Germany trip: Frankfurt to Berlin suggestions?
May 29, 2019 12:07 PM   Subscribe

Headed to Germany for a 9-day trip this summer. We fly into Frankfurt, and then the 2nd half of the trip will be in Berlin (where we'll depart from). Question is: how should we spend a few days getting from Frankfurt to Berlin?

My best guess is that we'll arrive in Frankfurt, then go north to the Rhine Valley (anywhere good to stay there?), then to Cologne, then over to Hamburg, and over to Berlin.

Questions -
- I figure when we arrive in Frankfurt we'll want to head out of town immediately to a more interesting destination. Anywhere good to stay in the Rhine Valley? (or elsewhere outside Frankfurt?) (or should we actually consider sightseeing in Frankfurt?)
- Are Cologne and Hamburg good visits on our way to Berlin?
- any other must-see or must-visit spots between Frankfurt and Berlin?

Our interests are good food, culture & literature, any not-to-miss historical sites.

(I suppose we could also go south to Munich, then over to Leipzig and up to Berlin, if that's a much better trip.)
posted by mark7570 to Travel & Transportation around Germany (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I've done this sort of thing a lot, and I always base my itinerary on good train connections. As much as I love being on trains, if you only have 9 days, you don't want to spend all day in a train.

It's very easy to take the train out immediately from Frankfurt because there's a train station in the airport. Check out the ICE Map for inspiration. There's a super fast train going from Frankfurt to Cologne, so Frankfurt > Cologne > Berlin might be fun. Personally, I wouldn't add another city - instead, I'd take day trips from Cologne or Berlin if you want some variety. For me, Munich would be too out of the way for such a short trip unless you want to fly, which is actually cheap to do but more of a hassle than the train.
posted by beyond_pink at 1:06 PM on May 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Go and visit the Upper Middle Rhine Valley aka Rhine Gorge. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site and well worth visiting. There are more castles than you can shake a stick at, and it's a really beautiful area, nice for walks or hikes or a cruise on the Rhine. Also, wine is grown in the region, so go visit a winery or several. You could stay in Oberwesel or Boppard, for example. I don't particularly recommend Rüdesheim because it's overrun with tourists. The other towns have tourists as well, but not as many.

You mention heading out of Frankfurt immediately. The airport is nowhere near the inner city of Frankfurt and even has its own train station, so you won't see any sights if you don't go downtown specifically. I don't know Frankfurt well, but the Römer, Römerberg and St. Paul's Church are famous landmarks and worth spending half a day at.

Continuing up the Rhine from the Upper Middle Rhine Valley you pass the towns of Koblenz and Bonn (former capital of West Germany) on your way to Cologne, but if you've only got nine days to spend in Germany, I don't recommend stopping there. You'll want to visit Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom, another UNESCO World Heritage Site), of course, plus there are a lot of Roman and medieval buildings and ruins in Cologne. Check out the Archäologische Zone, for example (closed at the moment).

Hamburg is another great city to visit. Make sure to visit at least some of the main sights including the HafenCity and the recently completed Elbphilharmonie. Concert tickets are almost always sold out, but you have a great view from the Plaza. I highly recommend going on a Harbor Cruise there, especially one that also covers the Speicherstadt (another UNESCO World Heritage Site). I also recommend a walk through the Speicherstadt including a visit at Miniatur-Wunderland, the world's largest model railway.

I'm not as familiar with Munich and have never been to Leipzig, but let me know if you need more tips for Hamburg or Cologne, or Berlin for that matter. Hope you enjoy your trip!
posted by amf at 1:08 PM on May 29, 2019 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Oh, and if you're indeed traveling by train: It's true that there is a fast connection from Frankfurt Airport to Cologne Main station, but if you take a slightly slower IC instead of the ICE Sprinter, it will take you right along the Rhine from Mainz via Koblenz and Bonn to Cologne through the Upper Middle Rhine Valley I mentioned above, and you can see many of the castles as well as the famous Lorelei from the train. The trip might take a little bit longer, but it is much more scenic!
posted by amf at 1:13 PM on May 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Personally I love love love driving in Germany. It's a splurge, but sitting on a train all day will take a good chunk of your time away.

You didn't say when you were going but if it's in the summer/fall I would drive the Romantische Straße down to Munich before heading northeast to Berlin.

My favorite spots include Würzburg, Rothenberg ob der Tauber, and Schwangau (I mean, you really need to see Neuschwanstein Castle for yourself). A visit to the Dachau concentration camp memorial after Munich is recommended but consider your audience if you go.

If you do drive brush up on some German autobahn rules general rules-of-the-road but, honestly, you'll be amazed at the condition of the roads and how the Germans actually follow the freaking rules when they drive. It's a lot of fun. Just don't dawdle in the passing lane.
posted by JoeZydeco at 1:39 PM on May 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Near Frankfurt I enjoyed staying in Cochem, located in the wine country on the Mosel river, and visiting Burg Eltz.

If you like impressive medieval cathedrals Cologne is worth a visit. There are also some interesting Roman-period sites in and around the city. Other than that, having just been there earlier this month, I don't think I would spend more than a day there.

Dresden is not exactly on your Frankfurt -> Berlin path but it's really beautiful in both architecture and setting, and full of cultural history. I would go out of my way to visit again and given your travel priorities I would recommend it over, say, Munich. I drove from Cologne to Dresden in the early fall and that was a good experience by itself, lovely scenery along the way.
posted by 4rtemis at 5:16 PM on May 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Here's a link to the German train company where you can see where trains

I recommend taking the ICE to Erfurt (2 hours) and visiting the town, then a side trip to Weimar, full of literature stuff, then Leipzig, full of music and literature stuff too. Then in an hour from Leipzig you're in Berlin.
posted by starfishprime at 3:05 AM on May 30, 2019

That's a lot of train travel you have planned. You may be cool with that, but consider if with only nine days you want to spend 8+ hours of it on trains.

Frankfurt itself has a reputation of being boring, and having visited it for a couple days myself i concur. South an hour or two is Heidelberg though, a really nice town and a beautiful part of the Rhine. OTOH that's in the exact opposite direction from Berlin.

If you're driving, the straight line from Frankfurt to Berlin has a lot of not very interesting countryside for half the way. Can definitely recommend skipping Eisenach. Erfurt and Weimar are both a little interesting and Leipzig and Dresden are both great. Train infrastructure isn't great though; the fast line between Frankfurt and Berlin goes well north of this. Also it's a very different kind of German trip than you've proposed.
posted by Nelson at 9:02 AM on May 30, 2019

Nelson, your info is outdated. There's an ICE now from Frankfurt to Erfurt to Leipzig to Berlin.
posted by starfishprime at 1:10 PM on May 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

Are Cologne and Hamburg good visits on our way to Berlin?

Yes. Also, Bremen. Go to Böttcherstraße. And if you're at odds in Köln after the cathedral, check out nearby Düsseldorf and Wuppertal, where you can ride the Schwebebahn.
posted by Rash at 4:32 PM on May 30, 2019

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