe the water wasn’t as bright blue as Walchensee the day before. But if you make the trip down there, definitely visit both and decide for yourself! They are both worth a visit, just a 45 minutes busride apart. So, no reason not to stop by.
All of these stunning places, plus many many more, are mentioned in my Southern Germany train travel guide. Do you want to make this trip, but without making the mistakes you can read below? Then this guide is for you.
Not all sunshine & rainbows
On social media it always seems like our travel lives are perfect and flawless, but that’s absolutely not true. And this trip definitely wasn’t. I think Deutsche Bahn underestimated the popularity of this €9 ticket a bit. There were many short trains, no double-deckers, compartments that were locked and doors that didn’t work. All of this created complete chaos. I experienced delays, had to stand for hours and even missed trains because they were too full. Despite the staff’s attempts to cram even more people inside.
As a result, my travel days became a lot longer, and I finally decided to go home a day early. I was worn out after all those months of travel, and the heat wave didn’t make it any better either. Now, months later, I can reflect on it and have definitely learned from it. But at that time I was really on the verge of a breakdown.
Does this mean I won’t travel by train anymore? Quite the opposite! Despite the chaos, it was fantastic to see the landscape flash by and get to places you really can’t get near if you’d go by plane. In fact, I have set myself a goal to take more big train trips in 2023! But…. With better planning and especially shorter travel days, to accommodate the delays.
Down the line, it was an amazing trip!
Down the line, this was really 1 of the most beautiful trips I have made so far! I really still can’t wrap my head around how beautiful the nature of southern Germany is. A bunch of places that I’ve missed due to the delays, are still on my bucketlist and my next trip to catch up on some castles is already booked!
But I took 1 big lesson out of this, and that would be to expect more delays, when there are insanely cheap train tickets available because clearly I’m not gonna be the only one taking advantage of those. So less long journeys a day, more time for exploring. So, I got out of it with amazing memories and a lesson learned, so I call that a success!
Is a Germany train trip on your bucketlist, but don’t know where to start planning? As a sustainable travel agent I can help you with that! Click here for more information.
Because of these amazing places in Germany, I decided to write a train travel guide through Southern Germany. It includes these locations + a whole lot more. And of course, it will help you plan this trip without makeing the same mistakes I made. Buy the guide here for € 16.99